“God willing, we can turn four years of Donald Trump into an historical aberration,” he added.
After the South Carolina events, most of the candidates flew quickly to Iowa to attend the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum on Monday afternoon. Reporters from Vice and members of the audience asked candidates about their records and policy proposals for nonwhite communities.
Mr. Buttigieg was pressed about his mayoral record in South Bend, specifically regarding his decision to fire a black police chief and his handling of racial divisions within the department. At times, the questioning even seemed contentious, as Mr. Buttigieg refused to go into detail about specific personnel decisions.
Mr. Buttigieg acknowledged fault on one point: the decrease in the number of black police officers during his tenure.
“This is an area where I’ve admitted it’s not where I wanted to be,” he said.
At a breakfast honoring Dr. King in Washington, D.C., former President Bill Clinton delivered a message casting America’s diversity of America as one of its biggest strengths. But he also noted that a diverse nation functions well only if everyone follows “the same set of rules,” making an oblique nod to Mr. Trump as well as to Republican efforts to make it harder for some communities of color to cast their ballots.
“America, at its best, is a country of inclusive tribalism,” he told an audience of black leaders, public officials and activists.
“There are 15 issues we should be fighting about, but at the core is universal easy access to vote where the votes count,” he said. “And a vigorous attempt to stop foreign influence.”
Mr. Clinton was in Washington to accept an award at a breakfast hosted by the National Action Network, the organization founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Jonathan Martin contributed reporting from Columbia, S.C., Lisa Lerer from Washington, and Astead W. Herndon from Des Moines.