Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially announces 2020 presidential bid
The walls of the Studebaker building in South Bend — once filled with the sounds of factory employees at work — echoed with the cheers of supporters as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced his bid for presidency Sunday afternoon.
“My name is Pete Buttigieg,” he said. “They call me Mayor Pete. I am a proud son of South Bend, Indiana. And I am running for president of the United States.”
The crowd responded with over one minute of applause, drowning out the sound of the rain on the tin roof.
Buttigieg recognized the symbolic nature of the location, and spoke on what it has transformed into under his leadership, using the Studebaker building as a representation for the city of South Bend as a whole.
“I ran for mayor in 2011 knowing that nothing like Studebaker would ever come back,” he said. “But believing that we would [come back], our city would, if we had the courage to reimagine our future. And now I can confidently say — South Bend is back.
“You and I stand now in a building that was a symbol of our city’s decline, where new jobs are being created in industries that didn’t even exist when they poured this concrete and laid this brick,” Buttigieg said.
The candidate acknowledged that some might consider running for president at his objectively young age as being daring.
“I recognize the audacity of doing this as a midwestern, millennial mayor,” Buttigieg said. “[It’s] more than a little bold at the age of 37 to seek the highest office in the land.”
Buttigieg described the values guiding his presidential campaign as “simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker.” He said these values are “freedom, security and democracy.”
Buttigieg defined freedom as the ability of an individual to choose the life they want to live and advocated the ability of government to both provide and deny that freedom to its citizens.
“Take it from Chasten and me — you’re not free if your county clerk gets to tell you who you ought to marry because of their political and religious beliefs,” he said. “The chance to live a life of your choosing, in keeping with your values, that is freedom in its richest sense. We know that good government secures freedom just as much as bad government denies it.”
On security, Buttigieg said it extends beyond just one political party — and beyond border security that was debated in 2016. Buttigieg addressed these concerns and the policy that has emerged from them, denouncing policies such as the separation of families at the southern border.
“The idea that security and patriotism belong to one political party needs to end today,” he said. “We are here to say that there is a lot more to safety and security than putting up a wall from sea to shining sea. To those in charge of our board of policy, I want to make this clear: The greatest nation in the world should have nothing to fear from children feeling violence, and even more more importantly, children fleeing violence should have nothing to fear from the greatest country in the world.”
Buttigieg added that security extends beyond military and border security, but rather applies to climate change, which he called the “greatest security issue of our time.”
“Our economy is on the line, our future is on the line, lives are on the line,” he said. “Let’s call it this what it is — climate security, a life and death issue for our generation.”
On democracy, Buttigieg cited the current state of the electoral college as being detrimental to American democracy and expressed his desire to implement a popular vote system.
“We can’t say it’s much of a democracy when twice in my lifetime the electoral college has overruled the American people,” Buttigieg said. “Let’s make it easier to register to vote, let’s make our districts fair, let’s make our courts less political, our structures more inclusive and yes, let’s pick our president by counting up all the ballots and giving it to the woman or man who got the most votes.”
The changing nature of politics is not lost on Buttigieg. He spoke on America’s focus on Donald Trump’s White House and Washington, D.C., in general and said he wants to change the dialogue from criticism of government to a message of hope for the future.
“When something is grotesque, it is hard to look away, and the horror show in Washington is mesmerizing,” Buttigieg said. “It’s all-consuming, but starting today, we are going to change the channel.”
Buttigieg used portions of Trump’s campaign slogan recognizing America’s greatness but said he wants to move forward instead of trying to relive the past.
“I do believe in American greatness,” Buttigieg said. “I believe in American values, and I believe that we can guide this country and one another to a better place. After all, running for office is an act of hope. … It will take courage to move on from our past. We are not going back.”
Buttigieg addressed the idealistic nature of his campaign and acknowledged the courage of past leaders and Americans who helped build the country, forming his view on optimism to be rooted in history.
“We stand on the shoulders of optimistic women and men,” he said. “Women and men who knew that optimism is not a lack of knowledge. It is a source of courage.”
Buttigieg ended his announcement speech with a call to action for his supporters.
“So with hope in our hearts and with fire in our bellies, let’s get to work and let’s make history,” Buttigieg said.
As the speech ended, Buttigieg embraced his husband Chasten, and they left the stage to a sea of applause as Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Up Around the Bend” reverberated from the factory walls. With that, Buttigieg’s presidential campaign officially began.