Nov 17, 2019

Buttigieg to face frontrunner scrutiny after surprise Iowa poll

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

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Trump campaign attacks Buttigieg during Democratic debate

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and "Black Voices for Trump" sent coordinated mass emails during the Democratic debate Wednesday attacking Mayor Pete Buttigieg for his record on race and policing in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana.

Why it matters: As Axios' Jonathan Swan reported on Sunday, top Republicans are taking Buttigieg seriously as a potential general election candidate after his breakout poll in Iowa and his rise in New Hampshire. Several top Trump advisers have 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.

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Keep ReadingArrowNov 21, 2019

Behind Pete Buttigieg's Iowa rise

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks to voters during a campaign rally this month in Waverly, Iowa. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Rather than riding a swell of media attention or a viral moment, Pete Buttigieg has ascended to the top of Iowa's Democratic presidential primary polling by channeling a substantial fundraising haul into TV ads and a robust presence inside the state.

Why it matters: With $2.3m spent so far on Iowa TV ads, more than 100 staff on the ground and 20 field offices, Buttigieg's investment reflects his campaign's bet that Iowa's Feb. 3 caucus is key to his chances as an underdog candidate from the Midwest.

Go deeperArrowNov 20, 2019

Black South Bend city council leader endorses Biden over Buttigieg

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Oliver Davis, the longest-serving African American man on the Common Council of South Bend, Ind., endorsed Joe Biden over Pete Buttigieg, the city's mayor, reports Politico.

Why it matters: The endorsement highlights two common criticisms of Buttigieg: his lack of political experience beyond local government and his struggle to appeal to black voters.

Go deeperArrowNov 22, 2019