“It’s up to us to restore the American Dream,” he said. “It’s up to us to make our economy work for all of us.”
While his address may have only hinted at an interest in the White House, a statement near the close of O’Malley’s speech appeared to make that clearer:
“Triangulation is not a strategy that will move America forward.”
While not mentioning her by name, O’Malley could only be referring to Hillary Clinton, who’s long led other potential Democratic candidates in presidential polls.
The “triangulation” term was coined by Dick Morris, chief political advisor to Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign. Morris described it as a method of blending liberal and conservative stances to build a more centrist platform. Not only would this help a candidate accumulate more votes, but would also isolate opponents in a polarized light, he theorized, making this strategy’s user hold the top-point apex above the lower left and right corners in a triangle.
While it worked for Bill Clinton’s re-election in 1996, the term was used against Hillary Clinton in her 2008 bid for the White House. Rival candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards used the term with negativity, changing its image to one riding a fence with non-committal stances just to avoid criticism. Instead of a vote-getting strategy, opponents said, this triangulation would only wind up with vote loss in the general election.
“Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we’re worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won’t do,” Obama said at a Nov. 2007 forum.
Criticism of triangulation was issued in after-the-fact retrospect of both Al Gore’s and John Kerry’s presidential campaigns, too.
But is Hillary Clinton holding such centrist stances? A long-time proponent of universal healthcare who’s argued and voted against tax cuts for the wealthy, she’s held notable and even pioneer stances on these and other progressive issues. Clinton’s seen on the opposite side of the fence on other subjects, though, primarily economic ones; for example, she noted free-market support in her “It Takes A Village” book, and said she was against raising the Social Security tax cap during her 2008 campaign.
And when will she announce so these and other questions about her stances could be introduced? Clinton twice delayed public statement of any announcement (although she’s currently forming a campaign team, Politico recently reported).
Of course, other viable candidates, including O’Malley himself, have yet to announce, either. And Clinton still leads all candidates – both Democrat and Republican – in recent polls.
But at least O’Malley made a point of speaking to key Democrats in a key location: South Carolina has the first southern-state presidential primary, scheduled for less than a year away in Feb. 2016.