UPDATE: Buttigieg talks presidential politics

Published: Jan. 23, 2019 at 5:22 PM EST
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South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday announced he has launched an exploratory committee to consider a possible run for president of the United States.

The mayor spent the day in the nation’s capital, where he sure looked and sounded like a candidate.

“I think it's pretty clear that I'm not like the others. A lot has been said about my age, but also my experience. At least of the people who have jumped in, I'm the only one who is living a middle-class lifestyle, in a middle-class neighborhood, in middle America,” Buttigieg told reporters at a mid-morning news conference in Washington, D.C.

The experience turned somewhat humbling when one reporter asked Buttigieg the best way to pronounce his name.

He pronounced his name but added, "Around South Bend, they just call me Mayor Pete, and that’s fine with me.”

While Buttigieg may be the only Democrat who has to announce his candidacy and pronounce his name, there’s plenty of time left to make a name for himself.

“When you have a very spread-out and a very wide-open field [of candidates], one of the things it means is that everybody gets a shot. It means that if you can assemble a critical mass, which doesn't necessarily amount to 50 percent plus one on the first day, it means that you can grow that,” Buttigieg explained. “Obviously, I am the first openly gay person to seek the Democratic nomination, but it’s not just about profile. At the end of the day, this has to be about ideas.”

Buttigieg said he supports single-payer health care, wants to do away with the Electoral College and will run a campaign based on freedom, democracy and security.

“And I actually think the -- let’s be honest -- underdog characteristics of this project are also something that’s going to give us permission and a healthy pressure to be bolder than the others to bring forward different ideas that others may hesitate to talk about if they’re more established,” he said.

Buttigeig has one eye on the 2020 campaign, and the other on 2054.

“I’m thinking about what the world is going to look like when I reach the current age of the current president, which is the year 2054, and if you’re thinking about what you’ll be doing in 2054, the world just looks a little bit different to you, because you know that you’re going to be picking up the pieces of reckless policies that are being made right now and the things that are not being done right now to secure us,” he said.

At Wednesday’s press conference, a South Bend native who ran Buttigieg’s first mayoral campaign was on hand. Mike Schmuhl provided a mic check and introduced himself as a member of the exploratory committee.