TRANSCRIPT: Pete Buttigieg press gaggle 4/17/2019

The following is a transcript of Pete Buttigieg’s midday press gaggle on 4/17/2019 in Marshalltown, Iowa.


Q: What would you say are the downsides to this rise?

Well, it creates an organizing challenge, because, you know, we were expecting more of a gradual pattern to emerge. And instead, what's happened is we really found ourselves sort of exploding on the scene very quickly. This is a very good problem to have. But it means that we really need to race to catch up with our own visibility, we're relying on supporters to -- as they have started to do -- organizing themselves, work with us as we start organizing around them.

And that means we've got to put in place the kind of human infrastructure to capture all of this energy, to make sure people who want to help know what we need them to do. And then to sustain that, through organizing and also through substance, all the way through to the caucuses and beyond.

Q: Do you worry about rising too fast and opening yourself up to a lot of criticism protesters like you've had for the past two days?

Well, the better we do, the -- the more that's going to happen. So I take it to be a barometer of success, just something that we have to prepare for, along with all of the other things that you have to be ready for when you reach the top tier.

Q: There have been some critical coverage of your time as mayor of South Bend recently, some questions about whether it was as much of a turnaround story as you talk about. The poverty rate in 2017 was still above the Indiana and national average, and the median household income was below. What would you say to those those critiques?

A: Our city was devastated economically for 50 years, we're celebrating the fact that we got our per capita personal income over $20,000. This year for the first time. This is not a rags to riches story. This is a story about transforming our trajectory. But I'm really proud of what we were able to do on our toughest issues from blight and vacant and abandoned property to driving that poverty rate down, to closing the gap on unemployment, in some cases actually doing better than the national average, which is just unheard of before.

Things have come to be headed in the right direction. I think if you ask most people in South Bend, you'll have a sense that the city believes in itself again, I'm not going around saying we fixed every problem we've got, but I'm so proud of what we done together. And I think it's a very powerful story.

Q: In anticipation of the molar report coming out redacted tomorrow. Could you speak a little bit to how your administration would be transparent? I know you faced a little bit of criticism, in terms of issues with your police chief and I think referred to it as the tapes investigation. How would your administration be more transparent than this current one?

A: One of the things I learned in my administration in South Bend was the importance of transparency, because when information is withheld, people tend to assume the worst. Policing is a great example. So there's a lot of mistrust, especially related to race and policing. And so we had what I think is one of the best -- certainly in the region, maybe in the country -- online transparency portals where we started really pushing information about our policing out to the public, we even have a searchable database where you can see, at an incident level, how many issues there were with use of force and complaints, because we realized that the more information was out there, the better.

Even if we were going to be criticized on something, I'd rather we be criticized on something real that people are informed about. And I think the same attitude should govern the way the federal government at -- you know -- arranges its information, we should have an open data policy, we should make sure information, especially given the power of the internet to do this is -- is published widely.

And needless to say, in the context of the the corruption and -- and criminal and other investigations related to the president and people connected to him -- that as much as as responsibly possible that should be made available to the Congress and to the public.

Q: How frustrating, as you mentioned, that generational alliance just now, it struck me in a few of these events, you've had people who have been here or double your age, older than your mother. What do you make of the fact that your message is attracting senior citizens, people who are double your age? And what do you think it says about voters of that age that they're willing to give a millennial 37 year olds a chance?

A: Well, I think seniors have, first of all, they've seen just how much of a need there is for change. And I also think that, you know, so many seniors that I meet are really cheering on the newer generation. They're excited about the idea of new ideas, of new faces. They're not afraid of it, maybe. And that kind of support is really vital to this.

Obviously, I'm excited about being able to engage fellow millennials and the way that we've been able to connect with young voters that are new tools, but really, this won't succeed unless we can unite voters like that with voters my parents age or older. And it's been really inspiring and exciting to see that in the crowds of the community.

Q: Have you had any funny interactions with people telling you “you're my son's age”?

A: Oh, there's a lot of that. Yeah, but yeah, that's that's a good sign.

Q: [first part of question inaudible, about Biden & Sanders] Do you think -- concerns about someone being that old and serving as commander in chief?

A: Again, I think every individual needs to demonstrate their fitness for the office. And there's no one attribute or set of attributes on paper that really explain what an individual person can bring.

It's the combination of -- of what we have to offer and our experiences, and I’ll let each individual competing speak for themselves.

Q:  How frustrating is it, offensive is it to you that for the last few days, you've been hearing the protesters, one dressed up as Satan shouting Sodom and Gomorrah to the first openly gay candidate for President who has lifted up into these upper tiers? Is that frustrating and offensive to you to hear that type of invectives at your events?

Yeah, I think when when you're in politics, especially at this level, you're going to see the good, the bad, the ugly and the peculiar. And that's just, that's just part of how it works. And you got to be prepared for that. Look, the next president is going to have to confront things a lot more challenging than being interrupted or having to talk over a little noise at an event. So it may be irritating, but it's a it's also part of the landscape.

Q: About generational issues, how and you you're emphasizing climate, how much of a factor do you think it is, of younger people pushing that issue forward? You think that's what's kind of elevated that of an issue among Democrats?

A: I’d say the longer you're planning to be here, the more you stand to lose if we fail to tackle climate change. This is no longer a theoretical issue that's happening in some other place, like the Arctic or some other time, like the distant future. It's happening here. It's happening around us. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, the instability for our growers, the experience of wildfires, all of these, are things we were warned about. And they're now up close and personal. And so I do think that younger voters will be particularly motivated at a very personal level, to make sure we do something about climate. But I also believe that seniors want to be passing on a great country in a great environment and a great economy. And that's one of the reasons why you don't have to be a youngster to really care about climate change.

Thanks a lot everybody.