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Seth Moulton is thinking about a run for president

Congressman Seth Moulton is questioned by the press after his town hall meeting at Salem State University. (Owen O'Rourke)

SALEM — U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) is seriously considering a run for president in 2020, he confirmed on Monday after months of speculation and repeated denials that he would join the race.

Moulton, 40, confirmed his interest at a Town Hall forum at Salem State University, telling reporters that he’s “taking a serious look” at running for president, and will make his decision on whether he would launch a campaign over the next couple of months.

“I’ve always looked at this job as how best I can serve the country,” Moulton said. “And when you look at America today, when you look at the fact that we can’t even keep the government open, when I look at my 4-month-old daughter today and I say I don’t want her growing up in this world, I feel like there may be an opportunity for me.”

Moulton first shared his decision with BuzzFeed News in a story that was published Monday morning, saying he has spoken with former President Barack Obama about his potential run “about a year ago,” but would not share the details of that discussion.  

The decision comes on the heels of criticism Moulton has faced in recent months for emerging as a House leader against Nancy Pelosi’s campaign for speaker of the House before ultimately opting to support her when it became clear she would get the post.

Moulton, who was elected to a third term representing the Sixth Congressional District last November, has emerged as a heavy critic of President Donald Trump during his time in Congress. In his own party, he’s worked to distance himself from “Democratic insiders,” and has consistently called for a new generation of leadership in politics.

If Moulton decides to run, he’ll join a large and ever-expanding field of Democrats who have announced their intention to run for president. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another outspoken Trump critic, officially launched her presidential campaign on Saturday.

Much of the discussion for Democrats is centered around picking a candidate who would be best equipped to defeat Trump in November. When asked what makes him think he could be that person, Moulton said “it wouldn’t be the hardest challenge I’ve faced in my life.

“I think we ought to have someone who can sort of take that in stride,” Moulton said. “We need to stand up to this president. We cannot afford having him, or frankly, the vice president being the next president of the United States. The stakes are too high … We’ve got to beat Donald Trump.”

Moulton, a former U.S. Marine who served four tours of duty in Iraq, said his military experience would be an asset if he were elected to the White House.

“Having a commander in chief who’s had to make life or death decisions is probably a valuable experience,” he said.

Moulton’s latest proclamation is a reversal from his previous statements on seeking the presidency and those of his staff.

Last summer, the Salem Democrat told The Boston Herald following a town hall meeting in Wakefield that he was not planning a run.

“Look, I’m not planning to run for president in 2020,” Moulton said. “I’m completely focused on 2018, where I think we have to win back the House to restore some balance in Washington and to put a check on this president.”

In an interview with Boston Public Radio in 2017, the congressman said five times he was not seeking higher office.

“I’m just being honest, I’m not running for president,” he told WGBH radio. “There are a lot of things I am focused on, I’m focused on the work that we have to do in the district, and I don’t want people to lose sight of that.”

That same year, Moulton’s then-communications director Carrie Rankin told The Boston Globe, “Seth Moulton is not running for president.”

In an interview with The Daily Item last fall, Moulton was unequivocal.

“No matter how many different ways you ask me, I am not running for president,” he said.

But what’s made him seriously consider a run is his family, Moulton said, explaining that he has spent lots of time thinking about the world his infant daughter, Emmy, will grow up in, and gaining the full support of his wife, Liz, over the Christmas holiday. She told him a run would be rough for her and the family, but she thinks he should do it.

“I don’t want (Emmy) to grow up in this world,” Moulton said. “I want her to grow up in a better one with equal opportunities, where she can succeed and do anything she wants because she has the opportunity to do so, and there’s not a bully in the Oval Office telling her she’s not qualified because she’s a woman.”  

Item reporter Thomas Grillo contributed to this report.

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