weather icon Clear

Pete Buttigieg speaks at human rights gala in Las Vegas — VIDEO

Updated May 12, 2019 - 5:56 pm

Openly gay Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg addressed identity politics and America’s “crisis of belonging” during the Human Rights Campaign’s 14th annual gala Saturday night in Las Vegas.

“I am here to build bridges and tear down walls,” Buttigieg said to an audience of about 750 people at Caesars Palace. “With your help, we can tear down walls between fellow Americans.”

The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, entered the crowded Democratic primary in April. A Monmouth University poll released Thursday shows him with 9 percent support in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation Democratic primary, trailing far behind front-runners Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

During his first appearance in Las Vegas as a 2020 presidential candidate, Buttigieg was the keynote speaker for the sold-out fundraising event held by the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.

“Everyone in this room understands that politics isn’t theoretical. It is personal,” he said.

Buttigieg shared his coming-out story at the event, saying he decided to make public that he was gay in 2015 after serving as a U.S. Navy Reserve intelligence officer in Afghanistan for six months. He was already in his 30s and serving as South Bend’s mayor.

“It forces you to realize that you actually only get one life,” the candidate said of serving in the military. “You only get to be one person, and then I knew that I had to be who I am.”

Buttigieg touched on a wide range of progressive policy positions, including LGBTQ rights, reproductive health, labor unions, cybersecurity, climate change, big money in politics and gerrymandering.

“We can’t let this election be about the president,” he said. “Because if Americans see us spend all our time talking about him, they’ll be left with the question: ‘Who is talking about us?’ ”

But most of the mayor’s 30-minute speech focused on his values, tearing down barriers and recognizing his own privilege as a white man running for the presidency.

“I may be part of the LGBTQ community, but being a gay man doesn’t even tell me what it’s like to be a trans woman of color in that same community,” he said. “Let alone an undocumented mother of four, or a disabled veteran, or a displaced auto worker.”

Buttigieg said all Americans could look to their personal stories to find empathy and a reason to create “a new form of American solidarity.”

“Are you ready to stand hand in hand with people just like you and people not at all like you to make this country a better place?” he asked.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says China trade deal unnecessary before election

The world’s two largest economies have been locked in a high-stakes duel marked by Trump’s escalating penalties on Chinese goods and Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs.

UAW strike puts Trump, GOP in political bind in key states

Led by President Donald Trump, GOP officials have largely avoided taking sides in the strike that threatens to upend the economy in Michigan.

Commissioners want Clark County to fight climate change

Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones outlined steps this week he’d like to take to fight climate change, including hiring a sustainability director and adopting an action plan similar to the city of Reno.

Trump defends himself repeatedly against whistleblower’s complaint

President Donald Trump defended himself Friday against a whistleblower’s complaint, including a reported private conversation with a foreign leader. Meanwhile, the administration plunged into a showdown with Congress over access to the complaint.

US to send more troops to Saudi Arabia, UAE

The Pentagon says the U.S. will deploy additional troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to beef up security, as President Donald Trump has at least for now decided against any immediate military strike on Iran in response to the attack on the Saudi oil industry.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio drops 2020 presidential bid

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ended his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Friday after struggling to gain traction in a sprawling field of candidates.