NORTH AUGUSTA — Cheers and applause broke the usual silence of North Augusta’s Maude Edenfield park Saturday evening as Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Democratic candidate for president, stopped by for a campaign event.
The forecast rain stayed away – save for a drop or two – as Buttigieg gave a stump speech and answered questions from the crowd about things like tension with Iran, healthcare and education.
Buttigieg said in a phone interview with the Aiken Standard prior to the event that his messaging in South Carolina is similar to when campaigning in other states.
“So we speak about the same values everywhere I go," he said. "Sometimes there are details that help explain how it comes to life that are different in different communities, but the core of our message is about freedom, democracy and security.”
Good policies are needed in order to support freedom, he said.
Buttigieg mentioned delivering healthcare and ensuring there’s access to quality education and the ability for people to earn a living wage. He mentioned that women’s reproductive freedom is “under assault” and needs to be protected.
Regarding security, Buttigieg said his focus is on that security is changing.
“…It’s not just about traditional security matters, but it’s things like cyber security, it’s dealing with white nationalist violence and we need to understand that climate is a security issue,” he said.
When asked about plutonium pit production at Savannah River Site and cyber activity at Fort Gordon, Buttigieg said he knows what those types of facilities mean to the communities that host them.
“I would say in particular when it comes to cyber, we’ve got to invest a lot more than we are right now in cyber capabilities because, you know, the president’s still thinking in terms of things like walls," he said. "I’m thinking in terms of things like firewalls and what it’s going to take to make sure that we are safe from cyber threats, especially after seeing what happened to our election system in 2016.”
Buttigieg said a lot of what he hears from people in South Carolina is regarding “pocketbook issues.”
“People want to know how they’re going to be empowered to prosper as the economy keeps changing,” he said.
Saturday’s town hall event was held by the Aiken County Democratic Party and the Richmond County Democratic Party.