By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in South Bend

1. Passing the torch

Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: As we forecast, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg channeled two other young presidents, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama when he kicked off his campaign in the ancient and leaky Studebaker Building 84 on Palm Sunday. On the JFK passing the torch front, Buttigieg said, “If America today feels like a confusing place to be, it’s because we’re on one of those blank pages in between chapters. Change is coming, ready or not.  The question of our time is whether families and workers will be defeated by the changes beneath us or whether we will master them and make them work toward a better everyday life for us all.” As for Obama, he added, “Such a moment calls for hopeful and audacious voices  from communities like ours. And yes, it calls for a new generation of leadership.

The three huge obstacles between “Mayor Buttigieg” and “President Pete” are Joe Biden, who will be 77 on Election Day 2020, Sen. Bernie Sanders who would be 79 and President Trump who will be 74 and is the oldest elected commander-in-chief. Another potential top tier contender, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, will be 71. So little wonder that 37-year-old Buttigieg, who would be the youngest president ever, will accentuate this generational shift. He called his candidacy “more than a little bold — at age 37 — to seek the highest office in the land. Up until recently, this was not exactly what I had in mind either, for how to spend my eighth year as mayor and my 38th year in this world. But the moment we live in compels us to act.

2. Never mentioned Trump and Pence

The week leading up to the kickoff had Mayor Buttigieg lining up rhetorically against Vice President Pence over the topics of faith. His top target is President Trump, but the mayor didn’t mention either one in his speech specifically. There were several lines that were unmistakable in contrast. He cited “the horror show in Washington is mesmerizing, all-consuming. But starting today, we are going to change the channel. Sometimes a dark moment brings out the best in us. What is good in us. Dare I say, what is great in us.” As for Pence, he cited his own marriage to husband Chasten as family members rallied around his mother and father during chemotherapies. “He was right there at the hospital, where he belonged,” Buttigieg said. “Because in the eyes of the hospital, and the state, and the law, not just in my heart, he was a member of this family, my lawfully married spouse. Our marriage exists by the grace of a single vote on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nine men and women sat down in a room and took a vote and they brought me the most important freedom in my life.” Pence, of course, is a long foe of same sex marriage.

3. Pete and Tiger split screens

The Pete Buttigieg campaign roll out had him scheduled to speak at 2:30 Sunday afternoon. But a series of mayors and other speakers droned on and it became clear, Buttigieg was competing for air time with Tiger Woods' amazing comeback at The Masters. It was just before 3 when word filtered through the cavernous Studebaker building that Woods had captured his fifth Masters, and the first in years, marking a compelling comeback. It was a weird dynamic, with water pouring into parts of the building (the teleprompters were initially covered in plastic and had to be dried off), and you could hear rainfall rushing through a series of gutters, while The Masters started earlier because of forecast severe weather, which created this split screen moment. Buttigieg wouldn't take the stage until about 3:20 p.m. The collision with the Masters wasn't as debilitating as Sen. Richard Lugar's 1995 campaign kickoff that was completely overshadowed by the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, but Buttigieg ended up sharing TV coverage throughout the rest of Sunday and this morning with Tiger’s comeback. As for Democrats on hand, former senator Joe Donnelly was on hand (he has not endorsed in the Democratic race), as were Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody, wife and baby.

4. Sine die schedule in doubt

Speaker Brian Bosma had signaled an April 24 sine die for the General Assembly, particularly with the NRA convention drawing most hotel rooms in town. But the pivotal moment coming is Wednesday’s budget forecast. While lawmakers haven’t seen the forecast yet, GOP leadership has already indicated that they’re not anticipating good news. “I expect there’s going to be significantly less funds,” Bosma told reporters last week, “I don’t know if that’s $50 million or $250 million, we’ll find out.” It could delay the targeted April 24 sine die that Bosma mentioned last week. Obviously, a downturn in expected revenue would have a major impact on the budget proposals that the two chambers are trying to come together on. Bosma added that if the forecast is indeed gloomy, Republicans will be looking to tighten spending and aren’t interested in re-opening other options like the proposed cigarette tax raise. He said there are “two big buckets” they’ll look at it if they need to do some fiscal tightening – K-12 funding and DCS – and said legislators will “have to decide which to start pouring water out of.”

5. Pence and Taylor U.

It was announced last week that Vice President Pence will be giving the Taylor University commencement address on May 18. But both the Washington Post and Salon are reporting that by a 61-49 vote, the faculty opposed the address. Why would Pence stir up so much controversy at the 2,000 student evangelical college in rural Indiana? Author and Taylor alumnus C. Christopher Smith penned an op-ed in the progressive Christian publication Sojourners Friday stating, "As a long-time Indiana resident, and an observer of Mike Pence’s political career for over a decade, one of the greatest flaws ... is his ambition. This ambition has been particularly problematic during his vice presidency, because he has said little or nothing that disputes the character and political vision of Donald Trump. So, as far as we know, Mike Pence’s values are compatible with those of Donald Trump, whose false statements are off-the-charts  in comparison to any politician in recent memory, who casually boasts of grabbing women’s genitalia, who has a long and well-documented history of racist behavior, who keeps immigrant children fenced off like animals in a zoo."

Thanks for reading, folks. It's The Atomic!