Presidential candidates can expect their every move to be scrutinized and even their tiniest gaffes exposed. They are constantly in the spotlight.
So 2020 Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, surely must be guarding his words carefully. He wouldn’t want to pull a Biden, would he?
The former vice president has received plenty of heat for his frequent gaffes on the campaign trail, but Buttigieg may have bested him in the category of “least self-aware comment.”
Appearing Thursday on CNN’s “New Day,” Buttigieg fielded questions from host Alisyn Camerota about what she called the “existential” climate change crisis.
“Yes, we can all do away with our plastic straws — and I haven’t drank out of a staw for the past six months because I’m so worried about what’s happening in the ocean — but people feel helpless when it’s something that existential, so what do you do about that?” Camerota asked.
Righteous claims about renouncing straws aside, Camerota’s question was straightforward, especially in a Democratic primary race obsessed with climate change.
Buttigieg’s game plan for a response should have been simple: All he had to do was assure voters that he was the best choice to solve the “existential threat” as president.
Not so fast.
The South Bend mayor’s answer began smoothly enough as Buttigieg attempted to inspire viewers.
“We can rise to meet this [challenge] and be proud of it. That’s part of what my climate plan is about. It’s not only about all of the things we’ve got to do technologically and with regulation and so on; it’s about summoning the energies of this country to do something unbelievably hard,” he said.
Buttigieg also denounced an approach to climate change that focuses on blaming people for the “crisis.”
“See, right now we’re in a mode where I think we’re thinking about it mostly through the perspective of guilt,” he said.
But Buttigieg’s answer went from comforting to scolding in a matter of seconds as the Democratic candidate seemed to change his mind on the question of guilt.
“From using a straw to eating a burger, am I part of the problem? In a certain way, yes,” Buttigieg continued.
Watch the exchange below.
If people who use plastic straws are a problem, it sure doesn’t look like Buttigieg is much of a solution.
Just weeks before his CNN appearance, the mayor was photographed at the Iowa State Fair enjoying some meat-filled snacks and — you guessed it — using a plastic straw.
An Eater piece featured a series of photos showing the candidate eating “pork-chop-on-a-stick” and a “BLT bacon ball sandwich,” an item he said was his favorite treat at the fair.
Buttigieg was also captured on camera sipping on a slushie from the fair’s “do-it-yourself Slushie Factory.”
Claims of hypocrisy on the part of celebrities and politicians are nothing new, and they’re often justified.
But Buttigieg’s mistake of sipping a straw from one side of his mouth and condemning the activity from the other side may just take the cake.
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