Borg: During two terms governing Maryland, ending just this past January, Martin O'Malley helped enact legislation codifying marriage equality, banning assault weapons, raising the minimum wage and abolishing the death penalty. And Governor O'Malley is quoted as advocating solutions to the nation's immigration dilemma with hospitality to strangers as a part of human dignity as a guideline. At age 52, in addition to two terms as Maryland's Governor, and eight years as Baltimore's Mayor, he has also chaired the Democratic Governors Association. Welcome to Iowa Press Governor O'Malley.

O'Malley: Thank you, Dean. Great to be with you.

Borg: Let me just say, if you were composing -- now you have been out of the Maryland Governor's chair for a couple, three months.

O'Malley: That's right. I was promoted to the rank of full-fledged citizen.

Borg: If you were composing a Twitter message in brevity, how would you describe right now your status as a possible presidential candidate?

O'Malley: I would say seriously considering.

Borg: And we'll get more details on that. I want to introduce the people across the table. James Lynch who writes for the Gazette published in Cedar Rapids and Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson.

Henderson: Governor, today's news is that Hillary Clinton will likely make her candidacy official this weekend. Do you intend to challenge her? And if so, why?

O'Malley: Well, I don't look at running for president as a matter of challenging one or another person. I look at this as the presidency is a sacred and awesome trust that is to be exercised on behalf of the people of the United States. And it's really up to the people of our country to decide who their president will be. So, for my part, I'm focused on 15 years of executive experience, the frameworks and the ideas to govern and move our country forward and I believe that if any candidate believes they have those things they make our country stronger by giving people the choice and offering their candidacy. So I think our party and our country would be well-served by a robust debate about the questions and the answers that we have to provide in order to move our country forward and fix what is still ailing our economy.

Henderson: You supported Secretary Clinton in 2008. Why are you not now?

O'Malley: Well, I believed in 2008 that she would have been the best candidate and the best President for those times. I believe right now that times have changed in our country and I believe that we need to have a robust issues debate in our party about the sort of leadership that is required right now for our country.

Lynch: This week the Quinnipiac University poll came out showing that in Iowa and other swing states support for Hillary Clinton has dwindled since revelations about her email-gate. And I'm wondering is that a problem that democrats should be worried about, the fact that voters are saying she's not honest and trustworthy? And does that create an opening for an alternative?

O'Malley: Well I believe that our party always has a sort of gravitational pull, if you will, towards the future. And our party is always looking for new voices and new perspectives to help us solve our problems. Secretary Clinton is capable of answering those questions and I'm sure will be able to defend herself and proudly talk about her record of service to our country. For my part, I believe that openness, transparency are very, very important to both the operations of government and also to the communications of any modern leader. But I think the larger issues in this race will be which candidate has the framework and the ideas that will allow and make sure that wages start rising again in our country because right now we've gone through 12 years where wages have stagnated or actually declined for 80% of us and that is the big issue on the table of our democracy. That is why people are more pessimistic today about their children's future than they were four years ago and that is what we need to address as a party and as candidates.

Borg: Do you think that you have the fundraising capacity to be able to match what Secretary Clinton may have? That is, is the word intimidated appropriate?

O'Malley: No, I don't think it's intimidated. I don't think that there are many people that have the fundraising capacity of the Bush and Clinton names. But I've heard from people all across our country that the presidency should not be treated like some sort of crown to be passed between the two biggest fundraising families in American history. So, look, Dean, you have followed presidential politics here in Iowa for many years and you know that the people of Iowa are not intimidated by polls, they're not intimidated by what Beltway Punditry declares or what big money says is the way it must be. There's very often, especially in our party, an inevitable frontrunner right up until that inevitable frontrunner is no longer inevitable because when the people of Iowa have an opportunity to see all of the candidates, usually two or three times, ask them questions, see how they engage on good days and bad days, they make up their own mind. And so I don't think that -- fortunately in our country there are some things that are still not determined by big money. And the vote and the opinions of the people of Iowa are among those things.

Borg: It sounds to me like a strategy that a fellow named Barack Obama employed back in 2006, 2008.

O'Malley: Well, if you're willing to -- I first came to Iowa 30 years ago, was a college volunteer for a 1% unknown presidential candidate named Gary Hart. And what I learned at that time about the voters of Iowa, all across Iowa, is that people make up their own minds and they expect to see the candidates and they expect those that would offer themselves to serve as President of the United States would also offer themselves in living rooms and town squares and the lunch counters so that we can actually engage in that huge decision we make as a democracy. And so that's what I know about Iowa. I know that it is more about the ideas and the ability to govern than it is about how much money your family can raise.

