By Brian C. Mooney, Globe Staff
DENVER -- Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick today offered some mild criticism of his predecessor when asked to comment on Mitt Romney's prospects to be chosen Republican John McCain's running mate.
"I think that Romney is a fine man, and he's always been decent to me, but I have a very serious concern and I think the people of Massachusetts had about his engagement in the job of governor of Massachusetts," Patrick told reporters after addressing the Bay State delegation at a breakfast gathering at its hotel outside Denver.
"He spent, what was it, almost 300 days of the last year of his office out of state, and it was indicative of how little attention he was paying to us, and we've got some serious challenges. But let's just see what John McCain does."
Patrick, however, said he was reluctant to be too critical and said it's more important that the Democratic Party focus more on "offering the American people a more positive vision of the future" than ripping the Republican Party.
Romney, the Globe calculated shortly before he left office, actually spent all or part of 219 days outside of Massachusetts during 2006, his last year in office. Romney was vigorously exploring his presidential prospects, in part as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
UPDATE: Barney Keller, spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Party, responded: "Is he trying to be deliberately funny by criticizing a Governor for being out of state while he's in Colorado? When was the last time Governor Patrick was in the statehouse? Maybe's he's trying to divert attention from the fact that his administration added nearly 2,000 new state jobs this year. We'll note these comments for when he goes on his 'nationwide book-signing tour. ' "
Romney, who has been an active surrogate and fundraiser for McCain since dropping out of the GOP contest earlier this year, is scheduled to be in Denver on Tuesday as part of the Republicans' local response-rebuttal to the Democrats' proceedings.
Patrick, who will address the convention Tuesday night, said his remarks will be about redeeming the American story and the American dream, which he described as being "at risk" in today's global environment.
"I've got some butterflies," Patrick told reporters. He said this is the first party convention he has attended as a participant. In 2000, he was in Los Angeles for the Democratic gathering, not as a delegate and mostly attending parties, he said.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.