Two Years Ago in South Bend

"We're going to make a little news here today"

Two years ago today Darlene and I were in South Bend, Indiana, to hear the city’s mayor “make a little news,” as he put it.

My name is Pete Buttigieg. They call me Mayor Pete. I’m a proud son of South Bend, Indiana, and I am running for President of the United States.

It still gives me chills when I watch the video. I’m sure Pete had practiced everything about those three sentences. His voice rose with “They call me Mayor Pete,” echoing a sheriff in a Western. Rain dripped through the roof of the cavernous Studebaker building. Thousands of us filled the space with pride. Most of the supporters were local, but plenty of us had traveled from afar to help a remarkable young man make history.

And what a ride it was. We canvassed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Nevada. We observed an Iowa caucus. I drove a big, black Suburban of Pete staffers following his car one day in Las Vegas.

It still drives me crazy that an app malfunction denied Pete the momentum of claiming his win on caucus night in Des Moines. And I’m still trying to forget Amy Klobuchar’s New Hampshire debate twisting of his “cartoon” comment. Her widely praised performance that night, I’m convinced, enabled Bernie to slip past Pete to win the first primary.

We watched and listened to every interview Pete gave, impressed by the clarity of his vision and the power of his words. In the past two years, I have never seen him falter answering a question. It’s as if he sees it coming and forms his answer in the nanoseconds before it arrives.

Now he’s Secretary Pete, jousting with Fox News interviewers about infrastructure. His star power drew more viewers than a Senate confirmation hearing usually attracts. Sen. Jon Tester, D-MT, praised Pete’s preparation and said, “You have put on a clinic on how a nominee should work and act.”

Sen. Klobuchar joined the chorus with a gracious tweet and support for his nomination.

Candidate Joe Biden, placing his hands on Pete’s shoulders after the South Carolina primary, said, “Folks, I can’t tell you how much it means to me that he would step up and endorse me. Because I promise you, you are going to end up over your lifetime seeing a hell of a lot more of Pete than you are of me.”

Pete Buttigieg is still making news. I pray it will continue for decades.