What to Say To Someone Who Says, “I Like Pete, But…”

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“In our house, we always say, ‘I like Pete, but…”

“But what?” I asked our handyman who had arrived to do some painting for us in the kitchen. I was sitting on a stool at the kitchen bar, listening to one of Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s speeches on my iPAD when he came in. He started to answer my question.

“But is he electable? I mean, yeah, the guy is absolutely brilliant. Top notch. I watch all of his speeches. He doesn’t miss a beat, that guy. He knows his stuff and he and I are on the same page about a lot of things we’ve got to do in the country. But he doesn’t have a lot of name recognition and, you know, he’s only 37 and plus, he’s…well..” His voice trailed off.

“He’s gay?” I asked.

“Uh, yeah,” he answered. “I don’t have a problem with that. You’ve known me a long time and you know that. But I am worried that a lot of other people do have a problem. I don’t know why, but they do. We can’t blow this chance to show 45 the door. We’ve got one shot at this, and I’m not sure Pete’s the one who can take us home.”

“Well, I am.” I said, smiling and looking him straight in the eye.

He hesitated for a quick moment. “See, that’s the problem,” he said. “I know you’re a Pete person. I see what you put on Facebook. And that’s OK. And all things being equal, I’m actually a Pete person too. But…”

“There’s that word again,” I replied.

“But,” he continued. “I feel like I don’t have the luxury of being a Pete person. I’ve got to look at who CAN beat 45. That’s what a lot of Dems are looking at. That’s the whole point.”

“OK. Gotcha,” I said. “You’re right. We do have to get 45 out. Wanna know why I think Pete’s the guy to do it?”

“Shoot.”

“OK, well first, knowing what we know about Pete…his calm, his reason, how he leads with his heart and his head, his incredible brilliance, his military experience, his loving nature…those are the things that draw us to him,; and those are the things that drew YOU to him, right?”

“OK, yeah, but…”

“Stop saying that word for a second and let me finish.” I said, as sweetly as I could. He nodded.

“So when we think about all of the boxes Pete checks when looking at his readiness to be President…his uber-realistic approach to the problems we face as a nation, he’s got great administrative experience, he gives clearly articulated direct answers to tough questions on the issues…refreshing, right?…; his calm demeanor and his qualifications just totally eclipse those of every other candidate running for the nomination, right?”

“Well sure, but…” he stopped himself. “Well, sure.”

“And it’s early in the game. Waaaay early. You know that. Lots of people haven’t even started paying attention yet. Look, because of who he is and all of the mind-boggling things he brings to the table, Pete rocketed this Spring from being an obscure small town Mayor with a pretty unpronounceable name to one of the top contenders for president. There’s only been one debate, with many more to come, and hundreds more stops on the trail. And his fundraising numbers are already at the top of the pack. Clearly, he has the momentum to go all the way. So I would say that not only do you have the ‘luxury’ of being a Pete person, you and thousands of others who “like Pete, but”…have a RESPONSIBILITY to BE a Pete person. Once people start really recognizing his name, and knowing what we know about him…and they will…do you think they are going to care one iota about who he loves?”

“Well, I DO like Pete,” he said, smiling.

“Ah! You didn’t say it!” I said, high fiving him. “You know, the ‘but’.“

“So where’d you get that Pete hat?” he asked.

At that point, he could have painted the kitchen bright purple with polka dots and I wouldn’t have cared.

Cincinnati, Ohio-based writer, visual storyteller, PR Specialist and Telly and Emmy Award winning video and documentary producer.

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