MANCHESTER, New Hampshire—Echoing through the Rex Theatre’s amplified sound system, Demi Lovato asked, loudly, “What’s wrong with being confident?” the morning after Pete Buttigieg declared victory in the Iowa caucuses before any official results were known.
The song fit the moment. Kicking off his first event of five here on Tuesday, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor was nothing if not confident.
Just hours after Iowa’s results, still uncertain, devolved into a stunning mass of confusion among Democratic voters and candidates, Buttigieg delivered a speech denouncing “my way or the highway” politics—an implicit dig at Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the state he swept by a double-digit margin four years ago—and promising “openness” and “transparency” in 2020.
“Now here we are at decision time,” the 38-year-old Democrat said to a full audience, acknowledging attendees who are still “thinking it through” a week before voting starts here.
He did not mention the word “Iowa” in his opening remarks, instead opting to turn the page swiftly. “I’m so glad to be here with you this morning,” he said, to laughs. “I think it’s morning.”
New Hampshire voters began lining up nearly two hours before the kickoff. While Buttigieg didn’t mention the caucus results, Rep. Annie Kuster, one of his most prominent state supporters, gave a lighthearted nod to the wildness that unfolded Monday night half the country away.
“I’m sure when the results are all in, we are going to have a fantastic result!” Kuster said.
Speaking on stage, Buttigieg, who plans on camping out here in the Granite State every day before Feb. 11 primary, added, “if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being on the ground from these early states… it’s just how seriously you all take that.”
Hours earlier, Buttigieg suggested a win in New Hampshire was integral to sweeping the nomination.
“We’re on our way to New Hampshire, on to the nomination, and on to chart a bold new course for our country. But only if you’re with me,” he wrote on Twitter at 2 a.m., pinning the tweet with a link to his fundraising page.