By Julye Baughman, Capital News Service
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley used his prime-time slot at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday to make the case for Obama's record on jobs and the economy.
The president "is moving America forward, not back," O'Malley repeated, hammering home the Obama campaign's slogan. Five times, he encouraged the crowd to chant along with him and wave their "Forward. Not Back" signs in unison.
"Democratic governors, with the support of our president, are leading their states forward—putting job creation first, balancing budgets, protecting priorities, making the tough decisions, right now, to create jobs and expand opportunity," O'Malley said. "Together with President Obama, we are moving America forward, not back."
No other governors are scheduled to speak in primetime, providing Maryland delegates a rare chance to cheer on their home-state governor at the convention.
O'Malley took the fight directly to the Republicans, too, saying, "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan now say they want to take America back. And so we ask: Back to what? Back to the failed policies that drove us into a deep recession? ... No thank you. I don't want to go back."
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said O'Malley did exactly what he needed to do in order to set the stage for the election.
"I thought Governor O'Malley set the right tone and he made it clear that this election is about choice," Brown said.
Brown also was pleased O'Malley highlighted Maryland's successes in the speech and their importance in relation to the national campaign.
"I think there's a very clear contrast. The governor appropriately pointed to successes in Maryland which are based in large part on what the president has been doing on a national level," Brown said.
Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III tweeted about the speech from the Democratic National Convention.
"Great job @governoromalley. Let's move our country forward... Not back. Let's get ready to re-elect President Barack Obama," Baker tweeted.
Yvette Lewis, chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, said she was proud of her governor. Lewis said she was so overwhelmed at one point that she couldn't even speak anymore.
"I couldn't even cheer," Lewis said. "I just wanted to sit there and absorb it."
O'Malley's speech came after long day with a packed schedule.
He began the morning by leading the Maryland delegation in the now iconic "Fired up! Ready to go!" chant, popularized by President Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign, and giving a short speech Tuesday morning at a breakfast hosted by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.
Tuesday was O'Malley day at the Democratic National Convention—he gave a high-profile convention speech, roused the Maryland delegation, spoke briefly on the floor as a Rules Committee co-chairman and spoke on behalf of his home state at the Democratic Governor's Association panel on the economy.
Shortly after breakfast, O'Malley arrived in the Google tent in uptown Charlotte to participate in the "Growing Our Economy and Investing in Infrastructure" panel featuring other notable participants, including Coca-Cola Co. President and CEO Steve Cahillane, Microsoft Vice President U.S. Public Sector Curt Kolcun and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
The group discussed the importance of spending, job creation and investment in infrastructure in growing our economy, a recurring theme in O'Malley's comments throughout the day.
That afternoon, O'Malley helped the Maryland delegation honor Sargent Shriver, who ran on George McGovern's 1972 ticket, at the Mint Museum in downtown Charlotte before preparing for the night's opening convention session.
When asked what Obama needs to do in order to clinch the election win, O'Malley reverted to his stance on the importance of employment.
"Job growth will help us bring down our deficit, job growth will help us feed our children, job growth is what makes us strong as a country and allows us to educate higher and better levels of every generation," he said.
O'Malley was modest about his not-so-modest role in the convention this week and said he was here solely to support Obama and ensure his re-election. However, political observers say O'Malley may have his eyes on the 2016 presidential race.
"I'm all about the president," O'Malley said. "This is not the Martin O"Malley story, nor frankly, is it the Maryland story. This is about President Obama and the better choices he's making, the choices that are moving us forward."
Patch Editor Sonia Dasgupta contributed to this report.