Pete Buttigieg

Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
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Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the presidential race on March 1, 2020. This page is no longer being updated.
Buttigieg has positioned himself as a moderate and has called for generational change in political leadership. The second-term mayor is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and was a Rhodes scholar.
Harvard College, B.A., 2004; University of Oxford, Rhodes scholar, 2007
January 19, 1982
Chasten Buttigieg
US Navy Reserve, 2009-2017;
Consultant at McKinsey and Co., 2007-2010


Pitchman Pete: Buttigieg steps into the spotlight to sell Biden's infrastructure plan
Updated 10:33 AM ET, Fri Apr 9, 2021
It isn't every day that Republican Rep. Sam Graves picks up his cell phone and hears from a Cabinet secretary -- let alone a Democrat. But the conservative Missouri congressman who serves as ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has been struck by how often he and Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have talked about infrastructure since the former mayor and presidential candidate was confirmed two months ago. "He calls my cell phone and I have his," said Graves, who said he was surprised by how "accessible" the secretary has been. "It certainly is just nice to be able to talk to somebody and talk about that different points of view and the pros and the cons without getting into an argument and just shutting off and then starting in with name calling. ... That is very refreshing." Buttigieg, after two months on the job, has become one of the most ubiquitous faces in the Biden administration's push to pass a sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure bill, vaulting the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and the leader of an often-overlooked government agency to one of the most high-profile secretaries in Biden's Cabinet. The push has Buttigieg regularly making media appearances, meeting with interest groups and, on Friday, addressing the press about infrastructure from the White House briefing room-- all of which both helps the Biden administration and, to the enjoyment of Buttigieg's political supporters, raises the former mayor's profile. The conversations between Buttigieg and Republican lawmakers, according to multiple members of congress, routinely focus on the concerns that those conservatives have with the Biden plan, like how much it will cost and the view that much of it doesn't focus on traditional infrastructure. But each lawmaker CNN spoke to said they left their conversations with the Transportation Secretary struck by how they felt listened to, something they said wasn't often the case with other Democrats. It's possible -- even likely -- that Buttigieg's outreach to Republicans will fail to move any Republican lawmakers. Still, Buttigieg's prominent role in the pitch has some of his earliest political champions buzzing about what a successful infrastructure bill would mean for a Democratic politician who clearly harbors future aspirations. Virginia Rep. Don Beyer, Buttigieg's first congressional endorsement, acknowledged these thoughts at a recent event where he went off-script and jokingly referred to Buttigieg as a "future president of the United States." "He looked surprised. ... I don't know whether I imagined a grimace or not," Beyer said with a laugh. But the desire for Buttigieg to continue his upward climb was apparent for Beyer, who nodded to the expected fight for which Democrat tries to succeed Biden. "I was careful not to say the next, I didn't want to pick a fight between Pete and (Vice President) Kamala (Harris)." 'He seems... much more willing to work with us' After years of infrastructure reform being the policy often talked about but never pursued, the Biden administration, has made remaking the nation's infrastructure its second policy priority, just behind the sweeping coronavirus relief bill that passed in March. To sell the plan to skeptical Republicans, Biden has tapped five of his secretaries -- Buttigieg, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo -- to be his chief salespeople, labeling the group his "Jobs Cabinet." White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the group has made 56 calls to lawmakers, including 28 Democrats and 28 Republicans who are the chairs and ranking members on relevant committees. For Buttigieg, a politician who has risen to prominence by touting his ability to reach out to Republicans, the effort is an attempt to make good on that pledge by focusing some of his attention on Republicans in Congress, many of whom have slammed Biden's proposal as not being focused enough on physical infrastructure. And Republicans have seemingly responded, telling CNN that while they don't agree with everything the mayor says, they believe he is coming to the conversations with an open mind and the eye of someone who once led a city. So far, the secretary has had conversations with Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican who represents a district in South Florida; Rick Crawford, a senior member of the House Transportation committee who represents a solidly Republican area of Arkansas; and Rodney Davis, a top Illinois Republican on the House Highways and Transit subcommittee, according to details provided by the Department of Transportation. Buttigieg has also had talked with Republican Sens. John Barrasso, Shelly Moore Capito and Susan Collins, as well as a bipartisan group of mayors and governors through the U.S. Conference of Mayors and National Governors Association. "It is critical," said Mayor Jeff Williams of Arlington, Texas, a