"We're going into the war with some socialists," President Donald Trump told an adoring audience of Republican congressmen this week, sharing his assessment of the coming election and saying he had a new theme for his campaign.
"I love the idea of 'Keep America Great' because you know what it says is we've made it great now we're going to keep it great because the socialists will destroy it."
Not so fast:
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg pushes what he calls democratic capitalism and argues the country is actually to the left of Congress and the Democratic Party on everything from gun laws to health care. He said Thursday on Good Morning America that Trump's strategy won't work.
Buttigieg said centrism had led to cynicism among voters and that was, "perhaps, the greatest threat to the continued success of the American political system."
Referencing an essay he wrote in high school praising Bernie Sanders, Buttigieg said, “What I was praising Sen. Sanders for was for being honest about what he believed, and I think we need more of that.”
"The President is adopting a tactic that takes us back to the darkest days of the '50s when you could use the word 'socialist' to kill somebody's career, or to kill an idea, but that trick has been tried so many times that I think it's losing all meaning," Buttigieg said.
"The Affordable Care Act was a conservative idea that Democrats borrowed and they called that 'socialist.' So it's kind of like the boy who cried wolf. It's lost all power I think, especially for my generation of voters."
"You might call it medicare for all who want it," said Buttigieg. "You take a version of Medicare, you let anybody who wants to buy into it buy into it, and then if people like me are right that that's going to be a preferred option that very naturally becomes a kind of glide path toward a Medicare for all environment, but it also dares the corporate world to come up with a better solution than what they've done so far."
Buttigieg had questioned Trump’s belief in God earlier in the week:
“I’m reluctant to comment on another person’s faith, but I would say it is hard to look at this president’s actions and believe that they’re the actions of somebody who believes in God,” the mayor of South Bend, Ind., told USA Today on Wednesday.
“I just don’t understand how you can be as worshipful of your own self as he is and be prepared to humble yourself before God.
“I’ve never seen him humble himself before anyone.”
Buttigieg, an avowed Episcopalian, contended that Trump’s largely evangelical Christian base focuses “so much about what Christ said so little about, and so little about what he said so much about.”
“When I think about where most of Scripture points me, it is toward defending the poor, and the immigrant, and the stranger, and the prisoner, and the outcast, and those who are left behind by the way society works,” Buttigieg said.
“And what we have now is this exaltation of wealth and power, almost for its own sake, that in my reading of Scripture couldn’t be more contrary to the message of Christianity.”