- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s team isn’t backing down after an interview in which the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said climate change helped contribute to the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group.

“One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation-state of Syria, the rise of ISIS, was the effect of climate change and the mega-drought that affected that region, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis [that] created the … conditions of extreme poverty that has led now to the rise of ISIL and this extreme violence,” Mr. O’Malley said in an interview with Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin.

Mr. O’Malley said he believes America’s role in the world is to lead by example the rise of a “global middle class.”

“And I believe that the way we do that in these times is to create a foreign policy that’s more about engagement and collaboration — a national security strategy that seeks new alliances to identify threats and to work with other nations to reduce them before we’re kind of backed into a corner, where it seems the only response is a military response, American boots on the ground or not,” he said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called on former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to state whether or not she agrees with Mr. O’Malley.

“Whether it’s the weak Clinton-Obama nuclear deal that paves the way for Iran to obtain an atomic bomb or Martin O’Malley’s absurd claim that climate change is responsible for ISIS, it’s abundantly clear no one in the Democrat Party has the foreign policy vision to keep America safe,” Mr. Priebus said in a statement.

Mr. O’Malley has previously said that climate change also presents a business opportunity that can spur job growth, and he has called on the United States to use 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

His deputy campaign manager had three words for the GOP: Bring it on.

“If Republicans want to have a debate about either foreign policy or science, we have a message for them: Bring it on. On both topics they are trapped in the past,” said Lis Smith, deputy campaign manager. “They defend the wrong-headed decision to invade Iraq — a war that cost thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. When faced with cold, hard scientific facts, they bury their heads in the sand and deny the adverse effects of climate change on the planet. Is it any surprise that Donald Trump is leading the pack?”

“Martin O’Malley isn’t running to repeat the mistakes of the past — he’s offering bold, new and progressive leadership. And unlike the Republican Party, he is proud to believe in science,” Ms. Smith said.

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