Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg targeted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Sunday over a video attacking former President Donald Trump for LGBTQ rights.
The DeSantis campaign reissued a video to Twitter last week showing Trump’s proposals to the LGBTQ community over the years, including footage of him saying he would «do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens» during a speech at the Republican National Convention in 2016. Trump made the comments following the deadly mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The second part of the video shifts to a focus on DeSantis who seems to be trying to portray him as the paragon of masculinity. The blaring background music is accompanied by images of DeSantis, muscular shirtless men, and headlines about the anti-LGBTQ policies DeSantis signed into law.
«I’m going to choose my words carefully, in part because I’m running as secretary, so I can’t talk about campaigns,» Buttigieg, who is the first openly gay cabinet member confirmed by the Senate, said during a meeting. interview on CNN’s «State of the Union» show.
«I’m going to put aside the weirdness of trying to prove your manhood by putting up a video that splices images of you between shirtless and oiled up bodybuilders,» he added. “And let’s move on to the biggest issue that’s on my mind every time I see these things in the political space, which is, again: Who is he trying to help? Who are you trying to make better? And what public policy problems do you wake up in the morning thinking about how to solve?
Noting his recent travels to places around the country that use funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act that President Joe Biden signed into law in 2021, Buttigieg said, “I just don’t understand the mentality of someone who wakes up in the morning thinking they’re going to to prove themselves by competing over who can make life more difficult for a hard-hit community that is already so vulnerable in America.”
The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
However, Christina Pushaw, the DeSantis campaign’s rapid response manager, played down the backlash about the video in a tweet friday night: “Opposing federal recognition of ‘Pride Month’ is not ‘homophobic.’ We also wouldn’t support a month to celebrate straight people because of their sexual orientation… It’s unnecessary, divisive, complacent.»
The video has drawn criticism from both Democrats and some Republicans.
In a tweet on Friday, Buttigieg’s husband, Punish Buttigieghe growled: «This is very gay.»
Log Cabin Republicans, a group representing LGBTQ conservatives, tweeted that the video “ventured into homophobic territory.
«The Rhetoric of Desantis lose hard-fought gains in critical races across the country. This old playbook has been tried in the past and failed, repeatedly,» the group added in a follow-up tweet, also calling out their political positions «dangerous and politically stupid.»
Chris Christie, another Republican presidential candidate, also took issue with the video.
«I’m not comfortable with that, and I’m not comfortable with the way that both Governor DeSantis and Donald Trump are driving our debate in this country,» the former New Jersey governor said on the «State of the Union» program on CNN on Sunday morning. , adding that they “are trying to further divide us” by avoiding “big issues” like inflation.
“And this type of video does nothing to address those issues. And it’s a teenage food fight between Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump,” he said. «And I don’t think that’s what leaders should be doing.»
DeSantis signed a series of bills restricting LGBTQ rights this year, including a measure expanding what critics have called the state’s «Don’t Say Gay» law and another that will ban transition-related child care.
Florida’s governor and the state Board of Education have also been sued by LGBTQ students and parents, who said Rights of parents in education the bill would “stigmatize, silence, and erase LGBTQ people in Florida public schools.”
During his presidency, Trump also drew criticism from LGBTQ rights advocates for some of his policies, including banning transgender people from the military, withdraw Title IX protections for transgender students and reverse plans to count LGBTQ people in the census.