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tv   The Axe Files  CNN  July 13, 2019 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT

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he. >> announcer: ton on "the axe files." south bend mayor pete buttigieg on the trials of his campaign. >> you had zero% among arriven american voters? how do you fix that. >> what he sees as a potential danger for democrats. >> but if we just say let's go back to normal. there will be a lot of people who feel normal has not worked for them for decades. >> why he believes he has the temperament to take on trump. >> it's been observed that americans often go with the opposite of whatever we just had in the president. >> i know someone who said that.
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>> sometimes known as axe's theory of op sits. >> welcome to "the axe files." >> mere pete buttigieg good to see you. here in south bend in the old plant where you announced your candidacy. i think it's fair to say as this year began people outside of south bend would not be able to recognize your name much less pronounce it. >> safe to say. >> this has been quite a rocket ride for you. you just improbably turned in one of the biggest fund raising quarters in democratic party history. do you ever step back and say, how the hell did this happen. >> there is not that much time to step back. but when i do it's extraordinary. obviously i won be doing this if we didn't believe we could win, believe in the message and the campaign. but our plan was to have a slow burn, assert that we belong in
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the race, period, over the spring and into the summer, and hope to break out in the debates. what we found instead is that the message caught fire early. now the challenge for us is to make sure we are really reaching everybody with it and that we have the kind of ground organization it takes to actually win. >> it's a high-class problem. >> it's a great problem to have. we started out with four people in a tiny office in south bend at the beginning of the year. and now we're already around a couple hundred and growing fastest. >> you were sort of a sensation in march and april. it's been a bit more rugged going lately process. the the poll numbers dropped a little. is there any concern i have to win next winter? and i don't want to one march and april the the year before. >> you don't want to have the best moments too early in the race. but what we have seen is we arrived in a kind of swift fashion. and now we have carved out a place in the leading group. but in order to stay there we
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have to earn that. we have to earn it every day. >> you wrote in your book here -- talk about running for mayor as a 29-year-old, the ideal reason to seek any job was clear, the city's needs matched what i had to offer. what the about you matches this moment and the presidency of the united states. >> well i think we have a moment where the country needs something new, needs an answer to these changes that are accelerating, that are getting away from a lot of americans. they have people in communities like mine wondering whether there is a place for them in the future. which is one of the reasons why the president came along selling a certain message, which was i'm going to turn back the clock and nothing is going to change at all. that message is false. but we have to have one that is just as responsive to that sense of churn, without making an impossible possible to turn back the clock. my story is that of somebody who belongs to the generation who has so much at stake whether we can resolve economic change and
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make it work fours whether we can resolve climate change, resolve racial inequality if our time. and i come from the region that has struggled the most with these changes and the region that my own party, the democratic party has lately struggled to connect with in a way that helped lead to the presidency. i'm a product of the times that we are living in. i'm a veteran of the war in afghanistan. i think all of these things plus the experience that i've had on the ground guiding a city up against colossal challenges adds up to a different package of experience and a different messenger but also a different message than any of the others are offering. >> you're 37 years old, two years over the constitutional minimum for serving as president. and you obviously feel that's a virtue. >> very much so. i think you see it around the world actually. there are a lot of leaders from el salvador to france, to new zealand who have been part of this generation, would be the same age or younger than i would
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be taking office in 2021. and ordinarily the arrival of a new generation of leadership is the kind of thing that america leads. right now, it seems we are playing catch up -- i see on the trail among voters of all ages, a desire to bring forward new voices. because when i get to the age of the current president in the 2050s my generation will be held to account for whether we tackled the issues in these years that are coming upon us right now. >> implicit in that is that the president won't be here in 2050 and perhaps has less of a stake in that. you have two opponents who are older than he is. should age be an issue for them? >> i think that any candidate of any age can put forward a compelling message and be a great president. but i do think i come at these issues differently because i do have a personal expectation, lord willing, of being around in the years when we are going to know whether or not the actions we took right now, 2009, 2020,
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2021 got the job done on protecting our future economy from climate change, whether we got the job done on having a rising tide actually lift all boats, which has not happened for most americans. and if we don't act now to resolve that then the entire balance of my adult life will be spent in a period of decline and despair for this country, when actually we have the possibility of having our best moments yet as a country. >> in a certain way it feels like your energy has gotten out ahead of your ideas on this one. we still haven't really heard that sort of big economic package, that big clarifying idea about how you are -- how you are achieving this. >> i try be to clear on how where i stand on the every issue of our time including economics. >> what's important to do to make good on the promise to the folks on the other side of the digital divide? what is the promise for them. >> two sets of things. the first set is deceptively
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simple. it's things like making sure people get paid more. we need to raise the minimum wage. sometimes we think of convoluted policy mechanism to solve what we think are complicatesed problems. it's why minimum wage needs to go above $15 an hour. >> this is not unique hadley yours. >> this brings me to more complicated ideas. i think it's important to recognize that most democrats agree on a lot of the ideas. and that's okay. the question becomes what kind of messenger can deliver those in a way that keeps our focus on what's actually at hand? versus getting diverted into talking about the president so much that we're not talking with you. now there are other things you aren't hearing about from other campaigns. part of that is the stent to which our benefit system needs to be decoupled from this system we have now that still assumes that you'll have the same career or even the same employer for your whole working life. that is not true for most people in my generation, anybody younger than me.
