Pete Buttigieg Talks Civility, Health Care With Undecided Voters In South Bend | Off Script | NPR

SCOTT SIMON: Well, thanks for being with us. Welcome to Off Script, which is NPR’s series
of conversations with Democratic candidates and voters from across the country. I’m Scott Simon. And today, we’re in South Bend, Indiana, with
the mayor of this city, Pete Buttigieg. Thanks for being with us, Mr. Mayor. PETE BUTTIGIEG: Thank you. Welcome to South Bend. SIMON: And we’re at a breakfast and lunch spot. BUTTIGIEG: That’s right. SIMON: A diner called Peggs. You guys chose to meet here. What does Peggs mean to you? BUTTIGIEG: You know Peggs is a great hangout,
one of many places downtown we’re proud of and one of the first to open some years ago
at a time when we were just beginning to see glimmers of life in our downtown. But there wasn’t much going on. So Peggs had a lot of confidence, and our
city saw that it could grow. And we want to make sure we repay that with
the support for small businesses like this one. SIMON: And what do you like to order here? BUTTIGIEG: There’s something called Peggs
Eggs, which is eggs on a bed of spinach. That lets you get your protein, but you feel
like you’re kind of being … behaving at the same time because of the spinach. So that’s my go to. SIMON: The spinach makes it much healthier. BUTTIGIEG: Spinach makes everything OK. You get a little bacon on there. It’s still OK because you have the spinach. SIMON: I had a question for you. I don’t want to avoid the fact that if – if
you were to be elected, it would be a real milestone in American history. You would be the first Maltese-American to
be president of the United States. BUTTIGIEG: That’s true. It turns out leaning on the Maltese American
vote doesn’t get you that big in terms of numbers. But there’s a … SIMON: You don’t have it sewn up? BUTTIGIEG: … a few … Oh, I’d better. I hope so. There’s not that many of us. SIMON: We want to introduce our two guests
who’ve joined us here. We’re here … We’re with Michael Logan, a
retired former Michigan state police sergeant. Thank you for being with us, Sergeant. He’s the father of three, 54 years old. I don’t know why they have to put that in
the notes, but thank you very much. And lives just across the state line, the
Indiana-Michigan state line. And we also have Jacque Stahl. She’s marketing director for a health care
group here in South Bend, originally from Washington State. And you have a five year old son. And both of you say you’re undecided voters, right? LOGAN: Yes. STAHL: Yes, absolutely. SIMON: We’re going to ask serious, substantial,
issue-oriented questions, but I wondered if you had anything else on your mind you’d like
to ask Mayor Buttigieg to begin with? LOGAN: I had a question Mayor Pete. BUTTIGIEG: Yeah. LOGAN: What’s your favorite sport and why? BUTTIGIEG: It’s football because I grew up
going to games with my dad and just, you know … I mean, when you’re in South Bend, I think
you’re either a football fan or you’re a contrarian. I grew up as a football fan. LOGAN: College football? BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, I could never get myself to care about pro ball that much because Notre Dame loomed so large. How about you? LOGAN: College. BUTTIGIEG: OK. LOGAN: Absolutely. SIMON: Notre Dame kind of is pro ball. LOGAN: Yeah, they have their own TV contract. And make their own schedule, you know, 30
years in advance. SIMON: Jacque, do you have any question for
the mayor? STAHL: I guess the question I have is: you’re
gone so much, so what do you miss the most about being away? BUTTIGIEG: Well, you know, certainly just
the basics: the house, the dogs, being able to cook a home-cooked meal – or more realistically, help Chasten cook and then enjoy a home-cooked meal. But, you know, when we’re home, we make the
most of it. It’s a good town, especially in the fall. You feel just how … so much warmth and life
there is to the city. And you know, I love my experiences on the
road, but definitely miss home. SIMON: Jacque, you’ve got questions about
the mayor’s health care platform. He’s talked about Medicare for all who want it. Let me get you to address your questions to
the mayor, because you have direct personal experience working in the health care industry. STAHL: I do. Personally, professionally. So with health care and Medicare for all,
I think there’s three big things in health care that, you know, I would like to know
more your stance on is cost, transparency and trust from the American people. Right now, those are huge issues. I think the first question I want to ask is cost-wise. Personally, my son has a condition where his
medication costs up to thirty five thousand dollars a month. BUTTIGIEG: Jesus. STAHL: He is – his quality of life, he’s a normal five year old kid. But without that, you know, that’s how much
it’s going to cost. How do we get the cost down? How are we going to be helping that? BUTTIGIEG: Well, it’s such a central question
that I think gets missed because all the political excitement is around the Medicare for all
versus who wants it versus other models. And you’re right that the cost question is
so central. So I think, first of all, we need to unlock
the negotiating power of the United States of America. There’s just no good reason, in my view, why
Medicare is prevented from negotiating the prices of therapies and off drugs with the
pharmaceutical companies. And the way I would set it up would be that
you would not only have that kind of negotiating power for Medicare and for the public plan
that I’m proposing that we create but also under certain circumstances make it possible
for the department to negotiate on behalf of private plans. Now, this is not about punishing any pharmaceutical
company that’s doing the right thing. We’re glad that they’re creating these drugs
and these therapies. It makes an obviously huge difference, and
it can be lifesaving. But sometimes the costs we’re seeing are not
driven just by the economics of what it takes to create these therapies. A lot of companies charge outrageous prices
because they can. And so there does need to be a regulation
side to this. I’m proposing that we not allow prices to
rise faster than inflation unless there’s some really extraordinary reason. You know, there might be a situation where
there’s a shortage of some key ingredient or something like that. But under ordinary circumstances, if the price
is rising faster than inflation, there would be a strong enough penalty on the company
to discourage them from doing that. We also need to make sure that we use the
