"And I am running for President of the United States", he added.
The gay, liberal mayor of a small U.S. city in the conservative stronghold of in officially launched his presidential bid Sunday, joining an increasingly crowded field of Democrats competing for their party's 2020 nomination.
Buttigieg's candidacy would mark the first time an openly gay politician has snagged a spot on a major party's ticket, and he would also be the youngest leader to serve in the Oval Office, barely a few years older than the legally minimum age.
Jack Beam, a Chicago lawyer who attended the kick-off event, said he's financially contributed to Buttigieg and considers him his favorite candidate in the crowded field.
Buttigieg described the values guiding his presidential campaign as "simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker".
"Take it from Chasten and me", he said, gesturing to his husband in the audience who has been a prominent part of his campaign.
Also on Sunday, Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell formally launched his 2020 presidential run in his hometown of Dublin, California, promising to centre his campaign on gun control inspired by the Parkland shooting.
But Buttigieg has moved from a footnote to a contender, increasing the chances of being a national figure in 2020 even if he's not the nominee.
Vox's Sarah Kliff said Sanders' plan "includes an exceptionally generous benefit package" compared the country's peers, including Canada, which does not cover vision, dental or prescription drugs. Hickenlooper has said that Medicare-for-all should not be "a litmus test of what it takes to be a good Democrat". Eight Democratic senators not running for the White House are also co-sponsors.
The crowd broke into cheers: "Pete!".
"Every single person deserves health care they can afford, and no one should go bankrupt or suffer from illness because the cost is too high", said Booker, D-N.J.
Buttigieg gave his speech inside that building, which underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation led by a private developer with help from state grants and tax increment financing from the city. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has made expanding health coverage the centerpiece of his presidential campaign.
"Bernie Sanders' plan to destroy the Medicare program and socialize our healthcare is now Democratic Party dogma", the group's president, Steven Law, said in a statement.
On April 1, Buttigieg announced he had raised more than $7 million in the first quarter of 2019, outdoing Sens.
Pointing to South Bend's crime and urban blight, Republicans sought to tarnish Buttigieg's image as mayor. "Democrat Senate candidates can try to hide, but we will make certain voters understand that Democrats are lining up behind abolishing private insurance, ruining Medicare, restricting medical choices, raising taxes on hardworking families, and exploding the deficit".
"He's so familiar, and suddenly we're seeing him on the national spotlight", Wetherall said.
Buttigieg is a Veteran of the Afghanistan war, and studied with the highly coveted Rhodes scholarship in Oxford. Reportedly he speaks seven languages, some of them fluently, including Spanish and Norwegian.
"Pete has a quiet passion", says Jacquie Bontrager-McCann, a 33-year old director of member experience at a credit union who supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary but drove three hours from central in to hear Buttigieg speak.
The latter would allow undocumented migrants brought to the U.S. as children to receive a renewable two-year grace period and become eligible for a work permit.
Renee Ferguson, a retired Chicago journalist and one of many longtime friends to introduce Buttigieg on Sunday, said she remembered media having similar problems pronouncing Buttigieg's last name now as they had pronouncing the name of a man she knew from Chicago.