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Thursday, June 27, 2019
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  • SOUTH BEND — For Pete’s sake, what’s happening? Why are Bernie Sanders and President Trump attacking the mayor of South Bend? Why did right-wing conspiracy activists fake that the mayor assaulted a college student? Why is his signature achievement of fixing up or tearing down 1,000 vacant and deteriorating old houses in 1,000 days portrayed as a failure because it didn’t eliminate crime, wipe out poverty and cure cancer? Easy answer: Because South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has come out of nowhere — national political types regard South Bend as nowhere — to become a top-tier contender for the Democratic nomination for president. OK, he’s a star in the major leagues in his rookie season. But that doesn’t mean he will win the World Series. It’s a long season in baseball. The presidential selection season is even longer. So, why did the Sanders campaign attack Mayor Pete for likening Sanders to Trump?
  • SOUTH BEND  — Mayor Pete won another South Bend election. This one wasn’t so big. Or was it?

    While Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s name wasn’t on the ballot Tuesday, his candidate’s name was. James Mueller, his candidate, his choice to be his successor as mayor, won the Democratic mayoral nomination, tantamount to being elected mayor of South Bend. Mueller, with 37% of the vote, won with a double-digit percentage margin over the nearest competitor in a nine-candidate field that included four other candidates considered viable. Not bad for a candidate who came from nowhere. Well, he of course came from somewhere, from the Buttigieg administration, where he was the mayor’s chief of staff and then executive director of a key development department. But, politically, from nowhere. Mueller began the race with low political name recognition, no cultivated political following and lack of political campaign expertise. He hadn’t planned to run. Didn’t at first really want to run. Buttigieg told victory celebrants Tuesday night that Mueller “answered the call when it was not the most comfortable or obvious thing to do. It’s why, even though he’s not the cigar-chomping, back-slapping politician that some people might expect, and neither am I, he is exactly the right person.”
  • SOUTH BEND – Democratic primary election voters on May 7 will likely pick the next mayor of South Bend, the successor to Mayor Pete Buttigieg. There are nine candidates for the Democratic nomination, five of whom are viable. The winner almost certainly will be elected mayor in the general election this November. A Republican hasn’t won the mayoral election since 1967, and recent GOP efforts in city elections have been pathetic. The leading contenders based on their ability thus far to get out their messages and attract significant support are: James Mueller, Buttigieg’s former chief of staff, who has the most significant support of all, an endorsement from Mayor Pete. He also has the most funding, according to campaign finance reports, enabling him to continue to send out his message widely in mailings and on TV. Television advertising could be especially effective this time.
  • SOUTH BEND – Mayor Pete was presented with a “POTUS Pete” shirt, bright red letters on white, as he was introduced Monday at Dyngus Day festivities at the West Side Democratic & Civic Club. Some in the enthusiastic crowd packing the old club, traditional center for Dyngusing and where Bobby Kennedy campaigned for president, were initially unsure of the meaning of the lettering, referring to Washington alphabet lingo for President of the United States. But they all knew that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is making a big splash nationally in his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president. And they couldn’t miss all the national news media coverage, TV camera crews and all. Buttigieg told the crowd that he had urged journalists covering his events in Iowa and New Hampshire and elsewhere to come to South Bend for Dyngus Day to witness the celebrated event in his hometown.
  • SOUTH BEND – Cold and pouring rain usually is viewed as nothing positive, even as a disaster, for planners of an outside event. But those conditions were a factor in the positive national news coverage of the announcement of presidential candidacy by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The announcement was planned for Sunday at a major downtown intersection, with nearby streets blocked off, providing space for a crowd of up to 10,000. It seemed likely that the crowd would be the largest in 51 years for a political rally in downtown South Bend. Maybe it would even top the crowd of an estimated 6,000 at the legendary 1968 Dyngus Day rally as Bobby Kennedy spoke on the steps of the courthouse. That has been regarded as the largest gathering ever for a downtown political speech. Then came the forecast for terrible weather. The forecast proved accurate. So, the decision was made to move the event inside, but not to some auditorium. The announcement was switched to an inside site that hardly seemed inside at all. No heat. Leaks in the roof getting many members of the audience wet as the rain continued.
