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Pete Buttigieg and Vice President Mike Pence. Photos: Getty Images

2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg's increasingly tough back-and-forth with Vice President Mike Pence is only the latest chapter in a political saga that predates the 2016 election and Buttigieg's 2020 presidential run, the AP reports.

Why it matters: Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., would be the first openly gay U.S. president if elected, and Pence, who previously served as Indiana's governor, has a history of taking a stance against LGBTQ rights largely on the grounds of religious freedom.

The big picture: Democratic strategists told the AP that Buttigieg was "often reluctant to take on the then-governor directly or forcefully" in response to Indiana policy during Pence's tenure in office.

  • After Pence signed the state's "religious freedom" law, which was largely characterized as anti-LGBTQ, Buttigieg tweeted his disappointment. He affirmed his focus to work "across the aisle" with the former governor a few weeks later at a Pence event.

What they're saying now:

  • Buttigieg told the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s National Champagne Brunch last Sunday, "My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man. And yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God. ... That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand: That if you have a problem with who I am, your quarrel is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator."
  • In response, Pence said in a CNN interview that he and Buttigieg "worked very closely together when I was governor, and I considered him a friend. And he knows I don't have a problem with him." He added later, "I think Pete's quarrel is with the First Amendment. All of us in this country have the right to our religious beliefs."

Of note: Buttigieg focused on his experience as a veteran when framing his coming out story. This strategy, as other candidates share 2020-friendly personal anecdotes, is the first of its kind on a presidential campaign trail.

  • "When I came out in 2015 it was for the simple reason that I was finally ready. I had been wrestling with my sexuality for years. And if I had not deployed to Afghanistan I might have never have found the courage to come out," he said.

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about Pete Buttigieg

Go deeper

SEC debunks conspiracy theories about meme stock mania

Photo: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The SEC issued its long-awaited report on the meme stock mania, which downplayed the narrative that a "short squeeze" was the primary driver behind GameStop's historic stock moves — and shot down conspiracy theories about the event.

Why it matters: The postmortem was highly anticipated, largely because of what it could hint about what the regulator thinks should be done in wake of the saga. But the report stopped short of specific policy recommendations.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Breaking Biden's diplomatic logjam

Expand chart
Data: Center for Presidential Transition via Congress.gov; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The logjam for reviewing and confirming President Biden's ambassadorial picks is finally starting to break.

Why it matters: Biden is far behind his predecessors in the rate at which his ambassadorial picks have been confirmed. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a series of high-profile hearings and votes this week to finally begin chipping away at the backlog.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats brace for staredown over paid family medical leave

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior House Democrats are braced for battle with the Senate over whether paid family medical leave — a key priority for progressives — will be included in President Biden’s final budget reconciliation bill, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated he wants to cut the program to reduce the bill's price tag. “Paid family and medical leave must be in the final package,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday.