Are Martin O'Malley & Bernie Sanders Friends? Their Paths Have Briefly Crossed On The Campaign Trail

Of the three Democratic candidates still running for president, two have been mayors of major cities. One aspired to be a governor, only to go on and serve in the U.S. House and Senate, while another only recently stepped down from leading the State of Maryland. The candidates' political careers seem to have barely intersected. So, how do Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders know each other?

When Sanders wrapped three highly successful terms as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1989, O'Malley was only just starting to consider a bid for Senate, which he campaigned for in 1990. Likewise, the Maryland politician was elected as Baltimore mayor in 1999 — right in the middle of Sanders' tenure as Vermont representative.

The two have held similar political aspirations for decades, though Sanders entered politics far earlier than O'Malley did and has served for over three decades compared to O'Malley's 23 years. For this reason, there have been very few times that the candidates met prior to announcing their intent to run for president. Those announcements happened within mere days of each other.

Their paths have briefly intersected on the campaign trail, with both attending and speaking at the South Carolina's Blue Jamboree in Charleston, South Carolina. They have similarly made appearances together at an Iowa event, along with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Of course, all three have shared the stage for a Democratic debate as well as the Democratic forum that was hosted by Rachel Maddow, a non-sanctioned event that felt more like an interview than a formal debate.

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If anything, O'Malley and Sanders are dramatically different in their views, despite belonging to the same political party, in fact, far more than Clinton and Sanders are, according to an InsideGov comparison. Nonetheless, the two have been engaged in a one-sided war of words since O'Malley's Generation Forward SuperPAC released an ad in June decrying Sanders' voting record on gun control. Sanders responded by admonishing SuperPACs and asking for donations directly to his campaign. And most recently, O'Malley went after the Vermont senator by insinuating that Sanders had worked against President Obama during his 2012 reelection campaign and was even considering running against him. Sanders has called the claim "categorically false."

Though they may have been passing ships over the years, the two will meet once more along with Clinton at the second Democratic debate, to be held on Saturday night at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.