You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg talks Mike Pence, 2020 presidential bid with Stephen Colbert

Indianapolis Star logo Indianapolis Star 2/15/2019 Justin L. Mack

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has taken his 2020 White House bid to the late night talk-show circuit.

On a Valentine's Day episode of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" that also featured actor Bradley Cooper and chef Jacques Torres as guests, the Hoosier who recently announced that he will be running for president touched on everything from his age to what he considers a national emergency.

After Buttigieg explained what a presidential exploratory committee is and Colbert joked about not having a pith helmet handy, the pair discussed the fact that Buttigieg, who turned 37 last month, would be the youngest person ever elected president should he win the 2020 race.

a man sitting at a table: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Pete Buttigieg during Thursday's February 14, 2019 show. © Provided by Gannett Co., Inc. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Pete Buttigieg during Thursday's February 14, 2019 show.

Why Buttigieg is running for president

"What's the rush? Why run for president now?" Colbert asked. "Why not get a little more salt and pepper in the hair and a little more moss under the soles of your feet before you run for president?"

Buttigieg responded by pointing out that being from a younger generation than current leadership is exactly why he aspires for the Oval Office. 

"I belong to the school shooting generation. I was in high school when Columbine happened," he said, "We're the generation that provided most of the troops for the conflicts after 9/11. We're the generation that's going to be on the business end of climate change. And if nothing changes economically, we'll be the first generation ever to make less than our parents. So I believe no one has more at stake right now than younger people coming up, and i think a lot about the way the world is going look in 2054, when I reach the current age of the current president."

Replay Video

'Big leap' from South Bend to Oval Office

Colbert then transitioned the conversation to Buttigieg's experience and pointed out that making the move from mayor of a city of just over 100,000 people to leader of the free world is a lot to handle.

"That's a big leap," Colbert said. "That's not as big a leap as reality show host to president. But it is a big leap, you'll admit."

Buttigieg responded by saying that, as the "young guy in the race," it might sound a little strange to play the experience card. But he believes his resume speaks for itself.

A Valentine's surprise: Indy TV reporter gets surprise proposal with cameras rolling

Be smart about where you live. Get an IndyStar subscription today.

"It's audacious, almost obscene for somebody my age, but really any human being to think they belong in that office. And yet everybody who has had that office has been a mortal human being who brought their experience to the table," he said. "I have more experience in government than the president, I have more executive experience than the vice president, I have more military experience than anyone to arrive at that desk since George H.W. Bush.”

Regarding the fact that Buttigieg is openly gay, Colbert asked him if he thinks of himself as a trailblazer. The mayor said that, while he is very conscious of the historic nature of his candidacy, he hopes to work toward a world where who he loves isn't newsworthy at all.

On Mike Pence: Nice, but thinks I 'decide to be gay'

"You know, it's really hard figuring out how to come out. I was mayor already. I'd kind of reached the point in life where I wanted to come out. I wanted to have a personal life," Buttigieg said. "Inconveniently, I was in the middle of a re-election campaign, and I had just decided it was time to do it. We didn't know what the politics would be. I'm from a socially conservative community. But I just came out there, said who I was and I wound up getting re-elected with 80 percent of the vote."

Colbert then asked Buttigieg if he ever worked with Mike Pence when Pence was still Indiana governor.

"Would I like him?" Colbert asked about the vice president.

More: What Buttigieg thinks about Pence and 7 other takeaways from his new book

"He's nice," Buttigieg responded. "If he were here you would think he's a nice guy to your face, but he's also just fanatical ... he seems to think the universe was created a few thousand years ago and that people like me get up in the morning and decide to be gay. And the thing about it is, if that was a choice, it was a choice that was made way above my pay grade.

"So what he doesn't realize is that his quarrel is with my creator. My marriage has moved me closer to God, and I wish he respected that."

Colbert wrapped things up by asking what Buttigieg considered a national emergency in the wake of President Donald Trump planning to declare one to speed up funding for his proposed border wall on the U.S.-Mexican border.

Buttigieg answered by explaining two occasions in which South Bend's emergency operations center was activated in South Bend.

"They were 18 months apart. One was for a 1,000-year flood, and one was for what we were told was a 500-year flood," he said. "Which either means I have preposterous statistical luck, or we have a problem with climate change that's not just happening on the North Pole. It's happening in communities like mine. That's an emergency."

More on Buttigieg's time as mayor, stint in military, new book

Buttigieg, a Democrat, became the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 residents when he beat Republican Wayne Curry and Libertarian Patrick Farrell at age 29 in 2011. He is currently in his second term as mayor, and broke the news in mid-December that he would not seek a third.

Before announcing his White House bid, he gained national attention during an unsuccessful 2017 run for Democratic National Committee chairman.

From 2009 to 2017, Buttigieg served as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and, in 2014, took an unpaid leave of absence from the mayor's office to serve in Afghanistan and earned the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his counterterrorism work.

While mayor of his hometown, Buttigieg came out as gay in 2015. In June 2018, he married Chasten Glezman at the Cathedral of Saint James Episcopal Church in South Bend.

His book, "The Shortest Way Home: One Mayor's Challenge and a Model for America's Future", which chronicles success stories from his time as mayor and in the military service, went on sale Tuesday.

a group of people sitting at a desk: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Pete Buttigieg during Thursday's February 14, 2019 show. © Scott Kowalchyk, CBS The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Pete Buttigieg during Thursday's February 14, 2019 show.

Call IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack at 317-444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Mayor Pete Buttigieg talks Mike Pence, 2020 presidential bid with Stephen Colbert

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Indianapolis Star

Indianapolis Star
Indianapolis Star
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon