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Buttigieg Trading on Feeling, Not Policy, Says Democrat Strategist

The Democrat candidate for president has surprised many people. But, opinions change quickly.

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--If you've heard South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg talk, you may get a sense that he's quick on his feet. He's third in some polls on Democrat candidates for president. 

People in politics don't necessarily see Mayor Pete in the same light that regular folks might. He's appealing less to ideology of the party and, he believes, more to everyday people, said a Democrat strategist, who helped run the Obama campaign in '08 and 2012.

"If you're judging based on his inherent strength as a candidate, then it looks very promising for him," said Spencer Critchley, who was a communications advisor. "I think at the core, what people are responding to and what's unlikely to change, no matter what happens, is his sense of authenticity."

He said Buttigieg's rise has caught "everybody" by surprise. Critchley attributes that to his appeal, not necessarily to just hardcore Democrats, but to people worried about every day issues.

"Voters really are not particularly ideological. I think those of us who follow politics really closely from day to day care much more about ideological positions than the average voter does," he said. "The average voter, whether they're Republican, Democrat or Independent, is looking for somebody they believe they can trust to fight for them, and especially fight for the most important bread and butter issues."

Critchley said those issues are healthcare, getting a decent job and believing you and your family will be able to be better off than they are now.

Many Republicans have argued that Buttigieg hasn't truly spoken to any policy issues yet. Critchley said that people are responding less to policy and more to a sense of whether they can trust Buttigieg.

The mayor, who has made it his business to speak often about his sexual orientation and a perceived difference with Vice Pres. and former Indiana governor Mike Pence, over the issue, has made it clear what he believes on one policy. He believes Pres. Trump deserves impeachment.

Critchley said that doesn't really put him at odds with people in his party, eve Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who has been vocal about the need to be slow to impeach.

"I don't think it puts him in a particularly awkward position. I actually feel like Democrats are converging on a similar position on this. Some of them are getting to it sooner than others."

As for the polls, Critchley likened them to the stock market. He said they are a clear picture of the past.

"The future is unknowable," he said.

PHOTO: Supanic/Getty Images

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