The presidential election will remain close until the "final decision window" because voters are dissatisfied with the economy, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley predicted on Sunday. But, he said, voters will ultimately reelect President Barack Obama rather than return to Republican policies.
"This is not the time to wave pompoms. It is the time to dig deep and move forward and not go back to those disastrous policies that landed us in this economic problem to begin with," O'Malley said in television appearance from Charlotte days before he will speak at this week's Democratic National Convention there.
O'Malley, appearing on CNN's State of the Union, hewed closely to the Obama campaign message that paints Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as a repeat of President George W. Bush. Asked whether Democrats could believably continue to blame Republicans for the economy, O'Malley said they could.
"Because more jobs were created in the private sector last year alone than in all eight years of George W. Bush," O'Malley said. "We did not get into the economic problems we did because President Obama was in office for two months. I mean, the ground was laid by the bad polices of George W. Bush."
O'Malley, widely considered a potential presidential candidate for 2016, was asked about a state issue that is likely to come up frequently over the next four years if he pursues a campaign: Taxes. Noting that Maryland is expected to end its budget year with a half-billion dollar surplus, O'Malley ducked a question on whether the state should return revenue raised from recent tax increases.
"You get what you pay for," O'Malley said. "We did not build as a people the No. 1 public schools in America four years in a row by giving away tax breaks to billionaires," the governor said. "We did it by investing in our children's future."
O'Malley stuck to the same anti-Bush theme during an appearance on CBS's Face the Nation later in the day. He said there were three things voters did not see from the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week: New ideas for the economy, any mention of Bush and Romney's tax returns.
"Their only idea is ladling on bigger tax breaks," said O'Malley, who was joined by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter.
Asked if he thought people were better off than they were four years ago, O'Malley said, "No, but that's not the question of this election. The question, without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recession, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars charged for the first time to the national credit card."