Is America Ready to Elect a Gay President?

America may not be ready to elect a gay president, two of President Trump’s prominent supporters essentially said in recent days. And they think Democrats are nervous that they might be asked to.

They were referring to Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who has pulled in strong performances in the two Democratic primary contests so far. The only openly gay presidential candidate did that in part on the strength of his appeal about outreach to voters disappointed in Trump — something he noted the night of the Iowa caucuses.

“The fact that I’m standing here — the fact that my husband’s in the audience watching right now — is just an amazing example of that belief that yes, yes, you belong, and this country has a place for you,” he said at a CNN town hall last week.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who just received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, said that despite Buttigieg’s performance in Iowa and New Hampshire, Democratic Party leaders must realize that most Americans aren’t going to choose a gay man over Trump. Here’s what he said:

They’re sitting there and they’re looking at Mayor Pete, 37-year-old gay guy, mayor of South Bend, loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage. And they’re saying, “okay, how’s this going to look, 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband onstage next to ‘Mr. Man’ Donald Trump? What’s going to happen there?” And they got to be looking at that, and they’ve got to be saying, that despite all the great progress and despite all the great wokeness, and despite all the great ground that’s been covered, America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy, kissing his husband on the debate stage, president. They have to be saying this, don’t they?

Ben Ferguson, a conservative radio show host and CNN commentator, was asked about those comments Thursday and said that he’s been in conversation with Democrats who also think Buttigieg would have a hard time defeating Trump because of his sexual orientation.

“I do think — and I talked about this on my radio show yesterday with only Democrats calling in: Does it matter that he is an openly gay man? There was a surprising number of Democratic voters who said it was an issue for them,” Ferguson said Thursday on CNN.

“The reality is what Limbaugh was talking about: There are Democrats sitting there worried that this is going to be a bigger issue,” Ferguson added.

Even Trump, on the podcast of Fox News analyst Geraldo Rivera, said Thursday that he believes Buttigieg would lose some support because of his sexual orientation.

“I think there would be some that wouldn’t [vote for him], and I wouldn’t be among that group to be honest with you,” Trump said.

“It doesn’t seem to be hurting him very much,” he added referring to his performances in Iowa and New Hampshire. “But … there would be a group that probably wouldn’t. But you or I wouldn’t be in that group.”

How the electorate would rule on a matchup between a young, gay man and Trump is anyone’s guess at this point. But there’s some merit to Limbaugh’s, Trump’s and Ferguson’s belief that Americans might choose Trump if presented with that option. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll shows that Trump is more competitive against Democrats now than he was three months ago. And specifically in a matchup between Buttigieg and Trump, the former mayor is at 45 percent to the president’s 48 percent.

Buttigieg’s sexual orientation does not appear to have been a major hurdle for Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, but in many ways, those groups are not representative of the country at large. Limbaugh, in his spiel, repeatedly mentioned that Buttigieg is married to a man with whom he is publicly affectionate. The thinking is that even among voters who might tolerate Buttigieg, his being married to a man would not be acceptable for a potential commander in chief.

Soon the mayor will have to face Democrats in South Carolina, Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee — states with a larger percentage of religious Democrats who might view Buttigieg’s sexual orientation differently from those in New England and Iowa, the first state in the Midwest to legalize same-sex marriage. But even in Iowa, a state where Buttigieg performed well, a caucusgoer pulled back her vote once she learned that the candidate was gay.

“I don’t want anybody like that in the White House,” she said after learning that Buttigieg has a husband. “So, can I have my card back?”

Conversations about electability have been common on the left since the earliest days of the 2020 campaign. Shortly after Buttigieg expressed interest in the White House, some have questioned…

Continue reading at THE WASHINGTON POST


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