By Lloyd Nelson
10/24/07 — In an attempt to channel the comeback spirit of the Red Sox
into his flagging campaign, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama came to the
heart of Boston last night to embrace the presidential endorsement of
the state’s popular governor.
“Welcome to Red Sox nation,” Gov. Deval Patrick said in a rousing
speech before he introduced the candidate. “Around here, we know how
to come from behind and win. And that’s what we’re doing here
tonight.”
Patrick’s endorsement comes at a difficult time for the Obama
campaign. The latest poll, released today by the Bloomberg/Los Angeles
Times, shows Sen. Hillary Clinton with a 31-point gap in the race for
the Democratic nomination over Obama nationwide. The margin is 48 to
37.
However the endorsement could provide a boost, particularly in
neighboring New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first primary.
While both Bill and Hillary Clinton lobbied Patrick, who served in the
Justice Department during the Clinton administration, for his support,
he turned to Obama .
“This election is not about who we want but who we are,” Patrick said.
“I want a president who understands that. I want Barack Obama.”
Patrick’s support could prove particularly important because of his
ability to attract volunteers, who played a huge role in his
gubernatorial victory, to help Obama in New Hampshire. Patrick’s
endorsement also served as a reminder of his own victory, in which he
came from behind in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial
nomination and went on to win. At that time, Obama headlined several
large events in the area endorsing Patrick. Now Patrick is repaying
the favor.
“I am grateful to Deval, because not only has he stood by through
thick and through thin, but also because he is somebody who has
consistently stood for the kinds of politics that I believe in and you
believe in and America believes in—grassroots politics,” Obama said.
At the rally, which Obama’s campaign claimed drew 9,500 people, the
focus was on recruiting people from the audience to volunteer and
canvas in New Hampshire. With the primary date still not set and
rumors circulating that it could be as early as Dec. 11, Obama’s
campaign is aggressively asserting itself in the Granite State.
On Monday, Obama’s campaign began airing a new ad in New Hampshire
that takes an implicit swipe at his rivals, particularly Clinton and
her criticism of Obama’s remark that he would meet with both friends
and enemies of the United States.
“When we break out of the conventional thinking, and we start reaching
out to friend and foe alike, then I am absolutely confident we can
restore America’s leadership in the world,” Obama said in the
30-second spot.
The rally itself was an important tactical move for Obama in New
Hampshire. With the amount of media coverage in the Boston area, some
coverage certainly spilled over into the southern parts of the state.
Obama used the rally to discuss a wide variety of issues, ranging from
health care and the Iraq war, to college education and energy
dependence. But a prominent moment in his speech was when he responded
to criticism from Clinton about negotiating with enemies of the United
States.
“I’m not worried about losing a propaganda battle to tin-pot
dictators,” Obama said.
Obama’s concerns now shift to finding a way to effectively mobilize
the volunteers that come along with Patrick’s endorsement. Even making
the most of Patrick will prove difficult, as the governor has to focus
on the Commonwealth and his first year-agenda that is up on Beacon
Hill until mid-Nov.
Still, Patrick’s strong endorsement can only help.
Patrick, who like Obama is a trailblazer as the state’s first
African-American governor, made clear that his endorsement was about
issues other than race.
“I don’t care whether the next president is the first black president
or the first woman president or the first whatever, to tell you the
truth. I care that the next president has moral courage, a political
backbone, the humility to admit what he doesn’t know, and the wisdom
to learn from others.”