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In spotlight, Patrick stays mum on endorsement

WASHINGTON -- Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, in Washington to introduce the Democratic candidates at a televised presidential debate yesterday, steered clear of making an endorsement.

"I'm going to hold my fire until a little later on endorsing a particular candidate," he told reporters on Capitol Hill after meeting with the Massachusetts congressional delegation. Patrick, who became the state's first black governor in January, said most of the Democratic hopefuls had already reached out to him.

He talked about his state's proximity to New Hampshire, the site of the first primary , but said Massachusetts has its own value and importance in any presidential race. "Also, people appreciate that we have a very robust and energized grass-roots organization who can help."

Patrick, who has ties to Senator Hillary Clinton of New York and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, said in his opening remarks that its a heady time for Democrats, who have control of Congress and a majority of the governorships, and he deemed the Republican Party "philosophically adrift."

Of the Democrats' campaign for the White House, Patrick warned that discontent with the GOP was not enough.

"We have to offer a more positive and hopeful vision for a united America, to run on what we are for, not just what we are against."

Patrick also met for about an hour with members of his state's congressional delegation to talk about the health care, biotechnology, and transportation issues facing Massachusetts. He has said he plans to meet monthly with the delegation to work on issues vital to the state.