“Who’s ready to put the tweets behind us?” asked presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to a packed Union Event Center crowd. The cheers were deafening.
Buttigieg spoke to an estimated 4,500 people at the venue while a line circled the block was still hoping to get in. The event had been moved earlier because the original venue had only a 2,500 capacity and registrations far exceeded that.
Jade Velazquez, state lead for Utah for Buttigieg Campaign, welcomed the crowd, saying he came out in Salt Lake City at the age of 14 where he was bullied and beaten up.
“As a young, gay kid I was an outsider and I never would have felt safe in a place like this,” he said. “But, look who has the mic now.”
The crowd whooped as Velazquez took a deep, cleansing breath.
“Pete talks about his marriage to Chasten, and how that union is so important to him and under threat from this administration, and I feel that,” Velazquez continued. “My amazing husband, Gabe, is an American citizen from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I wake up every day worried about his safety. We’ve seen how people of color have been attacked under this administration. … I feel like Pete is going to bring us all together as a united country and everyone will be welcome here.”
Valasquez introduced congressional candidate Kael Weston to the stage, who talked about Buttigieg being a fellow veteran who “understands the cost of war.” He also called him a president who would “bring back high standards to the highest office of our land.”
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall then got onstage and said that Buttigieg has something that our current president doesn’t, which is “respect for people and all of their differences. The more diverse this country becomes, the more we need a president who can speak with tact, who can be eloquent, who can respect the people and celebrate this nation of diversity. She then went on to give Buttigieg a surprise endorsement.
Buttigieg came to the stage and exclaimed, “Wow, what a crowd! This is what it looks like to prove that there is no such thing as a permanently red state.”
He thanked Mendenhall, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson and former mayor Ted Wilson for endorsing his candidacy.
“Here’s the thing about mayors. When you’re a mayor, you just gotta get things done. If the numbers don’t add up at the end of the year in your budget, you don’t get to just print more ‘Salt Lake City dollars.’ You’ve got to figure out a way to make it work,” he said. “You’ll never hear of a city shutting down its government because the two parties can’t agree. It doesn’t happen because you just have to solve the problem.”
“So when people say to me, ‘what makes you think a mayor can run for president? You’re just a mayor, not a senator, you haven’t been marinating in Washington for years or for decades,’ I always say ‘that’s the point!’ We’ve got to get Washington to work a little more like our best-run cities and towns.”
He spoke on Utah Sen. Mitt Romney being the only Republican senator to vote to convict Trump on one of the articles of impeachment against him.
“If your senator, whom I disagree with on a whole lot of things, but I think we can agree followed his conscience on this matter because he was more worried about his relationship with his conscience and his maker than his relationship with the Republican party… If he was alone in doing that, doesn’t that say more about what has become of the Republican party today than anything else?”
He then went on to talk about the many things the people of the country agree on rather than disagree. That workers should be empowered, wages should be raised and ensure that one job should be enough to make a living. Healthcare for all Americans, including his version of Medicare for All “Who Want It.” Protecting our air and water quality, “and ensure that our Environmental Protection Agency believes in environmental protection.” He also touched on racial equality and the Dream Act.
“This is a country that already understands that true love of country, that true patriotism, means loving a country that’s made of people, and you can’t love a country if you hate half the people in it,” he said.
The primary election takes place on March 3. Mail-in ballots have already reached registered voters, and some counties have early voting, and all counties have election day voting. For more information, go to vote.utah.gov.