US election image copyrightReuters Pete Buttigieg, a little-known mayor of a modest-sized Midwest city, has become an unlikely rising star in the Democratic presidential field. In just a matter of a month, this year-old - who would be the youngest and the first openly gay US president - has transformed himself from long-shot to legitimate contender for the White House.
Speaking to an audience gathered to see him in Manchester, New Hampshire, he admits that his campaign has had a "really good few weeks". An improbable rise A month ago, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, somen a political afterthought in a Democratic field that seems to be expanding by the day. Obama campaign veteran David Axelrod raved that Buttigieg in his television appearance was "crisp, thoughtful and relatable".
Seth Mandel of the Washington Examiner said he is "calm, sane, Suth funny in a sea of sezy posers, and we should be able to appreciate that regardless of politics".
The mayor has trended upward in Democratic presidential preference polls since then, including a surprise third-place showing in a recent survey matur Iowa Democratic voters. His personal memoir, Shortest Way Home, has appeared twice on the New York Times hardcover non-fiction best-seller list, a feat not achieved by campaign books of any of his rivals. Who is 'Mayor Pete'?
Buttigieg's crowds have also been swelling at matyre public appearances. The Friday night event in Manchester had to be moved from a local brewpub to the city's art museum to accommodate a larger turnout - and even then, the venue reached capacity more than a half hour before the mayor was due to speak. Buttigieg has become the hot candidate of the moment.
On Womeb, in South Bend, he will formally announce the launch of his presidential campaign, probably before an enthusiastic and adoring crowd. In American politics, however, booms are frequently followed by busts and bubbles tend to eventually pop.
But even by modern political standards, the Indianan is an unconventional candidate - so perhaps the conventional rules won't apply to him. An untraditional candidate A city mayor's office Blg not a typical launching ground for a presidential campaign. No sitting mayor has ever done so, and few have thought to try.
A successful presidential bid requires money and visibility, Brnd historically a political profile limited to a single municipality hasn't allowed for either. That may be changing, however.
Buttigieg was first elected to the top job in South Bend, a post-industrial Indiana town best known for being the home of the University of Notre Dame, in November He won a comfortable re-election inand first gained some national prominence for an unsuccessful, yet well-received bid to chair the Democratic National Committee in With a relative paucity of political experience, "Mayor Pete" - as his supporters like to call him - is leaning heavily on his backstory to set him apart in the presidential field.
He was raised in South Bend, the son of two Notre Dame professors. His father, who died in January, emigrated from Malta in the s. The name Buttigieg, in Maltese, translates roughly to "lord of the poultry".
After his studies, he earned a six-figure salary in Chicago working for the international management consulting company McKinsey and Co, before returning to his home town to try his hand at politics. In he received a commission as an intelligence officer in the US Naval Reserve, and five years later - two years after being elected mayor of South Bend - he was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months.
He has a Midwesterner's plain-spokenness and, as a practising Episcopalian, regularly leavens his public remarks with Biblical quotes and allusions. We really loved Bernie Sanders, but it doesn't take too long before he starts talking about millionaires and billionaires.
A historic candidacy Then there is the one attribute that sets Buttigieg apart from the rest of this year's Democratic field - and from the rest of any presidential field in history, for that matter. Inshortly in the midst of his mayoral re-election campaign, Buttigieg announced in a column in the local newspaper that he is gay. Some say they're glad, at least for the moment, it has not been the top-line focus Benf his campaign.
Others put it high on their list of his positive attributes. As a presidential candidate, his proposals are a mix of ambitious governmental reform and incremental legislative advances. He wants to do away with the electoral college and have presidents chosen by a direct popular vote.
What is the US electoral college? He advocates universal healthcare, but is aligned with the more moderate Democratic candidates who want to do so through expanding current government-run health programmes, instead of scrapping the current system of private health insurance. He says the idea of free public college education - a big Bif line for Bernie Sanders - is a regressive use of tax dollars from the working class to support those who are already destined for higher incomes.
He's for the Green New Deal, but as a "concept" and a "framework" that emphasises the emergency the world faces.
He says conservatives talk about the value of freedom in the negative - freedom from government regulation, taxation and control. Democrats, he continues, have to advocate for "freedom to" - freedom to have quality health insurance, or union representation, or Bih choice abortion rightswhich government can help guarantee.
It's reminiscent, intentionally or not, of Franklin Roosevelt's four freedoms - freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear. The Millennial man All of Buttigieg's ideas and proposals are framed in the context of generational change.
As a Millennial, he is part of a cohort of Bigg who will have to deal with the consequences of decisions made now for decades to come. That, in particular, was a powerful message for Barbara and Emma Zaenglein, a mother and daughter who attended the Buttigieg magure in Manchester. They have a right to be at the table. The experience gap between Buttigieg and the rest of the Democratic field, comprised largely of current and former senators and governors, is real.
Buttigieg is only two years matrue than the Soutj age requirement for the role of president, as written into the US Constitution. As a high school pupil inhe won a national essay contest, writing about the courage of Bernie Sanders, who at the time was in his ninth year in the US House of Representatives. One can imagine some older Americans - perhaps even his opponents - muttering under their breath that Buttigieg is a typical Millennial - he gets an entry-level job in elective politics, and now he wants to run the whole place?
The mayor's counter is that he has more executive experience than the current occupant of the White House and more military experience than the past four. More than that, however, Buttigieg tries to present his youth and outsider status as a strength, not a weakness. He says he hasn't been "marinating" in Washington eomen decades. He doesn't have as many grey hairs as is customary for a presidential contender.
He comes from a small city but small-town values may be what the nation needs right now. When he tells the Manchester crowd that he's probably not how one would picture a president, a few shout back, "Yes, you are! Last week actor John Leguizamo suggested on Twitter that he hoped for a Democratic ticket with Buttigieg as the presidential nominee and Kamala Harris as his running mate, prompting a torrent of outraged replies ing thousands.
Bi is a sitting senator from the most populous state in the country, former attorney general of California and, before that, San Francisco's district attorney.
Why, they asked, should she take a back seat to a less-qualified male candidate? The same dynamic could play out with many of the other candidates in the race. Buttigieg was a Rhodes scholar? So was Cory Booker. He has local-politics mayoral experience?
So does Booker and Julian Castro - and they both governed larger cities. Buttigieg is super-smart with bold ideas?
Elizabeth Warren was a swxy at Harvard and seems to roll out a detailed new policy proposal every week. Who will take on Trump in ?