Pete Buttigieg had a close encounter with a longtime Democratic voter at the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday, a woman who had a brush with a previous young star in the party.
The presidential contender shook hands with a woman who greeted him after he made his pitch to voters at the political soap box area in the heart of the fair grounds.
‘I shook Robert Kennedy’s hand in 1968,’ she told the South Bend mayor.
‘So you’re good luck?’ he inquired.
‘Not really, he was shot a month later,’ she replied.
Robert F. Kennedy was shot on June 5, 1968, in Los Angeles, shortly after he won the Democratic primary as he fought to win the Democratic presidential nomination. He died the next day.
Pete Buttigieg talks with a voter who also shook hand with Robert Kennedy in 1968
Robert Kennedy on the campaign trail in Iowa
Robert F. Kennedy was shot on June 5, 1968, in Los Angeles, shortly after he won the Democratic primary
Buttigieg, 37, has seen his national profile skyrocket with his campaign to become the Democratic nominee.
He took his fight to Iowa on Tuesday and spent four hours at the state fair: grilling pork chops, eating fried food, riding the rides and making his pitch to voters.
He also made a serious commitment to trying several of the fair food options: he had a root beer float, a fried bacon ball BLT, a pork chop, a deep-fried oreo, a red-white-and-blue slushee he mixed himself and then took a gizmo (an Italian sausage on a roll with marinara sauce and melted cheese) to go.
‘The fried oreo is giving the bacon ball a good run,’ he said of his picks.
He made the obligatory stops a politician campaign at the fair must make – grilling pork chops at the Iowa Pork Producers tent with the Pork Queen at his side by the grill.
He munched on a pork chop after he was done.
‘Really good meat,’ he observed.
He took a selfie with the butter cow.
And he signed a caricature of himself and the other 2020 Democratic presidential contenders at the state party booth.
He also rode the giant slide with Harris, 4, who had asked him during the mayor’s political pitch at the soapbox if he’d do so. Harris and his mom beat Buttigieg to the bottom but the little guy got a high five for his win.
Buttigieg also rode the sky glider with a local reporter for the Des Moines Register as he kicks off day one of a three-day campaign swing in the state.
The state fair is the political event of the summer and Buttigieg was one of the last presidential contenders to come to the 11-day event.
He made his 20-minute pitch on the soap box, the stage area where candidates can talk about their campaigns, and posed for multiple selfies.
And, like all the candidates, he had to deal with some heckling as he walked around the fair grounds.
‘Trump 2020,’ one man yelled at him as Buttigieg passed by. The mayor didn’t react to the shouting.
The state fair also kicks off the fall political season for Iowa, which hosts the first caucus in the Democratic presidential primary.
Pete Buttigieg slides down the giant slide at the Iowa State Fair
Pete Buttigieg waves while riding the sky glider at the Iowa State Fair
But, despite the political theme, Buttigieg stayed away from commenting on his competitors.
He flat-out refused to address a series of gaffes Joe Biden made during his earlier campaign swing in Iowa, leading to questions as to whether the former vice president was ready to take on President Donald Trump.
The South Bend mayor also refused address whether any of his competitors should drop out of the presidential race to run for the Senate in their home states instead.
There have been questions as to whether Beto O’Rourke of Texas and John Hickenlooper of Colorado should abandon their presidential efforts to run in their state’s respective Senate contests.
Buttigieg grilled pork chops with the Pork Queen
At the agriculture building, a little girl showed the mayor her prize wining vegetables
Buttigieg takes a selfie with voters at the Iowa State Fair
Democrats are trying to win back the upper chamber.
Buttigieg declined to weigh in.
‘Well, I’m not gonna weigh in on what any of my competitors ought to do, other than to say that we’ve got to win back the Senate. And as a candidate 2020, it will be my focus as the nominee to do everything I can to bring the Senate in,’ he said.