BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Complete with his own traveling Mayor Pete mobile, the 2020 presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg rolled into Fort Madison Sunday night for a town hall with about 400 potential voters.
The 37-year-old Mayor of South Bend, Indiana is in the upper terrace of Democratic candidates and completed a post-Christmas weekend swing through southeast Iowa at the Fort Madison YMCA before before heading to northeast Iowa on Monday.
Buttigieg jumped out the gate by appealing to small town America and saying rural areas like Lee County matter.
‘Sometimes I get a question why a mayor is running who’s not even a mayor of one of the biggest cities in America, and one of the things I say is ‘that’s kinda the point’,” he said.
The South Bend native was pumping voters for support for the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses just 35 days away.
“It is time to change the balance of power in this country and make sure every community, and every neighborhood, and every county is represented in a better and brighter future.”
He quickly went after current President Donald Trump, exhorting the differences between the two’s vision of America, saying the majority of American has been left behind and this country is now more isolated from the rest of the world than at any other time in our history.
“I want to begin by forming an image in your mind of a moment that’s coming in the future…hopefully the not-too-distant future. The moment when the sun comes up over the river, over Lee County, over Fort Madison, and Donald Trump is no longer the President of the United States,” he said to applause from the crowd.
Buttigieg said Trump’s version of patriotism is based on divisiveness and chaos. A short video below addresses that topic.
He said now the sun is coming up over schools where children are learning active shooter drills before they learn to read, and millennial flooding.
“This next president is going to have to find a way to deal with those issues. But that’s exactly the kind of job the presidency is for.”
He said the purpose of the presidency is not for the glorification of the president, but the empowerment of the American people.
He said the country has always been serious about national security and it’s time to get serious about protecting our children and our future and the time to address global climate change is now.
He also told the crowd that a guiding principal of this country has always been to protect everyone equally, but he said you can’t love America, but hate half of the people in it.
“What happened to ‘I was hungry and you fed me’, there’s a choice. You don’t have to see what’s happening at our borders and ask yourself whatever happened to ‘I was a stranger and you loved me’,” he said.
“People of faith have a choice right now, and God does not belong to any political party in the United States of America.”
Buttigieg said it’s also time to deal with money in politics and, if constitutional reform is what is needed, then he would consider an amendment to the Constitution to get it done.
He said freedom comes by way of education and that’s why we deliver it to everyone and said it’s time the country’s Secretary of Education had the backs of its public school teachers.
He said following the federal government is exhausting right now.
“It’s tempting to get into that sense of helplessness and switch the whole thing off and walk away,” Buttigieg said.
“But that’s when the cynical guys win. Here’s the good news. 2020 is coming and in 2020, no matter what happens on the senate floor, no matter what happens on cable tv, it’s up to us. It’s up to us to send a message that we reject the helplessness and we refuse to give in to the hopelessness.”
Lyle Brown, of Fort Madison said Buttigieg had a strong message, one that might be strong enough to carry the state.
“I think he has an excellent message. He’s well-spoken, intelligent. I can’t say for sure, but I think there’s a good chance he can do that,” Brown said.
Janet Hissem, of Montrose said she’s heard Buttigieg speak on several occasions and said he has the best vision for the country.
“I like it when he says God doesn’t belong to any political party and isn’t a politician,” Hissem said.