Patrick questions whether Christie is ready to be president

With speculation swirling about whether Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey will enter the presidential race, Governor Deval Patrick on Sunday previewed a line of attack Democrats could use against him.

The Massachusetts Democrat, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,’’ noted that Christie has been governor for just a year and a half – showing that he is relatively inexperienced. Patrick also pointed out that unemployment in New Jersey, at 9.4 percent, is higher than the national average of 9.1 percent. “He has unfinished work in New Jersey,’’ Patrick said.

Patrick is a close friend and supporter of President Obama’s, and is also trying to boost his own profile. Patrick appeared on “Meet the Press’’ with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Patrick used his appearance to promote Obama’s agenda –- and contrast it with that of the Republican presidential candidates.

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Asked about comments that Obama adviser David Axelrod made last week calling Obama’s reelection campaign a “titanic struggle,’’ Patrick said the president is not taking this election for granted. “I hope Democrats are nervous,’’ Patrick said. “It’s more consistent with how people are feeling in the nation.’’

Patrick tried to debunk the Republican claim that President Obama’s philosophy is about big government helping people. Rather, Patrick, the president’s platform is about “helping people help themselves.’’

Patrick said the Republican platform is about leaving people to fend for themselves. “At the end of the day, the American people will choose a partnership, which is about helping people help themselves,’’ he said. Patrick said the American Jobs Act, Obama’s $447 billion proposal for stimulating the economy through tax cuts and government spending, is only the latest manifestation of this.

Patrick said Obama’s attempts at stimulating the economy have been about funding education, innovation, and infrastructure. Regarding the Republican candidates’ views, Patrick said, “I don’t think this notion of cutting spending, shrinking government, crushing unions, and waiting is a strategy that’s going to get us anywhere.’’

Patrick warned that the consequences of inaction on jobs would be “dire’’ and would “reflect terribly on folks who say no to whatever the president puts forward.’’

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Both Patrick and Obama have campaigned for each other. This summer, the Patricks had dinner with the Obamas at Martha’s Vineyard. Patrick showed Sunday how he could be a valuable surrogate for Obama against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, should Romney win the Republican nomination.

While he never mentioned Romney by name, Patrick said Obama’s national overhaul of the health care system “is based on what we’ve been doing in Massachusetts the last five years.’’ The Massachusetts reform was signed into law by Romney, who has tried to claim that it is fundamentally different from Obama’s reform, which is anathema to Republicans.

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