“Nobody can deny what a force he and his supporters are, and how important of a voice they have been,” Buttigieg said. “So much now depends on us coming together.”
Buttigieg said he called Sanders yesterday after it was announced the Vermont senator was suspending his campaign. Buttigieg said “I hope [Sanders] will take that step” to endorse Biden.
Buttigieg suspended his own presidential campaign on March 1 and endorsed Biden the next day.
“I think we have to define real progressivism not by how negative you can be on Twitter or how angry you are, but by what it is we're actually for,” he said of Sanders supporters reluctant to back Biden.
“I don't think you have to be a Democrat to be for these things like empowering workers, raising wages, holding companies accountable, making sure everybody can get health care, and for God's sake, doing something about climate change before it really is too late,” he added. “So I think the fundamental question that supporters need to ask themselves is, ‘What's really at stake here?’”
Buttigieg stressed he wasn’t asking Sanders supports to “pretend we agree on everything, but to understand the urgency of the task at hand … [it] is literally life or death for so many Americans.”
“Shame on us if we let 2016 repeat itself,” he said. “A lot of people took their ball and went home, not believing a Trump presidency could actually happen. Not only did it happen, it's worse than we thought -- and we're seeing now in the midst of a national crisis, just how costly that is.”
Buttigieg also blamed “failures in the White House” for “local governments and state governments” having to bear the brunt of the burden in the battle against COVID-19.
“If he wanted to, [Trump] could be leading the nation, leading the states and leading the cities through these issues. Instead, that's not happening,” he said. “We're not seeing what we need most -- which is consistent, accurate information stripped clean of politics.”
“We're so impressed by the great number of governors and mayors who have stepped up,” he added. “I think that's what's going to get us through this.”
Buttigieg also weighed in on how the black community was being disproportionately affected by COVID-19 across the country.
“It's not because the virus is discriminating. It's because of America discriminating … all of these choices and forms of discrimination that have led to people having a higher likelihood of higher diabetes, or not having had health insurance,” he said. “I suspect also probably a higher proportion of black workers [are] in professions where you don't get the option of coming in by Zoom and working from home.”
He added that “America has to be intentional” by not only gathering data on who is affected by the disease, but also examining health inequities “broadly and systematically.”