Mayor Thomas M. Menino will address the Democratic National Convention next week in Charlotte, N.C., delivering a speech that is expected to take a critical look at Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts.
“Vice President Joseph Biden called me and he asked me if I’d speak,” Menino said Thursday in an interview. “I said I would be honored. I’m humbled, really. There’s a lot of mayors they could have asked.”
Menino said he expected to speak for about five minutes Wednesday, the second day of the convention.
A Democratic official said Thursday the schedule was in flux and subject to change. Menino had not yet been officially announced as a speaker by the Democratic Party. The mayor’s role at the convention was first reported Thursday by the Boston Herald.
Menino served as Boston’s mayor during Romney’s single term as governor. In addition to scrutinizing the Republican’s record, Menino said he planned to speak about the future by addressing issues such as immigration, education, and the role of government.
“The other party is talking about cuts, cuts, cuts,” Menino said. “You can’t do everything in the private sector. You need a public sector. It’s not all about the bottom line. Government is about helping people.”
At the convention, Menino can offer a firsthand account of Romney’s record as a chief executive. But Democratic Party officials may also be looking to curry favor with the five-term mayor and his vaunted political machine.
In past presidential elections, the Democratic mayor has dispatched his foot soldiers to help turn out the vote in southern New Hampshire.
This year, Democrats also want Menino’s help closer to home in a hard-fought battle to unseat Republican US Senator Scott Brown. Menino and Brown differ politically, but they have developed a close personal relationship.
Menino has said he would never cross party lines and endorse Brown, but the mayor has yet to line up formally behind the Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren. The race could decide the balance of power in the US Senate.
Some political pundits have interpreted Menino’s silence as tacit support for Brown, although historically he has not endorsed candidates in statewide races until September or October. Menino said Thursday he planned to play a significant role this fall in both the presidential race and the battle for control of the US Senate.
“We’ll be involved in the campaign, that’s for sure. I’ve never sat on the sidelines,” Menino said. “The candidate I’ll support is the one who’s talking about the future. We think this election is so important. We don’t want to go backward. We want to go forward.”