2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg touts "more experience in government" than Trump

Last Updated Jan 31, 2019 9:51 AM EST

Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana mayor and latest Democrat to throw his hat into the 2020  presidential race, says he's got "more experience in government that the president of the United States", which he says makes him qualified for the highest office in the land. The 37-year-old, gay Navy veteran told "CBS This Morning" that while he might be the youngest person in the race thus far, it's his unconventional background that makes him the best candidate. 

"I've got more years of executive experience than the vice president and I have more military experience than anybody who's arrived behind that desk since George H.W. Bush. I get that it's not a conventional background, but I don't think that it's time for conventional backgrounds in Washington right now," the mayor said. 

Buttigieg, who ran unsuccessfully in 2017 to lead the Democratic National Committee, announced earlier this month that he would be forming an exploratory committee to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. While the last time a sitting mayor was nominated for president to a major political party was in 1812, his role in local politics, according to Buttigieg, gives him the "instinct to do the job."

"Whether we're talking about the presidency or a job like governor or mayor, there are three parts to it, it's bringing people together, it's implementing good policies and it's capably running an administration," he said. "All of those have been missing right now in Washington."

He later told CBSN that more mayors deserve a place in the national conversation. "When you have the executive experience of leading a city of any size, you have a better sense of the job or any executive leadership role to bring people together, to pass good policies, to competently run an organization or an administration," said Buttigieg. 

Mayor Pete Buttigieg on the experience he'd bring to the 2020 presidential campaign

The mayor also said he's prepared for any attacks he might face if elected as the country's first openly gay president. 

"All I can do is try to do the right thing, come forward with big ideas. [I'm] definitely proud of who I am, I'm proud of my husband and our marriage is one of the most important things, the most important thing in my life," he told CBSN. 

He added, "I grew up in Indiana and I'm gay so I'm used to dealing with bullies, I've been deployed in a war zone I'm used to dealing with attacks, I think I'll be ready for it."

As Buttigieg joins a chorus of other Democratic hopefuls in the 2020 race, he says his party and politics as a whole have largely ignored the "experience of the industrial Midwest," something he says has come at a "terrible cost."

"Our party has a tendency to lead with the policies, first we got to explain our values and explain why Democrats are committed to freedom to democracy, to security," he said. "That democracy piece has to be fix before anything will go well in this country."

Buttigieg also called for ending the electoral college process. "The electoral college needs to go because it's made our society less and less democratic," he said. 

Buttigieg also told CBS that he supports more progressive-leaning Medicare-for-all proposals, saying the idea of universal coverage is "the norm in most developed countries."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital