• Paul Steinhauser

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor who would be president, sees surge: 'It’s extraordinary'

Pete Buttigieg has gone from long shot to legitimate contender in a matter of weeks.

From large crowds on the campaign trail to buzz on social media to an explosion of coverage by the political press and a bump in the polls, the 37-year-old South Bend, Indiana mayor is a candidate on the rise.

“It’s extraordinary,” Buttigieg said in an interview this week with Fox News. “It’s early but it’s encouraging.”

For Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran who would become the nation’s first openly gay president if he makes it to the White House, the nascent wave of coverage, interest and support is allowing him to raise the bar when it comes to expectations and to build a much more robust campaign operation.

He touted that “I think we’ll be able to compete” with rivals for the nomination who enjoy much higher name recognition and much larger fundraising figures.

To be clear, he's by no means a front-runner. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, who is not yet a candidate, dominate the polls at this early stage. But he's on the move, capturing that elusive and intangible vibe known as momentum. A Quinnipiac national poll released Thursday showed him with 4 percent -- not much, but tied for fifth with political juggernaut Sen. Elizabeth Warren and ranking above big names like Sen. Cory Booker

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