Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick on Sunday defended his work at Bain Capital, pushing back on criticism he would likely face if he seeks the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.
“I’m having a terrific time in this fund that we launched,” Patrick said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s a fund that invests in companies in order to drive social and environmental impact, and it’s part of this impact investing industry or trend. One of my partners describes … impact investing as the laboratory where capitalists work to reform capitalism.”
Bain Capital was co-founded by former Massachusetts GOP Gov. Mitt Romney, and the firm’s private equity work was the subject of major attacks against Romney during his 2012 presidential run. In his interview Sunday, Patrick discussed joining the firm after his tenure as governor and said he described himself as a “capitalist” but not a “market fundamentalist.”
“I’ve never taken a job where I’ve left my conscience at the door, and I haven’t started now,” Patrick said.
Patrick is one of dozens of Democrats considering a run for president. He’d be entering what’s certain to become a packed field and would be making his return to politics at a time when the party’s base is coalescing around a message that casts the wealthy and powerful interests as the enemy of progressive policies.
For Patrick, that would mean convincing Democratic voters that because he ran a social impact fund there, Bain Capital is actually a good resume line.
Patrick told CNN on Sunday that he was used to facing skepticism and said part of a potential campaign would be “to invite people to look past the first cartoon they see of me.”
“As a black man in lots of settings where I was not, quote, ‘supposed to be,’ you got to know that I’m accustomed to skepticism,” Patrick said. “And I understand that a lot of people in a lot of settings have a bad habit of looking first at the cartoon of somebody.”
Patrick said he would make a decision on 2020 “in due course” and called the discussion around his potential candidacy “touching.”
“It’s mind-blowing to have – to have people speak seriously to me and about me that way,” Patrick said.
During Sunday’s interview, Patrick also weighed in on a few issues that have found significant support within the Democratic Party.
He called Medicare for All “a terrific idea as a sort of shorthand” on how to get to universal coverage, which he said should be a goal of the party.
But he broke with many big name 2020 contenders by not calling for abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Patrick said instead there needs to be a major shift in immigration policy away from the Trump administration’s approach.
“We need somebody to do the job of ICE,” Patrick said. “Now whether we keep it in the name of ICE or give that assignment to some other agency with a different name is not as important to me. We need better policies.”
And he said impeaching President Donald Trump should not be “the first order of business” for Democrats in Congress, but “if the grounds are there, then we should proceed.”
CNN’s Eric Bradner contributed to this report.