On the trail: Patrick strikes moderate tone in N.H. as he launches late 2020 bid for White House

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick adds his campaign sign to pins, signs and bumper stickers of New Hampshire primary presidential contenders on display in the State House visitors center, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick arrives to campaign Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, at The Bridge Cafe in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, center, waits for his food order as he campaigns Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, at The Bridge Cafe in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signs a document that candidates from this New Hampshire primary sign with their name and campaign slogans, as he files to have his name listed on the primary ballot, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Concord, N.H. At left is New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner and at right is his wife Diane Patrick. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick speaks to New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, left, as he files to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Concord, N.H. At right is his wife Diane Patrick. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick files to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick files to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Concord, N.H. At left is New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner and at right is his wife Diane Patrick. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, center, views a poster on the history of the New Hampshire primary with Secretary of State Bill Gardner, left, as he files to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Concord, N.H. At right is his wife Diane Patrick. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick campaigns Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, at The Bridge Cafe in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick speaks to media outside The Bridge Cafe after campaigning Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick hands back to New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, left, a document that candidates from this New Hampshire primary sign with their name and campaign slogans, after he signed it while filing to have his name listed on the primary ballot, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Concord, N.H. At right is his wife Diane Patrick. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

For the Monitor
Published: 11/14/2019 6:33:34 PM

Deval Patrick realizes he’s getting into the race for the White House late in the game, but the former two-term Massachusetts governor says most voters haven’t made up their minds yet.

“Voters all across the country in some cases are just tuning in, and in many cases, haven’t made their decisions,” Patrick told reporters Thursday after filing to place his name on New Hampshire’s first-in-the nation presidential primary ballot.

Patrick said he’s not asking voters to make immediate decisions whether to support him or not.

“I’m asking them to give me a chance,” the former Massachusetts governor said. “I’m asking them to teach me, to show me how they live their lives and how their needs can be met so that government plays its role to help them help themselves.”

The most recent polls in New Hampshire – as well as in Iowa, which kicks off the presidential nominating calendar – back Patrick up. Surveys in both states indicate a majority of voters remain undecided or if they’re backing a candidate, are willing to change their minds.

Patrick explained that the reason he’s running is “to offer a kind of leadership which is about both an ambitious agenda and an opportunity through delivering that agenda to actually bring us as a nation back together.”

Patrick said he hopes to find common ground with Republicans.

“I think that if we want solutions that last, they can’t be solutions that feel to the voting public as if they are just Democratic solutions,” he said.

That appeared to be an indirect criticism of fellow Bay Stater Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The two populist standard-bearers in the large Democratic primary field of contenders are pushing progressive proposals such as Medicare-for-all and free college tuition at public institutions.

But if he was taking shots, they were subtle ones.

“I want to acknowledge my friendship and my enormous respect, in particular with Sen. Warren,” Patrick emphasized.

He shared that he talked to her Wednesday night. “I think it was a kind of hard conversation for both of us, frankly,” he said.

Patrick also praised form vice president Joe Biden, who along with Warren is one of the co-front-runners in the race.

“I’m a big, big fan of Joe Biden,” he noted. But he added that the former vice president’s “deep, deep public empathy doesn’t always come through in this campaign.”

And he took aim at Biden’s emphasis on ousting President Donald Trump and returning to the normalcy of the pre-Trump era.

“The instinct that his campaign seems to have to say, to project in effect ‘if we just get rid, if you will, of the incumbent, we can just go back to doing what we used to do,’ misses the moment,” Patrick argued.

Biden served as vice president for eight years under then-President Barack Obama, who remains neutral in the 2020 Democratic primary race. Patrick’s friendship with Obama dates back to before the Obama presidency. He said he spoke to the former president in recent days and noted that “he believes, like I do, that a competitive primary is good for the party. It’s good for democracy, particularly if we keep it positive.”

The late entry into the race by Patrick could present a threat to the former vice president. It appears Patrick will run a center-left campaign, fighting for the same voters that Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg have been successfully courting. And Patrick – the first and only black governor of Massachusetts – could give Biden a fight in the former vice president’s early voting state stronghold of South Carolina, where black voters make up a majority of the Democratic primary electorate.

While he offered some mild criticism of his rivals, Patrick insisted he didn’t want to play the role of a political pundit.

“Let me be clear about a ground rule for me going forward. I am not trying to climb up by trying to pull anyone else down,” he said.

Patrick acknowledged he was going to have an uphill battle with the existing large field of Democratic White House contenders.

“It’s a big and talented field,” Patrick said. “It’s hard to break not just because it’s this stage in the elections, in the campaigns, but it’s a hard breakthrough without being a celebrity or sensational and I’m neither of those things.”

But the onetime long-shot who went on to win the Massachusetts governorship in the 2006 election pushed back against questions of his tough road ahead.

“I understand what we have to do, but you know what, I’ve lived a political life and I would say as a black man, a whole life dealing with skepticism,” he said.

Patrick arrived in Concord four hours after officially declaring his candidacy. He called his filing at the Secretary of State’s office “an extraordinarily humbling and sober and exciting moment all at once.”

After his visit at the State House, he headed to Manchester for a quick campaign stop. Next, Patrick’s headed to California – the biggest of the Super Tuesday states – as well as the early voting states of Iowa and South Carolina in the coming days.

Patrick is due back in New Hampshire in the next couple of weeks, his campaign said.




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