Controversial talk radio host Rush Limbaugh recently suggested that President Donald Trump would “have fun” running against South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay White House hopeful. Limbaugh made the remarks only days after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, from Trump.
The commander in chief does not agree with Limbaugh, however. In a Thursday interview with Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera, Trump said that he would back a gay presidential candidate, according to The Hill. Asked whether he would “vote for a gay man to be president,” Trump said the following.
“I think so. I think there would be some that wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t be among that group, to be honest with you.”
Trump added that he does not believe Buttigieg’s sexuality is hurting his White House bid.
“It doesn’t seem to be hurting him very much,” the president stated, noting that he believes some voters would be hesitant to vote for an openly gay candidate.
“But there would certainly be a group. You know this better than I do. There would be a group that probably wouldn’t. But you and I would not be in that group,” Trump told Rivera.
As The Hill notes, Trump has previously suggested that he is happy to see an openly gay man running for president. In an interview last year, he said that he thinks it’s “great” seeing Buttigieg appear onstage alongside his husband, adding that the development should be seen as a “sign of great progress.”
A majority of Americans agrees with Trump, according to polling. According to Gallup research from 2018, 76 percent of Americans would vote for a gay or lesbian candidate. Sixty-one percent of Republicans would have no problem doing so and neither would 83 percent of Democrats.
Right now, there are so many LGBTQ+ people, especially young people, questioning whether they fit in their communities.— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) February 7, 2020
We've got a long way to go before achieving full equality, but I hope they were watching tonight, with my husband in the audience, and know that they belong. pic.twitter.com/AI7RRJMlpD
Americans — especially Republicans — are not as open to supporting candidates from certain religious groups, however. For instance, only 38 percent of Republicans would vote for a Muslim presidential candidate. Forty-two percent of Republicans would vote for an atheist.
Trump has insulted and mocked Buttigieg on numerous occasions. In May last year, the president compared the 38-year-old politician to Alfred E. Neuman, the boyish cartoon character, who has regularly appeared on the cover of Mad Magazine. According to those close to Trump, insults and nicknames are a key element of his political strategy.
“Trump believes that if you can encapsulate someone in a phrase or a nickname, you can own them,” a Trump ally told the press, adding that the president is “genius” when it comes to coming up with nicknames and insults to “diminish” his political opponents.