TRANSCRIPT: Pete Buttigieg press gaggle 5/16/2019

Hi friends,

During his gaggle about an hour ago, Pete Buttigieg addressed DeBlasio entering the race, some Biden stuff, and the Alabama abortion ban. This was less newsy than the speech itself which is jam-packed with new stuff. That transcript coming soon.


Q: Are you going to require your judicial nominees to uphold Roe?

A: Well, certainly a consistent judiciary -- judicial philosophy of mine would lead in that direction. So I don't know exactly what conversation or process with would establish that, but it's difficult for me to envision judicial appointee who did not have the same sense of freedom that I talked about in the speech.

Q: How are you going to keep your poll numbers and catch up with Joe Biden?

A: Well, we seem to be doing well, so far, certainly in terms of trajectory. And in many ways, I think this race is wide open. New entrants have been taken seriously. We've certainly been taken seriously. But when there are this many competitors, I don't think you're running against any one person. You're kind of competing against the field as well. So you got to have a good plan, work your plan and have the discipline to stick to your plan. And I think that's going to carry us through the nomination.

Q: Do you think that Joe Biden represents some of that normalcy that you talked about that voters have rejected. He's talking about restoring it. Does he represent the old way that you were you mentioned earlier?

A: I don't think that much about the others. I just think that the kind of message that somebody like me needs to propose is one of where we're heading. And the future is going to look very different.

We need to -- if there's anything we want to capture out of our past, it's the fact that the greatest leaders in our past had that quality of being focused on the future. And you're going to see that in our policies and in our language going forward.

Q: Mayor, do you support legislation codifying the constitutional rights for women to have an abortion?

I think that's -- I think that deserves to be taken seriously. I haven't seen the full range of ideas on how to do that. Some people think it has to be in the Constitution itself as a right to privacy, for example, obviously, that could be achieved legislatively, but with those rights under new assault, I think the full range of responses needs to be contemplated because we can't just keep having this play out one Supreme Court point at a time.

Q: Any reaction to Bill de Blasio joining the race this morning? Do you think it's getting crowded? Are there room for more candidates?

A: It was crowded when I got in it. So I think the more the merrier. And I do think this is a good moment for mayors to be stepping up. Obviously, all of the candidates are very different from one another in different ways. But it's a time when we need to be looking beyond Washington and holding up examples from local leadership.

Q: Is there a real risk that the Supreme Court will actually overturn Roe vs. Wade, if any of these laws come before the court?

A: I do -- I mean, this is one of the rationales that the current administration offers for life when pretty much everything about this President is anathema to the values of the -- for example -- of the religious right, and yet, he was able to build a coalition largely around a promise, explicit or implicit to overturn Roe.

This is, of course, precisely the intent of the Alabama law and the Georgia law. They know that under current case law, if you believe in the idea of [inaudible], that those laws are unconstitutional. They know it because they want to test the constitutionality with the new referee and see if they get a bit [inaudible.]

Q: [badly worded question about Iran]

A: Well, the relationship between what the President says and what the President does has always been suspect. What I know is that there appears to be the early makings of a military mobilization, consistent with the reporting we're seen of a push within this administration… led -- it would seem -- by some of the very same people who got us into the Iraq War, to create escalations that perhaps even the President himself might not be able to control.

[This] is why I think this is something that should be taken extremely seriously, and why I hope and pray that there are enough people in Congress to recognize that -- if there was ever a moment to stop Congress's abandonment of its own war powers and get on the record on this issue. It is now.

Q: Are you worried you're peaking too early?

A: It's not like we're in first place. So while I'm thrilled with the fact that we are obviously running ahead of a lot of better-known competitors and got a lot of favorable attention, and our organization is growing more and more strong in terms of recruiting and finance, it doesn't -- it doesn't take away from the fact that this is a long run, this is a marathon, we've got a long way to go. We are frankly ahead of where I hoped to be. But now we are right where I want to be.

And what you're going to see us doing in the coming months is making sure we consolidate the support that we have earned even more support and put the organization behind it. It's one thing to have a nice poll number or good day of press clips. What we really need is that on-the-ground, unglamorous blocking and tackling work, especially in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. And you'll see that in the -- our organizational and tactical focus going forward.