Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Saturday what has been clear already: He is running for the Democratic nomination for president.
The announcement, made in Baltimore where O'Malley served as mayor, follows months of trips to early states Iowa and New Hampshire.
"I believe we are standing at the threshold of a new era of American opportunity, if only we have the guts and have the foresigh and have the courage," O'Malley said in a campaign video released Saturday to coincide with his announcement.
He faces an incredible challenge: He polls in the single digits against a candidate, Hillary Clinton, who is one of the most well known people in America, tremendously well-funded, and liked by Democrats.
In recent weeks, O'Malley, who is 52, has framed the contest as a generational affair — his campaign slogan involves the phrase "new leadership" — a strategy employed by Barack Obama in 2008. He expected to tout his longtime liberal record in Maryland — on immigration, LGBT issues, guns, and more — as governor.
Two things that will likely go unmentioned, however, are the loss his would-be successor, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, suffered in the November midterms, and the problems with the Maryland Obamacare exchange during his governorship.
On Friday O'Malley flirted with entering the race not with a bang, nor a whimper, but with a guitar lick.
O'Malley's campaign heavily promoted a 23-second video of the former Maryland governor strumming "Hail To The Chief" on a guitar ahead of his formal campaign kick off event in Baltimore.
O'Malley supporters emphasize the lack of production in the 23-second clip — the guitar isn't even O'Malley's, they say, but was borrowed from a supporter — which they suggest contrasts with the slick, highly-produced rollout video by the Democratic presidential frontrunner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
O'Malley can be heard humming as he tunes up the guitar in the video. At the end of the short lick, the camera pans up to find him nodding approvingly at the song used go play presidents on and off stage. The screen fades to black before the words "Stay tuned" appear.
The guitar and O'Malley's willingness to play it at the drop of a hat have been a central part of the exploratory phase of O'Malley's presidential effort. As that phase comes to an end with an expected announcement that he's formally running for the White House, the guitar looks like its staying as a central part of O'Malley's image.
The former Maryland governor's rollout will have its share of production values as well. A local blues band that once opened for O'Malley's own Irish rock band was scheduled to play the Baltimore event on Saturday.
Following the announcement, O'Malley is scheduled to set off for a string of retail politics events in Iowa and New Hampshire. No word from the campaign on whether the guitar will go with him.