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Patrick, an Obama ally, to pitch re-election

Associated Press | 3/1/2011, 6:46 p.m.

President Barack Obama is reaching out to an old friend and fellow Democrat as he prepares for what could be a tough re-election campaign next year: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

In recent weeks, Patrick has hunkered down with top Democrats and Obama operatives including Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine and political adviser David Axelrod. Patrick is also forming his own national political action committee to pay for his campaign travels on behalf of the president and the national party.

One reason why Democrats are reaching out to Patrick? He was among the few in their party who ran a successful re-election campaign in 2010 in an otherwise hostile political climate.

Like Obama does, Patrick faced tough poll numbers and a slumping economy ahead of his campaign. Some election watchers predicted he might drop out, while Republicans felt the office was ripe for the picking.

But Patrick, the state’s first black governor, fought back with what Democrats thought were their top strengths: an upbeat message and superior organizing. Republican Scott Brown’s surprising U.S. Senate win earlier in the year also helped galvanize Democrats.

Now Patrick is preparing to take his story nationwide to sell voters on a second Obama term.

“We lead the nation in student achievement and health care coverage for our citizens and clean energy initiatives,” Patrick said. “This is a strategy about investing in ourselves and in our future that works in Massachusetts that the president is trying to drive on a national level.”

Patrick and Obama are both friends and political allies.

The two share Chicago roots and political advisers, including Axelrod and David Plouffe, both of whom helped Patrick win his first bid for office in 2006. After Obama attended a series of inaugural balls on his first day as president, Patrick was among those invited back to the White House at 2 a.m. for coffee and dessert.

The two also had time to chat last weekend.

Patrick attended a Friday meeting in Washington with other Democratic governors and Obama as part of the National Governor’s Association winter meeting. He also attended a Sunday night reception at the White House with the president and the first lady, followed by another meeting Monday of all governors and the president.

How high of a profile Patrick will have on the campaign trail is still being determined, though he appeared on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday as part of his Washington trip.

Obama is beginning to gear up for his re-election bid. Axelrod has left the White House to become Obama’s chief strategist in the campaign.

And the Democratic National Committee has selected Charlotte, N.C., for its 2012 convention, a signal that Obama will vie for the conservative-leaning states that helped him win the White House in 2008.

Not everyone sees Patrick’s story as a winner on the campaign trail.

Taxes have gone up under Patrick, said Massachusetts Republican Party Executive Director Nate Little. He also pointed to Patrick’s appearance at a recent pro-union rally and the administration’s decision to use tax dollars to support a solar energy company that ended up shipping jobs to China.