Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg* was born on January 19, 1982, in South Bend, Indiana, the only child of Jennifer Anne (née Montgomery) and Joseph Buttigieg. Pete is a Christian, and has said his faith has had a strong influence in his life.
In 2000, Buttigieg was valedictorian of his high school senior class at St. Joseph High School in South Bend. That year he was the recipient of a first prize for the JFK Profiles in Courage Essay Contest awarded by the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. Buttigieg had written about the integrity and political courage demonstrated by U.S. Congressman Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Buttigieg attended Harvard College, majoring in history and literature. While at Harvard he was president of the Harvard Institute of Politics Student Advisory Committee and worked on the institute’s annual study of youth attitudes on politics. He wrote his undergraduate thesis on the influence of puritanism on U.S. foreign policy as reflected in Graham Greene’s novel The Quiet American.
Upon graduating from Harvard in 2005, Buttigieg was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and, in 2007, he received a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honors in philosophy, politics and economics from Pembroke College, Oxford (later promoted to a Master of Arts (Oxon) per tradition).
Before graduating from college, Buttigieg worked as an investigative intern at WMAQ-TV, Chicago’s NBC news affiliate. He also worked as an intern for Jill Long Thompson’s unsuccessful 2002 congressional campaign. He later served as an adviser to her unsuccessful 2008 gubernatorial campaign.
From 2004 to 2005, Buttigieg worked in Washington, D.C., as conference director for former Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s international strategic consulting firm, The Cohen Group. He also spent several months working on Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, where he was a policy and research specialist.
He worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company from 2007 through 2010.
Buttigieg was commissioned as a naval intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve in 2009, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 where he was assigned to the Afghan Threat Finance Cell, a counterterrorism unit that targeted Taliban insurgency financing. For his counterterrorism work, he earned the Joint Service Commendation Medal.
After a seven-month deployment, Buttigieg returned to South Bend. He remained a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve until 2017.
Buttigieg ran unsuccessfully for State Treasurer of Indiana in 2010. A year later, he was elected mayor of South Bend. He took office in January 2012 at age 29 and was reelected in 2014.
In a June 2015 essay in the South Bend Tribune, Buttigieg announced that he is gay. He is the first openly gay municipal executive in Indiana.
The Washington Post called Buttigieg "the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of" based on his youth, education, and military background. In 2016, the New York Times columnist Frank Bruni published a column praising his work as mayor with a headline asking if he might be "the first gay president."
Buttigieg was named a 2014 Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow. He was named a recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Fenn Award in 2015.
Buttigieg speaks Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Farsi, and French. Buttigieg plays guitar and piano and, in 2013, performed with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra as a guest piano soloist along with Ben Folds.
In December 2017, Buttigieg announced his engagement to Chasten Glezman, a junior high school teacher whom Buttigieg had been dating since August 2015. They were married on June 16, 2018, in a private ceremony at the Cathedral of St. James. They live in the same South Bend neighborhood where Buttigieg grew up.
In May 2018, Buttigieg visited Israel with the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange.
On April 14, 2019, Buttigieg announced he was running for the Democratic nomination for President in the 2020 election. If elected, he would be the youngest and the first openly LGBT American president.
- “I disagree with [Rep. Ilhan Omar’s] comments comparing Israel to Iran. People like me get strung up in Iran. So the idea that what’s going on is equivalent is just wrong.” (“The View,” January 31, 2019)
- Following a campaign pledge by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for saying he would annex parts of the West Bank if he was re-elected, Buttigieg tweeted: “This provocation is harmful to Israeli, Palestinian, and American interests. Supporting Israel does not have to mean agreeing with Netanyahu’s politics. I don’t. This calls for a president willing to counsel our ally against abandoning a two-state solution.” (JTA, April 7, 2019)
- “I was in Israel in May of this year and not only is there a real problem with how they’re going balance being a democracy with being a Jewish state, but they’ve also got to figure out, and we’ve got to figure out with them, as an ally, what the regional security picture is going look like in the future... What’s going on with the Palestinians — it has always been one of the most fiendishly complicated issues, and simple answers will not serve us well at a time like this.” (“The View,” January 31, 2019)
- “Seeing the way that a country can be on the one hand very intentional, very serious, and very effective when it comes to security and on the other hand not allowing concerns about security to dominate your consciousness,” he said, “I think that’s a very important lesson that hopefully Americans can look to when we think about how to navigate a world that unfortunately has become smaller and more dangerous for all of us.” (Haaretz, April 15, 2019)
- Buttigieg said he wants America to help make “a world where Israelis and Palestinians are able to live in peace side by side.”
“There really is not a unified or single voice for the Palestinian people,” Buttigieg said. “Most people aren’t aware of the difference between what’s happening in Gaza — run by Hamas in a way that is contributing to a lot of misery there — but also totally different than an environment where you’d have a negotiating partner across the table.” (Vox, April 3, 2019)
- Re tension with Iran: “This is not a game. This is not a show. We’ve got to make sure that security decisions are not made based on politics but are the right decision... The relationship between what the president says and what the president does has always been suspect. This is something that should be taken extremely seriously, and it’s why I hope and pray there are enough people in Congress to recognize that if there was ever a moment to stop Congress’ abandonment of its own war powers and get on the record on this issue, it is now.” (USA Today¸ May 16, 2019)
Sources: “Pete Buttigieg,” Wikipedia;
“The View,” (January 31, 2019);
Ron Kampeas, “Democratic presidential candidates: You can slam Netanyahu, even as a ‘racist,’ and be pro-Israel,” JTA, (April 7, 2019);
Alex Ward, “Democrats are increasingly critical of Israel. Not Pete Buttigieg,” Vox, (April 3, 2019);
“Pete Buttigieg Brings pro-Israel, ‘Religious Left’ Message to 2020 Democratic Primary,” Haaretz, (April 15, 2019);
Aamer Madhani, “Buttigieg blasts Trump Iran escalation: ‘This is not a game. This is not a show,’” USA Today¸ (May 16, 2019).