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that has some very specific implications in economic policy. for example when we talk about how you accrue retirement savings, or unemployment insurance, or various benefits, from health to family leave, we are also going to have to be very creative economically in making sure the way we support nottiouses jobs but workers adds up in the 21st century. we also need i think to be much more intentional and pesk in our plans for black americanings that's why i proposed a douglas plan that ought to be as ambitious as the marshal panhandle for urnl. >> one of the things that happened there let's stop there. one of the distinctions you earn when you become a hot candidate is greater scrutiny. >> um-hum. >> and that has happened with you. and a lot of it has been around this issue of race. you know, i remember watching your announcement from this room. and i was struck by the fact that in a city that is 40% black
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and hispanic you have 5,000 people here, very few faces of color in this room. and this has come back recently because of a tragic police involved shooting here of a black man that is still murky, under investigation. if stirred the community. and some of the aerpg was directed at. >> you why is it taking so long. >> >> these are issues. >> of course. when you're in charge you bear responsibility for everything that happens good or bad on your watch. i can point to the success we have had in reducing the poverty rate but there are a lot of areas i can't claim we solved the problem. i think the important thing is to recognize that this is happening in the context of patterns of exclusion that are economic as well as across the health, education -- >> and nationally. >> and national challenges. >> but here is my question. you're a data guy. >> yeah. >> the -- if you look at the
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number of black police officers going from 25 to 13. >> yes. >> on your watch. if you look at minority business enterprises and contracting the city less than 1%, aren't those warning signs for people don't -- those are things that should be under your control. >> well, some of these things are incredibly challenging. and the recruit something a good example. it's not like we are just now coming awake to the problem of hiring and retaining black officers on the police department. we actually started publishing our own data so that everybody could look in and see how many applicants we attract in the first -- attract in the first place and where we lose them along the way. we have conducted job fairs. i have stood in front of cameras pleading with community members to help more people apply and then help try to help make sure they succeed. we are not the only community facing a racial gap in police recruitment and retention too. the profession as a whole has
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become harder to attract people to. that's even more true in many cities, including mine when it comes to minority recruitment. i'll own up to the fact that we have. >> having the numbers -- it's 6% of the force. >> yeah. >> 24, 25% of the population is african-american. what about on the minority contracting? because you were talking about making speeches and i know you bleed deeply in them about boosting minority entrepreneurship around the country. you have this douglas plan. but it was stunning to me to see that small of number of contracts in the city going to minority owned sbrmzs. >> the reason that number is out there is because we take a look to find out what it was, knowing that it wouldn't be a great number. but when i arrived we didn't even have the ability to assess how we were doing at doing business with minority contractors and said we have to fix that. now we are at a stage saying how to we set better targets?
