CHARLOTTE, N.C.- Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will speak in the most prominent hour of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, delivering a speech that will further stoke the buzz about his 2016 presidential ambitions.

O’Malley, one of Obama’s top surrogates and chairman of the Democratic Governor’s Association, will address the crowd here at 10 p.m., just moments before first lady Michelle Obama takes to the podium and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivers the keynote address.

For months, O’Malley has offered a full-throated defense of the Obama administration, accusing the Republican Party of catering to the Tea Party and obstructing the president’s blueprint to spur widespread economic growth. A regular on the Sunday talk-show circuit, O’Malley is looking to build his brand beyond the liberal bastion of Maryland, where he maintains strong public approval numbers.

For example, O’Malley will also address a breakfast of Iowa delegates later this week — a not-so-subtle reaching out to the host of the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

But O’Malley is quickly learning of the pitfalls of his newfound role.

The Maryland governor landed in hot water when he answered “No” on whether America was better off than four years ago. He has since walked back his remarks, saying that he misspoke and that the economy has made clear gains under Obama — but that more work needs to be done.

O’Malley’s speech Tuesday night is expected to be among the most watched of the convention, as the television networks will start their live coverage of the convention right as the Free State leader addresses the crowd here.