Deval Patrick appeared on Thursday's Today show to promote his new book but NBC's Matt Lauer wasted no time in prodding the Democratic governor of Massachusetts about making a run against Republican Senator Scott Brown as he pressed: "I know there's pressure on you right now. Some people want you to take on Scott Brown for the Senate seat in Massachusetts, once held by Ted Kennedy. Are you running?"
For his part Patrick initially ducked the question, insisting he had no interest in a Senate run but this didn't dissuade Lauer from forcing the issue as he repeatedly questioned him about taking on Brown, even asking if he would reconsider if pushed by the President himself: "You know, the Democrats want that seat back. You're very friendly with Barack Obama and if he walks up to you and says, 'Deval,' I think he calls you that as opposed to Governor, 'Deval I want you to run for that seat,' do you say no?
Patrick again denied he wanted to run for Senate, but after a brief discussion about his memoir, Lauer again returned to the question as he teased: "The main message of the book, it seems, Governor, is a message of hope and optimism. There's a guy, recently, wrote a book I think it was called The Audacity of Hope. He's president now."
The following are the relevant exchanges as they were aired on the April 21 Today show:
MATT LAUER: Born into poverty on Chicago's South Side, the Massachusetts governor is now considered one of the rising stars in the Democratic Party. He's written a new best-selling book about his journey called, A Reason to Believe: Lessons From an Improbable Life. Governor Patrick, good to have you, nice to see you.
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: I'm glad to be here. Thank you for having me.
LAUER: Before we talk about what's in the book, let me ask the question of why? Because it seems, in recent history, politicians who are seeking a higher office or national-
PATRICK: I know where this is going.
LAUER: -national exposure, they go out and they write a book.
PATRICK: Right, right.
LAUER: I mean there's a long list.
LAUER: I know there's pressure on you right now. Some people want you to take on Scott Brown for the Senate seat in Massachusetts-
PATRICK: Right, right, right.
LAUER: -once held by Ted Kennedy. Are you running?
LAUER: Is this the first shot in that?
PATRICK: No, you know it's so interesting. This is a, this is a new and fascinating experience for me, writing and now talking about a book, and everyone presumes, just as you say, that a sitting governor who writes a book is either preparing for a campaign or setting political scores. I am running for nothing. I have my second term.
LAUER: You have no interest in running? Are you saying that?
PATRICK: I have the job I want and worked hard for and work hard at.
LAUER: But you're gonna get a lot of pressure, Governor. I mean, you know, the Democrats want that seat back. You're very friendly with Barack Obama and if he walks up to you and says, "Deval," I think he calls you that as opposed to Governor, "Deval I want you to run for that seat," do you say no?
PATRICK: That conversation is not gonna happen and, and I've been very clear. I don't want to serve in the United States Senate. I respect the Senate, we have a lot of great Democrats who are interested in that, in that seat and we'll have a good race and, and put up a good candidate.
LAUER: The main message of the book, it seems, Governor, is a message of hope-
LAUER: -and optimism.
PATRICK: That's right.
LAUER: There's a guy, recently, wrote a book I think it was called The Audacity of Hope. He's president now.
PATRICK: There you go again.
LAUER: No interest, huh?
PATRICK: No, no thank you. I have, this is my first elective office. It was my first run for elective office. We're doing some really, really great things in Massachusetts. We're first in the nation in student achievement, health care coverage for our residents, clean energy initiatives, veteran services, we're growing jobs.
LAUER: Yeah health care is gonna be an enormous issue in the upcoming election.
LAUER: You gonna, gonna have an active part in that debate?
PATRICK: I will be very active in that. I think this is a values statement in Massachusetts. And nationally It's about health as a public good and the role of the government in helping people help themselves.
LAUER: Governor Deval Patrick. Nice to have you here.
PATRICK: It's great to be with you, thank you.
LAUER And the book is A Reason to Believe. And by the way, New York Times best seller. So congratulations on that.
PATRICK: Thank you.
—Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here