Many viewers of South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg's town hall on Sunday were intrigued by the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate's thoughtful remarks and intent on making sure they're able to hear more from Buttigieg throughout the campaign.
Progressives around the country wrote on social media about their hope that the 37-year-old would be included in the Democratic primary debates scheduled to begin in June, and their goal in helping to make sure he isn't shut out of the process.
Definitely hoping Buttigieg meets the polling & donation thresholds to qualify for debates — a bit of an unconventional choice but I’d love to see him go up against the bigger name candidates. https://t.co/RSsGdkRQCD
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) March 11, 2019
Not sure whom I will support yet but going to make a donation to Pete Buttigieg to help make sure he can participate in the DNC debates
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) March 11, 2019
— Marti Gould Cummings (@MartiGCummings) March 11, 2019
Journalist Glenn Greenwald noted that while he didn't agree with everything Buttigieg promoted during the town hall, which was hosted by CNN at SXSW in Austin, Texas, the mayor offered a refreshing departure "from the dreary, trite scripts most politicians cling to."
Yes, @PeteButtigieg is a genuinely interesting, thoughtful, heterodox & compelling thinker about contemporary politics, liberated from the dreary, trite scripts most politicians cling to. His appearance on Morning Joe was a masterpiece & the reaction to his town hall seems great. https://t.co/JaTRJpPyrm
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 11, 2019
Buttigieg called for abolishing the electoral college and a federal quality law to forbid states from discriminating against LGBTQ Americans, and argued against attacks on his youth by saying, "I have more years of government experience under my belt than the president."
"That's a low bar. I know that," Buttigieg said. "I also have had more years of executive government experience than the vice president."
The mayor offered a direct admonition of Vice President Mike Pence, the former governor of his state who he suggested has abandoned all pretense of the mission of public service by enabling President Donald Trump's racist, anti-immigration, anti-economic justice agenda.
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"I disagreed with him ferociously," Buttigieg said of the four-year period when their time in Indiana government overlapped, "but I thought, well at least he believes in our institutions and he's not personally corrupt, but then how could he get on board with this presidency?"
The mayor attacked the vice president's punitive, virulently bigoted interpretation of Christian teachings, which Pence has claimed have guided him in his governing and which has reportedly led to policies like his support for anti-gay "conversion therapy" and funding decisions which led to an HIV outbreak in Indiana in 2014.
"My understanding of scripture is that it is about protecting the stranger and the prisoner and the poor person, and that idea of welcome," Buttigieg said. "And his has a lot more to do with sexuality and a certain view of rectitude."
"But even if you buy into that, how could he allow himself to be the cheerleader of the porn star presidency?" he added, referring to Trump's alleged payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her from publicizing his extramarital affair with her.
— Sam Wise (@SamWiseSW) March 11, 2019
However, the mayor also indicated support for regime change in Venezuela and tempered his stated support for moving "in the direction of a Medicare for All system" by saying he would establish a public option before shifting to universal healthcare.
But listening to Buttigieg, journalist John Nichols posited, "makes people feel hope for the future of an American experiment that's been battered by Trump."
Before CNN's town hall, Buttigieg captured progressives' attention in recent weeks with an indication that he would support packing the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure the passage of bold, forward-thinking proposals.
Buttigieg needs to raise at least $65,000 from 200 donors in 20 different states, or obtain one percent of the vote in at least three approved national polls in order to be included in the Democratic debates.