The Differences Between O'Malley & Clinton

by Becca Stanek

At this point, the Democratic primary appears to be a one-woman game. But as Hillary Clinton’s thus-far main competitor Martin O’Malley said this weekend, we shouldn't jump to that conclusion quite so quickly. While the former Maryland governor still has yet to make things official on the campaign front, he continues to step up his attacks on Clinton and to boast the qualities that he says he has and the current Democratic frontrunner just doesn’t.

Basically, O’Malley is not only asserting that he wants to challenge Hillary, but that the two are actually more different than meets the eye. During an interview on Monday with NPR News, O’Malley shed light on the three key ways he thinks he is different from the Democrat’s current frontrunner: perspective, background, and experience.

Well, I think that Secretary Clinton and I bring different backgrounds and different experience to the task of getting things done.

While Clinton has filled the roles of First Lady, Secretary of State, and senator, O'Malley has gleaned most of his experience off of Capitol Hill. He has been the mayor of Baltimore, as well as a governor. Some argue that those roles don't adequately prepare O'Malley for the White House. After all, running a single city or state is much different than dealing with the entire country.


O'Malley, on the other hand, thinks that his resume actually offers him something valuable that Hillary might not have gotten in her previous positions: executive experience. He seems to argue that while Clinton has been involved in leadership for a while, he, on the other hand, has actually been in more clear positions executive leadership. Thus, he has a more distinct record of accomplishments to his name alone that Clinton might not be able to offer.

Moreover, O’Malley has been working to slowly cement himself as the more progressive of the Democratic contenders. While Clinton seems to wait for the timing to be just right before she expresses her opinion — an example is her slowly-emerging stances on same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization — O'Malley unabashedly sticks to his guns. When he appeared on NPR on Monday, he didn't beat around the bush about his opinions of Republican economic philosophy, which he described as "kind of patently bulls---." This, O’Malley contends, will further differentiate the candidates, and allow them to appeal to different voter bases within the Democratic Party.


O’Malley seems to be further digging into this difference with his recent remarks about Clinton's flip flops and slow come around on the issues of same-sex marriage and immigration. During an event at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics last Thursday, O'Malley criticized Clinton for waiting to take progressive stances on social issues until they became more popular amongst the general public.

I believe that we are best as a party when we lead with our principles and not according to polls.

Leadership is about making the right decision, and the best decision before sometimes it becomes entirely popular.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images News/Getty Images

But even if O’Malley espoused the now-popular stances before they were cool, he’s lagging on popularity points as a candidate. According The Hill, O’Malley has struggled to gain voter recognition and traction in the polls, especially in comparison to Clinton. However, many Democrats have been clamoring for a challenger to Clinton, and O’Malley could offer the push progressives want on certain issues.

O’Malley has said he will make his final decision on whether to run by late May. But in the meantime, O’Malley might have to find a new shtick to boost his popularity. Because even if Clinton might have taken a bit longer than she should have to come around on same-sex marriage and immigration, she did come around.

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