Pete Buttigieg on why he wants to face off against President Trump in 2020

The openly gay Democratic presidential candidate and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, opens up about why he's running for president.
10:06 | 01/31/19

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Transcript for Pete Buttigieg on why he wants to face off against President Trump in 2020
Hey, welcome back. Pete buttigieg has served in the military, is currently serving as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana and wants to serve as your next president. He's also the first openly gay presidential candidate I guess in the U.S. Pretty much. Please welcome mayor Pete buttigieg. He's the first gay candidate that we know of. True. That we know of. As I said, that's what he's up to right now, okay? So "The Washington post" called you the most interesting mayor you've never heard of. For all of those who don't know you just yet, tell us a little bit quickly about you. Yeah, so I was born and raised in South Bend. A lot of people know about notre dame but there's a lot more to South Bend than that. We're really an auto town. We're characteristic of the industrial midwest. Great community, grew up there, had a career in business, the military as you said. I live with my husband and two dogs pretty close to my parents and I have really been proud over the last seven years and change to serve our city. It's a city going through a real turnaround. At the beginning of the decade they said we're a dying city. Now we're growing again. More people are moving into the core of the city. It's got this energy, this life to it. My hope is that people can realize there's a lot of other midwestern communities like that. We're not all looking backwards. It's not all about nostalgia for us. We believe in our future but that means letting go of some of the things in our past that are not going to come back. You're only 37 years old. We've had a lot of people sitting in that seat who think it's their time, their moment to go up against trump. He already got through 2016 with one of the biggest names in politics, Hillary Clinton. What makes you the guy to beat him and what would your strategy be? I think people are looking for something entirely new. Wasn't he that? In a way, yes, and that's part of how he succeeded. It got to the point where our party, my party, the democratic party, looked like we were the ones saying the system was fine. So a lot of people went to vote for him basically voting to burn the house down because they were so upset about how the system let them down. That's especially true in communities like mean in the industrial midwest. I think we need bold ideas, a different perspective and it's not a bad thing to come from a different generation. My generation is the one -- our generation is the one that provided most of the troops after 9/11. We're the generation that grew up with the school shootings as the norm. We're the generation that's going to pay the bill for some of these tax policies right now and we're the ones that are going to be living through the impacts of climate change that are accelerating as we speak. If you're thinking about what the world is going to look like in 2054 which is when I will be the current age of the current president, you just have a different sense of urgency around some of these issues because they're not somebody else's problem. They're personal. Do you think -- realistically, do you think this country is ready for a gay president? There's only one way to find out. I'm all for it. When I came out, I was -- it was 2015. We were in the middle of a re-election campaign. I was ready. You know, you're ready when you're ready and I wanted to have a personal life. It was not obvious that that was going to be a safe thing to do. It was in Indiana. Mike pence was the governor at the and I wound up getting re-elected with 80% of the vote. Is your dog on board? Truman is on board but we're still working on buddy. I think we'll get there. I'm happy you're here because I think you're a really interesting voice in the democratic party but three of the up and coming freshmen members of the house, OMAR, recently just said that she compared Israel to Iran and the relationship between the united States and Israel, I believe, is a battleground issue for Democrats going forward in this next election cycle. I don't think it's going to be the Middle East. I think it's going to be Israel. Where do you stand? I disagree comparing Israel with Iran. The idea that what's going on is equivalent is just wrong. I will say it's a complicated picture. I was in Israel in may of this year and not only is there a real problem with their long-term, how they're going to balance being a democracy with being a jewish state, but they've also got to figure out and we've got to figure out with them as an ally what the regional picture is going to look like. We were just a couple miles from gaza and the general who was briefing our delegation said what they were worried about most is Iran. It's always been one of the most fiendishly complicated issues and it will not serve us in a time like this. I went to law school in notre dame. I'm a Domer. I lived in South Bend for three years before you were mayor and I spent a lot of time there since then. It's not quite a small town but it's not a big city either because I think the population is about 107,000 at last count. How does being the mayor of South Bend translate to becoming president of the United States? The thing about -- let me put the question a different way. Are we sure that being a member. United States congress right now is a better preparation than leading a city of any size, especially a community like ours going through a really challenging transformation. When you were a mayor, you get the call. It could be anything from a problem at the zoo to an airplane crashing into a neighborhood to an officer-involved shooting with racial tension all around it, to who's going to be there for lighting up the Christmas tree to just plowing snow. But you're not involved in international questions. No. But I felt involved when I was deployed to Afghanistan. Touche. I do have a question because one of the problems I have with young folks coming in is they always seem to forget that the group that came before you fought to make sure that all of the environmental issues were being dealt with. We fought to make sure that black lung was no longer a guarantee if you worked in the mines. We fought to make sure that the country -- we were leaving a better country, and I really want, as being older than you, I want you to keep in mind that when you talk about all the things you want to see and how we're looking to the future because thinking about my great-granddaughter who's four now. I'm thinking about what we've done for women, all of the ceilings that we broke, all the marches that we did, all the conversations that we had, please don't forget that before you there was us. Absolutely. Thank you. Anybody my age who wants to make change knows that we are standing on the shoulders of giants. I hope so. We do. Because I don't always feel like that's the case. And it goes to some of the freshmen folks that are coming in and things that they've said about the people, like John Lewis. You can't doubt what he did. When people say, well you know, the Democrats didn't really do much and we're going to -- it's like wait a minute. One of the things we found in South Bend when I was running, I was still in my 20s then, some of the voters who responded most powerfully to the idea of a young candidate were seniors. They were a really important part of our bay. I talk about the issues of 2020 but also think there's chances for an intergenerational alliance. That's what other cultures do like living in China. It doesn't have to be like '68 where the generations are fighting each other. Mayor, I am so sorry to hear that your father Joseph fasted away on Sunday. I'm very sorry to hear that. Obviously you know that my father passed as well. How did he feel about your decision to run for president? He was proud. It's one of the last things we talked about. When I was getting ready to do the launch, I told him I hoped I would make him proud. He was on a ventilator by then but around it he mouthed the words, you will. We had a note pad so we could still communicate -- sorry, this is still pretty fresh. By the way, I really admire the way that you have dealt with losing your father. It's a territory of loss that I'm kind of exploring for the first time. As I'm sure you found and I've begun to find too, you hear from all these people he touched. He was a professor so I hear from his students, his colleagues, and you begin to realize just how many -- it's almost like you get a new family, like I have new siblings in all of his students. I was shaped by him and they were shaped in another way. I thought hard about coming here but I'm here because I knew he would want me to be. So wherever he is, I don't know if you get ABC over there, but hopefully he's proud. They do. They do. Thank you very much for sharing that. And I am very sorry. You're an interesting Democrat. You're an interesting voice. I like some of the stuff I'm hearing. I know there's generational things but -- It's not that there's generational things -- I share the same sentiment you do on that. You know. I know, I know. I want us all to be on the same track of making the country better. Whether you're older, younger, middle, it shouldn't matter. Our ages shouldn't matter if our goal is to make it better. I think you're trying to do a great thing and I say okay for you. Thanks to mayor Pete buttigieg. His book, "Shortest way home" is available for preorder right now

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

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