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Undecided 44%
Elizabeth Warren22%
Joe Biden14%
Bernie Sanders8%
Pete Buttigieg6%

Wed Nov 20, 2019, 02:09 PM


Pete Buttigieg likely to be a new focus of criticism in Wednesday's debate

As Pete Buttigieg takes the stage Wednesday night for the Democratic debate in Atlanta, he is likely to be a new focus of criticism as an emerging leader in the presidential polls. How he reacts to the expected zingers from his rivals could be an important test of his candidacy.

Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, a close friend of former vice president Joe Biden who has yet to endorse a candidate in the presidential race, compared Buttigieg to “the newest gadget or gimmick” that fascinates people as they flip through a holiday catalogue. In an interview, he suggested that the South Bend, Ind., mayor needs to prove he can withstand the heightened scrutiny of being a top-tier candidate.

“We’ll see about Mayor Pete,” Vilsack said. “He may be able to take a punch. He may not. We just don’t know.” He added, “The vice president has shown he can take a punch, and I don’t know that the rest of these folks have actually had to take a punch yet, much less show they can take one now.”

Other candidates have shown frustration in recent weeks at the rise of the 37-year-old mayor of Indiana’s fourth-largest city, taking aim at his relative inexperience and his struggle to attract black voters. The crowded debate stage Wednesday, featuring 10 Democratic contenders, could provide ample opportunity for that rancor to boil over.

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