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Sunday Morning Extra: Mayor Pete Buttigieg

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
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April 26, 2019 2:57 pm

Sunday Morning Extra: Mayor Pete Buttigieg

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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April 26, 2019 2:57 pm

John Dickerson sits down with Mayor Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten. 

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Life is for living. Let's partner for all of it. Learn more at This is John Dickerson for Sunday morning. Last weekend we told you all about Mayor Pete, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Now we invite you to spend some more time at his home with the mayor, his husband Chasten Glesman, and their dog Buddy. Chasten, you have off to your left, who? Who is joining us for this? That's Buddy.

Yeah, yeah. And what role does Buddy play in life here? He's now heard his name mentioned and he's moving into a different position. He probably thinks we're getting ready to feed him again, so Buddy keeps us on our toes. Your dogs have become a part of this phenomenon that is around Mayor Pete and around your marriage and around your relationship.

What roles do the dog play in your life? Well, you know, they're very vocal. They have a lot of opinions. They like to let everyone know what the real life is like, you know, behind the curtain here, and they're not shy about those opinions either. But, you know, we just want them to live their truth, so we're giving them the platform.

Yeah, it sounds like they're budding cable television hosts. So Chasten, take me back to the first time you met. Yeah, here in South Bend, I remember I pulled up, I rented a car, drove over to South Bend, pulled up in front of the house here to pick up Pete, and he opened the door and we both said, howdy, at the same time. And then I sort of jumped back and he said, wait, what?

That's my word. And it was magic ever since, I guess. And when did you learn that politics played the role in his life?

That it does? I mean, he was clever about the photos that he put on his profile. So when someone's standing behind a podium with their name on it and surrounded by people clapping and cheering, I figured I should probably Google his name and then found out what role he played. But I didn't really know how to prepare for that, so I figured I'd take a chance. I mean, all of the conversations we had up until our first date were great. He seemed like a really nice guy. But I didn't know how to prepare for what maybe public life or being next to a very visible figure would be like. But on our first date, the way people approached him and talked to him and then watching the way he responded to people was really refreshing, actually.

And I thought, I think I can go along with this. It wasn't as intimidating as I thought it might be. Describe him around other people, around constituents. He was always calm. I thought perhaps when people would approach him, he would maybe deepen his voice or put on a persona. He'd become someone else, this polished political figure. But what I quickly realized was that he was just the same person. We were in the pub on our first date, so we had gotten dinner, and then we went right to a baseball game. And so that's when I saw him interact with people for the first time. A lot of people coming up and asking me, if they could take pictures with him, with their kids, people approaching us at the game, wanting pictures and just to say hello or to express their concerns or opinions about things. And he was just really calm and kind to people and was a really great listener.

Wasn't defensive at all. I wanted to help. Mayor Pete, what was the conversation like between the two of you when you decided to run for president? Well, I think each of us had done a lot of thinking about it. So whenever we were talking about it together, it was largely just kind of, are we ready for this? Are we sure? Are you sure?

Am I sure? But when did you first tell Chasen? I mean, did you say, nice to meet you. I'm thinking of running for president. Or when did you let him know that you had these ambitions?

Chasen sometimes reminds me about our first date when he, I think, was maybe a little skittish about being with a politician. He asked what the future looked like. And the answer I gave was honest at the time, which was, I'm up for re-election as mayor. If I have a really good second term, then in 2020, there's a possibility I might be considered for governor. And we would take it from there.

Neither one of us bargained for this being what 2020 would look like for us. Chasen, when did the word president come into the household in a serious way? I specifically remember a moment when we were getting ready for bed and I was folding some laundry and we were just going over his day, what had happened at his political retreat. And he had mentioned thinking maybe about running for president. I remember saying, president? Like, for real? Are you really thinking about that? And that was last year.

And I think it was late summer when we really started cooking up the idea. You've done a lot of things in your life. I mean, you have come out, you're mayor of a town, your father died, you're running for president, you've gotten married. I mean, that's a lot of stuff on your plate. It feels quite rapid. How do you manage that? Well, I think it's a lot of stuff on your plate. I think it's a lot of stuff on your plate.

How do you manage that? There's really never a good time for things like this. And so whenever you do something like this, it's disruptive. It's been a crazy year.

Yeah, if you start the clock in June, as you said, we got married, lost my father, lost Chasten's grandmother, published a book, started running for president. It's a lot. You're slowly renovating the home you live in? Yeah. I mean, that's another- Yeah, that's more of a slow motion drama, but it sounds like a lot, but some of those things really reinforce the other two. I mean, especially the marriage. Earlier, especially when I was single and I got to know other mayors and other people in elected office, I always marveled at how they did it. I thought, how can you possibly have a marriage and also do this and be good at both of those things?

