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Obama praises Patrick during farewell radio show

Governor Deval Patrick reacted with laughter after President Barack Obama called in on WGBH’s “Ask the Governor.”
Governor Deval Patrick reacted with laughter after President Barack Obama called in on WGBH’s “Ask the Governor.”Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Governor Deval Patrick got a surprise call on Thursday during his final appearance on his monthly radio show segment.

“Governor, this is Barack Obama, formerly of Somerville, ” the caller said in his unmistakable, halting cadence. “I’ve got a few complaints about service in and around the neighborhood, but I’ve moved down south since that time.”

Patrick burst out laughing.

“You’re kidding, Mr. President,” he said. “Who is this impersonator?”

Obama, who was calling in to WGBH-FM to pay tribute to his friend, praised the governor for strengthening the economy, balancing the budget, raising student test scores, improving health care access, and stimulating the clean energy industry.

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“Deval, you done good, man,” Obama said. “Now, you started with an outstanding state. But you’ve burnished it and polished it and, most importantly, you’ve got people involved and made people believe in civic engagement. And I know that’s what you’re all about.”

Obama also took note of the Red Sox winning the World Series “a couple of times,” and said the Patriots are “looking OK for this year.”

“The Celtics is another story,” said Obama, a fan of the Chicago Bulls. “We’ll have a longer conversation about that.”

Patrick thanked the president for his praise, and poked fun at him for mispronouncing the state, calling it “Mass-a-too-shuts,” as he often does.

“Mr. President, you know I love you, but you still have trouble saying Massachusetts, don’t you?” Patrick said. “Just say ‘the Commonwealth.’ ”

Obama acknowledged he sometimes botches the name of the state.

“I know how to spell it, though,” he said.

Patrick was appearing on his final “Ask the Governor” segment of WGBH-FM’s Boston Public Radio show, hosted by Jim Braude and Margery Eagan.

Braude asked the president if he had paid his old Somerville parking tickets, a reference to a 2007 Globe story that revealed that Obama owed the city $72.63 in excise taxes and $45 in late penalties for parking illegally in a bus stop in 1990 and illegally in a street-sweeping zone in 1991.

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Obama said he had settled his debts with the city, where he had lived when he was a student at Harvard Law School.

“I think I had to when I took office,” the president said. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to step into the Commonwealth without being arrested.”

Watch and listen to the interaction between Patrick and Obama below:


Levenson can be reached at michael.levenson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.