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Buttigieg warns Dems not to 'play it safe' in picking 2020 candidate

Pete Buttigeig warned the Democratic party Friday against seeking a return to the pre-President Donald Trump status quo as it picks a 2020 presidential candidate, telling MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" that such thinking is a "dangerous message" because "normal didn’t work."

The South Bend, Ind., mayor cautioned in particular against prioritizing electability over all else, suggesting that such thinking could lead Democrats toward a candidate who will be unable to persuade voters to unseat Trump and move in a fresh direction. The remark at least appeared to be a veiled shot at former Vice President Joe Biden, the septuagenarian 2020 primary front-runner who has faced criticism that he is out of touch with the current Democratic Party.

"The challenge we have at the moment like this, there’s a temptation to play it safe in the Democratic Party. That’s almost always been self-defeating but that temptation is there because we know how important it is to defeat Donald Trump," he said. "Out of that is arising the message that what we we’re going to offer as a party is we’re going to go back to normal. We’re going to return to what we were doing before."

"That’s a very dangerous message for us to adopt because normal didn’t work. Not in the industrial midwest where I live," he continued. "If we look like we’re trying to promise that we’ll go back to the 2000s or 1990s, even if that’s just kind of the implied in our messaging, then I think we’re gonna lose a lot of people."

Buttigieg, the youngest of the 2020 Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination, has run on a relatively moderate platform compared to the further-left proposals of his fellow front-runners, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. He has relied on calling for a generational change in Democratic leadership, pitching himself as a fresh face for a party that has struggled at times to find a voice that can match Trump’s.

While Buttigieg has surged in the polls, Biden has sat atop them since he entered the campaign earlier this year, installing him as the early favorite. But the former vice president faced withering criticism on the debate stage Thursday night over his past opposition to federally mandated school busing that would better integrate schools as well as his warm recollection of working with senators who supported segregation.

Buttigieg said he’s a “champion of generational change” but added that “a person of any age could be a great candidate,” when asked if Biden’s “time is up" as a leader in the Democratic Party.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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