Buttigieg stresses unity, pragmatism at Rex event

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Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Rex Theatre on Nov. 8, 2019 – photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg arrived at the Rex Theatre on Friday morning to meet with voters in his latest trip to New Hampshire.

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, struck a tone of inclusiveness, moderation and progress in his opening remarks and responses to questions asked by members of the audience, especially on the question of the chaos of President Donald Trump.

If elected, Buttigieg pledged to reverse the “cheap nationalism” of Trump that has sown division across the country and endangered America’s reputation overseas.

“You can’t say you love the United States if you hate half the people in it,” he said.

Throughout the event, Buttigieg cast Trump as out-of-touch with the needs of regular American people, joking during a response to a question about unions that Trump’s only connection to American workers came from when he looked at them from the window of a helicopter as he travels to a golf course.

Buttigieg did not reference the ongoing impeachment proceedings other than to say that the needs of Americans won’t take a break during the proceedings, but he chastised what he saw as Trump’s narcissistic approach to the highest office in the land, which he says is endangering troops overseas and harming the institution of the presidency.

“The White House belongs to everybody,” he said. “I think the purpose of the president is not the glorification of the president, it is the empowerment and the unification of the American people.”

Buttigieg did not directly criticize any of his primary opponents, but did partially criticize congressional Democrats following a question from a Republican man who said he would not vote for Trump, but was frustrated that candidates were not talking about budget deficits.

In response, Buttigieg criticized both parties in forgetting about the issue upon reaching Washington, but said congressional Democrats would particularly need to focus on the issue, since he believed Republicans no longer had it as a priority.

He also used this opportunity to state that he is cautious with campaign promises, only offering policy solutions that could be feasibly paid for, specifically in terms of providing healthcare coverage to anyone that wanted it.

The event at the Rex was the first in a four-day bus tour across the state. From Manchester, he went to events in Stratham and Salem. On Saturday, he is scheduled to appear at events in Lebanon, Franklin, New Hampton and Berlin, followed by events in Littleton, Claremont and Walpole on Sunday and Portsmouth and Rochester on Monday.