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Maybe-candidate Pete Buttigieg stumps in Las Vegas

Updated April 8, 2019 - 6:04 pm

Potential presidential contender Pete Buttigieg on Monday was the latest in a string of Democrats making early stops in Nevada in the race for the White House.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is still operating an exploratory committee, would not say whether he was running, but he did tease a special announcement scheduled for Sunday.

His supporters packed into Madhouse Coffee near Desert Inn Road and Durango Drive to watch him deliver a message of unity. An overflow crowd watched from outside as he addressed supporters in the crowded room. He later visited Veterans Village near downtown Las Vegas.

“People are ready for voices from different kinds of communities,” he said. “We can’t just be a party for certain parts of the country. It’s got to be all of us, coast to coast.”

Buttigieg acknowledged his potential path to the presidency is unorthodox, but it is a path that he said works in his favor.

“Right now, we need a Capitol building that starts looking more like our best-run cities and towns instead of the other way around,” he said.

Buttigieg has seen a surge of support in recent weeks, bringing in a fundraising haul that put him toward the top of a crowded Democratic field.

He said during his morning coffee shop stop that he would need grassroots support to keep the momentum going.

Audience member William Conlin said Buttigieg is his favorite possible Democratic nominee.

“He’s so intelligent, he’s so articulate, and he’s just got great policies, and I think he might be the guy to beat Trump,” Conlin said.

Conlin said the most important issues to him going into the 2020 election are health care and the defense of LGBTQ rights.

Buttigieg said he backs a plan that would put a form of Medicare on the health exchange and allow it to compete with private insurance.

“This is something that the residents of every developed country in the world, except us, have,” he said of a single-payer system. “Why should Americans settle for anything less?”

Buttigieg’s Las Vegas visit didn’t resonate with everyone.

A Donald Trump supporter could be heard chanting into a megaphone throughout Buttigieg’s stump speech, and the visit also drew criticism from the Republican National Committee.

“Pete Buttigieg comes to Nevada while ignoring the crisis at our southern border, defending the costly Green New Deal and calling to abolish the Electoral College, but this comes as no surprise as he falls right in line with the rest of the Democrat Party,” committee spokeswoman Christiana Purves said in a statement. “By quickly embracing policies that would wreak havoc on the Silver State, Buttigieg is proving to Nevadans that he’s just another radical Democrat looking to win their next litmus test.”

Buttigieg told reporters the crisis at the border was created by what he described as inhumane policies, including the separation of families. He also said during his speech that there’s more to security than building a wall at the southern border.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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