Lynch: Governor, you have talked about the Democratic Party being forward-looking. Are you suggesting that Hillary Clinton is yesterday's news, that the issues and the times have passed her by?

O'Malley: What I'm suggesting is that there is a big generational shift that is already taking place in our country. The attitudes of Americans, especially under the age of 40, are very different than the attitudes and the perspectives of those of us that were of that baby boomer era. And I think that's a very positive thing for our country. And if we are going to be the party that governs, the party that helps America solve our problems and address our challenges and seize the opportunities that are emerging in this world, we have to speak to where our country is going. And the attitudes of our younger people who understand in a very different way than we did that what makes us strong and what allows us to be more prosperous is actually closer connections to one another, closer connections to the world around us and closer connections to the big movements like climate change that have inherent in them the opportunity to create lots of jobs and lots of better days for our economy.

Henderson: The republicans who are on Iowa's campaign trail have been spending a lot of time talking about foreign policy. I'm wondering what your view is in regards to the framework that has emerged from the negotiations with Iran?

O'Malley: I think it's a very positive framework. One of the biggest security threats we face is actually a connected threat of a nuclear Iran and also a violent extremism, terrorism, nation's state failures in the Middle East. So the President has engaged our diplomatic powers I think very, very effectively. For years really tough sanctions, internationally imposed, many states, including Maryland, perhaps even Iowa, have been engaging in sanctions to drive Iran to the bargaining table. What we have to do now is make sure not only that Iran does not achieve a nuclear capacity but also that it is verifiable. And I think we are on our way to doing that. And so I'm actually very supportive of our country's efforts there.

Henderson: As you know, many of the republican candidates have vowed to ignore or undo that deal should they become the next President of the United States. If that deal does get signed or ratified in the coming months would you keep it in place?

O'Malley: I would. And I think that there's a malady, there's I think a bit of a sickness that has taken over many quarters of the Republican Party. When you have 47 republican Senators actually signing a letter that aligns them more with the Ayatollah than it does with our President I think that is a big challenge. When you hate the President of the United States more than you distrust the Ayatollah then you probably shouldn't be in the United States Senate. And we need to get over that as a country. We need to focus on our national interests and all around the world. I mean, it was not just the United States in these negotiations. There were many of our allies and members of the Security Council of the UN who see that this is the way forward, this is how we wage peace and that's what we need to return to as a country. I mean, it's very easy to rattle sabers and talk about who you dislike the most and the great fears in this world but we are strongest as a country when we are about the business of waging peace.

Lynch: The Middle East continues to be a hot spot and relations there are rocky. But a recent development is that there's a lot of questions about how closely aligned we should be with Israel and whether we really support Israel. How would you describe what the position of the United States should be towards Israel and supporting that government?

O'Malley: Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East bar none. America's security interests are very, very closely tied to the security interests of the people of Israel. And that is something that has been part of our framework for many, many years. In fact, republicans and democrats alike signed off on a national security framework that talked about maintaining our commitments to our allies in NATO in Europe and also in the Middle East and foremost among them is Israel. So that has to be a building block, a linchpin. Whatever the frictions are between individual leaders at a particular point in time, the fact remains that Israel is our strongest ally in the region and we are theirs.

Lynch: How do you -- assuming that you get into this race for President -- how do you compete on foreign policy against a former Secretary of State?

O'Malley: Well, I think former Secretary of State will certainly -- Secretary Clinton will have things that she can talk about during her term of office. My perspective is not that of a Secretary of State, it is the perspective of an executive, an executive who understands how to surround himself with very strong, knowledgeable and capable people, who understands that threats change and the priorities of threats change from day-to-day and sometimes from moment to moment and is able to also make decisions in a timely way appreciating that indecision and a lack of a decision often allows problems to grow and become deeper.

Borg: Are you really saying in a veiled way there that having been Secretary of State and the record that was achieved there carries some liabilities in a campaign?

O'Malley: I'm not sure what Secretary Clinton will say were her major accomplishments as Secretary of State. Certainly we're in some uncharted waters here when it comes to nation's state failures, when it comes to proxy wars, especially in the Middle East. The need for us to develop and deepen our diplomatic understanding not only of other leaders of nation states but also of leaders of movements, leaders of tribes, leaders of non-state actors and so all of this requires us as a nation to be very clear about our principles when we are engaged internationally and to understand that we have powers, not just military powers, but economic, diplomatic and healing powers that we need to deploy in smart ways so that we can anticipate change before it happens and thereby benefit from it rather than waiting until the only option we have is military intervention at the peril of our own children's security.

