Pete Buttigieg officially launched his candidacy for the White House on Sunday, against a backdrop of improving poll numbers and increasing national interest. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, the fourth-largest city in Indiana, made the announcement at an afternoon rally in his home town.
Buttigieg – his father Joseph, a Maltese university academic, emigrated in the 1970s and passed away in January – said he was running “to tell a different story than ‘Make America Great Again’. Because there’s a myth being sold … the myth that we can stop the clock and turn it back.
Watch Pete Buttigieg announce his presidential bid here
The openly gay Rhodes scholar Afghanistan veteran broke with a new campaign website, peteforamerica.com, a New York magazine cover – headline, “Wonder Boy” – and an interview with the tabloid website TMZ in which he revealed a love for “classic rock” like Creedence Clearwater Revival and was duly given a guitar.
In the three months since he declared an exploratory committee to test a presidential run, he has gone from relative obscurity to drawing large crowds at campaign stops.
He has raised $7 million dollars, more than most other candidates, and jumped to third place in the latest polls of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire — the earliest states to vote in next year’s primary elections.
Buttigieg has also garnered media attention for his feud with Vice President Mike Pence, the former governor of Indiana who pursued anti-LGBT policies while he was in office. Buttigieg has criticized Pence for his opposition to gay marriage and gay rights, which Pence has said is informed by his Christian faith.