Barack Obama is nudging him to run. His inner circle is actively encouraging it. Obamaworld’s clear and away 2020 favorite is sitting right here, on the 38th floor of the John Hancock Building, in a nicely decorated office at Bain Capital.
And Deval Patrick has many thoughts on what he says is Donald Trump’s governing by fear and a dishonest pitch to economic nostalgia, while encouraging a rise in casual racism and ditching any real commitment to civil rights.
Obama strategist David Axelrod has had several conversations with Patrick about running, and eagerly rattles off the early primary map logic: small-town campaign experience from his 2006 gubernatorial run that will jive perfectly with Iowa, neighbor-state advantage in New Hampshire and the immediate bloc of votes he’d have as an African-American heading into South Carolina.
Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s close adviser and friend, says that a President Patrick is what “my heart desires.”
David Simas, Obama’s political director in the White House and now the CEO of his foundation, used to be Patrick’s deputy chief of staff and remains perhaps his biggest fan on the planet.
Obama himself—who is personally close to Patrick, and counts him among the very small group of people whom he thinks has actual political talent—has privately encouraged him to think about it, among others.
Obama veterans light up at the mention of his name. In self-assurance, style and politics, they see the former Massachusetts governor as a perfect match, the natural continuation of Obama’s legacy.
“If you were to poll 100 notable Obama alumni, the only two people who would win that 2020 straw poll right now are [Joe] Biden and Patrick,” said one former senior White House aide.
Among operatives, “the center of gravity would really shift in his direction in Obamaworld if he were to decide to run,” said another former top Obama White House official.
The love for Biden, and hope that he might just go for it in 2020, remains strong among Obama types, and so far, with trips to New Hampshire and Florida and a new book coming out next month, the former vice president has done much more to stoke the talk than Patrick, who says he’s nowhere near printing yard signs.
“I’m trying to think about how to be helpful, because I care about the country, and I’m a patriot first. It’s way, way too soon to be making plans for 2020,” Patrick told me in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast recorded at Bain headquarters in Boston. “So I’ll just leave it at that.”
Patrick fends off any attempts to corner him on the question, avoiding saying anything that could seem either cute or Sherman-esque—“don’t lead me down that path because it turns into something it isn’t, and I don’t want to go there,” he said. “I have no plans to make plans.”
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SOURCE: Politico, Edward-Isaac Dovere