Photo by Nancy Lane
MEET AND GREET: Gov. Deval Patrick shakes hands with Gary Hart at a Massachusetts Democratic delegation breakfast in Denver.
DENVER - Gov. Deval Patrick has become one of the hottest political commodities at the Democratic National Convention as he prepares to shine on the national stage tonight in a prime-time speech just before Sen. Hillary Clinton takes the stage.
Patrick, who left the convention last night to attend the funeral of a Mashpee soldier this morning, is getting rave reviews from pols and media alike in the Mile High City, and many are looking to him as a future power player in the Democratic Party.
"He's just a very gifted, talented individual," said Kweisi Mfume, a former Maryland congressman and head of the NAACP. "I'm just impressed with his nature, his seriousness about his job and his ability to reach out to people."
Patrick, a longtime friend and ally of Sen. Barack Obama, has fielded interview requests from most of the nation's major news outlets.
But the governor has balked at most of the requests, instead making a concerted effort to rub elbows with Boston reporters, perhaps wary that reveling in the national spotlight would fuel speculation he's destined for higher office.
"I think Gov. Patrick is entirely focused on Massachusetts and getting the job done as governor," Sen. John F. Kerry said. "But I think it's appropriate that people are interested in him because he's an interesting fellow and a good leader."
Kathy McLaughlin, executive director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics, said it's not surprising Patrick is garnering national interest - especially in light of his close ties to Obama.
"He's an up-and-coming national political figure who does things differently than they've been done in the past," McLaughlin said. She added that Patrick's stock soared nationally because Obama's campaign has mimicked some of the grassroots tactics that helped Patrick to a landslide win in 2006.
"I think Deval Patrick has served as a model nationally," McLaughlin said.
Boston City Councilor Michael Ross, a DNC delegate, called Patrick "the pride of our delegation."
"I think it's major that he's speaking during prime time," Ross said. "This is a good moment for Deval Patrick. I think he's just finding his stride."
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