CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick offered a rousing start to the week for Virginia’s delegation here at the Democratic National Convention, which officially kicks off tomorrow.
Patrick was the featured speaker at the delegation’s first breakfast meeting this morning at the Sheraton Charlotte Airport Hotel, offering an indictment of Gov. Mitt Romney, whom he succeeded as governor, and motivational words for the base.
“He’s not a moderate or a conservative – he’s an opportunist,” Patrick said of Romney. “And we have seen in Massachusetts, and we’ve seen in this race, that he will say or do anything to win the election.”
But Patrick was also critical of fellow Democrats, whom he said suffer from a messaging problem.
“I’m proud to be a Democrat, but Democrats get on my last nerve,” he said. “We have a way of perfecting our argument for what’s wrong with the other side, and saying almost nothing at all about what’s right with our side.”
Patrick rattled off a list of the president’s accomplishments, including the creation of 4.5 million private sector jobs over the last two-and-a-half years, health care reform, the end of the war in Iraq, and the death of Osama bin Laden among others.
“The record is long, impressive and barely told,” he said. “And it is impossible for us to look at this country as a whole and then look back three-and-a-half, four years and say that we are not better off.”
Accusing Romney of “running to president of the tea party,” Patrick urged the Democrats in attendance to avoid hyper-partisanship and reach out to people of all political persuasions.
“If we’re going to move this country forward, we have to not just re-elect this president, we have to reject the obstructionist politics of the hard right,” he said. “We need to turn to each other, not on each other.”
Gilda Cobb Hunter, a member of South Carolina’s legislature and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee’s Southern Caucus also addressed Virginians, greeting the bleary-eyed crowd with a hearty, “Hey, y’all.”
Stressing Virginia’s key role in this year’s election, Hunter urged the delegation to do everything in their power to get voters out and fire up the base.
“One of the things we don’t want is to wake up on Nov. 7 and saying, ‘woulda, shoulda, coulda,’” she said.
Michael Short, communications director for the GOP’s Virginia Victory effort, responded later in the day by citing a recent Associated Press-GfK poll showing that 28 percent of Americans felt they were better off than four years ago, while 36 percent said they were worse off.
“By saying we’re better off than four years ago, the Obama campaign is telling Virginians this: You’re doing fine, you’re just not smart enough to know it. On the seminal question all incumbent presidents asking for a second term must answer, they are failing miserably.”