Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind. who has dipped his toes into the 2020 presidential race, defended his record, expressed support for the Green New Deal and sought to differentiate himself from his rivals for the Democratic nomination by pointing out the unique nature of his biography.
During an exclusive interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” the 37-year-old Democrat who recently eclipsed the number of donors needed to appear onstage during the Democratic National Committee’s first debates this summer, hinted that he’s likely to officially launch a campaign to be the next president soon.
“I know I’m the young face in this conversation, but not only do I have more years of government experience under my belt than the president, but I’ve got more years of executive government experience under my belt than the vice president,” Buttigieg, who was re-elected to a second term as mayor in 2015, told Wallace.
The millennial mayor, who served in Afghanistan with the Navy Reserves in 2014, explained his support for progressive ideas like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.
“What the Green New Deal gets right, is it recognizes that there’s also an economic opportunity. Retrofitting buildings means a huge amount of jobs for the building trades in this country,” he said, adding that the timetable to act is being set by “reality and science,” not Congress.
In terms of Medicare for All, Buttigieg carved out space for himself somewhat apart from at least one other candidate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, who has said there won’t be a role for private insurers in the future. “I think there will be a role for the private sector, but a very different one than what we have in the corporate system today,” he said, adding that even in the United Kingdom, which has nationalized health care, private insurers still play a role.
Buttigieg defended his record of fighting violent crime in South Bend, Ind., which has been challenging and has seen the city’s homicide rate fluctuate during his time as mayor, and took a swipe at President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
“The president’s promise is to turn back the clock, that we can somehow just go back to the 1950s, and it’s just not true,” Buttigieg said.
However, he offered a different take on Democrats’ ability to win back voters from the industrial Midwest who did not support Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“Some of them [Trump voters] voted to burn the house down because for years they saw that Democratic and Republican presidents produced economic and social policies that let them down,” Buttigieg, whose last name is pronounced “Buddha-judge,” said. “There are things that we can do to make sure that we succeed as these changes come especially in economically vulnerable communities like where I come from in the Midwest.”
In a 2020 Democratic field that includes potentially history-making candidates such as Joaquin Castro, who would be the first Latino president, Sen. Harris, who would be the first black female president, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who would be the second black male president — not to mention Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren a handful of other female candidates — Buttigieg said that he’s well-suited to address the urgent problems facing America now.
“There’s something happening right now, that calls for something completely different than what we’ve been seeing. Generationally different, regionally different, somebody with a different life story and a different background,” he told Fox News. “And to the surprise of many, including myself, this moment could be the only moment over the last 100 years or the next 100 years, when it’s appropriate for someone like me to be in this conversation.”
“More and more, people just want to know what your ideas are and whether they make any sense,” he added.