  • SOUTH BEND – The Buttigieg Boomlet continues. Here are five significant things about the explosion in national attention for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg as he seeks the Democratic presidential nomination. 1. Mayor Pete now gets more space in the New York Times — lengthy articles from all around the country, frequent favorable columns, big photos — than in the South Bend Tribune. This doesn’t mean his hometown paper neglects him – not at all. But the definition of a national political boomlet includes lots of attention in the national news media. The Times, with its size and resources, competes with the rest of the national news operations to cover the Buttigieg Boomlet. And the coverage and analysis add to the boomlet. For example, columnist David Brooks writes: “Pete Buttigieg has some kind of magic right now.” He notes the mayor’s surprising showing in polls, book sales and fundraising. 2. Buttigieg has raised enough money to collect a lot more money for his presidential bid. His report of raising over $7 million means he will attract the attention of more potential donors and can afford more fundraising efforts.
  • SOUTH BEND  — We’ve got an Iowa surprise. And it’s nothing to do with a forecast on when corn will be knee-high. Too early to measure the corn crop. A lot to do, though, with measuring the crop of presidential candidates. The Iowa survey released last week by Emerson College, showing South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in third place among likely Democratic caucus goers, was a big surprise. It’s another indication that Buttigieg has become a candidate to be taken seriously on the national political stage,  even before he is officially a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Q: What’s next? A: Buttigieg plans on campaigning in New Hampshire this weekend. Q: So, he’s already looking beyond that first-in-the-nation test in the Iowa caucuses next year?
  • SOUTH BEND – They call it “flyover country.” It’s where the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee needs a safe landing if he or she is to stave off the reelection of President Donald Trump for four additional years. “Flyover country” is where Trump won key electoral votes for victory in 2016 and where he could win again. It includes states in the Midwest that were crucial. Trump pulled upsets in Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa and won battleground Ohio, obtaining needed electoral votes to win the presidency, even as he trailed nationally by 2.8 million in the popular vote. The “flyover” description comes from the way presidential candidates, especially Democratic nominees, so often fly over Middle America as they travel from one coast to the other for major campaign and fundraising events and national media attention. The name also refers to the perceived attitude of some nominees, especially Hillary Clinton, who was viewed in key Midwest states where she lost as flying above the concerns of voters in the middle of the country, the concerns of those in the middle of the political spectrum, the concerns of the middle class.
  • SOUTH BEND  — President Trump has been looking better. This isn’t leading to some joke about more yellow in his unique hairdo. Nor is it satire. The president’s chances for reelection have been looking better. Not great. Better. It’s true. His approval ratings, though certainly not sparkling, improved in polls after his State of the Union address, mistakenly thought by many Democrats to be a disaster for Trump. And it wasn’t just an overnight bump in ratings. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted at the end of February showed Trump with an approval rating of 46%. OK, disapproval was higher, 52%. But remember when Trump’s approval ratings were below 40%? And some pundits thought he was left with nothing but a base that was chipping away? That he couldn’t climb beyond support by just a third of the voters?
  • SOUTH BEND – Former Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana, author of the 25th Amendment on presidential disability, an amendment now in the news, almost brought about another constitutional change that would have abolished the Electoral College. What a difference that would have made. “In the future, the American people – rather than the faceless, undemocratic Electoral College – should choose the two highest officials in this land,” said Bayh back in 1977 as he spoke at a Senate hearing on his proposed amendment to provide for the direct popular election of the president and vice president. There was bipartisan support then. Bayh, a Democrat who came close at times in over a decade of trying to get the two-thirds vote in the Senate needed to send the proposal on for ratification by the states, had the backing then of such prominent Republicans as Bob Dole and Howard Baker. But filibusters or the threat thereof, mostly by senators from small states and in particular southern states wanting to keep clout in the Electoral College, always halted the proposed amendment.
  • SOUTH BEND – How South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg would fare in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary in Indiana is uncertain. Voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and other states will determine before then whether he is a viable contender. But one thing is certain: Buttigieg, if still an active candidate when Hoosier Democrats vote, would run away with the primary vote in his home area. That was demonstrated by the enthusiastic response for the mayor this week at the first book signing for “Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future.” A capacity crowd of 800 packed the Great Hall of Century Center to hear the mayor and buy his book. They applauded long and loud when the moderator for a conversation about the book mentioned his presidential prospects. The most significant sign of enthusiasm for Buttigieg was the willingness of those who bought the book to wait in line for up two and a half hours to have the mayor sign it.
  • SOUTH BEND – Joe Biden, a Democrat, said something nice about Fred Upton, a Republican. How dare he! So, does that rule out Biden as the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee? You would think so if you read the New York Times story detailing what Biden said in Benton Harbor, Michigan, last year. The article suggests that “the episode underscores his potential vulnerabilities in the fight for the Democratic nomination and raises questions about his judgment as a party leader.” I don’t know if Biden will run or whether he could win. That’s not the point. The point is that daring to praise a Republican, even amid the partisan hatred in our election campaigns, shouldn’t rule out Joe Biden or anybody else, especially when the praise was for bipartisan cooperation. Nancy Jacobson, co-founder of No Labels, a group encouraging problem solving rather than eye gouging in Congress, said of the “breathlessly reported” tale of bipartisan language: “This sad little vignette exemplifies exactly what is wrong with American politics today.”
