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IS PETE OVER? After Protesters Confront Buttigieg In South Bend, NBC Panel Declares Him Problematic

Democratic Presidential candidate, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg attends a campaign stop at Stonyfield Farms on April 19, 2019 in Londonderry, New Hampshire.
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The "Meet the Press" panel took direct aim at South Bend mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg Sunday morning, expressing serious doubts that Buttigieg can handle a larger constituency than what he already controls as mayor.

 

Buttigieg has been in South Bend most of the week, skipping out on a handful of political events in South Carolina and other early primary states in order to handle the fallout from a viral video that shows a white South Bend police officer shooting a black man brandishing a large knife. The video has ignited protests as well as a debate over whether the officer was really faced with a situation that required the use of deadly force.

On Friday, Buttigieg confronted a group of "Black Lives Matter" protesters to try to quell their concerns, but ended up exposing his own weaknesses. Buttigieg couldn't handle the crowd, read from a prepared statement he held in his hand, and found himself — a progressive — unexpectedly shouldering the blame for what protesters clearly considered a racial incident (though that has yet to be proven).

A video of the confrontation appeared online on Friday evening and shows Buttigieg struggling to handle around 150 protesters, especially after he rightfully admits that its not clear the officer involved in the shooting has a history of racist behavior, as some protesters have claimed.

“I’m mad because my brother died,” a protester, who claimed to be the brother of the man who was shot, is heard shouting at Buttigieg on the video. “People are getting tired of you letting your officers do whatever they want to do.”

“I have been here all my life, and you have not done a damn thing about me or my son or none of these people out here,” a woman claiming to be the deceased's mother added. “It’s time for you to do something.”

That's when it got really awkward.

The exchange went like this:

 

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “I do not have evidence that there has been discipline for racist behavior...”

Protester: “You running for president and you expect black people to vote for you?”

Buttigieg: “I’m not asking for your vote.”

Protester: “You ain’t gonna get it either.”

In fairness to Buttigieg, his position is a difficult one. In many of the officer-involved shooting incidents of the past several years, the officer's behavior is in question. In this instance, it may not be; the offender clearly intended to threaten the officer, if not injure him, and the officer's perception of the situation will need to be taken into account — specifically whether he felt the offender was going to kill him. It's too early for a definitive determination on the situation and Buttigieg knows it.

But that's the problem with a mayor running for a top office: his actions at home are closely watched by an entire nation of voters. In this case, viewers witnessed Buttigieg losing control of a situation, refusing to sign a petition, losing out to hecklers, and, ultimately, looking powerless.

The best Buttigieg could do was offer to contact the Department of Justice to look into the issue and encourage the South Bend police department to consider the mandatory use of body cameras.

On NBC Sunday Morning, the panel seemed to indicate that the incident spelled the end of Pete Buttigieg's run for national office.

WATCH:

 

The panel was especially concerned that Buttigieg, as a candidate, can't survive a campaign that will look at his "actual record," as opposed to the way Buttigieg has presented himself on television. One or two panelists even made the point that Buttigieg seems out of his depth, and may have had a worse week than former Vice President Joe Biden, who is in hot water after speaking well of former colleagues who were open segregationists.

Mayor Pete is probably far from "over," but this isn't the best situation to be in in a week where 20 of the 2020 contenders will debate — and race is certain to come up.

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