The new battleground state of Texas continues to be a favorite stomping ground of Democratic presidential candidates.
On Saturday morning, Beto O’Rourke gave the commencement address at a historically black college in Dallas. In the afternoon, Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year old military veteran and Indiana mayor who recently made the cover of TIME with his husband, Chaston, touched down in Houston for a grassroots fundraiser at Chapman and Kirby.
One of 20+ candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president, Buttigieg’s message: It’s time “to change the channel from the horror show in Washington.”
He recounted a conversation he had earlier in the day with a University of Houston student – a Dreamer who had come to the U.S. at two months old.
“Selena is as American as anybody in the country,” Buttigieg said. “We’ve got to fight for her.” As a matter of policy, he supports protecting Dreamers and a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented community.
Former Houston Mayor and current LGBTQ Victory Fund CEO Annise Parker introduced Buttigieg as “a mayor’s mayor” with executive experience. Her organization, which helps elected LGBTQ candidates to office across the country, has not yet endorsed in the presidential campaign, well more than a year away.
Buttigieg noted his campaign has matured from “adorable to formidable.” He finished the first quarter of this year with $7 million and he’s faring well in recent polls.
Perhaps because of his age, some voters question his level of experience. But the Rhodes Scholar has more years of government experience than President Trump. And more military experience than “anybody to walk into the Oval Office since President George H. W. Bush,” his web site notes.
Personality, message, and policy gravitas drive today’s politics. And electability — who can beat Trump — is top of mind among Democratic primary voters.
On Friday night, Buttigieg spoke at an event in North Texas hosted by the Dallas County Democratic Party, where he faced homophobic protestors urging him to “repent.” He responded by reminding the audience his service in Afghanistan was to protect a heckler’s right to free speech.