Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg participated in a FOX News town hall event hosted by Chris Wallace to make his case to viewers. Buttigieg told Trump voters they have a choice, “If you’re having trouble looking your kids in the eye and explaining this presidency to them, you have a choice.”
QUESTION: Mr. Buttigieg, there is a common theme in your messages about trying to fix a divided nation that has become polarized over the past years. Other than creating policy that appeals to both sides of the political spectrum, how do you plan to appeal to Republican voters in order to steal them — steer them away from voting for President Trump?
BUTTIGIEG: Yeah. Well, first of all, we’re doing it right now. This network is known for having a lot of more conservative viewers. But I don’t think that you have to be a Democrat to see what is wrong with this president and this presidency.
I’m meeting a lot of what I like to call future former Republicans who are coming to my events. And I’m not pretending that we’re going to agree on everything. I’m not trying to trick anybody. But my message is that we can at least agree on this, that if you’re having trouble looking your kids in the eye and explaining this presidency to them, that you have a choice.
But the really important thing I think to remember, not just in order to win but in order to govern, is that if there is an American majority that can agree on what we’re against, there’s an even bigger majority that agrees on what we’re for.
Remember, I’m proposing things that most Americans even in conservative states think we ought to do: raising wages, making sure that corporations pay their fair share in taxes, delivering paid family leave, doing something about gun violence.
You know, more than 80 percent of Republicans thinks we ought to at least be doing universal background checks. These are things that most Americans want to see happen. And I believe that’s important to remember from the perspective of what it’s going to take to govern in the future, because a big issue we have right now is that a majority in the American people isn’t necessarily being reflected by a majority on the floor of the American Congress.
So it’s going to take presidential leadership to hold senators to account and make sure they’re responding to these ideas and these reforms that are viewed as necessary not just by my fellow Democrats, but by independents and an awful lot of Republicans.
So we don’t have to choose between being bold and being unifying. This is my point. Some folks are saying you’ve got to pick one or the other or that you’ve got to measure boldness by how many people you can turn off and turn away. I think that actually these bold ideas about how to make American life better are part of how we’re going to unify the country. And we have to unify this country, because it has become dangerously divided and frighteningly polarized. This is our chance to do something about that, and it’s at the core of my campaign.
WALLACE: Mayor, I want to pick up on these last two questions, because it seems to me they strike a common theme. And I think it’s fair to say it’s the biggest knock against you among voters who might be receptive to your message, and that is the question of your lack of experience, especially in areas that are so key and so important to being president of the United States.
You were the mayor of the 305th largest city in America. You were never elected with more than 11,000 votes in any of your successful elections. You’ve never run a business. The flipside, you’re obviously smart as the Dickens, you served in the military. But what makes you, given your life experience, what makes you qualified, what makes you ready to be able to run the largest enterprise in the world, the United States government?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, look, anyone ought to be humbled by the scope of the American presidency and what it requires. And the reality is, there is no job like the presidency.
But I also think we’ve got to ask what kind of experience we’re looking for. And that’s what the American people are going to decide. Look, I’ll admit, if what you’re looking for is the most years spent in Washington, you’ve got a clear choice and it’s not going to be me.
But I would also argue that the kind of experience you have governing on the ground in a city of any size is the kind of experience we need a little more of in Washington, because we don’t have the luxury of alternative facts. We have to get things done. We can’t shut down a city government over a partisan disagreement. There wouldn’t be any drinking water. We just have to get it solved. And I think we’d be well served if we’d get Washington to work a little more like our best cities and towns.
Now, if I were the 305th most senior member of Congress, I’m not sure that folks would be as surprised by my candidacy. But this is exactly my point. And actually, the fact that the city that I’m from and the city that I led is not one of America’s biggest global cities, that’s part of the point, as well. There are so many communities in Iowa and across America that have felt passed over, in addition to neighborhoods in some of our biggest cities that just feel they’re being ignored by the political process.
I think we need a voice — frankly, I think my party needs to provide more voices from these kinds of communities that hold so much of the key to the future of this country and that need answers from a Washington that can’t seem to speak to us anymore, that isn’t even paying attention.
We’ve got a president saying the economy’s fantastic because the Dow Jones is looking good. And I think in a lot of our communities that are not necessarily the biggest cities, as well as some neighborhoods in our biggest cities, folks are saying, great, when is that getting to my kitchen table?
It’s just a different perspective, just like having served brings a different perspective and coming from the generation that I come from brings a different perspective. And I believe — look, I’ve heard some folks saying this is no time to take a risk. And I agree. But I think the biggest risk that we could take right now would be to try to go up against this president with the same, old playbook that we’ve been relying on that helps explains how we got here in the first place. I think it’s time for something completely different.