‘Mayor Pete’ Buttigieg draws crowds in Hancock, Peterborough

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg visited Hancock and Peterborough on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/24/2019 3:00:02 PM

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg laid forth his platform to an enthusiastic crowd under blue skies in Hancock Saturday morning. 

South Bend, Indiana’s “Mayor Pete” drew at least 450 to the home of Eleanor and Douglas Cochrane Saturday, addressing the crowd in front of a quintessentially flag-draped red barn. Buttigieg spoke of a country divided and suffering from inept leadership, and his hope for the future.

“Think about where our self-esteem as a country is when we are debating whether it is consequential for the president of the United States to be completely out of touch with reality,” Buttigieg said. “The very things they’ve been dividing us over could be the things that we unite around.”

Buttigieg is polling around five percent among Democratic primary voters, according to recent data, behind former vice president Joe Biden (31 percent) and senators Bernie Sanders (20 percent), Elizabeth Warren (15 percent) and Kamala Harris (nine percent). 

“I think he’s young, energetic, he’s really smart,” said Terry Reeves of the 37-year-old Buttigieg. “I like the fact that he has a strong faith background and that guides his way in the world. I like the fact that he served in the military. I like the way when he answers questions, he’s thoughtful and calm. He actually makes me feel safe, because I feel like a lot of people are angry, and to me, I really need to feel safe, because it’s been a scary ride of left. He provides a calm, adult voice in the room.”

Buttigieg started out his address with a shot at Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

“I can’t help but reflect on what’s happening right now with all the wonderful legislation being passed here in New Hampshire and then not getting past the governor’s desk,” Buttigieg said. “Makes me think about what it would be like if we had a forward-looking governor in the state of New Hampshire.”

The Buttigieg campaign rolled out its mental health and addiction plan earlier in the week leading up to the trip around opioid-ravaged New Hampshire; during his speech, Buttigieg asked the crowd members to raise their hands if they’d been affected by mental health or addiction issues.

“Every time I ask for that show of hands, just about every hand goes up,” Buttigieg said in an interview following his address, “so what we know is that this is touching everybody in some way. [The plan] is meeting a need. This isn’t going to be the easiest thing to tackle but it’s clear that we can do more than we’re doing now. If we expand access to medication-assisted therapy, if we expand the number of providers who are available, especially in rural areas, and if we simply break the silence about this that has a lot of people thinking that they’re on their own when they’re struggling with these issues.”

Buttigieg, who has endorsed a “Medicare for all who want it” health care plan, doesn’t appear bent on totally eliminating the private-insurance companies or going totally single-payer, as Sanders, Warren and Harris have backed to varying degrees. His “Healing and Belonging in America” mental health and addiction plan lays out some attainable-seeming goals, such as requiring insurance plans to provide a free annual mental health check-up to anyone who wants one, enforcing parity across all providers for mental health and addiction treatment coverage, increasing reimbursement rates for mental health and addiction care, creating training and education programs and expanding loan repayment programs for mental health and addiction professionals.

“I think we can save a million lives over the next ten years,” Buttigieg said. “That’s what we would save if we cut by half the number of people projected to experience death by despair in this country – drugs, alcohol, suicide – and that has to be a national priority, when you just consider how many lives are at stake.”

Buttigieg, whose New Hampshire trip included stops in Manchester, Nashua, and the Peterborough Democrats bake sale before continuing up to Cornish, Hanover and Ossipee over the weekend, said he was heartened by the groundswell of support he’s found in New Hampshire.

“Two things are exciting,” Buttigieg said. “One is the number of people who are appearing at many of these events. The second is the enthusiasm and passion that so many of them bring, whether it’s here, now, or where we were yesterday, in Nashua. It’s a level of commitment that’s important to me because the first part of this campaign is just getting to know people, right? Now some folks are making up their minds, committing, deciding who they’re going to tell their friends about and knock on doors for. This is exactly the phase when we need to be gathering that passionate support and it means a lot to hear it.”


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