DES MOINES | The last time Martin O’Malley was in Iowa, he was bowing out of the presidential race after finishing last in the three-way Democratic race.
The former Maryland governor was back in Iowa on Thursday for the first time, visiting grassroots campaign organizers for Hillary Clinton, the party’s presumptive nominee, at state party headquarters.
While encouraging campaign volunteers and fielding questions from reporters, O’Malley called presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump a fascist, said he thinks supporters of Democratic primary runner-up Bernie Sanders will support Clinton, and that he is focused on helping Clinton win, not whether he would be invited to serve in her administration, should she win.
“That’s not why I’m doing this,” O’Malley said. “At this point in my life, having been a mayor and having been a governor, I’m going to put all my energies into this election to make sure we don’t careen over the fascist cliff.”
O’Malley said he pledged to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta that he would “do everything I can and be everywhere I can” to help Clinton defeat Trump in November’s election, but that he has no expectation of being offered a chance to work with Clinton, should she win.
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O’Malley plans to make a similar stop Friday in Sioux City and Friday night is scheduled to speak at the South Dakota Democratic Party’s state convention banquet.
O’Malley, who finished a distant third to Clinton and Sanders in Iowa, said he thinks the runner-up’s supporters can be swayed to support Clinton against Trump. Sensing a disconnect between them and Clinton, Trump has made overtures to Sanders supporters.
“Donald Trump is absolutely the opposite of that vision for America that Sen. Sanders supported,” O’Malley said. “No one who supported Sen. Sanders for the right reasons should go to Donald Trump.”
O’Malley said he thinks Democrats are “pulling together now for this fall.” He said many people who worked for his caucus campaign are now working for Clinton.
O’Malley’s appearances in Iowa represent the second set of surrogate events this week for the Clinton campaign in Iowa. Earlier this week, state treasurer Michael Fitzgerald held campaign events in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport to talk about economic issues in the presidential campaign.
Republicans were not impressed by O’Malley’s appearance on behalf of Clinton’s campaign. A statement issued by the Republican National Committee noted O’Malley earned fewer than 1 percent of state delegate equivalents in the caucuses.
“Martin O’Malley is back in Iowa, and much like his failed presidential run this visit will also end in defeat,” said a statement from RNC spokeswoman Lindsay Jancek. “If the best surrogate Hillary Clinton can find is the former mayor of Baltimore, who barely surpassed half a percent in the Iowa caucuses, then her campaign is more like her failed policies --- a train wreck of epic proportions.”
During Friday’s appearance, O’Malley joked to reporters that he felt rusty, having not met with reporters in such a way since the Feb. 1 caucuses, and made sure to show reporters a photograph from his daughter’s wedding this past weekend in Baltimore.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request seeking comment.