While the leading Democratic presidential candidates were debating in California Thursday night, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who got into the race just last month, had New Hampshire all to himself.
And while Patrick insists he’s still got plenty of time to win over voters here, he’s got a lot of work to do. As Patrick campaigned in Manchester Thursday, he made an observation about policymaking that could also apply to upstart presidential campaigns.
“You have to raise your tolerance for failure. You have to be willing to try some things and have them not work,” he said.
Patrick was speaking at an issues roundtable at the Manchester millyard. He said he hoped the conversation would be a way to share and shape his policy agenda. For close to two hours he sought input, took notes, and worked to blend what he heard with his own ideas.
"It sounds like a climate change plan from the Patrick administration would be most effective if we were trying to come at it from the level of government, right on through to the level of the individual," he said. "Does that make sense? What am I missing?"
Sally Kelly, a former Democratic state lawmaker from Chichester, sat in the front row and stayed for the entire discussion. Kelly has yet to sort who she’ll back come Primary Day, but she said Patrick left her feeling confused.
“I like how he truly listened to everyone and is trying to figure out what his message is, which I think is very, very important," she said. "But as far as New Hampshire goes, it’s a little behind schedule here. Three months ago it would have been credible. Which makes you wonder: Why is he doing this?"
When speaking to reporters later, Patrick stressed that his motives are straightforward.
“I’m not in it just to participate in the conversation; I’m in to win." he said. "And I’m going to do everything I can to do so."
Patrick’s to-do list, however, shows just how much there is left to be done. He said his campaign is staffing up, plans to run some digital ads soon, and is narrowing down its options for Patrick's first New Hampshire campaign office.