  • SOUTH BEND – Takeaways from national news media coverage of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s launch of his presidential candidacy are clear. He is viewed as a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. Right after his early-morning-hours disclosure of an exploratory candidacy, news that he was in the race was on morning network news and reported in the major newspapers. Think you could announce for president and get even two seconds or one sentence of national coverage? Buttigieg had extensive coverage throughout the day, even live interviews. Coverage continues and certainly will go on during his book tour in February. A key factor in this is that the mayor won by losing in his 2017 bid to be Democratic national chairman. He wasn’t selected but still gained national exposure and stature with his impressive bid for the post. Also clear from the coverage by the national news people is that they aren’t sure how to pronounce Buttigieg. Heck, even some of his South Bend constituents aren’t sure. Most of the national stories, TV and print, referred quickly to the way the mayor’s name is pronounced. Chuck Todd, host of “Meet the Press,” talked in his weeknight show about the confusion. “Thankfully,” Todd said, he goes by “Mayor Pete.”
  • SOUTH BEND – Impeachment is a dirty word. Not in the sense of coarse words in the way President Trump talks and in the way a new Democratic congresswoman talked about him, but in the sense of a word that many people don’t want to hear spoken in public. And for two entirely different reasons. President Trump and members of his unwavering base don’t want to hear impeachment spoken about in any serious way in Congress. Actually, the president uses the word himself in a scoffing way, belittling the possibility of impeachment as he rallies his base. It could become a new mantra. Like his: “No collusion. No collusion. No collusion.” A new presidential chant of choice could be: “No impeachment. No impeachment. No impeachment.” Impeachment also is a dirty word that Democratic leaders in the House don’t want to hear mentioned in public by their members. Not now. Not yet. Maybe not at all as President Trump completes what they hope will be his only term.
  • SOUTH BEND – As noted in a South Bend Tribune headline, it was: “A very busy year for your watchdog.” Yes, newspapers, despite cutbacks in reporters and coverage, the loss of circulation and advertising, and dismissal by critics as irrelevant, still perform a watchdog role. The Tribune story about that role, keeping an eye on public officials and others to spot and disclose corruption and fraud that would otherwise go undetected, focused on the newspaper’s uncovering of wrongdoing by Elkhart police and in the Elkhart County justice system. The police scandal brought the firing of the police chief and a decision by the mayor to forego running for reelection. The mess, now uncovered, can be cleaned up by good cops, informed citizens and determined civic leaders. Tribune journalists flexed their muscle in other cases from the last year as well. Among them were investigations into the sudden departure of a Transpo CEO, excuses for a vote-counting problem, and a fatal crash involving a speeding South Bend police car. That’s what newspapers are supposed to do. Long have done. Still do, though with fewer watchdogs now barking.
  • SOUTH BEND –  Democrats should nominate an avocado for president, if it offered the best chance to defeat President Trump. Campaign slogan: “Make America Guac Again.” Thus writes New York Times columnist Frank Bruni. A facetious suggestion, of course. Where would one find a viable avocado meeting the constitutional requirement that a president be at least 35 years old? The point Bruni is stressing is that it’s not a certainty that Trump will be defeated if he seeks reelection in 2020. So, Democrats better seek a nominee with the best chance to win, not necessarily the one with the best presidential qualifications on paper or longest admirable service to party and nation. He praised Joe Biden highly informed, affable, real and superbly qualified. And, urged Biden not to run. Because … well, how did Hillary Clinton’s “impeccable credentials” work out last time? Other political analysts also theorize that Democrats could lose again to Trump if they nominate someone beloved by sections of their party but with a lot of baggage accumulated over many years and lacking broad appeal beyond the Democratic East Coast and West Coast. They cite dangers in nominating someone like Biden, 76; Bernie Sanders, 77; or Elizabeth Warren, 69.
