O'Malley's comments came hours after CNN announced it will host the first Democratic debate on Oct. 13
"We need to have democratic debate about the solutions that will actually serve America's families," O'Malley said
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday that the Democratic Party is hurting itself by not having more presidential debates.
O’Malley’s comments, made on “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” came hours after CNN announced it will host the first Democratic debate on Oct. 13.
“The good news is our party actually has ideas. Our party actually has solutions. (The Republican Party) does not, and I think we’re hurting ourselves if we try to limit debate,” he said. “What is this? The World Wrestling Federation? This is the Democratic Party, and we need to have a democratic debate about the solutions that will actually serve America’s families.”
Voters are eager to hear solutions to the country’s economic problems and are paying attention to candidates who share their outrage about the economy, O’Malley added.
“Seventy percent of us are earning the same or less than we did 10 years ago, and that’s the first time that this has happened this side of World War II, so there are many people in the Republican Party who fall victim, if you will, to leaders who want to blame other people. And Donald Trump’s racist rants against all Mexican immigrants being the latest example of that,” he said.
“Anger and fear” from voters are part of the reason for Trump’s appeal, O’Malley said.
“In the absence of any ideas, the candidate that is scapegoating and blaming others for these failed Republican policies is experiencing a great deal of uplift,” he said. “He is connecting to that anger and fear, but anger and fear never built a great country. Great countries are built by compassionate people coming together and around the ideas that serve our common good.”
O’Malley also said he is not discouraged by his low polling in national surveys. Tapper mentioned that Vice President Joe Biden – who has not indicated whether he will seek the Oval Office in 2016 – is polling significantly ahead of O’Malley.
“This process has shown time and time again that candidates that the rest of the country has never heard of emerge in those early states,” said O’Malley, adding that his numbers in Iowa have improved over the last month and that he expects that to continue.
“We have good staff on the ground in Iowa, and we have a good organization we’re building in Iowa and New Hampshire,” he said. “But voters can’t be informed by a limited debate process. So let’s ask the people if they think it’s right that party bosses limit the number of debates for a vote that we cast that’s as personal as president of the United States.”
O’Malley also took a jab at Hillary Clinton’s unwillingness to answer questions about building the Keystone pipeline, the 1,179-mile-long project that would move oil from Canada to refineries in the United States.
“I’m opposed to the Keystone pipeline,” he said. “The people all have a right to hear where we stand in debates, and it’s easy not to take a position if the party limits the number of debates.”