O’Malley meets with ISU students during Ames stop


Cyclones for O’Malley Club President Evan Abramsky, political science, junior, listens to questions during a informational meeting Wednesday August 26, 2015 in Stomping Grounds in Ames, Iowa.

Rakiah Bonjour

Martin O’Malley, former Maryland governor and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, met with ISU students in Ames on Saturday, focusing on his plans to make college education affordable for students.  

O’Malley’s stop marked the first time he has met with ISU students in town this election cycle.

“I know that those of you who are Iowans take your responsibility very, very seriously and you insist on meeting each of us, two, three, four, five, six or seven times before you make a decision,” O’Malley said to a group of supporters gathered at Stomping Grounds Coffee on Welch Avenue. “I appreciate that and I appreciate you coming here tonight.”

Speaking in a college town, O’Malley pivoted right to education policy as an area students were interested in.

“We saddled our next generation of college graduates with a mountain of debt to the likes of which no other nation on the planet does,” he said. “What does it say about us that you can borrow money for a home at lower interest rates than you can finance your kids’ college education? That is why I put out a plan to make a debt-free college degree a universal option for every family within five years and to increase time for degree attainment by 25 percent within the next 10 years as well.”

O’Malley has said he wants to increase state funding for Pell grants and funding to public universities. He has also called for lowering interest rates, so students can afford their loans.

He said community colleges must have more investment since they offer “a different pathway toward degree attainment.” O’Malley also said that a successful higher education starts in high school, where the fourth year of high school should be focused on college credit and attaining a certificate of a skill that is in demand.

“Affordable college education, making it debt-free was such a big thing for me,” said Evan Abramsky, junior in political science and leader of Cyclones for Martin O’Malley. “I am saddled with debt like most students at Iowa State, so I know down the road students shouldn’t have to face that. [O’Malley’s] plan for an affordable college education is much more comprehensive, believable and reliable than [Vermont Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate] Bernie Sanders.”

While in Ames, O’Malley offered a “preview” of policy he will campaign on that he had not previously revealed on the trail. He plans to pursue policy that will cut youth unemployment in half by advancing national service as an option for every American kid.

“There’s a lot of work to do, but the great news is there is no nation on the planet better capable of accomplishing this work than we are,” O’Malley said, adding that America should not look at this as a challenge that cannot be overcome, but as an opportunity.

As is common with an O’Malley campaign event, he brought along a guitar and led those in attendance with a song.

“Love without fear in your heart, feel like you still have a choice, if we all light up we can scare away the dark,” O’Malley said.

Ewan Shortess, sophomore in supply chain management, said he was inspired when O’Malley played the guitar and sang along with attendees. 

“It was such a good community bonding event at the end and that’s something you have to do if you want to bring voters together,” Shortess said. 

The event occurred the same day a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll was released showing O’Malley is attracting support from just 3 percent of likely caucus goers — 11 points behind Vice President Joe Biden, who has not formally entered the race. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton has support from 37 percent of voters and Sanders is at 30 percent.

While in Iowa, O’Malley also spoke at an immigration forum in Storm Lake, hosted a meet and greet in Sheldon and made stops at Grinnell College and the University of Iowa.