Maltese-American Pete Buttigieg, current mayor for the city of South Bend, Indiana, announced Wednesday that he will be joining the 2020 race for the United States presidency.
After announcing in December that he would not seek a third term as mayor, he said that he was setting up an exploratory committee for president. This is a legal mechanism allowing him to raise and spend money on behalf of his campaign.
His father had originally moved to the USA to read for a PHD.
At just 37 years old, he is the youngest entrant so far in the presidential race.
“I belong to a generation that is stepping forward right now. We’re the generation that lived through school shootings, that served in the wars after 9/11, and we’re the generation that stands to be the first to make less than our parents unless we do something different,” he said in his announcement video.
“We can’t just polish off a system so broken. It is a season for boldness and a focus on the future.”
Buttigieg is a former Rhodes scholar and Afghanistan veteran, and married his husband last summer.
He ran unsuccessfully for chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2017.
He took office as mayor in an industrial Midwest town which had been decimated by economic changes that ruined much of the city’s financial base, and he worked to draw in new residents and businesses, diversify the economy and clean up blighted, abandoned homes.
“When I arrived in office at the beginning of this decade, the national press said that our city was dying,” he said in his video. “People on the outside didn’t believe our city had a future.”
“We propelled our city’s comeback by taking our eyes off the rearview mirror, being honest about change, and insisting on a better future,” he said, suggesting that he would be able to force similar transformations at the national level.
He did not reveal much in terms of policy in his entry announcement, although he cited consumer protections, racial and social justice, cyber- and other security threats, climate change and freedom from interference by hostile foreign powers as some of the problems for which he would seek solutions.
In a 2018 interview with the Rolling Stone magazine, the interviewer was seemingly taken aback to hear that he does not wake up in the morning thinking “how can I be the best gay mayor today?”.
When asked about the Democrat’s identity politics, he insisted that he finds it frustrating when a framework is imposed on him that asks him to represent a part of his identity rather than his ideas.
“A lot of times during the DNC [chair] race, I would joke that as the left-handed, red-state, Oxford-educated, Maltese-American military veteran in the race — well, if I tried to understand my place in the world strictly through identity, it would be pretty confusing for me, not to mention for others. And pretty hard for others to identify with too.”
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