“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 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.”