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O’Malley emphasizes stance on environment in final stretch before Iowa caucus

John Brady
Gov. Martin O’Malley speaks to students and community members in Harris on Wednesday. Photo by John Brady


Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks to students and community members in Harris on Wednesday. Photo by John Brady
Gov. Martin O’Malley speaks to students and community members in Harris on Wednesday. Photo by John Brady

Presidential candidate Gov. Martin O’Malley spoke to the Grinnell community about the environment, the economy and executive experience at the Harris Center on Jan. 27. Concerned about meeting the 15 percent minimum to be counted in the Iowa caucus, O’Malley called upon Iowans to vote for the underdog candidate as they did for Obama in 2008.

With many policies consistent with those of Sen. Bernie Sanders, O’Malley differentiated himself by discussing his views on climate change.

“I am the first candidate in this race … to put forward a plan to move us to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050 and create 5 million jobs along the way,” O’Malley said.

Frequently praised for his sense of humor and congeniality as a public speaker, O’Malley stood on a chair during his speech. He insisted this boosts attendance at his events because, “everyone wants to see the presidential candidate fall on his face.”

“Today 30 to 35 percent of your electric energy now comes from clean Iowa wind,” O’Malley said. “Its’ employing 5,000 people here in your own state. And the great thing about those big component parts you sometimes see rumbling down I-80 is they’re too big for it to make any sense to import them from somewhere else, for the most part.”

Many Grinnell students back O’Malley because of his dedication to the environment, particularly since Obama named climate change as the greatest threat to future generations in his 2015 State of the Union Address and, more recently, over 150 countries around the world signed the Paris Agreement, which addresses the need to stop using fossil fuels by 2050.

“Number one for me is renewable energy by 2050,” said O’Malley supporter Alex Mitchell ’17.

While all Democratic candidates support an increased minimum wage, O’Malley also differentiates himself from national front-runner Hillary Clinton by calling for an increase to $15 rather than her proposed $12.

“We have to restore common sense wage and labor policies that actually grow our middle class,” O’Malley said. “Some of these guys have it backwards, a large middle class is the cause of economic growth not a consequence of it, and that’s why for forty years we always kept the minimum wage above the poverty line for a family of two. I say we should raise the minimum wage, raise it to $15 an hour however we can and wherever we can.”

As Governor of Maryland, O’Malley signed legislation that would raise the minimum wage state-wide in Maryland to $10.10 per hour in 2017.

“He has shown the experience to do it in the past,” Mitchell said in reference to O’Malley’s increasing the minimum wage as the Governor of Maryland.

O’Malley also spoke of his executive experience to the Grinnell community. When the question and answer session that followed his speech raised concerns about O’Malley’s lack of foreign affairs experience, he described his experience as a leader in Home Security and Preparedness in the national governor and mayor associations.

“Governors led us to victory in two world wars,” O’Malley said. “I believe a part of that is that one of the things you learn as a governor is that every day there are threats that are changing and evolving and you have to surround yourself with a very strong cabinet so that you are always on the inside of the turning radius of those threats and not on the outside.”

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