Pete Buttigieg Brings pro-Israel, 'Religious Left' Message to 2020 Democratic Primary

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Democratic presidential hopeful South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Commonwealth Club of California on March 28, 2019 in San Francisco, California
Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg speaks in San Francisco, California, March 28, 2019.Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

“Mayor Pete,” as he’s known to his growing fan base, is running a surprisingly strong and well-funded campaign for president.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who recently officiated a wedding for a couple just hours before having a child, is a devout Episcopalian and is working to bridge what he sees as a growing gap between religious Americans and the Democratic Party.

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“I think it’s unfortunate [the Democratic Party] has lost touch with a religious tradition that I think can help explain and relate our values,” the Navy veteran said. “At least in my interpretation, it helps to root [in religion] a lot of what it is we do believe in when it comes to protecting the sick and the stranger and the poor, as well as skepticism of the wealthy and the powerful and the established.”

Buttigieg, who would make history as the first openly-gay U.S. president, told USA Today on Wednesday he finds it hard to believe that U.S. President Donald Trump believes in God when looking at Trump’s actions.

“I’m reluctant to comment on another person’s faith, but I would say it is hard to look at this president’s actions and believe that they’re the actions of somebody who believes in God,” Buttigieg said.

“I just don’t understand how you can be as worshipful of your own self as he is and be prepared to humble yourself before God. I’ve never seen him humble himself before anyone.” he added.

Buttigieg stands out from the more progressive elements in his party on another issue as well - Israel. While Democratic leaders like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are critical of Israel and its human rights record, Buttigieg actively defends Israel.

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In January, Buttigieg was asked on "The View" by Meghan McCain about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar "comparing Israel to Iran" in a television interview.

“People like me get strung up in Iran, so the idea that what’s going on is equivalent is just wrong,” he replied. "There is a real problem there longterm, how they are going to balance being a democracy and a Jewish state, but they’ve also got to figure out and we’ve got to figure out with them as an ally what the regional security picture is going to look like there.”

After a May 2018 trip to Israel sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, Buttigieg discussed what lessons the U.S. could take from Israel. “Seeing the way that a country can be on the one hand very intentional, very serious, and very effective when it comes to security and on the other hand not allowing concerns about security to dominate your consciousness,” he said, “I think that’s a very important lesson that hopefully Americans can look to when we think about how to navigate a world that unfortunately has become smaller and more dangerous for all of us.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article

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