Why not Buttigieg for president?
Political news pounces on any poll suggesting Republicans’ preference for the 2024 presidential candidate. Little attention has landed on the Democratic side, where the numbers have been quite interesting.
The Granite State Poll suggesting a considerable lead for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over Donald Trump also puts Pete Buttigieg well ahead of other Democrats, President Joe Biden included.
Of course, that poll surveys only voters in New Hampshire, which may lose its importance as the first to hold a Democratic presidential primary. Also, we are a long year away from the nominating process, forever on the political calendar.
Biden, meanwhile, hints he’s running for a second term. His presidency has been getting things done, along with rising approval ratings. Biden has furthermore proven time and time again that it’s a mistake to underestimate his political prowess — underscored by the Democrats’ surprisingly strong midterm performance.
This writer is agnostic on whether Biden should try for a second term. He’s up there on age and has slowed down but is getting the job done, and well.
However, she is a believer in the strong pull of Buttigieg as a younger Democratic alternative — as a pragmatic solver of problems. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg comes from the middle of America. He knows how to talk to the middle of America, and unlike the Democratic celebrities on the coasts, he wants to.
Buttigieg is plain-spoken and not grating in the older lefty ways of a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. And how astute of him to become a presence on right-wing Fox News. Warren has gone after him for these appearances because of the network’s attacks against the Democratic Party.
But his willingness to go to, what is now, the other side speaks of courage lacking in Democrats comfy in their partisan bunkers. He further argues that the Fox News audience includes persuadable voters.
Watch him. Buttigieg counters hostile interviewers without turning aggressive, without losing his cool. Fox carries an older viewership, and Buttigieg, a still-youthful 41 years, has surprised analysts in his appeal to Baby Boomers, apparent during his short-lived run for the presidency in 2020.
He has good manners, and just about nobody cares that he’s gay.
The Granite State Poll showed Buttigieg with a considerable lead over other Democrats. Some 23% of likely New Hampshire primary voters chose him as their favored candidate. Biden and Warren came in at 18% each. Kamala Harris trailed way behind with only 2% support.
What is Buttigieg doing now and would be doing as the Democrats’ presidential candidate? As secretary of Transportation, he is acting as the face of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. That’s 166 projects backed by $7.5 billion over five years.
Thus, he talks about fixing roads, ports and bridges and in such battleground states as Ohio, Florida and Minnesota. In Berlin, New Hampshire, Buttigieg described a new high-tech system that would melt the city’s considerable snowfall from the roads. It would send heat from a nearby biomass through underground pipes.
In Tucson, Arizona, he announced funding for a bridge to go over a railroad, thus easing traffic in a famous bottleneck. In Atlanta, he announced a grant to fix the city’s rapid transit authority’s Five Points Station.
And so on. In the quest of upgrading America’s creaky infrastructure, Buttigieg also gives voters a chance to avert their eyes from the swirling cesspool of lunatic conspiracy theories that has overtaken much of the Republican Party.
Like Biden, Buttigieg connects with voters. He could be the Democrats’ presidential candidate. Or, as a replacement for not-much-loved Vice President Kamala Harris, he could strengthen Biden’s quest for a second term.
Pete Buttigieg. Why not?
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.