Primary Source: Buttigieg sees a boost from Iowa

  • John P. Gregg. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/5/2020 10:10:52 PM
Modified: 2/6/2020 7:49:38 AM

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday said he believes his campaign is connecting with voters and also said the election in November will deliver the final verdict on President Donald Trump’s conduct in office.

Buttigieg, who plans a rally in Lebanon on Saturday, spoke to the Valley News Wednesday morning as incomplete results from the Iowa caucuses showed him as a frontrunner, giving him a boost going into Tuesday’s long-awaited New Hampshire primary.

“The biggest thing we are taking out of it is that our vision is connecting. You know, we started a year ago with no name recognition, no money, just an idea, and the idea was that we could both govern and win based on a sense of unity and belonging to deal with our toughest issues,” Buttigieg said.

The 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Ind., also made clear he is hoping to appeal to independents, along with Democrats, in the crowded primary field, where U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is the other frontrunner in Iowa and has led recent New Hampshire polls.

“We feel good because the thing I’ve always seen about New Hampshire is there is an independent streak here, that folks always think for themselves, and so much of what we are doing is inviting independents — and even forward-thinking Republicans ready to do something different from before — into this movement, and welcoming them, and I think New Hampshire is a great place to prove that strategy can work,” Buttigieg said.

For his part, Sanders spoke at a rally in Derry, N.H., Wednesday morning before flying back to Washington, where he voted to convict Trump in the Senate impeachment trial. Trump was acquitted, with U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, the Utah Republican and former Massachusetts governor, the lone member of the GOP to vote against Trump.

Sanders in a statement said Trump is a “pathological liar.”

“Sadly, we now have a president who sees himself as above the law and is either ignorant or indifferent to the Constitution,” Sanders said. “And we have a president who clearly committed impeachable offenses.”

In the phone interview before the impeachment vote, Buttigieg said it is important for voters not to “walk away in frustration” over the impeachment outcome this week.

“The Senate is the jury today, but we are the jury tomorrow, and the final verdict on the president and the Senate in this democracy is up to us,” Buttigieg said.

For his part, Trump sent a fundraising email with the title ‘ACQUITTED” and wrote, “Washington Democrats and the Lamestream media have spent the last three years trying to overturn the 2016 Election only to have FAILED. They’ve been after me since the day I was elected and they have absolutely NOTHING to show for it except millions of wasted taxpayer dollars.”

More from Buttigieg

Because he has risen fast from obscurity, many voters are just learning more about Buttigieg, as made apparent by the video of a voter at the Iowa caucuses who sought to take back her vote after learning that he is married to another man.

“Are you saying that he has a same-sex partner? Are you kidding?” the woman says in the video. “Then I don’t want anybody like that in the White House … why does it say in the Bible that a man should marry a woman then.”

Buttigieg precinct captain Nikki van den Heever told the voter that she herself was a “Christian woman,” and that it was OK for people to have different interpretations of the Bible. Putting her hand on her son, who appears to be of middle-school age, van den Heever says, “But what I teach my son is that love is love, and we’re all human beings.”

Although it did not appear that the voter changed her mind, Buttigieg said he was pleased how van den Heever handled the interaction and said his campaign wants to reach out and “invite people to move past prejudice.”

“First of all, it’s just a testament to our organizers and volunteers understanding the values of this campaign,” Buttigieg said. “We talk a lot about the rules of the road and of approaching people with a sense of respect, and cultivating a sense of belonging, and I was so heartened to hear about how that played out.”

Events ahead

Several candidates will make Upper Valley stops in the coming days. U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, will speak at River Valley Community College in Claremont Thursday morning and then will hold a forum at 6 p.m. at the Fireside Inn & Suites in West Lebanon.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, running a longshot campaign to unseat Trump, will hold a town hall Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Colby-Sawyer College’s Clements Hall in New London.

Most Democrats will be participating in a big New Hampshire debate at Saint Anselm College that evening at 8 p.m. co-sponsored by ABC and WMUR-TV.

Buttigieg is holding a “get out the vote” rally on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Lebanon High School.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is holding a town hall at 6 p.m. Sunday at Lebanon High School. (Her husband, Bruce Mann, was in the Upper Valley on Wednesday meeting with voters in Lebanon and on the Dartmouth College campus.)

Andrew Yang is also in the Valley on Sunday at the Claremont Opera House at 11:30 a.m. and Dartmouth’s Hopkins Alumni Center at 1:45 p.m.

Shortly after this column went to press late Wednesday night, Sanders announced a Claremont town hall at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Stevens High School. And U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., plans a New London “meet and greet” at 9 a.m. Monday at the Blue Loon Bakery.

No word yet on whether former Vice President Joe Biden and other candidates will make it to the Valley for one more run at voters.

John P. Gregg can be reached at


This column has been updated to add new events for Sanders and Bennet.

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