Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg has made a splash in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary as the previously almost-unknown midwest mayor rocketed to the top of the polls.

Here are five things to know about Buttigieg as the 2020 presidential election cycle is officially underway.

1. He's the youngest candidate in the field

At 38, Buttigieg is barely able to legally run for president — the minimum age the Constitution allows for a person to hold that office is 35.

His birthday is in January, making him just a few months younger than the other 38-year-old in the Democratic field, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.

2. He's had a fraught relationship with the police department in South Bend

Fox News reported last year that South Bend cops were warning of a "mass exodus" over the mayor's handling of a police-involved shooting.

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the New Hampshire Youth Climate and Clean Energy Town Hall, Wednesday in Concord. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the New Hampshire Youth Climate and Clean Energy Town Hall, Wednesday in Concord. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)


“Morale around here has been terrible. We do nothing,” one police officer, a 20-year veteran of the force, told Fox News. “We call ourselves firemen, we sit around in parking lots until we’re called and then we go to the call, because if you say or do something wrong, then you get hung.”

The then-mayor did not challenge the narrative from angry protesters that the shooting of a black citizen by a white officer was connected to "systematic racism" as he sought to balance the powderkeg issue back home with his progressive platform on the campaign trail.

Buttigieg has also been criticized for previously firing South Bend's first black police chief.

3. He's a veteran 

Buttigieg served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014, taking a leave of absence from his role as South Bend's mayor. He's touted his veteran status as among his foreign policy credentials, as has Gabbard, who served two tours of duty abroad, one in Iraq with a field medical unit.

Buttigieg picked up a big endorsement from the progressive veterans' group last year.

4. He used to work for one of the world's largest consulting firms

Buttigieg is a former employee of McKinsey & Company, one of the largest and most prestigious consulting firms in the world. That association has earned him some flak from fellow Democratic candidates, who portray Buttigieg as a creature of big business.

That criticism has even come from the New York Times editorial board, which dual-endorsed his competitors Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.


McKinsey is also famously secretive with its clients, which earned the former mayor even more criticism. The firm eventually made an accommodation for Buttigieg to allow him to name the clients he served while at McKinsey between 2007 and 2010.

5. 'Saturday Night Live' dubbed him the 'White Obama'

Buttigieg has sought to package himself as a progressive-yet-unifying candidate in the mold of former President Barack Obama. One of the keys to his strong finish in the Iowa caucuses was a focus on counties that voted for Obama and then Trump.

"At a moment when our country is so divided we can't risk further polarizing the American people," Buttigieg said on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, taking a veiled shot at his democratic socialist opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. "That's why I'm very concerned about the suggestion that either you got to be for revolution, or you must be for the status quo because that vision of politics as all or nothing is a vision that most of us can't see where we fit in."


NBC's "Saturday Night Live" mocked Buttigieg for his Obama-channeling demeanor during a spoof on the Democratic debates.

"I know that I sound like a bot that has studied human behavior by watching 100 hours of Obama speeches," his character said on the show.

Fox News' Adam Shaw, Frank Miles and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report. 

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