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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

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: U.S. ahead of pace on vaccines.
  2. Health: Lessons for trapping the next pandemic.
  3. Tech: "Fludemic" model accurately maps COVID hotspotsVirtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off.
  4. Politics: Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
  5. World: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between doses — In AstraZeneca spat, EU fights hard for a vaccine its hardly using.
Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

In AstraZeneca spat, EU fights hard for a vaccine it's hardly using

Macron, Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel (R) at a summit in October. Photo: Yves Herman/Pool/AFP via Getty

Italy on Thursday blocked the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca doses to Australia, becoming the first EU country to exercise an export ban due to a vaccine shortfall in the bloc.

Why it matters: The controversial step exposes multiple major challenges to distributing vaccines — even among the world’s richest countries.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Global freedom continues steady decline: report

The global erosion of democracy has continued for a 15th consecutive year, according to an annual report from Freedom House.

Zoom in: The report calls particular attention to India, which slipped from “free” to “partly free” due to the government's “scapegoating of Muslims” and “crackdown on critics.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, according to the report, “driving India itself toward authoritarianism.”