During a campaign event in South Carolina, 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg referred to “dark money” as “black money” when speaking to a room of African-American voters.
“I’m not a fan of the current campaign finance system, and the reality is, it’s not going to get better in all the ways we need it to get better without a constitutional reform. So, there’s things we can and should do right away, they can deal with black money — sorry, dark money —” Buttigieg said, before the interviewer jumped in, saying, “African-American money.”
“I’m always happy to take black money contributions into my campaign,” Buttigieg said, trying to play off the awkward moment.

Pete accidentally calls “dark money” “black money” while speaking to a room of black people. He then makes it so awkward that it physically hurt to watch this video. pic.twitter.com/ImMvC2DE3u
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) February 11, 2020

The South Carolina primary will take place Feb. 29, and Buttigieg is struggling in the polls. RealClearPolitics’ latest aggregation has Buttigieg in fifth place at 5.5 percent in South Carolina. He falls behind Joe Biden, Tom Steyer, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Black voters are an important voting bloc within the South Carolina Democratic Party, and Buttigieg is largely unpopular among that demographic.
One problem for Buttigieg leading up to South Carolina is the incident wherein his campaign misrepresented sentiments from three prominent black South Carolinian leaders regarding his “Douglass Plan for America,” which includes financial reparations for slavery and putting an end to incarceration for drug possession. Buttigieg’s campaign also used a stock photo from Kenya to promote his plan for black Americans.

On top of everything else, the Buttigieg campaign used a stock photo from Kenya to promote its Frederick Douglass Plan for Black America https://t.co/OqnGSIqCLS pic.twitter.com/qBqei71TdA
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) November 15, 2019

Buttigieg not only faces national backlash from black voters, but he faced intense backlash in his hometown of South Bend after a white police officer fatally shot a black robbery suspect. Buttigieg has come under scrutiny for this shooting because some critics say the South Bend Police Department has not hired as many nonwhite officers as it should.
Buttigieg’s problem with black voters was emphasized in his inability to connect with them on the campaign trail and is likely to be a central issue during the South Carolina primary.
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