Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton drops out of crowded Democratic presidential field

Moulton is the fourth Democrat to drop out of the primary race this summer

Published August 23, 2019 1:08PM (EDT)

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Rep. Seth Moulton will announce Friday that he is ending his 2020 presidential campaign during a formal speech before the Democratic National Committee.

The Massachusetts Democrat, an Iraq War Veteran, is ending a longshot bid for the White House that focused on his centrist policies and military services but failed to gain traction with Democratic primary voters. He is expected to announce his intention Friday to seek a fourth term in the House of Representatives.

"I will continue to fight for a new generation of leadership in our party and across the country," Moulton will say, per NBC News. "And most of all, I will be campaigning my ass off for whoever wins our nomination in 2020."

Moulton is the fourth candidate to drop out of the presidential race this summer, following the exits of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who will seek a third term; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has decided to run for the Senate; and California Rep. Eric Swalwell, who is running for re-election for his current post.

The lawmaker's prepared speech will reportedly note his national security and foreign policy credentials, as well as his focus on preventing President Donald Trump from securing a second term.

"We have been challenging Donald Trump where he's weakest — as commander-in-chief — and showing this country that Democrats are the party of making America strong overseas and safe here at home," Moulton reportedly plans to say of his campaign.

He will also highlight his efforts to draw attention to the mental health needs of soldiers and veterans, which grew out of his own battles with post-traumatic stress after his combat deployments.

"For the first time in my life, I talked publicly about dealing with post-traumatic stress from my four combat tours in Iraq," he is expected to say. "And our team put forward a plan that will end the stigma around mental health — the same stigma that kept me silent for so long, and that kept every presidential candidate before me from talking about mental health struggles themselves."

In an interview with the New York Times, Moulton said he had no immediate plans to endorse another candidate, but praised former Vice President Joe Biden as a "mentor and a friend" who would "make a great president."

He reportedly said only Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont remain real competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination, which he called a "three-way race" now. The contest, he added, is more of a "debate about how far left the party should go."

Moulton entered the race relatively late, a decision which he attributed to the birth of his first child in October. He threw his hat into the presidential ring in late April, just three days before Biden jumped into the race and immediately held a commanding lead over the vast field of candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination. Moulton told the Times he now regrets entering the race so late.

Moulton did not make the stage for any of the Democratic Party's primary debates, which required contenders to reach certain thresholds in polling and financial support.

"Candidy, getting in the race late was a mistake," Moulton told the Times. "It was a bigger handicap than I expected."

Moulton said he would not "cry about the DNC rules being unfair" but noted the party's debate restrictions were not a "smart system to choose the best nominee to take on Donald Trump."

By Shira Tarlo

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