by Morey Stettner – Jan 3, 2020 (SeaCoastOnline.com, abridged)
Addressing a packed South Church audience on Friday evening, Pete Buttigieg sought to emphasize inclusiveness both in his policies and his presidential campaign. In a 19-minute speech followed by 12 questions from the crowd, he repeatedly voiced a desire to enact plans that would benefit a wide swath of Americans while unifying the country at the same time.
“Taking out a bad guy is not necessarily a good idea,” he said. “What we know for sure is American citizens are in harm’s way tonight.”
Citing his experience serving in Afghanistan in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Buttigieg noted that the action could ensnare American troops in more fighting.
“They deserve a Commander in Chief who takes their lives seriously,” he declared.
He organized the rest of his prepared remarks into four themes: values, faith, democracy and freedom. In terms of values, he contrasted his brand of patriotism with President Donald Trump, adding that the next president needs to galvanize, not polarize.
“You can’t love a country if you hate half the people in it,” he said.
Nick Bell, a registered independent from Portsmouth, said Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders were his two top picks. A junior at the University of Vermont, Bell described his paramount issue as “social and economic equal opportunity.”
“Buttigieg is 17 years older than me,” Bell said, musing about whether a 37-year-old possessed sufficient experience to be president.
Other voters seemed more swayed by Buttigieg. Donning a Buttigieg button, Gritt Benton said she supported him because of his communication skills and message of unity.
“He speaks beautifully,” she said. “I like his energy. I think he will heal the country, and we need healing now.”