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Pete Buttigieg has a bridge to sell you. Just don’t ask if it’s linked to a campaign.

Which is a massive motive that Buttigieg was standing on that bridge in New Hampshire, flanked by Democratic incumbents Rep. Annie Kuster and Sen. Maggie Hassan, as a part of a six-state swing to personally award almost $100 million in grants utilizing the normal prop of placards that appear to be giant checks.

“We’re here with a little bit of wind at our back right now,” Buttigieg informed these gathered, together with native enterprise house owners and get together grandees, as he additionally talked about the administration’s different current successes, together with the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science regulation, and veterans’ burn pit care laws.

Buttigieg’s blitz to sell considered one of Biden’s signature home victories comes simply 10 weeks earlier than the midterm election. In a stroke of fortuitous timing, Buttigieg’s division doled out some $2.2 billion final week alone to 166 transportation initiatives.

The outsized checks and new signage that ought to seem on 5,300 building initiatives over the following 30 days or so might be a seen signal to Americans that the administration is making progress on its agenda regardless of the challenges of working with a carefully divided Congress, he mentioned.

“The point is not to chase after the percentage of people who know that a certain piece of legislation moved in a certain way,” Buttigieg mentioned in an interview inside Berlin’s City Hall, not removed from the place he as soon as had a marketing campaign workplace on this North Country city. “The important thing is for people to know that this administration, with support from leaders in Congress who’ve worked together to get this done, is now delivering for that and getting those numbers to leap off the page, turning it into real tangible benefits. That’s a story that I think we do need to do more work to tell, because it doesn’t tell itself.”

Buttigieg, 40, is the youngest Cabinet member and arguably the best-known as a results of his personal presidential marketing campaign in 2020. His get together’s success in November—and his personal future ambitions for greater workplace—rely, partially, on him promoting the sweeping infrastructure bundle.

The administration’s infrastructure coordinator, Mitch Landrieu, acknowledged that the administration’s push to sell their progress now isn’t unconnected to the upcoming midterms.

“A picture is worth a thousand words, and unless and until they see it, they don’t really know it,” Landrieu mentioned in an interview. The picture ops “will remind them that the president made promises, and the president delivered on those promises in a way that other presidents have not been able to do.”

“As we get closer to the elections, and people are starting to put paid media on TV, they’ll start seeing these pictures,” Landrieu, who visited Pennsylvania on his personal tour final week, mentioned.

Buttigieg’s infrastructure gross sales pitch is each enhanced and hampered by his personal political movie star, significantly in New Hampshire — an early voting state the place he completed second behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the place he not too long ago primarily tied Biden in a wildly hypothetical poll of a 2024 contested main.

“If abortion is blocking out the sun in the national discourse on politics, underneath of that voters are still concerned about infrastructure and inflation and the work that we’re doing around the country, both delivering these projects to make life better for people, and also to explain the work of the administration to fixing supply chains,” mentioned Martha McKenna, a nationwide progressive advert maker who labored on Buttigieg’s two mayoral runs. “That’s a really powerful combination down the stretch here.”

Buttigieg is touring a lot nowadays, in each his private and official capacities. Far from D.C., when he travels for political causes, Buttigieg has been spending extra time making a broader gross sales pitch for Democrats up and down the poll, boosting Democrats on the marketing campaign path in states throughout the nation. Over only one late August weekend, he spent almost 4 hours huddling with Indiana Democrats at a resort in southern Indiana, his house state, earlier than jetting to California’s Napa Valley to be a part of Nancy Pelosi for her annual donor confab. And in September, he’ll return to Manchester to headline the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner.

He is “living like a member of Congress,” he mentioned, shuttling across the nation, to D.C. and again to his new house in Traverse City, Michigan, the place his husband and in-laws assist look after his two younger youngsters whereas he’s on enterprise.

Buttigieg is considered one of solely two of Biden’s former main rivals to acquire a perch within the Cabinet (Vice President Kamala Harris is the opposite), and that rarified standing typically invitations hypothesis about his future presidential ambitions. When at official occasions, Buttigieg is assiduously cautious about violating the Hatch Act, the 1939 regulation that forbids public officers from utilizing their official jobs to marketing campaign for themselves or others.

This may cause awkward moments: At a meet-and-greet with residents inside Berlin’s City Hall, 68-year-old Keith Dempster, who supported Buttigieg within the 2020 main, was requested by Buttigieg aides to cowl up his blue and white “PETE” marketing campaign t-shirt as a result of the gathering was a part of Buttigieg’s official duties, not a political occasion. About the identical time he was shaking fingers inside Berlin’s metropolis corridor, the Republican National Committee accused Buttigieg, with out proof, of “using taxpayer dollars to campaign for president in New Hampshire.” It was the sort of remedy that not each Cabinet member solicits.

Indeed, at marketing campaign occasions, Buttigieg is fastidious. When he met with Hoosier Democrats at French Lick Resort in August as a particular visitor of his former marketing campaign manager-turned-Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schmuhl, Buttigieg fended off an endorsement request from Secretary of State candidate Destiny Wells, who’s searching for the backing of the Buttigieg-founded Win the Era political motion committee. Buttigieg informed her he had stepped away from coordinating together with his personal PAC. Later that night, Buttigieg was launched by Rep. Andre Carson of Indianapolis, who known as him “the future of American politics.” Buttigieg informed the room that he was ruled by the Hatch Act, and so had to watch out about what he mentioned about his official duties. But then Buttigieg, standing on the chair within the foyer of the resort, gave a model of what is going to possible be his stump speech ought to he be dispatched on the marketing campaign path this fall.

“They’re going to keep focusing on which books to ban,” Buttigieg informed a number of dozen Democrats, “and we’re going to keep focusing on what bridges to build.”

Buttigieg’s infrastructure tour included stops in states together with Nevada, Ohio, Florida, and Minnesota. But when requested whether or not these states had been chosen for political causes, he talked about the one state on the six-state tour that isn’t usually thought-about a battleground.

“Look, we didn’t go to Oklahoma because of politics,” Buttigieg mentioned of a cease in Tulsa to promote a $10 million grant for a pedestrian bridge. “We went there because there was a great story and that’s true of each of the sites that we visited. We’re going to places that demonstrate the range of things you can do with good transportation dollars.”

Buttigieg declined to speak about his plans to return to New Hampshire subsequent month when will probably be more durable for him to elide political questions.

“Right now, because I’m here in my day job, I can’t talk politics or campaigns,” Buttigieg mentioned. “But what I’ll say is we believe good policy is good politics. I think that’s going to show in the things that we’re talking about here on the official side. And then we got some work to do over on the political side of the house to do a different kind of storytelling, but you’ll certainly see us I think very active in that regard, too.”

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