Pete Buttigieg: Mike Pence Has Gone From Religious Conservative To "A Cheerleader For The Porn Star Presidency"

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South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is running for president as a Democrat, talks about former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's history on gay marriage, saying: "Please don't judge my state by our former governor."

During a CNN town hall Sunday night at the SXSW conference, Buttigieg wondered how Mike Pence went from a champion of "religious liberty" to being the "cheerleader of the porn star presidency."





"Is that he stopped believing in scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump? I don't know."

QUESTION, JAMES DOTY: Thank you for your service and your position in politics. The question I'd like to ask you is, as you pointed out, Vice President Pence is obviously quite conservative. And in regard to these conservative views, in regard to religion and in sexuality, in comparison to the average voter or the voter in Indiana, let's say, are his views an aberration? Or is this really representative of the state? Or are most people more like you in your more liberal views about us as humans?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG: Please don't judge my state by our former governor. I think those views are so out of line with where anybody is. And, look, I got to tell you, this was kind of a difficult journey for a lot of people. I mean, if you were conservative and you're from an older generation, and you were brought up by people you trusted to believe that it was morally wrong to be, for example, in a same-sex marriage and then the pace of change has happened so quickly -- I've benefitted from the pace of that change. But I also understand how disorienting it must be for people to have gone through that.

So when we had this huge and painful controversy in 2015, when Mike Pence divided our state with this so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was really a license to discriminate, provided you remembered to mention your religion as an excuse for discriminating -- that's what that was -- when that happened, we worked really hard to invite people who were struggling to come on to the right side of history but wanted to get there to feel that we weren't going to judge them because they had struggled. We just wanted them on our side.

But the amazing thing that happened in Indiana was that Democrats and Republicans rose up. There was a coalition of mayors, business leaders, sports leaders, I think even NASCAR put out a statement saying they were disappointed. And the business Republicans in our state revolted right alongside us progressives.

And so that shows me that there is a belief in just decency that really does stand against that kind of social extremism. And my hope is that same decency can be summoned from our communities in red states and blue states to change what's happening in the politics of our country before it's too late.

TAPPER: Do you think -- do you think Vice President Pence would be a better or worse president than President Trump?

BUTTIGIEG: Oh. Does it have to be between those two?

TAPPER: Politics is about choices, man, you know that.

BUTTIGIEG: I mean, I don't know. It's really strange. Because I used to at least believe that he believed in our -- I've disagreed with him ferociously on these things, but I thought, well, at least he believes in our institutions and he's not personally corrupt.

But then -- but then how could he get on board with this presidency? How could somebody who -- you know, his interpretation of scripture is pretty different from mine to begin with. OK, my understanding of scripture is that it is about protecting the stranger and the prisoner and the poor person and that idea of welcome.

That's what I get in the gospel when I'm in church. And his has a lot more to do with sexuality and, I don't know, a certain view of rectitude. But even if you buy into that, how could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency? Is that he -- is that he stopped believing in scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump? I don't know. I don't know.

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