US Representative Seth Moulton on Tuesday ripped into Governor Charlie Baker for not attending the women’s march in Boston, calling it a pattern of kowtowing to President Donald Trump.
“He absolutely should have been there,” said Moulton, a Salem Democrat attended the march in Washington. “The bottom line is that we want leaders who have the courage to represent our values, and Governor Baker has repeatedly failed to stand up to Trump.”
Moulton accused the Republican governor of a “cop out” for not voting in the presidential election, blasted him for not denouncing the appointment of the “racist, misogynist” Stephen Bannon as chief strategist, and called on Baker to oppose Trump’s “blatant lying” and his push to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“He’s done nothing to push back on Trump’s radical agenda,” Moulton said in a telephone interview. “In that context, is anyone really surprised that Governor Baker wasn’t standing with Massachusetts women on Saturday?”
Jim Conroy, a spokesman for Baker’s campaign committee, strongly defended the governor’s record and fired back at Moulton.
“Governor Baker’s record of standing up for women, the civil rights of all our citizens, and working to protect our healthcare system speaks for itself,” Conroy said Tuesday. “Congressman Moulton is just peddling hyper-partisan, typical DC politician talking points that will do nothing to move Massachusetts forward.”
Moulton, who chartered a train car that brought 80 of his constituents to the march in Washington, was criticizing Baker a day after the governor explained that his absence at the march in Boston wasn’t an intentional snub.
Instead, Baker said that while an estimated 175,000 demonstrators were chanting and waving signs on Boston Common, he was attending the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Municipal Association at the Hynes Convention Center a few blocks away, and then working on his annual state budget at the State House.
Baker also said he agrees with many of the issues the demonstrators were defending, such as gay rights, abortion rights, and pay equity.
Baker has also urged Congress to preserve certain elements of the Affordable Care Act, including allowing Massachusetts to keep its first-in-the-nation mandate that all its residents have health insurance.
But Baker’s absence at the march, which drew many of the state’s Democratic heavyweights, underscored the tightrope he is walking, as a Republican hoping to work with Trump in a state where the new president is deeply unpopular.
Moulton, who is seen by some as a rising star in the Democratic Party, insisted he was not blasting Baker because he is thinking about trying to challenge him in 2018. “I have no plans to run for governor,” Moulton said.
Both Baker and Moulton attended Trump’s inauguration on Friday, a day before the women’s marches nationwide.
Moulton defended his decision to attend the ceremony, unlike two of his Democratic colleagues from Massachusetts, Katherine Clark and Michael Capuano, who boycotted it. “It was a statement that our democracy is bigger than any individual,” he said.
Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org