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O’Malley Says Debate Rules Were Unfair

May 25th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

Former Maryland governor and Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley made a notable claim when he appeared this month on a Baltimore television station for his first full-length interview to assess his unsuccessful bid for the White House.

The networks hosting the televised debates he took part in, O'Malley said, delineated what share of questions each candidate would receive — or, in his case, would not receive.

O'Malley, who never polled especially well in the contest, dropped out in February after placing a distant third in Iowa behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

He pressed aggressively for the Democratic Party to sanction more debates.

"The rules are never designed in a way to help the challenger," O'Malley told WMAR's Richard Sher.

"The public never was told this, but they would tell us, 'Look, Secretary Clinton's going to get 50 percent of the questions, Senator Sanders is going to get 40 percent and you're going to get 10 percent of the questions,'" he said. "And they said, 'If you want to be heard, you're going to have to jump in on one of their questions.'"

For general election debates, the national parties and the nominees negotiate for roughly equal airtime. But for the primary debates, several analysts said, networks have more journalistic license to choose who gets which questions — and how many.

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