By BRIAN A. HOWEY

FRENCH LICK - Indiana Democratic Chairman Mike Schmuhl introduced his longtime friend - U.S. Transportation Sec. Buttigieg - just as “my friend Pete” on the lawn outside the Springs Resort here on Friday.

Buttigieg, who was introduced to statewide politics here in 2010 when he ran for state treasurer, then reassured dessert-wandering Hoosier Democrats that they have been right on the issues.

“It’s emotional,” Buttigieg said. "Some thought I had no business, someone not yet 30 years old, running for state office with a funny name. We believed in the values we had and spent that year going to every county dinner that had us and I learned something very quickly ... that politics that is best isn't about who looks good on paper, about who got most retweets on Twitter - they didn't even have Twitter when I showed up the first time - it's about having conversations with people about how decisions are made in mayors offices and county courthouses, Statehouses and those big white buildings in Washington how our lives matter. Those conversations have stayed with me."

Buttigieg credited many on the lawn with encouraging him to run for treasurer, mayor of South Bend, Democratic national chairman, and finally president in 2019-2020. 

"I'm here because many of you believed in me," Buttigieg said, "returning my phone calls. And for those of you who didn't back then, I don't blame you."

Buttigieg then tried to convince Hoosier Democrats they have been correct in their vision.

"The stakes have only gotten higher," Buttigieg continued. "Tens of millions of Americans have health insurance now. A gay man standing before you, as the happily-married father of two, would have been unthinkable. The idea we would see people on the west front of the Capitol violently invading to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. We saw on the east front of the Capitol enough veterans demanding benefits that there is such a thing as the right thing.

"We'll remember that because the stakes couldn't be any higher," Buttigieg said, noting that while Republicans break some promises, "they keep some promises" like repealing Roe v. Wade. "We've got to do something about that. On the policy front, we
've acutally won the argument.

"We've just got to make sure we win the elections, too," he said.