NBC Excited by ‘Buttigieg Boomlet,’ Touts His Attacks on Pence

On Friday, NBC’s Today show eagerly welcomed South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg to the 2020 presidential race, cheering the Democrat’s “surging moment” ahead of officially announcing his candidacy on Sunday. In addition to boosting Buttigieg’s campaign, the morning show also touted the openly gay politician’s recent personal attacks on Vice President Mike Pence over the issue of gay marriage.

“Ready to run. Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg surging in the polls as he gets set to make it official,” co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed at the top of the broadcast. She further teased the upcoming report by adding: “Why the mayor of a Midwest town could shake up the race for the White House.”

 

 

Introducing the segment early in the 7:30 a.m. ET half hour, fellow co-host Craig Melvin gushed: “Now to the surging moment for Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, leading up to his official campaign announcement this weekend.” White House correspondent Peter Alexander acknowledged that Buttigieg was launching a “long-shot 2020 campaign,” but hopefully declared: “If successful, he will make history, certainly, as the first openly gay president, the first mayor to move into the White House, and America’s youngest-ever commander in chief.”

The celebratory headline on screen throughout the report read: “‘Mayor Pete’s’ Big Weekend; Rising Dem Star Set to Formally Announce Candidacy.”

Alexander assured viewers that Buttigieg “has already vaulted into the category of contender,” with “new polls show Buttigieg trailing only Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in both Iowa and New Hampshire.” The reporter observed: “Not bad for the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who jokes about his hard-to-pronounce last name.”

Beyond looking at the polls, Alexander fawned over the Mayor’s credentials: “He boasts an impressive resume as a Harvard grad, Rhodes scholar, and Afghanistan war veteran. Who speaks seven languages and even taught himself Norwegian to read a book.” Only briefly noting Buttigieg’s lack of experience: “His potential weaknesses? His youth, limited governing experience, and that he’s never won statewide office or even come close.”

Brushing aside those concerns, Alexander focused on how “Buttigieg made headlines this week with poignant personal comments about his sexuality.” The correspondent particularly highlighted the 2020 hopeful “even taking on the Vice President, the former governor of his home state, who opposes same-sex marriage.”

A clip ran of Buttigieg telling the audience at an LGBTQ event: “I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand that if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. You’re quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

“Pence responding, suggesting Buttigieg’s criticism was designed to elevate his profile in a crowded Democratic field,” Alexander mentioned, before playing a soundbite of Pence in a recent CNBC interview rejecting Buttigieg’s comments: “He said some things that are critical of my Christian faith and about me personally. And he knows better. He knows me.”

Eager to stoke the political feud, Alexander promoted “Buttigieg reacting in a new interview airing today with Ellen DeGeneres.” The Democrat used the friendly forum to hit Pence again:

I’m not critical of his faith. I’m critical of bad policies. I’m not interested in feuding with the Vice President. But if he wanted to clear this up, he could come out today and say he’s changed his mind, that it shouldn’t be legal to discriminate against anybody in this country for who they are.

Wrapping up the report, Alexander offered: “Hours earlier, the Vice President defended his position on same-sex marriage, saying he and his family have a view of marriage that is informed by their faith. But he said that doesn’t mean that they can critical of anyone else who has a different point of view.”

Melvin wondered: “What are voters telling you about why this mayor of South Bend, Indiana is all of a sudden surging? And can he maintain that momentum?” Alexander replied:

It’s a good question. It certainly feels like it’s a Buttigieg boomlet, as some have described it. When you speak to Democratic voters in those key early states, there really clearly is this hunger for fresh, young political faces. It’s the same energy that boasted [sic] Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris – boosted both of them. That desire for something new. Remember, Buttigieg, if he wins, would also be the first millennial president.

The glowing coverage certainly echoed that given to other Democrats. In March, NBC’s Today show was thrilled that Beto O’Rourke was finally “making it official” as he entered the 2020 race. In February, reporters from NBC and other media outlets were caught helping Kamala Harris pick out an outfit for the campaign trial.

It seems the media are happy to roll out the red carpet as long as you’re a Democrat.

Here is a full transcript of Alexander’s April 12 report:

7:32 AM ET

CRAIG MELVIN: Now to the surging moment for Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, leading up to his official campaign announcement this weekend. NBC White House correspondent Peter Alexander has the details on this one. Peter, good morning.

PETER ALEXANDER: Hey, Craig, Savannah, good morning to you. Pete Buttigieg is expected to formally kick off his long-shot 2020 campaign this Sunday. If successful, he will make history, certainly, as the first openly gay president, the first mayor to move into the White House, and America’s youngest-ever commander in chief.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: “Mayor Pete’s” Big Weekend; Rising Dem Star Set to Formally Announce Candidacy]

ALEXANDER: With a weekend announcement expected to make his presidential bid official, Pete Buttigieg has already vaulted into the category of contender.

PETE BUTTIGIEG: We’re going to be making some big news this Sunday. [Cheers]

ALEXANDER: A pair of new polls show Buttigieg trailing only Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Not bad for the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who jokes about his hard-to-pronounce last name.

BUTTIGIEG: Say that three times fast, either way it comes out Buttigieg.

ALEXANDER: Instead, billing himself as “Mayor Pete.”

BUTTIGIEG: I would stack up my experience against anybody. I know it’s not as traditional, I haven’t been marinating in Washington here for a very long time.

ALEXANDER: But he boasts an impressive resume as a Harvard grad, Rhodes scholar, and Afghanistan war veteran. Who speaks seven languages and even taught himself Norwegian to read a book.

BUTTIGIEG: There’s an appetite for something new.

ALEXANDER: His potential weaknesses? His youth, limited governing experience, and that he’s never won statewide office or even come close. Still, Buttigieg made headlines this week with poignant personal comments about his sexuality.

BUTTIGIEG: When I was younger, I would have done anything to not be gay. If you had offered me a pill to make my straight, I would have swallowed it before you had time to give me a sip of water. Thank God there was no pill.

ALEXANDER: The mayor even taking on the Vice President, the former governor of his home state, who opposes same-sex marriage.

BUTTIGIEG: I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand that if you’ve got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. You’re quarrel, sir, is with my creator.

ALEXANDER: Pence responding, suggesting Buttigieg’s criticism was designed to elevate his profile in a crowded Democratic field.   

MIKE PENCE: He said some things that are critical of my Christian faith and about me personally. And he knows better. He knows me.

ALEXANDER: Buttigieg reacting in a new interview airing today with Ellen DeGeneres.

BUTTIGIEG: I’m not critical of his faith. I’m critical of bad policies. I’m not interested in feuding with the Vice President. But if he wanted to clear this up, he could come out today and say he’s changed his mind, that it shouldn’t be legal to discriminate against anybody in this country for who they are.

ALEXANDER: Hours earlier, the Vice President defended his position on same-sex marriage, saying he and his family have a view of marriage that is informed by their faith. But he said that doesn’t mean that they can critical of anyone else who has a different point of view. Savannah and Craig?

MELVIN: So Peter, the Democratic field only growing now. What are voters telling you about why this mayor of South Bend, Indiana is all of a sudden surging? And can he maintain that momentum?

ALEXANDER: It’s a good question. It certainly feels like it’s a Buttigieg boomlet, as some have described it. When you speak to Democratic voters in those key early states, there really clearly is this hunger for fresh, young political faces. It’s the same energy that boasted [sic] Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris – boosted both of them. That desire for something new. Remember, Buttigieg, if he wins, would also be the first millennial president.

His entering the race would bring the total number of 2020 Democrats to at least 15. There were 17 Republican candidates back in 2016. And of course the Democratic field, as you know, likely to grow. The former Vice President Joe Biden among others still unannounced. Craig and Savannah?

MELVIN: Peter Alexander from the White House this Friday. Peter, thanks.

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