Buttigieg and Bennet take aim at Trump in different ways

  • South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg at the N.H. Institute of Politics. Paul Steinhauser—

  • Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado.

For the Monitor
Published: 3/8/2019 6:13:26 PM

Two Democratic White House hopefuls took very different tacts in dealing with Republican President Donald Trump as they campaigned in New Hampshire on Friday.

Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg argued that the 2020 election shouldn’t be about Trump, emphasizing that “of course we’ll confront him, we’ll call him out. We’ll beat him. But at the end of the day, it’s not about him, it’s about us.”

Potential White House candidate Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado had no problem targeting Trump, calling his presidency “a sorry chapter.”

Buttigieg – the South Bend, Indiana mayor who launched a presidential exploratory committee in January – took questions from reporters after headlining ‘Politics and Eggs’ at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Asked by the Monitor why he never mentioned Trump’s name during his address and question and answer session with the audience, Buttigieg said “the biggest message I have to the current president is ‘it’s not about you.’”

“I just think that in addition to responding to the current moment and the current president, we need to be talking about what the next era is going to look like. This president will come and go. This presidency will come and go,” he answered.

Buttigieg also highlighted his push to add justices to the U.S. Supreme Court and to end the Electoral College in presidential elections, as he campaigned in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.

“I simply believe that every American ought to have the same vote, the same voice, no matter where you live, whether you’re in a big city or small community, whether you’re in a state like Indiana or a state like New Hampshire, that when it comes to choosing a president, everyone’s vote should be strictly equal,” he explained.

The push to scrap the Electoral College isn’t a crowd pleaser in New Hampshire, a small general election battleground state with four electoral votes are always up for grabs.

Of course, the Granite State’s most famous politically for holding its presidential primary, so Buttigieg was quick to highlight that “I’m talking about the general election, not the primary calendar. I just wanted to make sure that’s clear to everybody, to my New Hampshire audience.”

The 37-year old contender and War in Afghanistan veteran joked about his longshot bid for the White House, saying that he’s a “young person with a funny name coming out of nowhere….I think it’s safe to say I’m not extremely famous.”

If Buttigieg pulls off a major upset and wins the Democratic nomination, he would become the first openly gay nominee of major political party. But he said it’s not an issue on the campaign trail.

“It’s been remarkable how many interviews and how many appearances, it really has been a non-issue. And that’s historic too in its own way,” he explained. “I also recognize that there’s a historic quality to this potential candidacy and that it has the potential to make it just a little easier for the next person who comes along.”

Bennet: Trump ‘way off base’

Bennet spoke soon after the president criticized a resolution passed Thursday by the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. The broad anti-bigotry and anti-hate resolution was prompted by controversial comments from freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota that were widely criticized as anti-Semitic.

Trump – pointing to the final resolution – on Friday attacked the Democrats and said they “have become an anti-Israel party. They have become an anti-Jewish party.”

Bennet took issue with the president’s comments, saying “he’s way off base. It’s absolutely untrue. Look. This is part of what Donald Trump does and people should understand it. At every turn – because he knows he’s fading – he tries to disqualify Democrats and the Democratic Party.”

“The Democratic Party in Washington supports Israel,” he emphasized.

Bennet sat down for an interview during a jam-packed quick trip to New Hampshire. Last month he stopped in Iowa, which votes first in the presidential caucus and primary calendar.

He said his decision on running for the White House would come in “weeks, not months.”

Bennet, who traveled to the Granite State with his teenage daughter and an aide, said his family seems to be OK with a potential presidential run.

“I need know there’s a real opportunity for me to make a difference in the race and that I could have a chance to win the race. That’s what I’m trying to figure out,” he explained.

But he added that “I’m inclined to do it.”

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