Over the weekend at the 2019 Iowa State Fair, 20 candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination gave stump speeches and ate fried food for the cameras, competing for the attention of prospective caucus goers and journalists alike. Crushes of cameramen, supporters, and operatives mobbed front-runners like Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders, who maybe managed to wolf down a bite or two of a corn dog or pork chop before ducking out of the scrum.
By waiting until Tuesday afternoon to speak, Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and the first openly gay presidential candidate, had the run of the fair, taking full advantage of the nearly 200 food stands as he walked around. “I’m a little grumpy there was no lunch,” said Buttigieg. “Now I’m realizing there was no need.”
Supporters gathered early to await Buttigieg’s arrival to the Iowa State Fair.
Buttigieg arrives and makes a beeline to the nearest vendor to order a root beer float, the perfect energy drink for participating in a Fox News interview.
At the Des Moines Register Soapbox, Buttigieg makes his case to be the Democratic nominee for president, before closing his remarks by polling the crowd on whether he should eat a pork chop or a turkey leg.
Buttigieg flips pork chops at the Iowa Pork Producers Association tent, a regular stop for candidates wishing to acknowledge the $36.7 billion industry.
At the nearby pork-chop-on-a-stick stand, Buttigieg sniffs the pork to take in its aroma before giving it a hearty bite. “It’s very good!”
Buttigieg spent more time than any other candidate speaking directly to voters — and did so while slowly munching on his pork-chop-on-a-stick.
When you have to sign autographs and eat a pork chop but you only have two hands.
Buttigieg picked up the fair’s iconic Gizmo sandwich, which is made with Italian sausage, tomato sauce, and melted mozzarella cheese. A staffer tucked it away for dinner. “I don’t know the history,” Buttigieg said. “I just know it’s something I shouldn’t be eating on camera.”
The BLT bacon ball sandwich from the Bacon Box stand was Buttigieg’s favorite item of the day.
According to a sign on the Bacon Box stand’s window, every bacon ball has nine pieces of bacon in it.
After a quick interview, Buttigieg spotted deep-fried Oreos across the street and walked over to order some. “The Oreo is now giving the bacon ball a pretty good run for its money,” said Buttigieg after washing one down with a bottle of chocolate milk. Food pairings are so in right now.
Buttigieg walks over to a do-it-yourself Slushie Factory with 12 flavors to choose from. The mayor opted to create a red, white, and blue drink.
“I’m too full to go on any rides,” said Buttigieg.
Buttigieg changes his mind.
Buttigieg boards the Sky Glider for an interview and soon makes his way to the exit, full of fried and sugary treats that the Iowa State Fair is known for. “I will be taking a long run tomorrow, a very long run,” said Buttigieg. “But this is why we run.”