/Are you mocking me, Pete?: tensions flare between Klobuchar and Buttigieg – The Guardian

Are you mocking me, Pete?: tensions flare between Klobuchar and Buttigieg – The Guardian

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The battle between Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar for the Democratic center ground reached new heights – and got increasingly personal – during Wednesday night’s debate in Las Vegas.

Klobuchar distinguished herself during the New Hampshire debate earlier this month when she mocked the former South Bend mayor’s youth and experience, lampooning the notion that a “cool newcomer” was fit to be president. Her strong performance was rewarded with a rise in the polls and a fundraising bump.

But Buttigieg came to the stage on Wednesday clearly ready to fight his corner, resulting in one of the night’s tensest exchanges.

The debate moderator Vanessa Hauc pressed Klobuchar about a recent Telemundo interview in which she could not recall the Mexican president’s name or discuss any of his policies. “My question to you is, shouldn’t our next president know more about one of our largest trading partners?” Huac asked.

“Of course,” Klobuchar said, adding that the “momentary forgetfulness” did not reflect what she knew about Mexico or how much she cared about it.

But Buttigieg pounced, going after his fellow moderate’s record on immigration and even breaking into a bit of Spanish to do so.

“You’re staking your candidacy on your Washington experience,” Buttigieg said. “You’re on the committee that oversees border security. You’re on the committee that does trade. You’re literally in part of the committee that’s overseeing these things and were not able to speak to literally the first thing about the politics of the country to our south.”

Klobuchar defended herself with a terse retort: “Are you trying to say that I’m dumb? Are you mocking me, Pete?”

NBC News

WATCH: Sen. Klobuchar to Buttigieg: “Are you trying to say that I’m dumb?” pic.twitter.com/74F0zRxQKv

February 20, 2020

She added: “He’s basically saying that I don’t have the experience to be president of the United States. I have passed over 100 bills as the lead Democrat since being in the US Senate. I am the one, not you, that has won statewide in congressional district after congressional district.”

Observers relished the fireworks between the midwestern rivals.

Tuxedo Mask

Klobuchar waiting for Mayor Pete after the debate. pic.twitter.com/Vm0bVxGNSd

February 20, 2020

Jeet Heer

Klobuchar’s attack on Buttigieg was the purest example of midwestern rage since the wood chipper scene in Fargo.

February 20, 2020

For others, it was time to relinquish any hopes for a truce.

Rachel “The Doc” Bitecofer 📈🔭🍌

I feel like all you Klobuchar/Buttigieg, Buttigieg/Klobuchar ticket people can probably let go of that dream now

February 20, 2020

Matt Whitlock

Klobuchar anytime she sees Pete for the rest of the campaign pic.twitter.com/HTNvc1cAXb

February 20, 2020

BuzzFeed News reported, citing campaign aides, that Buttigieg had entered the night on a three-pronged mission: keep firing at the frontrunner and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, score points against Mike Bloomberg, and neutralize Klobuchar, who has become a political threat.

The latest face-off between the two capped a period of increasing tension. In November, after the New York Times reported on a rift between the Klobuchar and Buttigieg campaigns, Klobuchar demurred, and said she believed Buttigieg was qualified to be president. But in her response, she also questioned the mayor’s readiness for office.

“I’m the one from the midwest who has actually won a statewide race over and over again,” Klobuchar said. “That is not true of Mayor Pete. We should be able to have those debates about candidates without being accused of being negative.”

She also suggested a woman would not be on the debate stage if she held the same qualifications as Buttigieg.

“Do I think that we would be standing on that stage if we had the experience that he had? No, I don’t. Maybe we’re held to a different standard.”