Pete Buttigieg turned to Hillary Clinton for advice before his historic appointment to Joe Biden’s cabinet

Nick Duffy
·4-min read

Hillary Clinton shared tips with Pete Buttigieg ahead of the announcement he will be taking up a role in Joe Biden’s cabinet.

The former South Bend, Indiana mayor made history on Tuesday (15 December) as he was revealed to be Biden’s pick for transportation secretary, becoming the first out LGBT+ person nominated for a permanent, full-time cabinet post.

The role puts Buttigieg in charge of the department’s $72 billion budget and 58,000-strong workforce, overseeing the country’s transport infrastructure.

As he prepares for his biggest job yet, Buttigieg wrapped up his political podcast The Deciding Decade on Wednesday (16 December) with a final episode featuring Clinton, who famously served in cabinet as Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

Buttigieg let Clinton in on the news of his appointment ahead of the official announcement, and asked for advice “in a way that I would be doing, even if we were just on the phone instead of on a podcast”.

Hillary Clinton has a lot of advice for Pete Buttigieg.

Clinton said: “Well first of all, congratulations. I’m thrilled by the news that you’re going to be nominated and hope that your confirmation is smooth and quick so that you can assume the responsibility.”

His first challenge, she said, would be to become the “master of your brief”.

She continued: “Secondly, you have to set some goals. Clearly just from my looking at it from this perspective, you’re going to be part of climate change, you have to be part of the overall administration approach to climate change, and you have to be part of trying to restore confidence in public transportation post pandemic.

“We cannot deal with climate change, we cannot get central frontline workers to their jobs, if people are afraid to take public transportation. I hope that you’ll be given the chance to advocate for high speed rail, and for other kinds of transportation, that will set us in good stead for the future.

“Then, finally, you’ve got to deal with all the legacy… you’ve got to do everything to make sure that roads are maintained and bridges are fixed… autonomous vehicles are coming online, you’ve got all sorts of advances in powering transportation that I hope the federal government can help accelerate. So you’re in a great place to help shape the kind of future that we hope to have.”

Hillary Clinton had plenty of advice for Pete Buttigieg
Hillary Clinton had plenty of advice for Pete Buttigieg (Getty/Andreas Rentz)

Hillary Clinton hopeful opens up about casting a poignant electoral ballot for Joe Biden.

While her defeat to Donald Trump led to much of the chaos of the past four years, Clinton served a poignant role last week as a member of the electoral college in New York – helping to bring the Trump administration to an end as she cast her vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Opening up about her role, Clinton said: “It was incredibly moving to me, because I feel like we are at such a pivot point in our country.

“When I was asked if I would be a member of the electoral college, I paused for a minute, because I’ve been on record since 2000 advocating for its abolition. I think it has long out lasted any usefulness, but at the same time, I thought it would be a good signal that we were all coming together to participate in this historic constitutional ritual.

“I could not have guessed, how the attacks against the integrity of the election would play out, and how desperate Trump and his enablers were to try to overturn the results.

“So dropping that ballot in for Joe Biden and a ballot in for Kamala Harris, made it feel like OK, we’re really ready to move on from what we’ve had to live with the last four years.”

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton vote cast their electoral college votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton vote cast their electoral college votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (Getty/Hans Pennink)

Clinton also called on the incoming Biden administration to pass new safeguards to protect democracy in the wake of the 2020 election. She said: “We might have to take a hard look at trying to pass legislation to put up some more guardrails.

“I’m sorry about that, I wish I weren’t even contemplating it but there are certain things that maybe we haven’t passed on as we should, or taught in school or civics, that should be just assumed.

“You have every right to make a fair argument against an outcome of an election if there’s evidence and facts to back it up, but when there isn’t, it’s time to retreat and concede.

“From what I know talking to people on the Biden transition team, they’re very focused on an agenda to protect our democracy to protect our elections, and I hope that they’re going to be able to enact a lot of that.”