Buttigieg suggests Pence offered him empty praise when he came out

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Vice President Mike Pence has yet to respond publicly to Pete Buttigieg’s ongoing criticism of him. But on Tuesday, Pence’s wife suggested the South Bend, Ind., mayor is manufacturing a feud to boost his 2020 Democratic presidential bid.

“It’s funny because I don’t think the vice president does have a problem with him,” Karen Pence said on Brian Kilmeade’s radio show. “But I think it’s helping Pete to get some notoriety by saying that about the vice president.”

“I think in our country we need to understand you shouldn’t be attacked for what your religious beliefs are," she said. "And I think kids need to learn that at a young age that this is OK, what faith people have. We don’t attack them for their faith.”

In a speech Sunday, Buttigieg, who is openly gay, said that he wishes the “Mike Pences” of the world would understand that he didn’t chose his sexuality.

“If you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me,” Buttigieg said. “Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg; Vice President Mike Pence (Photos: Bebeto Matthews/AP; Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg; Vice President Mike Pence (Photos: Bebeto Matthews/AP; Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Alyssa Farah, the vice president’s spokeswoman, pointed out that Pence, as Indiana governor, responded to the mayor’s coming out in 2015 by saying he holds Buttigieg “in the highest personal regard.”

“I see him as a dedicated public servant and a patriot,” Pence said at the time.

“I’m just like, ‘Pete, did you not like that?’ because that’s what the vice president said about him,” Karen Pence told Kilmeade. “So what’s the problem with that?”

In a tweet Tuesday night, Buttigieg suggested it was empty praise.

During a CNN town hall in March, Buttigieg railed against Pence, who he accused of abandoning his religious conservative ideals to become Donald Trump’s right-hand man.

“How could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn-star presidency?” Buttigieg wondered aloud. “Is it that he stopped believing in Scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump? I don’t know.”

Buttigieg has made similar comments about evangelical voters who support Trump.

“It’s something that really frustrates me because the hypocrisy is unbelievable,” Buttigieg said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Here you have somebody who not only acts in a way that is not consistent with anything that I hear in scripture in church.”

Following a speech to a special session of the U.N. Security Council on the crisis Venezuela in New York City on Wednesday, Pence took questions from reporters but did not answer whether he believes being gay is a choice.


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