South Bend, Indiana Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg could become the first out gay president if he wins in 2020, but he doesn’t think that would make him the first gay president.
In an interview with Axios on HBO, Buttigieg was asked how he would handle potential criticisms that he is “too young, too liberal, [and] too gay to be commander-in-chief.”
After explaining that his approach will be to “respond by explaining where I want to take this country,” he said he expected people to “elect the person who will make the best president.”
“We have had excellent presidents who have been young, we have had excellent presidents who have been liberal, [and] I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay, we just didn’t know which ones,” Buttigieg said.
He added that it was “statistically almost certain.”
When asked if he thought he knew which presidents were likely gay, Buttigieg said his “gaydar doesn’t even work that well in the present, let alone retroactively.”
There have been rumors about various presidents’ sexual orientations, with lifelong bachelor James Buchanan often most cited as possibly having been gay, while others suggest he might have been asexual. Abraham Lincoln’s sexuality has also been the topic of debate, as he was known to share a bed with men from time to time, and although this was not an unusual occurrence then, a couple of his male friendships were so close they sparked interest even in his day.
A recent survey found that most Americans are comfortable with a gay candidate running for president.
Another recent poll found Buttigieg, along with five other Democratic candidates, beating Trump in a head-to-head match-up if the election were held today.
Buttigieg celebrated his one year wedding anniversary yesterday, June 16, with husband Chasten Buttigieg on Twitter, calling him “the love of my life.”
The relevant clip follows, and the full episode is available on HBO.