Former President Barack Obama is reportedly trying to persuade former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to run for president in 2020.
Patrick is also popular among members of Obama's inner circle, who see him as the logical inheritor of Obama's legacy.
"If you were to poll 100 notable Obama alumni, the only two people who would win that 2020 straw poll right now are [former Vice President Joe] Biden and Patrick," a former White House staffer told Politico.
An Obama-era White House official said: "The center of gravity would really shift in [Patrick's] direction in Obama world if he were to decide to run."
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Former Obama strategist David Axelrod said he thinks Patrick has what it takes.
"He’s kind of a natural to look at because he was a successful governor, he is an inspiring guy, and you have to ask yourself what is the country going to be looking for in their next president after this guy [President Donald Trump]?" he told Politico.
Like most Democrats, Patrick has openly criticized Trump.
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"Nostalgia -- that’s what Trump was selling, right? His tag line was on the 'again,'" he said on Politico's Off Message podcast recently. "You know, saying to communities, whose factories have left, that the solution is to bring that factory back. It may not actually be the most constructive, or even honest, pitch to make."
But that doesn't mean he's going to run for president himself. In fact, Patrick insists that the idea is not even on his radar at this point.
"I'm trying to think about how to be helpful, because I care about the country, and I'm a patriot first," he said. "It's way, way too soon to be making plans for 2020. So I'll just leave it at that."
When pressed on the subject, Patrick refused to budge.
"Don't lead me down that path because it turns into something it isn’t, and I don’t want to go there," he said. "I have no plans to make plans."
He did, however, offer some words of advice to Democrats on how to win back the confidence of the American people.
"I think we can’t be just about what we’re against," he said. "We have to be about what we’re for. I think offering an alternative vision for the future of this country, and the role of government alongside the private sector, alongside philanthropy, alongside individuals exercising their free creativity, is enormously important."
"We can do that as a party," he added. "We have done it in the past, and we can do it again. I think we have to win."
Biden, who will be 75 in November, has refused to rule out running in 2020.
"I have no intention of running for president but I'm a great respecter of fate," he told NPR in June. "I don't have any plans to do it, but I'm not promising I wouldn't do it."