Martin O'Malley defends his Baltimore record, calls for 'agenda for American cities'

Martin O'Malley defends record as Baltimore mayor

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said Sunday that recent unrest in Baltimore that has brought new scrutiny of policing policies he championed as the city's mayor would not deter him from a possible presidential run, saying events have shown the need for "an agenda for American cities" he would champion.

"I did not dedicate my life to making Baltimore a safer and more just place because it was easy," O'Malley said on NBC's "Meet The Press." "I am more inclined and more deeply motivated now to address what's wrong with our country and what needs to be healed and what needs to be fixed."

O'Malley said he was proud of his record as mayor, calling protests and rioting sparked by the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody "a heartbreaking setback for an otherwise remarkable comeback for Baltimore over these last 15 years."

Asked if would launch a presidential run in Baltimore, O'Malley responded: "I wouldn't think of announcing any place else."

O'Malley also sharply rejected comments in a separate interview on "Meet The Press" from House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who said problems in cities such as Baltimore expose "50 years of liberal policies that have not worked."

"Until we start to find programs that actually work and we provide more opportunities, and a better education, we're going to have more of the same," the Republican said.

O'Malley countered that cities have "been left to fend for themselves."

"What happened in Baltimore should be a wake-up call for the entire country," O'Malley said. "There are people in whole parts of our cities who are being totally left behind and disregarded. They are unheard. They are told they are unneeded by this economy. And that extreme poverty breeds conditions for extreme violence."

In a separate interview on NBC, Baltimore's current mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, expressed some regret over comments she made about giving "those who wish to destroy" the space to do so. She insisted that the comment was taken out of context but said she "used the wrong phrase."

Rawlings-Blake said a task force was committed to using facial recognition technology and other tools to prosecute individuals who were part of violent demonstrations this week.

"I'm focused on bringing us through this crisis," Rawlings-Blake said when asked about criticism of her leadership. "I know how to lead our city through tough times."

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