Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has again taken aim at Donald Trump over the issue of “family values” by pointing out that his marriage has never involved him paying “hush money to a porn star”.
Buttigieg, who came out as gay in 2015 and married his husband, Chasten, in 2018, has been the subject of recent homophobic comments by Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio host, who told his listeners were “still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president”.
Limbaugh, who was controversially given the presidential medal of freedom by Trump, said the US president told him to “never apologize” for his comments.
Asked during a CNN town hall in Las Vegas whether he believed Trump would not be opposed to a president coming from the LGBTQ+ community, Buttigieg said: “Well, not if he’s sending out his supporters to talk in this way.
“And, look, I mean, the idea of the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Donald Trump lecturing anybody on family values,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause.
Buttigieg then made a pointed reference to the money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels by Trump via his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen. “I mean, I’m sorry, but one thing about my marriage is it’s never involved me having to send hush money to a porn star after cheating on my spouse with him or her,” he said.
“So they want to debate family values? Let’s debate family values. I’m ready.”
It is the second time in a week that Buttigieg has clashed with Trump over his personal life and Limbaugh’s comments. On Sunday, the former South Bend mayor said he was “saddened for what the Republican party has become if they embrace that kind of homophobic rhetoric”.
“I’m faithful to my husband. Onstage we usually just go for the hug. But I love him very much and I’m not going to take lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.”
Democratic presidential hopefuls will take part in the Nevada presidential debate on Wednesday night and the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, with national polling showing that Buttigieg now trails the billionaire Mike Bloomberg, another moderate figure in the race, as well as clear leader Bernie Sanders, a torch bearer for the left of the party.