Mayor Pete Buttigieg pitched a slightly more aggressive version of himself to CNN on Monday night, ahead of the upcoming Democrat primary debate.
“I’m not scared of this president,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo in an interview. “I mean, this a guy who was working on season seven of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ when I was driving armored vehicles outside the wire in Afghanistan. I’m not afraid to take him on.”
Buttigieg will take the stage on Tuesday during the first night of the CNN Democrat primary debates.
Buttigieg, who served as a naval intelligence officer in Afghanistan, does not appear to have engaged in combat, despite serving a six-month deployment overseas. Speaking to the Washington Post, Buttigieg detailed his experience as a convoy driver “outside the wire” 119 times, by his count. During one trip, Buttigieg detailed that he hid inside a concrete bunker with his DEA chief as conflict erupted outside of a military base.
“There were gunshots and booms,” Buttigieg told the Post.
The South Bend mayor also detailed one experience in Afghanistan during an interview with CBS, which he said helped him learn about the importance of not panicking under pressure. He said:
I remember one moment in Afghanistan, when I was responsible for making sure a vehicle I was driving got to where it was going safely. And you’re warned that, for example, a magnetic IED could be placed on your vehicle. And once, it sounded to me as though somebody had attached something to the vehicle I was driving. And for a split second we had to figure out whether to ditch the vehicle, which would’ve been obviously very risky as well, because you’re very obviously a target in the middle of a city where some people are pretty eager to attack you if you got the chance. Turned out what had happened was, that there was a beggar who had no legs. He was on sort of a dolly. And he would slap the side of the car in order to move himself along. If nothing else, it taught me not to overreact and not to panic when something’s coming along that’s pretty alarming.
Buttigieg joined the Navy Reserves after President Barack Obama took office, serving for six years.
Despite his willingness to go to war under Obama, the South Bend Mayor once spoke at an anti-Iraq war during his time as a student in Harvard, according to a report in the Harvard Crimson.
Remembering the fallen veterans of Harvard, Buttigieg praised their service to their country but argued against the Iraq war.
“They remind us of a time when we had to take up arms against another nation, and there may be a day we have to again,” Buttigieg said. “But that day isn’t today.”