Facing criticism for out-of-state travel, Patrick drops by State House press gallery.

Governor Deval Patrick, who has been criticized by Republicans for his out-of-state political travel, dropped by the State House press gallery today, insisting he is fully engaged in the business of governing.

The rare visit by the governor to the den of the Fourth Estate came after three days that saw him travel to New York City for a gay rights gala and to North Carolina and Virginia to campaign for President Obama.

Republicans had argued that Patrick should be spending more time in Massachusetts, helping to manage the crisis at the state drug lab, which could result in the release of hundreds of inmates. Today, Patrick shot back at his critics.

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“I’m glad they missed me,” he said, while sitting on the edge of a battered metal desk in the cluttered press room.

“I’m governor all the time,” Patrick continued. “I’m connected and involved and engaged all the time. And the folks who are playing politics with my doing the political part of my job, I guess I would ask them whether they are making time for their jobs. They should do theirs. I’m going to worry about mine.”

The governor has been traveling frequently this year, attending dozens of Democratic events from California to Minnesota to South Carolina. Along the way, he has spoken to activists and donors from across the country, hoping to fire them up on behalf of Obama’s reelection campaign.

Asked what prompted today’s visit with the State House press, Patrick said it had nothing to do with the criticism he has recieved from Republicans. He insisted he wanted to speak to the press “because I missed you,” he said to the assembled media. “That’s it.”

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