CNN hosts 2020 town hall at SXSW
Pete Buttigieg said gaining the legal ability to marry his husband gave him a personal view of the importance of policy decisions by politicians “who had power over me and millions of others.”
“That intimate thing in our lives exists by the grace of a single vote on the US Supreme Court,” the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said at a CNN town hall Sunday.
Buttigieg, who came out as gay during his 2015 re-election campaign, said he entered politics “in Mike Pence’s Indiana” at a time that “you could either be out, or you could be in office, but you couldn’t do both.”
He called for a federal equality law to extend non-discrimination protections to LGBT people and said, “We’ve got to end the war on transgender Americans.”
“Let’s be under no illusion: There are attacks on transgender Americans from the Oval Office. Picking on troops, people willing to lay down their lives for this country, not to mention teenagers in high schools,” Buttigieg said.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg remembered the life of his late father on Sunday, telling an audience here in Austin that before he announced, he told his intubated father that he hoped he would make him proud and his father mouthed, “You will.”
Joseph Buttigieg, a professor emeritus of English and retired director of the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program at Notre Dame, passed away in January to cancer, shortly after Buttigieg announced his presidential exploratory committee.
“He was excited. He came to this country from a tiny nation. A place where Buttigieg is a common name,” Buttigieg said to laughs.
“He came here for the educational opportunities that this country offered he became an American citizen after that. He believed in education. He believed in this country, but he also was very passionate about all the ways it was falling short.”
“So I don’t think he ever guessed I would be doing this. We didn’t either until about a year ago. But when I was getting ready to make the announcement, he was already in pretty rough shape. And I wasn’t sure I should go, but I knew he wanted it to happen. I said, 'I hope I make you proud.' And he said, 'you will.' I think we are. I’d like to think we are.”
Pete Buttigieg is not opposed to Medicare for all, but he said it should be an option.
"The best way to do that is a medicare for all who want it. We take some flavor of Medicare, you make it available on the exchange as a public option. And you invite people to buy into it," he said.
But Buttigieg said putting it on the exchange isn't the only solution. He said work is needed to improve the system.
"We have to do that unfashionable technical work to make the system more efficient. We have also just got to broaden assets until everyone has health care," he said. "I refuse to accept that when citizens of just about every developed nation in the world enjoy this, that we should settle for less," he said.
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.
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."
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.
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.