All bets in….
Stuck far behind Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Martin O’Malley needs a breakout moment in the party’s first debate to catch up to the front-runners.
And he knows it.
“This will really be the first time that nationally voters see that there’s more than one alternative to this year’s inevitable front-runner, Secretary Clinton,” O’Malley said.
“It’s a very, very important opportunity for me to not only present my vision for where the country should head, but also 15 years of executive experience, actually accomplishing the progressive things some of the other candidates can only talk about,” he said.
The former governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore got into the race at the end of May, after telegraphing for some time his plans to seek the White House in 2016. The entries of the two others who will be onstage Tuesday night in Las Vegas, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, were surprises to most.
But all three have one thing in common — an inability so far to generate any of the enthusiasm among voters that has pushed Sanders into and kept Clinton at the top of the field. All three poll in low single digits in early preference surveys, well below even Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to say if he’ll make a late entry into the race.
O’Malley has been openly critical of the Democratic National Committee and the decision to hold six primary debates, with four scheduled in early primary states before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1. He has mounted a push for the party to expand the number, even encouraging protests in front of Democratic Party headquarters.
The party hasn’t budged, but O’Malley is undaunted. He has campaigned aggressively in Iowa and New Hampshire, far more than Webb or Chafee. He is critical of Clinton for her recent shifts on policy issues, among them her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which he calls a “reversal.”
O’Malley also touts his executive experience in dealing with issues such as gun control, in which Sanders’ record matches more with his largely rural home state than his place in the race as a liberal firebrand promising political revolution.