No one was dying to hear Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s opinion on whether former Sen. Al Franken should have stepped down after allegations that he’d sexually harassed women emerged in 2017. But last night, we got it anyway. And it was pretty dumb!
Buttigieg, who is running alongside approximately two million others in the Democratic primary for president in 2020, said in response to a question from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews during a televised town hall on Monday night that he wouldn’t have “applied that pressure” for Franken to resign.
“I think it was [Franken’s] decision to make,” he said. “But I think the way that we basically held him to a higher standard than the GOP does their people has been used against us.”
He then said he “would not have applied that pressure [to Franken] at that time, before we knew more.” This was a very dumb thing to say!
What “we knew” at the time that Franken resigned was that eight women had already claimed he had either sexually harassed them or groped them, and a photo showed Franken grabbing a fellow USO performer’s breasts. But apparently Buttigieg would have waited to hear more.
Softening the blow of his stupid opinion somewhat, Buttigieg added that “it’s not a bad thing that [Democrats] hold ourselves to a higher standard.”
This opinion, dumb as it may be, does put Buttigieg in the same camp as a depressing number of mainstream Democrats who stood with Franken and criticized those did call for his resignation. One of those who was willing to take Franken to task is another 2020 candidate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has faced backlash for her willingness to stand up for Franken’s accusers.
“If a few Democratic donors are angry because I stood by eight women, that’s on them,” she said.
After Buttigieg’s comments on MSNBC, Gillibrand again defended her decision to call for Franken’s resignation.
Back at his town hall, Buttigieg stumbled over questions about why, as another white man, it should be his turn to be president.
“We ought to have a woman in the White House right now,” Buttigieg said, somewhat undermining his own pitch. He added that he is very qualified and that his resume is “little bit different.”
Buttigieg also restated his commitment to reproductive rights, which was welcome after another dumb statement he made yesterday about how to reform the Supreme Court. At the town hall, he said there should be a litmus test in place for justices who believe “that freedom includes freedom to make decisions about your own body.”