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Buttigieg says Democrats must 'galvanize,' not 'polarize' voters

Buttigieg says Democrats must 'galvanize,' not 'polarize' voters
© Greg Nash

Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegHigh-speed rail getting last minute push in Congress Buttigieg: Bipartisan deal on infrastructure 'strongly preferred' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE on Monday said that his party needs to “galvanize” voters, rather than “polarize” them in order to defeat President TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE in November. 

His comments, made in a CNN interview the morning of the Iowa caucus, expand on Buttigieg's pitch that he'll be able to turn out support in the party, as well as from independent voters and what he calls “future former Republicans.” 

“We've got to make sure that we are ready to galvanize and not polarize an American majority that is actually strikingly aligned, not just on being against Donald Trump but on what we're for," Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., said in an appearance on CNN’s “New Day.” 

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CNN’s John Berman had asked him if there’s a candidate who could win the caucuses but also have a hard time defeating Trump. 

"Most Americans, even in conservative states right now, want to see higher wages, want to see corporations paying their fair share in taxes,” Buttigieg said. “Even issues that have been very divisive in the past and tough for our party, like immigration and guns, are with us." 

Buttigieg is running a more moderate campaign compared to the leading progressives in the field, Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC Zombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers Progressives threaten to block bipartisan infrastructure proposal MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC On The Money: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process on Wednesday | Four states emerge as test case for cutting off jobless benefits Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC MORE (D-Mass.). 

Although Buttigieg offered support for a Medicare for All plan in 2018, as a candidate, he has split with progressive rivals on key issues, including calling for a health care plan that would allow Americans to keep their private insurance if they choose.

In the days leading up to the caucuses, Buttigieg has directly taken on Sanders as well as former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE, the leading moderate in the field. 

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On Sunday, Buttigieg told CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperPolice investigating death of TV anchor who uncovered Clinton tarmac meeting as suicide Mississippi governor: Biden goal of 70 percent of US vaccinated by July 4 is 'arbitrary' Energy secretary: Adversaries have capability of shutting down US power grid MORE he is “better positioned to beat Donald Trump” than any of his competitors and dodged when asked if Sanders and Biden would be able to defeat Trump. 

Buttigieg claimed Sanders’s message of a political revolution may be polarizing for many Americans, adding that Democrats “can’t afford to polarize,” and claiming it’s not true that voters have to choose between Sanders’s so-called revolution and the status quo.

On Biden, Buttigieg pointed to Democrats' history of winning with candidates that are “new in national politics.”

-- Updated at 12:27 p.m.