‘I believe in the freedom to’: presidential hopeful outlines his values in Rock Hill
Pete Buttigieg is returning to South Carolina to talk to rural communities.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, will make a two-day swing through the state, which includes town hall and rural roundtable stops in Beaufort and Hampton on Saturday, and Georgetown and Hartsville on Sunday.
His fifth official trip to the Palmetto State since announcing his candidacy in April will coincide with the release of his new economic rural plan. That proposal comes on the heels of the 2020 contender’s new rural health care plan, which he rolled out Friday.
Buttigieg’s campaign told The State his S.C. stops will focus on gathering feedback on his rural plan from community members on the hurdles they face, whether it’s access to broadband, health care or education.
His proposal includes $80 billion to close high-speed internet gaps. It also includes a lofty proposal of reducing the teacher shortage in rural areas by 50% in 15 years. South Carolina, for example, is reeling from a statewide teacher shortage, worsening in rural districts where administrators struggle to pay teachers pay that is competitive with larger, wealthier districts.
To reduce the shortage from a federal level, however, Buttigieg proposes providing student loan forgiveness to teachers and spending $150 million a year on grants to help train special education teachers, particularly those working in rural school districts.
On Saturday, Buttigieg will join community members for a town hall in Beaufort, then head to Hampton and Pineville for a rural roundtable discussion, finishing the day with a stop at the College of Charleston.
On Sunday, he will wrap up his South Carolina trip with a church service at Bethel AME Church in Georgetown and another town hall at Jerusalem Baptist Church in Hartsville.
Buttigieg, 37, is unique in the Democratic field as the only openly gay candidate. He’s also a veteran. But despite facing challengers with much more name recognition, Buttigieg has enjoyed some fundraising success nationally.
Buttigieg raised $24.8 million total in the second quarter filings for 2019, beating former Vice President Joe Biden — the 2020 Democratic frontrunner — who raised $21.5 million. He also has raised more than $100,000 from South Carolina donors.
In South Carolina, he’s polling at 5% and fifth among S.C. voters — trailing U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — according to the latest Monmouth University poll, which specifically surveyed South Carolina voters.