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(INDIANAPOLIS) – South Bend Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg charges President Trump is “trying to change the subject” by taunting four liberal congresswomen.

Buttigieg told the Young Democrats of America national convention in Indianapolis that Trump’s “go back where they came from” tweet, directed at four minority congresswomen, is an attempt to distract attention from their ideas, including Thursday’s House vote to more than double the minimum wage to $15 an hour. He says the party has a responsibility to call out racism while consistently pulling the focus back to what Democrats propose to do for the country.

Buttigieg told reporters he doesn’t buy Trump’s attempts to distance himself from chants of “send her back” which broke out at a Trump rally Wednesday in North Carolina when the president referenced Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, one of the four apparent targets of Sunday’s Twitter attack. Buttigieg describes the chanters as “committed racists” whose votes he’ll never get. But he says he hopes to win over, in his words, “a lot of Republicans of conscience who will say ‘this far but no further,’” as well as voters who were ready to “burn the house down” in 2016 but now want to see candidates’ plans for the future.

Buttigieg addressed those potential Republican crossovers indirectly in his speech, predicting that Trump marks the end of the conservative era in American politics, just as Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 marked the end of the New Deal era. He declares Trump is an affront both to the values of Democrats and to those which conservative Republicans have claimed to hold. 

Buttigieg was greeted at the Young Democrats event by cheers, along with a few loud chants of “Black Lives Matter.” Buttigieg said, “Black lives matter. We’re on the same page,” before transitioning into his speech. The mayor has been dealing with fallout from a police shooting in South Bend last month. Buttigieg proclaims he has the most detailed plan of any presidential candidate for addressing “systemic racism,” and says he needs to do more to communicate it to voters.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)