The Daily Gamecock

Pete Buttigieg pledges to mend 'dangerously divided' America if elected

<p>Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttegieg speaks to students and supporters at Russell House on Tuesday afternoon.&nbsp;</p>

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttegieg speaks to students and supporters at Russell House on Tuesday afternoon. 

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg's campaign has found its way to South Carolina.

The Democratic South Bend, Indiana mayor rallied outside of Russell House Tuesday afternoon addressing climate change, student loan debt, gun control and classroom safety. 

Buttigieg said he will extend grants to cover housing expenses and tuition and implement a national service program where students will volunteer to also help relieve student loan debt. 

“There is no question that we need bold action in order to move our country forward," Buttigieg said. "We also need to bring the American people together because we are dangerously divided, we are discouraged, we are depressed, we are doubtful that at the very moment when we got to come together and figure out these solutions."

Ali Tabassum, a first-year exercise science student, said he wasn't familiar with Buttigieg and mostly follows the top three polling candidates. Tabassum said he agreed with his main issues and policies he's campaigned on, but a few stood out to him.

“Social injustices concerning about the African-American race and law enforcement and also climate change; both of those issues are pretty sensitive and they way he talked about it was pretty informative but determined in his point,” Tabassum said.

Buttigieg reflected on the Columbine shooting and said he is concerned that gun control is still a topic of conversation today.

“When I was in high school, the Columbine shooting happened and we said, 'Never again,' and 20 years later we’re still arguing about why we are the only developed country in the world where this happens all of the time,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg joined the Navy reserve working his way up to a naval intelligence officer in 2009 and later was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 to counteract terrorist finance networks. Buttigieg said he supports "common sense" gun laws which include universal background checks, red flag laws and certain gun bans.

“Doing something to make sure that the kinds of weapons of war that I trained on and saw in a war zone have no place in American streets and neighborhoods or anywhere near a school at peace time in our country.”

Sarah White, a first-year management student, said she hasn't made up her mind on who she's voting for but likes that he's the youngest candidate in the race. White said younger candidates are easier for her to relate to and have a better understanding of issues such as climate change. 

White said her biggest takeaway from the rally was Buttigieg's idea of reclaiming what the word freedom means and his message of societal freedom stands out to her as a quality for president. 

“Freedom is about having the freedom to get a college education, the right to choose, and freedom isn’t just the freedom to have a gun, there’s a lot more freedoms that we need," White said.

Buttigieg also focused on climate change and his plan to address it. Buttigieg's plan consists of doubling clean energy by 2025 and incentivizing farmers to adopt sustainable farming among other things. 

“We need this to be like the moon landing or dealing with the great depression or World War II, something that makes us stand up taller and proud that we did something about it," Buttigieg said. "And if we do then we can lead the rest of the world because we can’t get it done without the rest of the world, but let’s be real the rest of the world can’t get it done without American leadership."