Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg brought his message of hope for a brighter future to Maine on Thursday, promising to fight for climate change and gun reform, and to welcome immigrants seeking refuge from violence and persecution in their home countries.

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, also lashed out at President Trump during a fundraiser at the State Theatre in Portland that drew hundreds of supporters.

Buttigieg ended his 45-minute appearance by saying the “darkness” emanating from the White House is tearing the nation apart and needs to stop.

“Ignore the show this president has going on and pick up the remote to change the station to something better,” the 37-year-old Buttigieg said.

He told the crowd that the country has reached a pivotal moment in its history.

“It’s an intense moment of urgency and crisis for our nation due to the state of the president who is in the White House,” Buttigieg said. “We’re dealing with a president who is more preoccupied with buying Greenland and asserting he is the chosen one. That is what we are up against.”

Earlier this week, Trump told reporters gathered outside the White House that he was the “chosen one” and blasted the Danish prime minister for calling his offer to buy Greenland “absurd.” Trump also questioned the loyalty of Jews who support Democratic politicians.

During the news conference outside the White House, Trump looked to the heavens after being asked about the ongoing trade war with China and joked that he was the chosen one.

Hope Rovelto of Portland listens to Pete Buttigieg speak to the crowd at the State Theatre during Thursday night’s campaign fundraiser. The candidate told the crowd, “Ignore the show this president has going on and pick up the remote to change the station to something better.”  Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Unlike Trump, who denies climate change and pulled out of the Paris Agreement, Buttigieg said climate change represents the greatest threat to the country’s security and he would have the United States rejoin the Paris accord.

“Climate change is not something that is happening just at the North Pole or on the coast. It’s happening everywhere,” he said.

“We should become the world leader in climate change diplomacy. That is not what has happened under this administration,” he said.

Buttigieg also supports gun reform laws, saying that it doesn’t make sense for people to own military-style weapons like the ones he was issued when he served in the U.S. Navy Reserve in Afghanistan in 2014.

“The weapons I used in Afghanistan have no place in our society during peacetime,” he said.

If Buttigieg were to win the Democratic Party nomination and go on to defeat Trump in the 2020 presidential election, he would become the youngest and the first openly gay president in the nation’s history.

In a telephone interview a few minutes before the took the stage at the State Theatre, Buttigieg said age and sexual orientation should not be a factor in choosing the country’s next president.

Pete Buttigieg greets supporters after speaking during his fundraiser Thursday night at Portland’s State Theatre. He said one purpose of his campaign stop in Maine was to attract moderate Republican voters. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

“We realize there is a historic quality to my campaign, but at the end of the day, it’s about the job you can do,” he said.

Buttigieg criticized Trump’s policies on the southern border, which have led to the separation of migrant children from their parents. He said people seeking refuge from war-torn countries should be welcomed in America, not made to feel like they are criminals.

“(The southern border) is a complete failure. Trump’s policies are a mix of cruelty and hatred that has created a humanitarian crisis,” Buttigieg said.

The Republican National Committee issued a statement attacking Buttigieg.

“As he fundraises today in Portland, it is clear that Pete Buttigieg has no problem taking people’s money,” the committee said. “His latest rural plan focuses on expanding government programs while destroying blue-collar jobs, and taxing Mainers’ hard-earned money to pay for it.

“Maine is thriving under President Trump’s economy, but Pete’s tax-and-spend policies would only reverse this process.”

Buttigieg said one of the reasons he chose to campaign in Maine was the opportunity to woo moderate Republican voters. He said Maine has a history of supporting moderate, common sense Republicans such as former Sen. William Cohen.

“These Republicans are angry because they realize that their party has undergone a hostile takeover,” Buttigieg said during the telephone interview.

“The energy here is palpable,” Buttigieg told the crowd shortly before leaving the stage. “I love it. I might just have to come back.”


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