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Gay Mayor Joins Democrat Presidential Race, Surging to 3rd After Attacking Pence's Christian Faith

Vice President Mike Pence and Democrat presidential contender Pete Buttigieg (AP Photos)

A long-shot Democratic candidate for 2020 is steadily climbing in the polls. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially announced his run for president Sunday.

"It is time to walk away from the politics of the past and toward something totally different. So that's why I'm here today. I'm here to join you to make a little news. My name is Pete Buttigieg. They call me Mayor Pete. I am a proud son of South Bend Indiana and I am running for president of the United States."

"I'm here to make the case that a millennial Midwestern mayor might be exactly what we need," he said.

The latest Monmouth University poll shows Buttigieg has risen to third place at 9 percent among Iowa caucus-goers. Vice President Joe Biden is in first place with 27 percent of support even though he still has yet to announce whether he's running. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is in second with 16 percent.

A former intelligence officer and veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Buttigieg is a Rhodes Scholar who speaks eight languages and is a concert pianist.

Buttigieg has made waves in recent days, promoting his candidacy by attacking the Christian faith of Vice President Mike Pence.

If elected, the 37-year-old South Bend mayor would beat out Teddy Roosevelt and JFK as the nation's youngest president. He would also become the first homosexual president and the first president with a husband.

"When I was younger I would have done anything to not be gay," he said recently.

Now he says he's proud of it, claiming God made him this way, and he's attacking Pence for his biblical beliefs about sexuality. "Your quarrel sir, is with my Creator," Buttigieg said.

He's pitting the freedom of religion against freedom from discrimination. "That's the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand, that if you've gotta problem with who I am, your problem is not with me," he said.

After Buttigieg decided to make the vice president his top target, Pence responded saying, "I think Pete's quarrel is with the First Amendment. All of us in this country have a right to our religious beliefs."

"I hope that Pete will offer more to the American people than attacks on my Christian faith," Pence said in a CNN interview.

As former Indiana governor, Pence worked closely with mayor of South Bend.

"My family and I have a view of marriage that's informed by our faith and we stand by that, but that doesn't mean that we're critical of anyone else who has a different point of view," Pence said in a CNBC interview.

Buttigieg's point of view places himself at the intersection of sexuality and religion. "I'm not critical of his faith, I'm critical of bad policies," he claimed.

And it's the mayor's policies that will come under the spotlight in a presidential run. "Some people I think voted to burn the house down because they'd seen how for years Democrat and Republican presidencies produced economic and social and political results that let them down."

Buttigieg has defended liberal visions like the green new deal. He also supports a health care public option and even expanding the Supreme Court to up to 15 members - an idea which some liberals have embraced since the current court is slightly conservative.



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