South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Sunday that there is “energy for an outsider like me” in the 2020 presidential race even after the election of President Trump, who had never held public office before. “It doesn’t work with just any outsider — it matters what you care about and whether you’re committed to uniting, rather than dividing the American people as president,” Buttigieg added.
In an interview with CBS News’ Caitlin Huey-Burns, the 37-year-old mayor acknowledged he is an “unconventional” candidate, but “there’s a lot of frustration with the Washington way of doing business.”
Buttigieg spoke to CBS News during a weekend of campaigning in Iowa, which included a speech Friday night at one of the Democrats’ biggest events in Iowa, the Liberty & Justice Celebration. Buttigieg gave a rousing call for generational change, saying he is running “to launch the era that must come next” to loud applause.
A New York Times / Siena College poll released Friday of likely caucus goers in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation contest showed Buttigieg surging in the state to third place — ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden — with 18% support.
But Buttigieg attracted criticism this weekend after a clip from Showtime’s “The Circus” showed him saying he believed “this is getting to be a two-way” race between him and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Buttigieg walked that comment back Sunday, saying it “didn’t come out right,” although he added he “can’t remember the exact context for that.”
“Let’s be really clear: There are three months to go in Iowa, there’s a year to go before Election Day,” Buttigieg said. “And, there are formidable candidates — a lot of us — running and competing for this election. So, a lot of things can happen. But, what we are seeing is that the momentum behind our campaign is strong.”
Although the Democratic party is more diverse than ever, most of the top candidates are white. Buttigieg countered that narrative. Many of the candidates represent a “historic first,” he said, and the most important thing for the winning candidate is to put the best message forward.
“What’s really important right now is not just the diversity of the field, but the answers that we’re offering to the American people,” Buttigieg said. “That’s what the voters are going to make their decision based on.”
Caitlin Huey-Burns’ full interview with Mayor Pete Buttigieg will stream Monday morning on CBSN.