Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gov. Martin O'Malley, two potential 2016 Democratic candidates for president, complimented each other at a get-out-the-vote rally on Thursday, but they also were careful to keep their distance.
The rally was for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is running to take the term-limited governor's place. O'Malley, who spoke first, praised Clinton before introducing Brown.
"Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton is here in the building, and she has served our country so very well as first lady, as United States senator, as our secretary of state. ... She will be out here very shortly," O'Malley said.
Clinton also was complimentary, of both Brown and O'Malley. She said the two had made a "great team" since they took office in 2007. She cited a sweeping gun-control law enacted last year with O'Malley's backing. She also noted a same-sex marriage law that passed, and an increase in the minimum wage approved this year with the governor's backing.
Clinton also was complimentary of O'Malley and Brown for supporting Maryland's version of the Dream Act, a point she brought up while speaking over protesters on immigration policy. The Maryland law enables people who are not legal residents to pay in-state tuition at Maryland colleges, if they or their parents have paid taxes. O'Malley applauded when Clinton mentioned the law.
Clinton also referenced O'Malley's Celtic rock band, for which the governor serves as frontman.
"I don't know if Anthony plays an instrument, but your current governor does, and so he's gotten the Legislature and the people to kind of sing along for eight years, and the melody has been terrific," Clinton said.
Brown's Republican opponent, Larry Hogan, has been getting regular support from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie is planning to make his fourth stop in Maryland on Sunday to campaign for Hogan.
Hogan's communications director released the following statement Thursday afternoon: "It's too late to rescue Anthony Brown's failed negative campaign; even life-long Democrats are putting party aside and supporting Larry Hogan and his bipartisan plan to roll back the O'Malley-Brown tax hikes and restore Maryland's economy."
O'Malley has been a strong supporter of the Clintons. He was one of the first governors to endorse her 2008 campaign for president. Former President Bill Clinton took part in an ad for one of O'Malley's gubernatorial bids.
Still, the chance of the two running in a Democratic primary created an awkward backdrop, despite the compliments. O'Malley watched Clinton and Brown from the bleachers of Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland, as Clinton spoke with Brown and his running mate, Ken Ulman, on the stage. As the three joined hands and raised their arms together at the end of her speech, O'Malley rose to leave the auditorium.
The rally in Prince George's County, which is Brown's home county, took place on the last day of early voting in Maryland during a governor's race that is closer than the state's 2-1 Democratic advantage in registered voters would imply.
A poll by The Washington Post earlier this month had Brown leading by 9 points.
President Barack Obama held a rally for Brown earlier this month in Prince George's County to urge voters to the polls. After dismal voter turnout in the June primary, Maryland Democrats have been pushing Democrats to vote.
Clinton had been scheduled to attend a fundraiser for Brown last month, but she canceled to spend time with her newborn granddaughter. Former President Bill Clinton attended the fundraiser in her place.
On Monday, first lady Michelle Obama will attend a campaign rally in Baltimore. It's Brown's last get-out-the-vote rally ahead of Tuesday's election.