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KING: The Wisconsin voting is being watched for its potential national implications and by governors of both parties who want to see whether voters reward or punish Governor Walker for the bruising battles of his first two years. Among them, Martin O'Malley. He's Maryland's governor and head of the Democratic Governors' Association.
Governor, thanks for being with us. What is your sense, as you're watching this voting, you were out campaigning for the Democratic candidate, Mayor Barrett. What will the message be?
GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: Well, I think that the message that Tom Barrett's been taking across Wisconsin is that, look, we have to stop fighting one another; we have to start fighting for jobs and for opportunities. This sort of ideological effort to roll back workers' rights, roll back women's rights, roll back voting rights, none of those things create jobs.
And as a result, Wisconsin's been 50th out of 50 states in the rate of job creation. So I think that is the main thrust and the main message here, and it will be very interesting to see. You know, if Mayor Barrett pulls this off, this will one of the biggest upsets in modern American history. He's been outspent 7-1, and yet the race is coming down to the wire.
KING: And if he doesn't pull it off, what's the message then, and will labor unions and other governors quake at that?
O'MALLEY: I don't know that they'll be any quaking. I do think that there is a recognition that this is an important race. He has been outspent 7-1, notwithstanding the fact that the Democratic governors have been there, notwithstanding a tremendous grassroots organization on the ground. It is still -- it is still a colossal force that our candidate has been going up against.
So it'll be very interesting to see how you all handicap this as we roll out of here. But every race is important to us. We'd love to see Wisconsin join the ranks of those states that have effective leadership instead of ideological leadership and that has Wisconsin creating jobs and expanding opportunity again.
KING: And you make the case for how important it is, and yet the leader of your party, the President of the United States, has been , in the view of many Democrats I've spoken to out in Wisconsin, MIA. Yes, he did send out a tweet. Yes, he did send out an e-mail this morning to his list in Wisconsin. But the president didn't go to Wisconsin and campaign. If you talk to some Democrats out there, Governor, they say he's risk averse. Some say that he's selfish.
O'MALLEY: Oh, I don't -- I wouldn't agree with that. Look, what -- it's a tricky thing here. Governors in -- I mean, the people of every state select their own governor. And I think the appearance of the president as the potential to nationalize a race that, quite frankly, should be about whether or not the people of Wisconsin are creating jobs and expanding opportunity again.
So the chair of the DNC was there. The grassroots organization is certainly on the ground. The president and all of his people are supportive of that.
KING: Whether the president goes out there or not, whether the president nationalizes it, only the voters of Wisconsin can vote in the election. What's the fear of nationalizing it, if that's the term you want to use, if the president's going out there? Are you afraid if he went out there that it would, what, motivate Republicans and it might hurt your chances?
O'MALLEY: No, I don't determine the schedule and I don't determine that sort of strategy. I can tell you this, that the grassroots effort that's going on in Wisconsin is no doubt every person that's working for Mayor Barrett knows that President Obama would like to see Wisconsin effectively led by an effective Democratic governor.
KING: The state hasn't voted Republican for president since Ronald Reagan's 49-1 sweep. Do you think it will matter in that regard?
O'MALLEY: Yes, I'm not sure. You know, every race is different. I believe that President Obama will carry Wisconsin in the fall. You see auto manufacturing being turned around. You see that our nation, instead of losing jobs every month has had 27 months of positive job creation. So there's ups and downs ahead of us.
But overall, I believe that the president's going to carry Wisconsin. What this means in terms of a bellwether for the presidential, I'm not sure. I do know that a lot of people will be watching this in terms of his new rules that allow unlimited out-of- state, big-time billionaire money to come in and put points and commercials underneath facts that, in the last week, are sometimes made up false and dubious.
KING: Governor O'Malley, I appreciate your time tonight. We'll watch the results and we'll touch base in the days ahead.
O'MALLEY: John, thanks a lot.
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