Columbia newspaper endorses Buttigieg ahead of South Carolina primary

Columbia newspaper endorses Buttigieg ahead of South Carolina primary
© Greg Nash

The State, a newspaper based in Columbia, S.C., endorsed Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup Obamas, Clintons to headline Biden's nominating convention MORE in the Democratic presidential race just days before the South Carolina primary. 

The State’s editorial board in its endorsement made much of the same arguments the former South Bend, Ind., mayor has been making on the campaign trail, writing that the millennial mayor has an “outsider’s appeal” that will give Democrats their best shot at beating President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE in November. 

“The Democrats need a nominee who seeks to bring Americans together based on broad common ground — and not divide them along narrow interests,” the board wrote. “Among the Democratic presidential candidates, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the best person to meet these challenges.”

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The endorsement comes after the State interviewed Buttigieg and eight other candidates. The State said it did not interview Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOcasio-Cortez's 2nd grade teacher tells her 'you've got this' ahead of DNC speech Trump and allies grapple with how to target Harris Chris Wallace: Kamala Harris 'not far to the left despite what Republicans are gonna try to say' MORE (I-Vt.), the current leader in the Democratic field, and said the senator “would not agree to participate in an interview.” 

The newspaper also did not interview Mike Bloomberg because the former New York City mayor is not on the South Carolina primary ballot. 

As Buttigieg has done repeatedly throughout the race, the editorial board looked back on the last half century and noted that Democrats have only won the presidency “when it has resisted the temptation to pick status-quo nominees and shown the courage to choose centrist outsiders with fresh, optimistic messages.”

The State’s editors also dismissed some of the concerns over Buttigieg’s ability to earn minority support. Their endorsement noted that the mayor had a “complicated relationship” with his city's African American community. 

However, the editors said that Buttigieg has “made important strides by releasing ambitious proposals” on criminal justice reform, economic prosperity among African Americans and strengthening historically black colleges and universities. 

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“Too often Buttigieg’s critics have ignored his substantive efforts to earn the support of black voters, and Buttigieg’s appeals to African Americans should be judged by this standard: Is his outreach genuine, and is it being undertaken in good faith? We believe that it is,” the State wrote. 

The editors also dismissed skepticism over Buttigieg’s ability to win in a “solidly red state such as South Carolina” as the first openly gay nominee of a major party. 

“The reality is that Buttigieg’s policy centrism is more important than his personal life,” they wrote. 

Buttigieg has risen to top-tier status in the field since launching his campaign as a relative unknown on the national political stage. He won the chaotic Iowa caucuses, and placed second and third in New Hampshire and Nevada, respectively. 

South Carolina is the first state to vote with a significant black voting population, which could shake up the order of the field. Its voters go to the polls on Saturday.