Buttigieg, Klobuchar, O’Rourke And Reid Endorse Biden

Pete Buttigieg                                    Joe Biden                                               Amy Klobuchar/AFP

 

Americans vote on Tuesday in primaries that play a major role in who will challenge Donald Trump for the presidency, a day after key endorsements dramatically boosted Joe Biden’s hopes against surging leftist Bernie Sanders.

The backing of Biden by three of his ex-rivals marked an unprecedented turn in a fractured, often bitter campaign.

The Democratic establishment is desperate to unite around a moderate candidate who can triumph over frontrunner Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, and face President Trump in November.

Voting begins as early as 6:00 am (1100 GMT) in some areas.

As the five remaining Democratic candidates made their final pitch to voters in 14 states, Biden was capitalizing on momentum he seized at the weekend with a blowout victory in South Carolina.

The 77-year-old former vice president is consolidating support among moderates eager to blunt the advance of Sanders, who could take a potentially insurmountable lead in the all-important delegate count after Super Tuesday.

Biden has been riding high with key endorsements that built into a political crescendo on Monday.

He took the stage at a rally in Dallas, Texas joined by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who told the crowd she was ending her campaign and endorsing Biden for president.

Biden later introduced Beto O’Rourke, who made a big splash early in the Democratic race but then fizzled out. O’Rourke remains popular in Texas, the state with the largest delegate haul on Tuesday after California.

“We need somebody who can beat Donald Trump (and) in Joe Biden we have that man,” O’Rourke said, peppering his short speech with Spanish.

Hours earlier Pete Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, threw his support behind Biden a day after quitting the race himself.

“I’m looking for a president who will draw out what is best in each of us,” Buttigieg said in Dallas, with the former vice president at his side.

Biden appeared reinvigorated by the support, and he repeatedly flashed his million-watt smile.

But he delivered a tough message intended to warn voters away from the seductions of Sanders, who has called for nothing less than a “political revolution” in America.

“Most Americans don’t want the promise of a revolution,” Biden told supporters. “They want results. They want a revival of decency, honor and character.”

 Main challenger 

The trio of endorsements could be political gold for a resurgent Biden.

His campaign was on life support after disappointing showings in the first three state contests, but he is suddenly the main challenger to Sanders on the biggest day of the primary campaign.

Buttigieg had strong showings in predominantly white early states but was unable to mobilize black and Hispanic support.

Klobuchar’s campaign never gained traction. By endorsing Biden, she could deprive Sanders of a large delegate claim in her home state of Minnesota on Tuesday.

New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who on Tuesday competes in his first primaries, has also spread his message to voters in a lavish multi-state ad blitz.

‘Massive effort’ to stop Sanders 

Flush with money for ads, an extensive organization, and momentum in the polls, Sanders has focused on multiple states including delegate-rich California, Tuesday’s biggest prize.

In Utah, he said there was “a massive effort” trying to stop his campaign.

“The corporate establishment is coming together, the political establishment is coming together,” he added. “They are really getting nervous.”

Sanders leads Biden nationally in polling.

Among his backers is Jessica Chadwell, 24, who works for Planned Parenthood in Burlington, Vermont, where Sanders served as mayor decades ago.

“He is fighting for all these things the younger generation needs: fair pay, affordable housing, equal rights,” she said.

Comeback 

Biden hopes his newfound momentum can carry him through Super Tuesday with a delegate count close to Sanders, if not the outright lead.

The former vice president to Barack Obama says his strength with blacks, Hispanics, women and suburbanites will show in the coming contests.

Though Klobuchar joined Biden’s camp, Sanders has launched an appeal to to her voters.

“I hope her supporters will join us in our fight to defeat Donald Trump in November and win real change,” Sanders tweeted, before holding a rally on Klobuchar’s home turf.

Third-placed Bloomberg is competing against Biden for moderate voters and campaigned in Virginia on the eve of Super Tuesday.

