Pete Buttigieg makes campaign stop in Marshalltown

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ - Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, made a presidential campaign stop in Marshalltown Wednesday at the home of Kim and Allan Smith. If elected, he would be the youngest, the first Maltese-American, and the first openly LGBT U.S. president.

Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, made a presidential campaign stop in Marshalltown Wednesday at the home of Kim and Allan Smith.

Buttigieg formally announced his decision to run for president of the United States as a Democrat on Sunday, after having previously launched an exploratory committee earlier this year. He was accompanied by his husband Chasten Glezman, who is a junior high school teacher at a Montessori school, and his mother, Jennifer Anne Buttigieg.

“Our democracy is frayed at the seams,” Buttigieg said to the crowd gathered in the Smiths’ backyard. “We have found the makings of a generational alliance — people of all ages and in communities of all sizes.”

Throughout his speech, Buttigieg spoke over the voices of nearby protesters, including Randall Terry, founder and former leader of Operation Rescue, a group that came into prominence in the 1980s when its members conducted sit-ins and blocked the entrances to abortion clinics.

Terry and other protesters have been following Buttigieg and Cory Booker on the campaign trail, performing skits outside of venues, including portraying the devil, Jesus and Buttigieg, saying Christians shouldn’t support these candidates because of their views on abortion and same-sex marriage.

“A lot of people would like to see Washington look more like our cities, towns and our best mayors,” Buttigieg said. “The idea of coming from the Heartland is animating this effort. It turns out there is no law that says the Heartland has to be any more conservative than the rest of the country and we have a chance to prove that.”

Buttigieg was first elected mayor in 2011 at 29 years old, and re-elected in 2015 with 80 percent of the vote. He served as a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve and took an unpaid seven months leave during his mayoral term in 2014 for a deployment to Afghanistan. For his counterterrorism work, he earned the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

He supports single-payer health care, labor unions, universal background checks for guns, addressing climate change, creating a pathway to citizenship, judicial reform, getting money out of politics and passing a federal law banning discrimination against LGBT people.

“The good news about the system we’ve got is it has this very elegant quality and that is the ability to repair itself through amendments and reforms,” he said. “Anything it takes to make sure our democracy serves us well, and that’s why we need to elect our presidents in a system where we count up all the votes and give it to the person who got the most.”

Buttigieg spoke about his interest in making health care more affordable and accessible.

“I believe we need to take a version of Medicare and make it available as an option on the (health care) exchange and call it ‘Medicare for all who want it’ and allow that to be a very natural glide path toward the Medicare for all environment that I think would be better for all Americans,” he said.

Kim Smith said she is interested in hearing all the candidates speak, and was happy to open up her home for this event.

“If any candidate had asked if they could come, I would have said sure. In a home setting it’s more intimate and you get to ask questions,” Smith said. “But I started following Mayor Buttigieg and he’s a very exciting candidate.”

Buttigieg is one of 18 Democrats who have officially thrown their hats in the race.

If elected, he would be the youngest, the first Maltese-American and the first openly LGBT U.S. president.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com