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The "Mayor Pete" trend is still making a prominent impact in the 2020 race. Pete Buttigieg experienced (opens in new tab) an early surge in the polls—a jump of three percentage points, according to CNN—and preliminary numbers suggest the long-shot candidate raised $7 million dollars (opens in new tab) in campaign financing in the first quarter of 2019. He's now starting to flesh out his ideas around issues both locally and nationally (opens in new tab), and he's going to be one to watch in the upcoming debates.
In keeping with his smart, academically savvy brand, one thing you might not have known about Pete is that he speaks (or at least has a basic understanding of) seven languages: Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari, and French. As The New York Times put it, "He taught himself Norwegian to read more books!"
What's cooler than just the notion of Pete-as-polyglot is that he reportedly uses these different languages to connect with others. The Norwegian story is particularly cool—TIME writer Anand Giridharadas (opens in new tab) explains that when Pete was introduced to Anand's Norwegian reporter friend in Texas, he began speaking to her in her native language.
Pete explained that, yes, he learned Norwegian to read more about a particular author that he loved—but the fact that Pete can speak it at the drop of a hat, and felt comfortable engaging with someone casually in that language, is (to me) the best part of the story.
Pete Buttigieg and Chasten Glezman's Dogs Have More Social Media Game Than I Do
You can read the entire exchange here:
Now, to be fair, Pete admitted that he didn't speak much when he was later interviewed by Norwegian reporters. "I’ve forgotten so much Norwegian," he said in Norwegian. So he's not fluent, by any means (which he was honest about right away):
A Norwegian outlet is here and asked @PeteButtigieg to speak the language. And he did! pic.twitter.com/rs4MmgIWQAMarch 23, 2019
And he says as much according to those who have read his memoir (opens in new tab)—apparently he knows at least (and in some cases, probably only) enough to order a sandwich in the languages he speaks.
Mayor Pete also flexed a bit of his Spanish prowess at last month's first round of Democratic debates:
Mayor Pete Buttigieg breaks out his Spanish during #DemDebate2 https://t.co/BAe0qszHat pic.twitter.com/02JaBIdGoJJune 28, 2019
He wasn't the only multilingual politician present that night; a number of his fellow candidates also treated their live audience to a few sentences in different languages. On night one of the debates, Passionate former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke made a sudden switch (opens in new tab) to Spanish while answering a question about potential increases in taxes for the rich—his knowledge of the language can be attributed to the fact that he grew up in El Paso, Texas, where 83% of the population is Hispanic or Latino. Even Cory Booker followed suit, providing his own response (opens in new tab) to a prompt about his proposed policies concerning ICE and immigration reform.
With his competitors tapping into their language skills, the Mayor Pete may very well choose to keep his polyglot capabilities to himself to avoid riding the wave. Regardless, the key takeaway, for me, is that Pete has long been interested in engaging with voters in more than just one language, and he's passionately curious about cultures other than his own.
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Sophie Turner Reveals the Super Normal Way She and Joe Jonas First Met
Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.
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