Mayor Pete Buttigieg Photo: AP

'Mayor Pete' joins 2020 Democratic presidential as face of new generation


Pete Buttigieg, the little-known Indiana mayor who has risen to prominence in the early stages of the 2020 Democratic presidential race, made his official campaign entrance Sunday by claiming the mantle of a youthful generation ready to reshape the country.

"I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern millennial mayor," he said to cheers of "Pete, Pete, Pete" from an audience assembled in a former Studebaker auto plant. "More than a little bold, at age 37, to seek the highest office in the land."

The South Bend mayor, a Rhodes scholar and Afghanistan War veteran who has been essentially campaigning since January, has joined a dozen-plus rivals vying to take on President Donald Trump.

"The forces of change in our country today are tectonic," he said. "Forces that help to explain what made this current presidency even possible. That's why, this time, it's not just about winning an election — it's about winning an era."

Buttigieg will return this week to Iowa and New Hampshire, which hold the nation's first nominating contests, to campaign as a full-fledged candidate now being taken more seriously.

Over the past few months, Buttigieg has appeared frequently on national TV news and talk shows and developed a strong social media following with his message that the country needs "a new generation of leadership."

Buttigieg's poll numbers have climbed. Some polls put him behind only Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who sought the party's nomination in 2016, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who has not yet said he's running.

Buttigieg's campaign has raised more than $7 million in the first three months of this year, a total eclipsed by Sanders' leading $18 million but more than Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

"Right now, it's pretty fun," Buttigieg told The Associated Press last month while visiting South Carolina , where he was met by larger-than-expected crowds.

His challenge is finding a way to sustain the momentum over the long term and avoiding becoming a "flavor-of-the-month" candidate. Scrutiny of his leadership in South Bend has increased, as has his criticism of Vice President Mike Pence , who was Indiana's governor when Buttigieg was in his first term as mayor.

Buttigieg would be the first openly gay nominee of a major presidential party; he married his husband, Chasten, last year. He would be the first mayor to go directly to the White House. And he would be the youngest person to become president, turning 39 the day before the next inauguration, on Jan. 20, 2021. Theodore Roosevelt was 42 when he took office, while John F. Kennedy was 43 and Bill Clinton 46.

The campaign kickoff speech echoed themes that have resonated with voters during Buttigieg's exploratory phase.

He talks often about how political decisions shape people's lives, including his own — from serving as a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve in 2014, to being able to marry his husband and to not having to worry about how to pay for his father's hospital bills after his father's death this year.

Buttigieg also says the best way for Democrats to defeat Trump may be to nominate a mayor experienced in helping to revive a Midwestern city once described as "dying," rather than a politician who has spent years "marinating" in Washington.

He has criticized Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," saying the way to move the country forward is not to look backward or cling to an old way of life.

"There's a myth being sold to industrial and rural communities: the myth that we can stop the clock and turn it back," he said in the kickoff speak. "It comes from people who think the only way to reach communities like ours is through resentment and nostalgia, selling an impossible promise of returning to a bygone era that was never as great as advertised to begin with."

South Bend, which neighbors the University of Notre Dame, was hit hard by the decline of manufacturing, dating to the 1963 closing of the Studebaker auto plant that costs thousands of residents their jobs.

The hulking, dilapidated factory loomed over the city for much of the past 60 years as what Buttigieg called a daily reminder of South Bend's city's past. Partially remodeled, it's now a mixed-use mixed-use technology center outside downtown — and the setting for Bettigieg's announcement.

The South Bend fire marshal's office said the rally drew over 4,500 inside and 1,500 outside. A steady stream of raindrops fell on speakers on the stage through the leaky roof.

"I like that he's young," said Tom Lacy, a 62-year-old retiree who came from Peoria, Illinois, for the event with his wife, Candy, on their 35th wedding anniversary. "He's so relatable. He doesn't seem like a politician to me." Lacy said: "The contrast between him and our current president is unbelievable."

Nausher Ahmad Sial, a 68-year-old developer from South Bend, said "we need to try new blood."

Sial, who came to the U.S. from Pakistan 35 years ago, said he has worked with Buttigieg on development projects in the city and described the mayor as a "very honest, very fair guy."

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

This guy is amazing. He speaks in complete sentences. I haven’t seen that in almost 2 1/2 years.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

He's a courageous, principled, intelligent, articulate man with clear objectives and a track history of improving people's lives. He's everything the current president is not. I hope he makes it to the top.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Smart guy, good values. I'll vote for him if he becomes the primary. I'm sure the right would throw a fit too if the first "first man" wasn't married to the first woman to become president, though they would probably also have a problem with that too.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

An interesting candidate. Seems to be on the level and able to actually communicate.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Seems to be on the level and able to actually communicate

Are you saying none of the other Dem candidates are actually able to communicate? Or are you saying Trump can't communicate? Don't tell me - Trump, right? lol

"I like that he's young," said Tom Lacy, a 62-year-old retiree who came from Peoria, Illinois, for the event with his wife, Candy, on their 35th wedding anniversary. "He's so relatable. He doesn't seem like a politician to me." Lacy said: "The contrast between him and our current president is unbelievable."

Trump seems like a politician? hahahahahaha

If the Dems are dumb enough to nominate this guy who basically supports AOC's New Green Deal, it's gonna be a total landslide for Trump. But being a white male, even a young one, it's gonna be hard for him to get the Dem nomination.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Interesting, but another guy who won’t make it to the WH. At this point, the only hope the Dems have of even coming close is Biden, but he doesn’t have that fire in his belly to run enthusiastically.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Mayor Pete says the New Green Deal is right on climate change. Even if it was, which it isn't, even if the U.S. went back to the Stone Age and stopped the burning of all fossil fuels and killed all the cows, China and India, the worst offenders, would continue to increase CO2 emissions.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

In addition to the New Green Deal Mayor Pete also supports a wealth tax ( ain't gonna work ), single payer health plan ( ain't gonna work ), amnesty for some illegals ( slap the faces of those who came legally! ), packing the Supreme Court, and getting rid of the Electoral College which allowed us to dodge the lethal bullet of Hillary Clinton. The guy is charming, though, and so is his husband, so, OK, let's elect him!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Anyway, Mayor Pete has no chance to become the nominee now that Eric "Russia, Russia, Russia" Swalwell has thrown his hat into the ring!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

No chance. If any of these lower tier white male candidates get popular, Hillary will re-emerge and take it away from them.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The guy is a smooth talker, way smoother than Obama. The media are fawning all over the guy. He's already polling third in Iowa and New Hampshire. If Michelle doesn't jump in, they may nominate him!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Everyone's going gaga over this guy but no one seems to talk about Andrew Yang. At least he has a unique platform that isn't like all the other candidates. The only Dems that stand out are Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang. Still wouldn't vote for either, but at least they aren't the typical schlock you'd get.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Seems like a decent guy

That being said, wake me in a year.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Let's see which methods the Trumpets use to disparage this candidate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites