Pete Buttigieg, Democratic presidential hopeful and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, toed the party line during an MSNBC town hall Monday night, appearing stumped when asked to name "living Republicans" he respects.
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In a friendly exchange, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews warned the candidate before asking him to answer a "tough" question: "Name some of your public figures — Republicans — who you respect."
Matthews clarified to Buttigieg that he must name someone "living," and offered him a few moments to consider his answer.
The audience laughed as Buttigieg slumped and replied, "Awe, I had such a great answer if it wasn't living."
"I know!" Matthews quipped, "Abraham Lincoln ... Teddy Roosevelt—"
"No, I've got a better one for ya, even better," Buttigieg interjected before answering: "Wendell Willkie."
He explained that Willkie, the 1940 GOP presidential nominee who lost to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was from Indiana and "put country before party."
Matthews then obligingly stepped in to explain that Willkie "united the country going into World War II. He was Roosevelt's diplomat going to Britain to unite the world there."
The "Hardball" host didn't press further, abruptly moving on to other topics without asking the mayor to actually answer his question.
Buttigieg Doesn't Name A Living Republican He 'Respects' When Asked During Town Hall www.youtube.com
Buttigieg has emerged as a formidable candidate for the Democratic presidential primary, despite having virtually no name recognition prior to launching his White House bid.
The 2020 hopeful made headlines and subsequent traction in the polls after accusing Vice President Mike Pence — a fellow Indiana native he's known for several years — of negatively judging him for his sexual orientation.
According to a recent Morning Consult poll, Buttigieg is currently polling in fourth place in a crowded field of 23 contenders for the Democratic nomination.