By BRIAN A. HOWEY

SOUTH BEND -  Mayor Pete Buttigieg joins the Hoosier presidential candidate ranks today that has included the Harrisons, Eugene Debs, Wendell Willkie, Birch and Evan Bayh, Vance Hartke, Richard Lugar, Dan Quayle and Richard Lugar. He'll kick off his campaign at 2 p.m. today inside  Studebaker Building 84, with the campaign expecting 10,000 people. 

Buttigieg said Friday, "What we've seen as we've explored is that we're exploring some really beautiful territory and now it's time to make it official and announce a campaign. We've been talked about in the 2020 context in a pretty big way for going on a month now. The rain location may be a blessing in disguise because there is such symbolic power in that building and you can see in it the past, the present and the future." 

Beyond President William Henry Harrison (1840) and grandson Benjamin (1888), these campaigns have been mostly vanity excursions. Sen. Birch Bayh was an early frontrunner in 1976 until he was eclipsed by Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter in Iowa and New Hampshire. Evan Bayh and Dan Quayle quickly folded their campaigns as Barack Obama and George W. Bush consolidated early nominations. Buttigieg has risen to third in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, which rates him either "flavor of the month" status or, perhaps, the next prodigy. If elected at age 39, he would be the youngest president ever and the first mayor to jump directly from city hall to the White House. 

“The fact is Pete Buttigieg has only proven he can get elected in a blue city in a red state,” said Kyle Hupfer, chairman of the Indiana Republican Party. “The only reason he is running for president is because he hasn’t been able to secure any other job he has sought and there is no path for him to win statewide in Indiana.” Hupfer added, “Buttigieg has never captured more than 10,991 votes in a single successful race for office. Candidates for student body president on some college campuses get more votes than that.”

South Bend will join Rushville (Willkie) and Indianapolis (the Bayhs, Quayle and Lugar) as headquarters of presidential campaigns, and its trajectory change under Buttigieg's eight years in power will become the metaphor of his campaign. His speech beginning at 2:30 today will likely follow the lines of his NBC Meet The Press interview last week when he said, "There’s the sense we’ve really changed the story for our city. I think that’s something the country needs to hear because you’ve got a president who’s telling anybody from a community like mine, be it an industrial community or a rural community where people growing up, means getting this message that success means you have to get out." As for President Trump and his "Make America Great Again" slogan, Buttigieg said, “He’s telling us the greatness is in the past; we’ve got to stop the clock and turn it back. I’m out there making the case that South Bend is living proof that good politics is not one based on the word ‘again.” 

The mayor, who trails septuagenarian front runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will also echo President John F. Kennedy, who in 1960 called for the "torch to pass to a new generation."