No midsummer night's debate for Moulton

Andrew Harnik/AP photoDemocratic presidential candidate and Salem Congressman Seth Moulton Tuesday on Capitol Hill in Washington.

SALEM — Congressman Seth Moulton, yet again, will not be among 20 presidential candidates on the stage now for the second round of Democratic National Committee debates, July 30 and 31 on CNN.

But, as before, that doesn't mean the decorated Marine Corps veteran who served four combat tours in Iraq is giving up.

And on Thursday, he scored a key endorsement from retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a four-star general who commanded U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan.

In a letter to DNC Chairman Tom Perez, Moulton's campaign manager Marie Harf petitioned for Moulton's inclusion in the debates. She said Moulton's message of "keeping our country safe and secure, taking back patriotism for our party, and encouraging every American to serve our nation" needs to be discussed in the debates "if we want to select the best candidate to take on and beat Donald Trump."

Moulton has fallen short of qualifying for the upcoming debates. He raised $1.245 million from April to June from 17,000 individual donors after jumping into the race on April 22. But he needed 65,000 unique donors, with at least 200 donors each from 20 states, in order to qualify.

The other qualifier was 1% support from three DNC-approved polls. Harf said the campaign submitted 12 separate polls to the DNC showing Moulton polling at 1% support, among them an Emerson poll on May 13, a Rasmussen/HarrisX poll on June 26 and a Morning Consult poll on June 30.

"All of the polls listed in our submission meet methodology standards and are run by organizations with a passing rating, according to FiveThirtyEight. Some are more highly rated or more accurate over time than some of the polls that do count," Harf said.

However, the polls Moulton's campaign cited to the DNC are not on the list of qualifying polls: Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Des Moines Register, Fox News, Las Vegas Review Journal, Monmouth University, NBC News, New York Times, National Public Radio, Quinnipiac University, Reuters, University of New Hampshire, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, and Winthrop University.

Moulton's spokesman, Matt Corridoni, said the DNC responded and said it would only consider results from the polls it had announced earlier this year. 

An email seeking further comment from the DNC was not returned as of press time. 

Moulton, who grew up in Marblehead and lives in Salem, also failed to reach these marks for the first round of debates in June.

But Harf also noted Moulton out-raised five candidates who stood on the first debate stage: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio; former U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio; and U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, who has since dropped out.

"The online donor debate qualification is an important measure of the strength of a campaign," Harf said, "but so is longevity — and we believe our fundraising numbers are evidence of our staying power in this race."

His campaign announced Monday it had $725,000 on hand, and that it would be running a "lean — but strategic and effective — operation moving forward."

Corridoni said the campaign had nothing more to add on the debates than what Moulton told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Thursday.

"Oh, I don't think the summer debates are going to decide this election," Moulton told Mitchell. "Voters don't go to the polls until February of next year, and our response on the ground has been fantastic. Those are the voters who are ultimately going to make this decision."

Moulton appeared on MSNBC with McChrystal, and Moulton said his endorsement meant a lot to him. The former general had also endorsed him when he first ran for Congress in 2014.

In an email sent out by Moulton's campaign, McChrystal said he normally does not endorse candidates.

"But I believe Seth Moulton is the right leader for where were are and where we need to go," he said, "and that’s why I’m proud to endorse him to be the next president of the United States."

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.