Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, says he’s not worried about possible attacks from Donald Trump or any other presidential candidates as he makes a run for the Democratic nomination for president.
“I’m a gay man from Indiana, I know how to deal with a bully,” he told Katie Bolduan in an interview for CNN. He added that, as a Navy veteran, he’s “comfortable dealing with incoming fire.”
Buttigieg says he would try to ignore the Trumpster during the campaign, “Because the problems that we are facing right now are going to grow with or without him.”
In regard to his fellow Democrats, the 37-year-old says he’d rather view them as ‘competitors’ instead of ‘opponents.’
“I think when you’re viewing others as opponents you’re looking to find their weaknesses,” says the two-term mayor. “When you’re looking at competitors, you think about how everybody brings something to the table.”
“I’m definitely the only left-handed, Maltese-American, Episcopalian, millennial, gay mayor in the race,” he jokingly added. “So I’ve got that lane all to myself.”
One person he doesn’t pull punches with is Vice President Mike Pence, who previously served as governor of Indiana.
“My personal interactions with him have always been very civil and very decent, but it’s also simply true that politically he’s a fanatic and he damaged our city and our state through choices that his social extremism led him to make,” Buttigieg told Bolduan.
Buttigieg shares that he would like candidates to focus their campaigns and political conversations on the voters, not others or themselves.
"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, he explains. “And a lot of people at home were saying, ‘Ok but who’s talking about me?’”
Buttigieg also acknowledges that the 'historic' nature of his candidacy isn't something to be ignored, but he makes clear he doesn't want his being gay to define his campaign.
"Being gay is part of who I am and I'm aware of what it represents to be that kind of first elected official to try to do this who's out," he says. "At the same time, ultimately, I want to be evaluated based on the ideas that I bring to the table. It's kind of like being mayor. If I'm plowing the snow and filling in potholes then I'm a good mayor and if we fail to do that, I'm not. And it's got almost nothing to do with whether when I come home it's to a husband or to a wife."
Watch the full interview below.