Rep. Seth Moulton offered 2020 Democratic front-runner Joe Biden a backhanded compliment on Friday for reversing his position on federal funding for abortions, challenging Biden to do the same over his vote in favor of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
“Bravo to @JoeBiden for doing the right thing and reversing his longstanding support for the Hyde Amendment. It takes courage to admit when you’re wrong, especially when those decisions affect millions of people,” Moulton (D-Mass.), a 2020 presidential candidate, wrote in a tweet.
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“Now do the Iraq War,” he added.
A campaign spokesman for Biden did not immediately return a request for comment.
Biden on Thursday abandoned his stance in support of the Hyde Amendment less than 24 hours after reaffirming his position in favor of it. The provision, included in annual appropriations bills dating back decades, bars the use of federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the health of the mother. Critics say it disproportionately affects low-income women and women of color.
The former vice president’s previous support for the Hyde Amendment prompted a quick backlash from 2020 rivals eager to ding the frontrunner. In a Democratic primary field in which support for abortion rights has essentially become a prerequisite, Biden did an about-face.
“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right,” Biden said Thursday at a DNC gala on empowering minorities. “If I believe healthcare is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code.”
Biden cited a nationwide “assault” by Republicans on abortion rights as the primary reason for his shift, saying the choking off of abortion clinics across the country necessitated his flip.
But Moulton’s decision to go after Biden for his support of the Iraq War, which remains ongoing more than 15 years later, is reminiscent of a rift that dogged Hillary Clinton in her two presidential runs, in which her vote in favor of the U.S. invasion was leveraged against her in the 2008 Democratic primary and the 2016 general election.
A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll last month found that voters overwhelmingly see Biden’s foreign policy experience and his time spent as vice president as an asset. But nearly 3 in 10 respondents said they were put off by his 2002 vote in favor of invading Iraq, a figure that jumped to more than 40 percent when isolated to voters between the ages of 18 and 29.
Moulton, a Marine Corps veteran who was among the first U.S. troops to land in Baghdad during the 2003 invasion, has made national security a key part of his campaign. He has frequently spotlighted a host of veterans issues, including revealing his own struggles with PTSD as he hopes to break through the crowded pack of Democratic presidential hopefuls
Moulton is one of 24 Democrats seeking his party’s nomination for president in 2020, but has struggled to gain early traction. He has failed thus far to qualify via either polling or fundraising for the party’s first primary debate, scheduled for later this month in Miami.