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Gay Pres. Hopeful Pete Buttigieg: I've Handled Bullies Like Trump

Pete Buttigieg

The South Bend, Ind. mayor said he'd try to ignore the president and focus on the American people. 

Among the nearly dozen Democrats who've announced their 2020 presidential run, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg told CNN he's in a good position to take on Donald Trump because being gay has taught him to handle bullies.

"I'm a gay man from Indiana, I know how to deal with a bully," the 37-year-old mayor told CNN's Katie Bolduan this week.

Buttigieg also said that part of his strategy would be to ignore Trump while running and focus on the voters. He then faulted the 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for focusing too much on herself or on Trump and not paying better attention to the American people during her run.

Now on his second term as Mayor of South Bend, an industrial city that has taken some economic hits with the loss of manufacturing jobs, Buttigieg came out publicly during his reelection campaign in 2015 ahead of the Supreme Court's decision on national marriage equality.

Early in his tenure as mayor in 2012, South Bend adopted an inclusive antidiscrimination ordinance. In 2015, Buttigieg spoke out against Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which had the support of then-Governor Mike Pence and was interpreted by many as a "license to discriminate."

In his interview with CNN, Buttigieg had a few choice words for Pence.

"Politically, he's a fanatic, and he damaged our city and our state through choices that his social extremism led him to make," Buttigieg said.

With his husband Chasten Glezman at his side, Buttigieg told CNN that his identity can't be extricated from him but that his policy ideas are what matters most.

"Being gay is part of who I am and I'm aware of what it represents to be that kind of first elected official to try to do this who's out," Buttigieg said. "Ultimately I want to be evaluated based on the ideas that I bring to the table."

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