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South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, both military veterans, clashed at the 5th Democratic debate Wednesday night after the representative questioned the mayor's military judgement.

What they're saying: Buttigieg and Gabbard had words over a recent quote from Buttigieg on sending troops to Mexico.

  • Gabbard stated: "Pete, you'll agree that the service that we both have provided to our country as veterans by itself does not qualify us to serve as commander in chief. I think the most recent example of your inexperience in national security and foreign policy came from your recent careless statement about how you as president would be willing to send our troops to Mexico to fight the cartels..."

Buttigieg struck back, accusing Gabbard of taking what he said out of context: "that is outlandish even by the standards of today's politics."

  • "I was talking about U.S.-Mexico cooperation. We've been doing security cooperation with Mexico for years, with law enforcement cooperation and a military relationship that could continue to be developed with training relationships, for example. Do you seriously think anybody on this stage is proposing invading Mexico?"

Reality check: Buttigieg did say at a Latino forum in Los Angeles on Sunday that he'd be willing to send troops into Mexico, but as a means for "security cooperation," the Sacramento Bee reports.

  • "I’d only order American troops into conflict if American lives were on the line and if it was necessary to meet treaty obligations," he added.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rahm Emanuel floated for Transportation secretary

Rahm Emanuel. Photo: Joshua Lott for The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.

Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden turns to experienced hands for White House economic team

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden plans to announce Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese as part of his economic team and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.

Biden taps former Obama communications director for press secretary

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Jen Psaki, who previously served as Obama's communications director, will serve as President-elect Joe Biden's press secretary, the transition team announced Sunday.

The big picture: All of the top aides in Biden's communication staff will be women, per the Washington Post, which first reported Psaki's appointment.