After attending church in Charleston, S.C., on Sunday morning, Buttigieg flew north for a quick stop in the D.C. area, and the crowds followed.
Lines wound around multiple blocks near Washington-Liberty High School in Arlington, where the campaign funneled thousands onto the football field, but couldn’t avoid a delayed start because of the crowd size. A day after he drew 8,500 to an event in Aurora, Colo., Buttigieg drew 8,800 to another Super Tuesday state.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), one of Buttigieg’s earliest endorsers, introduced the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., to a crowd that was still filing in and included people outside the stadium. When Buttigieg took the mic, he delivered his revamped, freshly edgy stump speech, attacking Sanders’s ability to unify enough people to win a general election.
“I respect my friend Senator Sanders. I believe the ideals he talks about are ideals we all share. But I believe the way we will build the movement to defeat Donald Trump is to call people into our tent, not call them names online,” Buttigieg said, making a not-so-veiled argument against the boisterous online behavior of some of Sanders’s supporters. Buttigieg had been politely critiquing Sanders since the Iowa caucuses, but he began a full-fledged barrage against the primary leader with a pointed speech in Nevada on Saturday evening.
In that speech, Buttigieg debuted a fresh argument for his candidacy: He argued that he, rather than Sanders, will be the candidate who can help Democrats not only win back the White House, but also win down-ballot races. He said voters must consider “those Senate races we’re going to need so badly to make sure the judiciary is not permanently remade in the wrong direction.”
“We need to make sure we have a nominee at the top of the ticket who cannot just take back the White House, but keep the House in the right hands and send Mitch McConnell packing,” Buttigieg said. “We dare not attack those voices in the Democratic Party focused on keeping those seats in the right hands.”
Buttigieg took a few pre-submitted questions, including one from a voter who asked him what it was like to meet Ellen DeGeneres.
“Ellen’s the best,” he said, before wrapping up his remarks and welcoming his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, to the stage to wave goodbye — a new staple of his rallies.