Moulton eyes presidential bid

Congressman Seth Moulton speaks to students and other constituents at a recent town hall meeting in the Sophia Gordon Theater at Salem State University.

SALEM — Congressman Seth Moulton is running for president.

The Salem Democrat ended more than a month of speculation Monday morning in his 2020 launch video on his campaign website. 

In the video, Moulton spoke about the need to restore America's moral authority around the world and in the actions of the president.

"I will always uphold America's values. I'm running because we have to beat Donald Trump," Moulton said in the video, "and I want us to beat Donald Trump because I love this country."

Now, Moulton plans to take his campaign on a tour of early voting states, speaking with young people and veterans. He'll participate in service events, much like the Serve with Seth events he does with staff in Washington and in the 6th District four times a year.

Moulton will make stops in seven states this week, including New York on Monday, and he'll speak with traditional and nontraditional outlets along the way. On Tuesday in Manchester, New Hampshire, he plans to speak with residents of Liberty House, which helps "homeless and struggling veterans."

He is scheduled to be back in New Hampshire on Wednesday morning, where he will take part in the New England Council's Politics and Eggs speaker series for presidential candidates. He plans to travel to South Carolina later that day, then make stops in Iowa on Thursday. He heads to Los Angeles, California, on Friday to take part in tapings of the "The Adam Carolla Show," and the "KickAss News" podcast. He also plans to appear live on the Cheddar news network. In Nevada on Saturday, he'll speak to a group called Vets for Action.

A Marblehead native, Moulton, 40, served four tours in the Iraq War as a Marine Corps Infantry officer from 2003 to 2008, where he earned the Bronze Star medal for valor and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with valor. He commanded a platoon in the first company of Marines into Baghdad in 2003. He was elected to his third term in Congress last fall.

In February, Moulton told BuzzFeed he was "looking at" a presidential run. Since then, he has traveled to New Hampshire, South Carolina, North Carolina, Iowa and Nevada, speaking mostly with veterans groups and young Democrats about his vision for the country.

In recent weeks, he has pushed the notion that his candidacy would focus on what others aren't talking about: national security, defense and foreign policy, areas which he says Trump does not have a firm grasp. At the Brookings Institute in Washington, Moulton said the U.S. needs to strengthen ties with allies, to rethink defense spending in light of cyber attacks, to jumpstart next-generation arms control treaties, and develop a Pacific NATO.

Moulton lives in Salem with his wife, Liz, and their 6-month-old daughter, Emmy.

"The person that takes on Donald Trump needs to be a tank," Liz Moulton says in the campaign launch video. "They need to be a tank no matter what is thrown their way, what fire, what lies, what vitriol, the tank just keeps moving, and that's Seth."

Seth Moulton is jumping feet first into a crowded pool of 20 Democrats that includes some well-known candidates, such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and California Senator Kamala Harris; another senator from his home state, Elizabeth Warren, and rising stars such as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

He is also jumping into a race that should soon include the likes of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Moulton will be the third Bay State politician to throw his hat into the ring. Former Gov. Bill Weld said he plans to challenge President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. Moulton also joins several members of the House who are running, including Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who Moulton endorsed in a failed bid to oust Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as Democratic Leader in 2016; and California Congressman Eric Swalwell, who attended Moulton's wedding in Marblehead in September 2017.

In the runup to his announcement, he pitched the idea of a Federal Green Jobs Corps and a subsidy for carbon farming; he called for a New Voting Rights Act and he called for the abolition of the Electoral College and the Senate filibuster.

Background

Moulton was first elected to Congress in 2014, when, as an underdog, he beat nine-term incumbent John Tierney of Salem in the Democratic primary. He went on to defeat Republican Richard Tisei in the general election. 

Moulton worked for about a year as managing director for a high-speed rail company, the Texas Central Railway, in 2011. He has been a proponent of a North-South Rail Link, which would connect North and South stations in Boston to create a regional transportation system for the Northeast.

Moulton has taken a stand in favor of laws to prevent gun violence, including a ban on bump stocks, drawing he says from his experience using weapons of war in Iraq.

"I spent years of my life carrying guns every single day as a Marine, but weapons of war have no place on our streets or in our schools," he said in the video.

He has had success raising his profile with appearances on CNN and other national news outlets, but he gained notoriety shortly after being elected for his third term with his stance, along with other incumbent and newly elected lawmakers, against Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who as Democratic leader was poised to regain the House speakership. Moulton said that in his travels in trying to elect a new crop of leaders, people told him they were looking for change in Washington.

His position was unpopular with some. He was booed by some audience members at a town hall event in Amesbury, while others held signs that read, "#I stand with Nancy." Moulton eventually reversed course and voted for Pelosi as Speaker in exchange for term limits for the top Democratic leadership posts in the House caucus.

The theme of having a new generation of leadership in Washington, D.C. was a platform on which he and his Serve America-backed candidates from across the country ran on during the midterms. Moulton spent the better part of two years stumping for these veterans and service-oriented candidates across the country. He and his Serve America PAC also helped raise millions for their campaigns.

He coasted to a third term, taking 65 percent of the vote despite challenges from Republican Joseph Schneider, Beverly businessman and veteran, and independent candidate Mary Jean Charbonneau of Rockport.

However, his stance against Pelosi angered some progressives from within and outside the district, leading some to speculate Moulton will face a primary challenge in 2020.

“These conversations have been difficult,” Moulton said in the statement at the time, “but we’re stronger because of them."

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

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