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Candidate brings big American dreams

Martin O’Malley spoke at Pitzer College on Thursday, vowing to the Benton Auditorium crowd to “rebuild the truth of the American dream.”

Mr. O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland and Democratic presidential candidate, spoke to a packed house of Claremont Colleges students and community members in an event that was half stump speech and half open Q&A.

He opened his speech with a light jab at fellow Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, indicating his party pedigree has greater purity than his opponents.

“I am not a former Republican,” Mr. O’Malley said. “I am not a former Independent. I am not a socialist, I am a Democrat and I am running for president of the United States.”

The Pitzer College Student Senate helped to put the event together, specifically through the work of students Josue Pasillas. Andrew Lydens and Chance Kawar.

According to Mr. Pasillas, Governor O’Malley is the first presidential candidate to speak at Pitzer while on the campaign trail in the college’s 50-year history.

“I’m really excited,” Mr. Pasillas said. “We were talking about engaging the students more about the election process and civic engagement and we’re like, ‘Why not bring an actual presidential candidate to campus?’ So I’m glad it happened.”

Mr. O’Malley touched on his 15-part platform, sharing his thoughts on immigration, higher education and gun control.

“I’m the only candidate in this race who has 15 years of executive experience,” Mr. O’Malley said, saying he is the best candidate to “forge a new consensus.”

After his speech, Mr. O’Malley opened the floor to queries from students. Topics included the Syrian refugee crisis, transgender rights, veteran’s affairs and how Mr. O’Malley differs from other candidates such as Mr. Sanders and Ms. Clinton.

Some of the loudest applause came when the presidential hopeful made his stance on immigration perfectly clear.

“The enduring symbol of America is not the barbed wire fence, but the Statue of Liberty,” Mr. O’Malley said. “I am not for building walls.”

After the event, Mr. O’Malley spoke to the COURIER about an ongoing controversy in Democratic circles—the decision by the Democratic National Committee to limit the schedule to six debates during the long primary season. Many Democrats have expressed concern that the relatively small number of debates would favor better-known candidates such as Ms. Clinton. Mr. O’Malley did not mince words when asked his opinion on the DNC’s decision.

“I don’t think it’s good for the country,” he said. “I think it’s not good for the party to let the Republican debates go unanswered.”

In fact, Mr. O’Malley said, most of the “rank and file members” of his party have expressed outrage, calling the small number of debates an “undemocratic” decision.

“So we’ll see, hopefully, there will be more responsible members of the party who will rise up and fix this. In the meantime, I’m going to do my very best to promote my candidacy the best I can.”

After the event, Mr. Lydens discussed what this event meant for the students at Pitzer and neighboring colleges.

“I think it’s great because we are promoting this educated global community because we have a knowledge and we have this open dialogue with so many different leader of the world and leaders of communities and we can really grow as world citizens,” Mr. Lydens said. “So I think it means a lot.”

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com