MANCHESTER, N.H. – Newly declared presidential candidate Deval Patrick says he’s “a Democrat and proud of it.”
But during a Monday speech in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House, the former two-term Massachusetts governor delivered a pointed warning to fellow members of his party.
“I don’t think you have to hate Republicans to be a good Democrat. I don’t think you have to hate conservatives to be a good progressive or to hate business to be a good social justice warrior,” he said.
The comment by Patrick at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics’s “Politics and Eggs” – a must-stop for White House hopefuls – appeared to be an indirect shot at the progressive standard-bearers in the 2020 Democratic nomination race, populist Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Patrick, who announced his candidacy just a week-and-a-half ago, also highlighted that “we need leadership that understands that unity makes us not only stronger but successful.”
Patrick served as U.S. assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division from 1994-1997 under then-President Bill Clinton. He was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2006 and reelected in 2010, the first black governor in the commonwealth’s history.
After leaving office in 2015, Patrick took a job with Bain Capital, the Boston-based private investment firm that became a liability to Mitt Romney – Patrick’s predecessor as Massachusetts governor – during Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.
While considered a moderate, the 63-year-old Patrick insisted that he’s “not talking about a moderate agenda. That’s the last thing we need.”
Instead, he said he’s “talking about being woke while leaving room for the still-waking. What it takes to govern and what it takes to actually make change that lasts.”
And he said the reason he’s running is his “experience, both in range and depth. I have two terms of accomplishments and reforms as governor, a record of successful leadership in business.”
Launching a campaign with just over two months to go until the start of the nominating calendar, Patrick faces extremely high hurdles, which he acknowledges. But an optimistic Patrick, on his late entry into the race, told reporters “the path we knew was there is wider than I fully appreciated.”
“It’s a wide-open race,” he spotlighted.
And pointing to his rivals for the nomination, he stressed that “the fact that folks have been in for a long time and campaigning for a long time and raising money for a long time has not closed, has not resolved it. It’s a little bit of what I think about the importance of money or lack of money. We want it. We’re raising it so that we’re competitive and we’re confident that we will.”
Patrick’s stop in New Hampshire – his second since announcing his candidacy – came one day after former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially launched a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. The multimillionaire business and medial mogul on Monday launched a massive $32 million ad buy, airing biographical TV commercials in media markets from coast to coast.
Asked by Fox News how he can compete against that kind of money, Patrick responded: “I’ve been up against odds like that in the past. We’re going to do the work. I happen to believe that the work is much more about connecting with people personally and where they are in every sense of the term and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Bloomberg is skipping the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, which hold the first four nominating contests in February. Instead, he’s concentrating his firepower on the delegate-rich states that vote on Super Tuesday on March 3 and in the states later in the nominating calendar.
Patrick emphasized his commitment to campaigning in the early voting states, saying, “as a practical matter, we’re going to try to spend a lot of time here in New Hampshire and in South Carolina, but we will be active in Iowa and Nevada as well.”
And he touted that “we’re going to make our presence felt and build this organization.”
Patrick is the second Massachusetts resident in the race, following Warren.
Asked by Fox News about his phone conversation with Warren earlier this month, before he launched his bid, Patrick said “it was uncomfortable. We’re friends and I think in an ideal world, we would be working as collaborators rather than competitors. But I think you can compete with your friends and keep it friendly.”