O’Malley qualifies for NBC Democratic debate

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Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley waves to the crowd with his wife Katie (L) after formally announcing his campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination in Baltimore, Maryland, May 30, 2015. O’Malley was previously at risk for qualifying for the January 17 debate in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley waves to the crowd with his wife Katie (L) after formally announcing his campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination in Baltimore, Maryland, May 30, 2015. O’Malley was previously at risk for qualifying for the January 17 debate in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will join the other Democratic candidates in the next presidential debate, scheduled for Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina.

NBC News, host of the event, announced Thursday that O’Malley will debate alongside former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who are locked in a narrow race in Iowa and New Hampshire.

O’Malley was at risk of being excluded based on criteria released last week by the network requiring a candidate to have an average of 5 percent either in recent national polls or in polls in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. O’Malley has been polling at about 5 percent in Iowa, but is falling short of that in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and in national surveys.

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