Over a thousand fans and press packed into one of Seattle’s most historic venues last night, chanting, “Pete! Pete! Pete!.” The occasion? Presidential candidate Mayor Pete, presented by The Riveter. The sold-out evening was one in a series of hotly anticipated candidate events The Riveter is hosting in the lead-up to the 2020 election. Why? Because we take women seriously and so should the next president.
By the time doors opened at 3:30 p.m., a line of eager fans snaked from the Showbox entrance around two city blocks. Those who arrived earliest were treated by a visit from Buttigieg’s husband Chasten, who himself has gained intense popularity among the candidate’s following (the crowd later erupted into chants of “Chasten! Chasten! Chasten!” when the candidate mentioned his name). This was the Mayor’s first public appearance in Seattle, but gauging from the response, it won’t be his last.
Holding her 7-week-old baby (and fourth daughter!) in her arms, Amy Nelson, founder and CEO of The Riveter, greeted the crowd to share why The Riveter is working to bring all candidates who stand for equity and support women to The Riveter community. “Welcome to an evening featuring Mayor Pete Buttigieg in Seattle at our newly designated landmark, the Showbox,” she began. “We are over 1100 strong, so I think it’s easy to say that Seattle is excited about Mayor Pete!” The crowd shouted its assent.
She also shared a personal story: “In the small world department, I met Pete many years ago when we were both working on policy in D.C. I knew then that he was a star, but at the time he would have been an unlikely person to stand on this stage. And we’re so lucky to have him here now and we’re so lucky to be in this brave new world, where Pete and other candidates are valuing women’s power.”
A little about Mayor Pete, for those who haven’t been following his rise: A long-time player on the state politics scene, Buttigieg found national prominence after announcing his bid in January 2019, running on a platform that includes support for single-payer healthcare, labor unions, universal background checks for guns, action on climate change, and creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. If elected, he would be the first openly gay President and the youngest person ever to hold the office. He’s just 37 years old, a Rhodes scholar, a former military man and an avowed Episcopalian.
“God does not belong to a political party,” he said. “You have a choice if you are faithful, and it is not the person in the White House right now.”
“God does not belong to a political party. You have a choice if you are faithful, and it is not the person in the White House right now.”– Pete Buttigieg
Pete opened the evening by giving a speech dismissing calls for a “return to normal” as going to back to the past, instead of looking forward to the future, but he wasn’t overly serious. “I saw a sign out here that said, “You know it’s Pete when the introverts show up. Any introverts in the house?”he joked, to wild applause. “Introverts unite! But separately and on our own time.”
Afterward, he took questions from the audience. Shasti Conrad, the King County Democratic Party Chair, led the Q&A.
Asked what he will do to ensure a woman’s right to choose at both a national and state level, Buttigieg said: “This is a level of attack we haven’t seen, certainly in my lifetime. And for as long as I’ve been a lot of the framework we’ve had is Roe vs. Wade. Where I come from, a lot of people are not pro-choice, and they don’t view the issue like I am. But no matter how you feel about it, at the end of the day, this decision is for a woman to make and a politician telling her what to do is not going to make it better medically for a woman.”
“At the end of the day, this decision is for a woman to make.”– Mayor Pete, on abortion
He outlined several ways of strengthening the law: appointing “judges and justices who get it,” and creating federal policies that ensure there are “adequate resources for low-income people for whom things like the Hyde Amendment deny access to abortion and practice.”
Afterward, he fielded a question about trans rights: “What specific efforts will you do as president support me and my transgender, non-conforming siblings?” Buttigieg took a strong stance: “We got to have an Equality Act in this country,” he said to cheers.
“The whole federal government agency spectrum understands gender identity and respects people for who they are.” He finished by saying that a Mayor Pete administration would look very different than a Trump administration when it comes to LGBTQ rights. “You can expect to see my administration reflect the amazing diversity of the country that we serve.”
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