Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a latecomer to the Democratic presidential primary, touted his track record as a "bridge builder" in a televised interview Sunday and said his party should focus on "shared goals."
Patrick, 63, announced his candidacy in a video message Thursday. He had ruled out a run late last year.
Patrick told "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd that he was "really close ... a week or two from announcing a year ago," when his wife was diagnosed with uterine cancer on the "eve" of the announcement. He said she is now "cancer free."
Patrick served two terms as Massachusetts governor, from 2007 to 2015. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former Republican, is also considering a presidential bid. He, too, had flirted with running before ultimately ruling out a challenge.
Primary voting begins in less than three months. The Iowa caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 3, and the New Hampshire primary is Feb. 11.
Patrick said on "Meet the Press" that while he held "tremendous respect" for former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, he said his entry "isn't about them."
"I'm not trying to climb on top of them in order to do what I want to do, and what I think I can do. I think that I have a record of being a bridge builder, and I think that's pretty important at a time when not just the party in some respects, but the nation, is deeply divided," Patrick said.
Patrick said Democrats should be open to a wide range of policy ideas and pointed to the rancorous debate over reforming the nation's health care system.
"We have to keep our eye on our shared goals and not get so hardened around our means," he said. As for health care, "every single Democrat believes, and is committed to delivering quality affordable health care to every single American. Republican leadership are not." While there should be "robust debate about that," he said, "if you want to make a reform that lasts, then you have to make room for other points of view to accomplish that ambitious goal."
He said he prefers a reform with the "public option."
Patrick also said he would not discourage support from any super PACs that emerge to help fund his candidacy. He noted that his campaign needs to do "some catchup" in terms of fundraising, but said, "I think we've got to follow and find all sorts of above-board strategies to do that."
He told Todd he would not dissuade a super PAC from fundraising on his behalf. "I will say that I would like to see any contributions to such a PAC fully disclosed," Patrick said. "If there is going to be super PAC money that supports me, it should all be — the sources of that should be fully disclosed."