Massachusetts former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick — who has hinted a run for United States President in 2020 — visited the Temple College Democrats for a two-hour meet and greet session last Thursday.
Patrick served two terms as governor of Massachusetts from 2007-15, and is the second African-American governor to be elected in U.S. history. Previously, Patrick was appointed by former President Bill Clinton to be assistant attorney general, overseeing the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice in 1994.
Patrick is also close to former President Barack Obama. Obama counts him “among the very small group of people whom he thinks has actual political talent,” Politico reported last August.
Obama’s inner circle has been urging Patrick to run for the White House in the next election. Patrick said it’s too early to make any plans for 2020, but he recently said running for president is on his “radar screen,” South Coast Today reported.
Other potential Democratic presidential candidates rumored to run in 2020 include Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ran in 2016, former Vice President Joe Biden, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.
Patrick’s political director, Rosy Gonzalez, reached out to the student organization’s former president to visit Main Campus, said Christina Borst, Temple College Democrats’s co-president and a sophomore strategic communications and political science major.
During the meeting, a member of Temple College Democrats brought up that there are “whispers” of his potential candidacy. Patrick responded by saying “Oh, I don’t know” in a “coy” way, Borst said.
Patrick’s response to issues that students brought up seemed very much “through the lens of the future,” Borst said.
“Given the nature of [Patrick’s] responses today, I feel like there’s no way he’s not going to run,” she added. “The way he spoke, there were a lot of hypotheticals like…‘If I were in office, maybe I would’ve approached it this way.’”
During the meet and greet, students asked Patrick questions about bipartisanship, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, gun control, U.S. foreign relations and Pennsylvania’s new congressional districts, among other political issues.
Daisy Confoy, a freshman political science major and Temple College Democrats’s director of internal affairs, asked Patrick how Democrats can reconcile supporting Democratic candidates, but not wanting to settle for the bare minimum. For example, Democrat Conor Lamb won in the special election held in Pennsylvania’s 18th District last week, but he supports gun rights, which is usually a conservative stance.
Patrick responded and said that students should support a candidate that they would want to see, and they should also run for office themselves.
“It was a really relaxed conversation between a former governor and 20 18-20-year-olds, and that’s a big deal within itself,” Confoy said. “When [a politician] actually comes here and listens to us talk, and just lets us question him, it’s really important.”
“You could tell that he was thinking before he spoke, which we don’t really get with Donald Trump,” she said. “It was refreshing, like there are politicians who really care about the things they say, and they understand that they make an impact, especially on our youth.”
Jacob Kurtz, a junior planning and community development major and Parliamentarian in Temple Student Government, asked Patrick how Democrats from central Pennsylvania and other places overlooked by politicians can be effective participants in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections and 2020 presidential election.
“Be a bridge,” Patrick said. “[Democrats] have to go to places where we’re not expected. That’s the only way we will win in 2018 and 2020.”
Temple College Democrats holds biweekly meetings, and because of the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, the organization has had many candidates ask to speak at its meetings.
Late last month, Temple College Democrats hosted a candidate meet-and-greet with candidates running for state office. This included Malcolm Kenyatta, a 2012 public communication alumnus running to represent the 181st District for the state House of Representatives, and Maggie Borski, a third-year law student hoping to represent the 177th District.
Temple College Democrats will also host the Pennsylvania College Democrats’s annual convention in April, Borst said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated Deval Patrick’s name in the headline.