- The Washington Times - Friday, January 8, 2016

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley may be excluded from the next Democratic presidential primary debate, according to the cut-off polling standards announced by NBC News on Friday.

For the debate, which is hosted by the broadcast network, candidates must be polling at least 5 percent nationally, or in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, in the five most recent polls accepted by NBC News before Jan. 14, the network said.

That leaves Mr. O’Malley teetering on the edge of qualification.

The Democratic race consists of only three candidates: Mr. O’Malley, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders.

Mr. O’Malley is currently at 5 percent in Iowa, according to an average of the polls accepted by NBC News, but falls from that benchmark both nationally and in New Hampshire. An NBC executive told CNN that the network expects all three candidates to qualify for the debate, saying the network would alter its standards to 4.5 percent and round up if Mr. O’Malley’s poll numbers fall below the 5 percent benchmark in Iowa.

Mr. O’Malley blasted the standards in an event in Iowa Friday evening.

“”The news of the day is that some executives at NBC think that the next debate maybe should only have two candidates instead of three. They’re treating your presidential selection process as if it’s a another episode of ‘The Apprentice,’” Mr. O’Malley said on the stump in Davenport, Iowa. “Bad enough that we would be limited to four debates, and that they would hide them on Saturdays behind football games. But now they tell us that they can’t really manage perhaps a three-way race.

Well, I’ve got news for them. This election is not up to NBC executives, not up to pollsters, it’s up to you: the people of Iowa,” Mr. O’Malley said.

The Clinton campaign issued a statement in support of Mr. O’Malley after the standards were released.

“We believe all three candidates should participate in the South Carolina debate, and oppose any criteria that might leave someone excluded,” Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted Friday.

Mr. Sanders also tweeted he felt Mr. O’Malley should be included in the debate.

“What’s fair is fair. All three of the Democratic candidates for president should be on the debate stage. Period,” Mr. Sanders said.The Clinton campaign issued a statement in support of Mr. O’Malley after the standards were released.

“We believe all three candidates should participate in the South Carolina debate, and oppose any criteria that might leave someone excluded,” Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted Friday.

Mr. O’Malley has repeatedly called the Democratic debate scheduled “rigged” for the front-runners in the race and publicly called out Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for limiting the number of debates.

The NBC News debate will be held in Charleston, South Carolina, on Jan. 17. It’s in partnership with YouTube and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. Lester Holt will moderate.


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