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Pete Buttigieg’s Comprehensive Foreign-Policy Vision

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In the two months since South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg formally announced his candidacy for president, he has become something of a media sensation, and it would seem that the enthusiasm that Northeast media elites have greeted his candidacy is—if the latest poll out of Iowa is anything to go by—beginning to be felt among Midwestern primary voters.

This enthusiasm was clearly on display at Indiana University on Tuesday where the young mayor, a former Army intelligence officer and who also served as an aide to John Kerry and defense secretary William Cohen, was greeted with a reception usually accorded to rock royalty.

We are clearly in the midst of a Buttigieg boomlet; yet, unlike other flavor-of-the-month candidacies—think Michael Avenatti and Beto O’Rourke—Mayor Pete’s may have some staying power given that he is neither an obvious con man like the former, nor a glib narcissist like the latter. No: Mayor Pete is a serious candidate, and seriousness is something he, only 37, has an undeniable talent for conveying.

The topic of his speech at Indiana was serious: America and the World: National Security for a New Era. His choice to introduce him, very serious: former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, a 34-year veteran of the House and co-chair of both the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Group.

The choice of Hamilton was also exceedingly savvy. The hometown crowd greeted the 88-year-old with a standing ovation, and Hamilton, who fell short of giving an outright endorsement, lent the proceedings an imprimatur of gravitas. For his part, Buttigieg was quick to try to place himself as heir to the legacy of Indiana’s own foreign-policy heavyweights, Hamilton and the late Senator Richard Lugar. This would be, one has to admit, presumptuous for your average sitting member of congress to do, but Mayor Peter has his sights set on bigger things. Yet one can’t help but get the sense that there is an something of an inverse relationship between the mayor’s credentials and his vast (and obvious) ambition.

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