Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley says he'd prefer there were no super PACs, but stopped short of calling on one supporting him to stop airing negative attack ads against Democratic rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"I would hope that we would keep this debate a debate about the issues and I would prefer, not that I'm able to tell a super PAC what to do, I would prefer that we didn't have any super PACs, frankly," he said.
In an interview with NHPR's Morning Edition, O'Malley was responding to attack ads being aired by the Generation Forward PAC, which has been critical of Sanders for not being progressive enough when it comes to gun control.
O'Malley didn't say whether he supported or denounced the ads, only that he disagreed with the Citizens United decision, saying that once you're a candidate, "you're in a bit of a straight jacket. There are all sorts of rules and limitations, but super PACs have none."
O'Malley is scheduled to return to New Hampshire this week, as polls show he's got a lot of ground to make up to catch Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A recent poll showed O'Malley with just 2 percent of support among Democratic voters.
O'Malley has acknowledged Sanders' recent surge in the polls, but attributes that to him being a "protest candidate." When asked what he meant by that, O'Malley said," History has shown usually the candidates that are surging in the summer are not the candidates who are surging in the primary."
"I'm running for President of the United States, and I have 15 years of executive experience, getting things done," he said. "I have to offer progressive values as well as an ability to actually deliver on the goals set, whether it's affordable college, reducing violent crime, increasing job creation, or defending the highest median income in the country through a recession."