“I’ve won three elections so far. I don’t plan to start losing now,” the former New York mayor said.

Bloomberg has spent an unprecedented $500 million of his own fortune saturating the airwaves with TV spots.

AFP

Pete Buttigieg, The Kid From South Bend Aiming For The White House

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg leaves a polling station after greeting supporters outside Hopkinton High School February 11, 2020 in Hopkinton, New Hampshire.   Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP

 

Pete Buttigieg likes to remind people that a year ago, all he had when he launched his presidential campaign were four staff, a big idea and an unknown — and unpronounceable — last name.

“There were skeptics, an awful lot of skeptics,” he said after the first round of caucuses in Iowa, where he beat Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders by a hair.

“Iowa, you have proved those skeptics wrong!” said the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

At 38-years-old, just three years older than the minimum age to be president, “Mayor Pete” is driven by a self-confidence that would seem excessive — arrogant, even — if he wasn’t sitting in second in polls leading up to New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday, where he faces off against candidates who entered politics before he was born.

This faith in his destiny is not new: Buttigieg recalls raising his hand in high school when a teacher asked who would like to be president.

“I don’t know what it is we expect, that somebody kind of gets struck by lightning and then they turn into somebody who might become president,” he said in a recent New York Times interview.

He fully believes he can seize his moment: the representative of a new generation and the “total opposite” of President Donald Trump, he wants nothing less than to throw “Trumpism itself into the dustbin of history where it belongs” and begin a new American era.

He has no other political experience other than his eight years as mayor of the town where he was born — a town of 100,000 inhabitants — but he argues that he is the only major Democratic candidate to have served in the military. His Twitter profile begins with the phrase “Afghan veteran.”

 A soldier 

Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg was born on January 19, 1982, in South Bend, to parents who were both English professors at Notre Dame University.

His father, a specialist in the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, was a Maltese immigrant who came to the US for his PhD, where he met Pete’s mother.

An only child, Pete grew up excelling in school. His path was typical of top students: he was accepted to Harvard, was awarded a prestigious Rhodes scholarship and spent three years at Oxford before being recruited by the elite McKinsey management consultancy in 2007.

“Nothing particularly sizzling,” Buttigieg said of his time at the consulting firm.

At 25-years-old, politics brought him home to South Bend. He ran for treasurer of Indiana but was handily defeated. But in 2011, the mayor’s office opened up, and he was elected. This would become his springboard into national politics.

A Navy reservist for several years, Mayor Pete put his mayoral duties on hold in 2014 and spent seven months in Afghanistan, where he worked as an intelligence analyst.

When asked if he joined the military to boost his political career, he admitted to the podcast The Daily that he has asked himself the same question.

“If the answer is yes, does that mean the service wasn’t pure in some way?” he asked rhetorically.

 Former Republicans 

But all those years, Buttigieg lived with a deep secret: he is gay. “If you had offered me a pill to make me straight, I would have swallowed it before you had time to give me a sip of water,” he admitted last year.

He didn’t come out until 2015 before he was re-elected, mayor. Through Hinge, a dating application, he soon met Chasten Glezman, who would take his last name after they married in 2018. The couple has said they want children.

“My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man,” Buttigieg said. “It has moved me closer to God.”

Buttigieg has cultivated an image of a Midwestern man: traditional, devout (he was baptized Catholic but attends an Episcopalian church). The comedy show Saturday Night Live has parodied him as shy and boring.

His rivals are irked by his grand, sweeping phrases such as “we’ve got to fix the engine of our democracy,” and by his plans to reform the Constitution and the Supreme Court.

Critics point out that he has virtually no support among black voters, a large and important Democratic demographic.

But the former mayor’s strategy is not to win only Democrats. In November, he intends to seek votes from the centre, among disillusioned Trump supporters, what he likes to call “future former Republicans.”

