Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley on Tuesday highlighted a recently released e-mail from Hillary Rodham Clinton in a playful attempt to further his case that the party needs to hold more debates.

The e-mail, which was among the trove released by the State Department on Monday night, is from 2010, when O’Malley was running for reelection as Maryland governor and he and Clinton were more chummy than they’ve been recently.

Writing to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Clinton says: “How’s our friend, Martin, doing? I know he has a rematch when he should be re-elected by acclamation for steering the ship of state so well. Pls give him my best wishes.”

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An image of Clinton’s e-mail is included in a pitch O’Malley sent via e-mail Tuesday to his supporters, relaying that he was “flattered to read it.”

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“Here’s the thing,” O’Malley goes on to say. “I didn’t win in Maryland by acclamation. I won because of supporters like you. I won because we fought for progressive change. … We made progress where it counts, and I’m happy to see Secretary Clinton thought so, too. Democrats are not going to win THIS election by acclamation either. We needed more debates to get our positions on the issues in front of voters.”

In his e-mail, O’Malley asks recipients to sign an online petition calling for the Democratic National Committee to sanction more debates (and donate to his long-shot campaign if they'd like).

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O’Malley has been on a crusade for weeks to increase the number of opportunities he will have to share a debate stage with Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other Democratic rivals. He devoted much of his speech to that subject at a DNC meeting in Minneapolis.

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At this point, the party plans six debates, four of which would take place before the first nominating contest in Iowa. Any candidate who participates in a non-sanctioned debate could be barred from the DNC-sponsored affairs.

At the DNC meeting, O’Malley called the situation “rigged” in Clinton’s favor.

Tuesday’s e-mail from O’Malley — with the subject header “About Secretary Clinton’s emails…” — also underscores a recent shift in the former governor’s willingness to talk about the subject.

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For months, O'Malley had been loath to discuss the controversy surrounding Clinton’s use of a personal server for State Department business. But now he’s bringing the issue up himself.

Last week, during a stop in Hollis, N.H., he told an audience that the Democrats need to hold more debates to get the party’s message out to voters on key issues that affect the middle class.

“What is our message in the Democratic party?” O’Malley said. “It seems our brand is what did Hillary Clinton know about her e-mails and when did she know it, and did she wipe her server or did she not?”

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