Three former Obama administration officials are endorsing Pete Buttigieg for president, as the South Bend, Indiana, mayor continues to stress comparisons between his presidential run and that of Barack Obama’s.
Obama’s former special assistant and personal aide Reggie Love is endorsing Buttigieg, the campaign said. Love, who began his time with Obama as deputy political director in his Senate office, was a ubiquitous presence at Obama’s side during the 2008 presidential campaign and at the White House through most of his first term. The endorsement is a boost for Buttigieg from a high profile African American official from Obama’s orbit at a time when the South Bend mayor is working to build support with black voters.
Buttigieg is also being formally endorsed by Austan Goolsbee, who served as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Obama, and Linda Douglass, the former director of communications for the White House Office of Health Reform.
The Obama-era endorsements come at a time when Buttigieg is increasingly emphasizing parallels between his candidacy and Obama’s 2008 run. Buttigieg has noted that both he and Obama are running on a message of hope and unity and are also running as relatively young candidates new to the political scene.
In a statement provided by the campaign, Love said that as the youngest candidate in Democratic race, he believes Buttigieg “can galvanize a new electoral body that is a more accurate representation of what America actually is.”
Love also noted that the critiques of Buttigieg’s candidacy are similar to the ones that were made about his former boss.
“A lot of what is said about Pete echoes what critics said about presidential candidate Barack Obama – too young, too different, maybe another time – but I believe there is never a better time to fight for change than right now,” he added.
In a brief interview, Love acknowledged that Buttigieg’s limited experience in the national political arena has affected the amount of institutional support he has received from prominent political figures.
But he said he offered his endorsement because the campaign actively encouraged him to, and because he believed Buttigieg shares the same approach to public service that Obama did.
“The parallels are important because I grew up playing sports and there’s the whole idea is you go out and you leave everything out on the field and you see where everything falls,” Love said. “You go and you compete and sometimes David beats Goliath.”
Goolsbee recently began advising the campaign informally on economic matters but has now made a formal endorsement.
“It has been awhile since I have seen the kind of excitement on the ground in Iowa that Mayor Pete has generated,” Goolsbee said in a statement. “And the last time worked out pretty well.”
Buttigieg led the Democratic field in the most recent CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll with 25% of Iowa Democrats backing him as their first choice.
Buttigieg’s rise has also coincided with a more concerted effort to contrast his more moderate “Medicare for All Who Want It” health care proposal with that of the two progressive candidates who have proposed “Medicare for All” plans, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Douglass, a long-time Obama aide who was the primary spokesperson for the Affordable Care Act before its passage, is also an informal campaign adviser on health care and other issues. She also served as a senior adviser and spokesperson for Obama during the 2008 campaign.
“I met Pete a few years ago and admire his intelligence, wisdom and extraordinary ability to communicate clearly and powerfully about the challenges we face today,” Douglass said in her statement. “He is passionate about public service and about improving the lives of Americans in every part of the country.
“I am excited by the prospect of a leader who comes from a new generation and who represents that generation’s unique understanding of what the future may hold,” she added.