Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) said on Friday that the Democratic presidential debate schedule exposes the party’s unease about Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty MORE.
“It would appear to me that they’re trying to circle the wagons around this year’s inevitable front-runner,” he said of Clinton’s presidential campaign. "I think it shows a lot of fear about the future.”
Playing off "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson's "fear and loathing" on the campaign trail theme, CNN asked O'Malley what he thought the late author would think of 2016 race. “He’d probably say the Democratic Party is hurting itself very badly by waiting so long to start its debates.”
O’Malley has been critical of the Democratic Party for both refusing to add debates to its schedule and for waiting until October to have its first one. The debate will be broadcast from Las Vegas Tuesday on CNN.
He told CNN that his political background will expose weaknesses in Clinton in any meeting of the 2016 Democratic presidential field.
“I’ll be the one candidate on that stage that has 15 years of executive experience working on the front lines, working on some pretty difficult issues,” the Democratic White House hopeful said.
“One of the rules of thumb in these presidential contests is that whatever candidate is surging in September is not the candidate who is surging in January,” added O'Malley, who ranks fifth out of six candidates (and Vice President Biden, who has not entered the race), with less than 1 percent, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average of samplings.
O’Malley also teased the possibility of decriminalizing marijuana in states other than Colorado and Washington.
“I think we need to have an open mind about that,” he said. “I think there’s a lot we can learn from Colorado and Washington state.”
“They seem to be keeping very good records,” O’Malley continued. "They understand they are the first in the nation, and I think we should be guided by what they are doing in Colorado [that] increases harm or reduces harm.”
O’Malley added that he has never used marijuana despite legalizing the drug for medical use during his tenure as Maryland’s governor.
“When I was in high school, it was considered very uncool,” he said.
O’Malley then rejected Republican claims that the border is porous and letting in illegal immigrants too easily.
“We have done more by way of securing the border and deportations than we have in a long, long time,” he said.