The former Maryland governor and Democratic presidential candidate called out Trump's “xenophobia” and even took aim at his Democratic presidential rivals for not speaking out loudly against it in a Wednesday interview on Bloomberg's With All Due Respect.
“There's a lot of xenophobia in the world,” O'Malley said when asked whether Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were ducking the issue of whether the U.S. should welcome Syrian immigrants. “There's a lot of hatred being spewed” in the Republican race, he added, “and I think sometimes as Democrats we are too cautious in the face of that xenophobia.”
O'Malley was the first presidential candidate to declare his support for taking in refugees in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and he reiterated that call Wednesday.
“I believe that we should step up as we have before as a nation. I believe that our greatest strength as a people comes from our principles, and in the past we have stepped up whenever there was a refugee crisis like this. I believe that we should take the 65,000 refugees that have been recommended by the international organizations, and in a nation like ours, with 320 million, that's like accommodating 6 more people in a baseball stadium that already holds 32,000 people. We're capable of doing this, and what's more, John, we can't really lead in a credible way in the world if we hide from events like this.”
Trump, whose comments on Mexican “rapists” were called “racist” by O'Malley and many others, has reluctantly agreed that the U.S. needs to try to help the Syrian immigrants.
“I hate the concept of it, but on a humanitarian basis, you have to,” Trump said in a Sept. 1 interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. “This was started by President Obama when he didn't go in and do the job he should have when he drew the line in the sand, which turned out to be a very artificial line. But you know, it's living in hell in Syria. There's no question about it. They're living in hell and something has to be done.”
Countries including Austria, Germany, and England have pledged to take in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees as hundreds of thousands of residents displaced in the civil war against the government of Bashar al-Assad have streamed across Europe. O'Malley believes it is time for the U.S. to make a similar commitment.
“We need to speak boldly about the deepest truths of our nation, and if we do that, there's a font of goodwill that can be summoned forth,” he said. “That's what we did in my own state with regards to the Central American kids coming from Honduras and Guatemala and we accommodated more of those kids than any other state of the union.”