By Carlo Versano

Martin O'Malley, the former Maryland governor and 2016 presidential candidate, is all-in for Beto O'Rourke in 2020, even though O'Rourke has not decided on whether to mount a presidential run himself.

"I am really hoping Beto O'Rourke runs," O'Malley told Cheddar's J.D. Durkin Thursday, calling the former Texas congressman "fearless" and able to articulate progressive values "to the broadest number of people."

O'Malley said he believes Sen. Bernie Sanders, who declared his run Tuesday and raised $6 million in the first 24 hours, is not the candidate that this moment calls for. "I think the conversation has kind of moved on beyond him," he said, noting that voters he's met in early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire are thirsting for a "new leadership" in the party to take on President Trump.

In a candid admission, O'Malley acknowledged that he would have liked to run for president in 2020, but his poor showing in 2016 made it too difficult to get donors on board, especially in an already-crowded field. O'Malley dropped his presidential bid in February 2016 after winning less than 1 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses. But despite the weak showing, he credited his campaign for helping surface progressive issues like immigration, gun control, and renewable energy that are now litmus tests for Democratic presidential candidates.

On immigration, O'Malley called the news conference in which President Trump declared a national emergency at the border "one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen in my life," and said he had a hard timing telling the difference between the actual event and the satirized version on SNL.

"The emergency is not at our border," O'Malley said. "It's in Central America. And we should be better neighbors on this hemisphere and help fix it."