Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a Democratic candidate for president, addresses a large crowd outside a Hancock home at a campaign event late last month.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is set to open a Keene field office this week on the heels of snagging an endorsement from a local state representative and rolling out a new climate change plan.

In a phone interview with The Sentinel Tuesday, Buttigieg touted the plan and projected optimism about his prospects in the N.H. Democratic Primary as his campaign builds up its on-the-ground presence.

“What we’ve seen and what’s so encouraging is that it’s not just that we get a good look when I do something on national television — there is good feedback online — it’s really on the ground in places like New Hampshire that we can tell that we’re actually hitting a nerve; when you’re watching the faces rise and fall ... when you see the way the crowds are developing,” Buttigieg, 37, said.

The South Bend, Ind., mayor’s campaign plans to open 12 new field offices in all 10 Granite State counties this week, with a Keene opening scheduled for Friday.

Kevin Donohoe, Buttigieg’s New Hampshire communications director, said an address for the office will be announced in the coming days. (Update: the office will be at 39 Central Square.) 

On Tuesday, first-term N.H. Rep. Dave Morrill, D-Keene, became the third of four state representatives to endorse Buttigieg.

Morrill, who works at Badger Balm in Gilsum and represents Keene’s Ward 1 in Cheshire House District 4, said he was wondering whether to endorse any presidential candidates at all given his position as a freshman lawmaker.

However, after devising a spreadsheet to score each candidate from zero to 10 on metrics such as electability, media savviness, diversity and alignment with his views on policy, Morrill said it became clear Buttigieg was the one to pick.

“One podcast that I heard him on was Pod Save America, and he just really caught my attention,” Morrill said Tuesday. “I think that was the first time I’d heard him speak, actually. His demeanor, the things he was saying, it was all the right things, and I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ “

Morrill then bought a copy of Buttigieg’s memoir, “Shortest Way Home,” and began buying into the mayor’s vision for the country.

“I get the impression that he really wants to do good in the world for the sake of doing good,” Morrill added.

Buttigieg’s policy plans have also been a selling point for Morrill, particularly in how the candidate approaches rural economies and health care, targeting workforce development and broadband access as areas for federal investment.

This morning, Buttigieg unveiled his climate change plan, which sets deadlines for emissions standards and offers measures such as a dividend for consumers to earn from a price on carbon and increased funds for communities in the aftermath of natural disasters.

The Buttigieg plan would seek to get the U.S. electrical grid to zero carbon emissions and require zero-emissions standards for all passenger vehicles by 2035; transition trucks, buses, ships and planes to net-zero emissions by 2040 and strive for the same for all industrial, manufacturing and agriculture production by 2050.

“I think it’s important to set aggressive and specific goals in order to meet the needs — and to me, these timelines are not actually being set by politicians, they’re being set by science,” Buttigieg said.

Nuclear power is not included in the Buttigieg climate plan, but he said he would not rule it out as an option were he to become president.

“Our focus has to be on long-term, sustainable, clean sources of energy, and the problem with nuclear is that it creates a lot of challenges with storage and disposal,” Buttigieg noted. “That being said, you know, again, we’re in the business of actually getting something done, and meeting our targets, and when it comes to priorities, our priority has to be carbon. And to the extent that nuclear is a carbon-free source of energy, I don’t think it can be off the table, especially in the short- to medium term.”

Morrill said one of the biggest factors in his endorsement of Buttigieg — whom he met briefly at the mayor’s Keene High School rally in May — is how the candidate responds to questions and respects experts.

“He really wants to hear what people have to say,” Morrill said. “He listens to the questions from reporters and actually answers them, and I think that speaks to his leadership style, which is, you know, I wanna hear from people that I’m working with, and I want to learn from my mistakes and be the best leader I can be.”

This article has been changed to update the office's location after it was announced.

Jake Lahut can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or jlahut@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @JakeLahut.