purchasing power to make sure that those volume discounts of having the federal government
doing those purchases kick in. And we’ve got to make sure we’re on the lookout
for gouging that often goes on and policing that with a whole set of tools in the toolkit
to make sure that when companies do engage in unethical behavior,
that there’s accountability for them. STAHL: Right. Absolutely. I think, you know, for his, for his condition,
there’s a cure out there. You know, gene therapy is coming. It’s in the works. But, you know, it could be a few million dollars
to get that done for him. So it’s there’s a cure in our grasp. But will we ever be approved to even have
that in our future? BUTTIGIEG: Can I ask, is does your health
care coverage take care of the costs of those therapies? STAHL: It does. Thankfully, we do. But, you know, we have that. But also there’s a burden on us if anything
else goes wrong. Like I avoid health care because I want to
make sure that my son has the means. And then also, you have to look at my employer
who is you know, we’re self-insured. So we have, they have to pick up the cost somewhere. So it is just, you know, there’s no right
answer anywhere from getting away from those costs. SIMON: Now, Jacque, you also work in the health
care industry, and you you see firsthand both in your experience in your family and also
working in the health care industry, how you really have to maneuver to be able to know
how to take care of yourself, don’t you? And make hard choices sometimes? STAHL: Yes, absolutely. My CEO and I were joking because we work in
health care, yet it’s so difficult to navigate health care, and we’re in it. And so, you know, how do you think the average
American and why does it have to be so complicated? You know, so many times we see patients that
do the right steps to make sure that they’re in network and that everything is covered
by their insurance. But yet they have a surprise bill of three
hundred dollars or thousands of dollars. That has to stop. How do how do we get that to stop? BUTTIGIEG: Well, another thing we’re proposing
is to end surprise billing. So we would set 200 percent of Medicare would
be the highest that even an out-of-network therapy could could cost when you have a hospitalization or something like that. Because, you know, some of this is also the
responsibility of hospitals and health care providers. So this can’t just be handled on the insurance side. Now, we want hospitals to grow and we want,
you know, providers to do well. And we can do that in a way that also manages
these costs. But it sure will help, I think, if we can
take steps like what I’m proposing with Medicare for all who wanted to make sure everybody’s
covered and no one’s falling through the cracks, because then we’re more likely to see an evening
out of the radically different prices that can be attached to the same procedure or the
same bit of medication, depending where you are in our current patchwork of coverage. STAHL: Alright, one question on a little statistics,
on … you talk about hospitals. An article just came out about a month ago
from Ball State from a professor talking about the cost of health care in Indiana. And how about 20 years ago, the Hoosiers were paying about 313 dollars less than the average American. Now we are paying 816 dollars more than the
average American. And it kind of boils down to these non-profit
hospitals which don’t pay taxes. But yet nonprofit hospitals are the most profitable
industry in the state of Indiana. I work for independent physician group, which
our goal is to, one, make health care simpler and to lower the costs of health care. An example of that is we have an imaging center
where outpatient – so an MRI could cost without using insurance because people are
avoiding that because deductibles are so high … 600 dollars for an MRI. Where you go to a hospital, it’s double, triple the cost. And consumers don’t understand that. So there is that transparency, cost, trust, all of that. I think that’s so important. And, you know, that’s what needs to be addressed. SIMON: And how would you address it do you think? BUTTIGIEG: Well, the point you make about
transparency I think is really important. So we also need to encourage and press providers
to just reveal what the prices even are, which can be shockingly difficult to get a hold on. And if we’re thinking about the same study,
I think it was Michael Hicks who published this. STAHL: Yes. BUTTIGIEG: Another effect, if I recall right,
that we saw there was that there’s a lot of consolidation going on. STAHL: Yes. BUTTIGIEG: And the more the providers consolidate,
the more hospitals for-profit, as well as non-profit are consolidating, the less options there are. And so that’s another reason why in the same
way that we keep, keep an eye on monopolies in the telecom industry or in the, in the
agriculture industry. We’ve also got to have the right kind of enforcement
tools to make sure that if you do have consolidation of hospitals or provider, you know, major
providers, that it has they have to demonstrate that it’s not going to create an
upward pressure on prices. STAHL: Right. Absolutely. SIMON: Let me ask you a question, Mr. Mayor,
and to follow up. There are lots of ambitious health care plans
that have been proposed in this campaign alone. Can you get yours passed? Because that’s kind of the acid test. BUTTIGIEG: It is. I mean, the reality is all these beautiful
proposals we all put forward, their impact is kind of multiplied by zero if you can’t
actually get it through Congress. And it’s one of the reasons why I do favor
the approach that I have – what we call Medicare for all who want it. We create a public plan, Medicare type of
plan for every American, but … and we make sure that everybody can afford it, but we
don’t require you to take it. And partly I think that’s just the right policy,
because I think people should be able to choose. But it’s also really important that that’s
a policy that commands the support of most Americans, which, by the way, is a big deal,
because this would be the biggest innovation, the biggest move forward in health care in
about 50 years. But we have a moment where we can get something
that big done, and most Americans want it done. That’s not true of some of the other ideas
out there, which would make it much harder to actually achieve them, no matter how good
they sound in campaign season. SIMON: Michael, we want to move on to your
questions. You want to talk to the mayor about trade
with China and how tariffs of what effect tariffs have had in Michigan and Indiana and
elsewhere. LOGAN: Yeah we… my family, we live in St.
