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Seth Moulton wants New Hampshire’s vote — and for the state to change its ways

Democratic presidential candidate Seth Moulton spoke earlier this month in Las Vegas.
Democratic presidential candidate Seth Moulton spoke earlier this month in Las Vegas.(John Locher/Associated Press/File)

WINDHAM, N.H. — It doesn’t happen often on the campaign trail: A presidential candidate comes to the first-in-the-nation primary state and tells them what they are doing wrong.

But on Monday, US Representative Seth Moulton, the Salem Democrat and long shot for his party’s 2020 nomination, had no qualms about slamming laws that have uniquely defined New Hampshire.

Speaking to the local chamber of commerce, Moulton noted the state hasn’t legalized marijuana, but it puts state-run liquor stores on the highway — “a crazy injustice.”

The decades-long (and often fraught) project of expanding the number of lanes on Interstate 93 from the Massachusetts border to Manchester, Moulton said, “makes no sense” because it just feeds the congested traffic farther into Boston.

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Moulton said he would prefer high-speed rail, such as that being built in China, adding that transportation solutions “cannot be investing in 1950s infrastructure like you are doing in New Hampshire.”

In fairness, recent polls show that New Hampshire Democrats overwhelmingly agree with him on legalizing marijuana and the need to expand rail from Southern New Hampshire to Boston — proposals that have gone nowhere in state government.

After the event, the Globe caught up with Moulton to ask, rapid fire, his thoughts on other New Hampshire traditions:

■  Is the state’s lack of an income tax or sales tax — and relying more on property taxes — good or bad?

Moulton: “That is not the tax system I would choose.”

■  What about the lack of a law to require motorcycle helmets for adults?

Moulton: “I think [requiring helmets] is a good idea, because public safety doesn’t involve just the safety of individuals, but one of the hidden costs of driving is that we have these massive public safety costs that we all have to pay for.”

■  So you feel the same on New Hampshire’s lack of a seat belt law?

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Moulton: “Yes, that is correct.”

■  Anything else a Massachusetts politician wants to tell New Hampshire?

Moulton: “Look, I think there are too many politicians who pander, who come to an area and don’t want to address the issues at hand because they don’t want to offend voters or whatever. I just want to be honest and want to have a real conversation.”

■  But New Hampshire maple syrup tastes so much better than Vermont’s, right?

Moulton: “Oh, well, of course! Don’t forget that I spent more time in New Hampshire than any other state in the union, besides Massachusetts, growing up.”

And especially now that he is running for president.


James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell. Click here to subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics.