O'Malley Re-enters The Battle

OMalleyOne has to credit former governor Martin O’Malley—he listened.

After a lackluster and downright dull answer to a question about reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a house party in Mount Vernon last month, he now has a clearly defined plan to act on climate.

An audience member in Mount Vernon asked O’Malley what he would do as president about CO2 and methane emissions. The answer should have been easy.

President Obama presented the U.S. plan for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris this December. The plan relies on the Clean Power Plan advanced by the Environmental Protection Agency for most of the proposed reductions. All O’Malley had to say was, “I support the Clean Power Plan” to satisfy climate voters. He didn’t.

Instead of a simple answer, he changed the question to one about “climate change.” He enumerated 15 things he did as governor to address climate change. It was an admirable punch list, but reducing CO2 and methane emissions is not the same thing.

He missed the point of the question and gave an answer that muddied the water on his climate change position.

Since then, he went into his fortress of solitude equivalent and came up with a plan to combat climate change focused on transitioning the U.S. electricity generating capacity to renewable sources by 2050. He is visiting Iowa this weekend to roll out his plan.

If you don’t think bird dogging candidates in the early caucus and primary states makes a difference, O’Malley’s adjustment reminds us of why being first in the nation matters.

Or does it?

O’Malley polled at three percent among likely Iowa Democratic caucus goers in today’s Quinnipiac University poll—less than the margin of error. While he may be doing the right things in Iowa—securing commitment cards, listening and adjusting positions, shaking hands, and answering questions—it doesn’t matter unless he can generate more buzz around his campaign.

He’s fighting a battle to gain recognition and create excitement that may not be winnable given his personality. He’s an excellent story teller, and I heard he sings and plays the guitar. It seems clear people don’t like the O’Malley narrative enough to commit to his campaign, even if they have heard it.

It’s still early, and people could line up behind his policy positions, which are mainstream Democratic. But a big shell from the Clinton-Sanders artillery could easily take him out, leaving him behind to lament:

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