Joseph. And you’re familiar with St. Jo. We just live south of there. So we live in a country setting. We’re surrounded by farms. There’s some farmers … I just was talking
to a farmer a couple weeks ago, specifically pertaining to the tariffs. And he’s a soy farmer. And he was telling me that his soy, even though
he’s gotten federal subsidies because now he would spend … he would send the majority
of his soy to Asia. Now they’re not accepting that – “sorry!”
– because of the tariffs. But even now, he’s getting subsidies. That’s fine for this year. But his concern is, what about next year or
the year after? Because he’s … he’s sort of hedging his
bet that the tariff issue will address itself or work its way out by this time next year,
which will, which will resolve his soy issue. But if it doesn’t, then what does he ..
BUTTIGIEG: Trouble. LOGAN: And that’s just a microscopic issue
with him. And I’m sure that there are hundreds of thousands
of farmers across the nation who are experiencing the same thing. And there’s nothing he can really do about it. He’s just hoping that, you know, President
Trump will do the right thing and address these tariffs and come to some type of resolution. Otherwise, he not only now has to deal with
the unexpected nature of Mother Nature, which he has no control over. Now, he has to deal with a president who has
made these poor decisions that we do sort of have some control over. So how would you address those issues with
not only him, but the other millions of farmers across the nation? BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, I think what you’re describing
is really the predicament that so many farmers are in. And the more you talk to, certainly the more
I talk to farmers, the more you realize they really, they do math for a living. They deal with uncertainty for a living. They’re figuring out uncertainty around the
weather, uncertainty around, around the yields, around the prices. Right? Figuring out when to when to buy their supplies
and when to sell their product. And now the president has created this new
enormous source of uncertainty on top of all the risks they’re already trying to deal with. And the soybean case is maybe the main example
of how this trade war is coming down on the backs of farmers. And those… those basically bailout funds
that have come out. I talk to a lot of farmers who say, first
of all, it hasn’t made them whole. It’s taking the edge off, but it’s not made
them whole. And they would rather just be selling their
product and succeeding. One said to me, “I’d rather be using those
kinds of funds for conservation,” which is another thing we could be doing with those
billions of dollars if it weren’t for the harm that, that’s happening to farmers because
of the trade war. So, first rule: do no harm. You know, this is not even part of a trade
strategy with China. It’s, it’s just a pattern of poking them in
the eye to see what will happen. Of course, what happens is they poke back
and the harm of that comes down on farmers, also consumers. You know, a lot of our prices, more than people
may realize, are going to go up because of the tariffs, just stuff that we’re used to
getting when we go shopping to the tune of hundreds of dollars for a typical American family. So, what do we do about it? Well, first of all, we’ve got to reset our
trade relationship with China. And that doesn’t mean that we just open it
all up. We do have to take steps to make sure that
the future of the relationship with China is a competition where our farmers, our workers
and our consumers can do well. We’re not just going to slap tariffs for the
hell of it and see what will happen. We have to make sure that where we have the
most aggressive approaches on areas where we’re concerned about being too intimately
connected and think about things like electronics, where frankly, we need to be careful about
how reliant we are just for security reasons. And we want to see a greater degree of openness
in areas where we have a lot to export, like soybeans, like pork, and make sure that this
is part of the bigger strategy. By the way, dealing with a country that is
famous for doing their own strategy and planning in 10 or 20 or even 50 year terms, which means
we also need to set up a framework that can make sense past an individual presidency. So, I think that needs to be the basis of
our trade strategy. And you know, what needs to be the basis of
our overall economic picture is, is it working for farmers? Is it working for consumers? Is it working for workers? Otherwise, it’s not working, no matter how
good the stock market numbers look. If most of us aren’t feeling like we’re doing
better, then I don’t think it’s a success. LOGAN: How do you change? Because that relationship, that trade relationship
with China is decades in the making. So the United States, as is … it’s heavily
reliant upon our trade partnership with China. Both ways. BUTTIGIEG: Yeah. LOGAN: I think we’re more, we’re more heavily relying on them than they are us. So after this relationship has sort of been
cemented for the last 50 years, how do you slowly or as quickly as possible change that? So now we’re benefiting more from the trade
than they are. BUTTIGIEG: So, I think it has to be based
on the areas of mutual benefit. Otherwise, we shouldn’t even be, shouldn’t
even be doing it, right? And by the way, farming is one of them. It’s one of those where they’ve got a need,
and we’ve got goods we’re ready to export. And it’s OK to be importing, too, as long
as it all balances out in a way that benefits us. I think the cornerstone of the relationship
has to be that we have common interests both in some areas of economics and in security. Now, they are a competitor in some ways. They may even, a may shape up with the shape
of a strategic adversary in some ways, but not in others. We both have an interest in stability. We both have an interest in peace. I think in the long run, we both have an interest
in North Korea moving into a more normal relationship with the community of nations, which means
denuclearization and peace with South Korea. There are a lot of steps we can take that
would be mutually beneficial. Other areas? We’re going to need to take a tougher stance. You would not see me promising, for example,
to be quiet about democracy in Hong Kong as, as a way to make a trade deal go through. Because those are our values. And I think if we don’t have our values at
our back, people are not going to know what to expect from America. We’ll just be another country out there. What makes America America is that we operate
