BY BARBARA RODRIGUEZ, Des Moines Register | May 18, 2019
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Pete Buttigieg had been answering questions plucked out of the fishbowl when he got one that made a saloon hall in Iowa City burst into applause.
Along with inquiries on immigration and climate change, an 11-year-old girl identified only as Rebecca wanted to know: Did the Democratic presidential candidate have any advice about bullying?
“Part of the advice I’d give is to be willing to talk about it. So I think you’re leading the way on that,” Buttigieg said as he looked toward Rebecca’s direction in the crowd gathered Saturday afternoon. The 37-year-old South Bend, Indiana, mayor, who would be the first openly gay president if elected, then shared that he had been bullied growing up.
“Everybody who’s different can be bullied, and the secret is everybody’s different in some way,” he said, later adding: “You have nothing to be ashamed of.”
“The person who’s bullying you probably has something a little broken in them,” he added. “… They want to kind of control a situation because something else in their life isn’t going well, and they don’t feel they have control in a bigger way.”
Someone in the audience yelled: “Sounds familiar!”
Buttigieg responded: “I think it really matters that we have a president who doesn’t show that kind of behavior. It’s one of the reasons I’m running for president.”
Buttigieg, who encouraged Rebecca to stay strong by practicing kindness, later described the encounter to the Des Moines Register.
“It’s a reminder that this isn’t just a policy office or a management office,” he said. “It’s also a moral office … you want to have leaders — and certainly, want to have a president — who can lead in a way that equips young people to deal with bullying. Needless to say, we’ve got the opposite of that now.”
In Iowa City, Buttigieg also spoke about his support for reproductive rights following new abortion restrictions around the country.
“We don’t know whose rights are going to be on the chopping block next. So I don’t have to be a woman to be ready to stand full-throated at the side of women, of fighting for autonomy,” he said. “Just like you don’t have to be gay to be able to defend my marriage. And we don’t have to be black to point to racism in the criminal justice system. All of us are in this together.”
They were among the most memorable moments for Colleen Murphy, a 59-year-old from North Carolina who was visiting her adult daughter in Iowa City. Murphy became emotional talking about the interaction over bullying.
“To me, that just, it talks about the kind of person he is, morally and ethically,” she said. “That’s the kind of leadership I want to support.”
Discussion of equality was a central theme to Buttigieg’s two-day swing through Iowa, which included stops in Adel and Des Moines on Friday and Iowa City and Dubuque on Saturday. It was his fourth visit to the first-in-the-nation caucus state this year, and his second since announcing a formal presidential bid in mid-April.
At an event in Des Moines, Buttigieg said President Donald Trump and his administration are paying “lip service” to his marriage to husband, Chasten. The president appeared to offer support when asked recently about it.
Click here for the original 5/18/19 article by Barbara Rodriguez from Des Moines Register.