Republican who was elected to the non-partisan role in 2015, said of passing an infrastructure reform plan. Williams said he has been part of conversations with Buttigieg on infrastructure. "I think there are valid criticisms (of the plan), but let's don't lose sight of what we need to have happen." Whether these efforts work to move Republican voters remains an open question. "The relationship really doesn't have a lot to do with whether I support something at the end of the day," Graves said when asked about the bill. "It is about policy and it is about my district." Davis told CNN that he has talked to Buttigieg twice over the last few months, once in the Oval Office during a meeting with Biden and Harris and another time over the phone. But his primary concern is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are leading the process, not Buttigieg. "It's unfortunate because I do believe the Democrats are going to choose the path of reconciliation," said Davis, referring to a Senate procedure that would allow the bill to pass with no Republican support. Asked if he thinks the proposed plan would be different if Buttigieg were in charge, Davis said, "Yes." "He seems to be much more willing to work with us," he said. "But sometimes, administrations don't get to choose the processes that are utilized." Buttigieg told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Monday that while they are at the "beginning of a legislative process that'll have a lot of back and forth" between Democrats and Republicans, "at the end of the day, [President Joe Biden] will decide what the right balance is." A Senate Democratic aide on Capitol Hill told CNN that it actually surprised top Democrats on Capitol Hill that Buttigieg was not met with more partisan resistance. "Pete Buttigieg ran for the Democratic nomination. Inherently, he should be somebody that the Republicans on Capitol Hill naturally dislike. He ran on a bunch of progressive Democratic priorities," the aide said. "But he's already put in a lot of the necessary work and now Republicans and Democrats alike - from the most progressive to the most moderate - feel like he's someone they can work well with." The other role Buttigieg is playing is as television pitch man, regularly appearing on local and national TV to sell the bill to voters. The secretary has done local news hits for cities across the country, including Las Vegas; Pittsburgh; Dayton, Ohio; Miami; Quad Cities, Iowa; Atlanta; Milwaukee and Dallas. This role mimics the one Buttigieg stepped into during the 2020 general election, where he was one of the most active surrogates for then-candidate Biden. Now that Biden is president, Buttigieg -- deployed by the White House -- has both talked with media and attended virtual meetings with interest groups, including groups like the National Urban League, Sierra Club and the NAACP. "President Biden and the White House asked Secretary Buttigieg to play a leading role in developing the President's recovery agenda and building public support for the Rescue Plan, the Secretary's done an admirable job in that work and in communicating it to the American people," a White House official who asked for anonymity to speak openly about Buttigieg's role. A secretary with higher aspirations There is a political reality to Buttigieg's work, too: Acting as one of the primary salespeople for the Biden infrastructure plan has further elevated the former presidential candidate's profile, exposing him to audiences and groups that he never had ties to when he launched a longshot presidential bid in 2019. And if the infrastructure plan is successful, people closely tracking the mayor's political rise believe it will offer numerous opportunities to the secretary to travel the country, give speeches and kick off infrastructure projects, the kind of appearances an aspiring elected official is desperate to do. The job has also already offered the former mayor needed federal government experience. "Some of the fair criticisms (during his presidential campaign) was that he'd just been the mayor of a small town in Indiana... no big Washington experience managing a significant part of the federal government," said Beyer. "And now he does." Beyer said those politically interested in Buttigieg's rise "knew he probably wasn't ready to be secretary of state or secretary of defense," but that they also "didn't want him pushed off into a corner some place." Transportation, he said, is "a perfect" role. Whether this time in Buttigieg's career ends up helping him politically largely depends on the success of this and other bills. Buttigieg, at just 39 years old, is expected run for some elected office in the future after running for president in 2020 and people around him have not been shy about his obvious presidential aspirations. No Cabinet secretary in the modern era has gone on to the White House -- the last person to do it was Herbert Hoover -- and a Democrat close to the former mayor told CNN that the secretary's longer term political goals were not part of his motivation for taking on the job. "What is true and what also he would tell you is that the most important part of this is that it is using those relationships and developing those relationships to support the White House," the Democrat said. "That shit doesn't matter if the infrastructure bill doesn't happen and if he doesn't use those relationships to accomplish the goals the White House has laid out for the department." The source, who asked for anonymity to speak openly about Buttigieg's political prospects, added: "Who cares if you know those people. If you haven't delivered and done what you are said you were going to do, it is worthless."


