Gay Indiana mayor joins field of Democratic presidential hopefuls
By John Whitesides WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, launched an underdog 2020 bid for the White House on Wednesday, aiming to stand out as a problem-solving Midwestern outsider who would be the first openly gay nominee of a major U.S. political party. The relatively unknown Buttigieg, 37, a two-term mayor of the Rust Belt city of about 100,000 people, said he represented a new generation of leadership with fresh approaches to the country's problems.
By John Whitesides
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, launched an underdog 2020 bid for the White House on Wednesday, aiming to stand out as a problem-solving Midwestern outsider who would be the first openly gay nominee of a major U.S. political party.
The relatively unknown Buttigieg, 37, a two-term mayor of the Rust Belt city of about 100,000 people, said he represented a new generation of leadership with fresh approaches to the country's problems.
In an email and video to supporters, he offered a sharp contrast to Republican President Donald Trump's nostalgia-driven message invoking an America of the past.
"My generation is the generation that experienced school shootings beginning when I was in high school, the generation that fought in the post-9/11 wars, the first generation to have to deal with the reality of climate change, and the first generation not to be better off than our parents materially - if nothing changes," Buttigieg said.
"Only a forward focus - untethered from the politics of the past and anchored by our shared values - can change our national politics and our nation’s future."
Buttigieg enters what is expected to be a crowded Democratic field of candidates vying for the right to challenge Trump, the likely Republican presidential nominee, in 2020. The mayor formed an exploratory committee to begin raising money and hiring staff to compete for the Democratic nomination.
He will face a tough task raising funds and building a coalition of support in a race that will feature many candidates with greater name recognition and bigger donor networks.
Other Democratic rivals for the nomination include U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, as well as U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and former San Antonio mayor and U.S. housing secretary Julian Castro.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, where he was attending a national mayors conference, Buttigieg acknowledged the odds but touted his unique candidacy.
"When it comes to experience right now, nothing could be more relevant than leading one of America's turnaround cities," he said.
"I belong to a party whose characteristic has always been to look for fresh voices, new leadership and big ideas, and I think that's what 2020 is going to be about."
As mayor of South Bend, a blue-collar town that is home to the University of Notre Dame, Buttigieg made redevelopment a top priority and was named mayor of the year in 2013 by the website GovFresh.com. He signalled his White House run in December when he announced he would not seek a third term as mayor.
Republicans dismissed Buttigieg's candidacy as a waste of time and said he should focus on South Bend's problems.
"His bid isn't just bad news for residents, it's more proof that Democrats are about to endure the most crowded, divisive, and contentious primary in history," said Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens.
Buttigieg began building a national profile in 2017 with an unsuccessful run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Former President Barack Obama mentioned him in an interview shortly before leaving the White House as a young Democrat with a bright future.
The Harvard graduate and former Rhodes Scholar returned to his hometown of South Bend and was elected mayor in 2012 at the age of 29. He served a seven-month Naval Reserve tour in Afghanistan while mayor and came out as gay in a 2015 column for the local newspaper. He married in June 2018.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Ginger Gibson; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.