Buttigieg pushes back on Clyburn’s suggestion that sexuality is issue for some black voters


Pete Buttigieg said he was elected mayor of South Bend, Ind., despite the prevalence of “socially conservative Democrats,” as he responded to questions about whether older African American voters are uncomfortable voting for a gay candidate. 

Buttigieg’s comments come after South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn (D) suggested in a separate interview with CNN that older African American voters are uncomfortable voting for a gay candidate. 

{mosads}Buttigieg likened South Carolina voters to the residents of South Bend, Ind., characterizing them as “socially conservative Democrats.”

“And at the end of the day I think the reason why the people in my community moved past that and reelected me, and the reason why we’re going to be able to earn votes in every part of the country, is because elections are about this, they’re about voters asking a question: ‘How will my life be different if you get elected versus somebody else?’ ” Buttigieg said in an interview Monday with CNN

“I think we have the best answer to that question,” he added, saying it was his job to “get that answer in front of as many voters as possible.”

“It is remarkable how Americans are capable of moving past old habit, moving past old prejudices, making history, and getting the president that will serve them best regardless of the other noise that’s circling around the race,” he added. 

Buttigieg is the first openly gay major Democratic presidential candidate. 

Buttigieg has pulled into the top tier of candidates in some early voting states polls, including in Iowa. However, he has struggled to gain support from African American voters and is trailing other top candidates in South Carolina. 

Buttigieg’s comments after CNN’s Dana Bash asked Clyburn Sunday about an internal Buttigieg campaign memo that concluded Buttigieg’s sexuality was a barrier for some African American voters. 

“Is Mayor Buttigieg’s struggle in the state of South Carolina because he’s gay?” Bash asked. 

Clyburn said it was a generational issue, adding that his own 25-year old grandson is a supporter and staffer on Buttigieg’s campaign.

But, he said “there’s no question” that Buttigieg’s sexuality is an issue for older African American voters. 

“I’m not going to sit here and tell you otherwise, because I think everybody knows that’s an issue. But I’m saying it’s an issue not the way it used to be,” Clyburn said.

Buttigieg told CNN he has to “earn” and “deserve” every vote he gets. He also touted his “Douglass Plan,” which he called the most comprehensive vision among 2020 candidates on how to tackle systemic racism.

Buttigieg faced scrutiny in South Bend after the controversial removal of a black police chief as well as in the aftermath of a police shooting of a black resident.

Tags Dana Bash Pete Buttigieg

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