The first in a series of spin room interviews following this weekend’s debates.

MANCHESTER, N.H., 10:15 a.m. — Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat and an African-American, said he knows what Senator Barack Obama is going through.

“When I ran for governor of Massachusetts, a state with a very small African-American population, there were people who said about me many of the same things they’re saying about Senator Obama,” Patrick told reporters after the debates Saturday night. “He can’t win, he’s not electable, … he’s not part of the Democratic establishment, it’s not his turn. I got that a lot.”

But in the spin room, Patrick, 51, offered an answer to those complaints.

“One of the things I said to the people of Massachusetts, I say now, and I think Senator Obama is saying it to the people of America, ‘It’s not whose turn it is, it’s whose time it is’,” he said. And Patrick said he is “not surprised” that voters are beginning to agree with him.

“The challenges we’re facing are so profound, and the messages of hope and optimism and unity of purpose that Senator Obama is bringing are so timely that people are prepared to overlook all kinds of differences,” Patrick said.

“I think you saw that in Iowa in a big way,” he added, “and I think you’ll see it in New Hampshire as well.”

— Thomas Kaplan