South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Sunday that there is “a lot of room for an outsider” in the 2020 race even after the election of President Trump, who had never held public office before. “It doesn’t work with any outsider — it matters if you are uniting or dividing the American people,” Buttigieg said.

In an interview with CBS News’ Caitlin Huey-Burns, the 37-year-old mayor acknowledged he is an “unconventional” candidate, but “there is a lot of frustration with the way Washington was doing business.”

Buttigieg spoke to CBS News during a weekend of campaigning in Iowa, which included a speech Friday night at one of the Democrats’ biggest events in Iowa, the Liberty & Justice Celebration. Buttigieg gave a rousing call for generational change, saying he is running “to launch the era that must come next” to loud applause.

New York Times / Siena College poll released Friday of likely caucus goers in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation contest showed Buttigieg surging in the state to third place — ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden — with 18% support.

But Buttigieg attracted criticism this weekend after a clip from Showtime’s “The Circus” showed him saying he believed “this is getting to be a two-way” race between him and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Queue up “Just the Two of Us,” @PeteButtigieg thinks this race is between him and @ewarren. See the full interview on a new episode of @SHO_TheCircus this Sunday at 8pm on @showtime. pic.twitter.com/FZV0PMTWWq

— John Heilemann (@jheil) November 1, 2019

Buttigieg walked that comment back Sunday, saying it “didn’t come out right,” although he added he “didn’t remember the exact context.”

“Let’s be really clear here: There are three months to go before Iowa, one year until Election Day,” Buttigieg said. “There are formidable candidates — a lot of us running and competing for the election. What we are seeing, our momentum is strong.”

Although the Democratic party is more diverse than ever, most of the top candidates are white. Buttigieg countered that narrative. Many of the candidates represent a “historic first,” he said, and the most important thing for the winning candidate is to put the best message forward.

“What’s important now is not just diversity, but the answers we’re offering,” Buttigieg said. “That’s what voters will make their decision on.

Caitlin Huey-Burns’ full interview with Mayor Pete Buttigieg will stream Monday morning on CBSN.

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