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Buttigieg Campaign Ended With Midnight Call

After South Carolina, candidate told his top advisers he was done
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2020 1:29 PM CST

(Newser) – The 2020 race is changing fast with the departures of Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, and the post-mortems on those candidacies will be trickling in. Here's a sample of Buttigieg coverage, including a story from Politico that details his campaign's final moments. Buttigieg flew to Georgia Saturday night after a rally in North Carolina, and he was sitting in a car shortly after midnight, writes Elena Schneider. That's when he summoned his top advisers in a conference call and let them know it was over. "The turning point was South Carolina," a person close to the campaign tells the outlet. Related Buttigieg coverage:

  • That loss: Buttigieg's fourth-place finish in South Carolina Saturday, combined with Joe Biden's landslide margin of victory there, made clear to the candidate that he had no path to victory, according to the Politico story.

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  • The factors: An analysis at Atlantic blames two factors. One was Buttigieg's oft-cited problems with black voters, and the other was the rise of small donors—the sort who have buoyed Bernie Sanders. Neither issue would likely have sunk a Democratic candidate in years past, but times have changed and "both shifts constitute progress," writes Peter Beinart. This doesn't mean Buttigieg, just 38, can be written off. "What it does mean is that Democratic candidates who want to win black voters must start earlier—and work harder—than in the past," writes Beinart. "Sometimes, as in the case of Sanders, that requires running twice. It’s a thought that Buttigieg, in all likelihood, has already had."
  • Not farewell: An op-ed at USA Today agrees that we surely haven't seen the last of Buttigieg, who made history as the first openly gay candidate for president. He simultaneously faced criticism from many in the LGBTQ community that he "wasn't gay or queer enough," as well as coverage on the right that "roared with homophobia," writes Steven Petrow. But Buttigieg handled it with class alongside husband Chasten. "Goodbye for now, Mayor Pete. But this is not farewell."
  • Homophobia: UNC Chapel Hill professor Joe Cabosky thinks homophobia did indeed play a role in Buttigieg's departure. Yes, a national Gallup poll found that 76% would vote for a gay candidate, which seems solid. But "that still means one-quarter of the country admits that it’s a nonstarter," Cabosky writes at NBC News. "That’s a lot of votes lost right off the bat." This doesn't mean a gay candidate cannot win, writes Cabosky, but it shows that such a candidate "faces challenges that are greater than we perhaps want to admit." At least for now.
  • African-Americans: The Washington Post digs into the former candidate's trouble with black voters, which began in earnest with the shooting of an unarmed black man by police in South Bend over the summer, while Buttigieg was still mayor. "More broadly, the shooting raised a crucial question: Was Buttigieg, a young, white, Harvard-educated man from Indiana the right candidate to lead a diverse party?" writes Chelsea Janes. "More to the point: Could he really empathize with the black experience?" His struggles to adequately answer those questions hurt him.
(Read more Pete Buttigieg stories.)

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