Pete Buttigieg responded Wednesday to the viral video of an extremely low-information Iowa voter who rescinded her support for his presidential campaign after learning he’s gay.
“How real is that? How big of an issue is that for you?” MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle asked Buttigieg during an interview that aired Thursday.
“It will happen,” Buttigieg responded, adding that he just saw the video Wednesday.
“First of all, I felt proud of our organizer … who on my behalf was speaking to her, and speaking to her with respect, living out the values that this campaign has been asking our volunteers and organizers to live by the whole time, and trying to reach out in the name of compassion to that woman’s heart,” Buttigieg said, referring to precinct captain Nikki van den Heever. “I’m sad to see that it doesn’t seem that she reached her, but [I] also think that is part of what change looks like — deep, real change — is looking people eye to eye and engaging them with compassion.
“If someone like me in Indiana, while Mike Pence was governor, could come out and get re-elected with 80 percent of the vote, then anywhere in America, I believe, can move past old prejudices, especially when the election, at the end of the day, is not about me or about this president, it’s about the voters questions of how their lives will be shaped by the choice they’re about to make,” he added.
Buttigieg also addressed the incident during an appearance Thursday on The View:
“What I want her to know is that I’m running to be her president, too,” he said of the Iowa voter. “Of course, I wish she was able to see that my love is the same as her love for those she cares about, that my marriage means as much to me as hers if she’s married, but if she can’t see that, and even if because she can’t see that, she won’t vote for me, I am still, if I’m elected president, going to get up in the morning, and try to make the best decisions for her and the people she loves, as I will work to serve every American, whether they supported me or not.”
Ruhle also asked Buttigieg if he ever thought, as a 15-year-old, that he could realistically be president, noting that he is currently “the Democratic frontrunner.”
“When I was 15, I thought you could either serve in a elected office, or you could be out. For that matter, I thought you could be married or you could be gay, not both,” Buttigieg said. “For all the troubles we have in this country, and the steps back we’ve taken in some ways , it’s an extraordinary thing to think about the progress we have made, the progress we can make.
“When I’m meeting kids who let me know they realize now they don’t have anything to be ashamed of, or people my parents age who come to me sometimes in tears, talking about they just never thought this day could come, it’s a reminder that for all the challenges we face as a country, for all the struggles toward justice that this nation has gone through and continues to go through, there are some really good reasons to believe in America, and believe in Americans getting things right, and moving in the direction of inclusion and decency,” he added.
Watch portions of the MSNBC interview below.