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but legally we are not able to do that until we conduct a study of all the disparities. so that's under way. it's going to be delivered -- been in the works for a while and will be delivered this summer. these are not issues that were created on my watch but i'm determined to make sure that they improve on my watch. and there are many indicators that are getting better. some that aren't. and we're honest about that. but we try to make sure that people at least know where we stand what the reality is. and then the steps that we are taking in order to drive progress. and we established an office didn't even exist until two or three years ago to track and then drive improvements around diversity and inclusion. >> why didn't it exist until two or three years ago you've been here seven. >> yeah, we started out by figuring out what we could do with the tools we had and then said you know, we need to go to a new level and create a department that will work on this. now now we are looking at what it takes to add to the resource that is that shop has. these are not things that you flip a switch on overnight but
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there has been intentional action much of it yielding real results. i would point to things like the diverse difficulty in the administration, the diversity in the appointments i have made including to the civilian board that makes decisions about hiring and firing police officers self and the economic growth that we have had, improvement in minority neighborhoods. i'm not staking my candidacy on the idea that i came in as mayor and in my low income city poverty ended, racial inequality ended, injustice ended. that's not the story i'm trying to tell. what i'm saying is that we have been able to make tremendous strides in a city that was written off categorically as dying. literally on the national list of america's ten dying cities and we are proud of the progress we made and recognizing the areas where we lagged behind, the need for intentional steps that we've been taking all along and keep adjusting and improving as we go. >> i know these are at first moral and governmental questions. they're also political complications. and right now cnn did a poll last week and you had zero%
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among african-american voters, a group that you called the back bone of the democratic party. how do you fix that? and can you win if you don't. >> i'm not interested in winning without black support. i'm interested in winning black support and deserving to win black support. it's why wae make sure through initiatives like the documents plan people understand exactly what i proposed to do with the powers of the presidency and federal office to deal with racial inequality from what's going on in the criminal justice system and the fact that we need to cut incarceration and can i'm convinced without crime increasing cut incarceration by 50% in this country. all the way through to the reforms and the credit system that will help black entrepreneurs be able to create more jobs and improvements in home ownership, education and health. two things that i found about black voters, first they're not month lithe ib. there is no single black vote. just lake here in south bend you will find enthusiastic supporters and critics of mine.
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we're also talking about voters who have this in common which is that a lot of people feel like they've been lied to by various politicians coming along from both parties for as long as i've been alive or longer. and when you're new on the scene and you're not yourself from a community of color, and you've got a city with a complex history, you've got to do a lot of work in a short amount of time to build that trust and build the relationships but we are determined to do it. >> coming up on "the axe files,". >> elizabeth warren is not doing any fund raisers at all she just raised almost as much as you. >> not quite. >> okay. you are competitive. not even our competitor's best battery
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this -- this place which is now seeing a rebirth, a repurposing here in south bend was for many, many years a symbol of what happened to this region and what happened to the manufacturing sector. and the president did pretty well speaking to these people who feel like they have been on the short end of this stick. and you've been critical of the democratic party for failing particularly in 2016 to address it. what was not said by hillary clinton, for example, that should have been said by the democratic nominee that you would say? >> well, i think the democrats were so mesmerized by everything that was terrible about donald trump. and obviously there was a lot there. but that was so shocking to us that we spent way more time talking about him than we did talking about what was going on in voters' lives.
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allowing him to serve up the message that said he was speaking for so many people who had been left behind. he doesn't actually care about people. i think can you tell that by his actions, choices, the fact that very little of what he has done has benefitted working people in any part of the country. and yet there was this space where it began to look like democrats were the party of the establishment, like we were the party saying the system was okay. and i'm worried about this for 2020. if we are portrayed as a party that is promising a return to normal -- which will be tempting because what we have now is so chaotic and awful. but if all we have to say is let's o back to normal. a lot of people will feel normal hasn't worked for them for decades. >> when you say that, is that a reference to the vice president? because a lot of his message is about restoration. >> well, i think he is one candidate who runs that risk a great deal. not the only candidate running
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that risk. a big part of what i'm trying to do in my campaign is demonstrate that we understand the causes of which this president is a symptom. if all we have to say is we're going back to normal, then in some ways it could be perceived as a kind of different version of what the republicans are saying. the republicans want us back for the 1950s. democrats might sound like we want to go back to the '90s. a lot of people don't think the '90s worked for them where the. >> i wonder as a pure political matter when you stood on the stage and saw candidates saying that they would support medicare for all plan that would eliminate private insurance, when you and others said let's decriminalize the crossing of the border or provide government-funded health care for undocumented immigrants, what -- what do the voters that you're talking about hear in what you call flyover country? how do they react to that? because you know the presidents
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are already socialism and open borders. >> here is the thing. literally no matter what we could do. we could adopt the republican platform today and the president would still say we are socialistists. we could build a wall and he would say we are for open borders. at the end of the day what he says isn't changed much for what we do. >> but if you are for positions that could be interpreted that doesn't it make the job easier? i know you didn't take the position that medicare for all and eliminate private insurance. you took it not just on policy basis but but you understood there is tremendous resistance to that. >> a lot of people don't want to hear we are snatching away private health plan process pet let's talk about what we believe in case make the case for it if the case is compelling even in areas that are somewhat unpopular we can begin moving american opinion in our direction. i don't think we should shrink from convictions. i do think that we should be realistic about what works. and flipping a switch and saying
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we are instantly going to have everybody on medicare just like that isn't realistic. i think when it comes to a lot of the policies that we're pushed to do say we can pay down the last penny of tuition for any student including the child of the billionaire, these are things that are questionable on their merits and of course pretty far out. >> talking about snorp sanders. >> among others. pretty far from where americans are. but injury it's okay to get a bit ahead of where the american people are on an issue if we believe in it. >> let me ask you something about about the debates the two people getting most noticy julian castro and kamala harris because they threw punches that landed. that's not your temperament. is this a disadvantage to you? we're coming up on another set of debates. i thought you did a fine job in those debates. but you didn't get the headline because you didn't throw the punch. >> i think people right now are looking for a president who is steady. now, i am a competitive person.