But now I kind of think about it the other way around. I think, how could I possibly be doing this if it weren't for Chasten, if I didn't have someone in my life who just cares about me as me, and who will love me the same no matter how well or how poorly things are going out there, and who will tell me the truth, especially if I'm veering off of who I truly am, and be something in my life that I care about more than the other stuff. It's just such a blessing to be able to come home whenever I do get to come home, to this home, and also on the road, to know that we can crash into each other at the end of the day and just be human with all this stuff going on around us. So the marriage gives you ballast in a frenetic world. Absolutely, yeah. Sometimes, I don't know about you, I feel like it's just flowing around us like water moving around a rock in a river.

It's this thing that I can grab hold of. Because if you start getting absorbed in the rhythm of political life more than is healthy, you end up not knowing who you are without it. Chasten, what do you think about when you hear that description of your relationship? That was really poetic. I think I just want to let him answer it and move on.

I agree. A lot of the things you listed in the last year are the things that are grounding us, reminding us why politics matters. You know, watching and losing Peter's father and losing my grandmother and being there for my mother when she's going through chemotherapy treatment remind us why healthcare is important, remind us why family is so important, why politics is about making people's lives better and not worse. We're really just doing this for everybody who has a story like that. Were you political before this relationship?

Not at all. And are you political now? Well, I think some would say, yeah, I think I'm more opinionated now than I used to be. Mayor Pete talked about how you might pull him back if he gets too absorbed in the race. So what advice do you give him when he might be becoming too much of a candidate? Well, you know, it's the same advice he gives me sometimes.

Our lives now are surrounded by people in media telling us who we should be and what we should change and what we should say. And some days it overwhelms me and he reminds me of what truly matters, why we're here, why we're doing what we're doing. And some days it overwhelms him and I remind him, turn the phone off, put the brief away, take a deep breath and just remember why we agreed to do this. And so I think we ground one another.

But there are definitely days where I think it can get really overwhelming and that he just needs to be reminded. It's okay to just shut it out. It's just noise, you know. And for you, what is the answer to why we agreed to do this? To make people's lives better. I was never political, like I said. I had just watched how politics affected my family, affected my hometown, affected the people around me. Growing up as a gay man in this country, watched how people talked about queer people and I just want the country to be a better place for people like my parents, for people like Pete's parents.

People here in South Bend or back home in Michigan. The only reason we're doing this is to make other people's lives better. Do you feel that your marriage is campaigning as well?

Because you are doing something that is new in American politics. That you have to answer for it. I think I'd argue I don't have to answer for it. I mean, we passed marriage equality. I don't think I have to answer for my marriage anymore. But I do enjoy going out there with Pete and showing people that a gay marriage is just like a straight marriage. I mean, we have our same spousal quarrels over laundry and who takes the trash out and who forgot to pay the bill this week to, you know, reminding one another of why date night's important or, you know, showing people that we go to the grocery store together as well.

I mean, that part I enjoy showing people. Early on here in South Bend, we hit on the idea that we should just be like any other couple and invite people to treat us like any other couple and see what happens. And for the most part, people do. I think that's the same way we're treating it nationally.

You know, I'm excited for people to get to know Chastin because I think they'll love him the same way I do. But it's not, you know, it's not designed to be political. It's just who we are.

And, you know, being who we are has worked out really well for us so far. Do you have to rescue it from being political? I think sometimes people, you're just being yourself and people think it's a statement. The problem with being in politics, especially as you become really visible, is people think everything's a statement. And sometimes it is. Sometimes you're just doing your thing. And I think we're still negotiating, like, how those things overlap. I think it's also fair to say we're one of the more, you know, Chastin's one of the more visible spouses as these things go. And that's not a function of our gay marriage.

That's a function of who he is and how he brings so much to this process. Chastin, you seem to be having fun. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Campaigns are not always fun.

No, they're not. But I mean, I enjoy making people laugh. I enjoy going out there and meeting people, making them feel good about this process. And I mean, if we weren't having fun, I mean, we agreed when we started this project, we're going to be authentic to ourselves, and we're going to have fun.

You know, and if we can't do both, then we shouldn't do this. So of course, I'm going to try to have as much fun as possible. What does the end look like as you as you go through this process?

