"I believe in making yourself useful whenever you can," said Buttigieg.
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While speaking to a sold-out crowd in San Francisco, Buttigieg used that quote to explain why he rushed to a hospital in South Bend, Indiana, where he's mayor, to help translate for a Sudanese family.
He also says it's his motivation for being a public servant.
"You can really, in a lifetime or a political lifetime, bring about profound changes. And then, you know, scholars, intellectuals, maybe make the most impact of all, but often they don't live to see how that impact plays out. So I guess I wanted to play a longer game than if I were a journalist, but I'm not patient enough to be an intellectual, and so being in politics seemed like a happy medium."
The 37-year-old, openly gay mayor, is a Rhodes Scholar and veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
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He announced his presidential exploratory committee in January but has not officially announced his candidacy. Still, he's been on the circuit, and on Thursday night he said, that if elected president, his priority would be democracy reform. He said for example, that he'd like to get rid of the electoral college. After that, his top issue is climate change.
Buttigieg also explained how he'd like to reform the Supreme Court, to make the Judicial Branch of the government less political. He pitched an idea of 15 Supreme Court justices. He says 10 would be selected through the traditional political process and the five other justices would only be seated through unanimous agreement of the other 10. He also said rotating judges off the appellate bench is an idea.
Polls out this week put Buttigieg in third place and fifth place in a crowded Democratic primary field. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke are also polling in the top five.
One of the main questions surrounding Mayor Pete's candidacy is how to pronounce his last name-- a question burning as hot as his political brand right now.
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His husband, Chasten Buttigieg, a school teacher, gave us a lesson. "Buddha-judge-- boot-edge-edge," he said.
#PeteButtigieg could become the first openly gay president. He’s also the only millennial candidate in the 2020 race thus far.— Kate Larsen (@KateABC7) March 29, 2019
Meet - HIS HUSBAND - school teacher @Chas10Buttigieg! ::SOUND ON:: Chasten gives us a lesson on how to pronounce their last name: Buttigieg pic.twitter.com/G7pBMIQMJr
Dennis Sopczynski lives in San Mateo County, but he grew up in South Bend, Indiana and still has a lot of family in the city, where Buttigieg has been a household name since 2012. He believes Mayor Pete's small town skills will translate on a national level. "He really connects very effectively with the community."