Mike Pence defends his homophobic comments towards Pete Buttigieg: ‘He can’t take a joke’

Mike Pence and Pete Buttigieg

Former vice president Mike Pence made a misogynistic and homophobic ‘joke’ towards transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg at a political dinner, and instead of apologising, has doubled down on his comments.

The annual dinner, organised by journalistic organisation the Gridiron Club, brings together Washington journalists and politicians. Traditionally, political speakers will make light-hearted speeches and jokes about other prominent figures. 

At the event on 11 March, Pence took aim at Democrat Buttigieg for taking two months of paternity leave when his twins – who he adopted with his husband Chasten – were born. 

“I mean, Pete Buttigieg is the only person in human history to have a child and all the rest of us get postpartum depression,” Pence said.

“When Pete’s two children were born, he took two months maternity leave, where upon thousands of travellers were stranded in airports, the air traffic system shut down, aeroplanes nearly collided in midair,” CNN quotes Pence as saying.

Describing the Gridiron Dinner as a “roast,” the former vice president has defended his comments despite the White House requesting an apology.

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“Well, the Gridiron Dinner is a roast, and I had a lot of jokes directed to me,” Pence said.

“I directed a lot of jokes to Republicans and Democrats. The only thing I can figure, Pete Buttigieg not only can’t do his job but he can’t take a joke.”

When the comments were originally made, Buttgieg’s husband took to Twitter to criticise Pence for poking fun at their decision to take time off to look after their child.

“If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old – their tiny fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background – where would you be?” he wrote.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called on Pence to apologise for the remarks. 

She said: “The former vice president’s homophobic joke about Secretary Buttigieg was offensive and inappropriate, all the more so because he treated women suffering from postpartum depression as a punchline. 

“He should apologise to women and LGBTQ people, who are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.”

In response to this, Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short also took to social media and called the matter “faux outrage”. 

“The Biden administration should spare America the faux outrage. The hypocrisy is especially rich considering their own secretary of state Antony Blinken joked that he yearned for ‘the old days’ when ‘Jews did all the work’.”

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