Pete Buttigieg shares his plan to win Democratic nomination for president

"Nightline" spoke to Buttigieg about responding to a police shooting of a black father in South Bend, Indiana, and what he thinks has made him a top contender in a field of over two dozen candidates.
7:21 | 07/12/19

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Transcript for Pete Buttigieg shares his plan to win Democratic nomination for president
Reporter: Pete buttigieg is not your typical presidential candidate. He plays impromptu guitar and piano gigs and speaks seven languages, including arabic. Of course his is better than mine. You're good. Reporter: He's a Rhoads scholar who served as a naval intelligence officer in Afghanistan and the mayor of South Bend, Indiana for the past seven years. So the whole downtown is undergoing this renaissance that we're trying to keep balanced with the need to invest in the neighborhoods. Reporter: At 37 years old, a ma lynnial, he has a strength, like his name. Now winking, an inside joke among his supporters and his sexual orientation, the openly-gay politician puts it on center stage. Realistically, do you think this country is ready for a gay president? There's only one way to find out. It's simple enough to put on a bumper sticker. Freedom, security and democracy. Reporter: Relatively unknown when he announced, he quickly became a buzzy candidate for the nomination. We've been able to go from total on security to leading the entire democratic field in fund raising and vaulting to the top five among the candidates. Reporter: Our visit comes at a pivotal time for buttigieg who's been running or his record as mayor. In recent weeks, that record called into question over allegations he hasn't done enough for his city's African-American community. I have black supporters and black critics in this community. But in the end of the day, I wouldn't have gotten reelected in this community without black support. Reporter: But his support among African members dipped. A South Bend police officer shot and killed a suspect Sunday morning. Reporter: Could now be at a new low following the June 6th shooting of Eric Logan by a white police officer who alleges Logan approached him with a knife and ignored several orders to drop it. If you're saying it's not good enough. You're right. Reporter: The city has provided no corroboration of those claims to the public. The story that was reported by the police department, it just didn't add up to a lot of residents here. He wasn't known to be somebody who would carry a knife. He wasn't known to be someone who would challenge the police. Reporter: This in a city whose population is 25% African-American, roughly 35% living in poverty. He held a town hall in south Bend, residents confronted him. I aim raising a 7-year-old grandson that when he sees the police he is afraid. That is not what's supposed to happen in America, in Indiana in 2019. Reporter: The issue becoming a flash point in the first democratic debate on NBC. The police force in south Bend is now 6% black in a city that is 26% black. Why has that not improved over your two terms as mayor? Because I couldn't get it done. Reporter: Why did you respond Because it was the truth. It may or may not be good politics, but I think if I'm going to talk proudly of all the achievements we've made we have to talk about where we've fallen short. That's the policy and someone died. Reporter: What was going through your mind when you began to answer that and got stumped. I wasn't stumped. Reporter: You were quiet. I was. Sometimes the better part of valor is restraint. Reporter: What actually gets through the veneer and into your gizzards? One of the reasons I've learned to be very disciplined in how I speak and how I act is because I'm really passionate about the work that I do and about the country we live in. So I try, I try to make sure that I don't get carried off into saying or doing something I'd regret of. Reporter: What hurts you? Well, it hurts me to see people suffer. It hurts me to confront the possibility that that's being made worse by something that I'm the things that bother me most are the moments when I realize I might have done something differently. Reporter: Today butte general announcing his Douglass plan in part through criminal justice reform and investing in black America. When black Americans experience true freedom and justice every American is better off. Reporter: Butte general's teacher and supporter says she's always known him to face a challenge head on. One thing about Peter is he continues to learn. He will take someone's suggestion and explore it to see if there's a better way of doing something. He will always reevaluate, and he is not going to abandon any project, because if it is good for the people and going to improve their lives, that's what it's about. Reporter: Buttigieg was running for his second term as mayor when he maid the risky decision to come out. People were more interested in the fact that the city was coming back in the way that I had served this community. I believe the same will happen at the national level. Today we're going to introduce the mayor. It is important to him that his city thrive and reach its potential. More importantly, I think the city did not believe in itself before Peter became mayor of South Bend. That was his first task. How do you get the city to believe in itself again? And the city does believe in itself. Reporter: As mayor, he's distinguished himself by using technology and data to governor. The self-avowed technology junky has caught silicon valley's attention. A chunk of buttigieg's last round of fund raising came from big tech. Is breaking up some of the big tech companies something you would support? Potentially. I think we see evidence of anti-competitive behavior, and the federal trade commission needs to deal with that. I don't think candidates or presidents need to think about companies to break up. Reporter: He is outraising bank-busting $25 million just in the past three months. ABC news' poll has him tied for fifth place. There's something about our message that matters. And I think what it is is people are ready for something different. Reporter: Do you think you're ready to be president right now? And if so why? I didn't think I would run for president if I didn't think I was ready. What we need now is leadership that can recognize the accelerating pace of change. If we're not dealing with the causes we're never going to be able to deal with the symptoms. What we need is a president who looks into the future and recognizes what implications those changes will play out across my lifetime have for the present, the decisions we're making right now. Reporter: If you don't get the nomination, what do you do? My plan is to win. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'm Matt Gutman in South Bend, Next, the football player

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

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