NASHUA, N.H. — Diane Patrick asked New Hampshire voters to look at her husband through her eyes as she campaigned for him Saturday in the key early voting state, to see Deval Patrick’s record as Massachusetts governor from 2007 to 2015 but also what she described as his innate drive to make people’s lives better.
“This is a man who really desperately wants to know you — and you, and you,” she told campaign volunteers inside Nashua’s Riverwalk Café Saturday morning as they prepared to canvas the city. “He wants to listen to you. He cares about you, and he governs in that way.”
Diane Patrick acknowledged that they are fighting an uphill battle after a late entry into the race just over two months ago. An Emerson College/WHDH-TV poll of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters released Friday showed Deval Patrick, who was in South Carolina this weekend, failing to crack 1 percent. But his wife insisted there are still enough undecided voters for him to win.
She described Deval Patrick as she first knew him, as a young Harvard Law School graduate she met while she was building her legal career and going home each night to an abusive husband.
“I was really kind of broken,” she recalled. “I was working 80 hours a week as a young lawyer, but I was miserable in life generally. All I wanted to do was get out of this marriage.”
She was too proud to tell people that her then-husband was violent, she said, but “Deval wanted to get to know me, just as a friend, and he would listen, and he would draw me out.”
“He has this capacity and real strong desire and commitment to help people who are in need, whatever kind of need that is. And he has been that way with every person that has ever come into our lives, with our children, with strangers, with friends, with family. And it’s how he has governed.”
In an interview after she rallied the volunteers, Diane Patrick, 69, acknowledged that she was outside her comfort zone. She doesn’t seek the spotlight, and early in her husband’s first term she took a break from public life and was treated for depression.
“Being a surrogate doesn’t come naturally to me,” she said. “But it’s the enthusiasm I feel for this campaign that is allowing me to do this. . . . I feel so committed to this endeavor that I’ll do it happily.”
Among the dedicated Deval Patrick supporters in Nashua was another familiar face from his administration, former lieutenant governor Tim Murray, who left office before their term was over to lead the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ve been coming up every weekend for the last four weeks to knock on doors,” Murray told the Globe, joking that they were “getting the band back together” for the campaign.
“I’m just really excited that he joined the race,” Murray said. “I think he’s got a track record of leadership on a number of different issues; he’s got a style of leadership that is, I think, unique and right for the times. And most importantly he’s a good person and he’s my friend.”
From Nashua, Diane Patrick traveled to Concord, where she spoke with voters at the New Hampshire Women’s Rally outside the State House, alongside supporters of several other Democratic presidential primary candidates.
At the rally, Diane Patrick spoke with women and girls about the signs they carried and the issues they supported. She stopped for a photograph with a young girl who wore a sign reading, “Little girls with dreams become women with vision,” and thanked her for coming to the rally.
Near the table for former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was in Iowa, Diane Patrick met a fellow political spouse, Chasten Buttigieg, and posed for a photo. She told Chasten, who would be the first same-sex partner of a US president, that she has admired him from afar and was glad to finally meet him.
Later, she spoke with former Massachusetts governor William F. Weld, a Republican who is challenging President Trump in their party’s primary,
“I have to tell you . . . you’re the only Republican I’ve ever voted for,” she told him.
“I think I probably know what election that was — 1990,” Weld said with a chuckle. That year, Weld defeated the controversial chancellor of Boston University, the late John Silber.
Diane Patrick also spoke with Denise Gordon, 64, of Rochester, N.H., who said her family has known Deval Patrick for years. They discussed an effort by Gordon to build stronger bonds of community among black and brown New Hampshire residents, and Diane Patrick never even asked for a vote, according to Gordon.
Gordon is supporting billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer in the primary, she said, but Deval Patrick is also high on her list of candidates. What matters to Gordon, she said, “is not what you’re going to do, it’s what you did. You can look back at Patrick’s record and see that he has done things in Boston, he’s helped communities in Boston.”
New Hampshire State Representative Timothy Horrigan also chatted with Diane Patrick at the rally, where he told her he hasn’t committed to endorsing a candidate yet, but he has known Deval Patrick for decades and holds him in high esteem.
In an interview, Horrigan said he doesn’t think anyone should count Patrick out of the race yet.
“It could be like one of those NASCAR races where all of the lead drivers crash,” he said, “and then somebody comes up from behind.”Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.