Buttigieg: Trump 'does and says racist things and gives cover to other racists'

Buttigieg: Trump 'does and says racist things and gives cover to other racists'

Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegFive takeaways from first Democratic debate lineup Five takeaways from first Democratic debate lineup Democratic presidential hopefuls react to debate placement MORE (D) called President TrumpDonald John TrumpDC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' DC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' Mexico's immigration chief resigns amid US pressure over migrants MORE a racist Thursday. 

The South Bend, Ind., mayor said in a live interview with The Washington Post's Robert Costa that Trump not only says and does racist things, but he also gives cover to other racists. 

"If you do racist things, and say racist things, the question of whether that makes you a racist is almost academic," Buttigieg said. "The problem with the president is that he does and says racist things and gives cover to other racists."

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"I mean it’s not an accident that hate crimes rose disproportionately in places that his campaign visited," Buttigieg added, apparently referencing a Washington Post study that found that reported hate crimes increased in counties that hosted a Trump campaign rally in 2016. 

Buttigieg said the study showed how important a presidential candidate's behavior is, saying that the "conduct of our campaigns, not just their outcome," can "affect what happens in this country."

"Without having to examine his heart, there’s no question that we have to respond to the racism that is emanating from this White House," he said. 

Buttigieg has emerged as an insurgent candidate since launching an exploratory committee for president earlier this year.

He has repeatedly taken aim at Trump over his policies and his rhetoric. He said in April that the president uses "white guy identity politics" to divide the working and middle class. 

Multiple 2020 Democratic candidates have branded Trump as a racist, including Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKamala Harris rallies with McDonald's workers striking for higher wages Kamala Harris rallies with McDonald's workers striking for higher wages Playing fast and loose with the economic facts MORE (I-Vt.) and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris rallies with McDonald's workers striking for higher wages Kamala Harris rallies with McDonald's workers striking for higher wages 22 presidential candidates to attend Clyburn's South Carolina fish fry MORE (D-Calif.). 

“When you talk about him calling African countries s-hole countries, when you talk about him referring to immigrants as rapists and murderers, I don’t think you can reach any other conclusion," Harris said in February