Moulton raises a storm with Trump, Hitler comments

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BOSTON – Seth Moulton, the first-term congressman from the North Shore, dropped a bombshell Wednesday, comparing Donald Trump’s rise to Adolf Hitler’s early days as a politician during the Weimar Republic era in Germany.

“When you’re in politics, one of those sort-of like cardinal rules is you never say what I’m about to say,” Moulton said to preface his remarks during an interview before a Suffolk University audience in Boston.

“People should read the history of how Germany elected Hitler,” the freshman Democrat said. “Read that history and just try to understand the analogies and I think that’s important at this time. I’m not saying that Donald Trump is necessarily Hitler – I’m not saying that – but you ought to understand how an unbelievably educated, advanced society can elect a demagogue and how bad it can get as a result.”

In the interview, conducted by the Boston Globe’s Joshua Miller, the decorated combat veteran from Salem cited the recent unearthing by a Wall Street Journal reporter of a New York Times story from November 1922 that included comments about Hitler, then a rising politician in Bavaria:

Moulton pounced on references to Hitler’s anti-Semitic message as more of a “bait to catch the masses of followers and keep them aroused,” playing on crude fears while he built a political organization.

The congressman compared Trump’s defenders to those who regarded Hitler’s anti-Semitism as a ploy and his views as less violent than they seemed.

“He’s saying all these racist things but everybody says he’s not really a racist,” Moulton said, referring to the Times article. “I think we’ve got to be really concerned when someone – regardless of his stature as a reality TV star or whatever else – says things that are fundamentally opposed to our values and to who we are as Americans.”

Moulton stressed that he doesn’t know what Trump would actually do if elected president. The billionaire New York businessman has made it clear throughout his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination that he’d call for bans on non-U.S. Muslims entering the country if he wins the White House, called for using torture on captured terrorism suspects and carpet bombing areas of Syria and Iraq held by the Islamic State terrorist organization.

“I don’t know that he would, but he’s certainly talked about carpet bombing the Middle East, that’s his approach to ISIS, which by the way is fundamentally stupid,” the 37-year-old Iraq War veteran and former Marine captain added, using a common acronym for Islamic State. His comments came during a one-hour interview as part of the university’s Political Happy Hour series, produced by the Globe.

“He obviously has absolutely no idea how to fight terrorism. He’s someone who has never done that,” Moulton said. “He’s never had to put his life on the line for the country. He has absolutely no idea how to fight terrorists without creating more terrorists in the process.”

Reactions to Moulton’s comments quickly bubbled up. Jon Keller, the longtime political analyst for WBZ-TV, called Moulton’s comparison of Trump to Hitler “ignorant and insulting” in a commentary Thursday morning.

I think it’s the congressman who needs to read up on his history,” Keller admonished.

“Hitler rallied the German people behind systematic genocide unparalleled in world history for its depravity,” Keller said. “To casually equate it with Trump is ignorant and insulting.”

Earlier on Wednesday, veteran congressman Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, also invoked the World War II era in comments about Trump and rival Ted Cruz, a Texas Senator, on a Boston Herald live-streamed “radio” show. But Lynch stopped far short of mentioning Hitler, pointing out that Jews in that era became targets of leaders and everyday people beyond Germany, simply because of their religious beliefs.

“Now we’re identifying people by their religion again, albeit they’re Muslims, and I think it’s just as wrong to ban an entire religion because of what one very, very small and radical minority is doing,” Lynch said on the “Herald Drive Show.”