Patrick setting up PAC for national travel

To aid him in work for Obama and others

Patrick’s advisers insisted that his as-yet unnamed committee is not a precursor to a run for national office. Patrick’s advisers insisted that his as-yet unnamed committee is not a precursor to a run for national office.
By Michael Levenson
Globe Staff / February 19, 2011

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Governor Deval Patrick, taking his firmest step yet to raise his national political profile, is opening a federal political action committee that will allow him to travel the country to campaign for President Obama and other national Democrats.

Opening a federal committee is a classic first step for candidates who are broadening their national profiles. Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, for example, have used their political action committees to crisscross the country and dole out thousands of dollars to candidates in politically influential states.

Patrick’s advisers insisted yesterday that his as-yet unnamed committee is not a precursor to a run for national office. Instead, they said, he would use his fund to pay for his travel and security costs as he campaigns for Obama’s 2012 reelection bid and for Democrats running for governor and Congress. Patrick may also donate to the candidates, his advisers said. Under federal law, he can solicit up to $5,000 per donor for his fund.

Patrick said yesterday that he has not ruled out taking money from corporations and individuals who do business with the state to finance the political action committee. He said it is early to declare whether there would be any fund-raising guidelines to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Democrats said Patrick can play a significant role in the president’s reelection effort because they view the governor’s reelection campaign as a template for the president and the state’s health care law as a model for Obama’s national law.

“He’s one of the few successful Democratic governors who had a nice, substantive victory, and he’s obviously a model for Obama’s own reelection,’’ said Elaine C. Kamarck, a member of the Democratic National Committee from Cape Cod.

“I suspect that he’s going to be a very powerful voice out there, countering all the misinformation about Obama’s health care law because of the experience in Massachusetts,’’ Kamarck said. “It’s sort of a logical next step for him in his second term.’’

Patrick said his national travel would not distract him from governing the state.

“I know what my day job is, and I pour myself into it,’’ he said.

Patrick, a friend of Obama’s, has said for weeks that he wants to be a major player in the president’s campaign.

He drew up plans for the political committee after meeting in Washington earlier this month with Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and with Obama adviser David Axelrod in Chicago. Patrick also met with Obama at the White House just before Christmas, to discuss helping the president’s campaign.

“I want to be out supporting the president’s agenda, and I want to promote the Massachusetts story, as well,’’ Patrick said yesterday. “We’ve shown real leadership on many of the things the president is promoting.’’

Patrick has his first out-of-state political trip scheduled for March 5, when he will be the keynote speaker at the Colorado Democratic Party’s 78th Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Denver. Patrick will also be traveling the country to promote his memoir, “A Reason to Believe,’’ due out in April. He has book-related appearances planned in Chicago, New York, Washington, and Boston.

Patrick has said that he plans to serve out his second — and, he says, final — term, which ends in January 2015, and then return to the private sector.

Yesterday, he also dismissed speculation that he is under consideration to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, waving his hand and declaring that the idea “isn’t mine.’’

Obama, who campaigned for Patrick in Boston last fall, will head back to the city for a major fund-raiser March 8 with top national Democrats. Patrick, however, will be in Israel on a trade mission.

Patrick and Obama are fellow Harvard Law graduates who share roots in Chicago.

Michael Levenson can be reached at