Governor Deval Patrick has been chosen to address delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next month, a perch that will allow him to take on his predecessor in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney.
Patrick, a friend and supporter of President Obama, will speak on Sept. 4, just prior to the keynote speaker, Julián Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, and Michelle Obama.
Patrick is not expected to blast Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, but will probably provide an alternate narrative of the state’s recent political history.
“Nobody would ask Deval Patrick to come and be a ramrod but, on the other hand, he’s seen the difference that good, thoughtful policies can make in terms of rebuilding a state’s economy,” said David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political adviser and a former adviser to Patrick.
It is not clear if Patrick’s speech will be carried during prime time, but Axelrod said it would be late in the program on Tuesday night and “in the prime-time window.”
Patrick is likely to discuss the universal health care law that Romney helped pass in Massachusetts.
Among the many topics Patrick is likely to discuss is the universal health care law that Romney helped pass in Massachusetts and that later provided the model for Obama’s health law. Romney has a complicated relationship with his signature law because it is reviled by many Republicans.
“At least there’s going to be one Massachusetts governor speaking at a convention who is willing to speak about Massachusetts health reform,” Axelrod said.
He said Patrick was a natural choice for a speaking role at the convention because he and Obama share a similar political philosophy and aspirational speaking style, as well as roots in Chicago. And just as Obama is the first African-American president, Patrick is the Bay State’s first black governor.
“I don’t think there’s anyone whose vision and approach to politics better aligns with the president than Governor Patrick,” Axelrod said. “They are really kindred spirits.”
Patrick released a statement saying he is looking forward to the convention “because more than anything else, what is at stake right now is the American Dream.”
“We have a president in Barack Obama who is willing to stand up and fight for that dream, and I am proud to stand with him now and right through to November,” Patrick said.
Another Massachusetts Democrat, Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, is also scheduled to speak at the convention. She plans to address delegates on Sept. 5, just prior to Bill Clinton, the former US president. Sentator John F. Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, is also scheduled to speak at the convention, though his time slot has yet to be announced.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are to speak on Sept. 6.
Patrick also spoke to delegates at the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver. But his more prominent role at this year’s convention marks another milestone in his emergence on the national stage.
Patrick has been traveling the country as a spokesman for the Obama reelection campaign, making the rounds on Sunday talk shows, pumping up activists at state Democratic dinners, and addressing volunteers in battleground states.
He has already spoken to Democratic groups in North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, and Colorado. His frequent travel has raised speculation that he may be angling for a job in a second Obama administration or positioning himself for a run for national office.
Patrick, however, insists that he will serve out his second term and then return to the private sector.