Pete Buttigieg Triggered By Claims He Only Went To East Palestine Because Trump Did
Pete Buttigieg, US transportation secretary, speaks during a news conference near the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, US, on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023. Buttigieg traveled to East Palestine, Ohio, on Thursday, as the Biden administration hastens its response to a fiery train crash earlier this month that spread toxic chemicals and has become a flashpoint in the upcoming presidential election. Photographer: Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg appeared to be triggered by claims that he only visited the site of the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, because former President Donald Trump did it first.

Buttigieg spoke at length on a number of topics with CNN senior reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere, but the topic still drawing the most oxygen is the East Palestine derailment — and while the former mayor conceded a few mistakes, he argued that most of critics were not being fair to him.

Admitting that he should probably have gone to the site of the derailment — which was followed by a massive crash, a toxic chemical spill, and a failed attempt at a controlled burn — much earlier than he did (weeks after the initial crash), Buttigieg bristled at the idea that he was somehow goaded into making an appearance only after Trump showed up with trucks filled with clean drinking water and other supplies.

“That’s bulls***,” Buttigieg said. “We were already going to go.”

Buttigieg called Trump’s visit “somewhat maddening – to see someone who did a lot try to gut not just rail safety regulations, but the EPA, which is the number one thing standing between that community and a total loss of accountability for Norfolk Southern and then show up giving out bottled water and campaign swag?”

Buttigieg also responded to criticisms aimed at his footwear — calling those complaints “maddening” as well.


“Who cares what shoes I was wearing, when I was there to draw attention to an agenda that will save lives on our railroads?” he asked.

The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, went on to lash out at his critics — suggesting that they were the ones who were out of touch.

“It’s really rich to see some of these folks – the former president, these Fox hosts – who are literally lifelong card-carrying members of the East Coast elite, whose top economic policy priority has always been tax cuts for the wealthy, and who wouldn’t know their way around a T.J. Maxx if their life depended on it, to be presenting themselves as if they genuinely care about the forgotten middle of the country,” Buttigieg complained. “You think Tucker Carlson knows the difference between a T.J. Maxx and a Kohl’s?”

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