(SOUTH BEND, Ind.) — Pete Buttigieg, the youthful mayor of South Bend, Indiana, whose presidential exploratory committee has attracted a surge of interest in recent weeks coinciding with a steady rise in the polls, teased an upcoming event in a video Thursday morning, prompting speculation he’ll soon officially announce his presidential candidacy.
In the video, emailed to supporters and posted to his social media channels, Buttigieg, 37, recounts his efforts to introduce himself and spread his message since his committee’s launch in late January before asking supporters to join him in South Bend on April 14.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) April 4, 2019
“We’ve listened as you’ve shared your stories and your ideas, your visions for our future and your expectations for your political future, and it’s clear people want a new direction for America,” Buttigieg says. “But it’s not just about winning an election, it’s about winning an era.”
The event’s announcement coincides with the mayor’s emergence from relative obscurity. He’s parlayed a string of high-profile interviews and appearances into a place among the upper-tier of candidates in the Democratic primary.
On the back of a well-received CNN town hall in March that elevated his status in insider circles, Buttigieg’s exploratory committee raised $7 million in the year’s first quarter, and a recent Quinnipiac University poll measured him at 4 percent support, tying him with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and outpacing high-profile names such as Sens. Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Prior to the launch of his exploratory committee in January, Buttigieg was perhaps best known outside of Indiana for an unsuccessful bid to be chair of the Democratic National Committee in early 2017. But even with that marginal notoriety, he has had to wholly introduce himself to the majority voters of in 2019, with Thursday’s video joking that his efforts have included pronunciation lessons.
“Our first hurdle was simple,” Buttigieg says, leading into a graphic of the phoenetic spelling of his last name (Boot-edge-edge) as clips of incorrect attempts to say it play in the background.
As part of Buttigieg’s pitch to voters, he has argued that as the second-term mayor of South Bend — Indiana’s fourth-largest city by population and the home to Notre Dame University — he has more political executive experience than both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had during the 2016 campaign. He has paired his pitch with the notion that American politics are due for a generational shift.
“We would be well-served if Washington started to look more like our best-run cities and towns,” Buttigieg said during the CNN town hall, a clip of which is included in Thursday’s video.
Additional interviews with Stephen Colbert and on “The Breakfast Club” radio show to start his campaign have led to increased awareness of the mayor, his personal life (Buttigieg is gay, knows multiple languages and speaks openly about his Christian faith) and his packed resume — prior to earning his Rhodes Scholarship, Buttigieg attended Harvard, and he worked as a consultant for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign before enlisting in the Navy Reserve, serving in Afghanistan and moving home to his native South Bend.
In his video, Buttigieg further outlines a few of the goals of his potential candidacy, seeking supporters who want to “make our politics more honest,” “fix our democracy,” “defend racial justice,” “look forward to the future” and “bring generations together.”
Later Thursday, Buttigieg will appear during the first hour of “Good Morning America” during which it is expected he will expand upon those ideas and address his growing popularity.
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