NEWS

O'Malley calls on DNC to schedule more debates

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Judy Ryan (left) introduces Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley as he visits his campaign field office in
Judy Ryan (left) introduces Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley as he visits his campaign field office in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, August 5, 2015. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Martin O’Malley on Wednesday blasted the “small cabal” in Washington that he said is trying to limit the number of debates among 2016 Democratic presidential hopefuls.

O’Malley used a visit to his new Cedar Rapids field office to tell “those in Washington who think they can limit the number of debates we are going to have before the Iowa caucuses and circle the wagons and close off debates … they’re going to have another thing coming when they talk to the people of Iowa.”

The Democratic National Committee is scheduled to announce its plans this week for six debates beginning in the fall, with penalties for candidates and media outlets that stray from the sanctioned schedule. Only one debate would be in Iowa, the host of the first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses.

During the 2008 election cycle, there were 26 debates including six by this point in the campaign.

O’Malley called it “outrageous” that at a time when many voters believe big money controls election outcomes, the national party would try to limit debates.

Without mentioning her name, O’Malley said DNC chairwoman Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others “seem to be taking it upon themselves to limit debates.”

“I think it’s a real mistake. We need more debates, not less,” he told about 40 supporters and staffers at the opening of his office at 1953 First Ave. NE.

It’s not just that he’s polling at 1 percent nationally and 5 percent in Iowa, well behind Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, O’Malley told reporters later.

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“We are a Democratic Party — capital D and small d — and I believe that nothing is served by limiting the number of debates in this critically important presidential election year,” O’Malley. “This is not the time to cut off debate, to limit debates, to tell the people of Iowa or New Hampshire you only get one debate.”

O’Malley’s campaign has been in staff-level discussions with the Democratic National Committee on debate plans, “repeating over and over again that to greatly limit the number of debates to the fewest ever before in Iowa and New Hampshire would be a mistake of historical proportions,” he said. “It seems not to be heard.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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