Henderson: Switching to domestic policy, a few weeks ago you suggested a series of Wall Street reforms. Has your party failed the country in not being more aggressive in pursuing action after the Wall Street debacle?

O'Malley: I believe that we have not completed the job that people elected us to do. I believe that we have done some good things. Dodd-Frank pushed in the right direction but already now some in our own party are watering down those reforms. Look, for 70 years we understood that one of the purposes of our national government is to protect the common good of our national economy from reckless speculation on Wall Street. We learned that lesson the hard way in the Great Depression. But we did some common sense things that we've gotten away from over these last 30 years of trickle-down economics. We, in essence, have engaged in a systematic deregulation of Wall Street. And worse than that we now back up banks that are larger than they have ever been and we back them up with our money. So in essence when they engage in risky speculative behavior, the likes of which led to the Great Recession, loss of millions of jobs, loss of millions of homes, they do that knowing that they're so big that we have to bail them out with taxpayer dollars.

Borg: Are you saying the bailout was a mistake?

O'Malley: No, we needed to do it at the time but we need to learn from that systematic deregulation of Wall Street and go back and do the common sense things that we had done for 70 years that worked like --

Henderson: You have advocated trust busting, you have advocated breaking them up. In the political environment we're in how would you be able to achieve that with a republican Congress?

O'Malley: Every campaign, every national election is an opportunity for a conversation that leads to deeper and better understanding. What I know from traveling around the country is that Americans all intuitively understand that this last 30 years of trickle-down economics, concentrating wealth at the very top, removing regulation everywhere including Wall Street, that that type of, those actions didn't lead to greater prosperity, it led to greater insecurity. And so that is why I think you see so many people understanding intuitively that yes, banks, big banks shouldn't be able to gamble with our money. Things that we did in the past like Glass-Steagall that separated the banks that we insure and back up and prevented them from engaging in this risky speculation, we need to reinstate that. We need to appoint people in the Attorney General's Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission that actually are much more aggressive and provide a real deterrent to the risky behavior. Right now there are more repercussions for chronic speeding violations on our license than there is for a big bank to have chronic violations of SEC rules. We need a point accrual system. We need accountability on Wall Street, not because we're trying to punish one important sector, but because we need to protect the common good of our economy. And instead we're slipping backwards into the old frame of assuming that Wall Street just does what Wall Street does. And make no mistake about it, after each of these boom and busts, there has been a greater concentration of wealth at the very top of our country, the likes of which we have not seen since the Gilded Age and we're all paying for it in declining wages.

Lynch: Speaking of the common good, a lot of republican candidates are warning that without reform entitlements are going to swallow up the federal budget and Social Security and Medicare will go bust. What sort of reforms or changes need to be made there to preserve those going forward?

O'Malley: Yeah, I have a bit of a difference of opinion with some of those and the Republican Party on this score. And it fundamentally is this, look, we need to return to the truth that our parents and grandparents understood, that the stronger we make our country the more she can give back to us and to our children and to our grandchildren. One of the greatest threats to the readiness of our country's military are not opponents abroad or non-state actors or asymmetrical warfare, one of the biggest threats to the readiness of our own military are these very reckless sequester cuts that have been engaged in, in the name of making our government smaller for the sake of making our government smaller. So I think we are undercapitalizing our country. I believe that we should not, or let me say it more positively, I believe that if we actually taxed investment earnings at the same rate that we tax earnings from sweat and hard work, that we could actually not only expand Social Security, which we need to given the fact that so many pensions have been wiped out for people, but we could also invest in making our military more ready and better prepared for the threats of the 21st century. So some of this damage, in other words, James, is self-inflicted.

Borg: That says increasing taxes on the wealthy.

O'Malley: Yes. That does.

Borg: And I also heard in there a defense of the Defense Department. That is, would you like to see it enlarged, that is, our military force enlarged?

