Openly gay US presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has slammed Vice President Mike Pence for his “bad policies” as a public row between the pair continues to deepen.
During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Buttigieg was asked about Pence’s suggestion that his criticisms of the vice president were part of a cynical attempt to gain support for his presidential campaign. Pence had also accused Buttigieg of being critical of his faith.
Buttigieg responded: “I’m not critical of his faith; I’m critical of bad policies.”
He continued: “I don’t have a problem with religion, I’m religious too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people, and especially in the LGBTQ community, so many people, even today, feel like they don’t belong.
“You can get fired in so many parts of this country just for who you are,” he said. “That’s got to change.”
Pete Buttigieg: ‘I’m not interested in feuding with Mike Pence’
Buttigieg continued: “I’m not interested in feuding with the Vice President, but if he wanted to clear this up, he could come out today and say he’s changed his mind and that it shouldn’t be legal to discriminate against anybody in this country for who they are.”
He also elaborated on his own religious faith in the interview, and said that anybody running for president must be able to “speak for people of any faith and people of no faith.”
He said that he sees Christianity as being “about love and humility, humbling yourself before god and putting other people before you.”
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“I don’t have a problem with religion, I’m religious too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people.”
– Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg also reflected on the 2016 presidential election and said he is “disappointed” that a woman—Hillary Clinton—was not elected.
“I think it’s more important than ever—in administrations, in politics, and in every other field—to have gender diversity and gender balance,” he said.
Public row between Pete Buttigieg and Mike Pence began last week
The fallout between Pete Buttigieg and Mike Pence began last week when Buttigieg accused Pence of “having a problem” with the fact that he is gay.
“If me being gay was a choice, it was made far, far above my pay grade,” Buttigieg said at an event arranged by the Victory Fund, an organisation supporting LGBT+ political candidates last week.
“That’s the thing that I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand—that if you got a problem with who I am—your problem is not with me, your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
Karen Pence initially responded to Buttigieg’s words and said that he and Pence had “always had a great relationship” and that he had only criticised Pence to “get some notoriety.”
Mike Pence later hit back at Buttigieg where he accused him of saying “some things that are critical of my Christian faith and about me personally.”
“He knows better. He knows me,” Pence added. “But I get it. You know, it’s—look, again, 19 people running for president on that side in a party that’s sliding off to the left. And they’re all competing with one another for how much more liberal they are.”