not only based on our interests, but based on our values. And the beauty is – because our values are
shared around the world – that actually winds up helping our interests. SIMON: Michael, can I ask a follow up question
to the Mayor? LOGAN: Absolutely. SIMON: You put human rights into the conversation,
which interest me, because so much of the conversation we have about U.S. – China trade
seems to be just about economics. But as we know, there are more than a million
Uighur Muslims who are imprisoned in a part of China. There’s the crackdown in Hong Kong. There’s, I don’t know, dozens, hundreds of
dissidents that are at the moment being jailed in China. Is it worth it to open that up with China
and use trade as a lever to try and get them to improve their human rights policy? BUTTIGIEG: I think it is. I think it’s part of a bigger picture. So there are a lot of moving pieces here,
but we know that there are trade outcomes that they care about and there are human rights
outcomes that are beneficial for the world, beneficial for the people impacted, whether
it’s religious minorities or those seeking democracy and beneficial for the US. Doesn’t mean we have to come raging in demanding
regime change — we’ve seen how that works out — but it does mean that we can at least
include it in the big picture as one of the things we care about. One of the things we’re pushing for in the
bigger context and certainly not promising to be silent about even moral support when,
as this president apparently did in the context of Hong Kong, when against so much of what
helps us carry weight in the wider world is the fact that we do, in fact, at least at
our best moments as a country, represent something bigger than ourselves, which is a commitment
to democracy and human rights. SIMON: Michael, I want to get you in. I know you want to raise some questions that
you are kind of drawn from your background in law enforcement and how the mayor intends
to address those issues. LOGAN: The last four years I spent as a detective
sergeant with the state police and I worked in the city of Benton Harbor — and you’re
very familiar with Benton Harbor — to assist them with their violent crimes. Growing up in the Detroit area, it’s a large
metropolitan area, one of the things that I saw most immediately in my career early
in law enforcement, and especially now at the end working in Benton Harbor, was the
need for law enforcement to actively engage with the underrepresented community and not
just specifically African-American, Hispanic, Muslim, any underrepresented community, because
that has an immediate, from what I’ve seen, has an immediate long term effect on people’s
behavior and in cultural change. What’s your plan? And I’m not speaking specifically in reference
to Eric Logan or any other incident that involves law enforcement. SIMON: He was the man who was killed during
the summer here in South Bend. LOGAN: Yes. Not specifically that, but just the overall relationship between law enforcement and communities of color. Do you have a plan on how to address that,
to improve that relationship between those two entities? BUTTIGIEG: Yes. And this is one element of the Douglas plan
that I’ve put forward on tearing down different areas of institutional systemic racism in
the US. But it’s also got to be viewed as part of
a public safety plan. You know, one of the things that I think we
see here and in a lot of other areas is when you have a wall of mistrust between communities
of color and between law enforcement, it makes it a lot harder for law enforcement to successfully
do their job. It makes things more dangerous, especially
as we see warn more young people, shockingly young people, teenagers, involved in gun crime. If somebody who is close to a victim doesn’t
go to law enforcement, that usually means they’re going to take things in their own
hands. And then you see these these cycles of violence
pick up. So police legitimacy and these relationships
are important I think not only from the perspective of racial justice, but from the perspective
of public safety itself, what can we do about it? Well, one thing we know is we can promote
programs that encourage that kind of relationship that officers uniquely are able to build in
communities of color and on the ground. I always like to say that officers do best
when they have the mentality almost of somebody like a candidate for city council. In other words, wanting to walk the neighborhood,
build relationships, be viewed as a community problem solver. And we can do everything from citizens, police
academies. We’ve got one of those that encourages just
residents to take a sort of a light schedule of classes to learn about how law enforcement
works to programs that get officers working with kids in athletic leagues and those kinds
of things so that early in life there are those mentoring relationships. I want to make sure that for any any kid in
our community or in our country, the first interaction they have with a law enforcement
officer is not in the context of a call or an arrest, but on a good day so that relationship,
so that how they view the uniform can develop. And we also, of course, need to make sure
that we have more diverse officers on the department, which frankly has become harder,
I think, since Ferguson. We’re finding it harder and harder to find,
in particular, young black men who can picture themselves in uniform. But you need a department that looks like
the communities that it serves and so anything… SIMON: This department has been criticized
for that under your… BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, we’ve had a real struggle
with that during my time as mayor and it’s happening in South Bend, but not only South
Bend, it’s really a national challenge. But I think partnerships with HBCUs can help
build up diverse pathways into policing. And by the way, for the same reason I think
it’s so important for people with diverse backgrounds and different ideological backgrounds
to seek not only to be public defenders, but to be prosecutors. And I’ve been excited to see more people interested
in that. So those are some of the steps that we can
encourage from a federal level that I think support departments that really depend on
those community relationships that have come under such strain. SIMON: Former sergeant, how does that strike you? Was this the kind of stuff you heard from
public officials before? Is there a nugget of something else there? LOGAN: No, I think that, you know Mr. Mayor,
I think that’s a great idea, but I honestly am curious as how that’s sustainable, because
you’ve seen programs over the years, whether it’s D.A.R.E. keep kids off, you know, say
