Martin O'Malley: Dems 'undemocratic' on debates

There are Democrats running for president -- plural.

KUSA - There are Democrats running for president -- plural.

Hillary Clinton is still polling as the front-runner, but Senator Bernie Sanders has risen in the polls. So has Vice President Joe Biden, even though he's not announced.

Quite a distance behind the three of them, you'll find former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.

He's been the loudest critic of his own party's handling of the 2016 race, going so far as to call his own party's approach to debates "undemocratic" and "cynical."

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"It's bad for us as a Democratic party to act in undemocratic ways and try to limit debates in some sort of misguided effort to prop up or circle the wagon around this year's inevitable front-runner," O'Malley told 9NEWS political reporter Brandon Rittiman.

When pressed to answer whether he believes DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz is trying to lock down the race for Clinton, O'Malley accused her of "party malpractice."

"It's the prerogative of the chair," O'Malley said. "At least that's what the chair tells us."

O'Malley stressed the high viewership of the two Republican debates that have already aired and said Democrats are missing an opportunity to respond.

As for his own lackluster polling numbers, O'Malley shrugged off the idea that we ought to read much into them.

"I find myself in polling probably not in a very different place than many other candidates who went on to win the nomination," O'Malley said.

Democrats will have their first debate on October 13 in Las Vegas.

"I think it's definitely going to be a shift in this race," O'Malley said.

On policy, O'Malley said he'd reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug under federal law by executive order, but isn't ready to support legalization of pot at the federal level until he's seen more data from states such as Colorado which legalized sales of recreational marijuana.

He disagrees with Republicans calling for religious "accommodations" to be made for public officials such as Kentucky's Kim Davis, the county clerk who refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"I do not believe that public officials, once they swear to uphold the law equally for all people, should be able to take a pass on one group of people or another group of people because of their religious beliefs," O'Malley said.

(© 2015 KUSA)


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