WASHINGTON — Rep. Kathleen Rice on Monday endorsed Pete Buttigieg for president, saying the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, reaches out to voters across the political spectrum and brings a new voice to Washington from the next generation of leadership.
Rice (D-Garden City) said it was a logical decision to back Buttigieg after her first choice, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, dropped out of the crowded Democratic presidential race, saying Buttigieg is the only candidate addressing both long-term and short-term challenges.
“It’s time to hear from new voices, the next generation of leadership to take Washington in a different direction, so we can get past this hyperpartisan atmosphere that has stymied any vestige of legislative progress in Washington,” Rice said Tuesday in a phone interview.
Rice, who announced her endorsement on CNN late Monday, said Buttigieg's more moderate approach appealed to her. “I represent a pretty moderate district and he’s speaking to my constituents,” she said in a phone interview.
“When you’re talking about our country being in the most divisive state certainly in my lifetime that I can remember, his is the voice we need right now,” Rice said.
“I’m excited to announce my support for @PeteButtigieg!” Rice tweeted Tuesday.
“Pete represents the new voice and fresh perspective that we need in Washington. He's focused on bold yet common sense policies that will unite our country. And he has what it takes to beat Donald Trump,” she said in the post.
Rice said she has nothing bad to say about billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who just entered the race, and even praised him for many of his initiatives, particularly on the environment and background checks for firearm purchases.
But Rice, the third member of Congress to endorse Buttigieg, said she supports “Mayor Pete” because he brings a “fresh perspective.”
Buttigieg led in two of the three polls in Iowa and in one of three in New Hampshire polls taken in the past two weeks.
But he still gets only single-digit support in national polls, and falls behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.