no to drugs, all of those are very short term solutions and they’re slogan based. And those programs were effective for a very
short period time. But in terms of the communities of color,
there has to be a cultural and a true cultural shift. And I don’t think that… that’s not true. I think that there’s a way to do that. But it has to be continuous and it has to
be sustained not only over a two year period, but in terms of contacting children and building
relationships and mentoring and coaching in the third or fourth grade and then following
those kids throughout their entire public school or private school time. And you won’t see the results of that for
six or seven years. How do you address that? Because it’s really a cultural change, because
me as a police officer, going into a school and speaking as someone maybe Monday, Wednesdays
and Fridays, I’m there for three or four hours, which is fantastic. When they leave, what they’re being exposed
to is vastly different. Then, you know, Mike Logan being at their
school and sitting down with him and reading and talking to them. How do you offset that, you know, over a long
period of time? And the second part of that is
then if you do that nationally, who pays for it? BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, well, first of all, I think
it’s worth investing federal dollars in this even if it’s expensive. So that gets to who pays for it. But I also really agree that we’re talking
about deep interwoven cultural issues here. And sometimes these issues are related to
… law enforcement. Really, it’s about a lot of different things. It’s about everything from economic empowerment
to education. A lot of times it’s also about whether we
are responding to mental health and disability issues in the right way, because we’ve seen
a lot of racial disparity in that that almost forces people or routes them toward the criminal
justice system at a young age when we really could be finding another way to handle people. So I don’t want all of this to be kind of
pinned on the law enforcement side of the house, but it is clear that there’s a lot
more we can do. And I also think this is why it would be a
good idea to have a national police academy in the same way that we have a West Point
for the Army, Annapolis for the Navy that really builds out what the future of policing
is going to look like and trains people not just in sort of tactics, but in these kind
of cultural questions, because they are going to need some leadership from, I think, within
the profession. It can’t all just be something that is kind
of pushed on law enforcement by, frankly, by politicians, even as we try to do our work
to promote things moving in the right direction. SIMON: How does that strike you? LOGAN: I think that’s a great idea. But again, the question is always going to
be, I know you can’t answer this right now, Mr. Mayor: how it’s funded. Because honestly, most people, unless they’re
directly affected by what’s going on. It’s sort of sort of the mentality of, well,
“What happens on the south side of South Bend, It doesn’t affect me. So why should I really care?” Even though the exact opposite: you really
should care because you mentioned it earlier when you were talking about the health care;
this is about all of us and all of us benefit from helping everyone else. So that’s the biggest issue that I see what
that is. It’s just human nature. Some people believe that as long as it doesn’t
affect me, then that’s sort of their problem. And it’s really not at all. It’s everyone’s problem. BUTTIGIEG: That’s true. SIMON: And you know, Mr. Mayor, people don’t
say “Oh, yeah. Please let me pay more taxes. I would love… I would welcome the opportunity to pay for
a national police academy.” BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, but here’s the thing: we
need to do some of this work. And as a country, I think as a country, I
think over my lifetime we have seen the consequences of disinvesting, taking money out of education,
out of infrastructure, out of health, and mostly using it not to spend on other priorities. With the exception of war — some of which
could have been avoided — but a lot of it was spent just to cut taxes and it was to
cut taxes on the wealthiest who needed it the least. Look, things cost money. You can’t get something for nothing, but there’s
a way to do this without going back to the tax levels we saw in the 60s in the US. But it is going to require asking some to
do more, in particular corporations that right now can make billions of dollars and pay literally
zero in federal income taxes. And we can’t expect to to thrive or to grow
in safety and health, in education, in any of the things that make America successful
and competitive if we’re not willing to gather that revenue and put it to good use. SIMON: Jacque, do you have any questions for
the mayor on this line? STAHEL: I don’t think so. SIMON: Alright, I wanted to get you something
else I know concerns you, Michael. I know that you’re concerned about the general
level of conversation we have in this country. LOGAN: Civility. Yes. Civility! I was trying to avoid the word because people
think that’s a code word for not saying what you mean nowadays. But please address your concern to the mayor
about that. LOGAN: How do we go, I think there’s always
been a level of civility, whether it’s presented to the public as being civil. And I’m sure and in the background, in the
back rooms and sure, it probably wasn’t so much so, which is fine, because I think that’s
where you should figure it all out. And, you know, that’s presented to the voting
public than it’s, you know, more civil. We can agree to disagree. How do we get back? You know, it changed very drastically since
President Trump has been elected. The level of civility is almost gone, completely
gone. And I think because he is a leader, he’s really
the leader of the free world and absolutely the leader of this country. With that lack of civility, he’s giving people
the license to sort of say and do things that they can do and say, but they really
shouldn’t. And now he’s he’s given people the license
to do just that. I was in Panera Bread in St. Jo a few weeks
ago, and an elderly gentleman came in and he had on a Make America Great” hat. You know, seemed like a nice guy came in and
ordered. And, you know, a couple of 20 some year old
kids came in after him and they walked past me, turned around, looked at him. And I’m sure they don’t know this gentleman. And they made a comment about his hat and
told me to take his hat off. And, you know, you shouldn’t be here with
