Former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, a military veteran, is having no part of the defenses coming from Donald Trump’s supporters as they try to rebut The Atlantic’s article that details the president’s disparagement of service members.
The Atlantic’s report, published Thursday, quotes multiple sources, largely on condition of anonymity, as saying that Trump called fallen soldiers “losers” and “suckers” when he refused to visit a cemetery in France where the American dead from a World War I battle are buried. He also didn’t understand who was on which side in WWI, according to The Atlantic.
He has put down military veterans on many other occasions as well, including the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. “Trump finds the notion of military service difficult to understand, and the idea of volunteering to serve especially incomprehensible,” Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in the article.
Friday on the Fox News program The Story, host Jon Scott noted that some current and former Trump aides, such as Hogan Gidley and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had corroborated Trump’s story that he didn’t visit the French cemetery on that 2018 trip because the weather was too bad for his helicopter to fly. The Atlantic’s report states that he was actually afraid his hair would look bad in the rain.
Buttigieg, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan as well as the most prominent openly gay man to seek the presidency, wasn’t buying the stories from Trump’s allies.
“I mean, look, the president today lied on Twitter about never calling John McCain a loser,” Buttigieg said. “Now he’s asking us to believe that, OK, he’s lying about that today, because we can check and see the footage, but he’s not lying about the other stuff? He must think we’re all suckers, and the amazing thing to me is how little respect he has for the intelligence of his own supporters.”
Trump, who claims to love the military, famously avoided serving in the Vietnam War as a young man in the 1960s, allegedly due to bone spurs. He avoided service without openly opposing the unpopular war; another future president who didn’t serve, Bill Clinton, was an outspoken critic of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Buttigieg sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination after having served two terms as mayor of South Bend, Ind. He was not the first out gay major-party presidential aspirant — that was Republican Fred Karger in 2012 — but Buttigieg was the first to appear in a national debate and to win delegates. When he dropped out of the race, he endorsed Joe Biden.
Buttigieg also spoke with Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC today. “There is something shocking about him just coming out and saying that those who serve are suckers and losers,” he said.
Watch video of both exchanges below.