South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg launches presidential exploratory committee

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg launches presidential exploratory committee
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Peter Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., announced early Wednesday that he is forming an exploratory committee to run for president, becoming the latest Democrat to wade into the 2020 race.

Buttigieg, 37, posted a video in which he touts the "comeback" of South Bend during his time as mayor, and appears to swipe at President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE's slogan of "Make America Great Again."

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"There is no again in the real world," he says in the video. "We can’t look for greatness in the past. Right now our country needs a fresh start."

"There’s a new generation of voices emerging in our country, walking away from the politics of the past and ready to deliver on our priorities," he adds. "There is no again the real world. That’s not a bad thing. We’re ready for a fresh start."

The announcement from Buttigieg, who is gay, was celebrated by LGBTQ Victory Fund, an organization focused on electing LGBTQ people to office.

“An openly LGBTQ elected official forming a presidential exploratory committee is a historic and powerful moment for the LGBTQ community and the entire country," Annise Parker, president and CEO of the group, said in a statement.

The Republican National Committee issued a statement knocking Buttigieg over South Bend's crime rate and infrastructure.

"His bid isn't just bad news for residents, it's more proof that Democrats are about to endure the most crowded, divisive, and contentious primary in history," Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said in a statement.

Buttigieg, who previously served in the Navy, was first elected mayor in 2011 at age 29. He became the youngest person to serve as the mayor of a city with a population of more than 100,000 when he took office in 2012, and he won a second term in 2015.

He unsuccessfully ran for Democratic National Committee chairman in 2017, though the bid helped raise his national profile. He fueled speculation about a potential presidential bid when he announced late last year he would not seek another term.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Wednesday, Buttigieg sought to play up his middle-class credentials and experience governing at the local level, saying that city government is “maybe the only level of government in the U.S. that’s really functioning right now.”

“A lot’s been said about my age, but also my experience,” Buttigieg said. “At least of the people who have jumped in, I’m the only one who is living a middle-class lifestyle in a middle-class neighborhood in middle America.”

He acknowledged that he isn’t the “most established” or “well-funded” candidate in the Democratic primary field.

But in talking up his credentials as a Navy veteran and the mayor of a midsize Midwestern city, Buttigieg is seeking carve out a path to the Democratic nomination in a field that is expected to draw political heavyweights, like former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden compares Trump to George Wallace Sanders unveils plan to guarantee the 'right to a secure retirement' CNN Democratic debate drawing finishes third in cable news ratings race MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall Sanders unveils plan to guarantee the 'right to a secure retirement' MORE (I-Vt.).

He said that he supports the concept of “Medicare for all,” the proposed single-payer health care system that has become a rallying point for progressives.

But he outlined a vision of more incremental change, arguing that voters are “not necessarily ideological” in their motivations and that few toe their party line completely.

“There are a lot of people in Indiana that voted for Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMichelle Obama weighs in on Trump, 'Squad' feud: 'Not my America or your America. It's our America' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite Rubio criticizes reporters, Democrat for racism accusations against McCain MORE and Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump steps up attacks on 'Squad' after post-rally furor Trump is missing an opportunity in Hong Kong How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE and Donald Trump and me,” Buttigieg said. “So what that shows you is that people are looking for somebody who’s concerned about them and are looking for a lot of other things that have a complicated set of overlapping interests.”

In launching an exploratory committee, Buttigieg signaled that he will forgo a run for governor of Indiana in 2020 — a race in which he had been floated as a potential contender.

Buttigieg joins a growing field of Democrats who have formed exploratory committees or expressed intent to run for president, including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJulián Castro is behind in the polls, but he's finding a niche Gabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage The Hill's Campaign Report: Second debate lineups set up high-profile clash MORE (D-N.Y.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisWhat to expect when Mueller testifies: Not much Biden compares Trump to George Wallace CNN Democratic debate drawing finishes third in cable news ratings race MORE (D-Calif.), as well as Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardBiden slams Puerto Rico governor over 'shameful' comments, backs protesters Gabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall MORE (D-Hawaii) and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.

Updated at 11:45 a.m.