Can Pete Buttigieg win against Donald Trump

US primariesPolitical scientist: Buttigieg is the opposite of Donald Trump

Bernie Sanders narrowly won the Democratic Party's primary in New Hampshire. The 78-year-old senator received only 26 percent of the votes according to the results available initially, a significant decrease from the 60 percent in the 2016 area code. In second place with 24 percent was the moderate democrat Buttigieg. The 38-year-old former mayor had won the first Iowa area code just before Sanders. The moderate Senator Amy Klobuchar came in New Hampshire on 20 percent, her left colleague Elizabeth Warren on nine - and ex-Vice President Joe Biden on eight percent. Questions about the race for the US presidency to political scientist Andrew Denison.



Dirk Müller: The American political scientist Andrew Denison is now on the phone. He is an avowed democrat himself. Good day!

Andrew Denison: Yes, avowed Democrat, armed and dangerous, Laramie (Wyoming) grew up. But yes, democrat.

Müller: Democrat. But now also democratized?

Denison: Yes, democratized. I know the weaknesses and the strengths of the democratic party. You may know (the audience too) Will Rogers, the ancient American philosopher. "Do you belong to an organized party" they ask. "No, I'm a Democrat." There is always a bit of disorganization in this party.

Müller: OK. You are a free thinker and a political scientist, Andrew Denison, so now here with us in an interview. - Now I am a little out of touch with what I said before. - We want to talk about Joe Biden, this disastrous performance, trailing in fifth place. Was that it for the ex-vice president?

US policy advisor and scientist Andrew Denison. (picture alliance / dpa / Karlheinz Schindler)

Denison: Isn't it classically American what's going on here with Joe Biden? It is a paradox in the land of infinite contradictions. If your audience takes a look at the polls, they will see that Joe Biden is still the national favorite, and he was always the favorite before. But somehow he could never gain a foothold and his style never arrived, maybe even his claims. In any case, it has fallen sharply in Iowa and New Hampshire and still tops the national polls.

Müller: In other words, it is not so important how many do, how many correspondents also interpret? What happened in Iowa, what happened now in New Hampshire, is just part of a very, very big spectacle?

Denison: But an important part, a very important part. So the contestants are spending more than a year in these two little states of New Hampshire and Iowa, and they are putting everything on it, and that has resulted in a certain surprise. Not that Bernie Sanders won - everyone knew that - but that he did not win as expected, and that neither Bernie Sanders and Warren together, both on the left in the party, did not win as one expected. Biden has been lost, but Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg are the new flag holders of the moderate group of the party and they did well. Bernie Sanders won against Hillary Clinton with 60 percent. That was a victory. But this time he just stopped by, just stopped by Pete Buttigieg.

Bernie Sanders wants the "revolution"

Müller: That is your reading now, very interesting. We heard and read correspondents' reports this morning, and also studied interpretations that Bernie Sanders went in as a favorite in New Hampshire - of course, a neighboring state near Vermont. He's a Senator from Vermont. That was already clear, many said that he would win. But the fact that he closes the bag anyway is a clear sign that he is now the Democrats' top favorite. You don't quite see it that way yet?

Denison: I mean, the opinion polls don't say that yet, including the betting opinion, if you will. Still, he now has more than anyone else. You can say that. Is he a favorite? It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future. What characterizes this fight is how unpredictable it is.

(picture alliance / AP Photo / Patrick Semansky) 2020 US presidential election - These US Democrats could challenge Trump
Who will face US President Donald Trump in November 2020? The race for the presidential candidacy of the opposition US Democrats is still open. The field of applicants is more diverse than ever before. An overview of the most promising candidates.

Müller: He's a leftist, a democratic socialist. I mentioned that again in my introduction. Many, many years ago it would have been inconceivable that anyone in these positions could seriously succeed in the United States. He had surprised us or many of us four years ago - you just mentioned that again - in the argument with Hillary Clinton, but was ultimately defeated. Are times even better for him now?

