Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Buttigieg was an Army veteran when, in fact, he served in the Navy.
Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, in a speech in Palo Alto today (Feb. 14), pitched himself as an inclusive candidate and U.S. Navy veteran who wants to tackle gun reform, restructure the Supreme Court and create a health care plan that is accessible to all but not “forced” on anybody.
“This is not a moment to be leaning on the familiar playbook when we’re dealing with the most disruptive president in modern times,” said the 38-year-old former South Bend, Indiana mayor. “I also think we can do better than further divide a divided country. A vision that says the only options are to either be for the revolution or you must be for the status quo leaves most of us out.”
Buttigieg, who appears to have come in first in the Iowa caucuses and a close second in the New Hampshire primary, spoke to about 200 supporters in Palo Alto just two-and-a-half weeks before California’s Super Tuesday primary.
The standing room only audience at the University Club paid between $54 and $2,800 to hear him today.
He took questions from the audience including one asking for concrete examples of what he did as mayor of South Bend, Ind., to help the black community there and what he will do as president to improve the lives of their biracial grandchildren.
Buttigieg said he worked to invest in neglected black neighborhoods in South Bend that had been devastated economically by directing funding to save or remove dilapidated homes. He said he created an incubator for minority-owned businesses and saw unemployment, especially among black residents, fall as a result.
His local approach has “informed my idea of what we have to do nationally.”
He’s proposed a “21st century” Voting Rights Act to make voting more accessible, particularly for African Americans.
“Behind it all is a need for — and this is my personal commitment because I’ve seen in a state like mine that’s gone out of its way to make it harder to vote, with disproportionate disempowerment of black voters — the importance of a 21st century Voting Rights Act so that voter suppression cannot stand,” Buttigieg said.
He mentioned climate change several times. Asked about nuclear power, he said that the “biggest environmental threat we face is carbon” and that, while he has some concerns, “nuclear power, which is carbon free, belongs in the power portfolio. That said, advancing toward adding to our nuclear generation capacity is less attractive than developing new carbon-free sources.”
Another audience member, a man who said he immigrated to the United States from Pakistan more than 30 years ago, asked how Buttigieg would address what he described as the damage Trump has done to American foreign policy.
Buttigieg responded that Trump’s “‘America first’ approach … really amounts to ‘America alone’ at a time we can least afford to be alone.
“The world needs the U.S. right now more than ever but it can’t be any America. It’s gotta be America at our best. It’s gotta be an America that is authentically leading on issues of freedom and self-determination, human rights and democracy and climate — issues that are understood around the world to matter, even by people whose governments are sometimes hostile to us,” Buttigieg said. “It doesn’t work if our own president is echoing the vocabulary of dictators.”
— From a news media pool report