Pete Buttigieg on how his 2020 candidacy caught fire

The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, speaks out about his $7 million fundraising haul and the obstacles ahead of him still in the presidential race.
7:25 | 04/04/19

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Transcript for Pete Buttigieg on how his 2020 candidacy caught fire
Many more stories coming up. Our exclusive interview with Pete buttigieg. There you see him standing by. He's not an official candidate yet but is on a roll getting all kinds of attention right now. He may still be a long shot for 2020 but the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, already has a campaign nickname. Mayor Pete. His last name buttigieg a bit his background path breaking. Openly gay, married, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, a Rhodes scholar, con curt pianist and speaks eight languages and is just 37. I'm here to make a case that a millennial midwestern mayor might be exactly what we need. Reporter: It's gaining traction thanks to breakout performances like this CNN town hall when he took on Mike pence. How could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency? Is it that he stopped believing in scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump? I don't know. Reporter: Since that appearance he add more followers on Instagram than any other candidate, announced a haul of $7 million since the start of the year. In our nation's history, no one under 40 has become president. And no mayor also gone straight to the white house. The big question now, does mayor Pete have staying power? There's no honest politics that revolves around the word again. Mayor Pete joins us. Thanks for joining us. That video we showed announced something coming up on April 4th. Officially getting in. We will make a big announcement on April 14th, the kind of announcement you only get to make once. You won't make it here. I'm looking forward to gathering as many people as want to be part of it in South Bend. As I said, lots of firsts for you, openly gay, running for president, under 40 but what do you say to someone at home thinking he's not seasoned You know, I would argue that the experience of a mayor of a city of any size is about as relevant as it gets. I get that it's more traditional if I were to spend years or maybe decades marinating in Washington but I think we'd -- Marinating. That's what people expect. You soak up the ways of the congress and I get that but I actually think we'd be better off if Washington started looking more like our best run cities and towns and not the other way around. You know, as a mayor I found myself dealing with economic development puzzles to phone calls in the middle of the night about a disaster. Everything from comic parks and recreation controversies to, you know, searingly urgent issues like racially sensitive officer involved shootings. All of that comes a mayor's way and in a moment where we need presidential leadership to do more of not just the policy part of the job but the part of the job that has to do with holding people together and calling people to their highest value, I think that's highly relevant. Former vice president Biden is facing a different set of questions, watching that play what do you make of the way it's bubbled up and how he's handled it. What's happening is we are all in this moment where higher standards are being appropriately applied to people in public life and I think it's good that the vice president addressed it. I'll leave it to him to talk about that particular ca. But I think anybody who wants to be considered for the highest office in the land needs to be able to really accept that higher standard. In your book you wrote about how you felt bad about calling president trump a draft dodging chicken hawk before you say the statement was not in keeping how I publicly speak about political figures or anyone else and afterward I reflected this president was inspiring a loss of decency not just in his supporters but those who oppose him. You questioned whether president trump believes in god. Are you falling into the trap you wrote about. I worked hard to make sure when we oppose this president we're not emulating him. But we do need to call out hypocrisy when we see it and when we have people wrapping themselves in the flag who evidently faked a disability in order to get out of serving, when you have somebody seeming to want to impose his religion on others as the vice president has and at the same time teaming up with the presidency that seems to have no regard for at least what I would consider to be Christian values, I do think that hypocrisy needs to be called out forcefully but we need to be factual and we need to be honest and we do in resolving all of this disagreement need to be decent Let's talk about the democratic party. You say the center of gravity of the American people is way to the left of the center of gravity of congress and in many ways the left of the national democratic party. Yeah. Really? Think about all these issues, give you a few examples. Let's take universal background checks, 80% of Americans think we ought to do it. Over 80% of Republicans think we ought to do it and congress can't make it happen. Comprehensive immigration reform, higher wages, paid family life, even medicare for all, these are things that command a support of the majority of the American people. Are you for medicare for all Yes. I think the way to do it because any politician who lets the word medicare for all come out of their mouth ought to explain a pathway to get there. It is a public option. You might call it medicare for all who want it. Take a version of it, invite anyone who wants to buy in buy into it. If people like me are right that that will be a preferred option that naturally becomes a glide path toward a medicare for all environment but dares the corporate world to come up with a better solution than what they've done so far. President trump is itching for the fight talking about socialism every chance he gets. Here he was two days ago. So, we've been here by that time three, 3 1/2 years, going into the war with some socialists and it looks like the only nonsort of heavy socialist, he's being taken care of pretty well by the socialists. They got to him. Talking about vice president Biden right there but he is using this label socialism, socialism. Going to reach back into your past. You're 18 and win the profiles of courage award, essay award where it was basically about praising Bernie Sanders for being a socialist. Isn't that a liability now. What I was praising senator Sanders was for being honest about what he believed. I think we need more of that. Talk about going into the past the president is adopting a tactic that takes us baaing to the darkest days of the '50s when you could use the word socialist to kill somebody's career or to kill an idea but that trick has been tried so many times that I think it's losing all meaning. I mean -- Don't think it will work. The affordable care act was a conservative idea that Democrats borrowed and called that socialist so it's like the boy who cried wolf. It's lost all power especially for my generation of voters. Folks want to know whether an idea is a good idea or not and slapping a label on it especially in a careless way that doesn't make any sense, I don't think it moves the debate. We're at way too serious of a moment in the life of this country to be taken in by this attempt to basically cast a spell using a word to shut down debate. We need real solutions for profound changes in our society in our politics and in our economy and that's what I think 2020 will be all about. Pete buttigieg, thanks for coming in this morning. Coming up, another ABC news

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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