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‘Later, but not late:’ Deval Patrick on his presidential bid

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, one of several presidential candidates who did not qualify for the latest Democratic debate, spoke with NewsHour Weekend about the issues driving his decision to enter the 2020 race "later, but not late." He joins Yamiche Alcindor from the campaign trail.

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  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Seven Democratic candidates for president took the stage at the final debate of 2019 this week. One of those who didn't qualify based on poll numbers and fundraising was former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. He joins us now from the campaign trail in Manchester, New Hampshire. Thanks so much for joining me, Governor.

  • Deval Patrick:

    Glad to be with you Yamiche. But come on, really, that's the introduction? He's the one who wasn't on the stage! Come on.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, you're here now with us.

  • Deval Patrick:

    I'll get there.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    You got in this race just last month. What do you see as your path to the nomination, given that some people think that maybe you entered too late?

  • Deval Patrick:

    Well, it's. I'm late-ter, but not late. And I thank you for the chance to make that point because, you know, it's not late until the voters vote. And what's quite clear, even if you do trust the polling that's out there, is that there are other candidates who've been in for a long time, spent a lot of money and a lot of time, and it's still a wide open race. Large, large proportions, majorities of undecided voters in all of the early states. So we are respectful of the calendar. We will compete in all of the early states. We're spending a lot of time in New Hampshire and South Carolina in particular, because primaries are just, they're different, in terms of how you organize. If it's intimate in New Hampshire, it's granular in in Iowa. If you know what I mean. And we will be present in Iowa. But I think you'll see a lot more time spent here in New Hampshire and in and in South Carolina.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The Democratic National Committee has raised the threshold again for the next debate. It's going to be January 14th. This debate Andrew Yang was the only candidate of color on stage. What do you make of that? And are you worried about the Democratic National Committee continuing to raise the bar?

  • Deval Patrick:

    Well, I think, look, I know there has to be some winnowing process. I will say I'm not sure that the debates, and I say this respectfully, having complimented you and your colleagues before we went on air on your conduct of the last debate. I am hoping that the format changes not just to expose all of the candidates, but to create a better vehicle, to communicate with the with the voting public, because with the exception of the most recent debate, many of them have felt more like a cage fight where they they were kind of, almost, well small differences were fussed about among the candidates instead of the larger question, which to me is not about the character of the candidates, Democrat or the incombant president, it's about the character of the country.

    And one of the reasons, indeed the reason I'm in, is because I think we see a moment right now, Yamiche, where the anxiety, and frustration, and even anger that people are experiencing about their economic and social lives is so widespread. There is an opportunity through some solutions to unite the country. And my own leadership experience, both in the public sector and in the private sector, has been successfully to get people to turn to, rather than on, each other. And and I think it's a moment we shouldn't miss.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The headline from the last debate was a fundraiser in a wine cave. You've had a very successful career in the private sector. What do you make of that being the headline? And this is a problem for the Democratic Party?

  • Deval Patrick:

    Well, I'm sorry that that a debate that was so substantive otherwise had a headline about a wine cave. I don't think I've ever been in a wine cave. But I think it's kind of beside the point. You know, I think many, many Americans agree with me. And I think many of the candidates on the stage that we need a better way to fund our politics and our campaigns, that there's too much money, it is too influential, especially the dark money, and that we need to get this out of our, out of our politics.

    But, you know, beyond that, I think that the fact is that if we're going to unite the country, then we need to focus on what the real problems are, the real problems around around climate change, around criminal justice reform, around health care. And the issue when folks talk about millionaires and billionaires is not wealth. It's greed. And we have created a system that enables people to hoard all the better benefits among the few, on the theory, discredited by the way, that it would trickle down to everybody else. And we have to turn that around.

    So I regret that headline for a whole host of reasons, but to me it's sort of beside the point. There are bigger issues before us and my campaign is about those bigger, bigger issues and how we make the American dream actually work for everyone, everywhere.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, thank you so much Deval Patrick, running for president and former governor of Massachusetts.

  • Deval Patrick:

    Good to be with you. Take care.

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