On Saturday, at the Gridiron dinner for journalists in Washington, D.C., Pence took a shot at Buttigieg, who is gay, for taking two months of “maternity leave” after his twins were borns in September 2021. Referencing air travel disruptions in recent months, Pence added, “Pete Buttigieg is the only person in human history to have a child and all the rest of us get postpartum depression.”
In a clip from an interview with ABC’s Gio Benitez that was released Tuesday on “The View,” Buttigieg was asked if Pence owed him an apology.
“You know, I’ll let others speak to that,” Buttigieg said. “It’s a strange thing to me, because last time I saw him, he asked me about my kids like a normal person would.”
“I guess, you know, at a political event and white tie, it’s a little different. But again, there’s not a lot of time for me to focus on the Washington game because we have real work to do here.”
On Monday, Pence’s joke drew condemnation from the White House.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, called the joke homophobic, offensive and inappropriate, and she criticized him for treating postpartum depression as a punchline.
“He should apologize to women and LGBTQ people, who are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect,” she said.
Chasten Buttigieg, the transportation secretary’s husband, slammed Pence on Twitter as he highlighted the health struggles their prematurely born babies, Penelope and Gus, went through in the first months of their lives. The infants contracted a respiratory virus, and Gus wound up on a ventilator in a pediatric intensive care unit.
Buttigieg has faced repeated attacks from conservatives, such as Fox News host Tucker Carlson, for taking parental leave, which coincided with a national supply chain crisis. Buttigieg maintains that he was entitled to take it and had been available at all times for major decisions during his time off.
From 2012 to 2020, Buttigieg was mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Pence was governor of the state from 2013 to 2017 and is reportedly mulling a run for president in 2024.
Pence has rebuffed calls for an apology. Marc Short, his aide and former chief of staff, posted a tweet Monday accusing the Biden administration of “faux outrage” and “placating the woke police.”