AURORA– It’s not exactly the most popular place at 9:45 p.m. on a Saturday night. It’s the Crowne Plaza Hotel located just minutes away from Denver International Airport.
But February 22, thousands crammed in to see Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay, former mayor of South Bend, IN currently running for the Democratic nomination to run for the White House against President Donald Trump.
“I’m a veteran so something that I like about Pete is that he’s a veteran,” said Rachel Fedeli.
She continued, “He understands more of what it’s like to send soldiers to war. We’ve all been so it’s a big deal to us.”
Buttigieg was an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserves. Saturday, he expressed that experience as one of the reasons he can take on President Trump.
“[He] ought to be reminded there is nothing patriotic about pardoning war criminals by an American war veteran standing next to him and holding him to account,” Buttigieg said on stage.
The rally came on the heels of the Democratic Caucus in Nevada – the first time in the nomination process he finished outside of the top two candidates.
Senator Bernie Sander (47%) is widely reported to have ran away in Silver State, with a wide gap between him and second place Joe Biden (19%), the former Vice President of the United States. Buttigieg was in third (15%).
“I’m glad to be with you after what I would call a pretty good day for us in Nevada,” Buttigieg told his Colorado Crowd, saying they’re not too far behind in delegates behind Vermont’s senator.
36 delegates are up for grabs and 47 states still have primaries to be held.
“I’m disappointed and a little nervous,” Fedeli said,” I’ll vote for whoever the nominee is but, I don’t know how it will go if Bernie is the candidate.”
Fedeli is voting in her third election, having previously voted for President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Buttigieg is hoping to gather the moderate vote, with policies like healthcare considered more towards the center than the “Medicare for All” championed by Sanders.
“We already have an American majority for taking action to make sure there is no such thing as an uninsured American with Medicare for anybody who wants it,” he said.
That’s not to say his views don’t lean left.
Beforehand, he said he met with survivors of Colorado’s latest tragedy, the shooting that killed one student and wounded several others at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch.
“They cannot wait for us to act to ensure that the second amendment cannot be twisted into an excuse to do nothing at all about gun violence when we could save thousands of lives every year.”
Buttigieg will be one of several Democrats on the ballot March third, where Colorado voters will participate in the state’s primary. Colorado is one of 14 states to have a primary vote that day, leading to “Super Tuesday.”
Percentages are based off of results at the time of posting.