DERRY — Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg took the stage at the Derry Opera House on Halloween, rolling up his sleeves and ready to speak about why he thinks the Oval Office should be his.
For the 37-year-old combat veteran and current mayor of South Bend, Indiana, it was also an opportunity to wish everyone a happy Halloween prior to sharing his views on the state of the nation and why he should be elected.
This was his 12th trip to the Granite State.
Londonderry Democrat Tammy Siekmann introduced Buttigieg and said every election is crucial.
“We have an urgency we haven’t felt before,” she said. “There is so much at stake in our country.”
Buttigieg started by saying the present climate in Washington, D.C., and what happens in the next presidential election will be a “moment that will be written about.”
And with a new generation of leadership he hopes to offer if he wins, the candidate already has plans for his first day in office.
“I’m asking you to picture the first day in this country, when the sun comes up and Donald Trump is no longer the President of the United States,” Buttigieg said. “It starts out as a happy thought (and the next president) picks up the pieces and moves the country forward.”
That comment drew much applause from the supportive audience.
Buttigieg spoke for about an hour, giving plans for how he would unite the nation, something he called “a big task” following the divisiveness in the nation’s capital and around the country.
The economy is key, he said, making sure the large percentage of Americans he feels are not being supported are made a priority through higher minimum wages, paid family leave, public education support and racial justice and equality.
Making sure all Americans have the ability and access to vote is also a priority, Buttigieg said.
Climate change also tops his list, the mayor said, saying America has to lead the effort, calling climate change a global and security threat.
Democracy and equality for all is a strong message Buttigieg continues to spread. Health care for all is also something he endorses through a Medicare for all plan, but said people could sign on or keep their own independent plan.
The candidate then fielded a few questions from the audience, including one asking him if he felt he were qualified with ample experience to lead if elected.
“There is no job like the presidency,” Buttigieg said. “We bring our experiences and our judgement into that job.”
He added that serving as the South Bend mayor gives him a community-based perspective on making decisions that call on his skills as a leader to handle many situations.
“You understand the different levels of work,” he said.
Buttigieg said that the office of the president also needs moral leadership and an ability to unite the nation.
Many attending the forum liked what they heard. Others were not ready to make decisions on who to vote for.
Michael Gavrish of Derry supports the political organization No Labels, a group that supports bipartisanship and unity in government. He wants to see as many candidates as he can prior to the primary election in February. And when candidates pay Derry a visit, he mostly likely will attend.
Gavrish said he has heard Buttigieg speak before and said the young mayor is “impressive.”
Judy Strakalaitis, chairman of Derry’s supervisors of the checklist, said she hopes to hear most of the presidential field prior to New Hampshire’s primary day next February.
“It’s a strong field,” she said.
Nancy Francis, also of Derry, said she was first in line at Thursday morning’s event.
“There are more I’d like to see,” Francis said. “Then I will put up signs and make decisions.”
Buttigieg said he has enjoyed visiting New Hampshire, saying he is gaining a lot of momentum and support.
“The support I am feeling here,” he said, “this is my kind of state.”
Following his speech, Buttigieg took time to greet people, stop for photographs and sign books.