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Patrick Files For New Hampshire Primary04:09
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New Democratic presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick files to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot Thursday in Concord, N.H. At left is New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner and at right is Patrick's wife, Diane. (Charles Krupa/AP)
New Democratic presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick files to have his name listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot Thursday in Concord, N.H. At left is New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner and at right is Patrick's wife, Diane. (Charles Krupa/AP)
This article is more than 1 year old.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick began his late-entry presidential campaign Thursday in New Hampshire, an effort he himself referred to as "a Hail Mary from two stadiums over."

Patrick announced his candidacy with a video released Thursday morning, and then filed papers for New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, which is in February. Friday is the state's filing deadline.

Sitting at a table in the cramped secretary of state's office in Concord, Patrick conceded that Democrats already have a talented field of presidential candidates.

"But in many ways, it has felt to me watching the race unfold that we're beginning to break into camps of nostalgia on the one hand and big ideas — sort of my-way-or-no-way — on the other, and I think we have to be about how we bring people in, how we bring people along, and how we yield to the possibility that somebody else or even some other party may have a good idea," Patrick said.

One of Patrick's most daunting obstacles for the nomination is the other Democratic candidate from Massachusetts, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She is attracting hundreds of people to her rallies in New Hampshire and other early states, where she is well organized.

Patrick said he spoke to Warren Wednesday night. "I think it was kind of a hard conversation for both of us, frankly," he said.

Hard because Patrick says he and Warren are friends.

"We get together from time to time," Patrick said. "She is incredibly smart, and she is incredibly thorough in her policy positions and, frankly, she has the best and most disciplined campaign out there from what I have observed. She has contributed a lot to advancing her campaign."

But Patrick said campaigns have to add, not push away from the beginning.

"And that's not a comment just on my friend Sen. Warren and her campaign," Patrick said. "It's a comment on how the conversation is evolving in the field and it's a big, big 'watch out' and frankly, a big, big opportunity."

An opportunity Patrick sees for himself as a candidate who can unify Democrats and bring other voters along in the general election. He praised Warren and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders for broadening Democrats' ambitions by making bold proposals such as Medicare for All.

"But 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. "I am proud of the fact that we as a party and the field of Democratic candidates have committed ourselves to universal care, to really delivering health care that is affordable and of high quality to everybody."

But, Patrick added, there's more than one way to do that, and he pointed to Massachusetts as an example of doing it without Medicare for All.

Speaking with Radio Boston Thursday, Patrick did not offer specifics on policy proposals for his presidential run, but did tout his accomplishments during two terms as Massachusetts governor.

"I'm proud of the fact that we came out of the recession faster than most other states, and we were first in America in student achievement, in health care coverage and veterans services, and energy efficiency and entrepreneurial activity," he said.

The Republican National Committee says Patrick's governorship was "besieged by management problems."

Patrick campaigns Thursday at The Bridge Cafe in Manchester, N.H. (Charles Krupa/AP)
Patrick campaigns Thursday at The Bridge Cafe in Manchester, N.H. (Charles Krupa/AP)

On Thursday, Patrick spoke to a few voters at a Manchester sandwich shop, where he ordered lunch. Some were curious. Some were activists who wanted to hear his views on issues they care about. But his campaign had not had time to organize the kind of event he hopes to have soon, taking questions from voters. His campaign is aiming to open its first office this weekend.

Asked by a reporter about qualifying for next month's Democratic National Committee televised debate, Patrick sounded somewhat dismissive.

"I've been watching the debates," he said. "I'm not sure it's something to aspire to. I admire the DNC's effort to create ground rules that are winnowing as you go along. I get that part. But I think the actual conversation in the hall is not always very informative for people."

Partly because Patrick is spending some of his own money, his campaign is confident it can make it at least through Super Tuesday in early March, when a third of the country votes in primaries and caucuses.

After New Hampshire, Patrick heads to California, Nevada and Georgia in coming days.

This article was originally published on November 14, 2019.

This segment aired on November 15, 2019.

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Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.

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