Pete Buttigieg has a problem that he can’t seem to shake: he keeps lying about his support from black elected officials and black business owners, as part of his effort to improve his dismal polling numbers with black voters. ABC News reports that “in several instances... the Buttigieg campaign identified people as supporters who later said their interactions had either been misunderstood or misconstrued.”
The latest instance came in an op-ed Buttigieg published last week in the South Carolina newspaper The State. In that op-ed, he touted a claim that “our campaign has proudly partnered with local businesses like Diane’s Kitchen in Chester, Atlantis Restaurant in Moncks Corner and the Fair Deal Grocery on Charleston’s Eastside.”
That sounds nice. But the problem is that the owners of those businesses did not, in fact, partner with Buttigieg’s campaign. ABC News notes that they “only remembered welcoming Buttigieg’s campaign as customers.” Oops!
“I stand for what I stand for and I didn’t say I had a partnership,” Diane Cole, the owner of Diane’s Kitchen, told ABC News.
But the story gets worse. After the news outlet reached out to Buttigieg, his campaign attempted to do some damage control (emphasis mine):
After being asked by ABC News about Cole’s reaction, the campaign sent a series of messages to Cole trying to persuade her to change her position so it would more closely match the language Buttigieg used in his op-ed.
One version misspelled her name.
Cole told ABC News she rejected the initial requests, telling the campaign: “It sounds like you’re saying that I am your business partner. I’m only going to accept that you all stopped in while you were campaigning in South Carolina and I welcomed you all.”
Wendell Varner, the owner of Atlantis Restaurant, where Buttigieg hosted a conversation with The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne tha God, was also surprised to be listed as a partner.
“It’s a little disheartening to say that—that they would say that we have a partnership with them when we don’t,” Varner told ABC News. “We actually don’t support any presidential candidate and we try to stay out of politics as a business entity.”
And here, Buttigieg’s campaign again fucked up even more after the fact:
After ABC News asked the Buttigieg campaign about the Atlantis statement, the campaign contacted ABC News to say the establishment had agreed to say publicly that they were “proud to partner with Mayor Pete in January.”
But the restaurant owner followed up with ABC News again, a few hours later, to make clear he was “not in any type of partnership with the Buttigieg campaign.” Varner said he would have allowed any campaign to visit.
“When you say ‘partner,’ in a sense they paid us to have an event at our restaurant,” Varner said.
This isn’t the first time Buttigieg’s campaign has twisted the truth. Last November, The Intercept found that Buttigieg had misrepresented, some might even say lied about, support from black officials for his Douglass Plan, a slate of policy proposals meant to increase investment in black communities, including touting the so-called support of South Carolina State Representative, Ivory Thigpen, the co-chair of Bernie Sanders’s campaign in the state, and that of the prominent South Carolina politician, Johnnie Cordero, who had not even endorsed the plan, let alone Buttigieg’s campaign.
More, from The Intercept:
“I had some difficulties with it,” Cordero said. “It’s entirely presumptuous,” Cordero went on, before pausing to ask if this reporter is black, gauging how honest to be about the racial dynamics. Told that no, the reporter is white, he nonetheless decided not to spare his feelings: “I’m not going to change what I’m going to say. It’s presumptuous to think you can come up with a plan for black America without hearing from black folk. There’s nothing in there that said black folk had anything to do with the drafting of that plan. Now I like Pete, please don’t get me wrong. I’ll help him in any way I can. I think he’s an honest man, I think he’s a decent man, I think he has integrity. I’d like to see him keep running. But you don’t do that. Those days are over and done with. We’re tired of people telling us what we need. You wanna find out what we need? Come and ask us.”
Maybe Buttigieg should just try to stick to his brand of awkward pandering or, better yet, finally substantively address the many, many criticisms and questions of how he dealt with the South Bend police department during his tenure.