Buttigieg: Trump uses 'white guy identity politics' to divide

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBiden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights Harris seeks Iowa edge with army of volunteers 2020 Democratic presidential candidates rally in support of abortion rights MORE (D) said President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE uses "white guy identity politics" to divide the working and middle class during an interview with The Associated Press.

Buttigieg, a Democratic presidential candidate who has enjoyed a rise in attention and poll numbers in recent weeks, described Trump's political philosophy as "Trumpism" and called it cynical and something that would weaken the United States.

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“By far the political movement that is most based on identity politics is Trumpism," the 37-year-old said. "It’s based on white guy identity politics. It uses race to divide the working and middle class."

“There are a lot of strategies to blame problems on people who look different or are of a different faith or even of a different sexuality or gender identity," he continued. "It’s a cynical political strategy that works in the short term but winds up weakening the whole country in the long term.”

Echoing the comments at a rally in Des Moines, Buttigieg said that his campaign would not give "an inch" to the "racism or xenophobia" that the mayor said "played a role" in Trump's 2016 election campaign, according to the AP.

“We’ve got to acknowledge — without giving an inch on the racism or xenophobia that played a role in that campaign — we’ve got to also pay attention to the things that make people susceptible to that message and make sure we’re addressing them,” Buttigieg reportedly said.

Buttigieg has focused his fire on the president and Vice President Pence in recent days as some polls of early primary states show the South Bend mayor surging to third place in key battlegrounds.

His ongoing feud with Pence over the vice president's views on homosexuality provoked a response from the White House last week, which highlighted praise Pence had made following Buttigieg's public confirmation of his sexuality in 2015.

“I hold Mayor Buttigieg in the highest personal regard. I see him as a dedicated public servant and a patriot," Pence said in a video clip tweeted by his spokesman Alyssa Farah.