Fried steak in hand, Maryland governor Martin O'Malley turned some heads in Iowa on Sunday in what many are calling the first stop on his 2016 presidential campaign. The Associated Press frames O'Malley's appearance at Iowa Senator Tom Harkin's steak fry as an attempt to try "to make a good first impression on Democratic activists in the leadoff caucus state," and O'Malley's rhetoric at the event did not disappoint with his crowd-pleasing rhetoric. "Let us return to the urgent work of creating more jobs, more security, more opportunity and a better future for our children," O'Malley said in a 20-minute speech. "And let us together, Iowa, move forward and not back by re-electing Barack Obama president of the United States."

O'Malley's 2016 ambitions aren't just fairground gossip. The governor recently hired former Obama campaign strategist Stephen Neuman to lead his federal political action committee. Word on the street is that Neuman is going to help O'Malley push forward two high-profile ballot measures in Maryland: a referendum to legalize gay marriage and a bill on immigrant tuition rates. Just last week, O'Malley wowed a crowd on a New York City rooftop with his particularly assertive stance on gay rights, an out-of-state appearance that came just a few days after O'Malley's speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

As chairman of the Democratic Governor's Association, though, O'Malley's scope does seem to extend far beyond Maryland's borders. He apparently carries himself that way too. "He sounds like a rising star," said Kathy Young, an Iowa Democrat who attended the steak fry. "I think we'll be hearing from him again."