Pete Buttigieg’s childhood, college friends on memories with Democratic candidate

Where was the 2020 candidate at age 20? Buttigieg’s Harvard classmates dish on the quirky talents he picked up, what motivated him politically and his childhood neighbor remembers his family life.
7:33 | 09/12/19

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Transcript for Pete Buttigieg’s childhood, college friends on memories with Democratic candidate
series: The contenders @20. Peter has something special, maybe a little bit different. I think his reputation when we were younger was really the smart neighbor boy next door that went to Harvard. I remember him outside of our dorm with sideburns and a guitar and a case with a lot of stickers on it. States like these and their terrorists allies constitute an axis of evil. the music, the moment, you want it My name is Steve Coe. He was my bunk mate on the very first night. Five or six of us all lived together all years of college. And within that group, Peter was the one who was the keeper of the traditions and of the flame. I felt like I could measure up to Pete. He was one of the most intelligent and thoughtful people in college. My name is Mike. I went to college with Peter. I remember meeting his dorm mates. Everybody was quirky, nerdy, somebody who could do the rubiks cube in five seconds. At some point he acquired an aboriginal instrument. Not only could he generate a tone with it but taught himself circular breathing so he could continuously breathe in or out, which meant he could hold this note continuously, forever it seemed. Classic Peter. He also is really into the clogging, the thing that comes down to pick up toys. Oftentimes I'd go to Walmart and he'd be there playing the game. Nobody can really win the claw game. He perfected it. My name is elysse king and I grew up next door to Pete. He's not someone who's going to be that bull in the China shop just saying something to say something. Julia chismar. Came to know Peter when he took macro economics as a student. What stands out is his leadership. You knew there was an extraordinary potential there. As a product of the 9/11 generation and a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict, my own world view is shaped predictably, by my life experience. The entire building has just collapsed, folded down on itself, and it is not there anymore. Both trade towers where thousands of people work, have now been attacked and destroyed. September 11th happened during our sophomore year. And that was, obviously, the formative political moment for all of us in college. There is simply no way to accurately describe the emotion this evokes. I think he always was interested in politics. Always had that public service drive. Then September 11th added a level of gravity and probably a level of urgency. You know, after 9/11 there was a lot of hope that was a uniting thing for this country out of this tragedy. When that didn't happen and the Iraq war became very politicized that was dissolutioning for many people at Harvard, including myself and Pete. Peter's principal activities was the school of government. It was a place where anybody could go and grill a world leader. This is Pete asking a question of Ted Kennedy. How is your party going to sort out what it thinks the meaning of opposition is. Those differences will be clearer as I think they are getting clearer as time goes on. I that I's quintessential Pete. I he cut through a lot of the noise and asked the real question of the day. What is the democratic party for just the Republican party but less so. Do you think this country is ready for a gay president? There's only one way to find out. I did not know. I did not know. I don't think any of us suspected. He had a girlfriend freshman year and senior year. Coming out did not come easily for my. I did not have the same self-knowledge and presence of mind and courage I see in so many young people who are here Nobody thought it was realistic that a gay American could be elected to higher office. And at the time you had the Republicans running on anti-gay slogans. I think at the time Peter must have felt like he was really in a difficult place. Hey, hey, ho, ho! Being gay is just another part of him, like having brown hair or being Maltese. It wouldn't have made a difference to me or any of our friends and it doesn't make a difference now. Growing up in South Bend at that time I think it would have been difficult to come out as gay. I can't say that I had any friends growing up that came out in high school. When Pete and I were growing up in South Bend, you know, it was very, and still is, very family oriented, very community oriented. Everyone watches out for each other. Pete's parents are incredibly kind. His mom did a lot of paintings. She was really generous. His dad was extremely jovial. He would kind of sit on the back porch, just kind of giving this hearty laugh. He was also a man of deep intellect. Peter's heritage is Maltese. His father was born there. He went to northern football games with his dad. He was a professor there. I think Peter had a really good relationship with his parents. He was an only child, so he spent a lot of time with his parents having really deep, sophisticated conversations. . I remember him saying at a din are right before graduation, I didn't grow up with brothers, but I feel like I have them now. There's something about meeting somebody at the age of 17 that really marks who you are. That runs pretty deep all those years later. If I could describe Peter in five words it would probably be. Thoughtful. Thoughtful. Loyal. Loyal. Caring. Curious. Caring. Intelligent, motivated. Intelligent. Compassionate, funny and brother. Reporter: And be sure to catch the big 2020 democratic

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

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