Pete Buttigieg’s first stop in Pa. draws 1,000 people to Reading Terminal Market
Mayor Pete Buttigieg has a signature promise he makes in stump speeches around the country — a contribution he says he’ll make to American public health.
“When I’m in the White House and you turn on the news,” the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind. says, “your blood pressure will go down instead of through the roof.”
The line elicited loud cheers and likely some blood pressure spikes from about 1,000 people who gathered to hear him speak outside of Reading Terminal Market on a rainy Sunday evening in Philadelphia.
Buttigieg gave a nod to the Liberty Bell, telling the crowd, “Let the word go out from here in this freedom-loving city that freedom is an American value with progressive implications.”
Stephen Mazzoni, of Mullica Hill, attended the rally with his son, Stephen Jr., 11. “Aside from the obvious, the fact that he’s obviously very intellectually gifted: Harvard scholar, seven languages, an Afghanistan veteran, he’s the right mix of nice and he has the intellectual capital to get the job done,” the elder Mazzoni said.
He thinks Buttigieg could surge just before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, as Barack Obama did in 2007.
Patty Shuminski and her husband, Bob, drove down from Doylestown. She’s still considering other candidates but said she found Buttigieg inspiring.
“I’m still learning about some of the others but, to be honest with you, I don’t know if any of the other candidates would have gotten me out here tonight,” she said.
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Hundreds stood in the rain Sunday waiting to get in to see him at the rally site.
“He’s a very welcome contrast to some of the old guard,” said Austin O’Neill, a 22-year old-voter from New Jersey.
Jennifer Laning, of Newark, Delaware, said Buttigieg had the same energy her mom used to talk about seeing in John Kennedy.
Dale Perkins, of Philadelphia, said he considers Buttigieg to be the most electable of the candidates and that he hits a sweet spot:
“I want a bold vision, but I still want pragmatism as well,” Perkins said.
On his stop in Philadelphia, Buttigieg was visiting a city whose population is about 15 times the size of the Midwest city he runs as mayor. After speaking to the crowd, Buttigieg told reporters that when it comes to preparing for the presidency there’s “no job quite like being a mayor.”