MANCHESTER, N.H. – Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg on Friday highlighted his push to add justices to the Supreme Court and scrap the Electoral College in presidential elections, as he campaigned in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.
The South Bend, Indiana mayor, who launched a presidential exploratory committee in January, said the 2020 election should not be about President Trump, telling reporters that “of course we’ll confront him, we’ll call him out. We’ll beat him. But at the end of the day, it’s not about him, it’s about us.”
As he headlined "Politics and Eggs" at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics – a must stop for White House hopefuls – the 37-year old contender and Afghanistan war veteran joked that he’s a “young person with a funny name coming out of nowhere….I think it’s safe to say I’m not extremely famous.”
Buttigieg highlighted that when it comes to his long shot bid for the Democratic nomination, a “big part of the challenge for us is simply getting known.”
He spotlighted his call to scrap Electoral College and let the national popular vote determine the winner of a presidential election.
“I simply believe that every American ought to have the same vote, the same voice, no matter where you live, whether you’re in a big city or small community, whether you’re in a state like Indiana or a state like New Hampshire, that when it comes to choosing a president, everyone’s vote should be strictly equal,” he explained.
The push to scrap the Electoral College isn’t a crowd pleaser in New Hampshire, a small general election battleground state with four electoral votes are always up for grabs.
Of course, the Granite State’s most famous politically for holding the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, so Buttigieg was quick to highlight that “I’m talking about the general election, not the primary calendar. I just wanted to make sure that’s clear to everybody to my New Hampshire audience.”
Buttigieg spotlighted that “the debate must begin” on expanding the Supreme Court to prevent “the perception of the court being a nakedly political institution.”
He said the plan he finds “most intriguing” would expand the high court to 15 justices, with five appointed by a Democratic president, five by a GOP president, with the other five coming from the appellate bench and being seated only by the unanimous consent of the other ten.
“It just takes the politics out of it a little bit. Because we can’t go on like this, where every time there’s a vacancy, there’s these games being played and then an apocalyptic ideological battle over who the appointee is going to be,” he argued.
Asked by Fox News why he never mentioned Trump’s name during his address and question and answer session with the audience, Buttigieg said “the biggest message I have the current president is ‘it’s not about you.’”
“I just think that in addition to responding to current moment and the current president, we need to be talking about what the next era is going to look like. This president will come and go. This presidency will come and go,” he said.
And he pushed back against criticism from Republicans that the Democratic Party has moved too far to the left with the "Green New Deal" and "Medicare for All" proposals, arguing labeling them as "socialism" won’t be effective for the GOP going forward.
“I know that word’s been used as a kill switch on debate over the years,” he told Fox News.
“But now there’s a new generation coming up who just want to know if ideas work or not. Most Americans are attracted to Medicare for All,” he added. “These are not wacky far left ideas.”
The Republican National Committee took aim at Buttigieg’s long shot status, criticizing his mayoral record and claiming he’s “failing to stand out from the rest” in a Democratic field that now stands at 14 contenders.
“With little-to-no support as other Democrats dominate the 2020 field, Buttigieg is desperate to gain traction with Granite Staters despite not having any major accomplishments to actually run on.,” RNC Spokesperson Mandi Merritt said.
If Buttigieg pulls off a major upset and wins the Democratic nomination, he would become the first openly gay nominee of major political party. But he said it’s not an issue on the campaign trail.
"It’s been remarkable how many interviews and how many appearances, it really has been a non-issue. And that’s historic too in its own way,” he said. “I also recognize that there’s a historic quality to this potential candidacy and that it has the potential to make it just a little easier for the next person who comes along.”