Protestors and Surface-Level Questions at Buttigieg Town Hall
DES MOINES, Iowa – On Jan. 12, Pete Buttigieg held a town hall at the Iowa State Historical Building. U.S. Representative for Iowa’s Second District, Dave Loebsack, introduced Buttigieg and praised him for his unifying message and his eloquent speeches. Rep. Loebsack stated he would devote a lot of his time to campaign for Buttigieg to ensure Buttigieg’s place in the White House. Buttigieg then stepped onto the stage where he embraced Rep. Loebsack and began talking about his campaign.
While speaking he stressed the importance of respectful discourse in politics and welcomed Independents and Republicans to the Democratic Party and their support for his campaign. Shortly after his speech began, Buttigieg was interrupted by someone in the crowd shouting for medical assistance to which Buttigieg then stopped his speech and requested a medic to go into the audience.
A man began to yell at Buttigieg regarding homeless veterans in South Bend, IN. Buttigieg responded after realizing the interruption was not for a medical emergency but for an opportunity for protesters to capture the spotlight. “I think your facts are a little wrong, so I’d love a chance to talk with you about it, but I’d like for us to talk about it respectfully,” said Buttigieg. A protester yelled, “We’ve been trying to talk to you!” Buttigieg then jumped off the stage and into the crowd to talk with the protesters. Buttigieg supporters then began to shout over the protesters and their candidate by chanting, “Boot-Edge-Edge” and “USA-USA-USA” as protesters chanted, “Black lives matter.” The protesters were eventually escorted out by the police. Buttigieg then resumed his speech and backtracked to his remarks that he opened the town hall with.
He again stated the importance of respectful political discourse and encouraged everyone to welcome political opponents and not see them as enemies. “To deal with these issues it is not going to happen overnight, but it is also not going to happen if we cannot look at one another in the eye and speak the truth,” said Buttigieg, after which he moved on from the conflict and began throwing shade at the current president.
This is the fifth time I have seen Pete Buttigieg at an event in person. The first time I met Pete Buttigieg was Feb. 8, 2019, at a small apartment building in Ankeny, IA. I have been following his campaign ever since and volunteered for his campaign at the Polk County Steak Fry. Despite my liking for Buttigieg, I have not decided who to caucus for this February. Going to this town hall, I was hoping this would be the event to push me to fully commit to supporting the Buttigieg campaign; however, this event left me incredibly frustrated and confused.
After Buttigieg’s speech, he answered questions written down on slips of paper gathered by the staff as the audience entered the event at the start of the evening. I suspect the questions where prescreened as a marketing strategy to shed a positive light on his campaign to bolster support. However, each question selected lacked profundity as they mainly brushed the surface of his education and healthcare policy. All questions asked could be easily answered by simply listening to his YouTube or Instagram advertisements.
As the final debate before the Iowa caucus quickly approaches, I suspect all candidates are preparing for the challenge facing them to convince as many Iowans to support them in the caucus. I was expecting Buttigieg to be asked challenging questions to expose his weaknesses and work towards improving his answers to challenges during the debate but instead we got fluffy responses rehearsed continuously throughout his campaign. After the event, I spoke to a member of the Buttigieg campaign who said the protests were not a surprise and has been happening throughout the campaign trail. However, he too was disappointed in the questions and agreed that surface-level questions do have the possibility of harming the image of the campaign he loves so much.