May 31, 2015 5:48 PM

O'Malley says he's ready to campaign hard in New Hampshire

The Associated Press

MANCHESTER — 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 alongside New Hampshire candidates frequently in the last several 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 backed 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."

Speaking about his path to victory, O'Malley vowed to campaign in New Hampshire frequently and said he plans to engage directly with voters.

"Real leadership is about forging consensus, not about following polls, and I intend to forge a new consensus," he said.

O'Malley's visit to New Hampshire includes the diner stop, a house party with supporters and an event with students at Dartmouth College. Beyond Wall Street reform, O'Malley is emphasizing the need to lower college costs, raise wages and reform the immigration system.


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