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

White House hopeful Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSenate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' Sanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally Biden seeks to fundraise off fact he's running out of money MORE (D) hammered President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview 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 WydenUS ban on China tech giant faces uncertainty a month out Hillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Lawmakers condemn Apple, Activision Blizzard over censorship of Hong Kong protesters 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 McCollumDeLauro enters race to succeed Lowey as Appropriations chief Trump impeachment calls snowball, putting pressure on Pelosi Leave park operations — and fee revenues — to the parks 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.”