It’s been known for some time that Pete Buttigieg has been struggling to win over black voters. Maybe it’s his ultra-white bread look. Maybe it’s the controversial history of racial relations in the city of South Bend, where he was mayor. Maybe it’s his homosexuality – a trait that’s still less than popular among African-Americans. But whatever it is, it represents an enormous hurdle standing between Buttigieg and the Democratic nomination. Mayor Pete is currently polling at about 4% among black Democrats, according to the latest poll from Quinnipiac. Those are not the numbers that make up a winning Democratic campaign.
And so Buttigieg has been trying to, um, fake it until it makes it.
In an op-ed for a South Carolina newspaper last week, Buttigieg touted his “Frederick Douglass Plan,” which he says is “a comprehensive investment in the empowerment of Black America.” The candidate said that he’d developed the plan with the assistance of black activists and black business leaders.
And then he named some of them.
“That begins with entrepreneurship, and 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,” Buttigieg wrote.
Phrasing it this way, Buttigieg clearly meant to insinuate that the owners of those businesses were involved with the campaign in some meaningful way. Perhaps we are to understand that they even contributed to the Frederick Douglass Plan themselves. Surely, at the very least, they are devoted supporters of Mayor Pete, all hoping to see him win South Carolina and go on to nab the nomination, right?
Well, not so much.
ABC News found that at least two of those businesses – Diane’s and Atlantis – have not signed onto the campaign in any way worth mentioning in an op-ed. Indeed, the owners “only remembered welcoming Buttigieg’s campaign as customers, not forging any sort of partnership with the candidate.”
“I stand for what I stand for and I didn’t say I had a partnership,” Diane’s Kitchen owner Diane Cole told the network.
Cole said that after the Buttigieg campaign found out what she was telling ABC, they attempted to “persuade” her into getting on message. Their message.
She responded: “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.”
We’re sure that bullying local black business owners into supporting his campaign will go a long way towards helping Buttigieg shore up those anemic poll numbers. Then again, when you’re losing badly in that demo to a guy who once said that “black and Latino” men “don’t know how to behave in the workplace,” we can see why you might be frustrated.