Democratic strategist says third debate is 'do or die' for Buttigieg

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegChasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' JD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary MORE’s performance in the upcoming September debate could prove critical to the future of his presidential campaign, a Democratic strategist said Wednesday in a Hill.TV interview.

“This is do or die for Mayor Pete,” said Molly Mitchell, a former director of media affairs at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

“He really needs sort of a Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisWhy in the world are White House reporters being told to mask up again? Want to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act MORE breakout moment that we saw during the first debate,” she continued, referring to Harris’s tense exchange over civil rights with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBriahna Joy Gray: White House thinks extending student loan pause is a 'bad look' Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Former New York state Senate candidate charged in riot MORE.

Mitchell, who is now a director at consulting firm Hamilton Place Strategies, added that she thinks Buttigieg has the fundraising and support he needs to remain in the race, but she said it is crucial that the 2020 hopeful find his way back into the national spotlight.

Buttigieg, an openly gay military veteran, had a meteoric rise in the 2020 race. But polls have shown him either slipping or not making much headway.

The South Bend, Ind., mayor is nevertheless poised to take part in the third Democratic presidential debate next month in Houston.

So far, 10 candidates have qualified for the September debate, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBriahna Joy Gray: White House thinks extending student loan pause is a 'bad look' Lawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action MORE (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans Warren hits the airwaves for Newsom ahead of recall election Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action MORE (D-Mass.) as well as former tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Kings launch voting rights effort honoring John Lewis Eric Adams to meet with Biden on curbing gun violence MORE.

—Tess Bonn