Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg gives keynote address at Human Rights Campaign's gala, Las Vegas, May 11. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg criticized social conservatives and accused some Democrats of playing "identity politics," exacerbating a "crisis of belonging in this country," in a Las Vegas speech addressing claims of white privilege Saturday.

"What every gay person has in common with every excluded person of any kind is knowing what it's like to see a wall between you and the rest of the world and wonder what it's like on the other side."

Context: The South Bend, Indiana, mayor, has been criticized previously for being a privileged white man. April polling shows he has about 2% support among African-Americans. Buttigieg has said his "first serious mistake as mayor" was firing the city’s first black police chief. Taped conversations between officers in the department contained racist comments. Buttigieg has said he's never listened to the tapes.

The big picture: Buttigieg asked supporters last month for help diversifying his mostly white base. On Saturday evening, he noted during his speech to the Human Rights Campaign, a major LGBTQ rights group, that his experience of discrimination was different than others in the community.

"I may be part of the LGBTQ community. But being a gay man doesn’t even tell me what it’s like to be a trans woman of color in that same community, let alone an undocumented mother of four or a disabled veteran or a displaced autoworker."

On social conservatism, he said, "We have allowed conservatives to monopolize the language of freedom, but we know that freedom isn't just about freedom from, it's about freedom to. Not just freedom from regulation, but freedom to live a life of your choosing."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: The swing states where the pandemic is raging — Pence no longer expected to attend Barrett confirmation vote after COVID exposure.
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day case records last week
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events
  6. World: Restrictions grow across Europe.
  7. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.

Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Science

CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.