Former governor of Maryland and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley made the endearing choice Thursday to endorse Hillary Clinton for president — about an hour after the rather more hotly anticipated endorsement from President Obama. Even more distant one-time candidate Lincoln Chafee had already popped his head out of the political sand yesterday (to declare that Sanders would make Clinton a “fabulous” VP), so I suppose an O’Malley cameo was the next logical step.
I like O’Malley very much and I hope he runs again someday, but visibility was never quite his strong suit. At least, not during the course of this election cycle. He dropped out four months ago basically because of a chronic inability to get people to notice him. So it seems a slightly bemusing decision for him to announce his endorsement of Clinton at the precise moment when it has the greatest possible potential to get lost in the shuffle, what with Obama’s long-awaited endorsement — to say nothing of Obama's meeting with Sanders and the latter’s own remarks about Clinton’s campaign. There are even all these rumors about Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s endorsement of Clinton finally coming to pass in the next week or so. People are not super focused on what O’Malley might have to say right now.
On the other hand, maybe this isn’t about him. Again, I am not hiding that I think O’Malley is rad, so I’m reasonably inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt here. It’s important to note that Obama’s endorsement of Clinton went in hard on the party unity message, praising Sanders for the passion he brought to the race and emphasizing how Democratic values will be put to the test in the general election, and essentially how we all have to pull together (that is, to sidestep a President Trump). I think it’s possible that O’Malley just saw this as a good time to bolster that message of unity by releasing his endorsement immediately in the wake of the president’s, whether or not it resulted in a lot of publicity for him.
In a statement, O’Malley congratulated Clinton and praised Sanders, saying that “the voters have spoken, and it is now time to unite our party.”
Works for me. I wish Sanders would do the same, though while he’s made it clear he’s taking this thing all the way to next week’s primary in Washington, D.C, he did take the important step of announcing that he’d congratulated Clinton on her campaign and looked forward to working with her to beat Trump. O’Malley’s endorsement might not go as far as Sanders’ or Warren’s, but at least he’s made one.