Plains, Georgia — Former President Jimmy Carter suggested Pete Buttigieg’s campaign is searching for answers after a disappointing fourth-place finish in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, the first test of candidates’ support in a state with predominantly African-American voters.
Buttigieg and his husband Chasten paid a visit to Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter on Sunday morning, joining them for breakfast here in Georgia, which holds its Democratic primary on March 24.
Carter told reporters at Buffalo Cafe in Plains that he is fond of Buttigieg, mentioning their work on a Habitat for Humanity project in South Bend, Indiana, where Buttigieg was mayor. But the 39th president, who has not endorsed a candidate, also weighed in on Buttigieg’s path forward after South Carolina.
“He doesn’t know what he’s going to do after South Carolina,” Carter said.
“Everyday we’ll do the math,” Buttigieg replied. He called Saturday a “convincing” victory for former Vice President Joe Biden.
Two days before Super Tuesday, CBS News estimates that Buttigieg is now in third place in the national delegate race, behind Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Biden. Buttigieg told reporters that the campaign is approaching Super Tuesday by focusing on reaching the viability threshold in certain congressional districts to pick up delegates.
“We’ll be doing a lot of math today and continually assessing what the best places are to make sure that limited resources are deployed,” Buttigieg added.
In a call with reporters on Saturday, senior aides said the campaign is looking to minimize Sanders’ delegate gains. The campaign detailed in a memo released before the South Carolina debate last week that they are hoping to be within 350 delegates of Sanders after Super Tuesday.
“It is certainly possible if you build a 500, 550 delegate lead coming out of Super Tuesday that no other candidates are able to overtake that kind of lead moving forward, just because of the nature of the primary,” said Michael Halle, senior strategist on the Buttigieg campaign. “It’s far less about what the specific numbers are for each candidate. It’s far more about reducing that margin with Senator Sanders and making sure that we are competitive with that.”