Occasionally, the chaotic bustle that characterizes the campaign trail subsides for just a brief moment.
A sudden slowdown occurs and everyone is really stoked to focus on something positive.
Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign experienced that during a recent rally in Denver, Colorado, when a 9-year-old asked a delicate question.
With Super Tuesday fast approaching on March 3, 2020, the remaining Democratic presidential candidates have kicked it into high gear, racing all over the U.S. to campaign in each of the 14 states who will hold primaries on that day.
One of those coast-to-coast scramblers is Pete Buttigieg, the former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and only openly gay candidate in the field.
After three state primaries have already been decided, Buttigieg finds himself in second place, still firmly in the chase to be the Democratic Party's choice to take on Trump in the November 2020 general election.
But for the span of one, on-stage conversation during a rally in Denver, Colorado—one of those 14 Super Tuesday states—Buttigieg was called to forget numbers and logistics for a hot second.
Leave it to a 9-year-old to rekindle some humanity in the race.
Powerful moment (better audio): 9 year old Zachary Ro of Lone Tree asks @PeteButtigieg how he can be brave and tell… https://t.co/vxtt8zPtQO— Joe St. George (@Joe St. George)1582437210.0
The child, Zachary Ro of Lone Tree, Colorado initially stood offstage while a moderator read his question.
"Thank you for being so brave. Would you help me tell the world I'm gay too? I want to be brave like you."
Buttigieg immediately responded with some positive disagreement, outlining Ro's obvious courage in his crowd-pleasing response.
"I don't think you need a lot of advice from me on bravery. You seem pretty strong."
"It took me a long time to figure out how to tell even my best friend that I was gay, let alone to go out there and tell the world."
"And to see you willing to come to terms with who you are in a room full of 1,000 people, thousands of people you've never met, that's really something."
The candidate then continued with some more direct, pragmatic advice for the unique challenges Ro will encounter as he matures within an especially tumultuous contemporary world.
"The first thing is that it won't always be easy, but that's OK because you know who you are. And that's really important, because when you know who you are, you have a center of gravity that can hold you together when all kinds of chaos is happening around you."
The former Mayor went on to outline some empowering benefits to embracing his honest self, highlighting that the positive outcomes do not end at acceptance.
They can far surpass that.
"When I was trying to figure who I was, I was afraid that who I was might mean that I could never make a difference."
"And what wound up happening instead is that it's a huge part of the difference I get to make. I never could've seen that coming. And you'll never know who's life you might be affecting right now just by standing here, right now. There's a lot of power in that."
Despite his level-headed advice to Ro, Buttigieg himself took his lumps as he navigated the decision to come out upon returning from his deployment in Afghanistan.
He outlined the entire experience earlier in the race, at a Democratic Debate in September 2019.
Here is @PeteButtigieg’s response to being asked about his biggest profesional setback. He talked about his struggl… https://t.co/4mvWqcxeFD— Max Lewis (@Max Lewis)1568342527.0
And evidently, if Zachary Ro ever does run for president way down the line, it's likely that his sexuality won't have much to do with any troubles around his being elected.
A May 2019 Gallup Poll showed the steady increase in acceptance of a gay presidential candidate over the last four decades. In face, a socialist viewpoint was WAY more likely to spoil a candidate in the eyes of Americans than their sexuality.
For Zachary Ro the moment on stage wasn't the end of his fame. He enjoyed a few minutes of fame as he answered a couple questions when the rally was finished.
I caught up with 9 year old Zachary after he was brought on stage and asked @PeteButtigieg his question. His dad to… https://t.co/QySmqJkiCr— Joe St. George (@Joe St. George)1582439819.0
And, of course, Zachary got some internet love as well.
@JoeStGeorge @votevets @PeteButtigieg This guy is so wise beyond his years. I really admire him. Always thought he… https://t.co/mf0jKZZXod— doraine shipley (@doraine shipley)1582465522.0
@JoeStGeorge @PeteButtigieg Just one of the many reasons Pete should be the next President. None of the other candi… https://t.co/bf4PSBMAbd— Shawn Creasey (@Shawn Creasey)1582464096.0
@JoeStGeorge @vanityman @PeteButtigieg How about there is no shame in being who you are. Those who have a problem w… https://t.co/2cCW4ZB0jm— Jesse Albert (@Jesse Albert)1582438409.0
Some, though, did have concerns about whether this was a publicity ploy.
Most pointed to the child's age in this regard, even identifying possible problematic elements.
@JoeStGeorge @PeteButtigieg He’s 9. He hasn’t even hit puberty yet. Why are we encouraging a kid to be so concerned… https://t.co/9Q9wN2cFcv— GLContradiction (@GLContradiction)1582487935.0
@JoeStGeorge @PeteButtigieg Powerful moment? Exploiting a child who does not understand sexual feelings, hasn't gon… https://t.co/0MSlSe5azL— Desertgramma (@Desertgramma)1582502859.0
The decision about whether the moment was empowering or a setup will have to lay with the reader