INDIANAPOLIS - Following his speech at the Young Democrats of America convention, Mayor Pete Buttigieg sat down for an exclusive one-on-one interview with FOX59's Dan Spehler about the 2020 campaign, the president's controversial tweets and the scrutiny over an officer-involved shooting in South Bend.
"An urban mayor in today's times has to deal with these challenges head on, and we've taken a number of steps in our community, but we're not going to be able to address it alone as long as we're in a country where these racial inequities persist," said Buttigieg, who recently unveiled something he's calling the Douglass plan to help deal with racial inequality.
"We've got to recognize that while no individual measure alone will sort this out, it's going to take experience in confronting these issues head on," said the mayor.
Buttigieg has struggled to gain support among African-Americans in early voting states like South Carolina. He spent time this weekend at Indiana Black Expo and will return next week for the National Urban League's convention in Indianapolis.
Thursday night, he also addressed the controversy over President Trump's tweets targeting four Democratic congresswomen.
"First of all, we need a President who believes in healing these divisions," said Buttigieg. "I think what you have right now is a White House that actually finds racial divisions very useful and has almost systemically set about making them worse. It really matters what kinds of messages come from the top. But it's more than just language and moral leadership, we really need policies to deal with racial divisions in our time."
But would the mayor even want the votes of those Trump supporters who chanted 'send her back' at the President's rally last week?
"No," the candidate told reporters on Thursday. "The reality is there are a lot of committed racists whose votes I'm never going to get, and that's alright. There are also some people who I think are thinking twice about votes that they cast in 2016."
Indiana Republicans issued a statement ahead of Buttigieg's visit to Indianapolis.
"After spending more time recently in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, New York and California than the city he's employed to lead, it's great to finally welcome Pete Buttigieg back to Indiana," said GOP spokesman Pete Seat. "The question stands that if Pete Buttigieg can't even handle being mayor of South Bend, what makes him think he could handle being president?"
Buttigieg returns to the debate stage later this month, joining nine other Democrats in the first of two nights of debates. The mayor has been polling in fifth place in most of the recent polls, trailing former VP Joe Biden, and Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris.