By Ryan Teague Beckwith
February 23, 2015

You might be forgiven for confusing Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Two northeastern Democratic governors with similar names. They even have similar close-cropped haircuts.

Still, the differences matter.

Malloy is getting ready to be the next liberal bulldog, the Democratic governor who’s not afraid to throw a few punches at Republicans, as my colleague Zeke Miller reported over the weekend. Now out of office, O’Malley is possibly running for president, and though he’s a longshot against Hillary Clinton, well, so is everyone else in the primary.

But at a Democratic Governors Association event Monday, Obama mixed the two up.

“In Connecticut, Gov. O’Malley announced his Second Chance Society, a plan to help former prisoners rejoin their communities,” Obama said, to a roomful of the only group of Americans who would know the difference between the two men.

Now, this is not a big deal. Neither was it a big deal when Obama mixed up British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne with ’70s R&B singer Jeffrey Osborne three times in a speech. Or when he confused actor James Franco with quarterback Joe Flacco. Or mixed up two Medal of Honor winners. Or even when the president jumbled up his “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” references.

The President is a human being, after all, and one who is filmed pretty much nonstop whenever he’s in public. He’s going to make simple mistakes. Obama, the former college professor, is generally given a pass by all but the conservative media on these mistakes. His predecessor, George W. Bush, wasn’t.

But it’s worth remembering as the 2016 campaigns ramp up, that similar goofs by Obama’s would-be successors don’t really matter as much as they might seem at the time.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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