Pete Buttigieg applauded a campaign volunteer for “trying to reach out in the name of compassion” after being confronted by an Iowa caucus voter who rescinded her ballot after realizing the Democratic presidential candidate is gay.
Video of the Feb. 4 exchange circulated on Twitter, where it had been viewed more than three million times as of Friday morning. In it, an unidentified woman expresses her dismay when caucus precinct captain Nikki van den Heever tells her Buttigieg is in a same-sex marriage, explaining that the candidate’s sexuality is “common knowledge.”
“I don’t want anybody like that in the White House,” the voter proclaims, adding that Buttigieg “better read the Bible.”
Speaking with MSNBC after a near tie with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Iowa caucuses this week, however, Buttigieg seemed unperturbed, even though he acknowledged the voter didn’t appear moved by van den Heever’s remarks.
“It will happen,” he said Wednesday. “First of all, I felt proud of our organizer, our volunteer, the campaign representative who, on my behalf, was speaking to her, and speaking to her with respect [and] living out the values that this campaign has been asking our volunteers and organizers to live by the whole time.”
The candidate went on to tout his mayoral tenure as evidence that voters would be able to look beyond his sexuality in the 2020 election.
“If someone like me, in Indiana, while Mike Pence was governor, could come out and get re-elected with 80% of the vote, then anywhere in America I believe people can move past old prejudices,” he said.
“At the end of the day, [the election] is not about me or about this president,” he continued. “It’s about the voters’ questions of how their lives will be shaped by the choice they’re about to make.”