Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has officially announced his presidential bid. If elected, Buttigieg would be the youngest and first openly gay, president.
Buttigieg announced his presidential run to a standing room-only crowd, promising to bring the same change and innovation to the country that he instilled in South Bend.
“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,” said Buttigieg. “I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern millennial mayor. More than a little bold—at age 37—to seek the highest office in the land.”
Buttigieg’s supporters did not seem to mind his audacity—his announcement brought on a large cheer from the crowd.
While touting his successes as mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg also made a few jabs as President Trump and the state of politics in Washington.
“The horror show in Washington is mesmerizing, all-consuming,” said Buttigieg. “But starting today, we are going to change the channel. Sometimes a dark moment brings out the best in us, what is good in us, dare I say, what is great in us.”
Buttigieg spoke about his three-pronged campaign message that he has been promoting in key primary states Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. His message includes security, democracy and freedom.
“There is a myth being sold to industrial and rural communities: the myth that we can stop the clock and turn it back,” said Buttigieg. “It comes from people who think the only way to reach communities like ours is through resentment and nostalgia, selling an impossible promise of returning to a bygone era that was never as great as advertised to begin with.”
About security, Buttigieg said, “the idea that security and patriotism belong to one political party needs to end now,” and on democracy, “no issue we care about, from gun safety to immigration, from climate to education to paid family leave, will be handled well unless our democracy is in better shape.”
Buttigieg also emphasized that freedom is more than the size of government.
“Our conservative friends care about freedom, but only make it part of the journey. They only see ‘freedom from,’ freedom from taxes, freedom from regulation … as though government were the only thing that can make you unfree,” said Buttigieg. “But that’s not true. Your neighbor can make you unfree. Your cable company can make you unfree. There’s a lot more to your freedom than the size of your government.”
Previously, Buttigieg launched a presidential exploratory committee, which prompted heightened media coverage of his diverse background. Buttigieg attended Harvard and went on to become a Rhode Scholar before working for a short time as the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. He was elected as mayor of South Bend at age 29 and took a leave of absence during his first term to serve in Afghanistan. He came out as gay in a local newspaper column a few months before his re-election, won the election with nearly 80 percent of the vote and married his partner in a live-streamed church ceremony. He has since written a best-selling book about his experiences.
Buttigieg joins a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls with at least 14 major candidates and almost half a dozen who may still announce a bid for president.