By Alex Bregman
Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a decorated Marine Corps veteran, has quickly made a name for himself as an outspoken critic of President Trump. In a wide-ranging conversation with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, Moulton spoke about his decision to run for office, his views on President Trump and the future of the Democratic Party.
Before making his run for the House of Representatives, Moulton served four tours in Iraq, which would earn him both the Bronze Star and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for Valor. Moulton served despite his opposition to the war in Iraq. While serving there, though, that was not his focus. He told Couric, “Every single day you go over there because you can make a difference in the lives of other people and the lives of Iraqis, and the lives of your fellow Americans, and most of all, the lives of the Marines to your left and your right. And that’s really what you’re thinking about.”
Moulton discussed why he never told anyone about his military honors. He said, “There are a lot of my fellow Marines who did heroic things and never got recognized. And I think that there’s — there’s such a healthy disrespect in the military for people who come back and tell war stories. So I just didn’t think it was appropriate.” Even his parents didn’t learn about them until reading about it in the Boston Globe during his run for Congress in 2014.
Moulton, who still believes that the Iraq War was not worth the fight, told Couric that he was critical of President Barack Obama’s approach to the war and is critical of President Trump’s strategy as well. Moulton said, “I’m an equal opportunity critic. I’m a bipartisan critic. I’ve been very critical of President Obama’s foreign policy in Iraq, specifically — not so much because he didn’t leave a strong military presence, but because he didn’t do anything to ensure the political success of Iraq so that ultimately Iraq [could] govern itself and provide its own national security.”
Moulton had some choice words for President Trump’s approach to the war: “Trump literally has it exactly wrong. He totally doesn’t get the war. I mean, obviously, he’s taken five deferments himself. He’s not someone who was interested in serving. I don’t think he has much respect for veterans. But to the point on Iraq, what Iraq needs right now is diplomacy.”
Moulton also weighed in on the state of his party and criticized the Hillary Clinton’s strategy against President Trump. He told Couric, “I think that we’ve lost touch with the American people. And our ideas really aren’t resonating. You know — basically, in the presidential campaign, you had one person saying that real people are suffering. You had another person saying, ‘That guy’s nuts.’ And so you can understand why, at the end of the day, even if Trump’s solutions weren’t realistic, at least he acknowledged people’s problems and people’s struggles.”
He said the way forward must include new leadership in the party, especially the voices of those who have served in the military. “I think the American people are hungry for some new, forward-looking leadership. But I think we also have to look ourselves in the mirror as Democrats and say, ‘We’ve lost election after election. What we’re doing isn’t working.’ And that’s why I’m calling for a new generation of leaders in the Democratic Party.”
He continued, “A new generation, you know, the people who went to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan — to start leading, as opposed to those who sent us there. The people who understand the new economy and can talk about the future of work, not folks who were just at retirement age. We need to really reinvigorate the party leadership. And that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Moulton was unapologetic about his harsh stance against President Trump, including his comment earlier this year that he’s “ashamed” that he’s president. He said, “It’s just the truth. And that’s what I promised the voters when I ran. I said, “Look, I’m not a political guy. I’m not always gonna say what you want me to hear. But I’m always gonna speak the truth. And even if you don’t agree with me, you oughta know where I stand.”
Would he ever consider running for president himself? He told Couric, “I’m just proud to be here serving my country. And I think too many people in Washington have forgotten that this job is about public service. You know, I work for my constituents back in Massachusetts, just as when I was a Marine, I worked for my fellow Marines … for our country. “ He continued, “I sometimes think that too many people around here have forgotten that. But I’m not gonna forget that.”