Mayor Pete Buttigieg has shot up to a commanding lead in the Iowa polls. Most analysts believe that this surge is the result of several factors. Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to falter as concerns about his age and his tendency to gaffe mount. In the meantime, many Democrats have started to wonder if either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren can be elected in the United States. Their proposals for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal have come under scrutiny and are increasingly being found to be unworkable and extreme.
However, the Iowa Caucuses are still months away, so plenty of time exists to try to knock him down a peg. Two opportunities have arisen for Buttigieg’s opponents to do so.
First, according to Fox News, Buttigieg suffered some embarrassment for using stock photos of black Americans to represent supporters of his plan to invest in “the empowerment of black America.” One was a picture of a woman and child from Kenya, with no apparent affiliation with the Buttigieg for President campaign.
“While campaigns have long used generic stills and clips in ads and elsewhere, they sometimes do so at their own peril. And for Buttigieg – who’s soared to top-tier status in recent weeks, particularly in Iowa, but still struggles with black voters who compose roughly one-fifth of the primary electorate – the dust-up over stock photos falls within a sensitive area for the campaign. It comes as he’s launching a new effort to court black voters with series of events surrounding Wednesday’s Democratic presidential primary debate in Atlanta.”
Many African Americans look askance at Mayor Peter, some because of a perceived lack of performance as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, some because of problems they have with his sexual preference. Thus far, most black Democrats support Vice President Joe Biden, considering the older white man as the partner and heir of former President Barack Obama.
More serious to the presidential prospects of Mayor Peter has been an old video of him praising the Tea Party, according to the Washington Examiner. The surfacing of the video, taken in 2010 when Buttigieg was running for Indiana State Treasurer, has ignited a social media firestorm.
The Tea Party, it should be remembered, started as a middle-class revolt in 2010 against the tendency of the Washington elite to ignore the concerns of ordinary Americans. For a time, the movement held nation-wide rallies in support of a smaller government that numbered in the hundreds of thousands. The Tea Party was instrumental in flipping the House to the Republican Party in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.
The Tea Party elicited outrage from Democrats, suspicion from establishment Republicans, and a campaign by President Obama to use the IRA to undermine its power. The movement was vilified in the media for being allegedly racist, sexist, and fascist, none of which were true. Some political analysts believe that the Washington establishment’s continued disdain for the Tea Party led to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States.
The then-obscure Peter Buttigieg is heard, in essence, suggesting that the Tea Party had some legitimate points. From the reaction of some Democrats on social media, he might as well have put on a swastika and burned a cross on his front lawn.
The reaction of Jodi Jacobson was typical.
“Wow. Just unreal… @PeteButtigieg literally sidling up to racist Tea Partiers. And he’s got it wrong: @GOP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Tea Party- #FreedomCaucus-anti-evidence-Benghazi-email-Area 51 nutcases. Yet another “Dem” who feels a need 2 apologize for Democrats.”
Other respondents accused the Tea Party of having a racist animus toward then-President Barack Obama. Still more suggested that the movement was a wholly own subsidiary of the Koch brothers.
Buttigieg’s communications director Sean Savett pointed out that the candidate’s words about the Tea Party were similar to those expressed by Obama at the time as well as then-Vice President Joe Biden.
The fact that Buttigieg made his remarks at a Tea Party sponsored candidate’s forum has many Democrats up in arms. Savett pointed out that Buttigieg’s Republican opponent had refused to debate him, so the forum served as an opportunity to do so.
Several social media social justice warriors hope that the matter will come up in the next debate. If it does, the fireworks could be memorable.