Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who served in the Navy during the war in Afghanistan, said as a gay man he knows how to “deal with a bully” when asked about potential attacks from President Trump or other presidential candidates.
“I’m a gay man from Indiana, I know how to deal with a bully,” he said in an interview with CNN.
The 2020 candidate also told host Katie Bolduan that he would make an effort to ignore Trump during his presidential campaign.
“In many ways, yes, because the problems that we are facing right now are going to grow with or without him,” the mayor said when asked if his goal was to ignore the president.
Buttigieg explained that he wants the election to focus on the people they would be elected to serve rather than the individual candidates competing.
“I go right back to how our ideas are going to make lives better,” he said.
“I think part of how we got here… was we had an election cycle where our candidate was talking about herself or she was talking about him. And a lot of people at home were saying, ok but who’s talking about me?”
When asked about the growing list of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, Buttigieg said that he viewed them as competitors rather than opponents.
“I think when you’re viewing others as opponents you’re looking to find their weaknesses. When you’re looking at competitors, you think about how everybody brings something to the table,” he said.
“I’m definitely the only left-handed, Maltese-American, Episcopalian, millennial, gay mayor in the race. So I’ve got that lane all to myself.”
Watch his interview with Katie Bolduan, below:
Buttigieg, who came out in 2015, will also be the first openly LGBTQ elected official to run for President, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
In an interview with CNN in December, Buttigieg wondered if his sexuality would be an issue for more conservative Democrats.
“The only way to know is to get out there,” he said. “I will say I got re-elected with 80% of the vote after I had come out while Mike Pence was governor of Indiana. I don’t think these things decide your fate.”
“As we look to the new generation of leaders, he’s a natural person to be at the top of that list. The things he’s done with his life, the things he’s done in South Bend, his ability to reach people across the political divide. All those things are enormous assets,” Obama political advisor David Axelrod told the South Bend Tribune.