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this is a fierce contest. and i will be competitive with my democratic competitors just as i plan to be fiercely competitive with the president when the time comes to take him on. but i think some of the made for television moments can give you a little spike and then wear off. what people really want to know is what are you about? and they're sizing us up. not just from one moment on television but moment after moment understanding who we are, what we're about, what we're doing for them. and i think that's how we win. >> you're famously chill guy. is it possible your temperament actually is better in terms of facing off with donald trump. >> well, it's been observed that americans often go with the opposite of whatever we just had in the presidency. >> i know someone who said that. >> sometimes known as axe's theory of opposites i think. >> it's a convincing theory and it don't get more different than somebody like me.
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people are inclined to put a ideological lens on these hinges. forgetting the current president doesn't have an ideology. it's not a matter of finding his ideological opposite. although it's important to have more progressive leader than we have now right now. it's also somebody who can deliver a different style of leadership than we have. and that stuff matters. >> i mentioned at the top that you raised quite a bit of money, almost $25 million in a quarter which was phenomenal. in this book you -- you were talking about youis race for state treasurer of indiana opinion. and you have to wonder about fund raising like typing or sunbathing it does something unhealthy to you in the long run. you've done 70 fund raise he is in pleases like hollywood, silicon valley, wall street. you've been a favored candidate of the elite. does it give you any concern. >> well we are trying to leech everybody at every level. in addition to the traditional political work we do we have a
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lot of grass roots fund raisers where tickets are very affordable. well fill a theater full of people to make sure we are interacting not just with the traditional paerpt raisers but anybody who really cares. >> elizabeth warren is not doing fund raisers she raised almost as much as you. >> not quite. >> you are competitive. but she said she is not doing them because she thinks they are corrosive. >> ultimately in only gets better when we fix the system itself. citizens united was a disaster for american democracy. and until we change our campaign finance system we are going to continue to have this problem that the people we elect and expect to spend their time solving ore policy problems are spending way too much time raising the dollars they need to in order to pay the field. >> including you. >> yeah, how else can we fund the campaigns. >> you are playing the rules as they are written now and try and change them if you get the chance. >> i can't change them until we get the chance. but that's our plan. >> up next on "the axe files."
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so, mayor, this is a special spot in your town. tell me what in represents to you. >> so this is a place that really brings together all of the change, the growth and transformation we have had. the way the river used to run here was that it was kind of a combination between a conveyor belt and a sewer. it powered industry a hundred years ago. then we went through a period of decline, not a lot happening here. now we see new residential construction. this is an area where we have a light scape at night.