that hat on. And, you know, it’s a very small example. But, you know, I think the nation has reached
the point where if you can’t wear a hat, regardless what your political affiliation is, without
someone confronting you about that, I don’t think that that atmosphere existed before
Donald Trump became president. And I think he’s just exasperated it and sort
of fuel the fire. How do we get back to the civility? BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, I think a lot Americans right
now are getting ready for Thanksgiving, wondering how the meal’s conversation is going to
go, because, you know, these fences have gone up even within families and certainly within
communities like what you’re describing. And part of what I think we’ve seen right
now is that so much depends on how the president acts and how the president talks. It’s not all one person, but an awful lot
depends on what the president does. To me, this is one of the things that presidency
is for. And one of the first things I had to figure
out, sometimes the hard way, as mayor is that my job here is not just about policy it’s
not just about running the government, it’s about setting a tone. And that part of the job, it’s not written
down anywhere, it’s not in the law, it’s not in the job description, but it might be where
you earn your paycheck the most when you’re in charge, because you have a responsibility
to make sure even those who don’t agree with you — especially those who don’t agree with
you, maybe — feel that they belong to the same thing that you do in this case, the city. In the president’s case, the country. I think the president needs to be a walking
symbol of something that we all have in common. Again, not that we agree, but that you have
the president for all of us. And I will be very focused. It’s part of the idea of my campaign, too,
on calling all Americans to be part of the same country, finding ways to express that
in what I do, in what I don’t do, which I think is a big part of it. And also looking for policy solutions too. I’ll give you an example; you know, I found
in the military that I was interacting with people who are so different from me, different
regions, different generation, racially diverse, very different politics, but we learned to
trust each other and look out for each other. One of the reasons I’m a big fan of voluntary
national service, creating a lot of civilian national service opportunities is I want more
Americans to have those experiences. If we could create a million paid national
service opportunities a year, first of all we’d get a lot of good work done, I mean,
there’s a lot of work crying out to be done that we could enlist people to do, but also
in the course of that, I think that a lot of people would have a common experience that
they could carry with them for the rest of their lives in the same way that diverse groups
of veterans can always kind of talk to each other, joke with each other, bust each other’s
chops in a way that just kind of brings them together. LOGAN: Thing in common. BUTTIGIEG: Yeah. I want more Americans to have that. So some of the I think programs and policies
will help, but a lot of it honestly is just that the message you send from that Oval Office
and the message I want to send is, “Well, we’re going to have it out on some policy
issues for sure, but at the end of the day, this is one country and we’re in this together.” SIMON: Can I have a follow up question? If you became the Democratic presidential
nominee, there will be debates, we assume. President Trump, who has said some things
we have noted about people at the border, said some things about people who live in
African countries, made other remarks that have disparaged other people. You walk out on that stage, do you shake hands
with him? BUTTIGIEG: I’ll shake hands with him. He’s the President of the United States. But it doesn’t mean I agree with him. Doesn’t mean I endorse any of the things that
he has said. And I will confront him on the things that
he has said, because it’s one thing to have a policy disagreement. It’s another to denigrate human beings and
to divide Americans against each other, seemingly on purpose for political gain. And I can you know, we can do that without
without becoming what we’re up against, without emulating what I’m competing against. So it’ll be, at least on my end, it will be
respectful, but it will be firm. SIMON: There would if you became the nominee,
and I think even before that, a lot of people who say, “No, you know, you get you get
punched in the face, you’ve got to punch back.” BUTTIGIEG: Well, you certainly get to push
back when somebody does something wrong. When he lies, I’m going to say that it’s a
lie and say what the truth is. When he does something wrong, I’m going to
confront it. There’s a way to do that without becoming
like him and it’s very important. It’s not about having an equal but opposite
version of Trump. This is about responding to a divider-in-chief
with a message that is firm and our values strong and our ideas and capable of bringing
more people into that vision of the future than is possible right now when we’re so polarized. SIMON: Jacque, I know you have some concerns
about this, too. STAHL: Yeah. You know, actually, Michael and I were talking
before this and really, you know, how do you… the past four years has really become like
a mistrust. There’s, you know, a lot of disrespect and
it does come from the top. You know, so I’m hiding behind a keyboard,
sending out Twitter rants in the middle of the night about, you know, whatever you say,
hateful things. And it just gives the green light for anyone
to do that. And you really have seen the shift over these
past four years of the hostility, the anger. How do we turn that around? How can you, you know, gain the trust and
respect back from people? And, you know, I don’t want to be naive, but
you have just a more, you know, peaceful United States. BUTTIGIEG: Yeah. I mean, look, there’s always gonna be challenges
and disagreements, but it doesn’t have to be like this. It doesn’t have to be at each other’s throats. And part of it is making sure that we call
out to people as people. I’m still thinking about your example, the
folks at Panera now, and kind of picturing, you know, chances are that there are things
that each of those people would have appreciated about each other if they saw people. But if all you see is a red hat, just like,
you know, some folks, all this is a uniform and that just immediately decides how people
see each other. Some people, all they see is race. All they see is gender. All they see is politics, whatever it is. And we’ve got to get back to viewing each
