On Sunday, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with host Jake Tapper. During the segment, he was asked about his previous broad characterization of individuals who support President Trump.
Tapper asked: “One of your closing arguments in Iowa is that you can win over Republican voters. I know a number of your precinct captains are former Trump voters … but Republicans have been seizing, including in a new Trump ad, on a statement you made, saying, ‘Anyone who supported this President is, at best, looking the other way on racism.’ You’ve also said that on my show. That’s almost 63 million Americans who you’re painting with a pretty broad brush. Do you regret saying that at all?”
No, I’m very concerned about the racial division that this president has fostered, and I’m meeting a lot of voters who are no longer willing to look the other way on that, looking for a new political home, and I think it’s one of the reasons that we have seen so many people – in addition to the die-hard Democrats who are coming to our events – we’re seeing independents and a remarkable number of people who tell me that they are those future former Republicans that I like to talk about in our campaign. And it’s not that I am pretending to be more conservative than I am, but that if we don’t agree on everything, we can at least agree on turning the page and moving past what this president has done to the country.
In August 2019, Tapper and Buttigieg had a very similar exchange, as referenced by the host on Sunday.
Tapper asked Buttigieg if he believed that “to cast a vote for President Trump in 2020” is a “racist act” due to the fact that the candidate had previously described President Trump as a “white nationalist.”
Buttigieg replied: “Well at best, it means looking the other way on racism. Basically what he’s saying is, ‘All right, I want you to look the other way on the racism, tolerate the negativity, accept the instability of my administration because I’m going to deliver for you job growth almost as good as the Obama years.’ That’s what his argument amounts to now and it’s part of the reason why he’s unpopular.”
At the time, Buttigieg was in between the first of two polling peaks, the latter of which he would reach in December. Several late-November/early-December national polls had the candidate in double digits, reaching as high as 16%.
Since then, however, Buttigieg’s national poll numbers have fallen. As of publication, the RealClearPolitics average of national polls has Buttigieg in fifth place with 6.7% support, behind late-entrant Michael Bloomberg, who is polling at 8%.
In Iowa, which caucuses on Monday, Buttigieg sits in third place with 15.4% support, behind former Vice President Joe Biden with 20.2% support, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with 24.6%, according to RealClearPolitics. This is a drastic change from mid-December and the very beginning of January when Buttigieg was in first position in Iowa.