Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg released his first television ad in Iowa on Friday, debuting a spot that looks to bridge the divide inside the Democratic Party months out from the state’s caucuses.
The Buttigieg ad mimics his message on the campaign trail: his time as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has taught him it’s vital to bring people together.
“To meet these challenges and to defeat this president, we need real solutions, not more polarization,” Buttigieg says in the spot after acknowledging the needs to address climate change, rising health care costs and gun safety.
The ad – which Buttigieg’s campaign would only say is part of a “significant statewide buy” – also highlighted Buttigieg’s personal story as a mayor who took time away from his job to serve in Afghanistan.
“As a veteran, and as a mayor, I’ve seen what we can achieve when we have each other’s backs,” Buttigieg says. “But in today’s divided America, we’re at each other’s throats.”
The ad is noteworthy, in part, because it stresses the need for less polarization in the middle of the Democratic primary, a contest where the ability to drum up support from base Democratic voters – usually the most polarized group – is key.
But Buttigieg’s noting that he wants to stop Americans from being at each other’s throats also tracks with how he hopes to win in the Hawkeye State.
Buttigieg’s campaign is staffing up in the state and opening a series of offices this month. By the end of September, according to Buttigieg aides, the Iowa campaign will have 90 paid staffers in Iowa and 20 offices open.
While Buttigieg has spent considerable time drumming up support from reliably Democratic voters in the state’s bigger cities, he has also spent time campaigning in Iowa’s rural communities, including places that, after voting for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, backed Donald Trump in 2016.
Buttigieg told CNN in an interview last month that he believes farmers in Iowa – especially those who have been adversely affected by Trump’s trade war – could be a key source of support in 2020.
“Some people have voted Republican just as a matter of course for a very long time. Now that the Republican Party has abandoned them in its policies, there’s a huge opening for Democrats to get in and in particular, for someone like me to build the kind of coalition I need in order to win,” Buttigieg told CNN. “So many people I talk to in these rural communities don’t really think of themselves as political, don’t talk a lot in terms of party, but when you hear what they’re concerned about, it’s access to healthcare, it’s more investment in education, it’s putting an end to this trade war.”
He added: “It’s starting to add up into something that to me looks very much like our agenda.”
Buttigieg’s campaign believes the mayor’s ability to win over Trump supporters is key to his ability to win in Iowa and this ad reflects that belief.
The mayor closes the ad by saying he approves the message “because acting together to conquer these challenges is the only way forward.”