MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, gearing up for a Democratic presidential primary in which he will likely be massively outspent by Hillary Rodham Clinton, said Wednesday the modern campaign finance system had reduced elected officials to “telemarketers.”
Saying he plans a decision on whether to launch a White House bid soon, O’Malley added “any member of Congress” should welcome publicly financed campaigns because the fund-raising demands prevent them from performing other work. He used a barnyard epithet to offer his opinion of the current system, which allows for unregulated money to flow to outside committees organized to support or oppose candidates.
“We’ve turned them into a bunch of telemarketers. They’re no — how can you tell me that you’re actually representing the interests of your district when you’re spending 20 hours a week on a telephone like an idiot in some little room calling people again and again and again asking for PAC checks. I mean, this is bull----.”
O’Malley declined to say whether he would ask a super PAC organized on his behalf to cease its activities.
His comments come as a second super PAC, Correct the Record, has announced they will boost Clinton. This Super PAC quickly received criticism for its plans to communicate directly with her campaign — coordination that campaign finance experts say is legally questionable.
Asked whether he thought Clinton, who has called for campaign finance reform while encouraging potential donors to support a super PAC organized to back her candidacy, had taken contradictory stances, O’Malley declined to criticize her directly.
“I didn’t come here to talk about Secretary Clinton,” O’Malley told reporters after visiting a business incubator in downtown Manchester.
“I can tell that you as a candidate myself I wrestle with how can we put forward a campaign of principle and a campaign of substance, a campaign that acknowledges what’s wrong with our system, and yet be able to compete,” he said.
After retail stops in Manchester this morning, O’Malley has a luncheon fund-raiser in Concord for Democratic state House candidates, then a house party in Durham hosted by longtime Democratic activist Dudley Dudley.