Seth Moulton is running for president

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton. (Owen O'Rourke)

After months of speculation and a tentative announcement earlier this year that he was thinking about joining the race, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) officially announced he was running for president on Monday.

Moulton, 40, admitted he was “taking a serious look” at running for president in February, saying at the time that he would make his decision on whether he would launch a campaign over the next couple of months.

The decision that he was thinking about running, followed by an official announcement comes after repeated denials with the congressman claiming he was not interested in seeking the presidency in 2020. In February, he said what changed his mind was wanting a better world for his infant daughter, Emmy, to grow up in and a need to stand up to and defeat the president.

“Decades of division and corruption have broken our democracy and robbed Americans of their voice. It’s all led to an administration that’s turned away from our values and is shredding our moral authority,” said Moulton in an announcement video. “We have to restore our moral authority in everything we do. Whether it’s appointing a cabinet member, negotiating a treaty, or signing an executive order, I will always uphold America’s values.

“I’m running because we have to beat Donald Trump and I want us to beat Donald Trump because I love this country.”

Moulton announcing his intention to run for president coincided with speculation that he was not planning to run for reelection to the House in 2020, after a Federal Election Commission filing from his campaign read that as of Monday, he was no longer a candidate for Congress.

But Moulton told The Item in a phone interview that he was planning to run for reelection to Congress and would make a decision later in the race whether he would continue running for president or just focus on the House.

“I recognize that if I become the Democratic nominee that I would have to stop running for the House, but there’s a long time between now and then,” he said.

Moulton is the 19th Democratic candidate to enter the presidential race, which includes U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), but not front-runner and former Vice-President Joseph Biden, who has yet to announce a presidential run.

Moulton, a former U.S. Marine who served four tours in Iraq, plans to tout his relatively young age, commitment to service and military experience as a “perfect foil” to 72-year-old Trump, who he says is weakest on national security, defense and foreign policy. He plans to place an emphasis on organizing young people and veterans.

The Salem Democrat plans to run a campaign focused on issues around foreign policy, national security, growing the economy and improving veterans’ care. He’s called for the creation of a civilian service-based Federal Green Jobs Corp, has introduced plans for a New Voting Rights Act, and has called for the abolishment of the Electoral College.

He promised to tackle climate change, “cut the massive weapons programs” he said the country doesn’t need to focus on other investments, and build a cyber wall to stop Russia from hacking United States elections.

Moulton, who was elected to a third term serving the Sixth Congressional District last November, has consistently called for a new generation of leadership in politics and has worked to distance himself from “Democratic insiders” within his own party.

He’s emerged as a heavy critic of Trump during his time in Congress, but faced backlash and criticism of his own earlier this year for becoming a House leader against Nancy Pelosi’s campaign for Speaker of the House. He ultimately opted to support Pelosi when it became clear she would get the post.

But rather than seeing it as a defeat, Moulton characterizes the speaker debate as bringing about necessary change, which included a compromise with Pelosi agreeing to a three-term limit on the House speaker that limited her to four more years in the role. Moulton agreed to drop his opposition as part of the compromise.

“We better have a nominee who’s willing to take on the Washington establishment or we’re going to lose to Trump,” he said.

Moulton insists that a presidential run, which will involve increased travel for campaign stops, will not affect his commitment to and availability for his constituents in the Sixth Congressional District, which includes Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem, Saugus and Swampscott.

“I’m going to balance that commitment just like I did last year when I was supporting other candidates to take back the House,” Moulton said. “Frankly, I wouldn’t be doing this if I thought I was going to be letting my constituents down. I think the best thing I can do for my constituents is defeat this divisive president. If we’re going to going to move this country forward, we have to bring it back together.”

That local commitment, he said, has included fighting for a regional rail, fighting for economic development, especially in Lynn, and being at the forefront of the immigration debate.

It appears Moulton will face a steep uphill battle to take the White House. According to a filing with the Federal Election Commission, he only has $722,801 of cash on hand. In contrast, a filing shows Trump has a war chest of nearly $40.8 million.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has the highest fundraising total of potential Democratic candidates with $17.85 million cash on hand. Warren, Moulton’s in-state competition, has a war chest of $10.5 million, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

But Moulton, a Harvard Business School graduate, has pulled off an upset before, first winning a Congressional seat in 2014 after first defeating nine-term incumbent U.S. Rep. John Tierney in the Democratic primary.

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