CHICAGO — Some polls have South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg have him in third or fourth place in the running for president in the 2020 election – a good start for a candidate who entered the race with low name recognition.
On Thursday, the 37-year-old Indiana mayor made a presidential campaign stop in at City Club in Chicago where he took the fight to President Donald Trump.
“Our environment needs to change,” he said. “I would say we need to change the channel from the show that we all have been watching and that’s my response to this presidency.”
The Democrat didn’t mention the president by name, but his critique was loud and clear.
"You don’t even get a presidency like this unless something’s wrong,” Buttigieg said. “A lot of people least where I live voted with their eyes wide open for a guy they didn’t much care for in order to send a message that they wanted to burn the house down. Which is also why any suggestion that our party’s message ought to be to promise a return to normal overlooks the extent to which normal hasn’t worked for a lot of people. Now what we’ve got now isn’t working either but that’s exactly why we’ve got to create a new normal.”
Buttigieg also took aim at Alabama’s new abortion ban — the strictest in the nation.
“To see in Alabama that if someone is raped and she seeks an abortion, the doctor who treats her will be penalized with a longer prison term than her rapist, makes me question whether the discussion about freedom in this country has gone off the rails,” he said.
Buttigieg, known as Mayor Pete, is a military veteran, a Rhodes Scholar and is openly gay. Before launching his presidential bid, he was not widely known in national politics. Buttigieg said his youth and background in local politics are both strengths.
“Yes, it is traditional to be marinated in Washington for a few more years before you step up for the presidency. We’re actually living in a moment that’s a season for local leadership. It’s a season for local leadership because that’s where things get done,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg has company in the election. Twenty-three Democrats have launched 2020 campaigns, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who entered the fray on Thursday.
It’s too early for the candidates to draw sharp contrast so Buttigieg politely welcomed De Blasio to the race.
“The more the merrier. And I do think this is a good moment for mayors to be stepping up,” he said.
Buttigieg is not new to Chicago. After college, he worked as a consult in the city and lived at Wabash Avenue and State Street. He is scheduled to hold a fundraiser in Boystown Thursday afternoon.