South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg may be sitting on surprise popularity since announcing his run for the White House, but the presidential hopeful told an audience in predominantly Black Orangeburg, S.C., that he needs their help reaching out to people of color.
Buttigieg, who could become the first openly gay president is one of the top three candidates among white voters but only generates average ratings among Black voters, the station said. Buttigieg decided to reach out during his appearance in Orangeburg, which counted about 10 audience members of color among a crowd of about 75.
In response to a question from Charles Patton, 21, a physics student at HBCU South Carolina State University, Buttigieg acknowledged there is room for improvement when it comes to how he is connecting with Black and Brown voters.
“I need help,” he said. “Out here, people are just getting to know me and … we are racing against time.”
Later in Columbia, S.C., the state capital, Buttigieg told a crowd that his campaign is in a growth period and that he “has a lot of work to do to make sure that we are assembling a coalition that reflects the diversity of our party.”
Buttigieg’s campaign viewed the swing through South Carolina as an opportunity to connect with Black voters, WTVR reported. During a round of appearances, Buttigieg spoke of his plans to boost Black entrepreneurship, criminal justice reform, and education, according to the news organization.
The issue is that Black voters do not trust Buttigieg, a relative unknown on the national stage before now, Patton told WTVR.
“It is not necessarily his policies because I know his policies, but I don’t think we even really take him seriously because we have (former Vice President) Joe Biden in the (Democratic) race, (U.S. Sen.) Cory Booker, (U.S. Sen.) Kamala Harris and (U.S. Sen.) Bernie Sanders, so it’s kind of hard for him to get his footing in the race for Black voters,” Patton said.