Former President Barack Obama and his team are reportedly encouraging former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts to mount a presidential campaign for the 2020 election.
On Aug. 1, Patrick asserted he had not made any plans to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.
"It's way, way too soon to be making plans for 2020," Patrick told Politico. "So I'll just leave it at that."
Meanwhile, Obama and several of his allies have reportedly urged Patrick to consider a presidential bid. Former Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod told the former governor that his northeastern credentials and his African American identity would make him a formidable contender in a Democratic primary.
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"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 [Trump]?" Axelrod said.
Former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett is a self-professed booster for a potential Patrick presidential run.
"[Patrick] has the ability to touch people's hearts as well as their minds," Jarrett said. "I think our country is ready for that now -- let alone in three years."
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Obama and Patrick are longtime friends. In March 2014, Obama suggested that Patrick would be an ideal presidential candidate.
"Deval would make a great president or vice president ... He's done a great job for the state of Massachusetts," Obama told NECN. The former president asserted that Patrick's accomplishments while serving as a governor "signals that he could be very successful at the federal level as well."
Patrick served as Massachusetts governor from 2007 through 2015. In January 2014, a MassINC Polling Group survey found that 53 percent of Massachusetts voters approved of his job performance while 39 percent disapproved, according to WBUR.
After leaving office, Patrick returned to the private sector to work for Bain Capital to run a private equity fund to invest in community building companies. Patrick's work at Bain, which was co-founded by former GOP Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and served as a controversy during the 2012 election, could hamper his prospects in a Democratic primary.
Patrick asserted that Bain Capital's notoriety was undeserved, stating, "We know how in public life, people and institutions get turned into cartoons."
While the former governor was reluctant to signal any presidential ambitions, he offered a fierce critique of Trump's temperament.
"The president, I believe, is at risk of diminishing the voice of the presidency because he pops off so often, and so, kind of, carelessly," Patrick said. "I think there is a risk both domestically, and internationally for that matter, that we'll begin to tune him out."
Some of Patrick's allies were less optimistic about a potential campaign than the Obama team. Former Patrick adviser John Walsh was skeptical that the former governor would be interested in reentering politics, stating "from my interactions with him, elected office is not his career."
Patrick would also have to overcome a low-key national profile. In December 2016, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll found that 53 percent of Democratic and independent voters had never heard of the Massachusetts governor, USA Today reports.