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Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick Joins 2020 Presidential Race

7 hours ago
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NOEL KING, HOST:

There is another candidate running for the Democratic nomination to be president. This morning, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced he will join 17 others. He made the announcement in a video, and he framed it around his character. Here's part of the video.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO, "DEVAL PATRICK ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO")

DEVAL PATRICK: But if the character of the candidates is an issue in every election, this time is about the character of the country. This time is about whether the day after the election, America will keep her promises. This time is about more than removing an unpopular and divisive leader - as important as that is - but about delivering instead for you.

KING: So how does Patrick's entrance affect the race? NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid is with us. Good morning, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.

KING: OK. So remind people who Deval Patrick is.

KHALID: Yes. So he was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2006. He has actually been, I believe, the only - the second African American man elected governor in the history of the United States. It's been kind of a rare feat to have black governors in the country. He was widely seen to be a fairly popular governor. He won reelection there. But, you know, earlier this year, there were thoughts of him entering the race, and he pretty publicly said that he was not going to enter this competition. He felt like just the campaign process is brutal on families, and that's not something he wanted to subject his family to.

KING: And now he's doing it. Do we have a sense of why he's getting in so late?

KHALID: So, I mean, in a sense, what I've been hearing is there's been sort of this consternation amongst the establishment of - establishment Democrats and some Democratic donors about the field. There's a sense that perhaps Joe Biden may not win the primaries. And then there's, I think, some worry that if that - the nominee is Elizabeth Warren - her potential viability to win the general election. Now, I should point this out that these are the concerns of a sort of class of establishment Democrats.

KING: OK.

KHALID: These are not the concerns you hear from rank-and-file voters when you're out in Iowa. In fact, when you look at polling, I believe it's about three quarters of Democratic voters are satisfied with the field, and that's what I hear from voters pretty often. I mean, here and there, you might hear some grumbles about, sure, they wish that there was a perfect candidate. But more and large - you know, what I hear by and large is actually a sense that they're really happy with all the candidates and that, you know, they could see a whole bunch of the folks that's maybe their second or third or fourth choice end up in the cabinet of a president. So...

KING: So you haven't had people...

KHALID: Yeah.

KING: ...Telling you, gosh, we wish another one would get in, huh?

KHALID: (Laughter) No, not at all. I think, if anything, people are sort of confused because they're torn between multiple options at this point. But, you know, Deval Patrick, for his view, I mean, he sees a potential path, I would say, of trying to unite the liberal and - the sort of more liberal, progressive wing of the party and the moderate wing of the party. And, you know, at this point, we haven't seen somebody who's been able to tie together the different demographic constituencies of the Democratic Party - specifically, I would argue, sort of the progressive white base as well as the African American base. And that's something Barack Obama was able to successfully do.

KING: What do the late entries mean for the rest of the Democratic field? 'Cause we have New York's former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, also filing in a couple states.

KHALID: Yeah. So at this point, Noel, I think that the real signal that this sends is the sense that there is a class within the Democratic Party establishment that is worried. And they are worried, I would argue, about Joe Biden. So to me, this really comes as sort of a public vote, perhaps, of no confidence in the idea of Joe Biden's candidacy. What it means to actually ruffle the field - look; at this point, Noel, I think that a lot of candidates have been campaigning for months and months.

KING: Yeah. NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid - thanks so much, Asma.

KHALID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.