THE OPENLY GAY MAYOR CAME OUT SWINGING ON CNN, DEMANDING PROTECTIONS FOR LGBTQ AMERICANS AND CALLING TRUMP THE “PORN STAR PRESIDENT”
We already know that South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is impressive: He’s a Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar, a former Navy Reserve lieutenant and Afghanistan veteran, and he’s a Democrat who won his last election with more than 80% of the vote, right in the middle of Trump Country. And, oh by the way, he’s accomplished all of that by the age of 37. In spite of that resume, he’s still barely breaking 1% in early primary polls. But in a live CNN Town Hall last night at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, the openly gay mayor proved that he should be taken seriously as a 2020 presidential candidate, and he pulled no punches in the process.
If nominated, he would be the first openly LGBTQ+ candidate on a major party ticket. Buttigieg said that he is keenly aware of the impact policymakers have on ordinary Americans, saying that the freedom to marry his husband came down to just one vote of the Supreme Court. And while he’s optimistic, noting his landslide win despite coming out during his reelection campaign in a state governed by Mike Pence, he said there is much more work to be done.
Let’s be under no illusions. There are attacks on transgender Americans. From the Oval Office, picking on troops willing to lay down their lives for this country. Not to mention teenagers in our high schools. For a transgender teen to get the signal from the White House that the highest officials in the land can’t tell the difference between her and a predator, and make it harder for her to go to the bathroom, shows you just how out of whack the climate is in our country right now.
Buttigieg said it’s time to end the war on trans people in America, and called for a federal equality act to protect against discrimination on the basis of who you love or how you identify.
Host Jake Tapper asked Buttigieg if he thinks Mike Pence would be a better or worse president than Donald Trump. After an “Oof” and an eyeroll that could be seen from the back row, he joked as to how he could even decide between the two. Then, the gloves came off, calling Pence a “cheerleader of the porn star presidency.”
I disagreed with [Pence] ferociously, but I thought, well, at least he believes in our institutions and he’s not personally corrupt. But then, how could he get on board with this presidency? His interpretation of scripture is pretty different from mine. My understanding of scripture is that it’s about protecting the stranger, the prisoner, the poor person, and his 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 be the cheerleader of the porn star presidency? Is it that he stopped believing in scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump?
The town hall wasn’t just a series of clapbacks. Buttigieg proved that he has a commanding grasp on big matters of domestic and foreign policy, with reasoned arguments on issues including the crisis in Venezuela, the war in Afghanistan and veterans issues, online data privacy, health care and the social safety net, and more.
In one of the lighter moments, Buttigieg put to rest once and for all how to pronounce his name. Tapper noted that the mayor’s husband, Chasten, tweeted the pronunciation as “Budda-judge,” while Pete tweeted “BOOT-edge-edge.” Tapper complimented Buttigieg on being diplomatic in this marital squabble, saying, “I feel like you said your way was right, but then you did not throw your husband under the bus, which I guarantee you is the right path.”
Besides, Buttigieg said, “Back home they just call me Mayor Pete.”
(Screengrab: Official CNN YouTube)