WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence shrugged off criticism Thursday, defending what the White House called a «homophobic» joke about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s paternity leave and the Postpartum depression.
“The Gridiron dinner is a roast and I had a lot of jokes directed at me. I directed a lot of jokes at Republicans and Democrats,” Pence told reporters in Keene, New Hampshire, when asked about his previous comments. «The only thing I could imagine is that Pete Buttigieg not only can’t do his job, but he can’t take a joke.»
Pence, who was in Keene to speak to Cheshire County Republicans as he considers a 2024 presidential bid, doubled down on comments he made at the Gridiron Club’s annual dinner last weekend. At the event, Pence said Buttigieg’s two-month «maternity leave» to adopt newborn twins in 2021 with her husband led to transportation issues across the country last year. The Washington Post reported.
«When Pete’s two children were born, he took two months of maternity leave, stranding thousands of travelers at airports, shutting down the air traffic system, and nearly colliding planes on our runways,» Pence said. according to the Post. «Pete is the only person in human history to have had a child and everyone else has postpartum depression.»
Buttigieg has been a vocal critic of Pence’s cultural and religious conservatism since Buttigieg’s bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Pence, the former governor of Indiana, overlapped on state politics for four years.
Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten Buttigieg, responded to Pence on ABC’s «The View» Thursday.
«I think it’s not ‘woke’, you know, to say that something is homophobic or misogynistic,» he said. «It doesn’t make you wake up. It doesn’t make you a snowflake telling someone they’ve made a mistake.»
Chasten Buttigieg opened up about how he and his husband had to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit because their son was born prematurely.
“We all have an obligation to hold people accountable when they say the wrong thing, especially when it’s misogynistic, especially when it’s homophobic,” he said. «And I just don’t take that when it’s aimed at my family, and I don’t think anyone else does, especially when you’re bringing a very young, medically fragile child.»
Earlier this week, the White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized Pence in a statementsaying, «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 joke.»
«He should apologize to women and LGBTQ people, who have the right to be treated with dignity and respect,» she added.
Chasten Buttigieg said on «The View» that he had not heard from Pence since he made those comments.