Buttigieg Addresses Young Democrats Convention

A man in a crisp white shirt and blue necktie stands at a podium
South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg addresses the Young Democrats of America convention

Photo courtesy Matthew Gonzales

Unveiling a new stump speech before a crowd of more than 700 Thursday night, Pete Buttigieg said he could turn Indiana from a red to a blue state.

“You can’t judge our state by the current vice president,” he said, speaking to the Young Democrats of America convention at Union Station and echoing a familiar attack on Mike Pence. “Yes, Indiana may lean right, but I’ve seen it go blue in my lifetime, and I think we can do it again like never before.”

But, Buttigieg told me after his speech, he’s not interested in winning over every Trump voter. Asked about whether he wants to win the votes of Trump rally-goers who chanted “send her back” after the president mentioned U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Buttigieg said no.

“The reality is, there are a lot of committed racists whose vote I’m never going to get, and that’s all right. There’s also some people who I think are thinking twice about the votes that they cast in 2016. There are a lot of Republicans of conscience who will say, ‘This far, but no further.’ And there are a lot of people who simply voted to burn the house down. And now that the house is on fire, it’s time to actually put in somebody who’s going to do something about the future.”

The last time Buttigeg was in Indianapolis, back in February to launch his book, Shortest Way Home, he could pack a lecture hall on IUPUI’s campus in his home state, but not a house party in New Hampshire.

Now, he’s drawing crowds of 1,000 or more in early states such as New Hampshire and Iowa, but also in cities such as Nashville and Kansas City.

“After spending more time recently in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, and California than the city he’s employed to lead, it’s great to finally welcome Pete Buttigieg back to Indiana,” Hoosier Republicans said of his visit in a statement, making no mention of the five months former Governor Mike Pence spent managing the state from the national campaign trail, while traveling back to Indiana one or two days a week.

Indianapolis will remain the center of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary next week, with the National Urban League Conference drawing former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.