O’Malley urges protest at DNC headquarters over debate schedule

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley is urging supporters to join a protest outside of the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters over the decision to hold only six debates.

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In an email to supporters with the subject line “Time to protest,” the O’Malley campaign said “it’s time to take it up a notch” and pressure the DNC to expand the number of debates by joining the protest of another group, #AllowDebate, that is planning a Sept. 16 rally outside the committee’s headquarters in Washington.

“It's important that we bring our call for more debates directly to the group that is restricting candidates' ability to debate,” the email says. “It's, frankly, undemocratic. Enough tweeting. Let's take action.” The email asks recipients to RSVP using a link that takes them to O'Malley's website.

In recent weeks, O’Malley has been singularly focused on pressuring the DNC to expand the debate scheduled. 

The former Maryland governor has struggled to gain traction in the polls, having been squeezed on the left by the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. He has just 2 percent support in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls in the Democratic race. Vice President Biden, who has not said whether he will run, has 14 percent.

O’Malley needs as much exposure as he can get, and the debates present the best opportunity for him to make his case.

He has called the debate process “rigged” and accused the DNC of limiting the debate schedule to “facilitate a coronation” for Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump gives Lester Holt a C grade for debate Congress departs for recess until after Election Day House approves stopgap funding, averting costly shutdown MORE.

O’Malley has also questioned whether it’s legal for the DNC to exclude candidates from future DNC-sanctioned debates if they participate in an unsanctioned debate.

Sanders has similarly expressed frustration with the smaller than usual debate schedule.

The DNC has sanctioned six debates spanning from October to March, a dramatic cut reduction from the more than two-dozen debates in 2008.