Former Democratic presidential candidate and Afghanistan War veteran Pete Buttigieg has joined the chorus of those criticizing Donald Trump after a report indicated the president has repeatedly disparaged U.S. troops.
The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, spoke out on Friday after a report from Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic claimed Trump referred to service members as “losers” and “suckers” and openly mused about why people revered their sacrifices for the country. As The Hill reported, Buttigieg appeared on Fox News on Friday and pushed back against denials both from Trump and other top White House allies.
Buttigieg said that even if Trump and his team denied the claims, his disdain for the U.S. military has never been hidden, referring to the controversial deferment the president received to avoid fighting in the Vietnam War.
“But if you don’t want to believe that, believe your own eyes, because this president has been disrespecting the military from the day he let some sucker in his youth go in his place to serve in Vietnam because he didn’t want to,” the former mayor said.
Buttigieg had some particularly harsh words for Trump’s denial that he had referred to the late Sen. John McCain as a “loser” following his death. The Atlantic claimed the president pushed back against the idea of holding a memorial service, reiterating his previous belief that McCain should not be viewed as a hero because he was shot down and captured during the Vietnam War.
“The president today lied on Twitter about never calling John McCain a loser,” Buttigieg said. “Now he’s asking us to believe, OK, he’s lying about that today, because we can check and see the footage, but he’s not lying about the other stuff? He must think we’re all suckers.”
As Buttigieg pointed out, Trump had openly referred to the Arizona senator as a “loser” during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Buttigieg’s forceful condemnation of Trump attracted some viral attention on Friday, with the former candidate’s name shooting to the top of Twitter’s trends and the video of his appearance racking up hundreds of thousands of views.
While Trump was strong in his denials, the allegations that he used disparaging language when referring to service members have been backed by other reporters since the initial article was published. That included independent confirmation from Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin, who cited senior officials that claimed the commander in chief indeed used such language.