It is the great paradox of Mr. Buttigieg’s presidential candidacy: His record on public safety and policing, once largely a footnote in his political biography, has overshadowed his economic record in South Bend, which he had spent years developing as a calling card for higher office.

“When he came in, the goal was to help turn the city around. That had nothing to do with the police department,” said Kareemah Fowler, until recently the South Bend city clerk…

“If he couldn’t corral a 100-member police department, how will he corral the Defense and State Departments,’’ said Len Gleich, 72, who heard the mayor in Hanover, N.H.

A Dartmouth student, Eowyn Pak, 20, said she was a Buttigieg supporter but was disappointed he did not speak to how he’d unite the country given the racial divisions in his hometown. “If one took a gander at the audience in that room today, it would become apparent that Buttigieg lacks minority following and support,’’ she said, referring to the virtually all-white crowd at his event.