  • SOUTH BEND – Don’t be surprised if President Trump doesn’t run for reelection in 2020. He might not for any of a variety of reasons. This isn’t a prediction that he won’t run again. I don’t make political predictions unless it’s a sure thing. The last flat-out prediction I recall was when I said Bob would be elected mayor Mishawaka. That was way back when the nominees were Bob Beutter and Bob Nagle. And Bob won. So, I’m not predicting that Donald Trump won’t seek a second term. Just saying it’s indeed a possibility. Here are some reasons why he might not: Since Trump is so often in a foul mood, furious over any criticism, ranting and raving in angry tweets, insulting and threatening enemies he sees looming everywhere, he could decide he can’t stand the job and would prefer life at Trump Tower and his golf courses rather than frustrations in the White House.
  • SOUTH BEND – Long before all the recent tributes to George H.W. Bush, before all those nice things said about him after his death, he was moving up quickly and deservedly in the ranking of presidents. Not up there among the ones historians traditionally rate as the greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, the two Roosevelts and Thomas Jefferson. But the 41st president, defeated for re-election and leaving office with low approval, has climbed well into the top half in the ranking of presidents on lists of evaluations by historians. Sure, much of the high praise now for Bush, for his civility, decency, upholding of presidential dignity and ability to achieve bipartisan agreements at home and coalitions abroad, is enhanced by comparing with the present. But before there was a President Trump in the White House for comparison, Bush was moving up in esteem as historians evaluated what he did in a single term.
  • SOUTH BEND – This is Trumpiana. The state, with new name or old, resisted the blue wave that swept across much of the nation on Tuesday. The wave, near a tsunami in some states, brought Democratic control of the U.S. House and flipped seven governor offices from red to blue. Rolling across neighboring Michigan, it propelled Democrats to significant victories there, almost pulling under long-popular Republican Congressman Fred Upton in Michigan’s 6th District. But the wave stopped at the state line in Michiana. No blue water seeped across. Indiana was the Red Sea. Trumpiana. With the decisive defeat of Sen. Joe Donnelly and easy reelection of all seven of the state’s Republican House members, Trumpiana’s congressional delegation stands at nine Republicans, only two Democrats. Those two surviving Democrats couldn’t lose, running in House districts stacked with as many Democratic voters as possible in gerrymandering. Republicans control all offices elected statewide and retain overwhelming majorities in both houses of the state legislature, leaving minority Democrats with about as much power in the legislative chambers as they would have if they stayed home.

  • SOUTH BEND – Let’s look at the color of the counties, all 10 in Indiana’s 2nd CD. In 2016, nine were red and one was blue. That combination gave the district a deep red hue as Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski won big in reelection to her third term. Only St. Joseph County was blue that night. And even so it was a very pale blue. Walorski darn near carried the largest and most Democratic county in the district. She also won big, very big, in 2014, with a similar color scheme across the district, nine red counties, one blue. It will be a closer race this time, as Democrat Mel Hall, unlike her two prior Democratic challengers, has the resources and organization to threaten a possible upset of the entrenched incumbent. Walorski, realizing the threat and responding to it, agreed to two televised debates this time — winning the first, losing the second — and has found it necessary to hit her opponent with negative TV ads to counter the positive image Hall established earlier in the race.

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  • Buttigieg email to campaign supporters: 'My heart is broken'
    "It’s been a week since a member of our South Bend family was shot and killed by a police officer. I’ve held meetings with community members, the police department, and faith leaders. And yesterday, I held a community-wide town hall to discuss race and policing in our city, to make sure all residents could be heard. It was a tough conversation. Hearts are broken. My heart is broken. It was a painful but needed conversation. And I feel overwhelmed and heartened by the number of people – supporters and critics – who have reached out and made it clear over the past week that they want to join hands and face these problems together. Safety and justice are inseparable. Making them a lived reality for all is one of the great challenges of our time. And the solutions will have to come from cities like South Bend, where people are ready to come together to struggle and repair. I’m running for president as a mayor of an American city because the toughest issues we face locally are also important national issues." - South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, in a Monday morning email to supporters of his Democratic presidential campaign. Buttigieg is still planning to participate in the second Democratic presidential debate in Miami on Thursday night.
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  • Trump '100% for Pence on 2020 ticket

    President Trump made it clear that he will seek reelection in 2020 with Vice President Mike Pence on the ticket. NBC Meet The Press  host Chuck Todd asked Trump if he would run with Pence. "Well, look, look - 100 percent, yes. He's been, he’s been a terrific vice president. He's my friend." 

    Todd asked Trump why he didn't commit to supporting Pence for president in 2024. "Because it was a surprise question," the president said. "I mean, you know, I’m not even thinking of it. It's so far out. I mean, It's so far out. That would be the only reason. Now what happens in 2024? I don't know that Mike is going to run. I don't know who's running or anything else." - Brian A. Howey, in Indianapolis

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