Deval Patrick Headlines Boston Rally for Barack Obama

BOSTON

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick waded into the contentious battle for the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, endorsing Barack Obama as the “book smart and street smart” candidate during an evening rally on Boston Common.

Patrick also took a few veiled swipes at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton, saying that the White House doesn’t just need to change parties, but needs a new generation of leadership from outside of the Washington bubble.

“I don’t care if the next president is a Washington insider. I care about what’s in his heart. I don’t care whether the next president has experience in the White House. I care whether he understands life in your house,” Patrick said.

Patrick has ties to the Clintons, having served in the 1990s as head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under former President Bill Clinton.

Obama picked up on the theme, trying to cast himself as an outsider and Hillary Clinton as part of the Washington elite, without naming her directly.

“I’m puzzled when I hear people say ‘elect me’ because I know how to play the game in Washington better,” Obama said. “We don’t need someone who knows how to play the game better, we need someone to put an end to the game playing.”

The Clinton campaign points to her support from other key political figures in Massachusetts, including U.S. Reps. James McGovern and Richard Neal and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

During a 40-minute speech, Obama touched on many of the themes of his campaign, promising an overhaul of the nation’s health care system, affordable higher education, and a rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq during the first 16 months of the next administration.

He also mocked those who he said have criticized him for being a “hope peddler” and a “hope monger.”

“That’s all right. I stand guilty as charged. I am a hopeful man. I am an optimist about America,” Obama said, echoing a central theme of Patrick’s gubernatorial campaign.

But Obama said he’s not just hopeful. Echoing another theme of Patrick who has described himself as an “impatient governor” Obama said that voters shouldn’t underestimate the “calm demeanor” shared by the two politicians.

“Deval and I have the same problem, sometimes because we have a calm demeanor people have a tendency to think that you know we might be pushovers,” said Obama, who also described himself as impatient. “Inside of me there is anger and frustration over what we have not done in this country.”

The endorsement by Patrick has garnered attention in part because Patrick is the second Black governor in the nation’s history and Obama is vying to become the nation’s first Black president.

But the two also share roots. Patrick grew up on the south side of Chicago, where Obama lives. The two were also Black student leaders at Harvard Law School.

Patrick addressed the question of race in his introduction, saying it was secondary to the character of the candidate.

“I don’t care whether the next president is the first black president or the first woman president or the first whatever,” he said. “What I care about is whether the next president has moral courage or political backbone.”

The two also talked baseball, with Patrick welcoming Obama to Red Sox country, where fans believe in comebacks and Obama conceding he’s a White Sox fan.

Patrick is also returning a political favor. During last year’s gubernatorial race, Obama traveled to Massachusetts to campaign on behalf of Patrick, as did former President Clinton.

In an e-mail to political supporters last week Patrick downplayed personal connections to Obama, saying the race for president “transcends friendships and party.”

The endorsement could also be a boon for Obama by supplying him with a force of campaign workers who can travel easily across the border to help his efforts against Clinton in the New Hampshire primary.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Committee chastised Patrick and Obama saying they were relying on the same political consultant to recycle each others political rhetoric. David Axelrod, a chief strategist with Obama, also worked on Patrick’s campaign.

“It’s confusing because you start to wonder if Patrick is plagiarizing Obama or vice versa, but then you realize both are repeating the same lines from the same political consultant and hoping no one will notice,” said Robert Willington, executive director of the MassGOP.

— Associated Press



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