Democratic strategist: Buttigieg is 'going to have to fight back' in Atlanta debate

Democratic strategist Estuardo Rodriguez is predicting that South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBiden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina Sanders says gender 'still an obstacle' for female politicians Sanders v. Warren is just for insiders MORE will have to fight back at Wednesday's debate as he comes under attack from other candidates.

He also said Buttigieg's “bigger fight” is going to be with progressive Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE (D-Mass.).

“He’s going to have to fight back,” Rodriguez, a principal at the Raben Group, told Hill.TV during an appearance on “Rising.”

“He knows he’s going to be a target, which means he’ll continue what he was doing before taking some swipes at Elizabeth Warren and pushing her to explain how her policies make sense,” he added.

Buttigieg has topped recent polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, and will enter Wednesday's debate in Atlanta as a possible frontrunner in both states.

He and Warren have already tangled on healthcare.

Buttigieg’s presidential campaign slammed Warren’s new plan that would gradually shift the U.S. to a “Medicare for All” system over the course of three years. He argued that her “my way or the highway approach” would leave Americans with no choice in deciding their health care coverage.

Buttigieg is among the 10 Democratic primary contenders slated to take the debate stage tonight. 

A Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll released Saturday showed him leading with 25 percent support among likely Democratic voters in Iowa. Warren followed with 16 percent, while former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE each received 15 percent.

—Tess Bonn