climate crisis
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Buttigieg released a plan in September 2019 that aims to move the US to clean energy and agriculture, shield existing communities and industries from the effects of climate change and lead a global response to the crisis. He calls for the Department of Defense to set up a Climate Watch Floor and would create a new senior climate security role within the department. He aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, pledging to invest $25 billion annually in research by 2025 – a move he compares to the Manhattan Project – and to set a price on carbon, generating money that would be returned to Americans as a dividend. He says his plan would generate 3 million new jobs as the economy transitions to clean energy production. Buttigieg pledges to spend $5 billion annually on grants for rural communities and ensure that new infrastructure “can withstand extreme weather and sea level rise.” He calls for integrating climate change into national security planning. Buttigieg supports the Green New Deal, the broad plan to address renewable-energy infrastructure and climate change proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. He has also proposed his own plan, which would impose a carbon tax on corporations and polluters and pass on the money raised from that tax to Americans as a dividend. Buttigieg has said he would rejoin the Paris climate accord, the landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has pledged to abandon. Buttigieg says he wants to ensure the US – “not China” – will lead the climate response globally, and suggests he’d use sanctions to push other countries to adopt carbon-pricing programs. He has also said that while the Paris accord is critical, he would like to hold a “Pittsburgh summit” within his first 100 days as president, where cities would come together to work on curbing emissions. More on Buttigieg’s climate crisis policy
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On the campaign trail, Buttigieg has clearly stated his view that manufacturing jobs are not returning to their previous levels because of factors like automation. In July 2019, he introduced a plan aimed at protecting workers and putting big tech companies firmly in the hot seat. Buttigieg would guarantee the right to join a union for all American workers including gig economy workers – like Uber and Lyft drivers, who are considered independent contractors and not employees of the companies. Buttigieg is no fan of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and has suggested that it caused significant and largely irreversible job loss. He has also focused on the need for the federal government to spur entrepreneurship in underserved communities. He has proposed having the government “triple the number of entrepreneurs from underserved areas – particularly ones of color – within 10 years” by offering grants and incentivizing investment in underserved areas and overhauling credit scoring as a way to open up credit opportunities for traditionally underserved communities. In August 2019, Buttigieg rolled out a proposal to provide $500 million in federal funding for “Regional Innovation Clusters.” Those would allow state and local governments to take the lead on developing economic projects based on the specific needs of individual rural communities through a grant program judged by a panel of entrepreneurs across the country. Buttigieg pledges up to $5 billion to expand apprenticeship networks across the country “to ensure an apprenticeship program in a growing industry is available within 30 miles of every American,” including underserved rural areas. Buttigieg seeks to create “Community Renewal visas,” with the aim of attracting high-skilled immigrants with the promise of attaining green cards at the end of three-year residencies in rural communities. Buttigieg also supports raising the federal hourly minimum wage to $15 and passing paid family and medical leave. More on Buttigieg’s economic policy
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Buttigieg – who, along with his husband, Chasten, has student loan debt that combined amounts to six figures – does not support making college tuition-free. He argues that lower- and middle-income families should benefit from tuition-free public college but not the children of the wealthy, or, as he put it once, “even the children of billionaires.” Buttigieg has looked to tie education affordability to his national service plan. The mayor, who himself served in the Navy Reserve, said his administration would provide support and incentives for students who decide to go into a service field before or after college. Buttigieg says he supports charter schools in some instances, but he said in Iowa earlier this year that “for-profit charter schools should not be our vision for the future.” His plan to combat racial inequality in the United States would increase resources to historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions by $25 billion. More on Buttigieg’s education policy
gun violence
