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.”

Different ways to pronounce the name were offered in the national news media, including “boot-ah-judge,” a familiar pronunciation in South Bend, and his own offering of “BOOT-edge-edge.”

There also is consensus in the national news media that Buttigieg, while to be taken seriously as a candidate, has little chance to be elected president in 2020. Stories about his candidacy describe him in such terms as “clear underdog,” “longshot” and even “rank outsider.” There are no descriptions of Buttigieg as a “front-runner” or “top contender.”

Questions are raised of whether the 37-year-old mayor could be the first Millennial president, the youngest president ever or the first gay president. Questions. Not predictions that it will happen.

Still, possible pathways to the White House are cited in some accounts, including one in Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, headlined “How Pete Buttigieg Could Win the 2020 Democratic Nomination.” That analysis ends with the suggestion that Buttigieg, “given the odds against him,” could again win by losing – no nomination but more national acclaim for the future.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans in Indiana say Buttigieg “would be hard-pressed to win statewide office” in Indiana.

A New York Times story also mentions state election chances, questioning why he “opted for an underdog presidential campaign,” when “he has been regarded as a potentially strong candidate for the governorship.”

Well, both the Journal and Times observations have some merit. He probably would be a strong candidate for governor but would be hard-pressed to win in the state that was overwhelmingly Trumpiana last November.

Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin describes Buttigieg as “at an extreme disadvantage” in seeking the presidency. “And let’s be clear,” she adds. “Having served in the military and having held public office in which he has been accountable to voters, Buttigieg is already more qualified than Trump was in 2016.”

One clear winner in the national stories is South Bend. In telling the story of Buttigieg as mayor, they cite prior descriptions of “a dying city” and relate the progress in economic development and jobs and population gain during his two terms as mayor. In his book, going on sale nationally on Feb. 12, Buttigieg tells the story of South Bend as it finally recovered from the decades-long doldrums after the demise of Studebaker auto-making.

Coverage of his book tour – also, of course, a campaign tour – will include the positive description of South Bend. Buttigieg hopes the coverage also will include a positive description of its mayor. 

Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune.