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O’Malley: Democratic rivals offer choice between ‘crony capitalism’ and ‘socialism’

Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, pose for a photo. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley said Tuesday that his two rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination offer voters a choice between “crony capitalism” and “the proven failure that is socialism” and suggested he offers “a better way forward.”

O’Malley, who is running a distant third in polls for his party’s nomination, came out swinging after a morning meeting on Capitol Hill with the House Democratic Caucus, taking aim at both front-runner Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).

“There are profound differences in this race,” O’Malley told reporters after the closed-door meeting, where he was introduced by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), the only lawmaker who’s endorsed him.

Clinton, whose Wall Street ties O’Malley criticized, and Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, had both previously addressed the group.

[O’Malley’s presidential campaign is perilously close to financial collapse]

O’Malley said he did not expect to immediately pick up any more support from congressional Democrats but said he asked the lawmakers to keep him in mind as a second choice as the nominating process moves forward.

The former governor also took shots at Clinton and Sanders on the issue of immigration reform, saying “theirs is the old thinking that has prevented us from getting this done.”

O’Malley criticized Clinton for recently using the term “illegal immigrants” and Sanders for saying that immigrants take American jobs. O’Malley also claimed to have put forward the most progressive immigration policy proposals of the three.

In response to a reporter’s question, O’Malley said his campaign would have the resources to be competitive in Iowa, the first caucus state, and suggested that he would exceed expectations there.

“None of us really know how it turns out,” O’Malley said. “That’s what makes it all so entertaining and exciting. … This could be the first time where the results on caucus night look just like the polls in November. This could be the first time that happens, but I seriously doubt it.”

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley sits down with students from University of Texas at Austin. (Video: Video courtesy of Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu)