Pete Buttigieg says he's hit 65,000 donors. Here's why that's significant.
Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks with IndyStar about his message on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. IndyStar
South Bend mayor and presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg said on Twitter Saturday morning that 65,000 people have donated to his exploratory committee, a mark that qualifies him to be invited to the first Democratic National Committee debate in June.
"Thanks to you, we hit the @TheDemocrats 65,000 donor goal in order to be invited to the first debate. But we are going to need to raise a lot more money to compete," Buttigieg tweeted.
Buttigieg threw his hat into the 2020 presidential race when he launched an exploratory committee in January. The 37-year-old Rhodes Scholar and military veteran promised a "fresh start" for the White House, and he has said it's time to look to the future and move away from the politics of the past.
Scheduled to appear Sunday on “Fox News Sunday,” Buttigieg has been showing up in nationwide polls as the presidential preference of roughly 1 percent of Democrats. But his fortunes may have turned following a recent CNN town hall, during which he called Vice President Mike Pence a "cheerleader of the porn star presidency."
Immediately after the town hall, Google searches for his name spiked, and his campaign claimed a fundraising bump leading up to Saturday's donor announcement.
Buttigieg could wind up on a crowded debate stage.
The DNC, bracing for a large field, announced late last year that it intends to hold 12 debates beginning in June. It announced last month that candidates seeking to qualify for the party's first presidential debates could do so by receiving donations from 65,000 donors spread across at least 20 states, according to various media reports.
Others in the Democratic field include Beto O'Rourke, former U.S. House representative from Texas; Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator from California; Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator from Vermont; and Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts.
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Buttigieg released a political memoir in February, a 300-page autobiography that attempts to introduce him to people outside of Indiana. He stopped in Indianapolis as part of a 10-city tour for the book, talking to hundreds at IUPUI about being a millennial in Indiana, his stances on health care and gun violence, and his advice to LGBTQ youth.
Buttigieg, who came out as gay during his 2015 mayoral re-election campaign, would be both the nation’s first openly gay president and its youngest, if elected.
Andrew Clark is Facebook editor for IndyStar. Call him at 317-444-6484 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Clarky_Tweets.