Buttigieg calls for 'a new American spring' in campaign launch

Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegAndrew Cuomo: Biden has best chance at 'main goal' of beating Trump Poll: Buttigieg tops Harris, O'Rourke as momentum builds Buttigieg responds to accusation of pushing a 'hate hoax' about Pence MORE, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., on Sunday officially launched his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, calling for "a new American spring."

"You and I have the chance to usher in a new American spring," he told a crowd of supporters at a rally in South Bend. "So with hope in our hearts and with fire in our bellies, let’s get to work and let’s make history."

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Buttigieg, 37, made the announcement almost three months after launching an exploratory committee. 

"My name is Pete Buttigieg. They call me Mayor Pete," he said. "I am a proud son of South Bend, Indiana, and I am running for president of the United States."

Buttigieg was introduced Sunday by several mayors, including Steve Adler of Austin, Texas, who called Buttigieg a "mayor's mayor" and "a mayor among mayors."

"I am standing here today with other mayors because we know something that this country needs to know, and we are in a unique position to know it. We can answer the question that many in America are asking. Yes, America, Mayor Pete is really that special," Adler said.

Buttigieg, an Afghanistan veteran, has seen his poll numbers climb in recent months, and his campaign raised more than $7 million in the first quarter of 2019, emerging as a serious candidate in the presidential race. 

He has placed third in recent polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire, which will host the two earliest major presidential nominating contests in 2020.

The mayor also has seen his favorability ratings increase by more than 30 points since February, according to a recent poll.  

Buttigieg said his campaign will center around three main principles: freedom, security and democracy.

Buttigieg, who is gay, said "you are certainly not free if a county clerk" gets to determine whether you can get married. He added that "you're not free if your reproductive health choices are dictated by male politicians."

The South Bend mayor took a shot at President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE when he shifted to security, saying there is "a lot more to security than putting up a wall from sea to shining sea," a reference to Trump's efforts to build a wall along the southern border. Buttigieg also said the U.S. "should have nothing to fear from children fleeing violence."

"I'm here today to tell a different story than 'Make America Great Again,'" he said, without naming Trump. "I do believe in American greatness. I believe in American values."

He also pointed to "climate security," saying climate change is a "life-and-death issue," and called for "keeping us safe in the face of white nationalism."

On the subject of democracy, Buttigieg criticized voter suppression and the Electoral College while appearing to call for Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., to gain statehood.

Buttigieg also said Sunday he recognizes the "audacity" of running for president as a "Midwestern millennial mayor," calling it "more than a little bold."

"But we live in a moment that compels us each to act," he added, calling for a new generation of leadership. "The forces changing our country today are tectonic. ... This time is not just about winning an election. It’s about winning an era." 

Updated 4 p.m.