Buttigieg responds to Trump insult: 'I had to Google that'

Presidential hopeful Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 Krystal Ball warns about lagging youth support for Buttigieg MORE (D) responded to President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE nicknaming him "Alfred E. Neuman," saying the insult was generational.

"I’ll be honest. I had to Google that," Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., told reporters in San Francisco on Friday. "I guess it’s just a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference. It's kind of funny, I guess, but he’s also the president of the United States, and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal." 

Trade talks between Washington and Beijing ended without an agreement Friday, raising the specter of a prolonged trade war between the two economic titans. 

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Trump first introduced the nickname Friday in an exclusive interview with Politico, referencing the gap-toothed, red-haired and big-eared boy who has appeared on the cover of Mad magazine for decades. 

"Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States," the president said of Buttigieg. 

The only openly gay candidate in the Democratic primary field, Buttigieg has recently enjoyed a spike in support, shooting up near the top of several national and statewide polls and raking in $7 million in the first quarter of 2019, outpacing several other candidates with higher name recognition.

Friday’s put-down was not the first time Trump has gone after Buttigieg.

"We have a young man, Buttigieg. Boot-edge-edge. They say 'edge-edge,'" Trump said at a Florida rally this week. "He's got a great chance, doesn’t he?"

"He’ll be great representing us against President Xi of China. That’ll be great. I want to be in that room. I want to watch that one," he added.

The mayor responded the next day that he wasn’t "too worried" about the insults.

"You can't get too worried about the name calling and the games he plays," said Buttigieg. "I was thinking of a Chinese proverb that goes, when the wind changes, some people build walls and some people build windmills."

Buttigieg, a former Rhodes scholar and Afghanistan War veteran who’s nearing the end of his second term as mayor, has faced skepticism over whether he’s experienced enough to win the White House. He’s responded that he has more executive experience than Trump and more military experience than Trump and Vice President Pence put together. 

Trump appears to be continuing his practice of labeling his political enemies with derogatory nicknames, dubbing Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 The Memo: Pelosi-Trump trade deal provokes debate on left MORE (I-Vt.) "Crazy Bernie" and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats seek leverage for trial Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE "SleepyCreepy Joe." 

The former New York real estate mogul effectively wielded his rhetorical put-downs to stand out in a crowded Republican primary field in 2016, eventually winning the party’s nomination.