He’s a millennial, a Rhodes Scholar, an Afghanistan war veteran, openly gay, speaks seven languages - and might just be the one to defeat Donald Trump in the race for the United States presidency in 2020.
It seems like everyone is talking about Peter Buttigieg right now, but who is he? Here is everything you need to know.
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At just 37 years old, Pete has a political background as the mayor of the small city of South Bend, Indiana, earning him the ongoing nickname, 'Mayor Pete'. Coming out of nowhere among a field of contenders much more well-known – including Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders – he suddenly became a major presidential contender with a rapturous response to his CNN Town Hall performance.
He then promptly raised $US600,000 in campaign pledges within a day. Polling since then has shown him making a very rapid ascent in popularity.
How do you pronounce his name?
Pete’s surname comes from his Maltese father, Joseph, and has already been the subject of plenty debate as to its correct pronunciation. Pete says it’s best pronounced ‘boot-edge-edge’, but his husband Chasten prefers ‘buddha-judge’.
He has a husband?
Yes, Pete is not only the first openly gay presidential candidate, but he married his partner, junior high school teacher Chasten – who took his surname - in 2018, after deciding that a successful career in public life wasn’t enough without personal happiness.
‘I didn’t want to live a life that was in hiding,’ he said. ‘You only get to live one life.’
Despite living in a relatively socially conservative state, following his coming out he was re-elected as mayor of the city with 80 per cent of the vote.
Chasten has a popular Twitter account, where he offers a much more light-hearted and pop culture-infused take on his husband’s rise to prominence.
What are his political positions?
He speaks often of climate change and favours a renewed commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, and he wants to subsidise solar panels and reduce emissions.
He supports the “Green New Deal” proposals on climate and energy, and on gun control, he supports universal background checks.
On economic matters, he wants to focus on reorienting the economy in the face of looming automation, and he supports labour unions. On foreign policy, he wants US troops fazed out of Afghanistan, but not Syria. He opposes Trump’s ban on transgender military participation, and advocates a single-payer health care system, but not before instituting an all-payer rate setting — a process which would not eliminate private insurance companies.
What his sexuality means to him
Pete is now happy and confident in who he is, but it wasn't always the way. ‘I don’t like admitting this, but there was a time in my life when I would have given anything not to be gay,’ he said at a town hall meeting recently in West Hollywood. ‘If you would have given me a pill, I would have taken it.
‘Thank god there is no pill, because the best thing in my life is my marriage.’
Speaking further on the matter to The Advocate, he added: ‘I realised early on in my life that I was different. It took me a very long time to acknowledge who I was even to myself, let alone to others. But I am who I am and I’m proud of who I am. And I want to acknowledge and support everyone else who is coming to terms with who they are.'
What does he say to people who think he’s too young?
‘Some people think all there is to us is avocado toast or eating Tide Pods or whatever they're saying about us,’ he says of being a millennial candidate. 'But we’re the generation with the most at stake. Our asses were out there in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I think we’ve earned place in this conversation.’
What did he do in the armed services?
He was commissioned as a Naval intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve in 2009, deploying to Afghanistan for seven months beginning in 2014. He continues to be a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve.
What does he say to religious voters?
Pete is a practicing Christian, and says it’s high time that the political right accepted they don’t own religion.
‘[Religion] teaches us to reach out to others, to humble ourselves, to take care of others,' he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. 'The immigrant, the prisoner, and, frankly, the sex worker — literally! Jesus spends his time with sex workers, among others, lepers. [In American politics,] we have this warped idea of what Christianity should be like when it comes into the public sphere, and it’s mostly about exclusion, which is the last thing that I imbibe when I take in scripture in church.’
Is it true he can speak seven languages?
Mayor Pete is conversational in Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari, and French – and most famously taught himself to speak Norwegian so he could read a book not translated into English. A Norwegian film crew ambushed him to see if it was true he could speak the language – and he passed with flying colours.
How does he respond to Donald Trump?
While Trump is known for his savage put-downs and harsh rhetoric, Pete says that the Democrats have already wasted too much time playing his game – and it’s time to start talking about an alternative vision to convince disgruntled voters.
‘We spent, I think, way too much time on our side talking about him,’ her told New York radio show The Breakfast Club. 'Our whole message was don't vote for him because he is terrible. And even because he is, that is not a message.'
But Pete can get feisty at times – he’s dubbed Trump ‘the porn-star president’ – a reference to the Stormy Daniels scandal.
Does he watch RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Yes, it’s the most important question of all, and one the electorate is dying to know. (We're kidding - but now we're here, we do want to know).
‘I’ve seen it. I can’t say that I watch it very often,’ he told The Advocate. ‘That’s something Chasten would be more attuned to than I would.’