Chasten Buttigieg Rages at Mike Pence over Paternity Leave Joke

DES MOINES, IOWA - FEBRUARY 03: Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, India
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Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, raged at former Vice President Mike Pence after he joked about the couple going on paternity leave in 2021.

Over the weekend, Mike Pence drew ire from critics after he joked at the Gridiron dinner for journalists in Washington, DC, that Buttigieg had taken “maternity leave” in 2021.

Citing the recent travel disruptions with Southwest Airlines, Pence said the transportation secretary “is the only person in human history to have a child and everyone else gets postpartum depression.”

“An honest question for you after your attempted joke this weekend. If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old ― their tiny fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background ― where would you be?” Chasten Buttigieg said in a tweet.

In 2021, as the supply-chain crisis brought the U.S. economy to a near-standstill, Buttigieg appeared absent as crisis after crisis mounted until Politico’s West Wing Playbook confirmed the transportation secretary was “lying low” and was on paid paternity leave for several weeks.

“They didn’t previously announce it, but Buttigieg’s office told West Wing Playbook that the secretary has actually been on paid leave since mid-August to spend time with his husband, Chasten, and their two newborn babies,” Playbook reported.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation confirmed that Buttigieg was “mostly offline” throughout this tumultuous time period.

“For the first four weeks, he was mostly offline except for major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated,” said the spokesperson. “He has been ramping up activities since then.”

File/Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg kisses Chasten after Chasten introduced him before a speech where he announced he was ending his campaign to be the Democratic nominee for president during a speech at the Century Center on March 01, 2020 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty)

As noted by HuffPo, Pete Buttigieg and Chasten Buttigieg “later revealed that the babies had overcome serious health struggles after contracting a respiratory virus,” with one child needing to be “placed on a ventilator in a pediatric intensive care unit.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday that Pence should apologize to “women and LGBTQ+ people.”

“The Biden administration should spare America the faux outrage,” responded Marc Short, an aide to Pence. “The hypocrisy is especially rich considering their own Secretary of State Antony Blinken joked that he yearned for ‘the old days’ when ‘Jews did all the work.'”

“The White House would be wise to focus less on placating the woke police and focus more on bank failures, planes nearly colliding in mid-air, train derailments, and the continued supply chain crisis,” he added.


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