PEABODY — A little more than a month before he faces off with John Tierney in the primary election, congressional hopeful Seth Moulton got an endorsement on Monday from another combat veteran: the outspoken and retired four-star Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
McChrystal gave the endorsement during an event at Peabody’s Elks Lodge, as a crowd of more than 100 looked on, many of them veterans. He said it was the first time he’d ever endorsed a political figure.
“What you’re seeing today is pretty special,” McChrystal said. “I’m not a Democrat, I’m not a Republican, I’m not an independent, I’m not any of that.”
Noting that the world’s problems weren’t going away, especially in the Middle East, McChrystal said that the nation needs “very thoughtful” and experienced people to handle its foreign affairs, and Moulton is a good fit for Congress. He also commended Moulton’s “character,” saying it is well-suited for leadership.
Moulton has often mentioned his military experience during his campaign, and says it helped develop his political beliefs. A former Marine, he served four tours of duty in Iraq over a five-year period; among other highlights, he was in the first Marine company to enter Baghdad during the 2003 invasion and served as a counter-insurgency advisor under Lt. Gen. David Patraeus.
Before he introduced McChrystal, Moulton explained to the crowd that the general was “down-to-earth” and a “real mentor,” and that the two spoke every other week by telephone on subjects ranging from public service to leadership to Moulton’s campaign. It was unclear how they first met, but Moulton’s campaign said that the candidate once invited McChrystal to speak to a class of his while he pursued a graduate degree at Harvard.
McChrystal didn’t end up speaking for long at Monday’s event, instead turning the floor over to questions. They involved everything from McChrystal’s take on the modern warfare to whether Moulton would really be able to change anything in Washington D.C.
“What I learned every day in that war is the impact leaders can have,” Moulton said in response to the latter question. “You don’t go to Washington expecting to agree with everybody ... I didn’t have a platoon of Democrats.”
McChrystal smiled broadly at the comment.
When a question came up about how to he planned to help returning veterans find jobs, Moulton said it was an important issue and called it a “real problem in America.” McChrystal added that the country needs “to be prepared to catch them” when they come home.
Moulton also touched on his dissatisfaction with the “bureaucracy” at the Veterans Affairs hospital system, saying the network needed a complete overhaul.
In the audience, Marblehead residents Anne Hunter and her husband, Bill Hewig, said they supported Moulton in part because he was a veteran.
“I think it’s really important to have somebody with that experience,” Hunter said. She added that it would inevitably change how a person made decisions, including whether to send other people to war.
Hewig, himself a Navy veteran, said he previously voted for Tierney “because there was no alternative,” but he said that he was eager for a younger generation to take the reigns in Congress.
“I’m speaking against my own generation; they’re too entrenched,” Hewig said. “I’d like to see Seth be the beginning of that change, and I think he could be.”
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