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Pete Buttigieg, Rochester, New Hampshire, Nov. 11. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Top Republicans are taking Pete Buttigieg seriously as a potential general election candidate after his breakout poll in Iowa. The respected Des Moines Register poll, released Saturday night, has Buttigieg at the top of the Democratic pack in Iowa.

What they're saying: "He'd be a fresh face with a message of unity and a more traditional Democratic program that's not as scary to suburbanites," Karl Rove told me. "His weaknesses would be in motivating African Americans and connecting with blue-collar middle America that's dubious of any Harvard-educated elites."

  • Others, including several top Trump advisers, raised concerns that Buttigieg is more talented than Joe Biden and that he will be harder to brand as a leftist radical than Sens. Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.
  • "Buttigieg might be better for them to win Wisconsin than Warren," said a source close to the Trump campaign. "And I think it comes down to Wisconsin right now."

Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of Indiana’s fourth-largest city, has defended himself against charges of inexperience by saying he has more executive experience than Trump.

  • But he's failed, so far, to win support from many African American voters. And some of his outreach efforts have backfired badly. The Intercept's Ryan Grim published a damaging story on the blowback to Buttigieg's poorly handled plan to gain support from black voters in South Carolina.
  • A Buttigieg spokesperson said: "Pete believes we need to dismantle systemic racism in order to deliver justice for Black Americans and make our country whole. Which is why, as we said the time of its release, we're proud the Douglass plan has earned the support of many South Carolinians, including many African-Americans," per The Intercept.

What's next: Buttigieg has had a huge surge of support in Iowa, but he has never had to face the scrutiny and attacks that come with frontrunner status. This week, that will likely change. Watch for the other candidates to turn on him in Wednesday's Democratic debate in Atlanta.

Go deeper: Buttigieg with 9-point lead in new Iowa poll

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Yellen wants business to help foot infrastructure bill

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is heading into the belly of the beast Tuesday and asking the business community to support President Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan during a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Why it matters: By trying to persuade a skeptical and targeted audience, Yellen is signaling the president’s commitment to raising corporate taxes to pay for his plan. Republican senators, critical to a potential bipartisan deal, oppose any corporate tax increase.

3 hours ago - World

Schumer's Israel vise

Sen. Chuck Schumer addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March 2014. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's longtime support for Israel puts him on a collision course with the progressive wing of his party as the conflict between Israel and Hamas worsens.

Why it matters: This is the toughest political position the New York Democrat has been in since becoming majority leader. The fighting in the Middle East is dividing his party — and creating a clear rift among its different wings.

DOJ signals scrutiny of popular fundraising gimmick

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A little-noticed line in a recent criminal filing suggests federal prosecutors consider a popular political fundraising tactic to be legally questionable.

Why it matters: Fundraisers often boast of "5x" or other contribution matches to coax small-dollar donations. The Justice Department indicated in a court filing Monday this could amount to "material misrepresentations" if, as critics often contend, there's no evidence the match ever occurs.