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Buttigieg defends campaign staff diversity at NAACP forum

Buttigieg defends campaign staff diversity at NAACP forum
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Democratic presidential hopeful Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegWhite House says gas tax won't be part of infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Senate Republicans label Biden infrastructure plan a 'slush fund' MORE defended the diversity of his campaign staff while speaking at an NAACP forum in Detroit on Wednesday.

Moderator April Ryan told the South Bend, Ind., mayor that his “top-tier staff does not reflect the diversity of America” and asked Buttigieg how he would construct the racial makeup of his Cabinet and staff if elected president.

Buttigieg pointed to the diversity of his administration in South Bend, and told the story of an African American woman he appointed to build a Department of Law in the city who was subsequently promoted and succeeded by another African American woman.

“By appointing people who reflect our community, we’ve not only had better representation but we’ve made better decisions,” Buttigieg said.

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But Ryan, a White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, responded by asking how long it would take for that diversity to be reflected at the top levels of his campaign.

“We are building a campaign team rapidly as we speak and we’re building a team that will reflect the diversity both of the country and party we seek to represent and of the administration I seek to serve,” he said.

“It’s underway right now and we’ll publish numbers that reflect the diversity of our team.”

A major question for Buttigieg's campaign has been whether he can attract support from black voters as he battles other Democrats for the party's presidential nomination.

The South Bend mayor has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2020 cycle and he raised more money than any other candidate in the second quarter. But his poll numbers have stagnated in part because black voters have flocked to other candidates, such as former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSuspect in FedEx shooting used two assault rifles he bought legally: police US, China say they are 'committed' to cooperating on climate change DC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is MORE and Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisDC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is Florida nurse arrested, accused of threatening to kill Harris Oddsmakers say Harris, not Biden, most likely to win 2024 nomination, election MORE (Calif.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersWorld passes 3 million coronavirus deaths Sirota: Biden has not fulfilled campaign promise of combating union-busting tactics Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents MORE (I-Vt.).

Since joining the race, Buttigieg has had to defend how his policies have impacted minorities in his hometown amid two racially charged controversies.

Buttigieg demoted the city’s first-ever black police chief, who had recorded several of his officers without their knowledge. It is alleged that the officers on the secret tapes used racist language, but the recordings have been tied up in court.

More recently, a white police officer shot and killed a black man in South Bend, provoking protests and outrage within the community.

Buttigieg, who entered office in 2012, said Wednesday that when he took over as mayor he implemented for the first time a system of accountability in the department and a program to promote black officers from within.

“We are still on that journey and it is not done,” Buttigieg said. “As president I’m determined to have a Department of Justice that supports cities doing the right thing and compels police departments to do the right thing, because as long as there is a wall of mistrust between police departments and communities of color, everyone is worse off.”