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Pete Buttigieg: "Middle class" life separates me from other 2020 contenders

Pete Buttigieg explores presidential bid

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a millennial Navy veteran who ran unsuccessfully in 2017 to lead the Democratic National Committee, held his first press conference this morning since announcing that he is forming an exploratory committee to run for president.

Buttigieg announced early Wednesday morning that he is forming an exploratory committee to seek the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, revealing the news on Twitter

In his press conference, Buttigieg emphasized his unique position as a millennial politician, noting that he was a member of the first generation that would be worse off than its parents. He also pointed out that he will be the age that President Trump is now in 2054, meaning that he understands the challenges of the future in a way that older candidates cannot.

"I'm the only one living a middle-class lifestyle, in a middle-class neighborhood, in Middle America," Buttigieg said, about what separated him from other candidates.

Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Ind., in an undated photo provided Jan. 4, 2019, by the city of South Bend. Via City of Southbend, Ind.

Buttigieg also said that he had not formally announced that he was running for president, but was following the typical process by announcing his exploratory committee.

"We've found a terrific response, and so far from what we've seen this morning, it is only more encouraging," Buttigieg said. He also, however, acknowledged that he was a long shot for president.

"I get the odds, but I also believe that we can do something that no one else can do," he said, adding that digital and social media would allow candidates to have a wider audience than in the past. Buttigieg compared 2020 to the 2016 presidential election, saying that this campaign should be more about ideas, whereas the 2016 race was focused on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

"The message with her party was 'I'm with her,' which then became, 'against him.' Where I live, people said: 'What about me?'" he said.

An openly gay Democrat elected in one of the most conservative states in the U.S., Buttigieg served as a naval intelligence officer in Afghanistan. At 37 years old (he just had a birthday), he's the youngest candidate — and the first millennial — in a rapidly growing field that could see a few White House aspirants who are twice his age.

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