Denison: Are times even better for him than back then with Hillary Clinton? I mean, times were bad back then. Yes, times are better for him. He has organization, he is known. In a time of polarization, he can polarize well. Yes, he's not just Logos; it is pathos and ethos. It upsets the minds and especially the young ones, strangely enough, and that's a classically American way. If you try to look into the future somehow, then I always think there is a backlash for every action. Trump is also with Obama and his health insurance and his immigration policy and that he is black and smart, Trump is with Obama to explain. But the reaction against Trump is also one, and a great one, and part of it is very radical. Bernie Sanders wants "revolution", but another one, very pragmatic like the Americans, radical and pragmatic, and they say it's about nothing more than getting this man Trump out as quickly as possible before he takes on even more power.

Müller: Who do you think is the best who could do it?

Denison: This is not fair now! - I am not paid by anyone, but I listen to my heart, not just my head.

Müller: Many voters do that too.

Denison: It has to be a reaction against Trump. Heartland is important to me. Is that a word the listeners know? - Country Heartland, fly over Country, the heartland of America. Think after Nixon came Jimmy Carter, governor of Georgia. After Reagan and Bush came Bill Clinton, governor of Arkansas. Then a black man from Indiana can barely serve one term in the Senate. And now comes Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg and Amy and Pete, they make a good race. What I like about Pete Buttigieg, I have to say - he's the best for me - is that he's intelligent, articulate. He is humble. He tries to build bridges, not enemy goats and scapegoats, but explanations and solutions. He used to be a veteran. He knows what it means to experience government from below. In the end, of course, the one who can organize the best in all 50 states. He then deserves this nomination. Hopefully this is not so valuable and associated with so many injuries that you cannot win against Trump in the Olympics on the first Tuesday in November.

"How is Trump going to demonize him?"

Müller: I'll stay unfair and just ask what I can think of now. Is he presentable? Is he a beam man? That may not be the right word, but is he a charismatic candidate to run after?

Denison: He is not Donald Trump. He is the opposite of Donald Trump. He's sober, he's humble, but he's authentic - not authentic by being politically incorrect and simply letting out the weaker self. So Trump is very authentic for some people. He's authentic in a different way, which I think is important.

One also has to ask: How is Trump going to demonize him? - Trump said his religion is not credible, he just does it that way. It's never a love judgment in America to say that. Trump has him as Alfred Neuman from MAD Magazine - maybe the audience knows this "what, me worry?" by Alfred Neuman - characterized. But he has to be careful how he attacks him.

Müller: They say religion. I did not quite understand. What do you mean by that? What did Trump mean?

Denison: He was born catholic. The parents are professors in Notre Dame.

Müller: Was Kennedy too, Mr. Denison.

Denison: What?

Müller: Kennedy was also a Catholic. He also became president.

Denison: Yes, catholic. But now Buttigieg is Anglican, but he says his religion moves him a bit like Mitt Romney, the Republican who said in the Senate that my religion says I have to vote against Trump. That's something he brings with him. He is not the revolution; he is sobriety. We'll see. I do not know. Amy Klobuchar is also very sober and down to earth and not so in this denial of the truth. We must also ask, are the Americans fed up with this campaign of lies that the Republican Party has now taken over, or are they trying to play with the same methods? There is still a bit of uncertainty about how to fight Trump - one can understand.

Müller: Now we only have half a minute left, but I would like to ask that too. Does politics play a role in the whole dispute?

Denison: Does politics play? - Yeah, what is politics? - Culture is what we want and America is in the middle of a culture war and politics is how we get it. Of course, politics play a role here. It's the organization, it's money, but it's also inspiration and passion. Politics is how many people vote, and in Iowa, the turnout was relatively low, and in New Hampshire, not much larger either.

Müller: I meant the content. I meant the content first and foremost. Does content play a major role because we haven't even talked about it and I read little about it?

Denison: Yes, but the content is stories that meet individual people and not abstract political things like "We have a budget deficit", but "You will now get paid for the cost of your cancer screening". That is content. That's why Trump talked about health insurance for 15 minutes - a twist of the facts, of course, but he knows people not only want to hear about the bad foreigners, they want a little bit about their own lives as well.

Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.