Campaign

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

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in a Sunday interview expressed discomfort with Hillary Clinton's characterization of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) as a Russian asset.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., told Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" that he did not want to "get in the middle of" the battle over Clinton's comments. 

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 Trump.

"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."

Outbrain