LAS VEGAS – Sen. Amy Klobuchar is questioning Pete Buttigieg’s ability to win – as the repeated debate clashes between the two Democratic presidential candidates appear to be getting personal.
The senator from Minnesota took aim at the former South Bend, Ind., mayor’s electoral track record in an interview with Fox News following Wednesday night’s Democratic nomination debate in Nevada.
KLOBUCHAR ASKS BUTTIGIEG AT DEBATE: ‘ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY I’M DUMB?’
Pointing to the strong desire by Democrats to choose a nominee who can defeat President Trump in November’s general election, Klobuchar spotlighted Buttigieg’s unsuccessful 2017 bid for Democratic National Committee chair – and his 2010 defeat for Indiana state treasurer.
“We want to win as Democrats. Let’s look at what happened. He lost his bid for the Democratic National Committee [chair] and he lost his bid when he ran statewide in Indiana,” Klobuchar said. “We’re going to put the whole ticket in his hands? It doesn’t make any sense.”
Her comments came minutes after what appeared to be open hostility between the two Midwestern candidates on the debate stage.
When Klobuchar defended her failure last week in an interview with Telemundo to remember the Mexican president’s name as “momentary forgetfulness,” Buttigieg took aim, saying “you’re staking your candidacy on your Washington experience. You’re on the committee that oversees border security. You’re on the committee that does trade.”
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And turning directly to Klobuchar, he added: “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 instantly shot back, asking: “Are you trying to say that I’m dumb? Or are you mocking me here, Pete?”
Later, after Buttigieg slammed Klobuchar’s vote to confirm the president’s controversial Customs and Border Protection nominee, Klobuchar responded: “I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete.”
“But let me tell you what it’s like to be in the arena,” she emphasized.
Asked by Fox News about the sharp exchanges with Buttigieg, Klobuchar said: “I meant it, yes, sarcastically, because he is someone who belts out a lot of talking points. I’m someone who actually does the work.”
And bringing up his criticism of her failure to remember the Mexican president’s name, the senator added: “He’s someone who seized on one error and then acts like that is a whole campaign.”
Buttigieg – in a post-debate interview with Fox News – downplayed the bitterness between the two candidates.
“To me it was about policy. I certainly think that if you’re a senator running on your experience in Washington, you should be prepared to defend your votes and I challenged some of the votes I disagreed with,” he explained. “We just have a difference of opinion on policy and I think we should have a discussion on that.”
Both Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont have declared victories in the Iowa caucuses, and Buttigieg finished a close second to Sanders in last week’s New Hampshire primary.
After a disappointing fifth-place finish in neighboring Iowa, Klobuchar finished a strong third in New Hampshire.