Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign to be the Democratic presidential nominee may have ended, but he’s found a way to appease his party: Going on Fox News. (Yes, you read that right.)
In recent weeks, Buttigieg has become one of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s most effective campaign surrogates on cable. While others make the rounds with friendly media, Buttigieg has comfortably walked straight into the lion’s den of President Donald Trump’s favorite cable news channel.
Buttigieg has been on Fox before, but his appearance before the vice presidential debate last week really caught the internet’s eye.
Martha MacCallum asked the 38-year-old about how Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) differs from Biden on healthcare policy.
Buttigieg scoffed at the “classic parlor game” of looking for “daylight between running mates.” Then the former cringiest 2020 candidate turned the tables.
“If people want to play that game, we could look into why an evangelical Christian like Mike Pence wants to be on a ticket with the president caught with a porn star, or how he feels about the immigration policy that he called ‘unconstitutional’ before he decided to team up with Donald Trump,” he said.
An awkward silence ensued. Buttigieg apparently left MacCallum and co-host Bret Baier at a rare loss for words.
Buttigieg similarly owned the conversation in his appearance on Fox News the following morning. First, co-host Steve Doocy asked what he thought of news that Trump was refusing to participate in a virtual debate.
Buttigieg wondered why Trump was “afraid” of the virtual format that millions of Americans have been forced into during the coronavirus pandemic. Then he went for the jugular.
“Of course, the only reason that we’re here in the first place is that the president of the United States is still contagious, as far as we know, with a deadly disease.”
“I don’t know why you’d want to be in a room with other people if you were contagious with a deadly disease, if you care about other people. But maybe the president of the United States doesn’t care about other people.”
Later in the interview, Buttigieg delivered yet another kill shot.
The former mayor said he appreciated that Harris stood up for the troops during the debate, which he contrasted with Trump calling the military’s dead servicemembers “suckers” and “losers.” When Doocy interrupted to sputter that Trump denies saying that, Buttigieg brushed him off. “Right, but we know he’s lying.”
Doocy persisted. “How do we know he’s lying?”
“Well, cause his denial was, ‘I never called John McCain a loser,’ and anyone with Twitter can go on and see where he did. So to believe he was lying in that part of the sentence and not another part? … If you really believe the president now on this kind of stuff, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.”
Now that the internet had a taste of Buttigieg on Fox, it wanted more.
Over the weekend, someone unearthed a clip of Buttigieg in a May 2019 town hall on the network. In it, Buttigieg calmly shuts down Chris Wallace’s attempt to bait him on reproductive freedom.
After he said he supports women’s right to make decisions for their own health, Wallace asked him about third-trimester abortion. Falsely claiming that abortion is available on-demand in the third trimester is conservatives’ most beloved bit of abortion disinformation. In reality, it’s only legal when the woman’s life or health are seriously threatened, or the fetus won’t survive to term.
Buttigieg was the epitome of calm and reasonable as he exposed the fallacy about what is often called “late-term abortion” while thoroughly establishing the callousness of outlawing the procedure.
“We’re talking about women who have perhaps chosen a name,” he said. “We’re talking about women who have purchased a crib, families that then get the most devastating medical news of their lifetime, something about the health or life of the mother or viability of the pregnancy that forces them to make an impossible, unthinkable choice.
“And the bottom line is that as horrible as that choice is, that women, that family, may seek spiritual guidance, they may seek medical guidance, but that decision is not going to be made any better, medically or morally, because the government is dictating how that decision should be made.”
Like others before it, the clip went viral.
Some may wonder why a prominent Democrat is willing to go on a network so notorious for its Republican bias that most liberals don’t bother. Buttigieg’s spokesperson told the Daily Beast that he thinks it’s important to reach Americans where they’re at, and besides, he enjoys it.
“He knows it’s a valuable way to connect with voters who might not otherwise hear our message.”
Whatever the cause of Buttigieg’s star turn on Fox, the internet has stood up and taken notice. For Buttigieg—after many disliked him in the Democratic primary—they finally stan.
Buttigieg may no longer be in the running for president, but he’s definitely the king of crossing the aisle on cable.