Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick calls Julian Castro's attack on Joe Biden "unnecessary"

Deval Patrick on "unnecessary" Castro attack

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said he was put off by Julian Castro's attack on former Vice President Joe Biden during Thursday night's debate, saying he "groaned" while watching the events unfold. During a particularly tense exchange between the candidates on health care, Castro accused Biden of contradicting himself and asked whether the former vice president's memory was failing him.

"It was unnecessary," Patrick told "CBS This Morning" on Friday. "There are differences in how the candidates view their policy choices and their policy proposals and that is all fare game, but it doesn't have to be trivialized." Castro since defended his comment, saying he wasn't criticizing Biden's memory or age but rather his health care plan. 

Patrick, who now serves as a political contributor for CBS News, said that candidates should be able to voice their differences "the way we do in regular conversation with people we respect."

"What we have to do is project a politics that says we don't have to agree on everything before we work together on anything," he said.

That sense of divisiveness is exactly what led Patrick to bow out of joining the packed 2020 presidential field after being encouraged by several former Obama administration members to run. Patrick last year cited the potential of the "cruelty of our elections process" impacting himself and those around him as grounds for stepping aside. 

The Democrat said in his eyes, all candidates "had their moments." He said that Biden starting out the evening "really strong" but that the former VP tends to "take umbrage" when pressed on policy and challenged by his opponents. 

"He has such a long record it's obvious where he stands on a given policy issue and I think there's some sort of practice he has to get back into of just relaxing when he's challenged because that's part of it," Patrick said. 

As the candidates move onto work to get onto the fourth debate stage in October, Patrick says the Democratic 2020 hopefuls should not exclusively focus on President Trump. 

"[It] can't be the sole reason and objective of the Democratic party to unseat him," Patrick implored. "We have to start talking about what comes after a successful democratic campaign. What is our vision for how we serve not just the people who voted for Democrats but for everybody."

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    Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital