Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds rally at Decorah High School


Benjamin Kiesel (23') Chips

Mayor Pete Buttigieg spoke to an audience of around 1,000 at Decorah High School

Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg held a campaign rally at the Decorah High School gym on Nov. 2. Over 1,000 people attended the event.

Buttigieg discussed some of the most pressing issues he would face in his presidency, including climate change, which he described as his first priority. He also mentioned his plans for addressing gun control, reproductive rights, and institutional racism.

Buttigieg also stressed the need for a united majority for defeating President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. “I believe the right president, the president I hope to be, can gather together an American majority to solve the issues we see today,” Buttigieg said. “The good news is that the American people are ready to do something. We need a strong American majority. This isn’t a red versus blue argument.”

Buttigieg is currently serving his second term as Mayor in South Bend, IN. Buttigieg has also served in the U.S. military, including as a Navy Intelligence Officer in Afghanistan from March to September 2014. Buttigieg announced his candidacy on Apr. 14, 2019, and has rose near the top in the polls.

Decorah community member Jack Knight said that Buttigieg is an attractive candidate to people who voted for former President Barack Obama. Buttigieg volunteered with Obama’s campaign, and some of his policy ideas bear similarities to Obama’s. “For those of us who have been around for a while, Mayor Pete feels very familiar,” Knight said. “Pete is starting to feel a lot like when Obama ran a few years ago.”

Buttigieg made an appeal to his audience as a fellow midwesterner, claiming to have seen negative effects of President Trump’s policies firsthand. He said that his midwestern roots and centrist appeal would give him an advantage in winning over enough voters to beat Trump in the 2020 election.

“I think it helps if we produce a nominee from the heartland, who understands how to speak to parts of the country that haven’t heard nearly enough from our party but have a lot to gain,” Buttigieg said. “I have seen all the ways in which this White House has betrayed American workers even while claiming they pay lip service to the working class. And traveling through Iowa and where I come from and other parts of the country I have seen the consequences of a trade war that is on the backs of american farmers.”

Peter Stelter (‘21) was inspired by Buttigieg’s speaking abilities and connection with the audience. He saw Buttigieg speak in Elkader, Iowa, and described it as a transformative political experience.

“I’ve been politically involved since I was 10, but there is something uniquely different about Mayor Pete,” Stelter said. “He just carries weight with him that I have never experienced with any other politician. He has this unique ability as an individual to call people together.”

Owen Johnson (‘22) also remarked on Buttigieg’s skill as an orator.

“I’ve always kind of been interested in Buttigieg as a candidate,” Johnson said. “I think he is a very good speaker, and he is very put together and eloquent when he speaks, which is different from other Democratic candidates. He is also good at conveying his ideas and making the audience believe what he believes.”

Buttigieg’s visit to Decorah is an attempt to garner more support in the upcoming Iowa caucus. As the first major contest in the Democratic primary, the Iowa caucuses are used as an indicator of how well a candidate will do in later in the race. After the event, attendees were asked to pledge for Buttigieg in the caucus.

According to Real Clear Politics, Buttigieg ranks behind former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, respectively, in national polls. However, many polls have Buttigieg in second place in Iowa behind Warren.

Buttigieg aimed to instill a sense of hope for the future in his audience. He emphasized the role of young people in current politics and the idea that his politics could create a better future for them.

“I know there are some people in this room who will not be old enough to vote in 2020,” Buttigieg said. “I hope those of us who are old enough can fix everything, so they can focus on being young. One day, when we can be reunited, I can tell them, ‘On behalf of all adults, I am sorry it got as bad as it did in 2019, but look at what we did in 2020 to make it better.’”

Benjamin Kiesel (’23) Chips
Luther students attended Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s rally at Decorah High School.
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