Former President Barack Obama reportedly told former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick it was “too late” to join the presidential race – advice Patrick evidently disregarded given his recent entry into the Democrat presidential primary.
Patrick, who Politico describes as a “close Obama pal and board member at the Obama Foundation,” announced his longshot presidential bid on November 14, which came as a stark contrast to the position he took in December 2018, telling supporters “a 2020 campaign for president is not for me.”
“In a spirit of profound gratitude for all the country has given to me, with a determination to build a better, more sustainable, more inclusive American Dream for the next generation, I am today announcing my candidacy for President of the United States,” Patrick, who reportedly called Obama prior to his announcement, said in a video:
In a spirit of profound gratitude for all the country has given to me, with a determination to build a better, more sustainable, more inclusive American Dream for everyone:
— Deval Patrick (@DevalPatrick) November 14, 2019
According to Politico, Obama warned Patrick this year that it was “too late” for him to run, citing the “money and talent” needed to proceed with a successful campaign.
As Politico reported:
Sometimes he offers candid advice about his visitors’ strengths and weaknesses. With several lesser-known candidates, according to people who have talked to him or been briefed on his meetings, he was blunt about the challenges of breaking out of a large field. His advice is not always heeded. He told Patrick earlier this year that it was likely “too late” for him to secure “money and talent” if he jumped in the race. Occasionally, he can be cutting. With one candidate, he pointed out that during his own 2008 campaign, he had an intimate bond with the electorate, especially in Iowa, that he no longer has. Then he added, “And you know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden.”
Patrick has yet to gain traction following his announcement. He opted to cancel an event at Morehouse College at the last minute last week after only two people showed up:
This was the @DevalPatrick event at @Morehouse College right around the time we were told he was 2 minutes away. It was a very empty room. A few minutes later, after the students notified the campaign that there were only a few students there, he cancelled. pic.twitter.com/9T9rmbeI49
— Cheyenne Haslett (@cheyennehaslett) November 21, 2019
CNN’s Camerota calls out Deval Patrick for empty event: “we have a picture of the nonexistent crowd.”
Patrick says an empty event was part of his “terrific” week.
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) November 26, 2019
Patrick is not the only Democrat hopeful who Obama has discouraged. Former Attorney General Eric Holder, a “close friend” to Obama, was reportedly “frustrated” by the former president refraining from encouraging his presidential aspirations.
”He’s still pretty sensitive about it,” a source close to Holder told Politico. “He was really frustrated about having arrived at the decision not to run. Holder couldn’t get in because Biden and Holder have the same set of people.”
“Once Biden was getting in then Eric couldn’t get in. So that frustrated Holder. It blocked him,” the source added. “And Biden has turned out the way they all feared, and that’s really frustrating to Eric.”
While Obama has signaled he will not endorse a Democrat primary candidate and has yet to issue a stark criticism to any one candidate by name, he has taken veiled shots at some of the more “radical candidates” among leftist donors.
“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality,” Obama told a group of left-wing donors in Washington, DC, this month.
“The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it,” he continued.
“I don’t think we should be deluded into thinking that the resistance to certain approaches to things is simply because voters haven’t heard a bold enough proposal and if they hear something as bold as possible then immediately that’s going to activate them,” he added.
According to Politico, Obama has also been “skeptical about the prospects of Mayor Pete Buttigieg,” unsure of Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-CA) appeal among black voters, and privately said that a Warren nomination would be a “repudiation” of him when she considered running in 2015.
Despite his purported uneasiness over some of the candidates, Obama “sees his role as providing guardrails to keep the process from getting too ugly and to unite the party when the nominee is clear,” according to Politico.