Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg spoke out against Vice President Mike Pence for his “fanatical” anti-LGBTQ views on Thursday’s Valentine’s Day episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Regarding the fact that the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who served in the Navy during the war in Afghanistan, is openly gay, Colbert asked him if he thinks of himself as a trailblazer.
The mayor explained that while he is very conscious of the historic nature of his candidacy, he hopes to work toward a world where who he loves isn’t newsworthy at all.
“You know, it’s really hard figuring out how to come out. I was mayor already. I’d kind of reached the point in life where I wanted to come out. I wanted to have a personal life,” Buttigieg said. “Inconveniently, I was in the middle of a re-election campaign, and I had just decided it was time to do it. We didn’t know what the politics would be. I’m from a socially conservative community. But I just came out there, said who I was and I wound up getting re-elected with 80 percent of the vote.”
Colbert then asked Buttigieg if he ever worked with Mike Pence when Pence was still Indiana governor.
“Would I like him?” Colbert asked about the vice president.
“He’s nice,” Buttigieg responded. “If he were here you would think he’s a nice guy to your face, but he’s also just fanatical. He really believes, I mean he’s written that cigarettes don’t kill and he seems to think the universe was created a few thousand years ago and that people like me get up in the morning and decide to be gay. And the thing about it is, if that was a choice, it was a choice that was made way above my pay grade.
“So what he doesn’t realize is that his quarrel is with my creator. My marriage has moved me closer to God, and I wish he respected that.”
The pair also discussed the fact that Buttigieg, who turned 37 last month, would be the youngest person ever elected president should he win the 2020 race.
“What’s the rush? Why run for president now?” Colbert asked. “Why not get a little more salt and pepper in the hair and a little more moss under the soles of your feet before you run for president?”
Buttigieg responded by pointing out that being from a younger generation than current leadership is exactly why he aspires for the Oval Office.
“I belong to the school shooting generation. I was in high school when Columbine happened,” he said, “We’re the generation that provided most of the troops for the conflicts after 9/11. We’re the generation that’s going to be on the business end of climate change. And if nothing changes economically, we’ll be the first generation ever to make less than our parents. So I believe no one has more at stake right now than younger people coming up, and i think a lot about the way the world is going look in 2054, when I reach the current age of the current president.”
Colbert also highlighted Buttigieg’s experience and pointed out that making the move from mayor of a city of just over 100,000 people to leader of the free world is a lot to handle.
“That’s a big leap,” Colbert said. “That’s not as big a leap as reality show host to president. But it is a big leap, you’ll admit.”
Buttigieg responded by saying that, as the “young guy in the race,” it might sound a little strange to play the experience card. But he believes his resume speaks for itself.
“It’s audacious, almost obscene for somebody my age, but really any human being to think they belong in that office. And yet everybody who has had that office has been a mortal human being who brought their experience to the table,” he said. “I have more experience in government than the president, I have more executive experience than the vice president, I have more military experience than anyone to arrive at that desk since George H.W. Bush.”
Colbert also asked what the mayor considered a national emergency in the wake of President Donald Trump’s plan to declare one to speed up funding for his proposed border wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.
Buttigieg answered by explaining two occasions in which South Bend’s emergency operations center was activated in South Bend.
“They were 18 months apart. One was for a 1,000-year flood, and one was for what we were told was a 500-year flood,” he said. “Which either means I have preposterous statistical luck, or we have a problem with climate change that’s not just happening on the North Pole. It’s happening in communities like mine. That’s an emergency.”