CNN hosts 2020 town hall at SXSW

By Veronica Rocha and Brian Ries, CNN

Updated 8:44 a.m. ET, March 11, 2019
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9:13 p.m. ET, March 10, 2019

Buttigieg, 37: "I have more years of government experience under my belt" than Trump

From CNN's Dan Merica

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said Sunday that experience was what qualified him to run for president -- despite the fact that he is only 37-years-old and represents a city of roughly 100,000 people.

And in doing so, Buttigieg took a shot at both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

“I have more years of government experience under my belt than the President. That’s low bar. I know that. I also have had more years of executive government experience than the vice president,” he said.

He added that he had "more military experience than anybody to walk into that office on day one since George H.W. Bush."

“I get I’m the young guy in the conversation, but experience is what qualifies me to have a seat at this table.”

Buttigieg said the question was “fair” and that he “shouldn’t be running if I weren’t prepared to answer it.”

The mayor’s age often comes up on the campaign trail, in part because Buttigieg looks even younger than his 37 years, a fact he often notes.

“I understand the audacity of running for president at my age especially because sometimes downstairs I’ll still get carded when I order a beer,” he recently said.

9:09 p.m. ET, March 10, 2019

She wants to know what they plan to do about the opioid crisis and LGBT rights

Outside the town hall earlier, Toni Schach told CNN she wanted to know where the candidates stand on two issues especially important to her, LGBT rights and the opioid crisis.

Schach struggled with addiction in the past and has been sober for more than a year.

"It's something that means a lot to me," she said. "I think that there is just not enough resources out there. I think that the criminalization of drugs was a really bad idea. The war on drugs obviously isn't working, when the crisis is getting worse and worse, so I think somebody needs to take it on in a different way."

Schach said she also interested in learning more about Pete Buttigieg and — more importantly, how to pronounce his name.

"When you read about it, it's like boot-edge, boot-edge-edge. It's like a million ways, so I am excited to hear how he pronounces his last name," she said.

Schach said she also wants to learn more about his policy ideas on LGBT issues and how he "plans to work with the other side."

9:06 p.m. ET, March 10, 2019

NOW: Pete Buttigieg is answering questions

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, has taken the stage and is answering questions.

He joked a bit with CNN's Jake Tapper about the pronunciation of his last name, which has baffled some people.

"Back home they just call me Mayor Pete," he said, reiterating what he has told reporters.

8:58 p.m. ET, March 10, 2019

So how do you pronounce Pete Buttigieg's name anyway?

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi

If you're wondering how to pronounce Pete Buttigieg's name, you are not alone.

Last year, his husband, Chasten, tweeted a list of possible pronunciations: "boot-edge-edge," "buddha-judge," "boot-a-judge" and "boo-tuh-judge."

Are you still at a loss? No worries, Buttigieg was recently asked that question and here's what he said:

Fun fact: Buttigieg's name is Maltese and roughly translates to "lord of the poultry."

But if Buttigieg is too tricky to pronounce, he has an easy work-around.

"Around South Bend, they just call me 'Mayor Pete,' and that's fine with me," he told reporters.

8:58 p.m. ET, March 10, 2019

Buttigieg would be the youngest and first gay president

From CNN's Kate Bolduan

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, knows he's a long shot for the White House.

In a recent Monmouth University poll, only 14% of Democrats and those that lean Democrat could form an opinion of him and 58% said they had never heard of him.

Should he win the Democratic presidential nomination and defeat President Trump in 2020, Buttigieg, 37, would be the youngest (and first millennial) president in US history, the first candidate to go straight from the mayor's office to the White House and the first gay president.

Buttigieg announced his exploratory committee for a 2020 presidential bid on Jan. 23. In his announcement video, Buttigieg spoke about his city making a comeback and about his perspective as a millennial with issues like school shootings and people earning less than their parents.

Watch it below:

9:04 p.m. ET, March 10, 2019

Gabbard says she's been through tough situations before, and she's not worried about Trump

From CNN's Dan Merica

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said Sunday that her experience in the Army has led her to not worry about taking on President Donald Trump in 2020.

“As a soldier, I’ve been through some tough situations before, so I’m not really worried about Donald Trump,” she said. “I’m focused on serving the people of this country, on bringing those values of service above self that every service member has in our hearts to the White House and restoring to the presidency honor and integrity and courage.”

Polling has shown that a top issue for Democrats in 2020 is the ability to beat Trump.

9:03 p.m. ET, March 10, 2019

Gabbard says the country's biggest policy mistake is allowing the nuclear threat against it to grow

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was asked Sunday to name the biggest policy mistake the United States had ever made. Rather than citing slavery or the genocide of Native Americans, she pointed to the march toward what she warned could be "nuclear catastrophe."

She pointed to a cell phone alert — which turned out to be a false alarm — last year warning people in Hawaii to take shelter because a missile was incoming. She described residents of the state facing agonizing decisions about how to seek shelter and who to spend what they feared could be their last minutes with.

“This alert turned out to be false, but the reason we reacted the way we did is that the threat is real,” Gabbard said.

She continued: “Our leaders have failed us and brought us to this point. It doesn’t have to be this way. We have to correct our course. We have to end this new cold war and nuclear arms race that is currently being waged that threatens our very future and that costs us trillions of our taxpayer dollars — dollars that need to be spent and invested to serve the needs of our people here at home.”

8:57 p.m. ET, March 10, 2019

Gabbard: "There is still a fear of retaliation" in the military over reporting sexual assault

From CNN's Dan Merica

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said Sunday that she would sign the Military Justice Improvement Act, telling a questioner at CNN’s town hall that – as a veteran – she has “lived through experiences ourselves that our fellow brothers and sisters in uniform have gone through.”

Gabbard, an Army veteran, also lamented the fact that “there is a lack of recognition, of the serious change that needs to take place for there to be a true path for justice, for victims of sexual assault in the military.”

“I believe that we still today don’t know how rampant sexual assault in the military is, because there is still a fear of retaliation, there is a stigma and people who don’t want to be known as 'that one,'” Gabbard said.

“She or he is that one who went against the team, who turned their back.”

The question came from Joy Craig, a retired US Marine officer.

“This legislation is so important because it provides that path outside of the chain of command where you know that there is no one, whether it’s your team leader, platoon leader, first sergeant or commander, there is no one who will be able to stop your pursuit of justice and accountability if you’re a victim of assault in the this is such an important issue,” Gabbard said, adding that she served with people who felt like it was impossible to tell their own story of sexual assault.

8:46 p.m. ET, March 10, 2019

Gabbard says she doesn't think Rep. Ilhan Omar was trying to offend anyone with her tweets

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was asked whether she thought Rep. Ilhan Omar's controversial tweets suggesting US support of Israel is motivated by money were anti-Semitic.

Gabbard didn't answer the question directly. She said she doesn't think Omar was trying to offend anyone and instead was trying to get at a deeper issue.

"There are people who have expressed their offense at these statements. I think that what Congresswoman Omar was trying to get at was a deeper issue related to our foreign policy, and I think there's an important discussion that we have to be able to have openly, even though we may end up disagreeing at the end of it, but we've got to have that openness to have the conversation," Gabbard said.

She continued: "What she was trying to bring up was something that was a deeper issue. And I don't believe that her intent was to cause any offense to anyone."

Some background: Omar apologized on Monday after she ignited a firestorm with her tweets. The messages -- she suggested support of Israel is driven specifically by donations from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a prominent pro-Israel lobby group -- were condemned by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as anti-Semitic.