Chris Cuomo sat down with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg for a one-on-one interview ahead of tonight’s 2020 Democratic primary debate about our “identity politics” election, Trump’s racism and how he’d take him on, and Mayor Pete’s challenges with the black community.
Said Buttigieg of Trump’s recent attacks: “The presidency is supposed to stand as a symbol of something that we all have in common. And yet this president has taken every single opportunity to turn us against one another.”
“Look at the pattern,” he added of Trump’s use of the word “infested” to describe cities with a lot of minorities. “This is a kind of terminology that he reserves for places and situations where there are a lot of minorities involved. We can debate over how strategic it is, how intentional it is, but on its face, it is racist.”
Cuomo asked Buttigieg about his struggle to gain support among Black voters: “African-American voters are tired of having been lied to or taken for granted by politicians. When you are new on the scene, when you haven’t been known for years or decades, and when you’re not yourself from a community of color, you’ve got a lot of extra work to do in order to validate what you have to say and earn that trust.”
Buttigieg then spoke about his Douglass Plan: “[It’s] everything from making sure we invest in minority entrepreneurship to investing in dealing with health inequities.”
In the first part of the interview, Cuomo and the South Bend mayor went on to discuss the biggest lesson he’s learned in the campaign so far, feedback he has received about his handling of the police shooting of a black man by a white officer in his city, and law enforcement body cams.
In the second part of the interview, Buttigieg told Cuomo that Trump is playing his supporters for “suckers.”
“I’m not scared of this president,” said Buttigieg. “I mean, this a guy who was working on season seven of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ when I was driving armored vehicles outside the wire in Afghanistan. I’m not afraid to take him on.”
Said Buttigieg of Trump’s technique with his base: “You know, the gift of this president is to take any energy that goes his way, even if it’s in the form of criticism, and turn it into a kind of food that he just grows off of and gets bigger. That’s the code that we’ve got to crack. And I think the way to do it is to name and confront everything that he does wrong, but then immediately go back to talking about the impact that we will have on voters’ lives.”
He continued: “The message that he’s telling to these Americans is: Yes, you’re not making enough money. Yes … housing is becoming unaffordable, college education is out of reach for your kids, and your job may be automated away in 10 years. But your big problem in life is political correctness. That’s what he’s trying to get people to believe. And sure a lot of people voted this way last time around because they have been so let down by people on both sides of the political spectrum that they decided just to vote to burn the house down. … And this isn’t to excuse the racism or the misogyny or the xenophobia in that campaign. But we should look at why those things found more fertile ground than usual without excusing it.”
Buttigieg added: “What we’ve got to now say to these voters is, ‘okay, you voted to burn the house down, now the house is on fire, but he has not done one thing to make your life better. And if you think your problem is brown people when your job is about to get automated away and you don’t have the retirement savings you need to actually have a dignified remainder of your life then you’re not going to make it with this president.'”