Mayor Pete, as he’s known by supporters and critics alike, is still working his rhetorical magic on the campaign trail and continues to gain notoriety, though not at the same breakneck speed he first enjoyed. In a way, Buttigieg is concise and straightforward, something that his supporters say is his strongest trait. He’s not afraid to shy away from tough issues, though he usually frames them in a way that comes off somehow endearing whether you agree with him or not.
Those are fine qualities for a candidate, but what if they make you, as a candidate, too boring? A recent segment on the third-hour portion of the NBC Today Show asked that question specifically, according to the conservative Washington Free Beacon:
NBC Today co-host Craig Melvin said on Wednesday that he doesn’t predict South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg’s candidacy will go very far, calling him “kind of boring.”
“You don’t meet a lot of guys like Mayor Pete who last long on a national level, because, quite frankly, he’s kind of boring,” Melvin said during a panel discussion after playing a clip of his interview with Buttigieg in South Carolina.
“We’ve seen this from time to time in our politics, there’s a man or a woman who manages to capture our attention for and then they fizzle, they fade, they peter out,” Melvin said. “What’s different this time?”
“We are very mindful that vaulting into the top three is nice, but it doesn’t win you the election,” Buttigieg said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do now that is the glamorous on-the-ground blocking and tackling and organizing, especially in the early states, that really carries you through to the nomination. And that’s going to be our focus. I think we’ve established that this is not a flash in the pan.”
Some voters look at Buttigieg as the “anti-Trump.” His tempered, more reasoned approach to the issues seems to counteract the President’s loud, reactionary traits. Being the “anti-Trump” is different from simply being anti-Trump. Some publications have gone so far as to Buttigieg the leader of the “Anti-Trump Movement,” as reported in the Economist:
The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is the anti-Trump of the moment. A Harvard and Oxford graduate, he is a gifted musician, linguist and scholar. He is also unfailingly genial and, for a politician, almost bashful about his achievements. Given that his main claim to the presidency, which he only recently became old enough to occupy, is his experience running Indiana’s fourth biggest city, he might seem to have little choice. Even so, at a packed rally in Brooklyn this week, the gracious way he referred to his recent rise in the Democratic primary pack was refreshing.
Is being the “anti-Trump” candidate a quality that voters are seeking? Without a doubt, some Democrats certainly are, likely even many independents.
The real question to ask is whether being the boring candidate pays off in a race against Donald Trump? Time Magazine released a story on May 9, 2016, literally three years ago to this day, which explained how Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategy consisted of beating Trump through boredom:
In short, Americans like Hillary Clinton, the nerdy technocrat. They do not like Hillary Clinton, the candidate. So, Clinton’s advisers told her, stop acting like a candidate. Don’t wait for the seesaw to hit her. Just be a wonk.
And that’s what she gave her crowd on Monday. It was so boring that you could practically hear the muffins get crusty. A baby cried. A school-aged student swung his feet. Clinton looked attentive, listening carefully to voters who asked thoughtful questions about education, childcare costs and immigration. She squinted to show she was listening, her hand resting under her chin, taking in their concerns.
Despite Trump’s insults over the weekend accusing Clinton of enabling her husband’s antics with women, Clinton barely addressed the presumptive GOP nominee in her talk. When asked about equal pay, an issue she’s been discussing for years, she said, “I’m accused of playing the gender card and all that, and the fact is, it’s a real problem.” That was the hardest punch she threw.
Which brings us back to NBC Today co-host Craig Melvin’s comments about Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Melvin literally discounts Buttigieg’s entire presidential run based on his assessment that the mayor is boring and boring doesn’t win elections anymore.
On paper, Buttigieg is anything but boring, though his demeanor and calm personality about things fit the politically “boring” brand he’s selling.
Is Buttigieg too boring to be President? That’s for the Democratic primary voters to decide over the next 12 months.