Great Gay Hope Pete Buttigieg Officially Announces Run for President

"I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern millennial mayor."

Crowds gathered today in rainy South Bend, Indiana, to hear Pete Buttigieg officially announce his bid to become the youngest and first openly gay president of the United States.

“I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern millennial mayor,” he said, “more than a little bold, at age 37, to seek the highest office in the land.”

At the top of his announcement speech, the South Bend mayor thanked his husband, “my love” Chasten, “for giving me the strength to do this and the grounding to be myself as we go.”

“The principles that will guide my campaign for president are simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker: freedom, security, and democracy,” he continued. Expounding on the concept of freedom, he remarked, “And take it from Chasten and me, you’re not free if the county clerk gets to tell you who you ought to marry ’cause of their idea of their political beliefs.”

He later noted the Supreme Court decision that brought him “the most important freedom in my life,” making Chasten his “lawfully married spouse.” Chasten joined his husband after the speech at the podium, where they embraced and shared a kiss.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Buttigieg campaign also unveiled its new “Pete 2020” campaign logo and website, created by Brooklyn-based design firm Hyperakt, Fast Company reports. An online design toolkit allows supporters to customize and download campaign logos and other images.

Buttigieg announced in January that he was launching an exploratory committee for a 2020 presidential bid.

If Buttigieg wins the Democratic nomination, he would become the first openly gay presidential nominee from a major political party. Fred Karger’s bid for the 2012 Republican nomination made him the first openly gay major party presidential candidate.

The presidential hopeful has surged to third place in early Iowa and New Hampshire popularity polls of Democratic voters, behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Born in South Bend, Indiana’s fourth largest city with roughly 100,000 residents, Buttigieg is a Harvard graduate, a Rhodes scholar, and a veteran Naval lieutenant who served in Afghanistan. He was elected mayor in 2011 and, despite governing as a progressive Democrat in a very red state, was reelected for a second term.

Buttigieg memorably spoke last year at the March for Our Lives sister rally in South Bend. “I don’t think younger leaders will automatically connect well with younger voters, nor do I think you have to be below a certain age to make sense,” he said. “But I do think that people are looking for something new. They’re looking for something fresh and different.”

He married his longtime partner, teacher Chasten Glezman, last summer and celebrated with a trip to their local Pride event.

During a January press conference, Buttigieg called his sexuality “a fact of life,” describing his marriage as “the most important thing in my life.”

Addressing the crowd last week at the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch, Buttigieg said he wished the “Mike Pences of the world would understand that if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me—your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.

The progressive Christian candidate later addressed Vice President and former Indiana Governor Pence’s comments accusing Buttigieg of criticizing Pence’s faith. “I don’t have a problem with religion,” he told Ellen DeGeneres. “I’m religious too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people, and especially in the LGBTQ community.”

Buttigieg came out publicly as gay in an open letter printed in the South Bend Tribune in 2015, shortly before the Supreme Court’s ruling on federal marriage equality, making him Indiana’s first openly gay executive and that state’s highest elected official to come out.

“We Midwesterners are instinctively private to begin with, and I’m not used to viewing this as anyone else’s business,” he wrote in the op-ed. “But it’s clear to me that at a moment like this, being more open about it could do some good.”

The mayor was profiled in a 2016 New York Times article titled “The First Gay President?” “This is one of the most talented young leaders in the Democratic Party,” Obama strategist David Axelrod told the Times. “And he comes from the middle of the country, where the party needs to be strengthened.”

Even before Buttigieg came out publicly, The Washington Post called him “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of.”

Watch video of Buttigieg’s campaign announcement below, starting at the 1:33:00 mark.
 

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