If Martin O'Malley's goal was to be as obnoxious as possible during Saturday night's Democratic debate, he succeeded, but I don't view that as something to applaud.
He got a ton of facts wrong about Clinton and Sanders' positions on guns, and then just lapsed into the kind of political rhetoric that heats up a room without offering any light.
But Bernie Sanders roared back at him.
Here's O'Malley's salvo:
No, Martha, I would not. And that's not what we did in Maryland. But you know what we did in Maryland? We overcame the NRA's objections. We overcame all of the crowds that were coming down there.
We did our own rallies. And at least if we enact these laws in a prospective way, we can address a major vulnerability in our country. ISIL videos, ISIL training videos are telling lone wolves the easiest way to buy a combat assault weapon in America is at a gun show.'
And it's because of the flip-flopping, political approach of Washington that both of my two colleagues on this stage have represented there for the last forty years.
That elicited a whoa, hold up reaction from both of the other candidates, and rightly so.
SANDERS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's calm down a little bit, Martin.
CLINTON: Yes, let's tell the truth, Martin.
O'MALLEY: I am telling the truth.
Also, a rebuke to the horrible moderators.
SANDERS: First of all, let's have some rules here, commentators.
MUIR: We will.
SANDERS: All right.
MUIR: But let me just establish that for you, senator. Really quickly governor, we are going to call on you tonight and it's very clear you have a lot to say but please wait until you're called upon. And senator, he invoked your record and I'll let you respond.
SANDERS: He sure did.
MUIR: I'll let you respond.
CLINTON: He invoked mine as well.
MUIR: And you will get some to as well.
Hear Sanders roar.
SANDERS: Sure did. All right. First off, we can do all the great speeches we want but you're not going to succeed unless there is a consensus. In 1988, just to set the record straight governor, I ran for the U.S. House. We have one House member from Vermont, three candidates in the race. One candidate said, you know what, I don't think it's a great idea that we sell automatic weapons in this country that are used by the military to kill people very rapidly.↓ Story continues below ↓
Gun people said, there were three candidates in the race, you vote for one of the others, but not Bernie Sanders. I lost that election by three percentage points. Quite likely, for that reason. So please, do not explain to me, coming from a state where democratic governors and republican governors have supported virtually no gun control.
Excuse me. Do not tell me that I have not shown courage in standing up to the gun people, in voting to ban assault weapons, voting for instant background checks, voting to end the gun show loop hole and now we're in a position to create a consensus in America on gun safety.
I don't think this goes far enough. I think Bernie in particular has a real vulnerability on the gun issue. But at the same time, Martin O'Malley needs to put a few facts at his disposal before he decides to go off half cocked like that.
Still, Sanders has a point, particularly on how the NRA leverages other candidates in a race to defeat a candidate who might be great on a lot of issues but opposes them on guns.
As for Martin O'Malley, it's probably a bad idea to lie about Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton when they're standing right there on the stage.
(Transcript via Washington Post)