OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday thanked his staffers of color for feeling able to voice their grievances following a news report that said some had expressed frustrations with the campaign.
“That may not be something that’s typical or has happened a lot before in presidential campaigns, to try to empower staffers at all levels to be able to speak to their concerns and experiences, to raise concerns and to have these tough conversations,” Buttigieg told reporters after a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa. “And they are tough.”
During campaign diversity meetings last month, some Buttigieg staffers expressed feelings of pressure and at times disrespect within the organization, according to a report Tuesday in The New York Times.
Although he is among four front-runners ahead of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses next Monday, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has struggled to garner measurable support among African American voters nationally. Iowa’s population is 90% white.
“In every organization and in our country, we’ve got to work much harder to do a better job when it comes to making sure that inclusion is a reality,” Buttigieg told reporters. “Especially in the Trump era.”