Buttigieg calls Pence 'cheerleader of the porn star presidency'

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., on Sunday slammed Vice President Pence for his support of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE, calling him the “cheerleader of the porn star presidency." 

"How could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency?" Buttigieg, who set up a presidential exploratory committee earlier this year, said during a CNN town hall event at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

"Is it that he stopped believing in scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump? I don’t know," he added.

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Buttigieg took aim at the former Indiana governor after CNN host Jake Tapper asked him whether Pence would be a better president than Trump. 

“Does it have to be between those two?” Buttigieg replied after a long pause. 

He went on to say that he's always disagreed "ferociously" with Pence, a fellow Indianan, on key issues. But he added that he thought of Pence as someone who believed in "our institutions" and wasn't "personally corrupt."

"But then how could he get on board with this presidency?" Buttigieg asked, before noting that Pence's "interpretation of scripture is pretty different than mine to begin with."

"My understanding of scripture, it’s about protecting the stranger and the prisoner and the poor person and that idea. That’s what I get in the gospel when I’m in church. And his has a lot more to do with sexuality and a certain view of rectitude," Buttigieg concluded, before citing Trump's alleged affair with adult-film star Stormy Daniels. 

Trump has repeatedly denied that he had an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. 

Buttigieg, who would be the Democratic Party's first openly gay candidate if he formally launches a White House bid, repeatedly criticized Pence.

The mayor said in February that Pence "embarrassed" Indiana during his stint as governor from 2013-2017. 

“His worldview is one that is way out of step with the American mainstream," Buttigieg said on CNN at the time.

"And we saw that in Indiana when he really embarrassed our state with policies that both Democrats and Republicans, in not just the political world but the business community, stepped up and said, ‘Hey, you’re making us look like a backwards place in just the moment we’re trying to advance.’ And unfortunately he now has a national stage for some of those fanatical social ideas.”