-- After his formal announcement Saturday that he would seek the Democratic Party nomination for president, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley sat down for an exclusive one-on-one interview with ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.
O'Malley, who served two terms as governor and two terms as Baltimore's mayor prior to that, emphasized his experience as a manager while also working to distinguish himself from front-runner Hillary Clinton along generational lines.
"I believe our country is facing some very deep challenges. And I believe that we're not going to overcome our problems without new leadership," he said. "So what I offer in this race, George, is 15 years of executive experience accomplishing difficult things and bringing people together to get them done."
O'Malley said the Obama administration had kept the country from falling into an ever deeper recession, but he said he has something different to offer.
"We've had Democratic presidents 16 of the last 24 years," Stephanopoulos said. "How would a Martin O'Malley presidency be different from Bill Clinton's, different from Barack Obama's?"
"I differ, I would say, from President Obama in my background and my experience. His was that of a legislator. Mine was of a big city, and also facing difficult challenges, and also of a state," he said.
O'Malley is positioning himself to the left of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. During his announcement speech he repeatedly said the country needed to rebuild the middle class and hold Wall Street accountable. He lamented that, in his opinion, Wall Street had grown too powerful, saying if a "bank is too big to fail without wrecking our nation's economy, then it needs to be broken up, before it breaks us … again."
He criticized Jeb Bush and Hilly Clinton for what he sees as their close relationship to big banks. "One of the most important differences when it comes to reining in Wall Street is who's on our side. I have the independence. I have the track record," he said. "I am not beholden to Wall Street interests. There are not Wall Street CEOs banging down my door and trying to participate or help my campaign."
O'Malley, 52, also joined the growing chorus of progressives calling on Hillary Clinton to take a position on the proposed Transpacific Partnership trade deal under negotiation. O'Malley said he is against the deal and that it would be bad for workers.
He added that Clinton has been "awfully silent" on the issue. He went on to draw parallels between this possible deal and NAFTA, which was signed by President Bill Clinton.
"I think we learn from the past. And what we learned from NAFTA is that for all of the promises, it created a lot of dislocation, not only in our country but in Mexico," he said.
On other issues of foreign policy, O'Malley stayed fairly moderate. He said he was in favor of the USA Freedom Act passed in the House, which would overhaul NSA's controversial phone surveillance and metadata collection program while extending other provisions of the Patriot Act. The bill failed in the Senate last week, as did a straight extension of the Patriot Act. As such, key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire tonight.
"We need to improve upon the Patriot Act," O'Malley said.
He argued in favor of a few specific updates including a need for a public advocate in negotiations with Foreign Intelligence Surveillance courts and changes to warrant procedures. "We're a people who should never give up our privacy for our security," he continued.
Nationwide, O'Malley barely registers in polling, but he said he is accustomed to being an underdog, at just 1 percent in some polls.
"The presidential primary processes and the caucuses in Iowa have a certain greatness to them in that people there have seen 1 percent candidates before get into the van, go from county to county to county and make their case about their better choices that they would offer the nation, and suddenly become very well-known overnight," he said.
In addition to Clinton, O'Malley faces a challenge from Vermont's independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has risen significantly in the polls lately gaining traction with his message of economic populism. Asked why progressives should vote for O'Malley over Sanders, O'Malley responded, "Because I have a track record of actually getting things done, not just talking about things."
The former governor spent the weekend on the campaign trial with events in Iowa and New Hampshire. He will be live on ABC News’ “Good Morning America” Monday.