STORY BY JAKE BULLINGTON
It was standing room only in the Confluence Brewing Company in Des Moines this weekend, as a large crowd was drawn to a ‘Pints and Politics’ event featuring Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland.
O’Malley poured himself a beer, clinking glasses with the audience as he made his way back to the front of the room, speaking for the rest of the evening standing on a chair.
O’Malley spoke seriously about his 15 years in executive experience in leadership, and the issues that face the nation, which O’Malley called the “land of opportunity.”
He has earned a progressive label from his time in Maryland, having supported the DREAM Act, same-sex marriage, comprehensive gun safety legislation, and job creation.
“We created jobs by doing more, not less,” said O’Malley.
O’Malley touted his support for labor unions, his desire to expand social security, and making college tuition free.
“We need to invest in the things that actually work,” said O’Malley.
Currently polling at about four percent in Iowa according to Real Clear Politics, O’Malley has ground to cover, especially with Vice President Biden having confirmed he’s thinking about getting into the race as well.
In his speech, as well as during the Q&A after, O’Malley framed himself to be the progressive candidate that can win a general election, something that some Iowa democrats have been waiting for.
At one point, O’Malley asked, “how many of you are teachers?”
O’Malley then drew the most applause of the evening from a dig at Governor Brandstad, saying as President he would increase education funding, not cut it.
O’Malley also praised President Obama about the recovering economy, citing of 66 straight months of positive job growth.
But it wasn’t all praise for the President.
When answering a question from the audience about his plans for cleaner energy, O’Malley voiced his opposition to the Keystone Pipeline, and pointed the hypocrisy of the President’s recent trip to Alaska to bring attention to climate change.
Shortly before that trip, the Obama administration approved oil drilling in the Arctic.
O’Malley fielded several questions from the audience about tax breaks for corporations and helping working families afford childcare.
Drake psychology professor Dr. Maria Valdovinos asked O’Malley about autism and the federal government’s role in funding of care and research, stating that funding right now is currently provided by state and local governments.
Overall, Valdovinos said she was satisfied with what O’Malley had for an answer, but said it was a pretty generic one.
“He didn’t give too many details,” Valdovinos said.
Drake senior Bri Steirer also attended the event, asking O’Malley about the mass incarceration rate.
O’Malley responded by citing his Maryland track record, where under O’Malley, the state achieved a reduced recidivism rate.
He also tied the question to gun violence, stating that there are more gun deaths than there are people incarcerated in the U.S.
O’Malley has been known to perform with a guitar at the end of his events, but even with the absence of one this weekend, O’Malley still sang a song about Labor Day, getting the crowd to sing along with him.
Finally, O’Malley ended the event by asking for the audience’s support.
“I’m running to win, and I intend to win. I need your help.”