South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg formally announced his campaign for the Democratic presidential primary on Sunday, April 14.
More than 4,000 attended the train dock, with another estimated 1,500 in an overflow area with a large outdoor display, watching the event via livestream.
Before formally making his announcement, Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, briefly spoke to the overflow crowd in the rain.
“I am impressed by the people standing inside,” Buttigieg said to the crowd. “I am moved by the people standing outside. This is what the beginning of a new American spring looks like.”
Buttigieg aimed to channel a message of hope and change.
“It is time to walk away from the politics of the past and towards something totally different,” Buttigieg said in his formal announcement speech. “So that’s why I’m here today. My name is Pete Buttigieg, they call me Mayor Pete. I am a proud son of South Bend, Indiana, and I am running for president of the United States.”
The event took place in the historic Studebaker plant in the city’s downtown in order to accommodate the inclement weather conditions, though the choice of location was intentional.
Thousands of high-paying jobs at Studebaker were lost after the automobile manufacturer folded, echoing the same tale of industrial decay felt across the Midwest.
Buttigieg has worked with industry partners to reinvigorate South Bend’s economy, turning the hollow industrial park into a tech incubator, a symbol of the 37-year-old mayor’s vision for America.
Buttigieg joins a crowded Democratic primary of 19 candidates, but has seen a surge in support after announcing an exploratory committee in January.
Since the end of March, Buttigieg has been gaining in the polls, firmly situated among other top contenders Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Buttigieg was baptized and raised in the Roman Catholic church. He is now a member of the Episcopalian church.
He frames his 2020 presidential platform as “the exact opposite of Donald Trump,” drawing on his Midwestern mayoral experience and progressive values.
The motto for his campaign is: “It’s time for a new generation of American leadership.”
Buttigieg supports a single-payer health care system, unionized labor, a federal LGBT non-discrimination amendment and abolishing the electoral college.
In 2009, while working at management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Buttigieg entered the Navy Reserve as a naval intelligence officer.
First elected as mayor of South Bend in 2011 at the age of 29 with 74 percent of the vote, one of his signature programs has been the “Vacant and Abandoned Properties Initiative.”
This program aimed to rehabilitate or demolish more than 1,000 properties in the city with the declared purpose of transforming these lots into productive assets and to strengthen neighborhoods.
Mayor Buttigieg has also led the city to invest $50 million into the previously neglected public parks.
In 2014, Buttigieg was deployed for seven months to serve in Afghanistan as a lieutenant, and he remained in the reserve until 2017.
During the 2015 controversy over Indiana Senate Bill 101, otherwise known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Buttigieg publicly came out as gay. He went on to win his reelection later that year with 80 percent of the vote.