Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor from South Bend, Indiana, might seem like just another name on the long list of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. But following a CNN town hall—and a number of media appearances—Buttigieg has hit a new polling high. (Granted it’s four percent, but it is above more well-known candidates like Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar.)
Buttigieg, who would be the youngest president in history, is also a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, a multilingual Harvard graduate, a Rhodes Scholar, a former McKinsey employee, and, if elected, would become the first openly gay United States president in history. (He would also be the first openly gay presidential nominee for a major party, if he were to nab the Democratic spot.) In 2018, Politico said Buttigieg “could be the Democrats’ savior,” in 2014, The Washington Post labeled him “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of,” and in 2016, Barack Obama pointed him out as a Democrat to watch.
Here, ELLE.com breaks down where Buttigieg stands on the nine issues voters cared about most going into the midterm elections.
Because he’s running for the 2020 race, Buttigieg has been asked again and again how he feels about Medicare for all. His response? On Fox News, he explained he wants to put Medicare on the exchange as a public option. (He’s called it “Medicare for all who want it.”) This would not involve eliminating private insurance, but he has said the idea is that it would evolve into a single payer environment with most people choosing Medicare because it’s the best option available.
Buttigieg also told Esquire.com that he thinks “any politician who lets the phrase ‘Medicare for All’ escape their lips also has to have some account of how you get from point A to point B.”
In a recent interview with Stephen Colbert, Buttigieg said he believes, “If nothing changes economically, we’ll be the first generation to make less than our parents.” Buttigieg has said the Democratic party needs to be in conversation with labor unions and supports the economic opportunities presented in the Green New Deal.
He also told Esquire.com that he believes in “addressing or reversing harm and inequities” through policy, explaining that “in housing and criminal justice, to some extent in basic economic policies around wages and taxation, that some policy improvements that are also the right thing to do will have a disproportionate benefit to people of color.”
In 2017, the mayor told WSBT that he supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and a path to citizenship. More recently, in January, he told CBS he thinks sending troops to the U.S.-Mexico border is a waste of time for troops, and he’s also repeatedly said in interviews that, as a religious man, he believes religion teaches people to take care of others, including immigrants.
How Women Are Treated in the U.S.
Buttigieg is openly pro-choice and told MSNBC that, when it comes to late term abortion, he thinks “when a woman is in that situation … extremely difficult, painful, often medically serious situations where life or health of the mother is at stake, involvement of a male government official like me is not helpful.”
After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Buttigieg joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which supports comprehensive background checks and opposes guns in schools and permitless carrying. He’s also said, “90 percent of Americans and 80 percent of Republicans can believe in universal background checks, and it doesn’t happen–that means something in Washington is broken.”
And back in 2017, he tweeted, “I did not carry an assault weapon around a foreign country so I could come home and see them used to massacre my countrymen,” and later clarified, “If this came out wrong, forgive me. Just expressing one war vet’s hurt at seeing weapons of war used on peaceful Americans here at home.”
When asked about taxes on CBS, Buttigieg referred to a divisive idea from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has suggested we have a 70 percent marginal tax rate. He said, “We can quibble over marginal tax rate levels, but we know that a lot of people in this country are not paying their fair share. We know about Warren Buffet paying less percent of taxes than his secretary, and I think we know that’s wrong. There’s this talk about this being some crazy left-wing position, but I think the idea that some people aren’t paying their fair share, and we’ve got to change that, that’s something most Americans get.”
As someone who served as a naval reservist in Afghanistan, Buttigieg told Esquire.com that he left the Middle East “with more questions than answers.” He said “no one can explain how you can have a democracy and a Jewish state at the same time unless there’s a two-state solution” and believes anything we do abroad should be grounded in American interests, vetted against American values, and consulted on with American allies whenever possible.
Buttigieg also told MSNBC that he believes we need to apply diplomatic pressure, as well as sanctions, to North Korea to get them to halt their nuclear and missile program. And he told CBS that, in terms of Syria and Afghanistan, “endless war cannot continue” and that a president should not be conducting foreign policy through Twitter.
He continued, “We don’t send troops somewhere because we don’t like the regime. We send troops somewhere because it is the last resort to protect American lives. That’s got to be the threshold.”
Income and Wealth Distribution
Buttigieg supports increasing the minimum wage and retraining programs for workers as we move further into automation. He also told the podcast Pod Save America that he thinks it’s worth taking universal basic income seriously, saying, “It’s the right moment to have the conversation.”
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation
Since Buttigieg is a mayor and therefore not in the Senate, he was not able to publicly vote on whether he wanted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. While he doesn’t seemed to have spoken about the nomination too much, Buttigieg has called for Supreme Court reform. He told Fox News that we need to depoliticize the Supreme Court, with one option being expanding the Supreme Court to 15 justices with 10 appointed “in the political fashion” and five appointed by a unanimous agreement of the other 10 justices.
And one more thing…
Or a few more things. Buttigieg has made it clear that he believes climate change deserves crisis-level attention from the United States government and has spoken about the need for a federal Equality Act, which would make it so people cannot be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. During his Pod Save America interview, he also spoke about voting reform, including creating automatic voter registration, giving people the day off on Election Day, and allowing Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. to have a voice in the electoral process for presidency.