O'Malley: I think our military force in every age has to be reformed and I believe that we have to maintain a level of readiness. And right now any of the experts would agree that our readiness is being harmed by the sequester cuts and sequester is the constant, constant, constant almost the tightening of a vice of cuts to our military. Republicans and democrats alike a few years ago signed off on a strategy that, a national security strategy that said that we should maintain our commitments to NATO in the Middle East, we should be prepared to defeat two opponents simultaneously, we should maintain technological and tactical superiority. And all of those things are being threatened by the harshness, the depth of these sequester cuts. And so yes, the answer to a lot of our challenges is not to do less, it's to do more. We need to do more to create a ready force to meet the challenges of these times of failed nation states and asymmetrical warfare, not to mention the whole new domain which is cyber security. Very personnel intensive, requires training, requires technological capacities that we need to develop not only in our main services but also in our National Guard.

Henderson: One of the things you did as Maryland's Governor was in 2012 you signed a bill that made same-sex marriage legal in the state of Maryland. It seems as if there's unanimity in the Democratic Party on that issue now.

O'Malley: No.

Henderson: Exactly. What do you say to people who aren't comfortable with that? Are they welcome in the Democratic Party? And what happens in the general election of 2016? Do you lose votes because of that?

O'Malley: Great question. My reading of history is this, that as a country we are always evolving and always moving towards fuller participation and fuller freedom for every individual and we have seen that through many struggles in our nation's history. And full participation means not only full participation and inclusion in the economic life of our country but also in the social and in the political life of our country. So yes, that is why we are always reforming our immigration laws so that people can live in the full light of society. That is why we should be making it easier for people to vote rather than harder for people to vote and that’s why I think our country and our children are so quickly coming to the conclusion that whatever our religious beliefs we can all agree that in every child's home there is dignity, that every child's home deserves equal protection under the law and that civil marriage equality is actually a human right, not a state right. And I think that's a very positive thing. So, in other words, Kay, as we look over the generational horizon this is going to be such a settled issue that our grandkids are going to look back and ask if we had bumped our heads to think that this was such a big challenge. That's a good thing. That's what makes us America, fuller participation, fuller freedom for all.

Borg: Jim?

Lynch: You like to talk about your 15 years of executive experience in sort of as you said a model for the sort of president you might be. But your critics say that while you were Governor of Maryland taxes and fees went up by about $3 billion and spending increased at a rate of almost $1 billion a year. Is that a model that voters are likely to embrace? And is that a model -- is that a model of an O'Malley presidency?

O'Malley: Yeah, let's talk about both of those things for a second. The biggest challenge we face as a nation is how to make our wages actually go up, how to strengthen and grow our middle class. During my eight years as Governor our state maintained the highest median income of any state in the United States. The Pew Foundation named us one of the top three states for upward economic mobility. We made our public schools, for the first time ever, but in the middle of a recession, the number one public schools in America for five years in a row. We went four years in a row without a penny's increase to college tuition, not by chance, but by choice. And we did all of those things by paying for them. We maintained a AAA bond rating, one of only seven states that did that through the recession. And if you look at state and local tax burden as percentage of income there are only three states that have a lower tax burden as percent of income. So to those who -- and when I ran for re-election, by the way, after making many of those singularly unpopular decisions, whether it was raising the sales tax by a penny or asking the highest earners in our state to pay a little more in their income tax, I was re-elected with 14% of the vote instead of, which was double the margin that I was elected. It all comes down to this, there are some things we can and we must do together if our children are going to be winners in a changing economy rather than losers. That's what we did as a state and that is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which hardly ever apologizes for democratic governors, named our state the number one state for innovation in entrepreneurship. And, oh by the way, number one for women-owned businesses in America.

Henderson: You tweeted this week that it shouldn't take a video to ensure justice in America in relationship to the Walter Scott shooting in South Carolina. As the Mayor of a city, Baltimore, that sort of inspired a gritty police drama on HBO, The Wire, I'm wondering what you think a president can do to change police action in America.

O'Malley: Yeah, there are very few issues that I have spent as much time and tears on as the issue of public safety in America today and bridging the gap, which I think all of us can understand, between black and white in America.

Borg: We're running out of time so go ahead.

O'Malley: I think what the President can do is this, just as we report major crimes to the FBI in a timely way, we need to report police involved shootings in every jurisdiction of the country. We need to report excessive force complaints. We need to report discourtesy complaints. Openness, transparency, tracking will tell all of our police departments the work that they still need to do to police their own police and improve training.

Borg: Thank you, Governor O'Malley for being our guest today.

O'Malley: Thank you, Dean.

Borg: Next week on Iowa Press Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, now the nation's Secretary of Agriculture. You'll see Secretary Vilsack at the usual times, 7:30 Friday night, noon on Sunday. I'm Dean Borg. Thanks for joining us today.

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