O'Malley: Ted Cruz is more 'outrageous, unqualified' than Donald Trump

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LAS VEGAS — The three Democratic presidential candidates made their case here Wednesday night in an early state that may prove critical in securing the nomination.

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley delivered speeches at the "Battle Born Battleground" caucus dinner, hosted by the Nevada Democratic Party and Sen. Harry Reid, who introduced the candidates.

Reid spent most of his remarks praising President Barack Obama and the Democratic candidates "who embody progressive values." Reid, who has yet to endorse anyone, called Clinton a "friend to the state of Nevada for decades."

The former secretary of state is leading in early Nevada polls, but Sanders has deployed a formidable ground game in the state in recent months. Wednesday's dinner at the MGM was one of the largest Democratic get-togethers before the state's caucuses are held on Feb. 20.

Throughout the night, Sanders supporters used ear-splitting vuvuzelas and air horns to compete with Clinton's hundreds of screaming fans. As in cattle calls past, Clinton devotees waved bright blue light sticks and appeared to be the most coordinated bunch in the room. O'Malley did not appear to have a dedicated section.

Clinton, who spoke first, started out by commending her Democratic opponents. "They have a lot of good ideas and we share a lot of the same values. And the differences between us pale compared to what we see on the other side," Clinton said.

She used most of her speech to knock Republicans — she called out Donald Trump and Marco Rubio by name on immigration — but also subtly hit her chief rival Sen. Sanders.

See photos of Sanders and Clinton in past debates:

26 PHOTOS
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton duking it out during Democratic debates
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O'Malley: Ted Cruz is more 'outrageous, unqualified' than Donald Trump
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt and Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton interrupt each other during the Univision, Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College, Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton argues a point as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate at the University of Michigan-Flint, Sunday, March 6, 2016, in Flint, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton makes a point as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, reatcs during a Democratic presidential primary debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
MILWAUKEE, WI - FEBRUARY 11: Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (L) and Hillary Clinton participate in the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidate debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on February 11, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.The debate is the final debate before the Nevada caucuses scheduled for February 20. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., gestures towards Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, left, speaks at the NBC, YouTube Democratic presidential debate at the Gaillard Center, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Charleston, S.C. To the right is Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speak during a break at the NBC, YouTube Democratic presidential debate at the Gaillard Center, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
DURHAM, NH - FEBRUARY 04: Democratic presidential candidates former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during their MSNBC Democratic Candidates Debate at the University of New Hampshire on February 4, 2016 in Durham, New Hampshire. This is the final debate for the Democratic candidates before the New Hampshire primaries. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton, right, speaks to Bernie Sanders during a break at the Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Bernie Sanders, left, offers an apology to Hillary Clinton during a Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Bernie Sanders, left, speaks to Hillary Clinton after a Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Bernie Sanders, left, makes a point as Hillary Rodham Clinton listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, walks by Bernie Sanders during a commercial break at a Democratic presidential primary debate, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2015, file photo, Bernie Sanders makes a point during a Democratic presidential primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa. The Democratic presidential candidates are meeting for their third debate on Dec. 19, with tensions suddenly boiling between Hillary Clinton and her chief rival, Sanders. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley appear before a Democratic presidential primary debate, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, speak during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates from left, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee take the stage before the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, left, and Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, participate in the first Democratic presidential debate at the Wynn Las Vegas resort and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. While tonight's first Democratic presidential debate will probably lack the name-calling and sharp jabs of the Republican face-offs, there's still potential for strong disagreements between the party's leading contenders. Photographer: Josh Haner/Pool via Bloomberg
Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont,, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton laugh during the CNN Democratic presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton shake hands at the end of a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Hillary Clinton take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley take part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - October 13: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton pictured at the 2015 CNN Democratic Presidential Debate at Wynn Resort in Las Vegas, NV on October 13, 2015. Credit: Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch/IPX
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The Democratic front-runner implored voters to choose a candidate who would be strong on all the issues, "not just a few issues."

She also said she was "not only running for president but raising millions of dollars for our state parties to help you build the infrastructure you need to win. Because I know we are all in this together." Sanders has yet to raise any money for states parties, according to his latest finance numbers.

Sanders, who spoke last, subtly hit Clinton as well, without naming her. He cautioned that "establishment politics and establishment economics" would not lead to a Democratic victory, arguing that the only way Democrats win is if there's a large voter turnout.

The Vermont senator, his voice increasingly hoarse, told the crowd that he would not be running if he didn't think a political revolution wasn't possible. He argued that real change has never come from the top down, "it has always come from the bottom up."

Clinton was the only candidate to reference North Korea's purported nuclear test during her speech, using it as an example for why the next president should have extensive foreign policy experience.

"We face complex challenges around the world, as we just saw last night from North Korea," she said.

O'Malley, who spoke second, dedicated a significant portion of his speech to knocking Ted Cruz. The former governor of Maryland is currently struggling with single digits in polls.

"I'd like to say that Donald Trump is the most outrageous and unqualified person ever to run for president. But really, that's not fair to Ted Cruz," he said.

See Martin O'Malley's run for president:

16 PHOTOS
Martin O'Malley on the campaign trail
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O'Malley: Ted Cruz is more 'outrageous, unqualified' than Donald Trump
Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks during Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Conference at Washington Convention Center, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 14: Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley meets with gun safety advocates on September 14, 2015 in New York City. O'Malley's campaign has struggled to gain national attention in comparison to fellow Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley shakes hands during a campaign stop hosted by the Salem Chamber of Commerce Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Salem, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley addresses the summer meeting of the Democratic National Committee, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, is seen through the meeting room door as he speaks during a meet & greet with local residents, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Indianola, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at the Surf Ballroom Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Clear Lake, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, speaks at the Iowa State Fair Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, speaks during the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO Presidential Forum, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Altoona, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, speaks to the media after the Greater Des Moines Partnership Forum, Friday, July 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley waits to speak at the Greater Des Moines Partnership Forum, Friday, July 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, speaks at a Netroots Nation town hall meeting, Saturday, July 18, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Photo by: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 2015 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley holds immigration roundtable at the New York Immigration Action Fund, where he unveils his ideas for 'fixing our inhumane immigration system'. Campaign says the discussions features ‘diverse New American voices rarely considered in the national immigration debate'. (NYC)
Democratic presidential hopeful former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley in New Castle, N.H., Saturday, June 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, speaks to supporters at his campaign headquarters, Saturday, May 30, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley waves as he arrives with his wife Katie O'Malley to an event to announce that he is entering the Democratic presidential race, on Saturday, May 30, 2015, in Baltimore. O'Malley joined the Democratic presidential race with a longshot challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2016 nomination. "I'm running for you," he told a crowd of about 1,000 people at Federal Hill Park in Baltimore, where he served as mayor before two terms as governor. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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In his strongest criticism of Cruz to date, O'Malley called him out for his positions on gun control, saying: "Cruz actually says that the answer to gun violence is more guns. Senator, the answer to cancer is not more cancer, the answer to poverty is not more poverty, and the answer to gun violence isn't more guns."

All three candidates organized events in Nevada tied to Wednesday's dinner. Clinton and Sanders both held rallies before, while O'Malley is scheduled to give a speech here Thursday morning.

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