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Speculation swirls around Mass. Gov. Patrick

Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 10:24pm
(NECN: Alison King) - "I grew up on the south side of Chicago," said Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick. "Much of that time on welfare."

As Deval Patrick travels the country – he’s been to eight states this past year – Democratic audiences, such as the one in South Carolina this past weekend, are not just hearing why they should be re-electing Barack Obama.

They're also getting an introduction to a Massachusetts governor, eager to tell his story and to tout, not just the president's accomplishments, but his own as well.

"We have moved from 47th in job creation to among the nation's leaders today and lead the nation in economic competitiveness," said Patrick.

Combine that script with some recent travel destinations – New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa next month – and it all adds up to a lot of political buzz about his future.

"I kind of did a little research on him and I'm really impressed with what he's done with the state of Massachusetts," said Allyson Carbaugh, of Columbia, S.C.

"I see him as someone who can really galvanize the Democratic Party across this country," said S.C. State Rep. Terry Alexander.

"You know, I haven't been able to ever stop the speculation," said Patrick.

The Governor says the requisite lines about having the only job in politics he ever wanted – but it somehow seems less convincing than it did a couple of years ago, especially after an introduction like this from South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn.  

"I believe that you tonight are seeing in Deval Patrick a future national leader of this great country," said Clyburn.

Mingling with South Carolinians at Clyburn's annual fish fry, Patrick was swarmed. After all, connecting has never been his problem.

"He has charisma and he is showing that he cares for working people and he shows that he's not just interested in not just holding a position but in making change and doing better things for the country," said Roger Smith of Columbia, S.C.

"I was very impressed and I think he was very energizing and honestly, um really got me thinking about we as individuals need to do to get our country forward," said Tameika Isaac Devine, a Columbia, S.C. city councilor.

"He has all the makings of a presidential candidate," said Clyburn.

"I think people mean it to be a complement," said Patrick while in the car about statements like Clyburn’s.

"It tells me that he's somebody that's exploring his options," said Dick Harpootlian.

Dick Hartpootlian is South Carolina's influential Democratic Party chair. He first heard about Patrick last year through former S.C. Governor Jim Hodges.

"He thinks Deval Patrick is the future," said Harpootlian. "He thinks that he's somebody that can go the distance. I mean, I think he's one of the folks who's in the mix for 2016."

In addition to Patrick, Harpootlian's 2016 short list includes Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and Md. Governor Martin O'Malley.

When asked on who he thinks is on the list for 2016, Patrick says Hillary Clinton, and doesn’t know if he would be a great president.

"I think there are a number of really strong Democrats I think would be great presidents," said Patrick. "But the strongest Democrat who would be the greatest president right now is Barack Obama and that's all I'm focused on. I had a feeling that was all I was going to get."

That's what you call staying on message.
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