Former President Barack Obama reportedly told a crowd of donors that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg could not win the presidency because “he’s gay” and “short,” according to a book on the 2020 presidential election.
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Obama made his remarks about the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor during an October 2019 dinner event in New York in front of a crowd of black corporate donors, according to a book by NBC’s Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes of the Hill.
Obama’s attendance at the event was reportedly a partial attempt for the former president to tout Sen. Elizabeth Warren as a viable 2020 candidate for the presidency. At the time, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, and President Biden were considered front-runners for office.
During the same event, Obama joked about Buttigieg’s age, sexuality, and height, stating them as reasons why he could not win the 2020 presidential election, according to the book, which was released Tuesday.
“He’s 38, but he looks 30,” the former president reportedly said of Buttigieg, prompting laughs from the audience. “He’s the mayor of a small town. He’s gay, and he’s short.”
Still, Obama made clear to mention before his remarks that he liked Buttigieg, though reportedly believed the reasons he listed would ultimately not lead the former mayor on a path toward victory.
Buttigieg had reportedly met with Obama in his Washington office months before the October 2019 event to seek advice on how to maintain equanimity in the face of homophobia on the campaign trail.
Obama’s comments also came around the time Buttigieg was receiving criticism for not connecting well to black constituents within the Democratic Party, with some critics dubbing him “Mayo Pete.”
Authors of the book noted the former president’s tone reflected a familiar self-mockery Obama is well known for, citing his past remarks about his own physical attributes, such as “big ears” and “a funny name.”
Buttigieg might not have won the primary nomination in 2020, though his campaign notably won in the Iowa caucuses by a small margin above Sanders, casting a short-lived shadow of doubt over Biden’s chances for becoming the face of the Democratic Party in the early days during primary battles.
The Washington Examiner reached out to Obama’s office but did not immediately receive a response.
Original Author: Kaelan Deese
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