But if young people are waiting for that message, Congress decidedly isn’t. Asked if he expected to pick up any new endorsements after his appeal to the caucus, O’Malley replied with a flat “No.” He later added, “Well, not today. … I do expect endorsements later in this process when people start to decide.”
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Marylander, who praised O’Malley’s tenure as governor, nonetheless backs Clinton. “I took [O’Malley’s message] as if he was addressing a group of people, a large number of whom are already committed to Hillary Clinton,” Hoyer said. “He was just saying, ‘Look, I get it. But I’m here, I’m real. I have a message; I want you to hear my message. If at some point in time you have an opportunity to make a second choice, I hope I’m it.’”
It’s not that elected Democrats don’t like O’Malley. Many spoke highly of his tenure as governor and presidential platform. But with so many already committed to Clinton, they can do little more than clap politely at his message. Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, a Clinton supporter, said O’Malley received a standing ovation after his address. “He’s considered a great friend, a great Democrat, and one of the best governors that we’ve seen in quite some time.”
But not Choice No. 1.
O’Malley’s hope seems to be that Clinton will falter, making him the most viable choice for Democrats who want to win the general election. He sought to cast himself as the middle-ground candidate on economics, drawing contrasts with Clinton's and Sanders’ records. “Between the crony capitalism, the Wall Street capitalism, the economy of the few, by the few and for the few, and the proven failure of socialism, there's a better way forward,” he said. “It is fair-market American capitalism, where when people work hard they're able to get ahead.”
For every attack on Clinton, O’Malley added a dig at Sanders, seemingly trying to ensure the current No. 2 in the polls won’t be the de facto No. 1 should Clinton lose her front-runner status. “Senator Sanders very recently, just in the last few months, said that immigrants take our jobs,” O’Malley said. “I’m aware that Senator Sanders voted against comprehensive immigration reform in 2007, when we actually had a chance to pass it.” He went on to attack Clinton for opposing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants—and for using the term “illegal immigrants.”
“Senator Sanders has a big vulnerability, as does Secretary Clinton, on the issue of immigration,” he said. “Theirs is the old thinking that has prevented us from getting this done. Theirs is the old thinking that says one thing to one group and one thing to another. Theirs is the old thinking that fails to recognize that comprehensive immigration reform actually makes our economy stronger and our country stronger.”
Still, many of the biggest immigration reform advocates in Congress—such as Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Linda Sanchez—are firmly in Clinton’s camp.