When he officially announced his candidacy in April 2019, Buttigieg said he recognized the “audacity” of his White House bid — a clear reference to Barack Obama’s signature phrase “the audacity of hope.”

“If you are looking at the lessons of history over the last half-century, and every time we have won or my party has won the White House, it has been with a candidate who is new in national politics,” he said, evoking Obama as well as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

It’s an advantageous comparison: Carter and Clinton were governors, Obama a senator. But it’s true that the Obama camp soon took notice of the young mayor with sharp, clean sentences and a baritone voice.

Not long after Trump’s victory, Obama was asked by The New Yorker about the Democratic succession.

Obama mentioned senators Tim Kaine and Kamala Harris, but then added: “And then there’s that guy in South Bend, Indiana. The mayor.”

AFP

US Elections: Buttigieg Narrowly Wins Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a town hall campaign event at Salem High School February 09, 2020 in Salem, New Hampshire. Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP
Democratic presidential candidate, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a town hall campaign event at Salem High School February 09, 2020 in Salem, New Hampshire. Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP

 

US Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg narrowly won the chaotic Iowa caucuses, collecting 14 delegates, ahead of Bernie Sanders with 12, according to the state party on Sunday.

The delayed results were marred by multiple technical issues, and the outcome has been subject to complaints and demands for a “recanvassing” check of the vote.

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Sanders, the leftist senator from Vermont, were separated by a razor-thin margin in the caucuses held on Monday.

“You can expect us to be asking the Iowa Democratic party for a recanvass of the discrepancies that we have identified and found for them,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir told CNN on Sunday.

“It’s been handled incompetently from our perspective.”

The national Democratic party chairman has ordered a review of the results following the technological problems and as doubts were raised about the accuracy of the process.

Massachusetts progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren won eight delegates to send to the Democratic convention in July that will choose who takes on Trump in the November election.

Former vice president Joe Biden won six and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar won one.

US Elections: Buttigieg Leads With Slight Margin In Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks at the New Hampshire Youth Climate and Clean Energy Town Hall at the Bank Of New Hampshire Stage in Concord, New Hampshire on February 5, 2020. Joseph Prezioso / AFP
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks at the New Hampshire Youth Climate and Clean Energy Town Hall at the Bank Of New Hampshire Stage in Concord, New Hampshire on February 5, 2020. Joseph Prezioso / AFP

 

Democratic White House candidate Pete Buttigieg held a wafer-thin lead over leftist rival Bernie Sanders early Thursday as more delayed results arrived, after the US election season kicked off with caucuses in Iowa.

With 97 percent of precincts now reporting after Monday’s selection process in the Midwestern state, the moderate 38-year-old Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was leading with 26.2 percent.

Senator Sanders, who is more than twice the age of Buttigieg and is making his second charge for the nomination in four years, was snapping at his heels on 26.1 percent.

Fellow progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren stood at 18.2 percent, while former vice president Joe Biden, the national frontrunner, was fourth with 15.8 percent.

Iowa’s quirky, byzantine caucus process was marred by technical glitches that forced an embarrassing delay in reporting of results in the closely-watched contest.

The 77-year-old Biden, like Buttigieg already campaigning in the next state to vote, New Hampshire, acknowledged that his poor showing in Iowa was a “gut punch,” but insisted he would stick it out.

The key figures released by the Iowa Democratic Party are percentages of the all-important delegates that the state sends to the national convention to vote for in the nomination process.

Buttigieg, a virtual unknown nationally one year ago, startled political observers by seizing the top spot over Sanders who had been leading in Iowa polls ahead of the caucuses.

Iowa’s pick has a recent historical track record of going on to become the national Democratic nominee.

 

AFP

Is America Ready For A Gay President? Buttigieg Surge Poses Question

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 17: Democratic presidential candidate, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the Nevada Democrats’ “First in the West” event at Bellagio Resort & Casino on November 17, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
David Becker / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

As young Democrat Pete Buttigieg emerges as a genuine contender in the 2020 White House race, his rise poses the question of whether America is ready for an openly gay president.

