MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley visited early-voting South Carolina again on Saturday and said he will decide this spring whether to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"It's something I'm very seriously considering with my wife and family," O'Malley told reporters after addressing about 300 people at a conference sponsored by the South Carolina Democratic Party. "By the spring anyone who is a challenger and intends to win should be in this. So by spring I will have made up my mind."
O'Malley has now visited South Carolina nine times in two years. His Saturday visit came almost a year to the day before the state's 2016 presidential primary.
He told the party faithful that one of the lessons of last year's campaign is that "triangulation" is not a winning strategy for the country. He said financial regulation needs to be at the forefront and suggested big banks need to be broken up if they might harm the nation.
Liberals have criticized the use of triangulation during President Bill Clinton's two terms in the 1990s.
O'Malley said a decision on running will not be affected by the plans of other potential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, the party's leading contender.
"For my own part, I believe the way this is supposed to work is that if candidates feel they have ideas that will move our country forward, they should make a decision based on that and then the people will decide," he said. "My timeline is not affected by what others may or may not do."
Although South Carolina is solidly Republican with the GOP holding both U.S. Senate seats, six of the state's seven congressional seats, the Governor's Mansion and also controlling the General Assembly, O'Malley said the state can again have a competitive two-party system.
"I think there's a lot of hope when you talk to the next generation," he said. "People under 40 especially are of the belief that our better days are going to be through closer connections with each other rather than being exclusive and trying to separate ourselves from the larger community we share."
O'Malley sounded like a candidate in his address to Democrats attending the John M. Spratt Issues Conference named for the former long-time congressman from the state's 5th District.
The former governor said there is pessimism in the country as many people worry about making a living wage. He added Democrats will not let this be the first American generation leaving its children a future of less than their parents had.
"The American dream will never die on our watch," he said to loud applause.
Republicans, he said, fight against equality, "abhor health care in all its forms and any sort of increase in the minimum wage. They even question vaccines and climate science. Give them a few weeks and they will be shunning Copernicus."
Copernicus was the Renaissance scholar who determined the earth revolves around the sun.