Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has an endorsement problem.
More specifically, the 2020 Democratic primary candidate keeps padding the list of African-Americans who supposedly support his candidacy to include anyone who so much as comes within striking distance of the former mayor.
On Saturday, a South Carolina newspaper published an opinion article by Buttigieg wherein he claimed his “campaign has proudly partnered with” black-owned businesses in the state, including Diane’s Kitchen in the town of Chester and Atlantis Restaurant in Moncks Corner.
As it turns out, though, the proprietors of those establishments have no idea what the former mayor is talking about.
"I stand for what I stand for and I didn't say I had a partnership," the owner of Diane's Kitchen, Diane Cole, told ABC News.
Cole said she explicitly told Buttigieg representatives prior to the publication of the op-ed that she did not agree to any partnership with him or his campaign. Cole said she never even spoke to Buttigieg when members of his team met privately in her restaurant for a lunch that cost no more than $90. After ABC News contacted her, she received a series of emails from the Buttigieg campaign, one of which misspelled her name, asking her to agree to a position that would match the language of the op-ed. In the end, both parties settled on a statement that reads, “Diane's Kitchen greatly appreciates Pete Buttigieg and his campaign for visiting and supporting my business. We are thankful for their willingness to choose Black owned businesses here in Chester, South Carolina."
Atlantis restaurant owner Wendell Varner said similarly that he never agreed to any sort of “partnership” with the Buttigieg campaign.
"It's a little disheartening to say that – that they would say that we have a partnership with them when we don't," Varner said. "We actually don't support any presidential candidate and we try to stay out of politics as a business entity."
If it were just these two shop owners, this would not be much of a story. Maybe there were genuine misunderstandings between Cole and Varner and Buttigieg’s team. But the fact that the former mayor’s campaign keeps touting non-existent “partnerships,” all while he struggles to attract support from minority voters, gives the distinct impression that his campaign is intentionally misleading voters about the true status of his support in the black community.