Pete Buttigieg formally announces 2020 presidential run

 

Pete Buttigieg is officially running for president. He kicked off his 2020 campaign for the Democratic nomination on Sunday after spending weeks touring early primary states and raising his media profile.

The 37-year-old, who is both openly gay and strongly Christian, made the announcement from an old Studebaker factory in South Bend, Indiana, where he has served as mayor since 2012.

“It is time to walk away from the politics of the past and toward something totally different,” Buttigieg told the crowd. “My name is Pete Buttigieg. They call me ‘Mayor Pete.’ I am a proud son of South Bend, Indiana. And I am running for president of the United States.”

Buttigieg’s religious and LGBTQ identity has already helped him to stand out in the expanding field of Democratic contenders. The Midwestern military veteran also speaks seven foreign languages, earned himself a Rhodes Scholarship and knows his way around the guitar, harmonica and piano. (Once, he played with singer-songwriter Ben Folds.) His husband, Chasten Buttigieg, whom he married in 2018, is a very online 29-year-old taking a break from teaching junior high school to follow the campaign trail.

If elected president, “Mayor Pete” would be the first openly gay person and first millennial to take over the Oval Office.

“We live in a moment that compels us each to act,” Buttigieg said Sunday. “The forces changing our country today are tectonic. ... That’s why this time it’s not just about winning an election; it’s about winning an era.”

Last year, Buttigieg was a virtual unknown, still teaching people how to pronounce his last name (somewhere between BOOT-edge-edge and BUDDHA-judge). But recent polling indicates his popularity is on the rise in the key caucus state of Iowa: A Monmouth poll released Thursday put him just behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to officially announce his candidacy, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Buttigieg’s campaign reported that it had raised a whopping $7 million over the first quarter of 2019. 

As of Friday, Buttigieg’s campaign website had no “issues” section, focusing instead on the candidate’s personal story. In other forums, he has expressed support for several progressive causes, backing a single-payer health care system, criticizing the Electoral College and the death penalty, and generally appearing to favor a Green New Deal

Buttigieg has sparked controversy among conservatives for calling out Vice President Mike Pence, a famously devout Christian, for failing to weigh in on President Donald Trump’s personal misconduct. As long as Pence looks the other way on Trump’s behavior while opposing same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ rights, the former Indiana governor’s moral authority is diminished, Buttigieg has argued. He has also admonished evangelical Christians for the “unbelievable hypocrisy” of their support for the president.

Conservatives have responded by framing Buttigieg’s criticisms as attacks on religious freedom.

The candidate disputes that characterization. Appearing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Friday morning, Buttigieg said, “I don’t have a problem with religion. I’m religious, too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people, especially the LGBTQ community.”

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Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg
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Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23: Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigeig speaks during a news conference January 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Buttigeig held a news conference to announce that he is forming an exploratory committee to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 547 -- Pictured: (l-r) South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg during an interview with host Seth Meyers on June 22, 2017 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, center, speaks with attendees during a campaign stop in Ankeny, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. A flurry of proposals to slap new taxes on the ultra-wealthy, extend Medicare to all Americans and make college debt-free reflect a rapidly changing Democratic Party that sees a sharp left turn as the path to defeating President Donald Trump. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, speaks during a campaign stop in Ankeny, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. A flurry of proposals to slap new taxes on the ultra-wealthy, extend Medicare to all Americans and make college debt-free reflect a rapidly changing Democratic Party that sees a sharp left turn as the path to defeating President Donald Trump. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
THE VIEW - Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg visits ABC's 'The View' on Thursday, January 31, 2019. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 noon, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images) JOY BEHAR, PETER BUTTIGIEG, SUNNY HOSTIN
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is exploring a Presidential candidacy speaks at the University of Chicago on February 13, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Joshua Lott / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 14: 32nd Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is seen arriving at 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert' at the Ed Sullivan Theater on February 14, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 09: Pete Buttigieg speaks onstage at Conversations About America's Future: Mayor Pete Buttigieg during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater on March 8, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 13: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Pete Buttigieg during Thursday's February 14, 2019 show. (Photo by Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images)
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