OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg responded Tuesday to a report that campaign staffers of color had expressed frustration, thanking them for feeling able to voice their grievances.

“That may not be something that’s typical or has happened a lot before in presidential campaigns, to try to empower staffers at all levels to be able to speak to their concerns and experiences, to raise concerns and to have these tough conversations,” Buttigieg told reporters after a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa. “And they are tough.”

During campaign diversity meetings last month, some Buttigieg staffers expressed feelings of pressure and at times disrespect within the organization, according to a report Tuesday in The New York Times.

Though he is vying with three other candidates for the lead in Iowa’s lead-off caucuses next Monday, Buttigieg has struggled to garner measurable support among African American voters nationally. Iowa’s population is 90 percent white.

“In every organization and in our country, we’ve got to work much harder to do a better job when it comes to making sure that inclusion is a reality,” Buttigieg told reporters. “Especially in the Trump era.”

More about: