The equations of motion are derived for the dynamical folding of charged molecular strands (such as DNA) modeled as flexible continuous filamentary distributions of interacting rigid charge conformations. The new feature is that these equations are nonlocal when the screened Coulomb interactions, or Lennard-Jones potentials between pairs of charges, are included. The nonlocal dynamics is derived in the convective representation of continuum motion by using modified Euler-Poincar, and Hamilton-Pontryagin variational formulations that illuminate the various approaches within the framework of symmetry reduction of Hamilton's principle for exact geometric rods. In the absence of nonlocal interactions, the equations recover the classical Kirchhoff theory of elastic rods. The motion equations in the convective representation are shown to arise by a classical Lagrangian reduction associated to the symmetry group of the system. This approach uses the process of affine Euler-Poincar, reduction initially developed for complex fluids. On the Hamiltonian side, the Poisson bracket of the molecular strand is obtained by reduction of the canonical symplectic structure on phase space. A change of variables allows a direct passage from this classical point of view to the covariant formulation in terms of Lagrange-Poincar, equations of field theory. In another revealing perspective, the convective representation of the nonlocal equations of molecular strand motion is transformed into quaternionic form.