A lot has changed for Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, in the few weeks since he’s hit the campaign trail for president.
Buttigieg, a dark horse contender with an energized base of supporters, told CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday that he’s seen his 2020 efforts go from being viewed as “adorable” to “plausible” in less than two months.
Asked what he views as his greatest weakness, Buttigieg said it was his visibility.
“Up until now, I thought it was that nobody knew who I was or could say my name. I think that’s started to change,” he said. “Look, I’m still very different from what most people picture when they picture a president ― that’s part of the idea that we need something different.”
The Navy veteran continued: “As somebody who was sent to war on the orders of a president, I know just how much trust we put in that office. And there are very good reasons why we really hold all of our candidates to a high bar. … And I think I’ve gone from being viewed as, you know, adorable six weeks ago to now plausible.”
Buttigieg announced on April 1 that he had raised $7 million in the first three months of 2019 toward his presidential bid. He’s raised at least an additional $1 million since formally announcing his campaign on Sunday, according to his campaign.
His fundraising numbers trail behind Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), as well as former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, though he’s outpaced other high-profile contenders, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
Buttigieg, who would be the youngest and first openly gay president if elected, has skyrocketed onto the national stage over the last few weeks. He’s embraced a progressive platform that includes economic and criminal justice reform as well as a focus on combatting climate change.
Since Buttigieg became mayor of South Bend in 2012, the city’s population has ticked upward and unemployment has plummeted. But homelessness and displacement in South Bend have worsened under his watch.
“He’s obviously a person of privilege and highly educated and from a well-off background,” said John Shafer, the director of Michiana Five for the Homeless, a South Bend-based charity, told HuffPost. “It’s hard for someone in that position to relate to people in poverty. That may be his biggest weakness.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated that Booker represents New York; he represents New Jersey.