At DNC meeting, Martin O'Malley slams Democrats over debates

Story highlights

  • The former Maryland governor and 2016 candidate has made a point to repeatedly call for more debates
  • O'Malley later flatly answered "yes" when asked whether the debate schedule outlined by the DNC is aimed at helping Hillary Clinton

Minneapolis (CNN)Martin O'Malley is unhappy with the number of presidential debates the Democratic National Committee has organized.

And on Friday, he made the point directly to the very party officials who made the decision, using most of his speech at the committee's summer meeting here to not only question the number of debates, but to question his party as a whole.
    "Think about it. The Republicans stand before the nation, they malign our President's record of achievements, they denigrate women and immigrant families, they double down on trickle-down, and tell their false story," O'Malley said. "And we respond with crickets, tumbleweeds and a cynical move to delay and limit our own party debates."
    O'Malley added, "Is this how the Democratic Party selects its nominee, or are we becoming something else, something less?"
    The former Maryland governor and 2016 candidate has made a point to repeatedly call for more debates ever since the DNC announced earlier this year that there would be six sanctioned debates on its side. O'Malley -- who is receiving 2% of Democratic support in the most recent CNN/ORC poll -- has charged that the DNC is "circling the wagons" around Hillary Clinton, the party's front-runner.
    "We are the Democratic Party, not the Undemocratic Party," he said. Audible "ohs" could be heard from the audience.
    O'Malley's remarks clearly riled DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who spent most of the speech looking down at a table just feet from the governor. She rarely engaged with the speech or clapped for O'Malley.
    When O'Malley was finished, he turned away from the podium and seemed to lean in to give a kiss on her cheek to Wasserman Schultz, who was assuming the lectern. Wasserman Schultz just looked at him, shook his hand and continued walking to the podium.
    DNC officials say it is highly unlikely that the party sanctions any more debates, even with O'Malley's complaints. It is also unlikely, they say, that the party will loosen their strict rules about participating in unsanctioned DNC debates.
    In a conversation with reporters after the speech, O'Malley flatly answered "yes" when asked whether the debate schedule outlined by the DNC is aimed at helping Clinton.
    "You will not find an example of this sort of limiting of debates in the history of the Democratic Party," he said.
    O'Malley also said Wasserman Schultz told him "thanks for coming" after his targeted remarks.
    Wasserman Schultz was later asked about the exchange by CNN.
    "I just said thank you," she said. "I have more class than that. I shook his hand and went to the podium."
    Wasserman Schultz was also asked about a charge O'Malley made that a DNC rule barring candidates from participating in non-sanctioned debates was not legal.
    "I am quite confident that the process we have established is directly compliant with our rules and completely legal, whatever that means," the chairwoman said.