If you needed more evidence presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has gone from the longest of long shots to a top-tier contender for the Democratic nomination, look no further to the South Bend, Indiana mayor’s stops in Rye and Dover on Friday.

More than 125 people jammed into a barn in Rye early in the morning to meet and listen to the White House hopeful at a house party in Rye. Later, nearly 900 people showed up to see Buttigieg at an event at the Rotary Arts Pavilion stage at Henry Law Park in downtown Dover.

Buttigieg’s two-day swing through the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state comes as he’s far outpaced his top rivals for the nomination in fundraising by hauling in $24.8 million during the April-June period. But his poll numbers — once on the rise — have stagnated.

Buttigieg says he’s “very pleased” with his standing, however.

In an interview with Seacoastonline, the 37-year old Afghanistan War veteran said, “To have started this race with a staff of four in January and to have been probably the most obscure candidate and to now be running ahead of approximately 20 other Democrats, many of whom are nationally famous people who have been working on this for years demonstrates that there’s something in our message and something about the messenger that this campaign represents something that is compelling.”

He touted his campaign cash figures, saying, “The fact that we did the best of any Democrat running for president in fundraising last quarter means that we will now be able to put those resources on the ground. Right here in New Hampshire, we’ve got two dozen staffers and growing fast.”

He added, “We’re building up the team that is going to be required in order to win.”

Buttigieg, who would become the nation’s first openly gay president if elected, said “part of why we’ve been able to cut through the noise and make it into the top tier of candidates is that we’re simply not like the others.”

His poll numbers have lagged, in part because of his low support from black voters, who will have a significant say in who wins the Democratic nomination. That’s especially the case in South Carolina, which holds the first southern primary in the nomination race. Buttigieg is at just 4 percent in a new Fox News poll in the Palmetto state.

Buttigieg, who’s dealing with a controversial fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer back home in South Bend, on Thursday formally unveiled a wide ranging plan to establish a $10 billion fund for black entrepreneurs over five years, invest $25 billion in historically black colleges, increase contracts to minority owned businesses, legalize marijuana, expunge past drug convictions, reduce the prison population by half and pass a new Voting Rights Act to further empower the federal government to ensure voting access.

“I’m convinced that in our time, if we do not tackle systemic racism and racial inequality, it will unravel the entire American project,” Buttigieg told the jam-packed crowd at his first event of the day, in Rye.

During his speech, Buttigieg appeared to take a jab at former Vice President Joe Biden, the early poll leader in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Biden has repeatedly spotlighted his tenure as President Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years.

Buttigieg said in order to defeat Republican President Donald Trump next year, “We cannot look like we are promising a return to normal, because normal didn’t work. We’ve got to do better than normal. We’ve got to do a lot better than the old normal.”

Asked about his health-care proposal, the candidate said, "What we’re putting forward, I call it Medicare for all who want it. And the idea is we take a version of Medicare, we put it on the exchange and I’m pretty sure it will be more competitive than corporate options and people will buy into it so quickly that it becomes a glide path to Medicare for all.”

State Rep. Jackie Grote, who hosted the house party, said, “We want to make sure that everybody in the area gets to hear as many people who are running in the Democratic presidential race as possible. ... We find that Rye is less of a Republican stronghold than it was before.”

State Rep. Tom Loughman of Hampton was also there. He said he’s “getting pretty close to endorsing somebody. I really like what Pete Buttigieg said today and I believe he has a vision that can unify and an ability to win.”

He said that right now his top five are Buttigieg, Biden, and Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Before his event at Henry Law Park, Buttigieg stopped by the downtown Dover law offices of Shaheen and Gordon to speak with employees.

Partner Billy Shaheen, one of New Hampshire’s two committee members to the Democratic National Committee and husband of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, had praise for Buttigieg.

“I think he’s actually on fire," Shaheen said. "He can communicate as good as anybody I’ve seen to the American people and to their fears and concerns. I think he’s going to be in the top tier. No question about it.”

Shaheen,  who said he would meet in person later Friday with Biden and over the weekend with Harris, when they’re both in the area, added, “Sometime in the fall I’ll make a decision and I’ll get on a campaign.”

Buttigieg’s last stop in the area was Rochester, where he took a downtown tour with city councilor Jeremy Hutchinson.

The candidate said he wanted to stop in Rochester “because I come from a part of the country where there are a lot of communities hard hit by this too, by economic pressures and by things like the opioid crisis.”

His message to the city: “The main thing I want them to know is that help is on the way. That we can have a smarter, better, more humane policy.”