SOUTH BEND, Ind. • Pete Buttigieg, the little-known Indiana mayor who has risen to prominence in the early stages of the 2020 Democratic presidential race, made his official campaign entrance Sunday by claiming the mantle of a youthful generation ready to reshape the country.
“I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern millennial mayor,” he said to cheers of “Pete, Pete, Pete” from an audience assembled in a former Studebaker auto plant. “More than a little bold, at age 37, to seek the highest office in the land.”
The South Bend mayor, a Rhodes scholar and Afghanistan War veteran who has been essentially campaigning since January, has joined a dozen-plus rivals vying to take on President Donald Trump.
“The forces of change in our country today are tectonic,” he said. “Forces that help to explain what made this current presidency even possible. That’s why, this time, it’s not just about winning an election — it’s about winning an era.”
Over the past few months, Buttigieg has appeared frequently on national TV news and talk shows and developed a strong social media following with his message that the country needs “a new generation of leadership.”
Buttigieg would be the first openly gay nominee of a major presidential party; he married his husband, Chasten, last year. He would be the first mayor to go directly to the White House. And he would be the youngest person to become president, turning 39 the day before the next inauguration, on Jan. 20, 2021. Theodore Roosevelt was 42 when he took office, while John F. Kennedy was 43 and Bill Clinton 46.