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we launched it as part of the anniversary celebration. 150 years of city. sending a message that south bend was back, growing after years of really taking it on the chin. i mean we were a company town that lost our company and spent 50 years figuring out what to do if we weren't making cars in the old way. shows what can happen when a town gets back on its feet. >> there is the fear of gentrification and one of the early initiatives was you knocked down 1,000 abandoned homes which were blight in the city, many in minority neighborhoods. you rebuilt some of them. >> um-hum. >>er to others down. all with good intentions. but it became controversial. >> yeah but a lot goes back to trust. even when we were doing things that neighbors had asked for for a long time when the city started coming in to fix houses or remove houses that conbe saved, the question was okay, are you doing this for us or to us? ? the end it made a lot of people better off, especially minority
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residents in low income neighborhoods. but it took a lot of work to establish trust around what the intention of it was. there is still the fear of is this going to make me worse off? is this going to diminish my place in the future of the community? >> and yet the blighted homes were also a danger to the communities. >> absolutely. that's why we undertook it. neighbors were saying this house next to me has been vacate ten years. i have no idea who owns it. and the fact that it was sitting there collapsing to them it was evidence that the city didn't care about them. now that wasn't actually true. the city over the years tried different things. but the truth was they didn't see the neighborhoods getting better. that's what we had to change. >> this was a politically difficult thing for you. and in fact you lost support in those neighborhoods from one election to the next. and that was one of the major reasons why. >> in some areas, yeah, i mean some folks approved one part of the policy, disapproved another. and vice versa. what we found i think was that there was more support on the housing side, more frustration
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on the polling side where we were taking a lot of steps but didn't amount to a department that everybody felt connected to or could trust. >> one thing i noticed is that the poverty rate among african-americans hispanics here are significantly high are than the average for the nation. >> that's right. >> and in that sense how much progress has been made here? >> you know this didn't begin with my administration and it won't end on my watch. but we have made progress. so there is two ways of looking at it. i can point to the fact that black unemployment is down by half since i took off office or face the fact that it's double what it is for white residents. there is no question that the issues of racial inequality around education, housing, access to capital, criminal justice and of course and health that we feel around the country we also feel very much right here. especially in a low income community like this. but the investments that we have made in supporting minority businesses and supporting underinvested neighborhoods in helping lift families up have made a real difference. they've lifted thousands of
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people out of poverty or at least contributed to that happening. >> people will say brit young guy, obviously smart, but he is the mayor of a town of 100,000 people. and what are the lessons that are relevant to the most important job on the planet. >> well i think it's precisely in a community like this one that you can see the story that a lot of the coverage is missing. there are a lot of commentators befuddled by the idea that in 2016 we would have an anxiety election in the middle of full the employment but in a community like this you understand how that happens. you see whole neighborhoods and parts of communities where it's as if the recovery never happened. i think we need far more voices than we have today especially in the democratic party speaking for communities that are mid-size and smaller and rural, and suburban. and rather than appearing to be a party of biggest assistants
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alone. >> the president of the united states of course speaks for the entire country and so what about the scale? what prepares you for that? >> well, think of it this way. you could be a very senior u.s. senator and have never in your life managed more than 100 people. but people are less likely to ask that question of a senator because they see you operating in washington. nobody walks into the oval office actually having experienced the presidency from within. you have to bring the experiences you do have. >> do you think that that experience at this moment of being in the congress that is so deeply, deeply embroid in partisanship and political warfare -- is that a demerritt for the people serving there. >> i think spending too much time in washington may constrain your imagination about the ways in which washington needs to change. i've encountered a lot of senators who can't get in re head around the idea that we would undertake reform of the supreme court for example even though this country has done
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that many times in the past. the idea that we dare to talk about constitutional remedies to what is broken in our democracy for money and politics to the need for national popular vote, i think that sometimes when you spend so much time understanding the ways of washington you wind up perhaps more than you intend also accepting those ways. and that's where i think that outside perspective can be a benefit. >> up next. >> it does create a sense of opportunity but also responsibility. when you realize that you are letting a lot of people who grew up believing they were less than -- you let them know that they do have a future, that they're represented and that they can do anything. award winning interface. award winning design. award winning engine. the volvo xc90.
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you would be the first gay president. what age were you aware of your own sexual orientation.