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Buttigieg released a plan in August 2019 that would increase federal funding to combat hate and violent extremism, boost federal research into gun violence and work with social media companies to stem incendiary rhetoric online. He would dedicate $1 billion to law enforcement, including increasing the FBI’s field staff, for “sufficient resources to counter the growing tide of white nationalist violence.” Those funds would also be reinvested in Department of Homeland Security efforts to fight extremism, violence and hate. Buttigieg supports universal background checks. He has also backed a nationwide gun licensing system and a ban on the sale of so-called assault weapons. As mayor of South Bend, he’s long had a focus on reducing gun violence. Buttigieg joined the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group of more than 1,000 current and former mayors advocating stricter gun laws, in 2013 and supported the South Bend Group Violence Intervention, a program aimed at combating gun violence in the city.Buttigieg often talks about gun laws through a personal lens. As the youngest candidate in the 2020 race, he grew up in an era when school shootings have become common. As a veteran, he has training and experience with weapons. More on Buttigieg’s gun violence policy
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Buttigieg supports what he calls “Medicare for all who want it” – an idea that he says is a pathway to the “Medicare for All” proposal backed by other candidates, which would create a national government health care plan and essentially eliminate the private insurance industry. Under Buttigieg’s plan, private health insurance would still exist for consumers. Buttigieg also focuses on health care in his Douglass Plan, aimed at combating inequality for African Americans. He plans to diversify the medical workforce and create “health equity zones” to address health care disparities in certain geographic locations. In August 2019, he proposed a plan to improve health care access in rural communities by waiving visa requirements to attract immigrant doctors, increasing access to telehealth services by expanding high speed internet and creating a new office within the Department of Health and Human Services. Buttigieg plans to reduce maternal mortality rates by funding pre-maternity homes and offering subsidies for housing and transportation. He would also extend Medicaid coverage for one-year postpartum. Currently, Medicaid typically covers only 60 days of postpartum care. In October 2019, Buttigieg released a plan aimed at reducing prescription drug costs and jump-starting pharmaceutical innovation. The plan, titled “Affordable Medicine for All,” would penalize pharmaceutical companies that raise prices by more than the rate of inflation and by increasing the annual Branded Prescription Drug Fee, a section of the Affordable Care Act that sets an annual fee according to each manufacturer’s share of drug sales that goes to government programs like Medicare Part D and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Buttigieg also released an LGBTQ rights plan that proposes eradicating HIV/AIDS by 2030, ensuring access to the HIV drug PrEP for all who need it, finding a cure for AIDS and ensuring health insurance providers cover trans-specific medical care. More on Buttigieg’s health care policy
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Buttigieg has said he wants a comprehensive immigration plan, which would include providing a pathway to citizenship for those who received Obama-era protections for undocumented immigrants, including people brought to the US as minors. He also calls for addressing the backlogs in the immigration and asylum processes and having “reasonable” security measures at the US-Mexico border. “I don’t have a problem with enhanced border security, perhaps to include fencing,” Buttigieg told PBS in February 2019. He suggested border security cannot be simplified with “just putting up a wall from sea to shining sea.” He has also proposed ending family separation at the border and evaluating practices from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and US Customs and Border Protection “to ensure similar humanitarian crises never happen again.” More on Buttigieg’s immigration policy


Waters calls for protesters to 'get more confrontational' if no guilty verdict is reached in Derek Chauvin trial
Updated 7:15 PM ET, Mon Apr 19, 2021
Rep. Maxine Waters on Saturday night called for protesters to "stay on the street" and "get more confrontational" if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted in the killing of George Floyd. The comments by Waters, a California Democrat and icon among progressives, were immediately seized on by Republicans who claimed that Waters was inciting violence. The congresswoman denied in a subsequent interview that she was encouraging violence, but the remarks come at a time of immense national tension amid several high-profile killings of Black people at the hands of police officers and as American cities brace for a fresh wave of protests as the Chauvin trial nears a close. Waters said she was in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Saturday night to show her