By Sammie Purcell and Caitlin Faulds
BU News Service
NASHUA, N.H. – Former Mayor Peter Buttigieg is drawing large crowds as he makes his way across New Hampshire, touting his message of revolutionary moderation ahead of Tuesday’s primary.
Undeterred by long lines and snowy conditions, Buttigieg drew a crowd of 1,800 people at a Nashua rally Sunday morning, according to a statement from the campaign calling it the “largest event of any candidate this cycle.”
Later that afternoon, he drew almost 1,300 people to a gathering in Salem.
“I want to look you in the eye and ask you for your vote,” Buttigieg said to both crowds before going on to promote his moderate platform.
While responding to a question about his age at the Salem rally, Buttigieg turned to passionate language, saying the perspective of his generation was an important part of change for the country.
“My generation was the first school shooting generation. Now, unfortunately, there’s a second. It’s one of the reasons why I know that we cannot allow a third,” Buttigieg said, adding to an earlier comment that the Second Amendment cannot be “twisted into an excuse” to not change the policy regarding gun laws.
“Mine is the generation that provided a lot of troops in the conflicts after 9/11, like the Afghanistan conflict, where I served,” he continued.
His generation is the first to not do better financially than their parents, he said.
However, the former mayor has been clear that his priority is to unite Americans regardless of their party. A Buttigieg presidency, he said, would lead the way with moderate stances on international diplomacy, fiscal responsibility, free college for most and healthcare reform that prioritizes patients’ pockets.
His more moderate message contrasts with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sander’s call for structural change, instead favoring a middle-ground approach.
“The idea that you have to be for the revolution, or for the status quo leaves most of us out,” he said at a number of events over the weekend. He was always met with resounding applause.
As worries about an economic downturn and climate change linger, and threats to global health and cyber security expand, Buttigieg has stressed the importance of preparedness in the face of a changing world.
“It will be more important than ever to have the American people united to face our biggest challenges, even if we don’t agree on absolutely everything,” he said in Salem.
He also addressed what he called the “abusive behavior” of pharmaceutical companies and their high prescription prices, saying it’s time America stood up to inflation and capped monthly health expenditures.
Responding to an audience question on prison reform at the Salem rally, Buttigieg said that the current criminal justice system needs to be overhauled to confront existing racial disparities and the over-incarceration of the American people.
“If incarcerating people made a place safe, we would be the safest country in the world by now,” Buttigieg said.
He noted that problems continue after incarceration. As people return to society and battle exclusions, it can be difficult for them to find a place to live, get an education and get back on their feet. Those struggling with addiction, who make up a significant percentage of the prison population, face an additional Medicaid exclusion that denies them continued care, he said.
“We’ve got to tear down those exclusions,” he said, “and instead, actually invest in making sure that those who return are in a position to thrive, yes, but also in a position to contribute.”
The loudest cheers came when Buttigieg invoked Donald Trump’s presidency. When he asked the Nashua crowd if they were ready for no more Trump, shouts of “U.S.A.” rang throughout the gym.
Katharine Swindells and Mita Kataria also contributed to this report.