Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a chief surrogate of Barack Obama and leader of all Democratic governors, today said that the president's 2012 campaign will run against a familiar face: George W. Bush.
Charging that Bush and fellow Republicans socked the economy, destroyed the middle class and built a historically high deficit with tax cuts for the rich, O'Malley said that Obama and other Democrats will ask for more time to fix what they inherited.
"This election is going to be about which of the two alternatives have the best shot at moving our country forward out of this recession," said O'Malley.
Shrugging off responsibility for the economic and political situation the president finds himself in, the self-described progressive said that it's unrealistic to believe that the nation's woes could be blamed on an administration just two-and-a-half years old.
"We could not have caused this amount of job loss in just two years, could not do it. Could not run up the biggest deficit in our nation's history in just four months in office, we're not that effective. We couldn't not have gotten ourselves in two long, protracted wars without any mechanism to pay for it just in the first two years in office. We didn't do those things," said O'Malley. "No party is so effective that they can accomplish those ills in just two years. And I think by the election people will remember that. Those were all things that the other guys did when they had the power."
Consider the deficit, he said. "Under President Obama it continues to go up until it we get to a point where we bring it down. And no nation with 10 percent unemployment can ever hope in a timely fashion to retire the deficit, the record deficit that George Bush created and left to his successor."
O'Malley, head of the Democratic Governors' Association, also spread the blame for Obama's situation to Republicans in Congress and those running for president.
"Their party is directly responsible for a great deal of damage to our economy because of their policies and they cannot run away from that. The facts are stubborn things and people over time do figure out whose on their side, who is not, and they're responsible for an awful lot of damage to our country's economy, to the erosion of our middle class, to first stagnating and then declining wages and their worship at the altar of tax cuts for the wealthy is unbecoming to the vast majority of hard working families that want a better future for their kids," he said. O'Malley spoke to reporters at a newsmaker breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Worse, said O'Malley, the GOP is still hurting the economy by not rubber stamping Obama's jobs program and fielding presidential candidates who are offering up tax cuts the party has long favored.
"I firmly believe that Republicans in Congress, driven by a concerted group, have decided that it is not in their party's political interests to have the president succeed at creating any jobs," he said.
As for the presidential candidates, he said that they are "pretty much sticking with the trickle down George Bush mode."
When a reporter asked why Democrats weren't more upset with Obama and themselves fielding a primary challenger, O'Malley pretty much laid out the Obama campaign message.
"The reason why no one is running against him in the Democratic Party is because he saved our country from going into the second Great Depression, he's managed to get something done on healthcare ... he's managed to effectuate the drawdown and eventual withdrawal on Iraq and hopefully on our way in Afghanistan."
As for Obama hurting the party in the elections, he said, "I don't see him as bringing the ship down."
Then he lowered the boom: "Things actually could be worse, and could get worse."