- 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was condemned by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ surrogates after he compared Sanders’ supporters to President Donald Trump’s voters during a campaign stop.
- The Indiana Democrat argued that many of both Sanders and Trump loyalists were motivated by economic insecurity, which led them to support an anti-establishment candidate as a way to “blow up the system.”
- Rep. Ro Khanna, a California progressive and a co-chair of Sanders’ 2020 race, called the comparison between Trump and Sanders “intellectually dishonest” in a Sunday tweet.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders’ surrogates condemned South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who’s earned viral fame since he announced his 2020 presidential bid, after the mayor compared Sanders’ and President Donald Trump’s appeal during a Friday campaign stop.
“I think the sense of anger and disaffection that comes from seeing that the numbers are fine, like unemployment’s low … GDP is growing and yet a lot of neighborhoods and families are living like this recovery never even happened. They’re stuck,” Buttigieg told a crowd of high school students in Nashua, New Hampshire.
The mayor argued that economic anxiety has motivated Americans to vote for populist, anti-establishment candidates like Sanders and President Donald Trump as a way “to blow up the system.”
“It just kind of turns you against the system in general and then you’re more likely to want to vote to blow up the system, which could lead you to somebody like Bernie and it could lead you to somebody like Trump. That’s how we got where we are,” Buttigieg said.
Some Sanders surrogates took issue with the comments after The Washington Examiner originally reported them.
Rep. Ro Khanna, a California progressive and a co-chair of Sanders’ 2020 race, called the comparison between Trump and Sanders “intellectually dishonest” in a Sunday tweet.
“Come on @PeteButtigieg. It is intellectually dishonest to compare Bernie to Trump. Bernie is for giving people healthcare, education, childcare, & more pay,” Khanna tweeted. “He wants to blow up credentialed elitism – those who reject tuition free college for all.”
Come on @PeteButtigieg. It is intellectually dishonest to compare Bernie to Trump. Bernie is for giving people healthcare, education, childcare, & more pay. He wants to blow up credentialed elitism — those who reject tuition free college for all. https://t.co/WmliyE8uDe
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) April 22, 2019
Nina Turner, the president of Our Revolution – the political organization Sanders founded after his 2016 bid, tweeted out a handful of media headlines describing Sanders’ supporters as young and diverse.
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) April 22, 2019
Buttigieg defended his comments during an interview on Monday, arguing that Sanders and Trump “represent radically different ways” of appealing to voters disillusioned by the status quo.
“I think that part of how each of them was able to get some appeal was by speaking to a frustration that so many Americans have with anything perceived as the establishment, anything that is seen as being committed to the political and economic systems that have been prevailing, really, for my entire life,” he told MSNBC on Monday. “And so even though they led different voters in very different directions, I do think it’s meaningful that anti-establishment candidates, the more dramatically anti-establishment the better, be it from the left or the right, have been able to get so much support in recent years.”
Buttigieg is looking to differentiate himself from Sanders in the crowded 2020 field, but he’s also long been an admirer of the Vermont independent.
As a senior in high school, Buttigieg won the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest for a piece he wrote praising then-congressman Bernie Sanders. Buttigieg called Sanders an “outstanding and inspiring example” of authenticity and idealism in politics.
“Sanders’ positions on many difficult issues are commendable, but his real impact has been as a reaction to the cynical climate which threatens the effectiveness of the democratic system,” Buttigieg wrote.
But Buttigieg called himself a “a somewhat different message and a very different messenger,” than Sanders in an interview with INSIDER earlier this year.