Documentary “Mayor Pete”: the takeaways of Pete Buttigieg
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg struggled to strike a balance between being authentic himself and running a winning presidential campaign during his candidacy for the 2020 election, according to a new documentary from Amazon Studios.
“Mayor Pete” offers a behind-the-scenes look at the former South Bend mayor for 2020 presidential campaign, from the preparation for the debate to his interactions on the pitch with then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, to her most intimate moments with her husband Chasten and their dogs at their South Bend home.
Directed by Jesse Moss, the documentary debuted at the Chicago International Film Festival on Thursday and premieres at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis on Sunday, October 17. It will be released nationwide on November 12.
IndyStar received a screening of the film to watch ahead of its release.
Here are eight parts of the documentary that stood out.
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Buttigieg has been criticized by assistants for not showing enough emotion
Throughout the campaign, Buttigieg was known to be a calm and collected candidate, accused of being more analytical than emotional. This is what the documentary shows when he is visibly excited after a member of staff mentions a pivot table.
At one point in the film, Buttigieg and some of his campaign team get stuck in an elevator before one of the debates. Lis Smith, her senior communications advisor, seems distraught as she sits on the elevator floor, but Buttigieg remains unfazed, even though the elevator alarms go off and the elevator car jumps at times.
“He’s not nervous, he was in a (expletive) war zone,” a staff member said of Buttigieg, who is a veteran.
But his collected demeanor could potentially be a handicap for his campaign, staff members point out at various points in the film.
During a mock debate with his staff, Buttigieg, the first openly gay cabinet member confirmed by the Senate, brings his experiences as a homosexual. His answer is not moving enough for Smith.
“There’s never been an openly gay person on this scene before and you go through all of these things like you’re reading a (expletive) shopping list,” Smith tells him. “You are not an (expletive) anthropologist here. It’s like something you feel.”
Buttigieg struggled to properly deal with police shootings
Buttigieg’s apparent reluctance to show his emotions turns out to be a challenge when he addresses the police shooting of Black South Bend resident Eric Logan in the midst of his campaign.
As the other candidates prepare for a debate, Buttigieg holds a town hall to talk about the shooting with the angry community. Reviews after the meeting are mixed.
“Meghan McCain loves you, she said you did a poor job of connecting with people,” Smith said. Buttigieg after the town hall. “Joy Behar said at town hall you look a little too green, like you weren’t ready, like you weren’t clueless enough to really do it.”
The film also highlights how difficult it was for Buttigiegbalancing being both mayor and candidate at the time.
“I never felt a greater gap between what was asked for as a candidate and what was required as mayor,” Buttigieg recalls in front of the camera. “As a candidate, your job is to look good, and don’t put yourself in an awkward position, certainly don’t put yourself in a position where you symbolize things that aren’t going well, and certainly don’t put yourself in an awkward position. position where there is Black residents yelling at you. ”
Viewers get a glimpse of the preparation for the debate
The documentary gives Viewers get a glimpse of how campaign staff helped massage Buttigieg’s responses to questions during debate practice.
Take his answer to questions about the police shootings he encountered as his employees claim to be various opposing candidates on stage:
“We all live in the shadow of a systemic racism that affects communities like mine and it is a national crisis,” Buttigieg said. “I got a phone call a few days ago that no mayor ever wants to receive. And while the details are being investigated, we already know that part of why this has such angst triggered is that it is taking place in the shadow of a country’s worth of abusive and systemic racial injustice. “
His advisers tell him he looks “clinical”, “defensive” and “as desired”.
“It looks like the (expletive)tin man up there, ”said Smith.
As Buttigieg responds to questions about the shooting on the national debate stage, his response and demeanor have evolved. The movie shows part of this answer:
“Because I couldn’t do it,” Buttigieg said in response to a question about why the racial makeup of his police force does not match that of the community. “My community is in dire straits right now over a shooting involving an officer, a black man Eric Logan killed by a white officer.”
“I could explain to you all that we’ve done as a community…” he continues, “but it didn’t save Eric Logan’s life. And when I look into his mother’s eyes, I have to face the fact that nothing I say will bring him back. “
Buttigieg tried to stay authentic
Throughout the documentary, Buttigieg wonders if he’s genuine enough.
“The always challenge when working with consultants is to take good advice and always be yourself,” says Buttigieg. “One of the things they say I have for me is authenticity, so the last thing I want to do is do or say something that isn’t me in order to satisfy a desire that I be more emotional. “
He is also struggling to determine how much he should focus on his sexual orientation during the campaign.
“The challenge from the start was how to be honest and proud, and yet how to do it without swallowing who I was or what our campaign was about,” Buttigieg said. in the documentary. “Because for some people it was a minor detail, for some people it was it.”
Documentary shows Buttigieg’s intimate moments with Chasten
The documentary also shows some private moments between Chasten and Buttigieg on the country trail.
During a campaign stop in Iowa, Chasten rests his head on a restaurant table while Buttigieg eats. Chasten extends his pinky finger to touch Buttigieg’s. At another point in the film, the couple imagine what their life would be like if they had children. The couple adopted two children last month.
“I’m just thinking about what you’ll be as a father. Not that I’m not excited for the kid, but my mental image is all about you,” Buttigieg says as their Buddy’s barking dog interrupts him.
But perhaps the most intimate moments of their relationship are shown when discussing how Buttigieg talks about his sexuality during the election campaign. In such a conversation, they discuss a speech that Buttigieg gave in which he talked about how growing up he wished he had removed the part of him that made him gay.
“You’re talking about really dark things there and you’re kind of hinting – are you hinting at whether you want to kill yourself or are planning to kill yourself? It kind of goes like that,” he later said Chasten. him. “You don’t really draw a line.”
Biden and Buttigieg have friendly interactions
The film also shows some of Buttigieg’s interactions with Biden, who would later appoint Buttigieg to his cabinet. Their paths cross at the Iowa State Fair as presidential candidates flock to the state.
“Nice work at the group there; it was good,” Buttigieg told Biden at one point.
“I’ll see you mate,” Biden tells him as the two go their separate ways.
“It’s good to see you sir,” Buttigieg said.
After the meeting, Buttigieg tells his staff that Biden is “such a good guy.”
The two are also chatting on the phone after Buttigieg’s fall out of the race and decides to support Biden.
“You have enormous talent,” Biden is heard saying over the phone. “All you need is exposure.”
The film offers a glimpse of the final days of the campaign
The film also gives a glimpse into the final days of Buttigieg’s campaign as it becomes more evident that Buttigieg will not win.
On the day of the South Carolina primaries, Buttigieg is shown looking at the results on his phone shortly before he was supposed to speak on stage, clearly underdog.
“You are getting ready to go on stage. That’s not what you should be focusing on, ”Chasten told him.
“What should I focus on?
“Doing a really good job on stage,” Chasten replies, taking Buttigieg’s. telephone.
Moments later, he reminds Buttigieg that the crowd is there to see him, regardless of the election results.
“It’s new to them,” Chasten later told him. “Everything you are going to say is new to them. You offer them an invitation to this family, that’s what you do.
Later Buttigieg, struggling with a cough,makes the decision to abandon the presidential race before Super Tuesday. During a phone call with staff members, he decides to contact Biden about potential support, in what he sees as the right thing to do to unify the party.
“This is how you end a presidential campaign,” Buttigieg said to the camera after hanging up.
Will Buttigieg run again?
In the film, Buttigieg is asked if he will ever be president.
“I don’t know,” he replies. “I know I could be. And that’s something. Even now, it’s hard to think about it. I’ve only been this far, but few people go that far.”
He adds: “Time is on my side, I hope.”
Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.