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Pete Buttigieg pays tender tribute to husband Chasten in heartfelt exit speech

Patrick Kelleher March 2, 2020
Pete Buttigieg with his husband Chasten in South Bend, Indiana, where he announced he was dropping out of the presidential race

Pete Buttigieg with his husband Chasten in South Bend, Indiana, where he announced he was dropping out of the presidential race (Scott Olson/Getty)

Pete Buttigieg shared a tender hug on-stage in South Bend, Indiana, with his husband Chasten just before announcing he was dropping out of the 2020 presidential race.

Buttigieg took to the podium following the embrace where he revealed that his year-long campaign for the presidency had come to an end.

He said that the United States has faced “enormous challenges” in recent years, naming the economy, climate crisis and the Trump presidency as the biggest issues.

“For many Americans, these challenges have amounted to a call to action, and so like so many others, I thought deeply about what I could do to make a difference, what I could do to make myself useful. It was in that spirit, with your help, that a year ago, we launched our campaign for the American presidency.”

He reflected on his surprisingly successful campaign, noting that it began in South Bend in a “cramped office” with just four staff.

“Hardly anybody knew my name and even fewer could pronounce it,” he joked.

“By every conventional wisdom, by every historical measure, we were never supposed to get anywhere at all.”

Pete Buttigieg drops out of presidential race following a poor showing in the South Carolina primary.

Buttigieg also spoke about his success at the Iowa caucus just weeks ago where he ultimately claimed a narrow victory over Bernie Sanders. He said his win “shocked the nation”.

“In a field in which more than two dozen Democratic candidates ran for president, senators and governors, billionaires, a former vice president, we achieved a top four finish in each of the first four states to hold nominating contests, and we made history winning those Iowa caucuses,” he said.

He claimed that his campaign represented “a new kind of politics” and addressed his own sexuality, noting: “We sent a message to every kid out there wondering if whatever marks them out as different means they are destined to be less than, to see how someone that once felt that exact same way can become a leading American presidential candidate with his husband at his side.”

He continued: “We got into this race in order to defeat the current president and in order to usher in a new kind of politics. And that meant guiding our campaign by the values we like to call the ‘rules of the road’ – respect, belonging, truth, teamwork, boldness, responsibility, substance, discipline, excellence and joy. Every decision we made was guided by these values.

To the guy who took a chance on a first date with somebody all the way in South Bend, Indiana and never looked back, Chasten I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.

“One of those values is truth, and today is a moment of truth. After a year of going everywhere, meeting everyone, defying every expectation, seeking every vote, the truth is that the path has narrowed to a close, for our candidacy if not for our cause. Another of those values is responsibility, and we have a responsibility to consider the effect of remaining in this race any further. Our goal has always been to help unify Americans to defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for our values.

“So we must recognise that at this point in the race, the best way to keep faith with those goals and ideals is to step aside and help bring our party and our country together. So tonight, I am making the difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency. I will no longer seek to be the 2020 Democratic nominee for president, but I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have a new Democratic president come January.”

The openly gay presidential candidate did not endorse any of the remaining Democratic candidates for the presidency.

Pete Buttigieg hit out at Donald Trump repeatedly in his speech and said it is “urgent” that a new president is ushered in later this year. He claimed that “broad and inclusive” politics is what he has modelled in his campaign and said Democrats will need to select a candidate who can display the same. However, he fell short of endorsing any of the remaining candidates for the presidency.

He also thanked his family, his team and his husband Chasten during the speech.

“To the guy who took a chance on a first date with somebody all the way in South Bend, Indiana and never looked back, Chasten I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you,” he said.

Pete Buttigieg with his husband Chasten in South Bend, Indiana, where he announced he was dropping out of the presidential race
Pete Buttigieg in South Bend, Indiana, where he announced he was dropping out of the presidential race (Scott Olson/Getty)

Buttigieg, who struggled to gain support from Black voters during his campaign, mentioned the civil rights movement and race during his speech. He said he wanted to see an America where race has “no bearing on your health or your wealth or your relationship with law enforcement”.

He added: “What if we could be the ones to deliver the day when our teachers are honoured a little more like soldiers and paid a little more like us? What if we were the ones who rallied this nation to see to it that climate would be no barrier to our children’s opportunities in life? The chance to do that is in our hands. That is the hope in our hearts, that is the fire in our bellies, that is the future we believe in – a country that really does empower every American to drive and a future where everyone belongs.”

Pete Buttigieg surprised voters by winning the Iowa caucus, but his support had started to taper off.

Buttigieg’s sudden exit from the Democratic race comes after his devastating defeat in the South Carolina primary on Saturday in which he finished with just 8.2 per cent of votes. He came in fourth place behind former vice-president Joe Biden, who claimed a resounding victory with 48.4 per cent of votes. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders finished in second place with 19.9 per cent, followed by Tom Steyer at 11.3.

His fall from grace came after he claimed a surprise win at the Iowa caucus and came a close second to Sanders in the New Hampshire primary. He finished third in the Nevada caucus, suggesting that his chance of winning the Democratic nomination was starting to narrow.

The candidate came out of nowhere last year to rise to huge prominence as a centrist candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Buttigieg was formerly mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and his youth and inexperience were seen as both strengths and weaknesses in a surprisingly voracious campaign.

Buttigieg has not yet endorsed any of the remaining candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination. He drops out of the race the day before Super Tuesday, the biggest voting day of the primary and a key day in the Democratic race when 15 states vote for their choice of candidate.

More: 2020 presidential elections, Chasten Buttigieg, demo, Pete Buttigieg, presidential race

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