Trump learns how to pronounce 'Buttigieg'—Pence & Holcomb's commencement addresses—VP returning to IN

The "they say 'edge-edge'" edition.

By Adam Wren and design by Kris Davidson

Driving the week in IMPORTANTVILLE: Sen. Richard Lugar’s funeral on Wednesday, and he will lie in state in the Statehouse rotunda beginning tomorrow; President Donald Trump’s growing awareness of Buttigieg as a candidate; With the primary and state legislative session behind him, when will State Sen. Jim Merritt present his big, bold ideas for the city of Indianapolis? And Vice President Mike Pence back home again to deliver Taylor University’s commencement address later this week.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is now officially on President Donald Trump’s radar. On Friday, in an interview with Politico, he likened Buttigieg to Alfred E. Neuman, the gap-toothed character from MAD magazine. At a rally last Wednesday, he sounded out the candidate’s last name, a tacit acknowledgement that the mayor had edged his way into the top tier of 2020 Democratic candidates. And Buttigieg finally began to build out his staff in early states such as Iowa and New Hampshire with a handful of hires.

So, what’s next for the candidate? For starters, more press coverage: At least one more profile for a major magazine—Rolling Stone—is in the works. The Indianapolis Star plans to ramp up their Buttigieg coverage, Executive Editor Ronnie Ramos wrote yesterday. And the South Bend Tribune pulled back the veil on the flood of open records requests pouring into the mayor’s office (The winner? Nick Ballas with the RNC, at 12 requests filed). We’ll likely see the fruits of that research in stories in the coming days.

But there are two big hurdles Buttigieg will face in the coming weeks: unrolling policy and prepping for the first Democratic debate, both of which are slated to happen in June. As for the debate, Buttigieg has proven to win over—not lose—supporters in these types of performative events. But there is also the policy hurdle. Earlier this month, he told reporters he was “being a perfectionist about" unrolling his policies. When he does so, he’ll likely catch flack as various constituencies—and fellow Democrats— begin to pin him down. As I wrote in April:

If there is one thing going in his favor, it’s that he seems to have avoided the trap of being pigeonholed. He is making a virtue of not forcing people to choose between progressive and moderate, between wanting to attack the global threat of climate change and wanting to preserve a strong national defense. And yet at some point, people will have to make choices.

IMPORTANTVILLE TAKE: The pigeonholing is coming.

WHAT’S NEXT: Who is Buttigieg’s base? So far, it consists of South Bend voters, Hollywood fundraisers, Obama donors, and cable news talkers. Whether Buttigieg can win over voters in New Hampshire and Iowa will be a key test for the mayor in the coming months. This week, he gets a new challenger—Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, the only Democrat to win a Trump state in 2016. Also: Which Hoosier pols will attend the Indy 500 this year?

Good Monday morning, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE. Happy birthday to Amy Grappone, Sen. Todd Young’s communications director.

WHERE’S VEEP: He has lunch with the president, welcomes the prime minister of Hungary, and takes part in a White House Iftar.

CRAZY SENTENCE OF THE WEEK, from IBJ’s Lindsey Erdody: “Buttigieg has even received more money [$278,182] from Indiana residents than Trump, although the Republican is not trailing by much. Trump has reported receiving $257,798 from Indiana residents.”


Vice President Mike Pence, warming up for his controversial Taylor University address later this week, told Liberty University grads this past weekend:

  • “Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs. As you go about your daily life, just be ready because you’re going to be asked not just to tolerate things that violate your faith, you’re going to be asked to endorse them. You’re going to be asked to bow down to the idols of the popular culture.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb delivered the Anderson University commencement address Saturday. His parting advice to grads:

  • Stay in Indiana, pursue your passion, fall in love, and embrace the opportunities that follow any temporary setback. Do those four things and you’ll be well on your way to solving the meaning and mystery of a joyful life itself.


  • Buttigieg addressed his long process of coming out at the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Las Vegas Saturday.

  • Politico looks at how mayors are reacting to Buttigieg’s bid. “The irony is that the South Bend mayor is being taken seriously, and the New York mayor’s not,” Doug Herman, a Democratic strategist, told Politico.

  • Supporters of Sen. Cory Booker are upset with the attention Buttigieg is receiving. “He’s at a disadvantage anytime he’s not treated on the same playing level as all the other candidates,” said South Carolina state Rep. John King, who has endorsed Booker. “There should be a campaign where people start to question the process when there’s not fairness — and especially within the media.”


Josh Pacewicz, “The Washington Post: There’s a problem with Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s approach to revitalizing South Bend.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s entry into the Democratic primary has put the Rust Belt in the news, especially as he’s polling third in the crucial states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Buttigieg’s campaign has appealed to voters for many reasons. But many see his work as mayor during the economic revitalization of South Bend, Ind., as the main selling point — or even a solution to the Rust Belt’s decline and the antidote to Trump’s appeal in the region. In his campaign announcement, Buttigieg used this theme when he said, “South Bend is back. ... We’ve changed our trajectory and shown a path forward for communities like ours.”

But can effective municipal leaders really save struggling U.S. cities?

Jeremy W. Peters, The New York Times: Pete Buttigieg Confronts Race and Identity in Speech to Gay Group

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., on Saturday directly confronted one of his biggest vulnerabilities as a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination: running as a white man who has led a life of relative privilege at a time when many in his party are eager for a woman or a minority candidate to become their next leader.

Speaking at a fund-raiser for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes, Mr. Buttigieg drew on his own experiences as a gay man in a predominantly straight society. But he also rejected the idea that “there are equivalencies” in the forms of discrimination experienced by different minority groups and individuals.

“I may be part of the L.G.B.T.Q. community. But being a gay man doesn’t even tell me what it’s like to be a trans woman of color in that same community, let alone an undocumented mother of four or a disabled veteran or a displaced autoworker,” he said at the event, hosted by the Human Rights Campaign.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading. Have a good week.