MANCHESTER, N.H. — Norm Gorin stood on a frozen brick plaza in Manchester Saturday morning and fretted, partially in jest, about how layers of winter clothes might make him look as he knocked on doors for his longtime friend, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
“Do I look sinister?” he asked his wife, Amy, herself bundled in a winter coat, mittens, and hat with a pom-pom on top.
As Patrick met with Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire Saturday, just over a month into his bid for the presidency, his campaign got a hand from veterans of his first foray into politics during the 2006 governor’s race in Massachusetts.
The Gorins, who live in Wellesley, Mass., are co-chairs of Patrick’s presidential campaign, the same role they filled when he twice ran for governor. Also canvassing for Patrick in a neighborhood near downtown Manchester was his former lieutenant governor, Timothy Murray, who brought his two teenage daughters to help.
“He’s all about results,” Murray told about 30 volunteers huddled around the spot where the city seal for Manchester is set in the ground. “He’s about engaging everyone in every part of the country just like he did in Massachusetts. He will bring his heart and soul to this work.”
Patrick jumped into the race in November by putting his name on the ballot for the New Hampshire primary, which is scheduled for Feb. 11.
He has made campaign stops in Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina, and California. On Thursday, the day seven of his Democratic rivals appeared on a debate stage in Los Angeles, Patrick unveiled a policy agenda.
His plans include a public option within the Affordable Care Act; free schooling from pre-kindergarten to community college, or the first two years of a four-year college; and allowing people to refinance their student loan debts.
Patrick supports raising the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 21 percent, but doesn’t back the wealth tax promoted by Democratic presidential contenders US Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
“I think there are better solutions,” he told reporters after a Saturday afternoon event in Exeter. “For one thing, I don’t think wealth is the problem. I think greed is the problem.”
In Manchester, he highlighted a message of inclusion as he addressed campaign volunteers.
“We need our leaders to be about everyone, everywhere not just the folks who already agree with us, not just the folks who already know us,” Patrick said. “We need to be about how we are ourselves bridges between people who have differences.”
Patrick told the volunteers that as governor he made progress on climate change, health care, and criminal justice reform, issues that other Democrats running for president have only opined about on paper.
“As you’re out there, remember that when folks ask about climate change, or they ask about health care, or they ask about criminal justice reform, others have plans. We have results.”
But does Patrick have enough time?
The first question posed during a Saturday afternoon visit to a senior living facility in Exeter was about how he planned to make up for his late entry into the contest.
“I’m later, but not late,” Patrick told the audience of about 60 people, most who live at the complex called RiverWoods.
Polling in early voting states, he said, shows there are enough undecided voters to make his candidacy viable.
“Remember this is your vote. It’s not late until you vote,” Patrick said.
But after the event, Sidney Wanzer, a retired physician who asked Patrick about getting into the race late, said that he wasn’t convinced.
“I think the loss of the opportunity to be in the national debates is an awfully big thing to be making up,” said Wanzer, a RiverWoods resident who used to live in Concord, Mass., and praised Patrick’s performance as governor. “It’s just going to be very difficult for him to do.”
Wanzer also said he wanted to hear more urgency from Patrick about climate change.
“It was sort of an add-on discussion, two-thirds of the way through the meeting, and it should have been number one,” he said.
If elected, Patrick said he would restore the country’s participation in the Paris Agreement, the international environmental accord on climate change. In 2017, President Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the pact.
Patrick said climate change solutions will require help from industry. Speaking to reporters after the event, he cited job growth in Massachusetts’ clean technology industry following the Great Recession and state investment in that sector.
“People are making different kinds of choices today about what and how they drive, about what they eat and how it’s produced, and where it comes from. That’s creating a market for the very kinds of companies that, frankly, we were investing in,” he said. “There are ways in which we have to engage private industry.”
Charlie Dingle, a retired engineer who attended Patrick’s event in Exeter, said seeing the former governor speak wasn’t a game changer. He said he remains undecided, though he was impressed by businessman Tom Steyer’s debate performance on Thursday.
“I’m keeping my mind open to the whole field,” he said.