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Wed Nov 18, 2015, 07:09 PM

O'Malley stays on offensive in post-debate campaign stops.

'Martin O'Malley stayed in battle mode after Saturday night's debate, arguing that he's more compassionate than rival Hillary Clinton on immigration issues.

Surrounded by a throng of reporters at a Democratic barbecue here, he decried the former secretary of state's use of the term "illegal immigrant" at a New Hampshire town hall last week.

Clinton had responded to a question about securing the border by saying she'd voted as a senator to fund a barrier to keep immigrants from entering the U.S., according to Time magazine.

But O'Malley said advocating for border walls is an "old way" of thinking about immigration.

The former Maryland governor routinely uses the term "new American immigrants" on the presidential campaign trail when talking about people who come into the U.S. without authorization.

"When she uses terms like 'illegal immigrants,' when she brags about building the wall and building the fence that doesn't help us reach that deeper level of understanding necessary for comprehensive immigration reform," O'Malley told reporters.

O'Malley also criticized Clinton onstage at the barbecue where the former first lady also spoke saying she had "sadly invoked" the 9/11 terrorist attacks during the debate in the midst of an exchange on Wall Street reform. Clinton pointed to her efforts to help Wall Street rebuild after the attacks while defending her ties to the banking and investment industry.

Several Iowans at O'Malley's stops throughout the day said they were impressed by his debate performance, saying he'd improved over the first Democratic presidential debate in October. Having only three candidates onstage helped him, and he appeared more of an equal to higher-polling Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders than he has in the past, said Daniel Power, a University of Northern Iowa business professor who advises a Students for O'Malley group.

"I was left a little lacking after the first debate," said Ames resident and supporter Susan McNicholl. "So, I think he did a great job. He had some good laugh lines, but more importantly he was focusing on the issues more, and I think the other candidates took him more seriously."

McNicholl and her two young children came to the afternoon barbecue wearing shirts that read, "O'Really? O'Malley? O'Yeah."

Earlier in the day, O'Malley kicked off his public schedule by giving an 11:30 a.m. pep talk to around 40 supporters and volunteers at his Des Moines field office. "Last night we finally got our shot, didn't we," he said.'

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2015/11/15/omalley-stays-offensive-post-debate-campaign-stops/75845332/

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