POLITICS

Martin O'Malley Goes After Hillary Clinton For Leading By 'Polls,' Not 'Principles'

04/16/2015 08:21 pm ET | Updated Apr 17, 2015

WASHINGTON -- Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) went after Hillary Clinton Thursday, accusing her of changing policy positions based on polls rather than her convictions. It's the first time the prospective Democratic presidential candidate has attacked Clinton since she announced her presidential bid Sunday.

"I’m glad Secretary Clinton’s come around to the right positions on these issues," said O'Malley, referring to same-sex marriage and immigration. O'Malley spoke to reporters at Harvard University, where he gave a speech on the economy.

"I believe that we are best as a party when we lead with our principles and not according to the polls," O'Malley added. "And every election is about the future. And leadership is about making the right decision, and the best decision before sometimes it becomes entirely popular."

On Thursday, the Clinton campaign told The Huffington Post that Clinton supports "state policies to provide driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants."

That position tripped up Clinton in the 2008 campaign. Clinton -- then the U.S. senator from New York -- was asked during a debate whether she backed the efforts of her home-state governor to pass a bill authorizing those licenses. She first argued they "made sense," but then said she opposed such legislation. Two weeks later, Clinton reaffirmed that she did not support licenses for undocumented immigrants. But the damage was done, and she was hit for being too calculating in her responses.

Clinton also made news on same-sex marriage this week, another area where she's been criticized for being unclear. On Wednesday, she told the Washington Blade that she would like to see the Supreme Court affirm a constitutional right to marriage equality.

Last year, in an interview with NPR, however, she left many with the impression that she wouldn't support such a ruling and said a state-by-state approach is best.

"So, for me, marriage had always been a matter left to the states," Clinton said. "And in many of the conversations that I and my colleagues and supporters had, I fully endorse the efforts by activists who work state by state, and in fact that is what is working."

As governor, O'Malley championed issues like marriage equality, death penalty repeal and gun control, and he's been touting his progressive credentials ahead of a potential presidential bid.

"I believe marriage is a human right, not a state right," O'Malley said Thursday. "I’m glad she’s come around to that position as well. I believe that we do our country a disservice when we make it harder for new American immigrants to be able to abide by the rules of the road and obtain drivers licenses. And I’m glad she’s come around to that position now too."

O'Malley took a dig at Clinton on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, after her comments about marriage equality, although he didn't mention her by name.

The Clinton campaign declined to comment on O'Malley's remarks.

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