Kevin Costner is Team Buttigieg.
The Oscar-winning actor and director appeared in Iowa over the weekend to endorse South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg ahead of the state’s primary. In February, Democratic voters will cast their in the influential Iowa caucus — the first straw poll in the 2020 race.
Costner, who starred in Dances with Wolves and Field of Dreams, impressed the importance of the upcoming vote. He told a crowd of 1,000 gathered in the Des Moines suburb of Indianola that the “awesome responsibility” of tapping the next Democratic nominee — and perhaps electing the next president of the United States — “originates here on the ground in Iowa.”
“What you do with your vote is put those first seeds in the ground and see what grows next year,” he said, as the Associated Press was the first to report.
While Costner, who identifies as an Independent and supported Obama in 2008, did not list his reasons for endorsing Buttigieg, he suggested that the 37-year-old was the candidate who was best equipped to unify the divided electorate in 2020. “When Pete speaks of unity, it’s the kind of unity I’ve been waiting and hoping to hear about,” Costner said.
Buttigieg thanked the actor for his support, referencing his most enduring film. “Is this heaven?” the candidate asked. “No, it’s Iowa.”
Costner is only the most recent celebrity to come out in support of Buttigieg. He has also earned the backing of Ellen Degeneres, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ryan Reynolds, George Takei, Mandy Moore, and Jane Lynch. Last month Robert De Niro called Buttigieg the “best for what we need now.”
It remains to be seen, however, if those endorsements will translate into a victory in the 2020 Democratic primaries. Although Buttigieg leads early poll averages in the Iowa caucus, he trails Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primaries by two points and is fourth in both Nevada and South Carolina — where former Vice President Joe Biden leads by decisive margins.
Meanwhile, Buttigieg has faced a number of controversies in recent weeks — from past fundraising appearances at the anti-LGBTQ+ Salvation Army to criticism over a campaign dinner held in a “wine cave.”