“An honest question for you,” Chasten Buttigieg tweeted, tagging Pence, “after your attempted joke this weekend. 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?
Pence drew backlash after he cracked jokes on Saturday night at the Gridiron dinner for journalists in Washington, D.C., that Pete Buttigieg had taken “maternity leave” early in the Biden administration. Pointing to the flight and travel disruptions in recent months, he added that Buttigieg “is the only person in human history to have a child and everyone else gets postpartum depression.”
Buttigieg and his husband welcomed twins Gus and Penelope in September 2021. The Cabinet official took parental leave at the time to be with his newborns. The couple later revealed that the babies had overcome serious health struggles after contracting a respiratory virus. Gus was placed on a ventilator in a pediatric intensive care unit.
“I’ll leave this here for you should you want to know more about the kids you are so eager to use as a punchline,” Chasten Buttigieg added under his first tweet, sharing a link to his husband’s Medium article about Penelope’s and Gus’s medical struggles.
Pete Buttigieg has been fiercely criticized by some Republicans and right-wing figures like Tucker Carlson for taking the time off to be with his babies as a national supply chain crisis continued. Buttigieg defended his choice and said he had been available remotely 24/7 for major decisions during the time.
The White House press secretary slammed Pence on Monday for his comment.
“He should apologize to women and LGBTQ+ people,” Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Marc Short, an aide to Pence and his former chief of staff, responded to the criticism on Twitter, accusing the Biden administration of “faux outrage” and “placating the woke police.”
Pence, an evangelical Christian, was governor of Indiana for four years of Buttigieg’s tenure as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Pence is reportedly considering a run for president in 2024.