RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Another person who hopes voters want that new car fragrance is Democrat Martin O'Malley. The former Maryland governor is announcing his presidential candidacy this weekend in Baltimore. NPR's Tamara Keith is keeping an eye on the Democratic field, and she joins us now. Good morning.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: Give us a little bit of information about O'Malley, who is not that widely known at this point. What is he offering?
KEITH: O'Malley was the governor of the decidedly Democratic state of Maryland for eight years. Before that, he was the mayor of Baltimore. Now, that could end up being a problem for him in light of the riots there last month. He oversaw progressive policies in Maryland on everything from the death penalty to gay marriage. But as you said, for most voters, he is a blank slate. Polls show his support and name recognition in the single digits. His campaign says, that's just fine. He has nowhere to go but up.
MONTAGNE: Realistically, though, Tam, does he think he can really pull this off?
KEITH: He's going to try. And he says that, you know, he's been an underdog many times before when he ran for mayor of Baltimore, for instance. He's 52 years old, and he's presenting himself as a new generation of politician. He plays guitar, he's on Snapchat, and he's drawing a contrast with Hillary Clinton but not putting too fine a point on it. His campaign tells me that his hope is to fill an enthusiasm gap that they see among voters, especially young Democratic voters. Interestingly, though, there's another politician, an older politician, who got into the race this week, Bernie Sanders. He held this big campaign rally in Burlington, Vt. And even though he's 20 years older than O'Malley, he seems to be attracting a share of that young, hip, liberal crowd who's looking for an alternative to Hillary Clinton.
MONTAGNE: Well, you know, let's talk about Clinton (laughter).
KEITH: (Laughter) Of course.
MONTAGNE: She's been in what her campaign calls the ramp-up phase for a month and a half now. When does this ramp-up end and the real campaign begin?
KEITH: June 13. Mark your calendars.
MONTAGNE: Oh, there's a date (laughter).
KEITH: Or don't mark your calendars. Her campaign tells us that that's when she'll hold her first big rally. We don't know where yet, but it will be open to the public, unlike a lot of her other events up to now. Bill and Chelsea Clinton will be there, too. No word on grand baby Charlotte, but she has been a big part of the campaign with Clinton talking about wanting other kids to have the same opportunities that she has. Clinton's aides say that she'll use the rally and speech to lay the groundwork thematically for the rest of the campaign. And then after that, the listening phase will be over and she'll start doing some larger events, though, still some small ones, too. And over the summer and fall, she'll then start laying out deeper policy prescriptions on a variety of topics. They say that right now, the campaign is focused on building a campaign structure. They have organizers on the ground in all 50 states recruiting volunteers. They're trying to grow their lists, social media contacts. And they say they're very focused on early, primary and caucus states.
KEITH: So, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
MONTAGNE: OK. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith, thanks.
KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.