Former Maryland governor and onetime presidential hopeful Martin O'Malley said he looks forward to helping the Democratic party defeat Donald Trump in the fall, but he was tight-lipped about which candidate he was supporting for his party's nomination.
O'Malley, who suspended his presidential bid after a disappointing finish in the Iowa caucuses, sounded off on local and national politics during an appearance on WMAR TV's "Square Off" with host Richard Sher. The show airs Sunday at 11 a.m. and is also available on squareoff.net.
O'Malley said that Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, had a 'fascist appeal' that was resonating with a portion of the polarized electorate he observed as a candidate on the campaign trail.
"He scapegoats others," O'Malley said. "He tells people that our problems are all the fault of immigrants or people who are not like us. It's the fascist appeal that we've seen in other times in history. And he's not to be underestimated."
While O'Malley did not say who he was supporting for the Democratic nomination, he said he would support the party's nominee "to make sure we don't skid off the road into a security state under a would-be President Trump."
On the presidential campaign trail, Trump used O'Malley's tenure in Baltimore and his stance on the Black Lives Matter movement to point out weaknesses in his candidacy.
During a Democratic debate, Trump tweeted, "O'Malley, as former Mayor of Baltimore, has very little chance." And in a Fox News interview, he described the two-term governor as a "disgusting, little, weak, pathetic baby" after O'Malley apologized for saying "all lives matter" after he was confronted by Black Lives Matters protesters.
Responding to a question about whether he would take a job in Hillary Clinton's Cabinet should she win the presidency, O'Malley said he wasn't holding his breath. He said he had "fun things, interesting and challenging things," to look forward to.
He recently announced his new job as chairman of the advisory board at the Washington-based MetroLab Network, where he will serve as a senior fellow of the network of university partnerships with cities and counties.
On local politics, the former Baltimore mayor said he believes the city's biggest challenge is public safety and that the city has "suffered a bit of a setback the last two years."
He promoted crime-fighting reforms under his administration that he said worked to drive down crime and boost public confidence in the Police Department, such as the data-driven performance program Comstat and the civilian review board.
O'Malley also said he believed the acceptance of high crime in cities like Baltimore boiled down to issues of race that have been highlighted in the Black Lives Matter movement.
"Yes, I do believe if the people being murdered, if the perpetrators were from al-Qaida or the Arabian Peninsula … we would have a different reaction than if the perpetrators came from Aisquith Street" in Baltimore, he said.
He said that he believed the first thing the new mayor of Baltimore should do is send a message that addresses these issues.
"There is no progress that's possible unless we continue to make our city a safer place," O'Malley said. "I think what's important for any mayor to do is to make sure people understand the connection between making our city a safer place and making it a better place."