9:53 am May. 28, 20121
Appearing on "Meet the Press" this Sunday opposite Newt Gingrich, Martin O'Malley seemed to solidify his status as Barack Obama's chief defender among the country's Democratic governors.
O'Malley's closeness to the re-election campaign is partly a function of his role as chair of the Democratic Governors Association. (His appearance on "Meet the Press" also highlighted the difference between his approach and that of Andrew Cuomo, a possible rival in 2016 who avoids Sunday shows and has kept the Obama campaign at arm's length.)
O'Malley gave a point-by-point defense of the White House, and addressed the difficult issue of Bain Capital.
"I think what you see and I think part of what some of the, you know, armchair critics are missing is that what Romney did—Mr. Romney, not Governor Romney—but what he did at Bain Capital was to drive up debt greatly by these companies that Bain took over in order to return huge dividends to a small, little group of investors and then walk away from the business."
Gingrich did his best to distinguish his own attacks on Romney's Bain record from the Obama campaign's.
"The problem that Obama has is he has no model of effective job creation as compared to private capital," Gingrich said. "And I think that's why this is gonna fall flat on its face. Plus, I was very careful. I didn't go after private equity."
Gingrich also made a reasonably good case for Romney's record in the public sector, something Romney's own campaign still seems to be figuring out.
"When Romney left the governorship after four years, they were at 4.47 percent unemployment," he said. "If we were at 4.7 percent unemployment, there'd be five and a half million more Americans at work.
"So whether Obama wants to fight on Governor Romney's record or he wants to fight on private sector Romney's record, Obama deciding to pick a fight, this is is a little bit like the reverse of James Carville in '92. Obama picking a fight on the economy is probably the worst possible strategy for his campaign."
Gingrich was a lot more successful in making the case for his former adversary than former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who went on CNN's "State of the Union" and wound up reinforcing some of the things he said when he ran against Romney as a presidential candidate.
"Maybe it was circumstances or whatever, but I had massive reductions in unemployment," Giuliani said. "He had a reduction in unemployment of about 8, 10 percent; I think it was 15 percent. I had a reduction of unemployment of 50 percent. He had a growth of jobs of about 40,000. We had a growth of jobs of about 500,000. So I was comparing what I thought was my far superior record to his otherwise decent record."
Giuliani said that his prior criticisms were "all part of campaigning," and that there's often a "certain amount of personal ego" involved.