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SCHIEFFER: Let's go to the other side of the table, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.
Governor, let me just start where he left off. Are you thinking about running for the Democratic nomination for president?
O'MALLEY: I'm looking at that. But the most immediate responsibility I have is to Govern Maryland well. And through difficult times, we've made our public schools the number one in the country and have achieved the best level of job creation of any state in the Mid-Atlantic.
And that's really what it's about. When every state succeeds then America succeeds. And democratic governors believe in doing the right thing, the things that work to strengthen our middle class so that we can grow our economy.
SCHIEFFER: One of the things that does not appear to run or had hard time even getting off the floor and getting started, was the president's health care plan. This -- there's no other way to look at it. This roll out was a disaster.
Where are are you on that and how much do you think that's going to hurt Democrats?
O'MALLEY: Well, as a state we were looking to sign up 260,000 people. Right now we're about 200,000 that have signed up. The kick off of the web sites was certainly rocky. We squibbed the kickoff
SCHIEFFER: But it was more than rocky.
O'MALLEY: Oh, absolutely. But the main goal here -- and Bob, I'm sure with any new program, whether you go back to the start of Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, there are always problems. But the goal is to cover more people so that we can improve the wellness of our people and not have the constantly escalating costs of health care.
SCHIEFFER: Where do you think it is right now?
O'MALLEY: Where do I think, what, health care reform is?
SCHIEFFER: Yeah, I mean, this whole plan, is this thing going to work or are they going to have to start over?
O'MALLEY: Oh, I think it's going much better. And it will continue to improve.
Look, the main goal here and larger battle is to bring down the costs of health care which is keeping us from being a more productive job generating country. You can't put dollars in to job creation if every year you're cutting checks, small businesses, medium business, large for 17, 15, 18 percent increase in your health care. So that's the goal. And we'll achieve that goal by working together and making this work.
SCHIEFFER: Do you think that Democrats, very many Democrats will ask the president to come and campaign for them now? Because I hear a lot of them don't want him in their states now because this thing is so unpopular.
I'm not saying it's good or bad, I'm not saying we need it or don't need it, I'm just saying it is very unpopular among a lot of people across the country.
O'MALLEY: Well, I think the perceptions of the Affordable Care Act will greatly change once the enrollment period comes to close by the end of March. By the end of March, you will see most states hitting their goals, you'll see our country having extended health care with more people. And all of those that have been scared and frightened that somehow something is going to happen to their health care will realize that those scare tactics were not true, that those were just falsehoods pedaled by the ideological right.
SCHIEFFER: You said something that got a lot of people's attention not so long ago by Chris Christie, you said well, he's great entertainment value if he decides to run for president but you didn't think he had very good record besides that. That was before this bridge business came up.
Do you think he's still a viable candidate for the Republicans?
O'MALLEY: Oh, I don't know. I will leave the Republican choice to the Republicans.
I can tell you this, in our state we believe in doing things in Maryland that work to create jobs and strengthen our middle class, to build up our schools, to empower our teachers not to vilify them or bully them. My differences with Chris Christie are many on policy choices. And in terms much the current, excuse me, Justice Department probe and other investigations I'll leave that to the people of New Jersey and the Justice Department to figure out.
SCHIEFFER: Talk a little bit about what is going on in Washington now. Governor Jindal all said there is a disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country, do you see that?
O'MALLEY: Well, I think the greatest disconnect is really between the ideologues that have taken over the once proud party of Abraham Lincoln and made it impossible for our congress are that the vast majority of us, Democrats and Republicans throughout the country, agree make sense like pay the country's bills, pass comprehensive immigration reform, do the common sense things.
I mean, shutting our country down does not help job growth. Selling America short does not help us build a better future for our kids. And these are the things that the Tea Party Republicans have brought to our congress and made it very difficult for Mr. Boehner and other Republicans even to enact the sort of reasonable compromise that all of us took for granted in years past.
SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, governor, I'm sure you would concede that you have those on the left who would take the party as far as that way as some of the Tea Party folks want to take the Republican Party on the right.
I mean, when the president comes out and says he's not going to touch entitlement reform that's like waving a red flag in front of a bull to the Republicans? I mean a -- I -- have we given up on trying to get anything done and compromising on anything?
O'MALLEY: No, I think there are good things that we can still do. I mean recently, they were able to enact at least a budget deal for the four -- you know, for the next year. They were able to pass a farm bill.
But the fact of the matter is that President Obama has reduced average annual spending increases to their smallest levels of any president since Dwight Eisenhower.
The problem here is not that somehow seniors are getting too many benefits in terms of Social Security. The problem is our country's future is being choked by this ideological commitment to greater tax cuts for the very wealthiest of Americans. And that's hurting our country, it's hurting our ability to make progress and it's hurting middle class wages.
That's why so many Democratic governors are pushing for an increase in the minimum wage.
And yet, you see many Republican ideologues saying, oh, we can't do that, somehow if a person is actually able to lift their family through their hard work out of poverty with a -- a better minimum wage, that that somehow is an affront to their trickle down ideology. And -- and the fact is, prosperity is grown from the middle out and the middle up.
SCHIEFFER: Let me just go back to what we started with and that is the coming presidential campaign in 2016.
If Hillary Clinton is the nominee -- if Hillary Clinton runs, would you also -- would you still run?
O'MALLEY: I think the most important question for any of us who feel that we have something to offer for our country's future is to offer those ideas and to put those ideas out there and, most importantly, to ask the right questions, questions like what will it take to make sure that our middle class is growing again so we can grow our economy?
And that's what I'm going to be doing. And what the other candidates may or may not do is their choice.
SCHIEFFER: All right, Governor, thank you so much for being here.
O'MALLEY: Bob, thank you.
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