Pete Buttigieg 'won't take lectures' from Rush Limbaugh or any Trump supporter

  • Radio host doubts Americans ready for gay candidate
  • Democrat ‘saddened for what Republican party has become’

Pete Buttigieg is “not going to be lectured on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh or anybody who supports Donald J Trump as the moral as well as political leader of the United States”, the Democratic presidential contender said on Sunday.

Limbaugh, a conservative talk radio host controversially honoured by Trump, caused controversy this week when he questioned whether Americans were ready to vote for a gay candidate for president.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Buttigieg added: “America has moved on and we should have politics of belonging that welcomes everybody. That’s what the American people are for. And I am saddened for what the Republican party has become if they embrace that kind of homophobic rhetoric.”

During his State of the Union address earlier this month, Trump gave Limbaugh the nation’s top civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In liberal circles, the decision met with widespread criticism.

Limbaugh, 69, who recently revealed he has advanced lung cancer, subsequently said on his radio show that if Buttigieg made the debates later this year, Americans would see a “37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage, next to Mr Man, Donald Trump”.

Voters, he said, would conclude that “despite all the great wokeness and despite all the great ground that’s been covered, that America’s still not ready to elect a ‘gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage’ president”.

Some Democratic voters, he added, might decide they should “get a gay guy kissing his husband on stage, ram it down Trump’s throat and beat him in the general election. Really? Having fun envisioning that.”

Buttigieg – who is 38 – was initially cautious in response but the remarks were condemned by senior members of both political parties.

Former vice-president Joe Biden, competing for the Democratic nomination, called Limbaugh’s comments “part of the depravity of this administration”.

Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican senator and key Trump ally, said Limbaugh had made “a miscalculation as to where the country is at”.

Asked if Limbaugh should retain the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Graham said: “Well, my God. Free speech still exists.”

Trump also distanced himself from the remarks by his supporter and sometime onstage companion, telling a podcast that though some Americans wouldn’t vote for a gay president, “I wouldn’t be among that group, to be honest with you.”

Buttigieg told Fox News Sunday that when he came out during a mayoral re-election campaign, he received more support than in his first race. He also responded to Limbaugh on CNN’s State of the Union.

“I love my husband,” he said, of Chasten Buttigieg, who he married in 2018 and who like any politician’s spouse regularly appears at campaign events.

“I’m faithful to my husband. Onstage we usually just go for the hug. But I love him very much and I’m not going to take lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.”

Limbaugh has been married four times.


Martin Pengelly

The GuardianTramp

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