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Pete Buttigieg (copy)

Buttigieg takes a question from a member of the audience during a campaign stop in Orangeburg.

Orangeburg residents share many concerns with other people across the country, Pete Buttigieg said Monday.

South Bend, Indiana’s “Mayor Pete” made two stops in Orangeburg. He hosted a meet and greet in downtown Orangeburg and then traveled to South Carolina State University for a roundtable discussion with students and school officials.

“I really enjoyed both of those events. The first event was a chance to greet a lot of voters and really hear what was on their minds. I think the questions were really good, searching questions about how we can have not just a growing economy, but a fairer country,” Buttigieg said in an interview with The T&D.

The meet and greet gave audience members a chance to ask Buttigieg a variety of questions, including his views in social media and data policy, criminal justice reform, education, student debt and health care reform.

“The thing I took away is a lot of the concerns here in Orangeburg are not very different from some of the concerns in a diverse community like mine, back home in Indiana,” he said.

Buttigieg also stated that the roundtable was informative, and provided him with ways that he could better engage African American voters, one of the purposes of his visit to the state.

“The sit-down with the students was fantastic as well. Obviously, a much more intimate setting, so a chance to really have a conversation. I was impressed with how intelligent the students were,” Buttigieg said.

“I also turned to them for advice for how to make sure that we’re as inclusive and diverse a campaign as possible. I was really impressed with what’s going on at SCSU and it reflects just how important the roles of HBCUs can be,” he stated.

Buttigieg, who has been called the first millennial presidential candidate, detailed how the new generation will tackle issues that have long been the topic of discussion during presidential elections.

“My generation, I think, takes these issues very personally. Things from gun violence that have affected anyone from my generation on down,” he said. “Things like climate change that are going to affect how younger generations grow up.”

Among the new generation, there is a “personal sense of urgency around these questions that also leads us to be less inclined to accept the unacceptable,” he said.

“We realize that we can’t simply tinker around the edges of a system that has let so many Americans down through Republican and Democratic presidencies for the better part of my life,” Buttigieg stated.

During the meet and greet, Buttigieg stated that he would have a busy first day as the president.

“There are a number of things that can be done by executive action, and we’ll be reviewing those to make sure that on day one we’re doing everything from getting America back on the right track when it comes to climate, to reversing some of the executive actions that have discriminated against people coming to visit our country based on their religion and a lot of things in between that have not gotten much attention,” he said.

Buttigieg said he would pursue certain legislation right away, such as “H.R. 1, a pro-democracy, anti-corruption bill that was passed in the House but won’t go anywhere under this president, to beginning to tackle things like climate.”

“In the first day, and the first hundred days, we need to sink our teeth into these things right away,” he stated.

Buttigieg also answered a question about the makeup of the crowd in attendance, a crowd that consisted of non-millennials, and did not include a large minority representation.

“First of all, the team that we are building, very soon it will be announced and we’ll have staff on the ground in South Carolina, and how we’re growing our team more broadly, and it’s going to be a diverse, capable team that really reflects the diversity of the party and of my generation,” he stated.

Buttigieg stated that he will engage with faith leaders and other leaders in the black community to seek their help in reaching out as broadly as possible.

He said a return trip to the state is on the horizon.

“One reason you’ll keep seeing us visit is it’s very important for me to be competitive here,” he stated.

“We believe that our message can win here, so we’re going to continue working in this early state to earn as many votes as we can and have a good showing on the day of the primary.”

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Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516.

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Staff Writer

Bradley Harris is a Government and Sports Reporter. The Irmo, SC native is a 2018 graduate of Claflin University and recipient of the 2018 South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award.

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