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Tue Nov 24, 2015, 02:53 AM

O'Malley lays out his plan to defeat Islamic State.

EXETER — Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley said Republicans who oppose Syrian refugees are playing into the hands of Islamic State terrorists.

As he outlined his ideas to defeat ISIS, the former Maryland governor on Monday accused Donald Trump, Ben Carson and other GOP candidates of trying to capitalize on “the politics of fear and division.”

“All of this is a real and present danger to our own democracy,” O’Malley said after speaking to residents at the Riverwoods retirement community in Exeter.

O’Malley called on the U.S. to lead the world in defeating ISIS, cutting off terrorist financing channels, expanding Homeland Security capacity, and inreasing information and intelligence sharing.

Countries where ISIS is present have “ground responsibility” and must provide the front-line forces, with air support, special forces and logistical support from U.S. forces, according to O’Malley.

“The Paris attacks were far more likely to have been stopped by better Homeland Security actions in Brussels and Paris than by more firepower in Syria and Iraq,” he said in his ISIS speech earlier Monday at Franklin Pierce University.

O’Malley has said the U.S. should accept 65,000 Syrian refugees next year, far more than the 10,000 additional refugees President Barack Obama has directed his administration to prepare for during that time.

Steps must be taken to screen refugees against potential terrorists, but the U.S. already has one of the most comprehensive screening process of any country, according to O’Malley.

At Riverwoods, O’Malley spoke of the plan to defeat ISIS, raising the minimum wage, gun sale restrictions, expanding Social Security benefits, debt-free public college, universal national service programming, and investments in public infrastructure.

O’Malley said he is making progress in the Democratic race against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

It is a work in progress, as one Riverwoods resident reminded the candidate.

Monty Scharff said it was the first time he had even heard of O’Malley, but he now plans to vote for him. “You’ve got to get your name up there. You’ve got to get some speed going,” Scharff said.

His campaign continues to hold out hope for additional televised debates to help raise his profile. O’Malley noted that the one televised debate in New Hampshire is on Dec. 19, the Saturday before Christmas.

“Our debate here in New Hampshire — they have tried to hide that one by putting it on Christmas weekend at the same time as Rudolph and Frosty will be on TV,” he said.'



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