I don't know. I'm trying... Have you thought about being in the White House? You know, as much time as I could spend thinking about the White House, I just want to focus on doing a good job right now.

I really don't want to catch myself up in, you know, measuring drapes, as they say. But it's not lost on me, this historical moment and what that could mean for the White House. And if I can bring a fresh perspective to the White House and invite people into politics and that wonderful historical institution, then I'm really happy to fill those shoes. Why teaching? Why don't you go into teaching? There's just something magical about working with kids and getting them to believe in themselves.

I had some really great teachers who really inspired me to be my true self. Buddy, what do you think? I do not like the way this is going, says Buddy. Oh, man. All right, Bud.

Do you want to get down? Yeah, sure. All right. Buddy, why don't you come over here? I'm sorry. Sorry. I'm ruining the shot, Buddy. Well, in a way, this is like politics.

This is like the trail. You think you're doing a great job, and then someone comes from the left and interrupts everything. Or the right. Is that where I was going to say is that? Oh, see? Now, that could be a political statement. It did mean for it to be. Welcome to politics.

Exactly. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm ruining the shot, Buddy. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm ruining the shot, Buddy. Yeah, right.

It did mean for it to be. Welcome to politics. Exactly. Oh, Buddy. All right, we keep going.

Okay. Chestnut, why did you go into teaching? Because I think it's the best job. I had some really bad teachers, had a lot of impact on me, teachers who told me to dream a little smaller, that some of my dreams weren't realistic. And I had a lot of great teachers who taught me to believe in myself.

And those are the ones that made the best impact. And I wanted to be that person for other kids. I just enjoy being in the classroom with them and asking them to think about the world a little bit differently, challenging them, and getting them to believe in themselves. How do you get a kid to believe in themselves?

I mean, is it a single moment? For some kids, I mean, it's different for every kid. And for some kids, it's a long process because they just don't see it in themselves. So trying to peel away at all of those things they're telling themselves. And then for some kids, it's as simple as saying, you're loved, and you're cared about, and this is a safe place for you to be.

And I love having you here. And watching them, you know, beam with happiness that someone finally told them you matter. It can be as simple as that.

And that's the best thing about teaching is that you are surrounded by sometimes hundreds of kids who are all bringing different things to the table. And you have to figure out what it will take to get them to believe in themselves. Is that message transferable into politics? Or would that ruin it?

Yeah, no, I think it is. I think some people just need to be told you matter. And they need to see someone specifically in the highest office in the land saying, I care about you.

I want you here. And then for other people, there's a lot of stuff in their way to believe in politicians, to believe in politics, and to believe in this country again. And so as a teacher and as a politician, we're both, you know, working towards getting people to just believe again. Pete writers say that their spouses end up being their editors, and the poor spouses have to listen to all of their ideas as they're trying to write them and think about them. Do you use Chasten as your one true trusted person to talk about some of the stuff that you talk about on the campaign trail with? Or is it the refuge that you can come back home and not have to deal with everything you've been out there dealing with? You know, for better or for worse, we're not a couple where either one of us leaves work at the door and comes home.

I hear a lot of the kind of triumph and the venting of what's happened in Chasten's day, and I think vice versa. I do think we make sure from time to time that we can just turn it off. And it's just, it's time for bowling. It's time for Game of Thrones. And we're not going to think about politics for the next couple hours. What is the fastest way to get away from the campaign trail for either one of you, when you're together? Well, we love board games. A great night here is just, you know, cracking open a beer and playing a board game. Catan, Risk, Ticket to Ride, and we have some of those on our phone too, so we can play them on the airplane, we can play them in the car. Do you ever play them when you're not together?

Can you play, you know, yeah, I think we've done the occasional remote game of Risk or Words with Friends. Yeah. Yeah. Do you place the sped up Risk or do you play the full original Risk?

Depends on which version of Risk. Yeah. We even have a Game of Thrones Risk. A Game of Thrones Risk. Yeah. That's good for like a long, slow winter's day that I suppose is not a thing that'll happen for us for a while.

This is The Takeout with Major Garrett. This week, Stephen Law, ally of Mitch McConnell and one of Washington's biggest midterm money men, list for me the two Senate races where you think Republicans have the best chance of taking a Democratic seat away. Nevada, New Hampshire. Not Georgia. Well, Georgia's right up there, but New Hampshire is a surprise. In New Hampshire, people really just kind of don't like Maggie Hassan. For more from this week's conversation, follow The Takeout with Major Garrett on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-27 13:14:03 / 2023-01-27 13:21:56 / 8

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