Watch CBS News

Keller @ Large: Seth Moulton Doesn't Have Much For Presidential Run

BOSTON (CBS) - If the Axios report Wednesday of North Shore Rep. Seth Moulton (D-6th District) taping a presidential candidacy announcement turns out to be true, the video may prove to be the high-water mark of his White House bid.

Seth Moulton Axios
Seth Moulton in Marblehead, reportedly recording a 2020 campaign launch video. (Photo credit: Axios)

It will reportedly showcase Moulton's best assets – his ingratiating campaign style, good looks, and stellar military service. It was these qualities – and the voter fatigue with longtime incumbent John Tierney expertly exploited by Moulton's time-for-a-change mantra – that elevated Moulton to Congress in 2014.

But what follows Moulton's expected announcement might well turn the spotlight to some of his less-attractive traits.

For starters, Moulton's legislative resume is, by his own account, wafer-thin.

Go to and you'll find the following description of his accomplishments, quoted here in full:

"He has passed several bipartisan bills, including the Faster Care for Veterans Act and the Modernizing Government Travel Act, and was named the most effective freshman Democrat by the Center for Effective Lawmaking. He has also concentrated on spurring economic development in Massachusetts, creating the first intergovernmental task force focused on growing the economy of Lynn, the biggest city in his district."

According to, the Modernizing Government Travel Act "requires the General Services Administration (GSA) to prescribe regulations to provide for the reimbursement of federal employees traveling on official business for the use of a transportation network company (e.g., Uber or Lyft) or an innovative mobility technology."

The Faster Care for Veterans Act "directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to begin an 18-month pilot program in at least three Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) under which veterans use an Internet website or mobile application to schedule and confirm appointments at VA medical facilities."

And the Lynn economic development task force was the work of many hands; hence the phrase "intergovernmental."

Nothing wrong with any of that, but if that's all there is for the candidate himself to tout after four-plus years in office, Moulton's ad-makers may struggle to find content.

Then there's the question of Moulton's political judgement, most dramatically called into question by his failed attempt to halt Rep. Nancy Pelosi's return to the House speakership. What happened there? Analyst Bill Scher of Politico boiled it down to "too much misguided identity politics…no coalition…no cards….no case…no slate…and too much Moulton."

Other than that, it was great.

Perhaps a Moulton presidential candidacy will take flight, but how? If he does go ahead with it, he will enter late, with low name-recognition and scant funding. He won't be the only veteran in the field – South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard share that distinction. He won't be the youngest candidate – Buttigieg, Gabbard and California Congressman Eric Swalwell are all younger.

He won't even be the only candidate from Massachusetts. If you were a local donor, who would you bet on, Moulton or Sen. Elizabeth Warren?

We could also mention the breathtaking hubris of a relatively-undistinguished Congressional backbencher deciding shortly after winning a third term that he's presidential material. Then again, that didn't stop first-term Sen. Barack Obama and political novice Donald Trump from running and winning.

Still, since his claim on the Oval Office would seem to rest strictly on his exemplary turn in the military, and there are no atheists in foxholes, it might behoove Moulton to reach to the Book of Proverbs for some wise advice: "pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.