support for protesters amid ongoing protests over the police killing of Daunte Wright and to also support his family. "We've got to stay in the street and demand justice," Waters said to reporters, according to video posted on social media. "We're looking for a guilty verdict and we're looking to see if all of the talk that took place and has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd. If nothing does not happen, then we know that we got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice," she added. Asked what protesters should do if there is no guilty verdict, Waters said protests should continue. "We got to stay on the street. And we've got to get more active, we've got to get more confrontational. We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business," she said. Asked about the curfew put in place, Waters said, "I don't think anything about curfew. Curfew means I want you all to stop talking. I want you to stop meeting. I want you to stop gathering. I don't agree with that." The congresswoman's comments come at a particularly fraught time in the nation's history. Closing arguments are underway in Chauvin's trial, and protests continue over the killing of Wright. Authorities have ramped up security around Minneapolis, with crews installing razor wire around some police buildings and National Guard troops have been deployed in parts of the city's downtown. Waters' office did not respond to a CNN request for comment. In an interview with theGrio that was published on Monday morning, Waters said she was "nonviolent" and said her remark about being "confrontational" was in regard to changing the justice system in the US. "I talk about confronting the justice system, confronting the policing that's going on, I'm talking about speaking up," she said. I'm talking about legislation. I'm talking about elected officials doing what needs to be done to control their budgets and to pass legislation." Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over Chauvin's trial, referenced Waters' comments on Monday, telling the defense that she "may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned." "I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function," Cahill later added. "I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect a coequal branch of government." He added, "Their failure to do so, I think, is abhorrent, but I don't think it's prejudiced us with additional material that would prejudice this jury." Waters' comments over the weekend drew swift criticism from several Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. McConnell on Monday bashed Waters' comments, saying, "It's harder to imagine anything more inappropriate than a member of Congress flying in from California to inform local leaders, not so subtly, that this defendant better be found guilty or else there'll be big trouble in the streets." "Every trial must go forward without social pressure, political considerations and certainly violent threats playing a role," the Kentucky Republican said. "Every single American deserves a fair trial. This is sacred. You do not balance the scales of justice by trying to tip them." The words "more confrontational," McCarthy tweeted Sunday night, means she is "inciting violence." The California Republican announced Monday that he is introducing a resolution to censure Waters for her "dangerous comments," saying in a statement that "we've heard this type of violent rhetoric from Waters before, and the United States Congress must clearly and without reservation reprimand this behavior before more people get hurt." McCarthy had said that if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn't take action against Waters, he would. His options are limited as Republicans are in the minority, but he can take several symbolic steps, including calling for the censure of Waters, even if Democrats would block such an action. Asked if Waters needs to apologize, Pelosi told CNN, "no, she doesn't." "Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the Civil Rights Movement. I myself think we should take our lead from the George Floyd family," she said Monday. "They've handled this with great dignity and no ambiguity or lack of misinterpretation by the other side. No, no, I don't think she should apologize." Asked if she believed Waters' comments incited violence, Pelosi said, "no, absolutely not." Greene, meanwhile, called on Twitter for Waters to be expelled from Congress. The criticism from Republicans is striking, however, following the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol in January after many Republicans perpetrated the falsehood that former President Donald Trump was reelected. Greene was removed from her committee assignments in February after she indicated support for executing prominent Democratic politicians several years ago. Waters has come under sharp criticism in the past, including from fellow Democrats, for comments she has made about Republicans. She made headlines in 2018 when she encouraged supporters to harass Trump administration officials in public over its family separation policy at the border. This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.