Monday, Sept. 3, 2012 | 9:40 p.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C.--When the head of the Democratic Governors Association spoke to the Nevada delegation Monday morning, he made an effort to build up President Barack Obama and tear down Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.
But in doing so, Governor Martin O’Malley – a prominent Obama surrogate – appeared to apply a double political standard.
“President Obama didn’t create the Bush recession,” O’Malley said Monday morning.
But when it came to Sandoval, O’Malley was less forgiving.
“Under Gov. Sandoval, Nevada has had the highest unemployment rate in the country for three years running,” he said.
There’s a problem with O’Malley’s math: Sandoval has been occupying the governor’s mansion for less than two years.
So why is Sandoval responsible for a recession that preceded him, but Obama isn’t?
O’Malley is known as a skilled politician. He easily wooed the Nevada DNC delegation with his knowledge of obscure American history and by dropping the names of competitive Nevada candidates. He didn’t depart the breakfast before getting every member of the Nevada delegation to join him in a boisterous series of call-and-response cheers to move the country “Forward! Not Back!”
But his relatively unfamiliarity with Nevada made it somewhat difficult for him to explain his rationale.
When pressed, O’Malley’s general argument was this: Sandoval hasn’t improved Nevada’s economy, while Obama, he argues, has improved the national economy. To stress this, he criticized the cuts Sandoval made to health care and education to balance the state budget, while extolling Obama’s efforts to increase the number of public sector jobs.
“You’ll never bring down your unemployment rate if for every one job you create in the private sectors you’re taking one away in the public sector,” O’Malley told reporters.
He also tied Sandoval to the three political figures Democrats find the most reprehensible in this election: The Tea Party, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan.
But O’Malley didn’t say how the Democrats would go about trying to replace him.
Though his approval ratings are still high at home, Sandoval has suffered a series of political setbacks on the national stage. He was snubbed for the presidential ticket, after early rumors he might be on a short list, and last week, he had a lackluster showing at the Republican National Convention. (O’Malley said he was not aware that Sandoval had made an appearance.)
But while Democrats are quick to criticize Sandoval, they don’t have a candidate in mind to start building a case against him.
“Not at this point,” O'Malley said. “But I think there’s a lot of good Democrats in Nevada. And I think one will emerge.”