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

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegSenate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary Biden to detail 'roadmap' for partnership with Canada in meeting with Trudeau Biden's infrastructure plan needs input from cities and regions 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 HarrisEmhoff reflects on interracial marriage case: Without this 'I would not be married to Kamala Harris' WHO: Coronavirus deaths down 20 percent worldwide last week Collins: Biden's .9T coronavirus package won't get any Senate GOP votes 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 BidenKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video 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 SandersKlain says Harris would not overrule parliamentarian on minimum wage increase Romney-Cotton, a Cancun cabbie and the minimum wage debate On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBecerra says he wants to 'build on' ObamaCare when pressed on Medicare for All Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (D-Mass.) as well as former tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangNYC's largest union endorses Maya Wiley in mayoral race Five things to watch in the New York City mayoral race Yang hits donation requirements to get city funds in NYC mayor's race MORE.

—Tess Bonn