In the teaser for a new Fox News interview, President Donald Trump said “it’s great” to see 2020 Democratic Candidate Pete Buttigieg, who’s openly gay, on stage at events with his husband.
The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton is slated to air an interview with Trump Sunday. In early footage released Thursday, Hilton asks the president about an upcoming event featuring South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Buttigieg.
“We’ve got the town hall with Pete Buttigieg this weekend, just one thing on him, putting aside policy disagreements, don’t you think it’s just great to see the fact that you’ve got a guy there on the stage with his husband and it’s normal,” host Steve Hilton asked the president.
“I think it’s absolutely fine, I do,” Trump replied.
“Isn’t it a sign of great progress in the country?” Hilton pressed.
“Yeah, I think it’s great,” the president said. “I think it’s something that perhaps some people will have a problem with. I have no problem with it whatsoever. I think it’s good.”
The comments came after Trump subtly mocked the 37-year-old presidential hopeful at his Make America Great Again campaign rally in Panama City, Florida, last week. During that lengthy speech, the president questioned whether Buttigieg was capable of carrying out the duties of the Oval Office.
It was the first time Trump had publicly referred to the 2020 candidate, who has recently been polling in at roughly third place, behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden, since officially announcing his presidential campaign in April.
“We have a young man, Buttigieg,” Trump said at the rally. “Boot-edge-edge. They say ‘edge-edge.'”
“He’s got a great chance. He’ll be great. He’ll be great representing us against President Xi of China,” the president added, drawing laughter from the crowd. “That’ll be great.”
Buttigieg responded to Trump’s comments a day later with a measure statement, choosing to quote a Chinese proverb about building windmills and walls, rather than further inflame the president.
“You can’t get too worried about the name calling and the games he plays,” Buttigieg said at a press conference. “I was thinking of a Chinese proverb that goes, ‘When the wind changes, some people build walls and some people build windmills.'”
“You gotta recognize that we need something that is completely different from what is in this White House,” Buttigieg added. “The negotiations that they are conducting, whether it’s on trade or things like North Korea, are usually a personal high-wire act with no safety net.”
The Chinese proverb means that change can incite a variety of reactions from different people. Those who are scared may build walls to shield from change and those who embrace the change would build windmills.
Last week, Trump also mocked Buttigieg’s appearance during an interview with Politico last week, bestowing the nickname “Alfred E. Neuman” on the relatively youthful mayor.
“Alfred E. Neuman could never be president,” Trump said, referencing the grinning, gap-toothed cartoon face of Mad magazine.
When Buttigieg was subsequently asked about the apparent insult, he told reporters that he didn’t get the joke at first.
“So, I’ll be honest, I had to Google that, I guess it’s a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference,” Buttigieg told reporters. “It’s kinda funny, I guess, but he’s also the president of the United States and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal.”