Four questions for US presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg

Katie SCHUBAUER
US Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg says he believes Americans are ready to vote for a young, moderate mayor to lead the nation in 2020 (AFP Photo/JIM WATSON)

Berlin (United States) (AFP) - Pete Buttigieg came out of nowhere this year to mount a surprisingly strong campaign for the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination.

The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana has big ideas for the nation, but he couches them in a moderate platform that sets him apart from more liberal rivals and puts him in the same centrist lane as former vice president and current frontrunner Joe Biden.

AFP caught up with Buttigieg while he was on a four-day bus tour across early-voting New Hampshire. Here are key questions answered by the Democrat aiming to become the youngest-ever US president:

- What sets you apart? -

"One thing that I think remains true today that was true in 2016 is a level of frustration with things not working -- with our political, and in many ways, economic system not working. And there's a lot of interest for that reason, even now -- or especially now -- in someone who's coming from outside of Washington. So I can offer that."

"At the same time, I can offer more government experience than the president (had when elected) and a greater commitment to the norms and institutions of this country. What I'm seeing on the trail is a desire to solve big problems and do it in a way that's going to heal the divisions of this country," he said.

"We've got a unique message about what it's going to take to do that."

- Do you have the right experience? -


"I have not been marinating in Washington for a long time," he said, in a dig at some of his older rivals.

"There's no experience like the Oval Office, and it should be daunting to any reasonable person looking at it. But if you think about what a mayor has to do, not only by way of solving big problems and wrestling with issues from racial justice to economic development... having to deliver results, immediately accountable without any alternative facts out there, that's the kind of experience that I think we need," he added.

Also, "I bring more military experience than any president we've had go in there in almost 30 years."

- Can a middle path win? -

"There are areas where we're out front, especially on democratic reform (such as making it easier to vote and abolishing the Electoral College). There are other areas where I'd certainly say we're not extreme in the way some of my competitors are around health or other issues," he said.

"In the end what I'm offering is the chance to have the most effective and progressive presidency of my lifetime while also galvanizing, not polarizing, the American people. I think that's where most voters are."

- How will you draw Biden supporters? -

"There is no back to normal. Normal didn't work and that's how we got Donald Trump. And so what I'm offering is really a different message about how we move forward."

"Every time my party has won the presidency in the past 50-plus years, it's been with a candidate who was new on the national scene, calling Americans to their highest values, not seen as a creature of Washington, and representative of a new generation of leadership."