other as people. So part of it is a call for every American
to reach out to somebody they care about who is different from them politically and not
to talk politics, but just to just to talk about whatever it is they appreciate about
each other. Part of it, I think, is the need for us to
have a common purpose. Now, often that that comes in in the course
of conflict, America pulls together when when we’re fighting another country. I don’t think it has to be that. I’m thinking about things that we’re going
to have to fight together like climate change. Imagine if that felt like a national project
that everybody from soybean farmer in rural Michigan to an industrial worker here in South
Bend to a student or a consumer understood where they fit in in that shared national
fight to save our future. It’s just one example of an area where we
can find something bigger than ourselves, be part of it, and get to work and form some
sense of common direction while we’re at it even amid all our disagreements and amid all
of our our our divisions. LOGAN: Do you think that there’s something
that all Americans today can rally around and agree on? Do you think that that exists right now, today? Is there one common goal? BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think to put it simply,
we all want to be OK. Right? And at the end of the day, that’s that’s safety
and some level of prosperity. I don’t think everybody feels a burning need
to become wealthy, but everybody needs to know that they’re going to be OK, that they’re
going to be able to provide for their kids, that they’re going to hopefully do better
than the generation before them. I think every American wants that. And I’m proposing ways to get there. There can be disagreement on the ways to get
there. But if we can at least agree that that’s our
common purpose, to be physically safe and to make sure that we economically are able
to live lives of our choosing. That would be something everybody can get
behind, even as we’re hashing it out over what it’s gonna take to get there. SIMON: When you say physically safe, does
that include climate change? BUTTIGIEG: It does. I think climate change is a national security
threat. We’re seeing more and more intense and frequent
extreme weather events. We’re seeing more and more communities threatened. I’m not just talking about what’s happening
with California wildfires or sea level rise on Pacific Islands, I’m talking about right
here in South Bend. We had those floods twice in less than two
years. We had floods that are supposed to happen
less than once in a lifetime. So I think that’s a security issue. I think doing something about guns is a security
issue. In addition to things like dealing with stateless
terrorism and making sure that the US is safe from any foreign threat. SIMON: Let me try a couple of questions if
I can to the mayor. The United States is a country with more than
300 million people. It has a budget of hundreds of trillions of
dollars. With respect to your service, to your country
and the reserve and service to the city here as mayor, you have been mayor of a city of
about 100,000 people: do you have the experience to be President of the United States? BUTTIGIEG: Yes, my experience is being on
the ground, dealing with the kinds of issues that you deal with in executive leadership
in government. Look, I get the daunting nature of the office. It’s also the case that none of the candidates
for the presidency right now has been president — except one, Donald Trump, who I think
is actually the least qualified of all. And, you know, there’s something to be said
for longevity. I also think there’s something to be said
for being newer on the scene and not having spent too much time in Washington. You know, I sometimes wonder if I’d be getting
that question if I were a member of Congress or the Senate, even at my age. I probably would be less likely to get it,
and yet … SIMON: I would ask a first-term member of
Congress. BUTTIGIEG: OK, fair enough. But here’s the thing. You could also be a very tenured member of
Congress. You could be a very senior senator in the
United States and have never in your life been responsible for more than 100 people,
depending on what you were doing before. You know, the experience of members of legislatures
is to vote on legislation. Very important, but also very different from
running a city of any size, which I would argue in America — perhaps especially in
a relatively not one of the biggest cities and certainly not one of the wealthiest cities
— gives you a sense of the challenges that are confronting Americans on the ground. There’s a lot of South Bends out there, and
there’s a lot of challenges out there that are of the kind that we’re dealing with right
here on the ground — from economic development after deindustrialization to racial tension
around policing to making sure that we’re getting ahead of climate change. That, you know, again, nobody walks into that
Oval Office having been there before on their first day by definition. But of the many experiences that people bring
to them, I would say this is as valid as any. SIMON: What about foreign policy? You speak to one degree or another several
foreign languages and you’ve served overseas in the U.S. military, but foreign policy wouldn’t
seem to be an area where you have a lot of direct experience. BUTTIGIEG: Well, I’d say one of the reasons
that I have weighed in more extensively on foreign policy and have built I think the
strongest foreign policy team of any candidate is that I care deeply about these issues and
have seen firsthand through international experience what’s at stake in our international
relationships. And as somebody who experienced foreign policy
in the form of being sent into a war, but also as somebody who experiences it as someone
responsible for a city that is impacted by these choices. In other words, I want there to be a foreign
policy that makes sense as a kind of foreign policy for places like South Bend which, if
we’re getting it right on trade, if we’re getting it right on security, if we’re getting
it right on our values, if we’re getting it right on immigration, then that benefits our
communities. That’s the perspective I bring to it. I’m going to continue to speak on everything
from individual regional security issues that I see around the world to the overall direction
of what values America ought to promote in our presence in the community of nations. SIMON: May I try another question? You are married to a real social media celebrity. Your husband, Chasten has really taken off,
but I have to raise a question with you because I was hoping not to ask anything about orientation,
