(CNN) - We've still got seven weeks to go until Election Day 2012, but early moves for the 2016 presidential election seem to be underway.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a possible contender for the next Democratic presidential nomination, gave the keynote address at the 35th annual steak fry put on by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa.
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The steak fry, hosted by Iowa's five-term senator, is a big annual fundraiser for the state's Democratic party, and is an important stage for Democrats thinking of making a run for the White House (then Sen. Barack Obama of neighboring Illinois gave they keynote address in 2006) in the state that traditionally holds the first contest in the presidential caucus and primary calendar.
"That's not what I'm doing here. I'm here because my friend Sen. Harkin asked me to come," O'Malley told reporters Sunday, downplaying presidential ambitions, before addressing Democratic activists gathered at the event.
O'Malley, a two term governor and chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, is a frequent surrogate for President Obama's re-election campaign. O'Malley, along with Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, made appearances at a breakfast hosted by Iowa's convention delegation during the Democratic National Convention, held two weeks ago in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Iowa is also a crucial battleground state in the general election. Monday Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee, make separate campaign appearances in Iowa.