Seth Moulton and Joe Kennedy: Friends or Rivals?

It's a growing topic of conversation among Massachusetts politicos — Seth Moulton or Joe Kennedy? With both congressmen considered future presidential candidates, the rivalry rumors are flying. So is it true?

Moulton says no.

"We're in the same workout room, we worked out this morning. We were literally right next to each other doing diamond pushups," he said.

If there's a rivalry, Kennedy is not letting on, either.

"Oh, come on," he said.

Asked to set the record straight — friend or foe — Kennedy laughed.

"Friend," he said. "Give me a break."

Moulton and Kennedy have high profiles on Capitol Hill – for different reasons. On paper, the two are quite similar: both are 30-something, Harvard educated, liberal, white congressman from Massachusetts. It's their approach that differs: Moulton is a former Marine captain who got elected by taking on a fellow long-serving Democrat. He stepped forward after Donald Trump won in 2016 calling for new, fresh leadership to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"I don't think it hurt my standing in the House," Moulton said. "It probably hurt my standing with her a little bit."

By contrast, Kennedy has shown a greater willingness to work within the party structure. He is known as a workhorse who has recently taken on a more public role. The grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and great nephew of President John F. Kennedy was tapped by Pelosi to give the Democratic rebuttal to President Trump's State of the Union.

"It's exciting," Kennedy said. "It's nice to see that the message that the speech seems to have resonated, Chapstickgate aside."

Their different styles are considered emblematic of the two different paths facing the Democratic party — Moulton, bold and rebellious; Kennedy, patient and measured. Is that an accurate description?

"That's what people say, but I think people are creating this rivalry to make some interesting news," Moulton said.

"I can see why that's a story to tell," Kennedy said. "I think that that's probably more story than substance."

Kennedy invited Moulton to be part of his morning workout group and Moulton invited Kennedy to his wedding last September. They are often seen walking together on their way to cast votes in the House. The friendship certainly seems to be authentic. Moulton says he calls Kennedy often for advice and there is frequent texting between them. Kennedy praises Moulton's service to the country and says he's a leading voice on foreign policy and a valued voice in the house.

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