Patrick campaigns for Obama in N.H.

Email|Print| Text size + By Lisa Wangsness
Globe Staff / November 11, 2007

NASHUA - Governor Deval Patrick stood in the driveway of a green-shingled house on a quiet cul-de-sac here, trying to persuade Robert Valade, a former police commissioner in his 70s, to support Barack Obama in the presidential primary.

Valade, a hunter, was skeptical about Obama's position on gun owners' rights.

Patrick discussed the issue, adding that he had hunted before.

"I've never done game," he said. "I've done birds, quail, and pheasant."

"So we share some things," Valade said with a nod.

Patrick told him that Obama is "not about a single issue."

Valade nodded. But he said, "You have to understand that the Second Amendment is a single issue for a lot of people."

New Hampshire voters can be a stubborn lot, as Patrick saw firsthand yesterday in his first trip to New Hampshire on Obama's behalf since endorsing the Illinois senator last month.

After joining more than 100 Obama supporters on a bus trip from Boston to Nashua, he knocked on the doors of five houses, most chosen by the Obama campaign, and talked - sometimes at length - with the residents inside.

Later, he gave a pep talk over lunch with a small group of volunteers considering taking on more responsibility in the campaign, and then traveled to a house party in Danville.

Patrick seemed to enjoy himself immensely, and his persuasive powers were on full display.

Valade may have been his toughest customer, but it wasn't long before he was inviting Patrick inside for some homemade blueberry wine, which Patrick declared "delicious."

Endorsements don't always amount to much in politics, but the support of a popular neighboring Democratic governor could help Obama in New Hampshire, the campaign said, particularly along the state's southern tier, where many work over the border or have family connections, and where most are plugged into the Boston media market.

One of the houses Patrick visited yesterday belonged to Ken Tarbell, 77, a Democrat leaning toward Obama. Tarbell has lived in Nashua for 30 years but considers Fitchburg, where he was born and raised, his true home.

He said he had followed Patrick's political career closely, and it made a "big difference" to him that Patrick had backed Obama - and that he'd showed up at his door. "I couldn't believe it was him!" he said.

Patrick's endorsement was coveted by both the Obama and the Hillary Clinton campaigns.

Both campaigns, in fact, were there to greet Patrick when the buses pulled up at Obama's Nashua headquarters just before noon. The Clinton crowd waved signs and chanted "H-I-L-L-A-R-Y."

After shaking hands with the Obama crowd, Patrick walked over to the Clinton folks.

"I love Democrats!" he told them with a wide smile, shaking hands with each of them.

Three members of Team Clinton, a bit sheepishly, asked the governor to pose for a picture.

He complied, though he first politely asked them to remove their Clinton campaign stickers.

Patrick indirectly acknowledged Obama's difficulty in the polls here when, at a rally in Charlestown, he compared his own upstart, come-from-behind campaign last year to the challenge now facing Obama.

"There are a whole lot of people who said we couldn't do what we did," Patrick told the crowd, many of whom had worked for his campaign.

"And they say that about candidates who reflect our best values time and time and time again. They say we can't have what we want. This or that one is not electable.

"If you're content to sit around and wait for the pundits to tell us who's going to win and, therefore, for whom we're going to vote, then we will get the government we deserve," he said.

"You and I believe that we deserve better, and we're willing to work for it."

In an interview on the bus, Patrick said he believes there is no simple secret recipe for Obama to pull ahead; he just has to keep on doing what he is doing.

"It's a regular slog," he said.

But while some pundits have opined Obama needs to become more aggressive in attacking Clinton, Patrick said, "Personally, I think that the other candidates are or ought to be irrelevant to Barack Obama's campaign," he said.

"It is not about them, it's not even about him, it's about our common vision for a stronger America."

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