fb-pixel Skip to main content

Baker, Moulton exchange sharp words on refugees

Governor Charlie Baker said Monday he was “not interested in accepting refugees from Syria” in the wake of the Paris attacks.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Governor Charlie Baker and US Representative Seth Moulton exchanged sharp words Tuesday over Syrian refugees and partisan politics, ramping up a tiff that began a day earlier.

Baker, a Republican, said Monday he was "not interested in accepting refugees from Syria" in the wake of the Paris attacks. That prompted a tweet from Moulton that read, "It's a shame that Governor Baker doesn't know the difference between refugees and those from whom they need refuge."

Asked about the representative's comments at a press conference Tuesday, Baker said he was disappointed that "a serious guy like that went straight to the partisan talking points."


"I doubt that Congressman Moulton actually heard my whole statement, because if he did, I can't believe that's what he would have said," Baker said.

The governor said he had laid out a reasonable position Monday, saying he wanted to know more about the federal government's screening procedures before he would be comfortable with accepting refugees.

After a Globe reporter tweeted out Baker's "partisan talking points" line, Moulton, a Salem Democrat, quickly responded on Twitter, saying "My American values and Marine Corps experience are not 'partisan talking points.'

"@MassGovernor," he continued, referring to Baker, "should know better."

The governor, among the most popular in the country, has drawn little criticism from high-profile Democrats during his first year in office.

But his Syria comments pulled him into a national story about GOP governors saying they did not want refugees in their states.

Democrats in Massachusetts and around the country pushed back, arguing the nation should welcome those escaping conflict, even as they emphasized the need for strict security checks.

"We should not close our hearts or our doors to the women, children and families that are fleeing the Middle East to escape war and the daily terror, violence and chaos it brings," said US Senator Edward Markey Monday.


David Scharfenberg can be reached at david.scharfenberg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dscharfGlobe