Deval Patrick: ‘The character of the country is on the ballot right now’

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick believes the stakes are high in upcoming American elections — and is making the argument that the “character of the country” is on the line.

“When I think about the next election, whether it’s 2018 or 2020 or 2022, you know, folks say that the character of the candidate is always on the ballot; I think the character of the country is on the ballot right now,” Patrick, a potential Democratic contender in the 2020 presidential race, said in a televised edition of “The Axe Files,” airing Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on CNN.

Patrick described the 2018 midterm elections, in which Democrats are optimistic they will take control of the House but face uncertain outcomes in the Senate, as a chance to put into place “some real oversight” of President Donald Trump’s administration and characterized the 2020 presidential election as a chance to vote Trump out of the White House.

“I’d like to see this whole administration go. That’s what 2020 is about, and 2018 is about putting some real oversight in the administration in the meantime,” Patrick told CNN’s David Axelrod during an interview.

Despite his own opposition in the past to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Patrick was also critical of the President’s treatment of his Justice chief, who has become a target of frequent attacks from Trump.

“I think he’s being mishandled by his boss,” Patrick said when asked what he thinks of the fact that Sessions is in the crosshairs of the President.

Trump has publicly criticized Sessions over his decision to recuse himself from oversight of the Russia investigation and said during an interview with Fox News last month that his attorney general “never took control of the Justice Department.”

“I think if, you know, if he’s not in the position where either of them think they ought to be, then there are ways to honorably … deal with that than a public flogging.”

But Patrick was quick to point out his own “issues” with Sessions.

“My issues with Jeff Sessions go back to trying a voting rights case against him when I was at the Legal Defense Fund,” he said, adding, “his attitude about what constitutes fair access to the ballot, about what it means to be a full and enfranchised citizen of the United States, are as antiquated as they come.”