Buttigieg slams July 4 military parade: I think it makes America 'look smaller'

White House hopeful Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegVolatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties British Bookmaker: Warren has replaced Biden as Democratic primary favorite The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape MORE (D) hammered President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE on Wednesday over his plans to have a military display during this year’s July Fourth parade in Washington, DC., saying it makes America “look smaller.”

“We’ve always been bigger than that. We’ve also been the kind of country that respects our military enough not to use them as props,” the South Bend, Ind., mayor said on CNN. “Think about the strongest, toughest person you know. It’s probably not a person who goes around talking about how strong or tough they are.” 

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“I think the president’s trying to honor himself, and, again, my worry is it ultimately makes us look smaller,” he added.

Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran, said the president is using the military as “ornaments for his ego or for his agenda,” citing the Pentagon’s deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to try to deter illegal crossings.

“The whole idea of civilian control of the military is that there’s going to be some kind of separation, and trying to enlist people in uniform to decorate his political agenda just diminishes the military that so many serve in without regard to politics or favor,” he said. 

Democrats have also expressed concerns that displays of tanks and military planes will echo those of leaders who seek to boost their support by flexing their military might.

“This is the stuff of authoritarian regimes, exactly what patriotic Americans were fighting against in 1776. Congressional Republicans who shrug at this will be complicit when Trump takes his authoritarian ambitions to the next level,” said Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWyden blasts FEC Republicans for blocking probe into NRA over possible Russia donations Wyden calls for end to political ad targeting on Facebook, Google Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity MORE (D-Ore.).

Democrats have also come out swinging against the parade over its reported $2.5 million price tag, hundreds of thousands of dollars of which is expected to account for the military equipment featured at the event.

“These fees are not a slush fund for this administration to use at will. They are meant to improve our national parks, keep them safe and protected for Americans to enjoy, and are clearly not to be used for a political rally,” Rep. Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Clean water or mining pollution for the nation's favorite wilderness? Buttigieg slams July 4 military parade: I think it makes America 'look smaller' MORE (D-Minn.), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees Interior Department spending, said in a statement Wednesday.

Trump has defended the event, saying the cost “will be very little compared to what it is worth.”