SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Pete Buttigieg, the young, openly gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., made it official Sunday afternoon: He's running for president of the United States.
"It is time to walk away from the politics of the past and toward something totally different," Buttigieg told a crowd packed into an unheated old warehouse, rain dripping through holes in the roof. "That's why I'm here today."
The crowd broke into cheers: "Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete."
"I'm a proud son of South Bend, Ind.," he continued, "and I am running for president of the United States."
In a former Studebaker automobile building in downtown South Bend, the 37-year-old Rhodes scholar and veteran of the war in Afghanistan became the latest Democrat to join the crowded field for 2020. If he emerges from the increasingly crowded field of Democratic candidates, Buttigieg would become the first openly gay nominee from a major party.
Buttigieg, a two-term mayor of the city where he grew up, announced in January that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee. By the end of March, Buttigieg already had raised $7 million, an impressive sum that put him among the party's top fundraising candidates. He has been traveling to states that will be among the first to vote on the Democratic nominees during the opening months of 2020. His robust fundraising power also makes it likely he will qualify for the Democratic National Committee's debates this summer, which will be held in June and July.
On Sunday in soggy, cold South Bend, supporters packed the old, partially remodeled Studebaker building on the south edge of Indiana's fourth-largest city, chanting "Let's go, Pete!" People lined up in the rain to buy "Pete 2020" T-shirts, caps and buttons. For those who could not make it inside the warehouse, a large television screen with the logo "20 Pete 20" was set up in the parking lot. People in hooded coats huddled under colorful umbrellas to watch.
The setting for Buttigieg's announcement was perhaps fitting for the two-term mayor: He is credited with helping South Bend, an industrial hub and the former headquarters of the famous but now-defunct Studebaker automobile brand, reimagine itself and look to the future. Buttigieg's presidential announcement locale was also full of symbolism. While South Bend is known as the home of the University of Notre Dame, which technically is located just outside city limits, Buttigieg's presidential announcement was held in the Studebaker Building 84, near police headquarters, railroad tracks and the city's remodeled minor league baseball stadium.
Buttigieg married Chasten Glezman last summer. The couple live in South Bend with their two dogs, Truman and Buddy. Buttigieg served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and he served a tour in Afghanistan in 2014. His parents both worked at Notre Dame. Buttigieg graduated from Harvard.
Buttigieg said the first-quarter fundraising results were "way ahead" of the campaign's original goals, according to The Associated Press. He said 158,550 donors contributed, with an average contribution of about $36. Of the $7 million raised, 64% came from people donating $200 or less.
At 37 years old, Buttigieg is only a couple years older than the age requirement to be commander in chief, which is 35. He ran unsuccessfully in 2017 for chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
(c)2019 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.