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Fri Oct 30, 2015, 08:12 PM

O'Malley wary of ground troops in Syria.

SIOUX CITY | ISIS must be stopped, and the U.S. should support the coalition to defeat the Syria-based Islamic militant group, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley said Friday.

But the Democratic presidential candidate hesitated to support a move that would place U.S. troops on the ground, pointing to past examples of U.S. interference in Middle Eastern affairs.

“We have to stay involved, but we also have to be very, very cautious because it’s hard to point to an example where putting American boots on the ground gave us the desired result in the last 15 years,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley’s comments came hours after the White House announced that Democratic President Barack Obama had authorized the deployment of fewer than 50 special operations U.S. troops in the Kurdish-controlled region of Syria.

If elected, O’Malley said he’d like to find ways to cut off ISIS’ finances and stop its propaganda.

O’Malley’s stop at the Journal offices Friday came amidst a current tour in Iowa. He suggested he'd be back.

“I intend to campaign the Iowa way. I intend to go county-to-county-to-county,” he said.

Despite trailing the two remaining Democratic hopefuls -- former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- in the polls with low single-digit support, O’Malley said he isn’t worried.

“I’m not in a very different place than many other challengers who we’ve never heard of until caucus night,” said O’Malley. “In (the Democratic Party), especially, there is a gravitational pull towards the new leader -- the candidate who’s speaking to where our country is going rather than to where our country has been.”

O’Malley said he differs greatly from Clinton and Sanders.

Pointing to his state of Maryland, he noted how he passed comprehensive gun control legislation and a marriage equality bill as well as a bill that will incrementally increase the minimum hourly wage every few years.

“Sen. Sanders and Secretary Clinton both have 40 years of experience in Washington, but neither of them can really point to getting much done. I, on the other hand, have been an executive. I’ve gotten things done,” O’Malley said.


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