President Barack Obama can win re-election this year if he runs on his record, which is “long, impressive and barely told,” according to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a campaign co-chairman.
Obama needs to impress upon voters a narrative of his accomplishments, including overhauling health care, ending the war in Iraq, saving the auto industry and reviving the U.S. economy after the longest recession since the 1930s, said Patrick, a 55-year-old Democrat. He sometimes acts as a campaign stand-in for Obama.
The incumbent’s record contrasts with the failings of Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, in his one term as the Bay State governor, according to Patrick.
“The president should talk about his record,” Patrick said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg News editors and reporters. “It has been achieved against unprecedented political opposition. I for one am unwilling to let him be bullied out of office.”
Patrick said he regularly confers with Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, as well as strategist David Axelrod and also speaks with the president on occasion. Patrick became only the second African-American elected governor in the U.S. in 2006 and won re-election in 2010. The governor has attended state Democratic events across the country on Obama’s behalf.
Axelrod worked in Patrick’s 2006 campaign and incorporated themes from that drive into Obama’s historic White House run in 2008. The strategist has said he sees the governor’s 2010 re-election effort as a prototype for the president. Axelrod cited the Patrick campaign’s focus on the incumbent’s efforts to build a better future for Massachusetts.
The state economy has rebounded and the government he runs has eliminated its structural deficit, building a reserve of almost $1 billion, said Patrick, who led the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Bill Clinton. Massachusetts’s unemployment, which averaged 4.5 percent in the governor’s first year in office in 2007, stood at 6.5 percent in March. The governor said job growth ranks in the top 10 states.
By comparison, the U.S. jobless rate dropped to 8.2 percent in March from a post-recession high of 10 percent in October 2009. The state peaked at 8.7 percent that month.
Poor Job Creation
Romney’s role in enacting a health-care overhaul that requires Massachusetts residents to have insurance was the “one profoundly important thing he did” as governor from 2003 to January 2007. Yet the former private-equity executive failed to boost the state economy, which was near last place in job creation during his term, Patrick said.
“For Governor Romney, having the job was on the way to another job, not doing the job with that one singular exception,” Patrick said, referring to health care. “I do think it is strange to listen to the governor hold himself out as Mr. Fix-It in the government space and as a job creator when he’s had only one other government job, and that’s not what happened.”
A Romney campaign spokesman said voters will “see through the Obama campaign’s dishonest tactics.”
“President Obama and his team realize that they cannot run on his disgraceful record of higher taxes, record unemployment and exploding budget deficits,” Ryan Williams, the spokesman, said by e-mail. “That’s why they have launched a campaign that is trying to distract voters from the serious economic challenges facing our country and blame everybody else for the failure of the President’s abysmal agenda.”
Patrick can provide a useful voice for the Obama campaign, said David Paleologos, director of Suffolk University’s political research center in Boston.
“Once Romney’s officially the nominee, the minutiae of the Romney administration becomes magnified,” Paleologos said by telephone. “Who better to comment on that than the person who succeeded Mitt Romney?”