Presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg doesn’t believe that he’ll be America’s first gay president if he is elected in 2020.
Speaking to Axios on HBO, Buttigieg said it was statistically “almost certain” that one of America’s 45 presidents was gay, but not out.
Buttigieg was asked by Axios’ Executive Editor Mike Allen how he would respond to Republicans who say he is “too young, too liberal, too gay to be commander in chief.”
“I’ll respond by explaining where I want to lead this country,” Buttigeig said. “People will elect the person who will make the best president and we have had excellent presidents who have been young. We have had excellent presidents who have been liberal. I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn’t know which ones.”
Allen then asked Buttigieg if he believes “that we’ve had a gay commander in chief?”
Buttigieg responded: “I mean, statistically it’s almost certain.”
Asked to suggest a previous president who could have been gay, based on his “reading of history,” Buttigieg declined to answer, instead mocking his own gaydar.
“My gaydar doesn’t work that well in the present, let alone retroactively,” he said. “But one can only assume that’s the case.”
Watch the exchange below:
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has powered his campaign from a distant possibility to a serious contender over the past few months.
Real Clear Politics’ tracker of Democratic nominee polls currently puts Buttigieg in an average position of fourth on 7.0%, behind former Vice President Joe Biden on 32.2%, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on 15.8%, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on 11.6%, and just ahead of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on 6.8%.
And a June 11 poll by Quinnipiac found that in a hypothetical matchup between Buttigieg and Donald Trump, 47% of voters preferred Buttigieg, versus 42% for Trump. (Warren, Harris, Biden, Sanders, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) similarly led Trump in their matchups.)
The openly gay mayor has also not refrained from criticizing Trump, including saying the president faked a disability in order to avoid the draft for the Vietnam War.
Buttigieg, a former lieutenant in the Navy Reserve, last month told the Washington Post that he has a “pretty dim view of [Trump’s] decision to use his privileged status to fake a disability in order to avoid serving in Vietnam.”
Buttigieg also took the bold step of criticizing Fox News’ own anchors while appearing in a town hall on Fox News, saying he had to “swallow hard and think twice before participating in this media ecosystem” because of comments by hosts including Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.