Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg defended his experience as mayor from a Biden campaign attack ad discounting him and replied to Sen. Bernie Sanders accusing him of selling out to billionaires. The former South Bend, Indiana mayor said Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation” that he won’t turn down help from donors if it means defeating President Trump.
MARGARET BRENNAN: According to our latest figures, you’re about four points behind Senator Bernie Sanders. How do you close the gap and make the argument that moderates should vote for you and not Joe Biden? PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, New Hampshire is a state that likes to think for itself. And we’ll be engaging Democrats as well as a lot of undeclared voters and maybe a handful of Republicans who– who know that they won’t agree with me on everything, but are just sick of looking their kids in the eye and trying to defend or explain this presidency. That kind of hard work, we’ll be putting in all the way until polls close on Tuesday, and we’re confident that it’s going to lead to a great night. MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you also have to throw a few elbows here back at Bernie Sanders, who basically is calling you a little inauthentic. He’s going after some of your financial base saying you’ve got at least forty billionaires with ties to the pharmaceutical industry, other big money interests. He’s basically saying you’re bought and paid for. How do you respond to that? PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, I’ve never hesitated to stand up to industry. We sued the pharmaceutical industry when opioid– opioid makers ravaged our community and I am campaigning right now for higher taxes for the wealthy and for corporations to finally have to pay their fair share. And my campaign has been built from the grassroots. We have hundreds of thousands of supporters, most of whom went on PeteForAmerica.com and chipped in a few bucks because they share this vision that we have for the future. You know being the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is not an establishment powerhouse. We’re here because this message, this vision that I’m offering is connecting with voters of all backgrounds and at a time like this, if somebody is ready to help us put together the campaign that’s going to defeat Donald Trump, then I welcome that support. No matter how they voted in the past, no matter if they’ve got a lot of money or not, I want their help because, let me tell you, Donald Trump and his allies right now are doing everything they can to hold on to power. MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. PETE BUTTIGIEG: They just raised twenty-five million bucks in a day. We need to go into that fight with everything that we’ve got. And I’m not going to define my campaign by whose help we reject or whose support we turn away. This is a moment to bring everybody that we can into common cause just as we have to unify the country after we do win. MARGARET BRENNAN: Joe Biden says you’re unelectable, inexperienced, and today said you’re unable to unify the black community. He also released a digital ad. Let’s listen. WOMAN (Biden for President Campaign Ad): Joe Biden helped save the auto industry, which revitalized the economy of the Midwest and led the passage and implementation of the Recovery Act, saving our economy from a depression. Pete Buttigieg revitalized the sidewalks of downtown South Bend by laying out decorative brick. And both Biden and Buttigieg have made hard decisions. Despite pressure from the NRA Joe Biden passed the assault weapons banned through Congress; then he passed the Violence against Women Act. And even when public pressure mounted against him, former Mayor Pete fired the first African-American police chief of South Bend; and then he forced out the African-American fire chief, too. MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you respond to that? PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, it’s a typical political attack that doesn’t tell most of the story. He makes no mention of the work that we did, for example, in my administration, appointing the first African-American top lawyer for the city, helping the first citywide executive African-American woman get elected in South Bend, and really minimizing the experience of my city. And I know that a lot of mayors are speaking up today about the idea that what happens in communities doesn’t count. MARGARET BRENNAN: But what– PETE BUTTIGIEG: Maybe my community does look good from– does look small from the perspective of Washington. But to us, a lot of times it’s the infighting in the Washington establishment– MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. PETE BUTTIGIEG: — that looks small and the work that we’re doing on the ground in communities that are tired of being treated as a Washington punch line.