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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

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Let's talk about that and more with one of those Democrats, the Democratic governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, who is here looking at what's going on.

Some people think you may be running for president in four years.

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: That's very nice.

BLITZER: You see a convention like this, do you get excited thinking maybe I would be at a presidential convention one day being nominated for president of the United States?

O'MALLEY: No. What I think when I see a convention like this is just what an important choice we have coming up. I'm here on behalf of the Democratic Governors Association and also to offer the counterpoint to the...

BLITZER: You're the chair of the Democratic Governors.

O'MALLEY: I'm the chair of the Democratic Governors Association.

And what we're going to be seeing over the next few days will be an attempt to reinvent Mitt Romney. And so we're here in the company of other Democratic elected leaders to offer that counterpoint.

BLITZER: There will be Republicans who will show up in Charlotte I'm sure to give a little opposition statements as well.

(CROSSTALK)

O'MALLEY: It's America. And that's what it's about.

BLITZER: It was a little unusual though almost. The vice president was going to come here this week, but he got derailed because of the bad weather. That was pretty extraordinary for a sitting vice president to come to an opposition presidential convention. That would have been extraordinary.

O'MALLEY: Well, it's a big state with a lot of electoral votes.

And I think the vice president made the right decision though given the proximity of the weather and all of the emergency management stresses that Florida is already going to be going through.

BLITZER: I don't know if you heard the former Florida Governor Jeb Bush yesterday. He suggested, you know, it's about time for this president, President Obama to stop just blaming his brother for the economic problems. He's had three-and-a-half-plus years to deal with it, still 8.3 percent unemployment. Millions of Americans are looking for work.

When is that supposed to end? When does the president stop blaming his predecessor?

O'MALLEY: Well, I think he would have long ago were it not for the fact that Jeb Bush's brother George left our country with the biggest job losses, the biggest deficits and biggest mess any president was left since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

So, it's kind of hard to overlook that. We have now under President Obama's leadership had 29 months in a row of private sector job growth. That stretch of positive private sector job growth hasn't happened since 2005. We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction.

But we should not lose sight of how far we are coming and what a big hole we were left by George W. Bush.

BLITZER: But at some point, though, the president is going to have to say, you know what, I have done my best. I have tried. We have improved certain areas, but there's still a long way to go.

O'MALLEY: Well, of course there's a long way to go.

The most important job we create is the next one, which is why the president's offered several jobs bills, each one of which has been rejected by the Republicans in the House. So, look, in order to move our country forward, we have to do the things our parents and grandparents did. They believed enough in our country to invest in our country, to create jobs, to make modern investments. And those are the things that we need to get back to with a balanced approach.

BLITZER: These conventions are important. This convention is important. Next week's Democratic Convention is important. But I suspect those three presidential debates in October, as far as the undecided or the switchable voters are concerned, are going to be much more important. Rob Portman, the senator from Ohio, is going to play President Obama in the debate preparation for Mitt Romney.

Do you know who is going to play Mitt Romney in the debate preparation for President Obama?

O'MALLEY: I don't know. I'm not privy to that.

BLITZER: Nobody's asked you?

O'MALLEY: Nobody's asked me yet, no. No one's asked me.

BLITZER: Would you be ready to do something like that?

O'MALLEY: Well, I will be glad to be of any service I can be to the president's reelection.

BLITZER: Because that's important. You have done debates, so you understand.

O'MALLEY: Yes, the debates can be nerve-racking and sometimes the person that plays your opponent, you end up not talking to for several months afterwards.

BLITZER: Because he...

O'MALLEY: But, Wolf, I think you're right. I think these debates are going to be very important because our country's at a crossroads here.

And these two individuals offer two entirely different views. Mitt Romney is someone who believes in doubling down on the same failed policies that George W. Bush brought us, more big tax breaks for the wealthiest 1 percent, cuts to education, phasing out Medicare as we know it.

I don't believe that that's the sort of thing that people are going to embrace. And that's what this election is going to be about, whether we're still a country that is able to move forward or whether we're going to slip back.

BLITZER: Are you going to hang out in Tampa for a few days all week or just...

O'MALLEY: At least for a couple days here, tonight and tomorrow.

BLITZER: By the way, I'm just being told in my ear that John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts, is going to be playing Mitt Romney in the debate preparation.

O'MALLEY: Oh, there you go.

BLITZER: He knows what he's doing. He's pretty good.

O'MALLEY: He does. He's done it before.

BLITZER: I'm sure he will do a good job on that front as well.

Enjoy Tampa.

O'MALLEY: Hey, thanks a lot.

BLITZER: And you will be in Charlotte next week.

O'MALLEY: I will.

BLITZER: One final thing. If you were a governor of a state now, like Louisiana or Mississippi, they could be going through big problems. That could have an effect not only this week, but potentially next week, based on what happens, if there's enormous devastation.

O'MALLEY: Right.

I mean, I think that some of these governors will decide to stay home. And that's where they need to be in order to -- when you have a hurricane bearing down on your state, that's where you need to be.

BLITZER: That's priority number one.

O'MALLEY: Absolutely.

BLITZER: And we wish all those folks the best.

O'MALLEY: We do.

BLITZER: Hey, Governor, thanks for coming on.

O'MALLEY: Wolf, thank you.

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