Mayors have 'executive ... problem-solving experience' needed in Washington: Buttigieg

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 37, joins "This Week" to discuss a possible presidential run.
6:45 | 02/03/19

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Transcript for Mayors have 'executive ... problem-solving experience' needed in Washington: Buttigieg
I belong to a generation that is stepping forward right now. We're the generation that lived through school shootings, that served in the wars after 9/11, and we're the generation that stands to be the first to make less than our parents unless we do something different. There you see Pete buttigieg, just 37 years old wrapping up his second term as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and now running for president. Out with a new book, "Shortest way home." Mayor, thank you for joining us this morning. Good to have you. Thanks for having me. The bumper sticker is freedom, democracy, security. I think everyone is for freedom, democracy and security, but what exactly does it mean to you, and why are you the best person to deliver on that promise? Well, for example, when we talk about freedom, I think Democrats need to be much more comfortable getting into that vocabulary. Conservatives care about one kind of freedom. It's freedom from. Freedom from regulation and freedom from government, but certainly in my life experience, there are a lot of things besides government that can make you unfree. If you are not free if you can't start a small business because losing your job would mean losing your health care. You're not free if you can't marry the person you love because a county clerk is imposing their interpretation of a religion. You're not free if you can't sue a credit card company even after they get caught ripping you off. We need to have a much richer, much thicker discussion about what it means to be free in this country. It stalls to Democrats to lead the way on that. You have a little over 100,000 people, and this is the oval office. Do you know what you don't know about being president? Look. I get the audacity of somebody like me talking about running for this office, but frankly it's a leap for anybody. Anybody who arrives behind that desk, and yet all of the people who have had that job have been mortals who just bring their experience to the table. My experience is that of guiding a city through a transformation, and I think a mayor at any level has the kind of executive, front line, government experience and by the way, problem-solving experience that we need more in Washington right now. You said you are for medicare for all, and I want to talk about the issues in the campaign. You're for it, but isn't kamala Harris who is also running for president, also right when she says, doing away with private insurance? I don't see why it requires that. If the framework we're using is medicare, a lot of people who have medicare also have medicare supplements, medicare advantage, something like that. There can be a role for the private sector -- You're very a single payer system, aren't you? I think so. I think that's the right place for us to head as a country, and we can debate the finer points of how to get there. I studied in the uk where there is not only single payer, but nationalized medicine which we're not calling for. Even there is a role for the private sector. I don't believe leaving people to the tender mercies is the best way to organize the health sector in this country. You would be replacing private health insurance. Yes. At least -- again, medicare for all is the best framework, right? So if we want to make medicare available to everybody, whether it's as a public option to buy in or simply establishing that as how the payer structure works in this country, that's going to be the center of gravity, and the bottom line is we need to make sure every American is able to get health care. How are you going to sell that when president Obama didn't get rid of all private health insurance? He said, if you like what you have, you can keep it. He was scorched by those who couldn't keep their plans. You would have single payer and that would mean doing away with everyone's plans. How can you possibly sell that in this country today? You had to make sure that it leads to better results and if we need a road, a gradual way to get there, we can start with medicare for all who want it and by making some version of medicare available for exchanges and people to opt into, as part of the pathway to medicare for all so you can try before you buy so to speak as a country. There is a course of the conversation, and we'll get into a lot of frameworks or paths to this, but the bottom line is most citizens in most developed countries enjoy access to this kind of health care and Americans don't. It's wrong and one very interesting thing when you talk about the experience in the Obama years is the short amount of time in which ACA went from a political loser -- I remember what it was like to be a Democrat in 2010 as though town halls happened, and by 2018, it was perhaps the winning issue for Democrats because when we saw what those steps actually meant, when we saw how they made our lives better, we realized that all this crazy, conspiratorial talk about death panels or the horrible things that will happen if we don't make sure there is a corporate role in our health care system, a lot of things being sold don't come to pass in the real world. Let's talk about foreign policy. The situation in Venezuela, and president trump doing what he can to push maduro out. Do you agree with his approach? I agree that maduro has lost his legitimacy, but if you see the rattling, by some of the same people who led us into the war in Iraq, I think it is extremely irresponsible to talk about committing American troops to what could wind up being a proxy or war with countries that have claim son Venezuelan oil. If you are focus be use sanctions, that should be a part of the framework, but they should be targeted toward making sure that there are new, legitimate elections so that the Venezuelan people can determine their future. How about North Korea? Given where things stand right now, would you meet with Kim Jong-un? It would make more sense to have that happen in a framework of concrete achievements. You don't just get to have a meeting, declare the nuclear threat to be over, and then be embarrassed and contradicted by your own intelligence community. As a military officer serving overseas, I was part of the intelligence community and there is not a more reality-based group of people in this country. You have to understand and legitimatize and take seriously their assessments before you have any business having a one-on-one with the leader of a hostile power. You are openly gay and married, but you have only been out for the last few years. Any concerns the country is not ready for a gay couple in the white house? There is only one way to find out, but when I came out, I was in the middle of my election campaign, and I just reached the point in my life where I was ready, and we didn't know what would happen. I'm from a socially conservative community and Mike pence was the governor of Indiana at that time. I did it just because it was time. I wound up getting re-elected with the 80% of the votes. The lesson we learned is people are prepared to get to know you and judge you based on the quality of your ideas and your experience and your work. I trust that America could do that too. There is only one way to find out for sure. Thank you for joining us this morning. Thanks for having me.

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

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