Clash of the Hoosiers: Buttigieg takes on Pence


Pete Buttigeig

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg also described his experience coming out of the closet four years ago, at a time when Mike Pence was Indiana’s chief executive. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Sunday blasted Vice President Mike Pence — the former governor of Buttigieg’s home state, Indiana — for becoming “the cheerleader of the porn star presidency” after enacting policies of “social extremism” on the non-federal level.

“Please don’t judge my state by our former governor,” Buttigieg said during a town hall in Austin, Texas, after he was asked whether Pence’s conservatism is representative of all Indianans.

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“I think those views are so out of line with where anybody is. And look, I got to tell you, this was kind of a difficult journey for a lot of people,” Buttigieg said at the event, moderated by CNN host Jake Tapper.

“I mean, if you were conservative and from an older generation, and you were brought up by people you trusted to believe that it was morally wrong to be, for example, in a same-sex marriage, and then the pace of change has happened so quickly,” he said. “I’ve benefited from the pace of that change. But I also understand how disorienting it must be for people to have gone through that.”

The 37-year-old Buttigieg, who is the youngest Democrat in the crowded 2020 field and the only gay contender, also described his experience coming out of the closet four years ago at a time when Pence was Indiana’s chief executive.

“Frankly, when I first got into politics, elected politics at the beginning of this decade in Indiana — In Mike Pence’s Indiana — I thought you could either be out or you could be in office, but you couldn’t be both,” Buttigieg said.

“I came out in the middle of a re-election campaign because it was just that time in my life when I had to do that,” he continued. “Pence was governor. We weren’t sure what it would do to my political future in a socially conservative community. I wound up getting re-elected with 80 percent of the vote.”

Asked by Tapper whether he would prefer a President Pence or President Trump, Buttigieg struggled to answer, but said he previously trusted that Pence “at least he believes in our institutions” and did not consider him to be “personally corrupt.”

“But then how could he get on board with this presidency?” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg said that while his understanding of the Bible was rooted in “protecting the stranger and the prisoner and the poor person,” Pence’s reading of the Gospel “has a lot more to do with sexuality” and “a certain view of rectitude.”

“But even if you buy into that, how could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency?” Buttigieg added.

“Is it that he stopped believing in Scripture when he started believing Donald Trump? I don’t know.”


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