Patrick goes on road for Obama

Tweaks Romney in N.H. speech

By Vivian Yee
Globe Correspondent / July 20, 2011

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CONCORD, N.H. - Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts urged New Hampshire Democrats last night to devote themselves to President Obama’s reelection campaign, declaring that “in politics, we can shape our own future.’’

Warming up for an election season in which he is expected to stump often for Obama, Patrick accused Republicans of hypocrisy and valuing power over substantive policies.

He spoke at a barbecue held in honor of Democratic leaders in the New Hampshire Legislature.

“After you cut through all their slogans, all that Republicans are saying is that if we just shrink government, cut spending, crush unions, and wait, all will be well,’’ he said, repeating words he used at a speech to Wisconsin Democrats this spring. “They don’t actually believe it.’’

He said Republicans were to blame for running up the largest federal deficit in history, promoting radical Christian fundamentalism, and blocking same-sex marriage and abortion.

Though he did not name names, Patrick focused his barbs on one Republican in particular, Mitt Romney, who is a leading presidential candidate and his predecessor as Massachusetts governor.

When Patrick came to office more than four years ago, he said, the state’s economy and infrastructure were in shambles.

“We had had 16 years of Republican governors more interested in having the job than doing the job,’’ he said, garnering a ripple of laughter. “And when the economy collapsed, I didn’t cut and run like a bunch of folks who had this job before me, including one who’s been spending a whole lot of time up here.’’

In recent months, Romney and other GOP presidential candidates have appeared in New Hampshire multiple times, hoping to woo voters in next year’s primary.

But most of Patrick’s remarks, which drew cheers, laughs, and one standing ovation from the crowd of about 200, focused on creating jobs.

Beginning the speech by contrasting his own childhood spent in a South Side tenement in Chicago with the privileged upbringing of his daughter Katherine, he characterized his own life as a struggle to live the American dream.

“One generation and the circumstances of my life and family were completely transformed,’’ he said. “That is an American story.’’

But, he said, it is a story that seems increasingly difficult to tell for the unemployed in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

The Bay State governor described a visit he had made to a Quincy job center where most of the members had gone 18 months or more without work. All the more reason, he told his audience, for Democrats to get involved in the 2012 campaign.

He called for Democrats to remember their core values - accessible education, affordable health care, and environmentalism - in a message that echoed Obama’s own stump speeches, which have cast the differences between Republicans and Democrats as a fundamental divergence in values and vision.

Patrick’s word energized Democrats in a state where the party has seen major setbacks recently. A wave of victories in the 2010 elections gave conservatives control of the New Hampshire State House, which then pushed through cuts in spending on social services while reducing the tobacco tax.

“To me, the loss of the [US] House to the radical right last fall was as much about a loss of our own self-confidence as it was about a loss of votes,’’ he said. “It’s time for Democrats to grow a backbone and stand up for what we believe.’’

Vivian Yee can be reached at