CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) – During his visit to Charleston Saturday evening, Pete Buttigieg called for bipartisan support to address climate change in the College of Charleston’s Bully Pit Series that allowed students as well as members of the public to ask questions of the youngest Democratic presidential hopeful in the race.
The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana and war veteran Buttigieg said he hoped to connect with the audience, which was heavily filled with students. The hour-long Q&A session topics ranged from the national debt to education.
Saturday evening’s event, held at Willard A. Silcox Physical Education and Health Center, attracted a crowd large enough to pack the venue to capacity.
“Regarding the national deficit, we need to have an adult conversation about treating the American people the same as we do giant corporations. We need to focus on revenue. I’m not saying we should tax corporations like we have in the past, but giving them huge tax breaks is only worsening out deficit,” Buttigieg said.
Ashley Ann, whose husband is serves in the Coast Guard, asked how he would overhaul the VA system.
“America should live up to its promise to provide life-long quality health care for those who have volunteered to put their lives on the line to protect the country,” said Buttigieg, a Navy veteran. “We need to invest in veteran affairs and close the disparities between mental healthcare and general health care. Different wars leave different wounds.”
He does not support privatizing the veteran services, but said there needs to be a system put into place that reduces wait times for service and a system that is more accessible to veterans in rural areas.
Addressing troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, he said he believes the U.S. needs to include Afghani officials in a plan to end this 18 year war, but that the U.S. needs to leave it “well.”
“We need to stop the cycle of endless war,” Buttigieg said.
He said Congress should impose three-year sunsets on all military action and that any military action must be re-approved before continuing.
One student asked Buttigieg what he plans to do to address environmental concerns. The Democratic hopeful said a bipartisan effort is needed to effectively reverse the effects of climate change. He emphasized that climate change is not something that will happen in the future, but that it’s happening now.
“Charleston certainly knows it real. You see it with the rising sea levels and the higher frequency of more intense hurricanes,” he said. “Climate change is not theoretical. This is something both sides should be in a competition to develop the best plan to address climate change. It affects us all, both Democrats and Republicans, so we need to work together to formulate a plan.”
On the subject of abortion, Buttigieg said the choice should be left up to the woman who has to deal with that decision and should not be made by some male politician from far away.
Following the event, student Michael Sticso said he attended Saturday night’s event because it was conveniently located on campus in the gym. As a first time voter in the upcoming presidential primaries he’s eager to learn more about the candidates.
“I really enjoyed being here tonight to see for myself what he had to say. I liked a lot of the points he made, but I haven’t decided yet which one I will support.”
The school’s Bully Pit Series is designed to facilitate political participation throughout the community. Students and the public were invited to submit questions for Buttigieg to answer.
Prior to participating in the school’s event, Buttigieg was at three other events in the Palmetto state including a town hall meeting in Beaufort and two round tables in Pineville and Hampton. He plans to attend a church service in Georgetown on Sunday.
Buttigieg is the youngest candidate in the race to become the nominee. At 37-years-old, he identifies himself as a millennial and said the crowd understands many issues important to the younger generation such as gun violence and student debt.