Former Vice President Joe Biden has established himself as the front runner for the Democratic nomination as the primary race continues thanks in part to a number of endorsements from other politician, including Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton. WGBH News' Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with the Congressman about why he believes Biden is the best candidate to beat President Donald Trump in the general election and about the crucial role of leadership as we face a global pandemic. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.
Joe Mathieu: It was a big night for Joe Biden. Has he closed this down?
Rep. Seth Moulton: I think he has. I mean, there's still a ways to go in this primary [and] there are a lot of states that haven't voted yet. But if you look at the numbers and you look at the momentum, it's clear the Democratic Party wants to nominate Joe Biden to be our next president.
Mathieu: There's a lot of talk about coronation. I wonder how you feel about that. People comparing it to John Kerry or even Hillary Clinton, that it's somehow foregone [and] that the Sanders movement is not being given free reign. How do you respond to that?
Moulton: The Sanders movement has tons of free reign. People just aren't voting for them. And that's the way a democratic process is supposed to work.
Mathieu: Well, that's a very efficient answer to the question. Do you worry about the impression that there's an establishment behind this?
Moulton: What I think Democrats are looking for right now is a unifying candidate who has a unifying message and can not only bring together the entire Democratic Party, plus independent voters and even some disaffected Republicans in order to win [and] to beat Donald Trump, but can unite the country once he's the next president. Joe Biden has been running a unifying campaign from day one. That's not the kind of campaign that Bernie Sanders has been running. With all due respect for Bernie Sanders' decades of service in the United States Congress, though not really as a Democrat. This is not the kind of message [and] not the kind of leader that we want for the moment.
Mathieu: Congressman, I wonder how life is on Capitol Hill. What kind of protocols you're dealing with — if life or operations have changed at all because of the threat of coronavirus.
Moulton: Oh, absolutely. You know, we are quickly modifying how we are conducting business in the office. And in fact, we have a three step protocol — different levels that we go to as an office to prepare the office, the constituents we serve and our daily operations for the threat level that we understand from the virus. And we've done this in anticipation not only of the further spread of the coronavirus, but the likelihood that an epidemic like this could happen in the future. So today we're moving from threat Level One to threat Level Two within the office. That means that rather than just limit our attendance that outside gatherings, we're proactively making sure that we set up meetings only by video conference. We won't have full staff in the office at any time. In fact, we're going to about 50 percent to reduce the chances that any single person on the team is infected. And we're standing by if we need to go to Level Three, which would mean we would shut the office down and conduct all our work remotely. At every one of those levels, we're very conscious of the fact that it's our duty to continue to serve our constituents, and we've made sure that the entire team can work remotely so that we can still continue serving the people of Massachusetts.
Mathieu: Wow. That's something. It's got to be difficult being in the business of politics when you can't shake hands with people, Congressman.
Moulton: Well, you figure out ways to get around it and you try to set the example for other folks because there are a lot of people out there who are wondering what to do, including a lot of small business owners in the district who feel like they're not getting guidance from the federal government, particularly the president, who continues to try to downplay this crisis. So what we're doing is being very proactive, trying to do the right thing ourselves, but also setting the example for other folks. And I would encourage people to go to moulton.house.gov. That's our web site where we posted all of this information online. And I think that some of our office protocols would be good protocols for schools and businesses to consider following themselves.
Mathieu: Have you given that Web site to the White House, Congressman?
Moulton: I think Trump knows where it is. But the sad thing is that we should be all working together on this. We should be reacting decisively to slow the spread of this virus. Not underplaying it, but taking the crisis seriously. And if we do that, we actually stand a good chance of controlling this, of slowing down the spread and increasing the chances that we can get back to life and business as usual as quickly as possible. The problem is that Trump and the White House are doing the opposite. They're downplaying it, they're not taking it seriously and as a result, they have not effectively contained the virus. And therefore, this crisis could drag out to drag the stock market down further. The consequences could be more severe because we haven't acted decisively. But I can tell you on our team, we are acting decisively and we hope to set the example for other offices on Capitol Hill and also businesses and organizations throughout Massachusetts.
Mathieu: Congressman, I wonder if you're concerned at all about your colleagues who have self-quarantine themselves, like Congressman Gaetz from Florida, who was wearing a gas mask on the House floor recently, or former Congressman Meadows, who's on his way to the White House.
Moulton: Well, what concerns me about them is that they're not taking this seriously. They're not taking this seriously and now they're in self-quarantine because they had been exposed. So the reality is we all need to take this seriously. That doesn't mean we need to be alarmist, it doesn't mean we need to overreact, but there are sensible proportions that we all should take. We've all heard the admonitions about washing our hands. I can't tell you how many times a day I wash my hands right now. But we're also curtailing unnecessary travel. That's something that everyone should do. I don't think that you should be going on international business trips or even domestic business trips on an airplane, if you can avoid them. We're making sure that we hold as many meetings remotely as possible. We're supposed to have a town hall on Monday in Manchester, and we're going to hold it virtually because that's the responsible thing to do to still hear from all our constituents, but make sure that we can reach them in their homes without having them come out to a place where they meet a lot of other people and could possibly get infected themselves.
Mathieu: You sound really involved in this, Congressman. This is another world we're living in, isn't it?
Moulton: It is another world. But it's a world that demands leadership, and that's what we've got to provide. And I think that's a bit of what's been lacking from the White House. But the point is not to play politics with this, but just to get on the same page with everybody to work together to solve this crisis. We live in the best country on Earth, and we have the best health care system in the world right here in Massachusetts. We have a wonderful partnership with the state government; we're working very closely hand-in-hand with them and with our local officials. It would be nice to see that same spirit of cooperation from the White House. But you know what? Regardless of whether Trump is going to lead or continue to try to downplay this crisis, we're going to do the right thing and set the example for the people that we serve.