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Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg ends presidential candidacy ahead of Super Tuesday

and | Sunday, March 1, 2020

Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, announced at the Century Center on Sunday night that he was dropping out of the presidential race

He discussed the necessity to support the eventual democratic nominee, his gratitude for his supporters and his vision for the future of America. 

“I urge everyone who supported me to continue with the cause,” Buttigieg said. “ … There is simply too much at stake to retreat to the sidelines at a time like this.”

Mary Bernard | The Observer

Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Century Center on Sunday night, where he officially announced an end to his 2020 presidential candidacy.

Buttigieg said suspending his campaign was the “responsible” thing to do.

While Buttigieg did not endorse another candidate during his speech on Sunday night, he is planning to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday, according to a report from Reuters.

“The truth is the path has narrowed to a close, for our candidacy if not for our cause,” he said. “ … We have a responsibility to consider the effect of remaining in this race any further. Our goal has always been to help unify America to defeat Donald Trump and win the era for our values. So we must recognize that at this point in the race the best way to keep faith with those goals and ideals is to step aside and help bring our country and party together.”

He thanked the citizens of South Bend, the Pete For America staff and the other candidates — those who have dropped out and those who remain. 

Chasten Buttigieg, Buttigieg’s husband, took the stage first — at times, fighting back tears. He remembered the moment Buttigieg first mentioned running for president and how their relationship grew. 

“After falling in love with Pete, Pete got me to believe in myself again,” he said. 

The atmosphere was mixed before the announcement, which an estimated 500 people attended. One woman, dressed in Pete For America apparel, was crying. Others hugged, comforting each other. 

But the mood was still hopeful.

Marty Kennedy, a Notre Dame sophomore and South Bend native, attended the announcement and saluted the city’s native son for his efforts.

“It’s a proud moment,” Kennedy said. “South Bend fought, South Bend showed up and South Bend won … it’s a moment people will look back on with hope and pride — in every sense of the word.”

Senior Andrew Jarocki, a registered Republican, attended the announcement. 

“There’s not a lot of candidates that I would come out for to see their goodbye or their thank you,” Jarocki said. “I thought Pete was a much-needed candidate to spice things up and add to the discourse.”

Despite his partisanship, he appreciated Buttigieg’s rhetoric, especially compared to the “vocabulary and vision” of President Donald Trump, Jarocki said. 

“Pete was definitely a breath of fresh air,” Jarocki said. “ … While I might not agree with it in some ways, at least he has a really bold vision and I appreciated that.”

Mara Trionfero Lucas, an assistant director at McWell, was also at the Century Center for the announcement. 

 “It was beautiful to see South Bend celebrate across the nation,” Trionfero Lucas said. 

She said she felt hopeful, but sad. Trionfero Lucas hoped the crowd showed Buttigieg the support the city had for him. 

“Wherever he goes next, we’ve got his back,” she said. 

Buttigieg won the Iowa caucuses earlier this month, and came in a close second to Senator Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary less than a week later.

However, Buttigieg has struggled to gain traction since then. He received 14.3% of the vote in the Nevada caucuses, good enough for a third place finish behind Sanders and former vice president Joe Biden, respectively. He attracted only 8.2% of the vote in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, behind Biden, Sanders and billionaire Tom Steyer.

The decision comes before 14 states hold their primaries on this week on Super Tuesday.

There was a palpable sense among the crowd that this campaign was just the start of Buttigieg’s career in national politics. During his speech, the crowd broke into chants of “2024! 2024!” in reference to the next presidential election cycle.

As he ended his speech, Buttigieg expressed hope for the country’s future.

“I firmly believe that in these years — in our time — we can and will make American life and politics more like what it could be,” he said. “Not just more wise and more prosperous but more equitable, more just and more decent.”

Buttigieg was the mayor of South Bend from 2012 to 2020. Mayor James Mueller took office Jan. 1 of this year. 

This report was updated at 3:08 p.m. on March 2.

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About Mary Bernard

Mary Bernard is a senior with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and is the Social Media Editor for The Observer, managing and overseeing all things audience engagement.

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About Tom Naatz

Tom is a senior at University of Notre Dame. He is majoring in Political Science and Spanish and is originally from Rockville, Maryland. Formerly The Observer's Notre Dame News Editor, he's now a proud columnist for the paper.

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