but as you as you know there’s some polling information recently reported by The New York
Times that says the fact that you’re a man married to another man might be causing some
reservations and misgivings, specifically among African-American voters in South Carolina. The quote that came back in the Times was,
“a marriage should be between Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” I wonder what you would say to voters who
have that reservation. BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think that that perspective,
it’s so simplifying and I think not fair to diversity of views among African-Americans
and among a lot of people who are Democrats who may have come up in a socially conservative
background, but are also on a journey as the country is. You know, right here in South Bend, we didn’t
know what would happen when I came out. We knew it’s a fairly Democratic city, but
also a socially conservative city. And I was just I was ready and it was time. And we did it in a re-election year. And I wound up getting 80 percent of the vote,
which is better that time than I did the first time around. I think the question that voters are asking
is, “How’s my life gonna be different if you’re president?” And, in order to earn votes, my job is to
go out there and answer that question. I think a lot of the other stuff falls away
if and only if you have a good answer to that question. SIMON: Do people who believe that marriage
should be just between a man and a woman or have other views about people of different
or sexual orientation… Are they biased? Are they’re bigoted? BUTTIGIEG: Well, I’m asking them to view things
from the perspective of equality, from the perspective of my rights, and also knowing
that that might be difficult for some people who have seen a shockingly fast pace of change
from just a few years ago when they may have been brought up to reject who I am. But I also know that people who struggled
to understand what I would consider to be the right view on this issue have compassion. And I’m appealing to this sense of compassion,
their sense of fairness, their sense of how they would want someone they love to be treated
and asking them to view it another way. SIMON: I want to leave our last questions
to our distinguished panel. STAHL: All right. One question I have, we have talked about
trust a lot, and I think that kind of ties back into health care. With health care, over the last 20 years or
so, the trust in the American health care system has dropped dramatically. So much. We are kind of on the same page, in trust,
with Russia and Poland. And the Americans, you know, are just dissatisfied
with the American health care system. With all these changes, Medicare for all who
want it, how do we, you know, how are you going to implement that and how are you going
to gain the trust for people to utilize the system again? Because again, there are so many people, like
myself, who work in health care who, you know, step aside, say, “You know what? Maybe I don’t need that. I could spend my money on groceries versus
going to, you know, to get a checkup.” But it’s necessary so the cost of health care
don’t keep skyrocketing because they’re waiting to the last minute. BUTTIGIEG: I think as with all things in life,
building trust comes from keeping a promise, delivering and then getting more trust. One of the things I found right here in South
Bend, I got elected mayor, people took a chance on me and then I had to start delivering. But the more I did deliver, the more people
give me the benefit of the doubt on on other things and let me try more things to try to
guide our city forward. So when it comes to health care, the best
example I could point to is the Affordable Care Act. Here we have something that was very much
not trusted. In fact, it was politically toxic for my party
in 2010. And by 2018, even a Republican Congress couldn’t
vote to get rid of it. Why? Because we did it and it worked. And I think the same is true of what I proposed
to set up with Medicare for all who want it. But that’s the idea of my approach to doing
it right, is that we will let you decide. And if we’re right, then you’re going to want it. If you’re right, then it’s going to have the
most attractive coverage for most people. And then the more people use it, the stronger
it will get, the more people will want it. It very well might be the single payer in
the end, but I’m not going to prejudge whether it’s right for everybody and how long it’s
going to take to get there. SIMON: Michael Logan, do you have any last
question for the mayor? LOGAN: Just one, Mr. Mayor, if elected mayor,
what would be your number one priority on day one after becoming the president of the
United States? BUTTIGIEG: Well, so many things are important
demanding action right now. It’s tough to narrow down, but I would say
three big things need immediate attention. One of them is climate, because it’s threatening
our lives. One of them is economic equity, making sure
that we can actually get this economy working for everybody, because until we do, I think
it undermines everything in our country. And the other that doesn’t get a lot of attention
is the integrity of our democracy. And that can get action on day one. I’m thinking about how hard it is for some
people to vote, to register to vote, the way our districts are drawn, the role of money
in politics. Some of these are generational reforms. I believe we ought to have a national popular vote. I get that that will take years and years
and years to deliver other things we could do really quickly. Making election day… SIMON: Changing the constitution? BUTTIGIEG: Yes, most likely. Yes. But other things we can do very quickly: to
make Election Day a holiday to implement automatic voter registration, to make it easier to vote
by mail, to make sure that nobody can be denied their legitimate right to vote. And then there’s a bunch of stuff in the medium
term. I know that sounds like, you know, unglamorous
structural policy stuff, but I think every other issue we care about will always be harder
to deal with so long as our democracy remains warped in the way that it is now. And so I think that requires action from day
one. SIMON: I want to thank everyone for being here. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, candidate for the Democratic
nomination for president. Thank you very much for joining us here. We joined you at Peggs Diner. And thank you mostly to our voters: Michael
Logan and Jacque Stahl. Thanks very much for those wonderful questions.

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