By many measures, Buttigiegs mayoral career has been a success but his policies have not pleased everyone and poverty and crime are still high
Jack Colwell was a young reporter with a big story. Trade union sources told him that the Studebakercar plant, the beating heart of South Bend, Indiana, was closing down with a loss of nearly 7,000 jobs that would devastate the community. On 9 December 1963, above his byline, the front page headline on the South Bend Tribune newspaper read: Auto output to end here.
We had an afternoon edition at that time and it was taken out to the factory gate, said Colwell, who is still a political columnist at the paper. Workers were coming out and they wouldnt believe it. They thought it was fake news. No, no, we havent heard it. Nobodys told us. This is not true. Studebakers still going to be here forever. They just wouldnt believe it and of course then the announcement came soon thereafter and they believed it.
When Pete Buttigieg announced his run for US president last Sunday, he chose to do it in a cavernous former Studebaker factory in South Bend. The ghosts of assembly line workers were replaced by his cheering supporters. The symbolism was clear for a candidate who is said to have the trauma of midwestern deindustrialisation in his bones and who is trying to make the case that after seven years as mayor his revival of the city shows he is ready to be president.