LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg took a shot at Minnesota in a heated exchange with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) during Wednesday night’s Democrat debate.
The context was a question from the moderators pointing out that Klobuchar had failed to name the president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (or AMLO, as he is colloquially known), in a recent interview.
Buttigieg, who had answered correctly, said that Klobuchar had failed to learn from her experience in Washington. Klobuchar took offense, asking if Buttigieg was saying that she was “dumb.”
She also pointed out that he had never won a statewide race before, while she had won not only in her state as a whole but in conservative congressional districts.
Buttigieg responded: “If winning a race for Senate in Minnesota translated directly to becoming president, I would have grown up under the presidency of Walter Mondale.”
Former Vice President Walter Mondale lost to incumbent President Ronald Reagan in a landslide in 1984; the only state he won was Minnesota.
But Buttigieg’s answer was a risky response.
President Donald Trump nearly won Minnesota in the 2016 election and his campaign is targeting the state in 2020.
Parts of the traditionally liberal state have begun to shift in a more conservative direction in recent years. In 2018, Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN) flipped the 8th congressional district in the “Iron Range” — one of the only regions that moved toward the GOP in the midterm election.
Democrats are worried that it will take a strong fight to keep Minnesota in the blue column — and Buttigieg’s response might make that task more difficult.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.