- Accuracy in Media - https://www.aim.org -

Is Pete Buttigieg a moderate Democrat? Media overuses ‘moderate’ in describing Buttigieg’s positions

The media claimed that South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a moderate Democrat, but his statements on the campaign trail indicated that he is not a centrist or moderate politician, but a left-wing or liberal politician. Yet many of the media’s headlines proclaimed Buttigieg’s moderate politics, which could be a possibility only when his statements are compared to the progressive candidates in the current primary field, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

The New York Times headlined [1] this narrative with an article from October 2019, which said, “As a Centrist Path Opens, Pete Buttigieg Moves Toward It.” Politico magazine published [2] a profile highlighting Buttigieg’s alleged moderate politics, “How Harvard Made Pete Buttigieg the Moderate That Progressives Love to Hate.” RealClearPolitics wrote [3], “Buttigieg Hopes to Own Moderate Lane in Nomination Fight.”

However, the media ignored Buttigieg’s reversal on the progressive policy proposal known as “Medicare for All.” He initially supported the proposal, only to change his position and advocate for the gradual adoption of the health care overhaul proposal. In 2018, he tweeted [4] support for “Medicare for All” and said, “Gosh! Okay… I, Pete Buttigieg, politician, do henceforth and forthwith declare, most affirmatively and indubitably, unto the ages, that I do favor Medicare for All, as I do favor any measure that would help get all Americans covered. Now if you’ll excuse me, potholes await.”

In one of the presidential debates, Buttigieg changed his tune on “Medicare for All” and criticized [5] his opponents’ push for “Medicare for All.” He then said that he supported a “glide path” to “Medicare for All,” which would permit Americans to choose whether to opt into the proposal.

Buttigieg is not a moderate politician on the issue of abortion, contrary to the media’s narrative. He told [6] one pro-life Democratic voter at a televised town hall that he was pro-choice on abortion and allegedly downplayed [7] the number of “hypothetical” late-term abortions. Antiabortion activists pointed out that Buttigieg vetoed [8] a South Bend, Indiana re-zoning application to built a pregnancy center near a proposed abortion provider site. His statement on the discovery of 2,411 fetal remains in the home of an abortion doctor affirmed his pro-choice stance when he said, “I also hope it doesn’t get caught up in politics at a time when women need access to health care.” His statement couched abortion in terms of “women need access to health care” without condemning abortion’s role in the discovery of the fetal remains.

He also supported court-packing, which is a liberal political proposal from Democratic Party presidential candidates to add more Supreme Court justices. Buttigieg suggested that he would add at least six additional justices, which strategy was last proposed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s critics blasted [9] that proposal because they perceived it was an attempt to “pack” the court and thus neutralize Supreme Court justices hostile to his New Deal.”

Yet the media continued to portray Buttigieg as a political moderate, which is not true. Buttigieg’s evolution on “Medicare for All,” combined with his positions on court-packing and abortion, demonstrated that Buttigieg is a liberal or left-wing politician and that he is not a moderate primary candidate.