In New Hampshire last year, O’Malley dismissed what he called the Republican-led “constipation Congress” for not acting on President Barack Obama’s jobs plan. “These Republican obstructionists wouldn’t pass gas if they thought it might help our president heal our economy,” O’Malley said.
He also challenged Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, a Republican, to a push-up contest.
Ed Goeas, a Republican pollster, said O’Malley “has made a lot of enemies, and a lot of people would certainly like to give it back to him.”
“That kind of personality may play well in Maryland. It doesn’t play well in the Midwest,” Goeas said. “I have so many examples of the guy being a Class-A jerk I can’t even begin to list them.”
Strategist Karl Rove has said Republicans would be “blessed” if O’Malley ran, saying he would be the “Howard Dean of 2016,” a reference to the former Vermont governor whose candidacy tanked in 2004. “Let him go out there and say let’s tax everybody more, let’s spend everything we got,” Rove said last summer.
The more difficult challenges, Democratic strategists say, are distinguishing himself from Clinton, Biden and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, another purported contender, who embraces the same policies, and proving his viability by raising money.
“He has to be the interesting, scrappy start-up company trying to get into the mix with the blue-chip heavyweights,” said Chris Lehane, a strategist who advised the campaigns of Al Gore and Wesley Clark. “If you’re the start-up, there’s a lot more burden on you to distinguish yourself. What is your vision?”
Robert Shrum, the Democratic consultant whose clients have included Secretary of State John Kerry, said O’Malley’s rationale cannot be “a recycled version” of Hart, “that I’m new and young. It’s got to be richer than that.”