Pete Buttigieg got an enthusiastic reception at a Fox News town hall Sunday where he explained the importance of restoring moral authority to the office of president and appointing judges that back reproductive rights.
He also criticized President Donald Trump over reports that he’s considering pardoning service members accused of war crimes.
But the response that generated one of the biggest rounds of applause was his dismissal of Trump’s signature form of communication.
“The tweets are – I don’t care,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said when asked how he would deal with Trump’s tweets and insults if he wins the nomination.
Calling Trump’s tweets a distraction from the real issues, Buttigieg said he gets that “It’s the nature of grotesque things that you can’t look away.”
In fact, two hours before the event at a New Hampshire high school, Trump criticized the network for “wasting airtime” on Buttigieg.
“They forgot the people who got them there,” Trump tweeted.
He also reprised his nickname for Buttigieg, adding: “Alfred E. Newman will never be President!”
Buttigieg was the third Democratic presidential candidate to do a Fox News town hall, drawing more attendees than the previous appearances by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, according to moderator Chris Wallace.
“Wow, a standing ovation,” Wallace said as the audience rose after the hour-long discussion with the South Bend, Indiana, mayor.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren turned down an invitation, slamming the network as a “hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists.”
Buttigieg, who had been the first Democratic candidate to appear on Wallace’s Fox News Sunday show, defended his choice to supporters in an email Saturday. Buttigieg said that while he condemns the Fox News hosts who “uncritically amplify hate,” the network has viewers who are “tuning in in good faith.”
“I think we’ve got to find people where they are,” he said during Sunday’s town hall, where he specifically criticized hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. “Not change our values. But update our vocabulary so that we’re truly connecting with Americans form coast to coast.”
Here are some of the other highlights from the town hall:
Avoided criticizing Biden
The 37-year-old Buttigieg has emphasized his youth as an advantage in the crowded primary field, saying he has the perspective to worry about what the world will be like in 2054, the year when he will reach the age of the current president.
Wallace asked Buttigieg if he would say the same about the year 2058, which is when he will be the same age as former Vice President Joe Biden. Buttigieg avoided directly calling Biden too old to run. Instead, he said there’s a “special value to generational change at a moment like this.”
With more states passing laws to newly restrict access to abortion, Buttigieg said the next president needs to be ready to protect what he called the right of a woman to make her own decisions about her body and her reproductive health.
“First of all, and the simplest thing, is appointing justices and judges who recognize that that is part of American freedom,” he said.
That’s more detail than he lists on his campaign site though he wasn’t as specific as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has been. She has committed to appointing judges that back Roe v. Wade and wants to codify the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion into law.
Wallace pressed Buttigieg on whether abortion should be legal at any state of pregnancy, an issue that Republicans want to draw attention to as some states debate loosening restrictions on abortions later in pregnancy.
“The dialogue has gotten so caught up on where you draw the line that we’ve gotten away from the fundamental question of who gets to draw the line,” Buttigieg said. “And I trust women to draw the line.”
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Source: USA Today