CEDAR RAPIDS — Presidential candidate Democrat Pete Buttigieg touted his experience as a Midwestern millennial mayor to a group of Cedar Rapids voters Monday afternoon.
Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., said his experience in local government would translate well to the White House, also drawing comparisons between his city and similarly sized Cedar Rapids.
“I think when you’re a mayor of a city, really of any size, you have that on-the-ground, front-line government executive experience that’s so so relevant, understanding not just how to capably run an administration or establish good policies but also to bring people together and how to call people to their highest values when times get tough,” Buttigieg said in an interview with The Gazette. “To me that’s the essence of executive leadership.”
The Linn County Democrats held a meet-and-greet for Buttigieg at Dublin City Pub, the third stop on his Eastern Iowa tour Monday. He also met with voters at the Airliner in Iowa City and in Davenport.
Buttigieg is one of more than a dozen Democratic candidates vying for the 2020 nomination.
“I think when you have a field that’s really spread thin, I think that’s really good turf for newcomers and underdogs. I get that I’m both of those things,” Buttigieg told The Gazette. “I think I represent a very different messenger.”
Buttigieg said its important to have a “21st century message” about freedom, democracy and security, including cyber and climate security.
“I’m not going to come to Cedar Rapids and tell you about the importance of climate,” Buttigieg said, adding that he activated his city’s emergency operations center twice in 18 months for weather emergencies. “We’ve got some real security work to do, and we’ve got to take that seriously.”
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Doug Henderson, a 59-year-old Marion resident, said he recently moved to Iowa and attended Buttigieg’s meeting at the urging of friends in West Virginia who are supporters. Henderson said he felt like Buttigieg’s speech was “refreshing” and that his ideas and younger age would be a positive for the country.
Ella Bergen, 18, and her friend Ashley Schuttloffel, 17, both Cedar Rapids Washington students who attended the event, felt they aligned well with Buttigieg’s platform and appreciated that he’s a younger candidate — even being a high school student during Columbine.
“I feel like that’s something that our generation needs more of, and he is the kind of person that I think people my age need to be able to look up to,” Schuttloffel said.
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