Buttigieg says he wasn't comfortable with Clinton attack on Gabbard

Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegDemocratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights Democrats debate Biden effort to expand map against Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems, GOP dig in on police reform ahead of House vote MORE in a Sunday interview expressed discomfort with Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats try to turn now into November The Memo: Unhappy voters could deliver political shocks beyond Trump On The Trail: Trump, coronavirus fuel unprecedented voter enthusiasm MORE's characterization of Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardFinancial firms facing serious hacking threat in COVID-19 era Gabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-Hawaii) as a Russian asset.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., told Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddTrump dings CNN, 'Morning Joe' ratings as Tucker Carlson sets record Cuomo: Trump administration 'in denial' about coronavirus 'problem' Arkansas governor urges 'consistent national message' on wearing masks MORE on "Meet the Press" that he did not want to "get in the middle of" the battle over Clinton's comments. 

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But when Todd asked if he was comfortable with Clinton's critique of Gabbard, Buttigieg said, "No, I'm not."

"I'm also not going to get in the middle of it because we, as a party and as a country, have to focus on the future," he said.

Buttigieg said the Democratic Party needs to focus "on the task at hand right now," which includes defeating President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE.

"That is my focus," he said. "That and what happens after this presidency comes to an end."

Clinton, asked Friday about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and future elections, said she believed Russians have their “eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate.”

Clinton didn't mention Gabbard specifically, but it was clear from her remarks who she was referencing.

"She’s the favorite of the Russians," Clinton said of the candidate. "They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far."

The former secretary of State's comments sparked backlash and prompted Gabbard to accuse Clinton of backing "a campaign to destroy my reputation."

The Hawaii representative denied that she would run as a third-party candidate. Clinton has also accused 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein of being used by the Russians to get President Trump elected. 

Buttigieg on the topic of electoral interference said that Russia is "exploiting divisions" in the U.S.

"But the bigger issue here is Russia is working to interfere with our elections right now," he said. "And we know a big part of how they're going to do it is exploiting divisions among the American people with their information operations."