The Briefing Room: Buttigieg Builds Momentum

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Since his town hall on CNN on March 10th, 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has been receiving a surge of attention from both the media and potential voters. Before his appearance on CNN, Buttigieg was a relatively obscure 2020 candidate with little name recognition, but in the time between his town hall and March 24th his campaign has raised at least 1.6 million dollars and secured a spot in the Democratic primary debates. In the past two weeks, Buttigieg has been interviewed on The View, Morning Joe, and Fox News and profiled in The Guardian, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The New York Times.

“Mayor Pete” as he is affectionately known by those in his town of South Bend, Indiana is more than just the youngest mayor South Bend has ever seen. Buttigieg is an Afghanistan veteran, Harvard graduate, and Rhodes scholar among many things. He is known for reviving a city that was considered to be dying when he first entered office at the age of 29. At the age of 37, Buttigieg would be the youngest president and is currently the first gay presidential candidate. President Obama once called him “the future of the Democratic Party.”

In a crowded field of Democratic candidates, Buttigieg stands out by appealing to young voters, being a religious candidate from a midwestern state, and by rallying his followers around a message of hope and excitement for the future rather than against Trump. As a millennial, Buttigieg often points out that his position as the youngest candidate allows him to prioritize the concerns of young people such as gun control and climate change. As he explained in an interview on Pod Save America, “We need different voices in the mix right now. Belonging to the generation as a Millenial… I do feel like I belong to the school shooting generation. I was in high school when Columbine happened. [I am part of] the generation that is going to be dealing with things like climate change for the rest of our lives. I think we need to be putting forward leaders and that includes the highest levels of U.S. politics.”

Buttigieg also stands apart from the crowd by being a progressive mayor from the midwest. In interviews, Buttigieg often brings up the fact that people in the midwest feel much of the rhetoric from liberal politicians forgets the midwest or is condescending towards the values of the people there. In an interview with Pod Save America, Buttigieg explained that he attributes the conservative drift of his home state of Indiana to liberal condescension among other factors. “There is a conservative drift and a lot of it is because of the stories that have been told. A lot of it is mistakes that were made on our side of the aisle, especially the condescension that I think has happened in a lot of how people in our party, especially from the coasts, address the interest or the values of people from the middle of the country.”

Furthermore, Mayor Pete offers an option for voters that is not usually seen in the Democratic primary: a religious democrat. He explained his views on religion during an interview on Morning Joe, “I think the time has come for more of a religious left to emerge in our country. Let’s let people know they’re not alone when they look at faith and think that it teaches us to reach out to others, to humble ourselves, to take care of the immigrant, the prisoner, and frankly, the sex worker.”

As far as policy goes, Pete Buttigieg offers a progressive platform. He supports universal background checks, a single-payer healthcare system, the Green New Deal, and pulling troops out of Afghanistan. He is also in support of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a federal non-discrimination amendment, and is a strong proponent of labor and union groups. When it comes to structural change, he is in favor of getting rid of the electoral college and adding more justices to the Supreme Court in a system that eliminates any chance of political bias on the court as a whole.

Currently, Buttigieg is only polling at one percent in nationwide polls. However, the recent money and momentum his campaign has received have led to him to expand his staff in preparation for a wider campaign. It is important to note that so far Pete Buttigieg has not officially announced his candidacy, and is currently only running an exploratory committee. However, he has hinted that the current momentum his campaign is receiving is pointing him in the direction of announcing sooner rather than later. As the campaign moves forward, voters can look forward to learning more about Pete Buttigieg in the Democratic primary debates.

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