The Note: Scrutiny facing Buttigieg reflects Democrats’ 2020 anxieties

Pete Buttigieg took the brunt of attacks in Thursday's debate.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

They can all pronounce his name now. They know his record -- and lack thereof.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg drew scrutiny worthy of a front-runner at the final debate of 2019. He was attacked for his relative lack of experience, his previous political ambitions and, most bitingly, for being too cozy with billionaires.

Buttigieg parried all of the attacks, and more than held his own. But the concerns raised most pointedly by Sen. Elizabeth Warren are fundamental to the primary race, in a Democratic Party that is deeply concerned about the risks it can afford in taking on President Donald Trump.

None of this would be happening, of course, if Buttigieg wasn’t a threat to his rivals. His surge in Iowa is a direct challenge to Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s potential paths to the presidency.

Team Buttigieg goes into the holidays knowing that he has registered. The question now is whether he is doing more to answer Democrats' wish list -- or to play into his party's fears.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Republicans are quick to say they feel confident going into the 2020 election, because, in part, the economy is on fire.

Democrats on stage in California Thursday night made it clear they did not plan to cede that point during this race and instead disagreed with the very premise.

"The middle class is behind the eight ball," former Vice President Joe Biden said.

"Where I live, folks aren’t measuring the economy by how the Dow Jones is looking. They’re measuring the economy by how they’re doing," Buttigieg added.

"The fact is, this unemployment rate and GDP have very little relationship with people's lived experience on the ground. If you're a recent college graduate, you have a 40% chance of doing a job that doesn’t require a college degree," businessman Andrew Yang agreed.

It is unusual for both parties to run on opposite sides of the same issue; on the other hand, the country has started to expect politicians to present different versions of shared realities.

And if Democrats can successfully make the case that economic gains are not being felt by average voters, they could chip away at arguably the president's best argument for a second term.

The TIP with Zohreen Shah

The December debate promised to be the biggest political moment in Los Angeles this election cycle. But it may have been overshadowed by a pop culture presidential endorsement a few hours earlier.

Actor-musician Donald Glover endorsed businessman Andrew Yang Thursday afternoon, stepping into a creative consultant role for the campaign.

The men came together to drop merchandise at a pop-up store in the Fairfax district that brought out hundreds of young fans, graffiti artists who spray-painted Yang's image on walls, and even a man on stilts waving around Yang signs.

Trice Rucarean, one of the first people in line, said, "It's the greatest presidential candidate and the greatest artist of our generation coming together. And it's the first presidential merch drop on Fairfax Avenue. It's like the coolest thing ever."

Yang's campaign acknowledged that more people would be talking about the merchandise drop than the actual debate. But they hoped for more than just buzz; they were also looking for it to bring them a big boost.

Yang told reporters about the merchandise, "It’s been a huge value driver for us. Plus someone’s walking around wearing it and then someone sees it, and says, 'What does that mean?' And then they get a conversation going and that’s how the campaign grows."


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Friday morning’s episode features ABC News’ Trish Turner, who explains why Nancy Pelosi is weighing the idea of holding back articles of impeachment before sending them to the Senate. Then, ABC News' Linsey Davis recaps last night’s Democratic debate in Los Angeles.


  • President Donald Trump has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12:30 p.m. ET at the White House. Later, he participates in a Christmas reception with first lady Melania Trump at 5:30 p.m. ET. He then heads to Joint Base Andrews, where he delivers remarks at the signing ceremony for the National Defense Authorization Act at 7:30 p.m. ET. Afterward, he travels to Palm Beach, Florida, where he spends the weekend at Mar-a-Lago.
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., campaigns in New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday. He then travels to Iowa, where he campaigns on Sunday.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Los Angeles on Friday. He then travels to Iowa, where he campaigns on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Former second lady Jill Biden campaigns in Nevada on Friday and Saturday.
  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg campaigns in Chillicothe, Ohio, on Friday.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., campaigns in Iowa on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg campaigns in California on Friday. He then travels to Las Vegas, where he campaigns on Friday and Saturday. Later, he goes to Iowa, where he campaigns on Sunday.
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro campaigns in Seattle on Friday.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., participates in a bus tour of Iowa on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., campaigns in Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday. Later, he goes to Las Vegas, where he campaigns on Saturday. He then travels to New Hampshire, where he campaigns on Sunday.
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick campaigns in New Hampshire on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Tom Steyer campaigns in New Hampshire on Saturday.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., campaigns in Iowa on Saturday.
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigns for Sanders in Las Vegas on Sunday.
  • Sunday on “This Week”: Following the House impeachment of President Trump, “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz speaks with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. The Note will return after the holidays on Thursday, Jan. 2.