Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MILWAUKEE Governor Deval Patrick flew home yesterday on a 7:30 a.m. fight from Milwaukee, capping off the first phase of the sales tour promoting his new book, “A Reason to Believe.”
Starting April 12, the memoir’s official publication date, he visited New York, Washington, his native Chicago, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee, as well as Boston, Cambridge, South Hadley, and Great Barrington, Mass.
He was interviewed by Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” show, Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” Lawrence O’Donnell on his MSNBC program, Tavis Smiley at PBS, Diane Rehm of NPR, and Bill Maher on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
He also appeared on CNN.
In each location, the governor not only promoted his book, but held a signing to spur sales. Yet in reality, to describe what he does as a “signing” is to undersell it.
Unlike other authors who have publicity agents rifle books past them for a mere autograph and a “hey, how are you” perfunctory greeting, Patrick was prone to inscribe his memoir with personal messages and chat with the people who were buying it.
It underscored his pride in the tome.
On Saturday night, the governor looked exhausted after a 36-hour span that had seen him fly to California for his six-minute HBO appearance, and then back halfway across the country to address a Wisconsin Democratic dinner and hawk his book.
Nonetheless, he pronounced the experience “very new and fascinating.”
“Have you done this before?” he asked someone who had not.
“The presumption is that if you are a sitting governor and you are writing a book, it’s about a campaign for some other office, settling political scores, and people who like books by people in politics are looking for the political kiss-and-tell, and it’s not that sort of book, so you kind of got to work through all that.”
The most positive aspect, added Patrick, has been reconnecting with people from across the span of his 54 years, including the third- and seventh-grade teachers about whom he wrote, as well as the daughter of the man who first hired him to sell snow cones, in addition to college classmates, former corporate colleagues, and associates from his tenure in the Justice Department.
“I think that maybe the thing that in some ways has been the most touching is the number of parents and grandparents who tell me they are buying the book for their kids and their grandchildren,” he said.
The tour also gave Patrick a taste of the national media circuit and all its peculiarities.
He was first set to appear on “Today” on Monday, April 11, but he found himself bumped by a crush of weekend news including the latest news about Charlie Sheen and his post-sitcom speaking tour.
When he finally made it on, Lauer opened by peppering him with questions about whether he might challenge Republican Senator Scott Brown for reelection. His appearance also got bumped from the coveted 7-7:30 a.m. slot to the 8:30-9 a.m. block.
The “Daily Show” appearance was perhaps the most intriguing to Patrick and his staff, who jockeyed for the opportunity to accompany their boss on that trip.
“Of all of them, the one I was the most nervous about was Jon Stewart, but I had a ball. He’s really smart and quick,” the governor said.
Patrick was also overheard telling a guest at the Wisconsin dinner that Maher’s show was “crazy.” The governor passed up a chance to stay longer for an extended program on the web, content to get off the air with his dignity intact.
That show, he said, was broadcast live from the CBS studios in California, from the same stage where they used to shoot Jack Benny’s show and “All in the Family.”
“It’s been fascinating,” Patrick said before heading off for a late dinner Saturday night. “It’s a whole other world. I don’t want to be a pundit, that’s not my comfort zone, so sometimes it’s been a little odd to go on these things because of the book and then nobody asks about the book; they just want to ask about the news of the day. But it’s been fun.”
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.