Pete Buttigieg is back where it all started -- the exact place he hinted he had his eyes on The White House -- but this time around he's no longer a starry-eyed, long shot mayor ... he's not even a mayor at all!
Mayor Candidate Pete spoke Thursday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors' annual winter meeting in Washington D.C. ... exactly one year after he announced he was launching a 2020 exploratory committee at the same event.
Though he wouldn't officially announce his presidential campaign until April, he made it clear at the 2019 conference his sights were set on The White House ... and spelled out exactly why he thinks he's the right guy for the job.
Flash forward to today -- we asked Buttigieg to recap the past 365 days and he tells us it's "hard to believe" ... including his early retirement as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Pete stepped down from the role and passed the torch to his successor, James Mueller, on New Year's Day, so he can focus on the tough race ahead for the Democratic nomination.
Obviously, he's come a long way since his big announcement -- he's now a top-tier contender for Prez -- but there's still got a long way to go.