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>> you know, i think i was aware maybe that i was different pretty early on. but i was pretty far in into my 20s before i was ready to acknowledge even to myself that i was gay. it was a simple fact of life. but it's amazing what you can -- what can happen in your mind. it's almost a war breaks out inside you when something is true that you don't want to be true. >> why didn't you want it to be true. >> i think, you know, i grew up -- even though i had a wonderful and accepting family, growing up in indiana, having your professional choices mostly revolve around service appear elected office and service in the military, doesn't exactly create an easy path for somebody who is different. >> you felt that it would be a barrier to the -- to your goal of service. >> and frankly just a barrier to living well in the world i had been brought up in. i did not know one out student
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in my high school of nearly 1,000 people. if i had come out then i would have been the only one. there was no question i was not the only one. but as far as i knew -- as far as i believed that was the case. and it took me longer than many people to confront in basic fact. and then when i did by then i'd become mayor or i was about to become mayor. i was pretty busy. and i didn't mind at first not having a dating life. but eventually those things catch up to you. -on realize that you got to move forward because you're not getting any younger. lonely and must have been lonely for you. >> i didn't think of it as lonely at the time. but looking back i must have. i just filled my life with other things. i was busy. i thought to myself the city was a jealous bride and it was going to consume as much attention as i had to give. it was really only the deployment that kind of shook me awake and i realized my life could end as a grown man in a position of responsibility who
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has no idea what it's like to be in love. and i realized how crazy that was and what i was doing to myself. by not allowing myself to have that side of my personal life. and seen though at the time i couldn't imagine how people with spouses or partnering do politics. now that i'm married i have a hard time imagining how i could possibly do this if i were alone. >> chasten, who i have come to know -- i was at your wedding is as extroverted and ee buolient and as you are restrained as you are. now has he changed you. >> i think he has helped me come alive to the ways in which having an office like -- even like that of mayor and certainly being a presidential candidate or candidate creates ways to brighten oh other people ace lives. he was always tugging at me to go to one more event here in south bend and think of all the people whose day you can make better by seeing them out on the
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street and telling them what they are doing is important. it's something about the way we play off each other that i think helps wakes me up to some of the possibility around me and balance me out. >> you write so compellingly about the letters you got once you came out. >> yeah. >> what would it mean do you think for you to be elected president? >> you know bun of the biggest things we encountered on the campaign is letting people let us know what it means to have an out person running. kids are killing themselves now. we have heard from kids or parents who let us know that kids lives were in danger and it meant something to them to see the campaign. i have people sometimes come up to me from an older generation who never thought that would be possible. and sometimes they come up to say hello. and they can't even speak. and that's when i realize that- dsh you know i didn't get into this to be the gay presidential candidate i'm not running to be
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the gay president. but it does create a sense of opportunity but also responsibility when you realize that you are letting a lot of people who grew up believing they were less than -- you are letting them know that they do have a future that they are represented and can do anything. >> in your book you said it was in high school when you began to think about maybe a career in public service. >> it started out as a class joke in my senior history class that i had run for office some day. and then the more i thought about it, the more i thought i could do some good here. >> but it seems like you have kind of made us a very intentional journey to public office. you went to harvard, oxford. and then you went to mckinzy, gigantic consulting firm and steeped yourself in business and enlisted in the reserves, all seem like you were building towards something. >> there were moments i might have taken a detour, thought i
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would abjournalist or see what the business world had to offer. but at the end of the day my north star was public service. because i had felt that i cared more about that than anything else i could be doing. >> tell me about your experience in the military. you were already mayor when you got called to afghanistan. you've talked about national service for the country because you said it was important for people of different backgrounds to get to know each other and service was a great way to do it. >> right. >> who did you meet? were there people you met who were from completely different places that change the way you thought about things? >> yeah, totally. because people had such different stories. the military is by far the most racially integrated organization i've been part of. you know you are side by side with people who have totally different lives than you do. and it doesn't mean that you wind up automatically changing to the way they see things or agreeing with them but you learn to have a kind of regard for people. that are different from you,
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that have different values from you. and it's one of the things that motivates my interest in having national service opportunities for all young americans, is that, you know, you shouldn't have to go to war to have that kind of experience. but there are fewer and fewer i think ways in current american life that people who have such different interests and backgrounds and stories actually wind up thrust into a situation where they're together working on something challenging. and building the bridges across the divides. >> you became disillusioned as you write when you were over in afghanistan, because you arrived just the president was announcing a winding down of our engagement there. one of your buddies said the war is over. and you began to think about what it meant to be involved in an endless war. >> yes. >> how would that affect you as commander in chief. >> the first is understanding just how important when it comes to wars how important it is to not start one if you can help
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it, because it very much weighed on me when somebody said the war is over. and i'm thinking i could get killed in a war that a lot of people think is over. that was in 2014. when i left afghanistan in the fall of 2014 i thought i was one of the last guys turning out the lights. and now five years later we're still there. and so it forces to you confront the question of what it takes to end these endless wars. and that -- >> what would the test for getting in be. >> it has to be either response to attack or direct threat on the united states orp treaty allies or internationally legitimate coordinated action to do something like prevent a genocide. what you wouldn't do is deal with a situation like venezuela where you had the national security adviser casually suggesting we might send troops. you look at iran where we seem to be on a slippery slope. a situation that could get out of the control of the iranians and our white house. and you recognize just how
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dngerous it is to have the pathway that we're on, but also personnel is policy. the president right now has asked one of the people who engineered the iraq war, john bolton, to be a american national security. we've got to surround the oval office with people who are going to be doing everything in their power to make sure it is never necessary for the u.s. to enter into an armed conflict. >> announcer: ahead on "the axe files." >> who says this? a forward looking mayor in pete buttigieg. >> i think i know where you're going with this. ♪ sport drumming starts
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so here's a quiz for you. who said that south bend, indiana is blessed to have an innovative, forward looking, creative mayor in pete buttigieg? >> i think i know where you're going with this. is that rvp? >> yes. mike pence. >> that was nice of him. >> and you worked with him. but you've been tough on. lately. >> how could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency? >> and supporting the behavior of donald trump jr. do you believe that he and by extension white evangelicals who embraced trump have betrayed their faith?
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>> i don't know the inner workings of a person's faith. but i know hypocrisy when you see it. when you have an individual or a party that closed itself in religious garb, that seeks to impose their religion on others, meanwhile ignoring the scr scriptural commands to care for the poor more than anything else, when you see just how far from that the project of the current religious right has become, i think it's got to be called out, because either one of two things is happening. either they have somehow convinced themselves that god would smile on tearing families apart, or on the behavior of
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this president, or they don't care. and it's all just kind of a sham. >> or they feel in some of his other public positions on judges, on abortion, and so on, that he is aligned with them. >> there's that term, making a deal with the devil. i can't think of a more apt example of it, if that's really true. it's one of the reasons why we find that lots of people come to me talking about their appreciation for the fact that i do talk about faith on the trail. not because i seek to -- >> you know, you do on the trail. there are 330 pages here and you wrote almost nothing about it in your book. why? >> not everything that was important in my life made it into the book. even as i was writing, i was it the middle of a faith journey that i would say even now is incomplete. but what i think is really important in the political space is to let people know that they have a choice. it's not to say that if you're religious he need to be a democrat or a republican.
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and i've seen this growing up in a very religious community where i think some people just associated being republican with being kind of decent and upstanding and churchgoing. if there was ever a time for that spell to be broken, it's under the presidency we're dealing with right now. >> you speak eight languages. you taught yourself norwegian in order to translate a novel you appreciate, you're an avid musician, you play the guitar and the piano since you're 5 years old and you played with our own symphony, the south bend symphony. you wrote that your piano teacher urged you to play the music and not the notes. that struck me as sort of a good lesson for presidential politics. how do you make your narrative more than the notes? >> i think -- i hadn't thought about that comparison, but it's true, i think sometimes we get bogged down in the notes, especially democrats, because we love our policies.
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and sometimes we get so caught up in explaining why our policy is better designed than the other person's policy, we forget to tell the story about why those policies matter. and if we locate the heart of our politics in the everyday, if we hold all of our politics accountable based on whether they're going to make everyday lives better or worse, then i think we'll be better off politically but also we'll be better off as a country. and people, again, especially in this part of the country, the industrial midwest, have watched republican and democratic presidencies come and go for as long as i'm alive and not seen their boats rise with the tide. we've got to fix that, or we're going to be tuned out. >> well, let me end where we began. it seems to me that wherever you go from here, you've already kind of won because you've announced yourself as a voice on the national stage, and i suspect a voice we'll hear from for many years to come.
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so good luck on the trail. >> thank you. >> mayor pete. good to be with you. >> good to be with you. >> for more of the conversation, visit >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm ana cabrera in new york. our breaking news right now, a large power outage affecting parts of manhattan tonight. look at your screen right now. that is times square. that's where the ball drops on new year's eve. usually you see lights all over the place, flashing lights, billboards. right now it's dark. 42 years to the day since new york city experienced the famous blackout of 1977. look at that shot from times square. con edison right now reporting more than 38,000 customers are without power. we're seeing these numbers grow since the initial power outage was reported. an


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