Mike Pence breaks silence on Pete Buttigieg: ‘He knows better’ than to attack my faith

April 12, 2019

Mike Pence breaks silence on Pete Buttigieg: ‘He knows better’ than to attack my faith Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com

Vice President Mike Pence is at his wit’s end with South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Although the pair enjoyed a cordial political relationship while Pence was serving as Indiana governor, Buttigieg has since turned on the vice president, denouncing his “fanatical religious conservatism” and his stance on marriage equality and gay rights.

After initially keeping quiet on the subject, Pence finally broke his silence on Wednesday, saying in an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box that Buttigieg “knows better” than to attack his Christian faith.

Breaking his silence

“Well, look, I worked very closely with Mayor Pete when I was governor of the state of Indiana,” Pence said in response to a question from CNBC’s Joe Kernan. “We had a great working relationship. And he said some things that are critical of my Christian faith and about me personally, and he knows better. He knows me.”

Pence said that Buttigieg has changed since announcing his 2020 presidential bid. He attributed the gay mayor’s defamatory comments to a desire to stand out on the campaign trail.

“But I get [it],” Pence continued. “You know, it’s — look, they got 19 people running for president on that side in a party that is sliding off to the left. And they’re all competing with one another for how much more liberal they are than the other. So I get that,” he said.

Too little, too late

For his part, Buttigieg has described his relationship with the vice president as “complicated.” But some Indiana Democrats have criticized Buttigieg for not doing enough to stop Pence’s opposition to marriage equality reforms when he had the chance.

After then-Gov. Pence passed a “religious freedom” law that many on the left considered anti-LGBTQ, Buttigieg responded by saying he was “disappointed” that Pence signed the bill, but welcomed the governor with open arms to a South Bend event just a few weeks later.

“I’m focused on how we can work together across city limits and across the aisle,” Buttigieg said at the time. But Tony Flora, president of the North Central Indiana AFL-CIO chapter, said that the mayor has trouble translating rhetoric into action.

“I would look to Pete Buttigieg to be a louder voice and be more forceful,” said. “He came to our rallies, signed petitions and did make public remarks, but he could have been a bit more substantive instead of just making speeches — taking some action and being more supportive.”

Writing on his autobiography, Buttigieg provided an unlikely excuse for why he didn’t push Pence to veto the religious freedom bill: “I wish I could say I made a good effort to talk him out of it, but it was clear from the look in his eyes that he had made up his mind,” he wrote, describing a meeting between Pence and other Indiana mayors.

Sticking to his faith

Pence, meanwhile, told CNBC that he accepts the way the country has evolved toward gay marriage, although he says he will not compromise his Christian values to conform with society.

“Look, the Supreme Court has made their decision,” Pence said. “My family and I have a view of marriage that’s informed by our faith. And we stand by that.”

Pence continued: “But that doesn’t mean that we’re critical of anyone else who has a different point of view.”

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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.