- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 14, 2016

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has been invited to the next Democratic presidential debate on Sunday, NBC News said, despite low poll numbers and not meeting the network’s own benchmark to qualify for the debate.

Last week, the broadcast network said candidates had to either be polling at 5 percent nationally or in state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina to make the debate stage. Mr. O’Malley registers at 2.3 percent nationally, according to an average complied by RealClearPolitics, and he was also short in New Hampshire and South Carolina — although he came close to the benchmark in Iowa.

The most recent poll of the Hawkeye state, conducted by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics, had Mr. O’Malley at 4 percent, giving him an average of 4.6 percent, according to the most recent polling there. In its release on Thursday, NBC News didn’t say if it rounded up to include Mr. O’Malley in the debate, although network executives indicated last week they would do so if he were on the bubble.

Both the campaigns of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders tweeted their support last week for Mr. O’Malley to compete on the main stage. Mr. O’Malley has spent the majority of his time stumping in Iowa, betting a positive caucus turnout in February could help ignite his campaign.

Last week, Mr. O’Malley blasted the network’s debate criteria, saying NBC was treating the “presidential selection process as if it’s a another episode of ‘The Apprentice.’ “

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