With the Baltimore Inner Harbor as his backdrop and an oversized American flag looming to his left, the 42nd U.S. President Bill Clinton joined some of Maryland’s top lawmakers, Oct. 21, to rally support for Gov. Martin O’Malley.

The event, held in Federal Hill Park, attracted a throng of almost 1,000 supporters from across the state.

The former president praised the governor for his green energy goals, tax credits, education initiatives and job creation.

O’Malley created 33,000 jobs this year, Clinton said. “That’s more than the national average since 2000—that’s the last year I was president,” he said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.

Clinton warned that Republican candidates are “banking that voters won’t think” or fact-check the negative advertisements they run against their Democratic challengers. “(O’Malley’s) opponent was so desperate, he accused O’Malley of raising taxes on groceries and you don’t even tax groceries in Maryland,” said Clinton.

He sent his strongest message to Maryland’s young people. “You have a governor who froze tuition for four years. How can you not vote?” he asked. “You are tomorrow’s America, and you’ve got a lot riding on this.”

This is the second rally Clinton has headlined on behalf of the current governor. Back in 2006, during O’Malley’s first matchup with then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Clinton stumped for O’Malley at a campaign event in Prince George’s County.

O’Malley returned the favor when he supported Hillary Clinton early on during her 2008 bid for president.

The recent event included brief remarks from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Reps. Elijah Cummings and Donna Edwards, Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, and others.

The government officials urged participants to vote and vote early for a governor who has “been on their side.”

“Baltimore is making great progress,” said Rawlings-Blake. “He has been there for us, fighting for our families.”

Cummings added, “The administration before us left us in a ditch with quicksand at the bottom. We have worked so hard to get us out and move us forward.”

Awestruck Clinton and O’Malley lovers leaped over each other for autographs and handshakes from the men.

“I just moved to Maryland from Chicago, so I came to the rally to get into the Maryland spirit and to get to know my community,” said Debbie Wooley, 52, a Federal Hill resident, who attended the rally. “I’m extremely impressed with O’Malley. I didn’t know a lot about him but now I’m sure I will vote for him. He sold me today.”

Clinton’s address to young adults hit hard with Brandon Cwatina, a 19-year-old Baltimore native enrolled at Penn State University. “College students need to vote for O’Malley because of all he has done for us,” he said. The first-time voter skipped a class to attend the rally.

“People need to vote for O’Malley because he kept our jobs and he didn’t raise our taxes,” said O’Malley volunteer Diane Bay, 57. “I was here when Ehrlich was governor, so I know. It’s crazy how easily people forget.”

That same day, the governor had an early morning debate with challenger Ehrlich on WOLB’s 1010 AM. He also hosted a private campaign luncheon in Chevy Chase, Md., that featured Vice President Joe Biden.

 

Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO