Former two-term Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick jumped into the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, shaking up an already-chaotic primary race whose field remains unsettled even as filing deadlines loom.
Patrick declared his candidacy for the White House in a video on social media and in an email sent to supporters.
"I admire and respect the candidates in the Democratic field that bring a richness of ideas and experience and a depth of character that makes me proud to be a Democrat," Patrick said. "But if the character of the candidates is an issue in every election, this time is about the character of the country. So in the spirit of profound gratitude for all the country has given to me, with a determination to build a better, more sustainable, more inclusive American dream for the next generation, I am today announcing my candidacy for president of the United States."
Patrick then traveled to neighboring New Hampshire to file for the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, beating by a day the deadline for candidates to place their names on the primary ballot.
The former governor mulled launching a presidential campaign last year, assembling a team of advisers and enjoying the backing of some of former President Barack Obama’s top political aides. But late last year, Patrick announced he wouldn’t run, pointing to the “cruelty of our elections process.”
Patrick's campaign is likely to face high hurdles, including fundraising, a lack of national name recognition and entering the race extremely late in the election cycle. His move comes with less than three months to go until Iowa and New Hampshire kick off the presidential nominating calendar.
Patrick acknowledged those hurdles when speaking with reporters in Concord, N.H.
"It’s a big and talented field. It’s hard to break through not just because it’s this stage in the elections, in the campaigns, but it’s hard to break through without being a celebrity or sensational and I’m neither of those things," he explained.
But he said he hopes to stand out because "I want to offer a kind of leadership which is about both an ambitious agenda and an opportunity through delivering that agenda to actually bring us as a nation back together."
On getting into the race well after all of his rivals for the nomination, Patrick emphasized that "voters all across the country in some cases are just tuning in and in many cases haven’t made their decisions. And I’m not asking them to make their decisions today. I’m asking them to give me a chance."
Patrick served as U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division from 1994-1997 under President Bill Clinton. He was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2006 and re-elected in 2010, the first black governor in the commonwealth's history.
After leaving office in 2015, Patrick took a job with Bain Capital, the Boston-based private investment firm that became a liability to Mitt Romney – Patrick’s predecessor as Massachusetts governor – during Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Patrick’s tenure at the firm will likely be in the spotlight in the 2020 race.
The news about Patrick jumping into the race broke Wednesday, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – one of the co-front-runners in the 2020 Democratic race – was in New Hampshire to file for the primary.
Warren told Fox News that she hadn’t talked with Patrick in recent days and said “no” when asked if his entry into the race would complicate her campaign. When asked about Patrick's years working at Bain Capital, Warren answered: “I’m not here to criticize other Democrats. I’m here to talk about why I’m running for president.”
Asked at Thursday's news conference about Warren, Patrick told Fox News: "I want to acknowledge my friendship and my enormous respect, in particular with Senator Warren. I talked to her last night and I think it was a kind of hard conversation for both of us frankly."
And on the other front-runner in the Democratic nomination race, Patrick said "I’m a big, big fan of Joe Biden. I’ve known him for many, many years."
But he said that Biden's "deep, deep, public empathy doesn’t always come through in this campaign."
And Patrick argued that "the instinct that [Biden's] campaign seems to have to say, to project in effect ‘if we just get rid, if you will, of the incumbent, we can just go back to doing what we used to do,’ misses the moment."
Republicans, meanwhile, panned the late entry.
“There’s already one Massachusetts elitist liberal running in the Democrat field, yet Deval Patrick must think she, nor any of the other candidates aren’t good enough. Reminder: Patrick doesn’t stand a chance against President Trump either,” Republican National Committee spokesman Steve Guest said in a statement.
In recent days, former New York City mayor and billionaire businessman Mike Bloomberg also has placed his name on the presidential primary ballots in Alabama and Arkansas as he moves closer to launching a White House run.
Sources close to Bloomberg tell Fox News that it’s unlikely Bloomberg would make any 2020 presidential announcement this week.