Democratic Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley says the 2012 Republican presidential candidates aren't running for their party's nomination, but rather, "they're running for the nomination of the Tea Party."
O'Malley, speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, argued there was a reason that many prominent Republicans have yet to endorse a GOP candidate for president: "These candidates aren't running for the nomination of the Republican Party," he said. "They're running for the nomination of the Tea Party. They're not putting forward new ideas to create jobs - that would qualify them to be president.
"They are pandering to the Tea Party to be the Mad Hatter," he added. "This is not the sort of field of candidates that should inspire confidence in a stronger economy with expanding opportunities."
The Maryland Democrat argued that despite the "wreck that George Bush made of the economy," Mr. Obama had guided the country toward economic improvement - and that at the end of the day, "when President Obama runs against a backdrop of the big problem and mess he was left, he will not be running against the Almighty. He'll be running against the alternative.
Also on the program, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said he hoped Mr. Obama ran on his record - and not, say, Herbert Hoover's.
"The idea that they're going to blame what's happening in the last three years on George Bush - you know, next there will talk about Herbert Hoover," he said.
"I mean, the fact of the matter is that Obama's policies, and the policies of the Reid-Pelosi Congress, have made this economy worse, not better," Barbour continued. "So I hope that the fact is that President Obama does run on his record. However, I doubt that he will. I think what he'll do is he'll try to make whoever we nominate, somebody unacceptable and will attack, attack, attack because the election is a referendum on Obama's policies."
"We're going to have a Republican president," Barbour predicted.
When asked by host Bob Schieffer about the prospects of the field of Republican candidates, who have not excited many influential party officials or donors - Barbour praised the talents of the Republican Party, including Governors Christie and Bob McDonnell, Senators Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, and Congressmen Eric Cantior and Paul Ryan (none of whom are running for president). "We have the deepest bench that I have ever seen," Barbour said. "I'm very excited about the future of the party."
"While their bench might be deep with personalities in the Republican Party, their pool is shallow in terms of new economic ideas or any sort of effective governance that's been proven in the field," O'Malley countered.