Apr 12, 2019

Pete Buttigieg and Mike Pence: A cordial relationship turns rocky

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

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What to watch in tonight's Democratic debate

Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Colorado. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Bernie Sanders is now the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his opponents are ready to try to knock him down at tonight's debate in Charleston, South Carolina — especially Michael Bloomberg, who was the punching bag at the Las Vegas debate.

Why it matters: This is the last debate before Super Tuesday, when Sanders is expected to win California and Texas and could secure an insurmountable lead for the Democratic nomination. That's a direct threat to the entire field, but especially to Bloomberg, who skipped the early states to focus on the March 3 contests.

Bob Iger to step down as CEO of Disney

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The Walt Disney Company said Tuesday that it had named longtime Disney executive Bob Chapek as CEO Bob Iger's successor, effectively immediately. Iger will remain executive chairman of the company through 2021.

Why it matters: Iger is credited with having successfully turned around Disney’s animation and studio businesses and with the strategic acquisition of Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox. Most recently, he was the person behind Disney's successful launch of its Netflix rival Disney+.

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