- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley yesterday endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, saying the New York Democrat is a strong leader who understands homeland security issues.

“The security of our nation might very well depend on the speed with which our next president can close [the] leadership deficit at home and also in the international arena,” said Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat.

Mrs. Clinton, speaking at the Annapolis City Dock, focused on the efforts to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq and said President Bush has not made a clear plan for the war.

“It is imperative that he begin to extricate us from Iraq before he leaves office,” Mrs. Clinton said. “But if he does not, when I am president, I will.”

Mrs. Clinton has joined Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, on legislation to repeal congressional authorization for the war and require Mr. Bush to seek new authority from Congress to extend the conflict beyond Oct. 11 — five years after the original permission was given.

In Annapolis, Mrs. Clinton, 59, also said she wanted to focus on building international support for the United States.

Mrs. Clinton praised Mr. O’Malley for signing the country’s first statewide living-wage law Tuesday, a measure that requires state contractors to pay at least $8.50 to workers — $11.30 in parts of Maryland such as Baltimore and the D.C. suburbs where it is more expensive to live.

She said the country’s next president will need to persuade Americans that political leaders can make good policies to improve their lives.

“There’s a feeling that somehow the everyday challenges that people confront are not being seen by their government in Washington, that in effect, people feel invisible,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Mr. O’Malley, who was mayor of Baltimore before being elected governor in November, will serve as the chairman of Mrs. Clinton’s Maryland campaign.

Maryland Republicans said Mr. O’Malley is jumping on the bandwagon of the Democratic front-runner.

“Four years ago, Mr. O’Malley jumped on the bandwagon of front-runner Howard Dean, and he is doing the same with the front-runner this time around,” said state Republican Party Chairman James Pelura III.

When a reporter asked Mrs. Clinton whether there would be a place for the governor in her administration, Mr. O’Malley, 44, jokingly advised the former first lady to skip the question.

“Don’t answer that question,” he said. “Say ‘next question.’ ”

Mrs. Clinton replied: “Well, let me say that I am a big fan of Governor O’Malley.”



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