Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced in a video Wednesday morning that he has launched an exploratory committee to run for president.
Buttigieg, 37, is a rising figure in the Democratic party and is pitching his candidacy as a generational change. He would also be the first openly gay nominee of a major party.
“I belong to a generation that is stepping forward right now,” he said in the announcement video. “We’re the generation that lived through school shootings, that served in the wars after 9/11. And we’re the generation that stands to be the first to make less than our parents unless we do something different.”
“There’s a new generation of voices in our country,” he continued in the announcement. “Walking away from the politics of the past and ready to deliver on our priorities.”
Buttigieg made a similar appeal in Iowa at the end of last year. At the time, an adviser told BuzzFeed News that if he ran, his candidacy would be about that generational change. “He represents the voice of a new generation — a generation that hasn’t been elevated despite being the largest voting block,” the adviser said.
“The case here is simple, it’s time for a new generation of leadership in our country and we can’t nibble around the edges of a broken system,” Buttigieg told reporters at a press conference after his announcement. “That there is no going back, there is no ‘again’ in the real world, and that we can’t rewind to 1950 or, for that matter, 2010.”
“If you’re planning to be here in 2050, then you read some of these news stories a little differently — whether it’s around climate, or the finances of this country,” Buttigieg told BuzzFeed News in Iowa.
His age would make him the youngest president in US history, but he’s not alone. There is already one other 37-year-old Democrat preparing to run for president: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
In 2011 Buttigieg was elected the mayor of South Bend, where he implemented a $21 million project aimed at making the city more pedestrian-friendly. In December, Buttigieg announced that he wouldn’t seek a third term, propelling speculation that he’d jump into the presidential race.
During his time as mayor, Buttigieg, who is in the Navy Reserve, took seven months of leave to serve in Afghanistan.
He raised his national profile when he unsuccessfully ran for Democratic National Committee chair in 2017, saying that the party needed a fresh start. He withdrew from the race before a vote came when it became evident he didn’t have enough support to win.
Buttigieg came out as gay in an op-ed in his local newspaper in 2015. “For a local student struggling with her sexuality, it might be helpful for an openly gay mayor to send the message that her community will always have a place for her,” he wrote. “And for a conservative resident from a different generation, whose unease with social change is partly rooted in the impression that he doesn’t know anyone gay, perhaps a familiar face can be a reminder that we’re all in this together as a community.” He was married last summer.