I remember a story like this back in the early days of Beto O’Rourke’s doomed presidential candidacy. He hit the road and scheduled some events at college campuses, no doubt expecting that he’d build buzz by drawing huge, enthusiastic crowds of young liberals. Betomania lives again, the media would coo, citing his near-miss in the Texas Senate race. He’s doing it the old-fashioned way, speaking directly to the grassroots!

But the grass was already dying.

For Deval Patrick, it seems the grass is dead.

Morehouse isn’t any random school. It’s the most famous historically black college in the U.S., located in the purplish state of Georgia. Part of the reason Patrick jumped into the race belatedly is because the two black candidates who are already running have failed to dent Joe Biden’s support among black voters. Patrick evidently thought there might be some untapped demand there. An obvious place to demonstrate that would be an event at Morehouse, where ideally a packed house would greet him warmly and serve notice to the pundits that they’ve badly overestimated black voters’ satisfaction with the current Democratic field.

Instead he got a bunch of “yeesh” headlines today and early campaign obits.

WaPo sniffed around to see what happened and discovered that it was a late addition to his schedule:

Hemmings said that it was pulled together at the last minute. Patrick was not invited to speak at Morehouse until Tuesday, the eve of the fifth presidential primary debate. He had jumped into the race only five days earlier, positioning himself as a more palatable candidate for Democratic voters who feel like they must choose between the “nostalgia” of a pre-President Trump era and those of the liberal left.

The Globe reported that a campaign announcement had Patrick scheduled to meet with students and the editorial boards of local student newspapers at 7:45 p.m., an hour and 15 minutes before the primary debate began.

He only agreed to speak the night before the event was to be held — which turned out to be the same night students might reasonably be more focused on the Democratic debate — and somehow didn’t anticipate that there’d be a mostly empty room and resulting bad press to greet him. Yeesh again. One of Patrick’s problems in getting in so late has been the fact that most of the experienced Democratic campaign hands have already been snapped up by other candidates. If he had a better team around him, he probably have seen the risk here and dodged it.

He’s not the only longshot late entrant who’s made news today, though. Against all odds, despite his sky-high unfavorable numbers in various polls of Democratic voters, Mike Bloomberg is really going to do this:

Well … maybe:

It’s not just his own unlikability that’s stacked the deck against Bloomy. It’s the fact that Democratic voters were fine with the size of the field as it was, and might even have been looking forward to seeing it shrink a bit before he got in. A recent Monmouth poll found 74 percent content with the field versus just 16 percent who wanted more candidates. There’s just no demand for more choices, especially with solid fallback options like Klobuchar and Booker hanging around in case Dem voters decide they’re unhappy with the top tier.

But go back to that last tweet signaling that Bloomberg might be hesitating even now, after he’s officially filed. Why would he want to officially declare if he’s thinking he might not run after all? Answer: Because, as a political consultant friend explained to me today, official candidates are entitled by law to lower ad rates during the weeks running up to primaries and general elections. *If* Mike Bloomberg’s real goal in 2020 is to blitz Trump with a bombardment of negative ads, not to seriously run for president himself, he’ll save a bundle by running those ads under the auspices of a declared presidential candidacy instead of under a Super PAC or other outside group. Media outlets would have had every reason to soak private citizen Mike Bloomberg with exorbitant fees for airtime knowing that he has all the money in the world to spend. But they’re legally prohibited from soaking presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg. Voila — he’s a candidate now.

So maybe that’s Bloomy’s whole game here. He’s eager to see Trump lose in the general and/or to see Bernie and Warren lose in the primary and he realized he can get far more bang for his buck in running attack ads against them by officially declaring himself. He’s not running to win, he’s running to maximize his advantage in making sure others lose. Pretty shrewd.