Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Chatting confidently about what he'd do as commander-in-chief, Pete Buttigieg told me for "Axios on HBO" that he "wouldn't put it past" President Trump to allow the border "to become worse in order to have it be a more divisive issue, so that he could benefit politically."

What he's saying: "The president needs this crisis to get worse, even though it makes a liar out of him," Buttigieg said at his campaign HQ in South Bend, Ind. "I don't think he's worried about that. ... I don't think he cares if it gets better. But he certainly doesn't benefit from comprehensively fixing the problem."

Mayor Pete is surfing the unique euphoria of a surging presidential campaign:

  • So on the cusp of the first debate 10 days from now, the idea of this intellectual 37-year-old as commander-in-chief is no longer as far-fetched.
  • Last week, when he outlined his foreign policy vision ("America and the World in 2054: Reimagining National Security for a New Era”), he spoke in front of a pointedly presidential eight American flags.

Here's more of what he told "Axios on HBO"...

Buttigieg suffered depression after deployment:

  • Mayor Pete says that although he wasn't diagnosed with PTSD after returning from Afghanistan after a seven-month deployment in 2014, "there's a level of depression ... that I went through when I came back."
  • It lasted about a year. "Of course, it's the effect of having been exposed to danger," he said. "I think, also, some moral pressure ... Any time, in any way, you are even remotely involved in killing, it takes something out of you, and it takes a lot of work to process that."
  • Watch the clip.

Buttigieg "almost certain" we've had gay presidents:

  • Asked about likely attacks from Republicans, the mayor said that "we've probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn't know which ones. ... I mean, statistically it's almost certain."
  • So, who? "My gaydar doesn't even work that well in the present, let alone retroactively."
  • Watch the clip.

Buttigieg wouldn't move the U.S. embassy in Israel:

  • Asked if he'd move the the embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, the mayor replied: "I think what's done is done. ... Look, we need a big-picture strategy on the Middle East. I don't know that we'd gain much by moving it to Tel Aviv."
  • So Trump did the right thing by moving the embassy? "I didn't say that," Buttigieg shot back.
  • "Here's the problem with what he did. ... [Y]ou don't do that without getting some kind of concession. Instead, we've seen the Israeli government continue to act in ways that are detrimental to peace."
  • Watch the clip.

Go deeper: Pete Buttigieg on the issues, in under 500 words

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Macron visits Beirut promising a "new political pact" for Lebanon

Macron visits the hard-hit Gemmayzeh neighborhood. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron walked through the blast-damaged streets of Beirut on Thursday, swarmed by people chanting for the fall of Lebanon's government and pleading for international aid.

Why it matters: Lebanon is at a breaking point. Its economy was collapsing and its government hardly functioning — all before a massive explosion destroyed swathes of the capital city, including its vital port.

2 hours ago - Sports

The PGA Championship is golf's first major in over a year

Photo: Gary Kellner/PGA of America via Getty Images

The 2020 PGA Championship tees off Thursday at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park, which is hosting its first-ever major.

Why it matters: It's the first major in more than a year — and the first of seven majors in the next 12 months. Though there won't be any fans in attendance, the excitement is palpable.

July's jobs report could be an inflection point for the coronavirus recovery

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Even if Friday's jobs report shows a big number, it is becoming clear hiring slowed and likely even reversed course in July and real-time indicators suggest the employment situation worsened into August.

Driving the news: Payroll processor ADP's monthly jobs report showed private companies added 167,000 jobs last month, well below the 1.2 million expected by economists and far below June's 4.8 million jobs added.