South Bend (Ind.) Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the long-shot-turned-budding-star in the 2020 race for president, said Thursday that he will make a “special announcement” later this month in his hometown.
Buttigieg, who has yet to formally declare his candidacy for president and whose campaign remains in an exploratory phase, has seen his popularity surge in recent weeks and is threatening to upend the Democratic race. In a minutelong video posted on Twitter, Buttigieg said “it’s clear people want a new direction for America,” asking people to join him for a “special announcement” in South Bend.
“On Jan. 23, I launched a committee to consider running for president. Our first hurdle was simple,” he said in the video, which has a supercut of news anchors mispronouncing his name. “Now, so many more people know what we’re about.”
The video nods to his rising status and includes some of the viral moments from town halls and interviews that have helped propel Buttigieg out of the lower tier of the packed Democratic primary field.
“It’s not just about winning an election. It’s about winning an era,” Buttigieg said. “So, if you’re ready to make our politics more honest, to fix our democracy, to defend racial justice, to look to the future, to bring generations together, join us. April 14. South Bend.”
Earlier this week, the 37-year-old announced a $7 million fundraising haul in the first quarter of 2019, and just days before that, a national poll had him tied with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts progressive who was once expected to be a front-runner. Though he’s still considered a relative long shot, Buttigieg has been racking up followers on social media and drawing overflow crowds to his latest campaign events.
In an interview on “Good Morning America” on Thursday, Buttigieg demurred on elaborating what he would announce later this month, telling anchor George Stephanopoulos it’s “the kind of announcement you only get to make once.”
“You won’t make it here?” Stephanopoulos pushed.
“I’m looking forward to gathering as many people as want to be part of it in South Bend,” Buttigieg responded.
The openly gay mayor and Afghanistan veteran has made a name for himself in the race by portraying his candidacy as a potential generational changing of the guard, pushing back on the notion that executive experience as the leader of a small city isn’t transferable to the Oval Office.
On Thursday, he reiterated his belief that American voters are more liberal than Congress or the Democratic Party at large would indicate, contrasting the broad bipartisan support for things like universal background checks for gun purchases with the lack of action on the issue in Congress. He also responded to Republican attempts to use the word “socialism” as slur against Democrats, a line of attack on which President Donald Trump has relied in recent months.
“Folks want to know whether an idea is a good idea or not and slapping a label on it especially in a careless way that doesn’t make any sense, I don’t think it moves the debate,” Buttigieg said. “We’re at way too serious of a moment in the life of this country to be taken in by this attempt to basically cast a spell using a word to shut down debate.”
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine
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