Buttigieg says he has 'batting practice' dealing with bullies

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegButtigieg: We 'probably are' on cusp of recession Chris Wallace becomes Trump era's 'equal opportunity inquisitor' Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate MORE says he has “no shortage” of experience dealing with bullies.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., who is openly gay, was asked during an interview airing Saturday for the premiere of MSNBC's "Saturday Night Politics with Donny Deutsch" about his experiences growing up and whether he was ever picked on as a child.

“I have no shortage of batting practice when it comes to dealing with bullies. It’s one of the reasons I’m not going to hesitate to get into the arena here with some of the toughest and most morally challenged people that we’ve seen in a long time in politics,” he said.

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Buttigieg recalled a time in high school when he said another student hit him in the back to “get a rise” out of him.

“This kid just kind of hit me from behind in order to get a rise out of me, and then I just turned around and looked him in the eye, and I’ve never seen somebody back off so quick. And what I realized is sometimes when somebody’s lashing out, when they’re hitting you like that, it’s not because of you. It’s because of them,” he said.

Buttigieg, who saw a rapid rise in polling momentum in recent weeks that has since slowed, has made similar remarks in the past. The mayor told CNN in February when asked about potential attacks from President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE or other presidential candidates that as "a gay man from Indiana, I know how to deal with a bully." 

The Indiana mayor has early on in his White House bid had to respond to homophobic protesters as he travels the country.