When Buttigieg announced in January that he was considering a presidential run, few had heard of the 37-year-old outside the small Indiana city of South Bend where he is mayor.

Today, he is in the small pack leading the Democratic race, regularly appearing on the campaign trail with husband Chasten Buttigieg — a junior high school teacher who now stands to become the first-ever US first gentleman.

“Mayor Pete” — as he likes to be known — has drawn a surge of fundraising, and over the weekend topped a poll in Iowa, which votes first in the Democratic nominating contest.

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The latest national polls put the Afghanistan veteran fourth behind a trio of septuagenarians vastly more experienced than he is: fellow centrist former vice president Joe Biden, and the progressive senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Buttigieg claims to have revived South Bend, an industrial city of 100,000 residents and wants to end the “horror show” that he says is the presidency of Donald Trump.

While Buttigieg does not dwell on his sexual orientation, he has spoken candidly about his decision to come out four years ago, and his engagement in 2017 to Chasten — with whom he hopes to start a family, perhaps even in the White House.

Unlike Europe where half a dozen countries have elected gay leaders since 2009, the barrier to LGBT presidential candidates, as well as women, remains unbroken in the United States.

Barack Obama, the first black man elected president in 2008, was preceded in the White House by 43 white males, none openly gay.

But in recent years and especially since the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, “the landscape for LGBTQ candidates has shifted dramatically,” said Annise Parker, president of the Victory Fund, an organization that supports gay candidates in the United States.

“When I was elected I was the first and only LGBT mayor in the top 100 (cities),” recalls Parker, who was mayor of Houston from 2010 to 2016.

“Now we have three (as well as) two governors, two US senators. The number of out politicians at the highest level is increasing very rapidly,” she added.

The first openly gay presidential candidate was Fred Karger, who sought the Republican nomination in 2012, although his candidacy never took off.

‘Integrity’

On its website, Victory Fund regularly updates a map of elected LBGTQ officials in the United States: the number currently stands at 762 across all levels of government and all states except South Dakota and Mississippi.

Recent national polls have suggested voters are more open to LGBTQ candidates.

In May, a Gallup poll found 76 percent of respondents said they would vote for a gay candidate, three times more than in 1978.

Among Democrats, who are often more concerned with minority rights, the share rose to 83 percent.

John Della Volpe, who studies voter behavior at the Harvard Institute of Politics, said most of the 2020 electorate, especially young voters, do not care about sexual orientation.

“The attributes that voters are looking for are integrity, vision, authenticity, life experience,” he told AFP. “The stakes are just too high to even focus on age, race, gender, sexual identity.”

In terms of integrity and authenticity, being openly gay is a “strength,” Volpe believes, adding that Buttigieg’s story about being “a young person struggling with their identity” rings true.

But Reluctance Remains.

A poll released last month found that 45 percent of those questioned thought America was not, or probably not ready for a gay president.

Interviews conducted in July with a sample of black Democratic voters in North Carolina found some were uncomfortable with Buttigieg’s sexual orientation, according to a campaign team memo leaked to the media.

Most, however, were able to overcome their reservations after hearing him speak in calm and measured tones and once he had reminded them he is a practicing Christian, the memo added.

In a hyper-polarized country where Democrats want the best candidate to unseat Trump, fears that Buttigieg’s sexual orientation could be a handicap may work against him.

T.J. Thran, 25, told AFP this month at a Buttigieg rally in New Hampshire he worries the candidate’s sexuality might turn off some working-class voters.

But LGBTQ activists say even if he doesn’t win the candidacy, his run will leave a lasting legacy.

“He is already breaking barriers,” said Parker.

“What he has been doing very well is showing how completely American he is and how completely transparent he is about his relationship with his husband.

“That is changing the landscape for everybody else who will be running after him,” she added.

AFP