By KATHLEEN RONAYNE, Associated Press
HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — A day after jumping into the presidential race, Democrat Martin O’Malley vowed Sunday to fight hard in New Hampshire, home of the first presidential primary and a stronghold for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“I’m used to tough fights, I’ve always been drawn to them,” O’Malley told reporters after greeting voters at a diner.
O’Malley kicked off his presidential bid Saturday and is making trips to the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. He is the third Democrat to enter the race, behind Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and still remains unknown by many voters. He has campaigned frequently alongside New Hampshire candidates in past elections, but is struggling to gain traction in a state where the Clintons have long been popular.
Clinton won the 2008 New Hampshire primary, and many of the state’s influential Democrats are already actively backing her 2016 candidacy.
O’Malley supported Clinton in 2008 and has been hesitant to attack her directly. But he is drawing a contrast with Clinton on the issue of Wall Street reform and says Democratic voters are hungry for an alternative.
“I did support her in 2008, I thought she was one of the best candidates for those times — but times change,” O’Malley said. “One of the big challenges that we have yet to address in this country is reining in reckless behavior on Wall Street, and I believe we need new leadership to do that.”
At an event at Dartmouth College, a student asked O’Malley whether Clinton had been a good secretary of state. O’Malley did not offer specific criticism but did say the country needs a “new foreign policy” focused more on building regional alliances and creating stability after dictators are toppled.
Speaking about his path to victory, O’Malley vowed to campaign in New Hampshire frequently and said he plans to engage directly with voters. O’Malley took press questions at all three of his stops Sunday. Clinton has faced criticism on the trail for not taking reporters’ questions on a regular basis.
“If you offer yourself as a candidate you should be willing to answer as many questions as you possibly can, as best as you can possibly answer them,” O’Malley said.
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