“The 52-year-old suspect gained access to the event at Drake University by wearing a suit and lying to security staff,” said police spokesperson Sgt. Kim Gunter. “He apparently convinced them that he had a solid five-percent backing in recent polls.”
The intruder has been identified as Martin Joseph O’Malley, a musician and former public official from Baltimore. He has been unemployed since January and, according to family members, has become increasingly delusional since then.
Unwilling to let O’Malley’s presence disrupt the televised event that was being watched by over eight million viewers, CBS producers made the decision to allow him to remain on stage for the duration of the debate. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders initially looked frightened by the intruder, but they quickly realized that he posed no real threat.
The panel of moderators ended up feeling so badly for O’Malley that they decided to give him a podium and allow him to chime in on questions.
“There was something really sad about the guy’s sincere conviction that he was to going to publicly take down the immortal Clinton, or the tenacious Sanders,” said moderator John Dickerson. “In the end, we decided that it wasn’t our job to destroy this poor man’s dreams. Let the moderators in the next debate do that.”