EXETER, New Hampshire — Pete Buttigieg addressed a packed crowd of several hundred supporters in the main atrium of Exeter High School on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, asking them to visualize the morning after President Donald Trump had been defeated in the November election.
“Who’s ready to put the tweets behind us?” he asked, to cheers.
Buttigieg is currently running second in the most recent tracking polls, after a strong performance in the Iowa caucuses that saw him win the most delegates and finish second to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the popular vote.
He took aim at Sanders, saying that the idea that “you’re either for the revolution, or you’re for the status quo,” leaves out most Americans.
He contrasted his health care plan, which offers Medicare as a choice, with that offered by Sanders, who has proposed “Medicare for All.”
Buttigeig added that Sanders could not fully explain how he would pay for his health care plans.
The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor has campaigned hard in the state, spending his considerable war chest on developing a strong, sophisticated organization.
Buttigieg was preceded by Oscar-winning actor Kevin Costner, who joked that he had never expected to come to New Hampshire, but that he had been moved to support Buttigieg because of his ability to “listen.”
John Anthony, a senior at the high school who is volunteering for the Buttigieg campaign, told Breitbart News that the youthful former South Bend, Indiana, mayor is relatable: “He connects with me.”
Anthony said that he particularly appreciated Buttigieg’s policy for including mental health care in health insurance coverage.
He added that Buttigieg had showed that he cares about the people of the state by doing the “groundwork” of organizing town halls and door-to-door campaigns rather than relying on media and advertising alone to reach voters.
Brittany Dickson, from nearby Rochester who brought her daughter to the rally, said she believed Buttigieg had the ability “to unify the country” because he was not a Washington insider and was not compromised by past relationships with the D.C. elite.
She said that he seemed the best candidate to pull in Republicans and independents because of what she called his “accepting and understanding” nature.
Likewise, Beth from Exeter, silver-haired and clad in a black T-shirt with Buttigieg’s core “values” written in colorful lettering, said that Buttigieg had the approach the country needed.
She said that while he was not officially first in the polls — yet — he was “first in my heart.”
Beth recalled meting Buttigieg at a local event several months ago, and was impressed with him immediately. “He’s articulate, he’s intelligent, he has good values, he has a moral center, and he has experience in running a city.”
Asked whether his youth was a concern, she replied: Old has not done us any good.”
She added: “He’s the same age as the Founding Fathers were.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.