Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts congressman known for prioritizing veterans issues and for an unsuccessful push to unseat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, declared his bid for the White House on Monday.
In announcing his candidacy, Moulton becomes the 20th Democrat in the race.
In a campaign video, Moulton, 40, touted his experience as a Marine Corps veteran who served three tours in Iraq as an infantry officer before becoming an aide to Gen. David Petraeus, then the top U.S. commander in Iraq, during the troop surge in 2007.
Moulton has since been critical of the Iraq War and of U.S. involvement in the Middle East under President Donald Trump.
“I realized a lot of Americans are feeling betrayed by Washington, the same way we did in Iraq,” Moulton said in the video. “Ask anyone who’s lost their job to a changing economy or a child to opioids or has to choose between heat and food in the winter, they’re feeling forgotten.”
A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Moulton will run his campaign “through VFW halls” with a focus on national security issues, the 6th District Democrat told The Atlantic.
Moulton criticized Trump’s foreign policy as “erratic” and called for strengthening NATO and retiring outdated, expensive weapons systems on his campaign website.
Moulton has tapped Scott Eshom, a former Green Beret with the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group, as an organizer on veterans issues, and David Vorland, a former adviser in the Defense Department under President Barack Obama, as a foreign policy adviser, CNN reported.
Moulton is also best known for an unsuccessful crusade to block Nancy Pelosi from the speaker’s gavel after the party won control of the chamber in 2018.
The congressman said that the party needed “a new generation of leadership,” but he eventually backed her after facing backlash from progressive groups and from his own constituents.
Moulton established the Serve America political action committee to recruit more veterans to serve in Congress. Moulton will lean on that political infrastructure to staff his campaign, CNN reported.
He has co-sponsored legislation intended to improve veterans’ health care and spoke with the Boston Globe about personal experiences with the Veterans Affairs health care system when he was prescribed the wrong medicine and a veterans’ hospital lost his medical records after he was elected to Congress.
Moulton became a father to a daughter in October of last year.
“It’s hard to leave her every time I go to Washington for a few days. But I also feel even more invested in her future than maybe I did ever before in this job,” Moulton said in an interview with CNN. “Because I don’t want her growing up in this country the way that it is.”
Moulton spelled out his domestic policy platform on his campaign website:
He endorses the Green New Deal, the sprawling plan to transform the economy away from fossil fuels championed by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But Moulton tacts to the center on health care, calling for a public option insurance plan in lieu of a “Medicare for All” single payer model.
Moulton, won his first term in Congress in 2014 by unseating nine-term Rep. John F. Tierney in a primary and ran unopposed in 2016. He won his last election in 2018 with 65 percent of the vote.
Moulton initially considered running as an independent in 2012 against Tierney but instead announced the following year that he would run as a Democrat in 2014. He beat Tierney in the primary by 10 points and went on to defeat Republican Richard Tisei.
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