Buttigieg: 'I didn't set out to be the gay president'

Buttigieg: 'I didn't set out to be the gay president'
© Greg Nash

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Candidates face pressure to exit presidential race MORE said Sunday he didn't set out to be "the gay president" when he launched his 2020 campaign, but added that he recognizes the significance of being the first major openly gay  candidate for the White House. 

"I didn’t set out to be the gay president, but certainly seeing what this means is really meaningful and really powerful," Buttigieg said on NBC's "Meet the Press." 

His comments came after he emerged in dead heat with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE (I-Vt.) for first place in the Iowa Democratic caucuses, with both candidates declaring victory. 

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"The reality is, prejudice is still out there and you’ve got to deal with it. But I would not have been able to get reelected the way I did so in in Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump trails Democratic challengers among Catholic voters: poll Sunday shows preview: 2020 candidates look to South Carolina The Democratic nominee won't be democratically chosen MORE's Indiana if people were not able to look past that," Buttigieg said. "And every time somebody seeks to break barriers, pundits try to make it about electability."

NBC's Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddTrailing Democrats tout strength with black voters ahead of South Carolina Clyburn says Democrats spent 'too much time on Bloomberg' in Nevada debate The Democratic nominee won't be democratically chosen MORE asked Buttigieg if he's looked beyond the question of electability and reflected on the momentous nature of his campaign and its success. 

"There was a moment before we went out, when Chasten pulled me and just reminded me what this means for some kid peeking around the closet door wondering if this country has a place for him," Buttigieg said, referring to a conversation he had with his husband. 

Buttigieg would become the first openly gay presidential candidate from either major party if he were to win the nomination. 

The Democratic will face off in New Hampshire on Tuesday for the first-in-the-nation primary.