While South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg‘s recent polling in several key early-voting states show that the young Democratic presidential candidate is surging, former Vice President Joe Biden fired a shot at the mayor by calling out his failure to gain enough support from the African-American community in his hometown.
According to The Hill, Biden ripped Buttigieg’s low numbers in the black voting community during a Sunday interview with Mike Allen, a reporter from Axios.
“Mayor Pete obviously has had difficulty garnering black support in his own city,” Biden claimed during the interview.
The jab from Biden was at least partly in reference to a 2012 controversy in South Bend, Indiana that involved the firing of the first African American police chief. As The Intercept reported, Buttigieg would later go on to admit that forcing out the black police chief was his “first serious mistake as mayor.”
Biden suggested that those types of issues are what prevents Buttigieg from landing any level of noticeable support from the critically important African American voting block — a statement that is also based on the low-level of support Buttigieg has from voters in South Carolina, whose electorate is overwhelmingly African American.
“Whether it was good, bad, or indifferent, the firing of an African-American police chief, the [police-involved] shooting…,” Biden said. The former vice president added, that’s “why he doesn’t have significant black support, even in his own city.”
Presumably in an effort to tackle the problem head on, Buttigieg’s campaign in June announced the “Douglass Plan,” which was a proposal named after the famous abolitionist, Frederick Douglass.” The plan would mean larger investments in historically black colleges and universities and reforming the criminal justice system.
According to the candidate’s official website, Buttigieg describes the plan as “a comprehensive and intentional dismantling of racist structures and systems combined with an equally intentional and affirmative investment of unprecedented scale in the freedom and self-determination of black Americans.”
While Biden hasn’t struggled with support from African-American voters, especially in South Carolina where he holds a commanding lead in virtually all of the state-specific polls, an expert recently said that his support there could quickly fade if he fails to win early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire — two states where Buttigieg has recently surged to the top spot.
According to analysis from Democratic strategist Basil Smikle, if Biden can’t mount a comeback and win those early states, black voters in South Carolina might quickly change their minds about the former vice president.
“Savvy black voters will reassess their options,” Smikle said before explaining that the 2020 Democratic candidates, including Biden, will have to “reaffirm their policy prescriptions” for the African-American community.