BRENTWOOD, N.H. – Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts says he’s “not a quitter.”
But the long-shot for the Democratic presidential nomination acknowledged that if he doesn’t make the stage for the third and fourth rounds of primary debates in September and October “it definitely makes it more challenging” to continue his White House bid.
Moulton jumped into the 2020 race in late April, after most of the others in the record-setting field of some two-dozen White House contenders had already launched their campaigns. The three-term congressman was one of just a handful of candidates to fail to qualify for the first two rounds of debates, which were held in late June and late last month.
Moulton, who faces a steep uphill climb to reach the Democratic National Committee’s polling and fundraising thresholds to qualify for the upcoming debates, said in an interview on Wednesday that “obviously if I get to a point where I just don’t see breaking out, then I would try to find who I think would be the next best nominee to take on Trump and get behind him or her.”
But he emphasized that “the bottom line is we’ve got to beat Trump. And I don’t think the party has figured out how to do that. In fact, I think that’s one of the reasons why there are so many people in this race.”
Moulton, a Marine veteran who served four tours of duty in Iraq, said, “I’m in this race because I believe it’s the best way to serve the country because I don’t think there’s a better nominee to take on Donald Trump. I think the image of a young combat veteran going up against the guy who’s a draft dodger on stage is exactly what we need to win.”
The congressman downplayed the first two showdowns that he missed, saying “I don’t think the summer debates are going to matter.”
And he added “I definitely heard a lot of people after the second debate saying, ‘gee, I don’t know if we have a great candidate out there yet.’”
But he admitted that “as we get closer to voting season, obviously being on the debate stage makes a big difference.”
Moulton failed to reach one percent in two new live operator post-debate polls this week: a national Quinnipiac University survey and a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first presidential primary.
“It’s still just too early,” Moulton responded when asked about his polling position. “Voters aren’t going to the polls for another half a year.”
Moulton emphasized that he made up a 53 point deficit to the Democratic incumbent he primary challenged in his first election to Congress in 2014.
But if it doesn’t work out and he drops out of the White House race, the congressman said he’d “absolutely” run for re-election.
Moulton said, “I’m going to be proud to serve this country however I can, including continuing on as the congressman of the 6th district if this doesn’t work out.”