On Friday, President Donald Trump fired off a deathless nickname for South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, referring to him as Mad magazine icon Alfred E. Neuman, setting off a chain of events that included Buttigieg protesting he didn’t know what to whom Trump was referring and culminating in Mad Magazine hilariously mocking Buttigieg.
Trump’s characterization of Buttigieg came during an interview with Politico in which he was asked what he thought of Buttigieg and joked, “Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States.”
Later on Friday in San Francisco, Buttigieg was queried about Trump’s remarks. Buttigieg acted as though he had never heard of the Mad Magazine icon, simultaneously mocking Trump for his age. He said, "I’ll be honest. I had to Google that. I guess it’s just a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference. It's kind of funny, I guess. But he’s also the president of the United States and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal."
Mad Magazine took no prisoners in their response:
Mad Magazine even changed its Twitter profile photo to this:
Prior to the exchange over Trump nicknaming Buttigieg, Trump had spoken at a Florida rally last week, where he took some shots at the Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination, saying, “You got a choice between Sleepy Joe and Crazy Bernie. And I’ll take any of them. Let's just pick somebody, please, and let’s start this thing. Let’s start it. We have a young man, Buttigieg. Boot-edge-edge. They say 'edge-edge.’ He’s got a great chance. He’ll be great. He’ll be great representing us against President Xi of China. That’ll be great. I want to be in that room. I want to watch that one.”
Alfred E. Neuman first appeared in Mad Magazine in November 1954, roughly two years after the magazine was first published. The first time he was on the cover of the magazine came on issue #30 in December 1956 as a write-in candidate for President, His famous motto, "What, me worry?" accompanied him.
Trump’s penchant for nicknaming possible opponents includes him first naming former vice president Joe Biden “Sleepy Joe, then “Sleepy Creepy Joe.” On April 25, Trump tweeted, “Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty - you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!”
By May 10, Trump tweeted, “Looks to me like it’s going to be SleepyCreepy Joe over Crazy Bernie. Everyone else is fading fast!”
As far back as 2016, Trump had his nickname for Bernie Sanders, tweeting, “I don't want to hit Crazy Bernie Sanders too hard yet because I love watching what he is doing to Crooked Hillary. His time will come!”
By April 2019, Trump had Biden and Sanders linked together, tweeting, “I believe it will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country (and MANY other great things)! I look forward to facing whoever it may be. May God Rest Their Soul!”