PBS NEWSHOUR: Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary was another big night for former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who came in a close second. But can he compete in more diverse key states like South Carolina, where his poll numbers are low? Buttigieg sat down with Judy Woodruff the morning after to discuss what distinguishes him from other candidates, as well as one critique of his fundraising.
“I’m very much looking forward to further reaching out and engaging with Latino voters and African-American voters in both Nevada and in South Carolina,” Buttigieg said.
“What I have heard from a lot of black voters is that our plans are appreciated,” Buttigieg touted. “The Frederick Douglass plan is the most comprehensive plan offered by a presidential candidate to tackle systemic racism.”
Buttigieg to Bernie Sanders: “If your only choices are between a revolution and the status quo, that’s a vision that leaves most Americans out. And I think challenging that vision with a more inclusive one is how we have been able to get the results that we had both in Iowa and New Hampshire across different age groups, different kinds of communities.”
PETE BUTTIGIEG: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you appeal to them?
PETE BUTTIGIEG: I’m very much looking forward to further reaching out and engaging with Latino voters and African-American voters in both Nevada and in South Carolina.
That’s part of our outreach strategy, part of our media strategy. And we have made sure throughout that we’re offering policies that are going to make a difference in the everyday lives of diverse voters.
This is an opportunity for us to demonstrate how, on everything from economic empowerment to delivering health care, to combating discrimination, reforming immigration and dismantling systemic racism, we can pull together and get big things done.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So are you saying your message doesn’t change?
PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, the values don’t change.
We’re not going to, you know, have one face forward to one set of voters and a different set — face forward in a different place.
But it’s certainly the case that different concerns are being raised. For example, in Nevada, we’re hearing a lot more about concerns related to immigration and hearing a lot from union workers, including hotel and service workers, with hard-won, hard-fought battles to get their health care plans, who are not interested in Senator Sanders’ vision of eliminating their private health care.
We’re also getting a lot of questions from black voters about a vision and an agenda for black Americans, at a time when we have seen all of the ways in which systemic racism has persisted and led to a different American experience for so many black Americans, on everything from how you experience the economy, to the health care system, to the criminal legal system, to our democracy itself.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You, of course, bring up South Carolina. African-American voters could be as much as 60 percent of the primary there.
Right now, you are polling very low, 2, 3, 4 percent. That is a big leap for you, isn’t it?
PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, that’s exactly what we need to do.
And what I have heard from a lot of black voters is that our plans are appreciated. The Frederick Douglass plan is the most comprehensive plan offered by a presidential candidate to tackle systemic racism.
But before anybody cares what’s in your plans, they want to know if you’re a serious contender. And I think, up until we had the results we did here in Iowa and New Hampshire, it was difficult for us to prove it.
Now the process of proving it is under way. And for voters who are laser-focused on ensuring that we win, who do not have the luxury of pursuing ideological purity over an inclusive coalition for victory, they are going to be, I think, very pragmatic and very demanding about demonstrating that the campaigns have a plan to defeat Donald Trump.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As you know, there are parts of your record as mayor of South Bend where you have had difficulties with the African-American leadership in your community.
Why shouldn’t you expect your opponents to come after you, for there to be really tough questions now about how you deal with not just African-American voters, but the African-American power structure in the Democratic Party?
PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, I’m not just bringing receipts. I’m bringing allies.
The majority of black leaders from my community who have gotten involved in this race are supporting me. And I will invite them on the trail with me to explain why, to tell our story.
When you are a mayor, you don’t get to just opine on these issues or talk about what should happen. You’re on the ground trying to get things done. And, in the results that we have delivered, cuts to the black unemployment and black poverty rate faster than what happened around the country, national recognition for our work, real reform, and in the areas where we have major struggles and where we’re continuing to push, we can talk about everything that went well and why and what we learned when things didn’t.