LOS ANGELES (CN) – Speaking to donors at a Democratic National Committee gala Tuesday, presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg urged them to not only picture the day when President Donald Trump leaves the White House but to also consider the work that comes after.
“What comes next? The sun will come up over a country more divided and more torn up from politics than ever before,” Buttigieg said at the IWillVote Gala. “The sun will come up over country where kids learn active shooter drills before they learn to read.”
Buttigieg called for political unity, not polarization, and said the country is in a period where it must redefine the tenets of democracy, such as patriotism, faith and freedom.
Washington should also recognize the security threats that come from climate change, Buttigieg said, adding that he believes Trump has done little outside of creating deeper divisions around the country.
“You can’t love a country if you hate half the people who are in it,” Buttigieg said, referring to Trump.
Also taking the stage at the majestic Dolby Theater in LA’s Hollywood, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota called on Democrats to fuel the trend of Republican defeats in elections in Wisconsin, Alabama, Kentucky and California – where seven congressional seats were flipped in 2018.
Klobuchar said the Midwest can become a wall of support for Democrats that Trump will pay for but cautioned that Democrats’ message to voters must be clear in 2020.
“What unites us is better than what divides us. We need to make clear the difference between us and Donald Trump,” Klobuchar said, adding that the party needs to highlight its support for marginalized communities. “Immigrants don’t diminish America, they are America.”
Buttigieg and Klobuchar have struggled in national polls, consistently falling behind former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who have jostled between the top three positions in national surveys of voters.
But in a survey of Iowa Democratic voters last Wednesday, Buttigieg surged to third place behind Biden and Sanders, with Warren slipping to fourth place weeks before the February caucuses.
Biden led with support from 23% of voters while Sanders had 22% and Buttigieg had 18% support, according to the WHDH 7 News/Emerson College poll.
Buttigieg has faced pressure in recent weeks for not making public some of his fundraising events and lists of financial backers.
The timeline for Buttigieg’s work at the consulting firm McKinsey has also been placed under the microscope after he refused to reveal his list of corporate clients and blamed his stalling on a nondisclosure agreement he signed.
Support for Klobuchar among Iowa voters jumped from 1% in October to 10% in December, while Buttigieg’s support levels have held steady over the two polls.
Iowa voters will attend Democratic caucuses Feb. 3 to select their choice for the Democratic nomination for president.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also took the stage at the fundraiser and blasted Trump for sowing division between U.S. communities, adding that Washington should learn from cities’ innovation on clean energy and workers’ rights.
“The nation’s heart and soul is not centered in the Capitol,” Garcetti said. “The pulse of America is in PTA meetings, at baseball diamonds and around dinner tables.”
Garcetti, first elected in 2013, was a candidate in the 2020 race but announced in January he would end his run for the White House.
The mayor introduced DNC Chairman Tom Perez who he thanked for helping to broker an agreement that ended a labor dispute between Loyola Marymount University workers and French food service giant Sodexo.
Earlier Tuesday, Perez appeared with Warren at an event celebrating the workers’ contract victory.
Workers threatened to picket a 2020 presidential debate scheduled for Thursday in Los Angeles over the dispute.
All seven candidates set to appear at the debate promised not to cross the workers’ picket line, prompting calls for party officials to change the venue or mediate the dispute.
Staffers with the workers’ union – Unite Here Local 11 – credited Perez for helping resolve the matter and said the debate, cohosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico, is back on schedule.
Warren, Buttigieg, Sanders, Biden and Klobuchar are set to take the debate stage Thursday alongside tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and billionaire activist Tom Steyer.