Photo of Pete Buttigieg

Remarks at the Iowa Democratic Party's Liberty and Justice Celebration in Des Moines, Iowa

November 01, 2019

Thank you, Iowa! Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you, Iowa. Thank you, Iowa Democratic Party. Thank you fellow Democrats.

The first time I came to this state was as a volunteer, to knock on doors for a presidential candidate—a young man with a funny name.

And we knew the stakes were high then. The stakes are colossal now.

This country cannot afford four more years of Donald Trump. We will not recognize it if he gets reelected. We know what is at stake.

And we know he is going to do everything he can to hold onto power. But if you nominate me, his playbook isn't going to work this time around.

See, I don't get helicoptered in to a golf course with my name on it while pretending to care about the working class. I don't even golf. I get around in a Chevy, that was built in Ohio by the same workers this president has let down.

I don't go to work in an office in Washington, D.C. My office is about six hours that way down I-80 and out the window you can see our town's ethanol plant, which is why I understand the measure of this president's betrayal of American farmers, and I know how to talk about it.

And I don't have to throw myself a military parade to see what a convoy looks like 'cause I was driving in one around Afghanistan right about the time this president was taping Season 7 of Celebrity Apprentice. So that tough talk is not going to work against me.

But I didn't just come here to end the era of Donald Trump, I am here to launch the era that must come next.

Because in order to win and in order to lead, it's going to take a lot more than the political warfare we have come to accept from Washington, D.C.

We already have a divider in chief. I am offering a White House that you can look at on the news and feel your blood pressure go down a little bit instead of through the roof.

I am asking you to picture that first day the sun comes up in this country and Donald Trump is no longer the President of the United States.

A happy thought for sure — an end to the chaos, and the corruption, and the tantrums and the tweets, but what comes next? The sun will come up on a country even more torn up by politics than we are now, exhausted from fighting—and urgent crises will still be waiting for action.

A 14-year-old girl will be waiting for action, who wrote to tell me she's already written out a will because she's afraid that her next day in school might be her last.

A 12-year old will be waiting for action, who asked me about health care—not because she's a young policy buff, but because she has juvenile diabetes and is afraid her parents will lose their coverage.

I am running to be the President who will stand amid the rubble, pick up the pieces of our divided nation, and lead us to real action to do right by Americans who have waited far too long.

I am ready to gather up an American majority that is hungry for change, that is done with division.

And I have seen that hunger across the country -- places you might not expect. In Shenandoah, Iowa, where a young man from a farm family stood up to ask me what role agriculture was going to play in ending climate change.

I've seen it in Granger, Indiana, when a diner filled up with conservative Republicans protesting the deportation of a neighbor they knew to be a good man.

And I'll be seeing it in a few weeks on the morning of Thanksgiving Day, because in 2019 in rural Michigan, you cannot stop a man from going deer hunting with his husband's father.

We're ready to build this majority, a majority ready to deliver the most progressive reform to health care in fifty years — Medicare for All Who Want It — honoring your decision over whether and when you want it.

A majority, even in the red states, to do something about gun violence, to do something about climate change. To ensure the dignity of every American. To tackle systemic racism wherever we find it until your race in this country has no bearing on your health, or your wealth, your life expectancy or your relationship with law enforcement.

The American people are ready to get this done, to stand with our teachers, to let people of faith know that in our White House you won't have to shake your head and ask yourself "Whatever happened to 'I was hungry and you fed me, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, whatever you did to the least of these you did to me?'"

I will not waiver from my commitment to our values or back down from the boldness of our ideas. But I also will not tire from the effort to include everyone in this future we are trying to build -- progressives, moderates, and Republicans of conscience who are ready for a change. The time has come.

We will fight when we must fight, but I will never allow us get so wrapped up in the fighting that we start to think fighting is the point. The point is what lies on the other side of the fight. And what lies on the other side of that fight is the hope of an American experience defined not by exclusion, but by belonging. That is what we are here to deliver.

And if talking about hope and belonging sounds optimistic to you for a time like this, fine call it optimistic, but do not call it naive. Because I believe these things not based on my age, but based on my experience.

Iowa, I have seen in the dust of a war zone, Americans who had nothing in common besides the flags on our shoulders learn to trust each other with our lives.

I have seen in the ruins of factories, my city answer those who said we were a dying community by rising up together to build a better future.

I have seen what America can do and so have you. After all, you're looking at someone who as a young man growing up wondered if something deep inside of him meant that he would forever be an outsider -- would never wear the uniform, never be accepted, never know love. And now you are looking at that same young man, a veteran, a mayor, happily married, asking for your vote for President of the United States.

That's why I believe in this country. Iowans, I am asking for you to caucus for me on February 3rd because I know what the presidency is for. Because we know that the purpose of the presidency is not the glorification of the president, it is the unification of the American people. That is why we have the office.

So Iowa, are you ready to bring this country together?

Are you ready to turn the page to a new era together?

Then let us make history together, and we will have a lot to celebrate in November of next year, and we will know where to go from there.

Thank you Iowa. Thank you Democrats. Thank you so much.

Pete Buttigieg, Remarks at the Iowa Democratic Party's Liberty and Justice Celebration in Des Moines, Iowa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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