On Sunday, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.” During the segment, host Jake Tapper asked Buttigieg about the difference between religious voters in the Democratic Party and religious voters in the Republican Party.
TAPPER: You have been struggling to win over African-American voters during this campaign so far, even as you have been rising. Less than half of black Protestant Christians support same-sex marriage. You’re headed to a black church later today. Do you think that the fact that you’re gay is part of what might be holding you back with at least some black voters?
BUTTIGIEG: I think most black voters, like most voters in general, want to know what the candidates are actually going to do to improve their lives. And when I talk to black voters in particular, there’s a sense of having been taken for granted in politics and a sense that candidates haven’t always been speaking to them or earning their trust.
So, more than anything, I think my job is to make sure that I explain how our vision for increasing the number of black entrepreneurs is going to lead to economic empowerment, how the part of my Douglass Plan for tackling institutional racism that works on health will help close the maternal mortality gap.
I think a lot of these other factors start to wash away once voters understand what it’s going to mean for them that you, vs. the others, are in office. But we have got six months to make sure we get that message out, make sure we demonstrate that I’m serious about the things I would do as president.
And that’s how I plan to earn support among black voters, whether it’s here in South Carolina or across the country.
TAPPER: You have been critical in the past of Vice President Mike Pence’s positions on LGBT issues and the fact that his religious conservatism on these issues obviously influences an anti-LGBT view on policies.
You have said, “I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people, and especially in the LGBT community,” calling same-sex marriage a moral issue.
Obviously, this is not the same thing, but explain how it’s different that there are Democratic voters who might have an issue with LGBTQ rights. How is that different from Vice President Pence, if they’re both based in religious views?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think back to my experience in Indiana when I was running for reelection after I came out in a community that’s generally Democratic, but also quite socially conservative. And I just laid out the case on the kind of job that I was doing – and what I found was, a lot of people were able to move past old prejudices and move into the future.
This is not an easy conversation for a lot of people who have, frankly, been brought up in a certain way and are struggling to get onto the right side of history. But I also believe that this conversation is picking up speed, that it’s a healthy conversation, and that where it leads is an understanding that all marginalized people need to stand together at a time when so many Americans in so many different ways, especially under this presidency, are coming under attack.
As Tapper mentioned, Buttigieg has a history of criticizing Vice President Mike Pence over his Christianity.
In April, Buttigieg gave a speech before the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne, during which he stated: “I can tell you that if me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade. And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand – that if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
He later called Pence “nice” but “fanatical” during an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Pence replied to Buttigieg’s remarks on CNBC, stating: “I worked very closely with Mayor Pete when I was governor of the state of Indiana. We had a great working relationship and he said some things that are critical of my Christian faith and about me personally, and he knows better; he knows me. But I get it you know, it’s like – you have 19 people running for president on that side … in a party that’s sliding off to the Left … and they’re all competing with each other for how liberal they can be.”