Buttigieg Could Win Some of the Evangelical Vote

(It is a measure of how his star is rising that I can now spell his name properly with only a little hesitation!)

The New York Time has this story up this morning as a major front page item: Pete Buttigieg, Gay and Christian, Challenges Religious Right on Their Own Turf

As a religious gay man who believes his party has ceded discussion of religion and spirituality to Republicans, Pete Buttigieg, a Democratic candidate for president, is talking about God and sexuality in an unconventional way: He is using the language of faith to confront the Christian right on territory they have long claimed as their own.

The thrust of the article is that conservatives, having shied away from confronting Buttigieg, are starting to get vocally angry about him:

Erick Erickson, an evangelical blogger, said that Mr. Buttigieg’s comments about religious conservatives who support Mr. Trump suggest that he “would be O.K. with using the government to persecute Christians.”

Buttigieg was actually talking about conservative hypocrisy in supporting a man who pays off Playboy bunnies, has committed adultery multiple times, and boasts about sexual assault. He also quoted Jesus on hypocrites — “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.” — which he says is a favorite verse.

There’s another diary up this morning —He hates it when you laugh at him — which makes the point that laughing at Trump is much more effective at throwing him off stride and getting him to look foolish than getting angry at him, which only feeds his sense of superiority.  It’s possible Mayor Pete’s approach to the evangelicals is working the same way.

But it also works because Buttigieg — unlike the “porn-star president” (what Buttigieg calls him) — really is a Christian and really practices his faith, a faith  he is clearly comfortable with.

Some evangelical Christians say that the fracture over Mr. Trump within their community runs so deep that the desire for an alternative — especially one like Mr. Buttigieg, who is so temperamentally different from the profane, brash and unpredictable president — will remain strong.

Pete Wehner, an evangelical who worked in the George W. Bush White House and has split with his community and his party over Mr. Trump, said the way Mr. Buttigieg speaks with ease and familiarity about Christianity is a trait many voters will find to be a welcome contrast with the president.

From the Indy Star (April 7):

It’s unusual for Democratic presidential candidates to talk about faith as often as Buttigieg does. It’s groundbreaking that he uses his marriage to another man to illustrate his personal relationship with God.

Buttigieg has also drawn headlines by questioning how President Donald Trump’s professed belief in God squares with his behavior — and by challenging the support Trump receives from many evangelic Christians.

“I can’t believe that somebody that was caught writing hush money checks to adult film actresses is somebody they should be lifting up as the kind of person they want to be leading this nation,” he said on “Meet the Press.” www.indystar.com/…

I’m not saying Buttigieg would win over the evangelical vote, but I am honestly starting to think he could make a dent in it (a further dent, I should say, as Trump’s evangelical support, while still high, is slipping a bit) in a way most other Democratic possibilities might not.

And because Pence responded to Buttigieg’s needling by pointing out how well they had worked together when Pence was governor of Indiana, he has kind of neutralized himself from being a fundamentalist attack dog against Buttigieg. If he does speak out now about Mayor Pete’s being gay, Buttigieg will just respond with another quote about the hypocrits.

In other words, Buttigieg is looking more and more like someone who can actually beat Trump.