Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), the most outspoken Democratic opponent of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) bid to become Speaker of the House for the second time, held a town hall in his district on Monday.
The two-term congressman faced pointed questions in Amesbury, Massachusetts over his push to demote Pelosi, the leader of House Democrats since 2003, and compared her to conservative icon Margaret Thatcher at one point.
After Moulton claimed his movement was backed by the “majority” of both Democrats and Americans, the town hall attendees in the Bay State’s 6th congressional district erupted in disbelief.
WBZ at 11p — Congressman Seth Moulton holds Town Hall in Amesbury and his constituents want to talk to him about his battle with Nancy Pelosi. Rep Moulton, "The majority of Americans want this change. The majority of Democrats want this change". Audience, "No!!". pic.twitter.com/63b638P4T5
— WBZ | CBS Boston News (@wbz) November 20, 2018
The relentless questioning started early and focused on his opposition to the California congresswoman.
— Adam Reilly (@reillyadam) November 19, 2018
Many of the pro-Pelosi contingent say Moulton is essentially acting like a Tea Party Republican.
“This sounds like Newt Gingrich,” one said.
— Kevin Robillard (@Robillard) November 19, 2018
One woman stands up and says she feels attacked by this move because she is a woman and old. “Who fires someone who does something well?” #NBC10Boston
— Perry Russom NBC10 Boston (@PerryNBCBoston) November 19, 2018
Moulton later compared Pelosi to Thatcher, the former conservative prime minister of Britain.
OH MY GOD SETH MOULTON JUST COMPARED OUSTING NANCY PELOSI TO OUSTING MARGARET THATCHER pic.twitter.com/8T2lLRttTu
— Brett Banditelli (@banditelli) November 20, 2018
Democratic strategist Geoff Garin pointed out that the Massachusetts congressman’s historical analogy wasn’t actually historical.
Moulton's account of Thatcher's defeat is an historical fabrication. Thatcher did not lose on the floor of Parliament, she lost in her party conference. Pelosi will win an overwhelming majority in her party caucus. https://t.co/2AOX2F98DG
— Geoff Garin (@geoffgarin) November 20, 2018
Moulton also claimed the recent birth of his daughter had impacted his decision to oppose Pelosi. However, the Washington Post’s Matt Viser, who covered the Massachusetts lawmaker while with the Boston Globe, noted that seemed unlikely.
Having kids can definitely change your outlook on things. But Seth Moulton has been opposing Nancy Pelosi long before the birth of his daughter. https://t.co/SnldOngjNH
— Matt Viser (@mviser) November 20, 2018
The standing-room only event was filled with pro-Pelosi protesters, many of whom claimed to have been Moulton supporters, per HuffPost’s Kevin Robillard.
Many of the protesters were supporters of Moulton’s — the organizer said she had knocked on over 1,000 doors on his behalf — who are furious about his opposition to Pelosi.
“He feels women are disposable, he feels elderly people are disposable,” one protester said.
— Kevin Robillard (@Robillard) November 19, 2018
The town hall occurred hours after the release of the long-rumored letter of Democratic opposition to Pelosi, who has served in Congress since 1987, which was signed by Moulton and 15 House colleagues.
Hey Meet the Sweet Sixteen! The good folks who signed the anti-Pelosi letter. pic.twitter.com/jYiWk6gCdB
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 20, 2018
After the rowdy event in Amesbury, the Massachusetts congressman claimed more Democrats support the effort, but “didn’t want to face contentious town halls.”
NEW: Moulton says the idea behind the letter to oust Pelosi has been talked about for the last few months. He says he did not write the letter. He said there are representatives in the dark who back the letter, but didn’t want to face contentious town halls. #NBC10Boston pic.twitter.com/V23qivkfbw
— Perry Russom NBC10 Boston (@PerryNBCBoston) November 20, 2018
Moulton has backed Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), one of the two House Democrats who hasn’t co-sponsored the Equality Act, which would offer “civil rights protections for sexual orientation and gender identity,” as the alternative Speaker option. However, Fudge didn’t sign the anti-Pelosi letter and apparently still isn’t sure if she wants the job.
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), another Democrat who signed the letter of opposition to Pelosi’s leadership, has claimed the Democratic Party’s biggest House gains since Watergate, which could still reach 40 seat flips, were “not as successful as some hoped it would be.”
I asked Kathleen Rice – a leader of the Dem anti-Pelosi movement – if she’s concerned this fight will show their party in disarray. “It was not as successful as some hoped it would be, we didn’t pick up as many seats as we thought we were going to get,” she said of the midterms
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 16, 2018
Of the 11 incumbent Democrats who signed Monday’s letter, only Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) has voted with President Donald Trump less often than Pelosi.
Winning the role of House Speaker requires the support of the majority of the chamber’s 435 members. Though a few races remain too close to call, the Democratic majority is expected to number around 235, which means Pelosi could only afford to lose the support of 17 colleagues.
However, this is made more complicated by the fact that Republicans have indicated they could back Pelosi’s bid. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) told The Hill “there are ongoing discussions about having a handful of Republicans supply Pelosi with votes for Speaker if she agrees to rules changes.” Trump has also endorsed Pelosi and hinted at GOP support in multiple tweets.
The California congresswoman remains the highest-ranking woman in the history of American government after serving as Speaker, which is second in the line of presidential succession after the vice president, from 2007 to 2011.
Before the midterms, Moulton, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who was elected to Congress in 2014 after upsetting nine-term Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) in the Democratic primary, reportedly expected a disappointing showing from his party due to Pelosi.
I've been talking to Seth Moulton off-and-on for more than a year about his dissatisfaction w/ leadership.
Going into 2018, he had a theory that Pelosi was backward-looking & would bungle a blue wave.
— Tim Dickinson (@7im) November 16, 2018