Buttigieg Says He'll Represent African Americans With 'A Government That Listens'

Jan 22, 2020

A recent poll suggests Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has struggled to gain support among African American voters. The former South Bend, Ind. mayor pushed a message of racial diversity and equality during a stop in Sioux City last Thursday.

The Washington Post’s poll of African American voters showed Buttigieg only has 2 percent support. Buttigieg took a question during a town hall in Sioux City on how he’ll “positively represent” black people if he is in office. He said he wants to see the black experience reflected across leadership positions in government.

“We also (have) got to make sure we have a government that listens, that does a better job of taking on board the different experiences of different Americans,” Buttigieg said. “And what we’ve learned is that not listening can be deadly.”

Buttigieg spoke of a black woman from Milwaukee who recently died seeking emergency care, to emphasize a divide between how black patients and white patients are treated.

“We’ve got to make sure that everybody working in medicine understands how to listen when sometimes there are cultural differences in how people express pain,” Buttigieg said. “And make sure that the profession is more diverse in the first place by recruiting and empowering more black doctors and nurses and clinical staff.”

Buttigieg added there needs to be "greater representation" across all careers from medicine to politics to law.

"Equality is an imperative," Buttigieg said. "We'll do everything we can to reflect that."

Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart, who is black, has endorsed Buttigieg for president.

Buttigieg took several other questions at his town hall, touching on topics from reducing gun violence in rural communities, to his plans to address climate change. 

Many voters are still undecided on who they’ll caucus for, with less than three weeks until the Iowa caucuses. Chris Rich from Sioux City said she came to volunteer at Buttigieg’s stop in Sioux City, but was undecided on who she would vote for. That changed by the end of the event and Rich plans to caucus for Buttigieg, she said.

“I feel more calm," Rich said. "After being here tonight, after listening to [Buttigieg] and learning more about his campaign and his ideas and his vision, there’s a sense of peace within myself and what I think he can do."

She continued, “I’m excited about that. I’m energized.”