Pete Buttigieg is making Republicans nervous: Today’s talker
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, officially announced on Sunday he’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
The GOP seems bothered by Buttigieg
By Suzette Hackney
Well, it’s official. Finally.
Indiana’s homegrown millennial wunderkind Pete Buttigieg is running for president. And while I don’t anticipate a cakewalk campaign for him, Buttigieg certainly has captured the attention of political pundits, the media and Democrats hungry for a fresh, formidable candidate willing to make a real run at the White House.
Buttigieg officially entered the crowded 2020 presidential race Sunday, sharing the moment with thousands of Hoosiers and national media who crowded into Studebaker Building 84, a former South Bend auto plant. There hasn’t been this much buzz around Indiana since Sunday alcohol sales became legal last year.
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Buttigieg’s meteoric rise in popularity and in the polls has also caught the attention of the Indiana GOP. I won’t say the party is running scared — at least I won’t say that yet. But if social media activity is any indication, Indiana’s Republican leaders are at a minimum bothered by Buttigieg.
Mayor Pete, as he’s called by those too insecure to try to pronounce his last name, got into a very public tiff with Vice President Mike Pence about religion and homosexuality — one that played out over the past week with both men defending their beliefs.
Maybe that feud fueled the ire among Hoosier Republicans, who have taken to Twitter to denounce Buttigieg’s record as mayor of South Bend.
Consider these tweets by the Indiana GOP, even before Buttigieg officially announced his intentions to run for president:
“Looking for ‘one of the most dangerous cities in the United States?’ That’s Pete Buttigieg’s South Bend (something you don’t hear him mention on the campaign trail),” tweeted Indiana GOP.
Social media aside, Indiana GOP released a statement calling Buttigieg’s choice of announcement location ironic. The auto plant is undergoing renovations because of an economic development partnership between Pence and Buttigieg when Pence was Indiana’s governor. Buttigieg originally planned to host Sunday’s event outdoors, but inclement weather forced the raucous gathering inside.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg with his husband Chasten Buttigieg in South Bend, Indiana, on April 14, 2019. (Photo: Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images)
“Buttigieg might be earning headlines for his mean-spirited attacks against our vice president in this who’s-the-most-liberal Democratic primary contest, but we know the truth,” said Kyle Hupfer, chairman of the Indiana Republican Party. “This Sunday’s announcement — and the very venue housing it — wouldn’t be possible without Mike Pence.”
And while Buttiegieg was making his announcement Sunday, the hostile tweets continued:
“No amount of mudslinging, unhinged political rhetoric or time rubbing elbows with coastal liberal elite will hide the facts of Pete Buttigieg failed tenure as mayor of South Bend. If he can’t effectively run a city of barely 100K how is he supposed to lead a nation of 300M+?” And, “Hoosiers know the truth about Pete Buttigieg: He’s bad for South Bend … and he’s wrong for America.”
Not to be outdone, the Republican National Committee tweeted some shade on Sunday, as well:
“Today, 2020 Democrat Pete Buttigieg is making a special announcement in South Bend, Ind. Buttigieg’s defense of the costly Green New Deal and calls to abolish the Electoral College show that he’s just another out-of-touch Democrat embracing far-left policies.”
I don’t believe for a second that the GOP is only defending Pence’s honor. Buttigieg is young, openly gay and confident that those traits will appeal to voters. He’s an intelligent and affable guy, one whose attributes play well in this bitter political climate. His leadership style has repeatedly been described as visionary.
In other words, he could be a real political threat.
For now, Buttigieg’s popularity is being propelled by personality as opposed to policy. He has yet to reveal any comprehensive proposals or campaign promises. Then again, he’s only become an official candidate on Sunday.
I can only imagine what the GOP has in store for him.
Suzette Hackney is a columnist at The Indianapolis Star, where this column first appeared. You can follow her on Twitter: @suzyscribe.
Bigger car 2020 (Photo: Christopher Weyant/The Boston Globe/PoliticalCartoons.com)
What others are saying
Julian Zelizer, CNN.com: “Pete Buttigieg is appealing to many Democrats because he represents a shift back toward this pre-Trump American character. The mayor is intelligent and thoughtful in contrast to the bombast and bluster coming out of the White House. He seems to believe in rational problem-solving and deliberation, not ongoing Twitter rants and attacks. He comes from a new generation and the very fact that his candidacy is real represents huge steps forward that the nation has taken on basic social issues.”
Rob Smith, FoxNews.com: “The left has branded Vice President Mike Pence as the No. 1 enemy of gays and lesbians, so Buttigieg needs to show he can take Pence on, regardless of the cordial and respectful relationship they shared as Indiana politicians of different parties.”
Molly Roberts, The Washington Post: “Buttigieg-mania isn’t really a thing, and that’s not only because it’s a mouthful: It’s because Buttigieg is appealing not for being larger than life, but for being regular-sized. That’s refreshing in an era where, as Buttigieg himself pointed out, one nominee in the last presidential election put ‘I’m with her’ on campaign buttons and the other was Donald Trump. Refreshing, too, is Buttigieg’s insistence on Democrats developing a ‘vocabulary’ that redefines high-level values such as ‘freedom,’ as well as his focus on reshaping democracy with a larger Supreme Court and an end to the electoral college.”
What our readers are saying
The obstacles Mayor Pete Buttigieg faces, like his record in South Bend or his lack of policy specifics, are just opportunities. He’s a really good consideration for Democrats. I have been to town halls of his and watched various speeches. Buttigieg is the first person in a long time to be the real deal.
— Lois Halbert
Buttigieg plays to identity politics, throws around feel-good buzz words and is evasive on policy specifics. His focus is on the horse race, rather than ideology. We’ve been there, done that.
— Paul Thiel
Keep taking the middle road, Pete. We don’t need another far-left candidate. I do want to hear more policy information from you, though.
— Ann Hill
With all of the other Democrats slinging hatred at President Donald Trump, Buttigieg has distinguished himself by slinging hatred at Vice President Mike Pence. That will work until some of the others catch on and join in.
— José Folenchez
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