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Veteran, mayor and gay man: Who is Pete Buttigieg?

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a campaign event Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in Hampton, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Democratic politician and candidate for the Democratic nomination, Pete Buttigieg has taken the lead in the frenzied Iowa caucuses - the first vote in the race to see who will lead the US Democrats in the 2020 election campaign. 

He is up against Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden in the competition to see who will take on President Donald Trump. 

But who is Pete Buttigieg? And how do you pronounce his last name?

How do you pronounce Pete Buttigieg? 

Pete is said like Pete - simple. 

Buttigieg is pronounced as ‘Boot-a-jedge’.

Why is Pete Buttigieg running for president?

In this Nov. 11, 2019, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg reacts to applause after delivering a Veterans Day address during a campaign event in Rochester, N.H. Buttigieg volunteered for military service and did a seven month tour in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer. He walks a narrow path between giving his wartime service its due and overstating it. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

38-year-old Buttigieg is the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana and is married to high school teacher Chasten Buttigieg. 

He previously worked at McKinsey & Company and has served time in the US Navy Reserve.

He is also the first openly gay presidential candidate. 

And his credentials - he studied at both Harvard and Oxford - has seen him position himself as an intellectual. 

During his tenure as mayor, household income rose by 31 per cent and poverty fell by a third, according to his campaign website. 

He believes America needs to build the “strongest fighting force in the world”, to take on the nation’s stagnant wages, gun violence, white nationalism and climate change. 

“As a mayor, he knows good politics is based in helping people, not in advancing an ideological agenda. As a veteran, he understands when we bring Americans together we can do anything,” Buttigieg’s campaign website reads. 

“And as president, Pete will bring a new kind of politics to Washington -- one that will rally Americans together behind bold ideas so we can finally solve our greatest problems.”

What are Pete Buttigieg’s views on the issues?

In this Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 file photo, from left, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg look to answer a question during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. Multiple Democratic presidential hopefuls have talked about their faith on the campaign trail, weaving it into their approach to issues from immigration to climate change. Among the most vocal Democrats on that front is Buttigieg, who asserted his party’s connection to religion on Tuesday during its final primary debate before next month’s first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Buttigieg has six key policy focuses: 

  1. ‘Equal justice for all;

  2. A new era for health in America;

  3. Strengthening the middle class;

  4. Rising to the climate challenge;

  5. Protecting our democracy; and

  6. Building a safer America.’

Buttigieg supports “Medicare for all who want it”, which is a variation of the Obamacare public healthcare policy first proposed by President Barack Obama, and also wants to expand mental health services.

He also plans to lower drug prices significantly and remove patents from big pharmaceuticals when they push those prices too high. 

In terms of climate change, he plans to spend up to US$2 trillion (AU$2.97 trillion) on climate change mitigation policies, and supports a carbon tax. He also plans to establish 3 million new clean energy jobs. 

While he supports boosting border security, he’s opposed to President Trump’s border wall. And, he wants to protect young migrants who come to the US illegally. 

He supports a woman’s right to have an abortion and wants an amendment prohibiting government funding for abortion services repealed. 

He also wants to eliminate the electoral college. 

That would mean the nation’s popular vote would choose who became president. Hilary Clinton won 2.1 per cent more of the popular vote in the 2016 contest than President Donald Trump, with the electoral college process delivering Trump the victory. 

He also supports the Federal Equality Act which would further protections for LGBTIQ people, and supports transgender people’s rights. He wants veterans discharged due to their sexuality to have benefits restored. 

And, he wants to provide debt-free college for lower-income students. 

Will Pete Buttigieg raise taxes? 

Buttigieg has said he supports the “premise” of the Green New Deal sponsored by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and has also said he supports higher taxes on America’s richest. 

He has said he believes many “do not pay their fair share” and that “there’s a lot to be said for changing the balance of what we tax wealth versus work”.

The Indiana politician has also said America should “contemplate” providing a Universal Basic Income, but isn’t certain that’s the best way to fight inequality. 

Pete Buttigieg and Eric Logan shooting

Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg campaigns at the Revolution Taproom & Grill, in Rochester, N.H. South Bend is updating its police officers' body camera technology following the recent fatal police shooting of a black man. South Bend Police Sgt. Ryan O'Neil fatally shot Eric Logan on June 16, but the incident wasn't captured on video because his body camera wasn't activated. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa File)

One controversy Buttigieg will need to battle is his relationship with Black Lives Matter activists. 

After 54-year-old black father Eric Logan was shot dead by four white police officers in 2019, Buttigieg’s attempts to contain backlash failed spectacularly. 

Buttigieg met with Black Lives Matter activists, who described him as being “very rushed, as if he wanted to check it off a box as something that he did”.

“He seemed to have already taken a side. It did seem that he was prioritising who he thought was important, and it didn’t seem to be black people,” Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter said. 

Buttigieg has struggled to gain support among black Americans since then. 

What is Pete Buttigieg worth? 

According to Forbes, Buttigieg has a net worth of around US$100,000 after earning a six-figure salary while acting as mayor. 

This makes him one of the least-wealthy candidates, up against Michael Bloomberg’s wealth of US$60.2 billion, Bernie Sanders US$2.5 million and President Donald Trump’s US$3.1 billion. 

Will Pete Buttigieg win 2020? 

Buttigieg is most popular in New England and the least popular in the Mid Atlantic region, where Bloomberg and Sanders are the most popular. 

But going from being mayor of a city with a population of 100,000 to president is a big leap. 

However, Buttigieg believes it’s completely feasible. 

“Nobody walks into the Oval Office knowing what it’s like to be president,” Buttigieg told Vox. 

“I’d argue that being a mayor of a city of any size ... means that you have the on-the-ground, day-to-day, executive experience of government at its core.”

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