The anticipated announcement from Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, came today as the newcomer on the national scene formally moved from the exploratory phase and officially launched a presidential campaign. Buttigieg has garnered immense interest in the past month, rising in several polls of early primary states and bringing in $7 million for the first quarter of fundraising.
The announcement came earlier on Sunday afternoon from Buttigieg’s home town of South Bend, Indiana, as NBC News reports:
Touting the advances his native city made under his leadership — including a revitalized downtown and slashed unemployment — Buttigieg proclaimed that “South Bend is back.”
And he got in more than a few digs at President Donald Trump, telling the crowd that he was going to “tell a different story than ‘Make America Great Again.'”
“There is a myth being sold to industrial and rural communities: the myth that we can stop the clock and turn it back,” he said. “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.”
“The horror show in Washington is mesmerizing, all-consuming,” he added. “But starting today, we are going to change the channel. Sometimes a dark moment brings out the best in us, what is good in us, dare I say, what is great in us.”
Buttigieg unveiled the three-pronged campaign message that he’s been sharing in bars in living rooms in recent weeks in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina: Security (“the idea that security and patriotism belong to one political party needs to end now”) and democracy (“no issue we care about, from gun safety to immigration, from climate to education to paid family leave, will be handled well unless our democracy is in better shape.”)
“Our conservative friends care about freedom, but only make it part of the journey,” he said. “They only see ‘freedom from,’ freedom from taxes, freedom from regulation … as though government were the only thing that can make you unfree.
“But that’s not true. Your neighbor can make you unfree. Your cable company can make you unfree. There’s a lot more to your freedom than the size of your government.”
Buttigieg has been making news for several weeks now in the campaign in regards to fundraising, messaging, poll numbers, and a general sense that his candidacy is blazing a new lane within the 2020 Democratic field.
As we reported a few days back, his first quarter fundraising numbers were impressive for a candidate still building national name recognition.
Buttigieg also made news a few days ago when he attacked, seemingly out of nowhere, Vice President Mike Pence, for his views in opposition to same-sex marriage. The statements against Pence were clearly designed to elevate Buttigieg, and the mission was accomplished, as many news outlets took notice and liberal pundits gave him a slap on the back in appreciation.
Buttigieg will make his military service a central point of his campaign, especially with the backdrop of being the first major-party candidate who is openly gay, and openly married to his partner.
Really, though, can a mayor become President? For a big-city mayor, the deck may be stacked against jumping from City Hall to the White House. However, Buttigieg is from the heartland, from a deep-red state. South Bend is home to around 100,000 people. Not millions upon millions like New York or Chicago.
There was an interesting article from several years back which was discussing the possibility of a mayor becoming President. The basics of the story are that the Founders who wrote the Constitution were not fond of large urban areas, and the country as a whole saw mayors merely as managers, not guardians of the Republic. Governors seem to have a larger stature than mayors, despite having much of the same experience and similar backgrounds.
Buttigieg has his work cut out for him, and he’s still fighting an uphill battle. So far, his rollout has been well-executed and his political branding has been spot-on, as evidenced by his rise in the polls and general appeal across the various factions of Democratic voters.
Recent polling in Iowa has given him third place, with a similar story in New Hampshire.
Some media outlets are comparing Buttigieg to Obama in regard to style and delivery, and the fact that he’s heavier on selling himself as the story while staying light on policy specifics.
Here’s the full video of Buttigieg’s announcement from Sunday in South Bend, Indiana: