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Deval Patrick’s first win: Not getting booed at California’s Democratic convention


“I’m not running … to be president of the Democrats,” Patrick said. “I am running to be president of the United States. There’s a difference.”

He added, “I’m not talking about a moderate agenda. This is no time for a moderate agenda. I’m talking about being woke, while leaving room for the still-awakening.”

Later, asked if he was trying to have it “both ways,” Patrick told reporters, “That is not both ways … Our goals should be ambitious. Our means may differ. And that’s OK.”

“Look, I’m going to have to win everybody’s confidence and everyone’s vote, whether they have a first impression that’s favorable for a first impression that’s not,” Patrick said. “That’s the way it is. And I’m asking Democrats to do what I think Democrats have historically done pretty well, which is to keep an open mind and an open heart and give me a chance to make my case.”

Patrick, who has drawn criticism from progressive Democrats for his history of work at private equity firm Bain Capital and for his opposition to Medicare for All, came to the convention knowing that jeering was a possibility.

But far from Patrick’s home base of New England, it is possible he is simply not well known enough to provoke a reaction of any kind.

“He doesn’t have enough name I.D. to get booed,” one Democratic strategist watching his speech said.

Patrick, due to his late entry into the Democratic primary, was relegated to the convention’s equivalent of the kid table, speaking after author Marianne Williamson, former Reps. Joe Sestak and John Delaney on Saturday morning, while higher-polling candidates were invited to an afternoon forum moderated by Jorge Ramos, the Univision news anchor. Former Vice President Joe Biden cited a scheduling conflict for his absence, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren also skipped the event.

Patrick’s entry into the race comes just as primary campaigning in California is beginning to come to life, with Biden, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders at the top of recent polls here.

Patrick is positioning himself as a moderate alternative to Biden — and a more experienced alternative to Pete Buttigieg, the Indiana mayor who was also working the convention halls on Saturday. Patrick, Buttigieg and Biden are all attempting to various degrees to tap into unrest among centrist Democrats about the leftward drift of the party.

Patrick told reporters Saturday that from his position on stage, it was “really hard to tell” what kind of reception he received. But he acknowledged “a lot of folks are just meeting me, and I them.”

He maintained that he has a path to the nomination, despite his late entry, saying there are many voters “sitting on the sidelines who haven’t come in.”

And he dismissed criticism of his work at Bain as “politics,” saying, “My own work at Bain Capital has been about investing in companies that produce both a financial return and a measurable social or environmental impact — a positive one.”

Yet even if Patrick can persuade progressive Democrats that his work at Bain is not disqualifying and that his support for a public health care option is sufficient, he still confronts a party full of activists and operatives weary of the size of the field — and of its further expansion.

Gale Kaufman, a Democratic consultant who is unaligned in the presidential race, walked into the convention hall just ahead of Patrick.

“That’s what we needed, was one more candidate,” she said sarcastically.

Nodding to the stage — and a candidate speaking ahead of Patrick, she added, “I mean, we have Joe Sestak.”

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