Pete Buttigieg Just Wants to Be Useful: EXCERPT

The New York Times‘ Lisa Lerer interviewed Pete Buttigieg in Wedesday’s edition and says that he just wants to be useful.

Pete Buttigieg showed off his quarantine beard in March. via Instagram

In her On Politics columns she said, “For a presidential candidate, a campaign is a state of continuous motion, a blur of rallies, interviews, strategy sessions and fund-raisers. Meals happen in cars and buses — if they happen at all. Exercise is a luxury. And sleep? Well, sometimes. Over the course of three weeks, Pete Buttigieg went from the nonstop pace of his nearly 15-month presidential bid to a dead halt, after he quit the Democratic race and Indiana shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It wasn’t the post-campaign period that Mr. Buttigieg, or anyone really, had planned.”

Lerer then interviewed Buttigieg, here are some highlights:

Where are you quarantining?

I’m at home in South Bend. I’ve probably spent more time in this house in the last two months than I have since I bought it a decade ago. We definitely set an all-time record for the most meals we’ve cooked and eaten at the dining room table, which is great, because for the last year and a half most of my meals were in vehicles.


I have to say, I picture you being irritatingly productive during this time at home, like learning Greek or taking up the viola.

Maybe not that productive. I’ve upped my Rosetta Stone subscription and I’m getting behind the piano a little more. But there’s a lot more TV watching going on, too, so it all balances out.

We got pretty deep into “Westworld.” I know I’m like five years late on that. We’re starting to get into this show “Upload.”


That’s kind of a dark, dystopian pick.

It’s kind of philosophical. I’m not sure I’m ready for anything that hard-hitting. I’m going back to “Veep” now, too. It was a little too close to home for me to enjoy it earlier, but now I really get a kick out of it.


So, between the television shows, you’ve had a little time to think about your campaign. What’s the thing you’re most proud of and the thing you most regret?

Even now, I’m a little close to it to have a fully objective take. But the thing I’m proudest of is that we really were able to create a sense of belonging for so many people, to send a message that this could be a country where everyone belongs. Of course, I’ll always be thinking about things we might have done differently or could have done better.

And it’s so important to me to make sure that any message I put forward is one where everybody sees themselves and that reaches the broadest possible base of voters and supporters. That, I think, is the basic objective of any campaign and something I would want to grow anytime I return to electoral politics.

You had a pretty impressive run. You’re still a young guy. What do you see as your political role right now?

Essentially, it’s to make myself useful. So to me, right now, there are really two big lines of effort —  the first, of course, to do everything in my power to help get Joe Biden elected president.


And then it’s practicing what I always preach, that we can’t treat the presidency as the only office that matters. So that’s where Win the Era comes in. I’m really excited about these 22 candidates that we’ve announced in our first wave of endorsements because it’s a chance to be present in races around the country.


I’m very excited about some of the people who are not as well known, like we’re backing a young candidate named Jevin Hodge in Arizona, who’s running for Maricopa County supervisor. The county supervisor is a great example of one of these unsexy offices that have a lot of influence on people’s lives. Frankly, across my lifetime, conservatives tended to pay more attention to state and local office than my party did. We now know not to make that mistake.


On one hand, we’re seeing just how important state and local and other offices are in addition to the White House because of all the things that are going on in the pandemic response, and seeing how much it matters who your governor is, and being reminded that elections are run by state and county officials. And on the other hand, the paradox is, there’s less oxygen than ever, less attention than ever, for any campaign besides the presidential.