During Wednesday's Democratic debate in Nevada, many candidates went toe-to-toe on a variety of issues: from Bloomberg's NDAs to Bernie's unsuspected lead, the ninth debate was perhaps the most heated yet. To no surprise, two candidates went after each other quite aggressively. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg once again faced off — and this time, all eyes were on them.
In a particularly heated moment, Buttigieg went after Klobuchar’s record on the DREAM Act. In response, Klobuchar retorted, “I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete.” Klobuchar also referred to Buttigieg as a “cool newcomer” and someone who knows little about politics but merely has lots of talking points.
The two presidential hopefuls had a history of squaring off in debates — their growing battle is a storied one, exposing fundamental differences in how each candidate plans to be a thoughtful leader. While Klobuchar attacks Buttigieg on his lack of experience, and Buttigieg attacks Klobuchar on things like momentarily forgetting the name of the President of Mexico, their feud as the two conservative Dem frontrunners continues to heat up. And, it's expected to heat up once again at the tenth Democratic debate in South Carolina on Tuesday. In lieu of that, we’ve rounded up some of their most fiery debate moments and the topics they’re very likely to clash on.
Klobuchar called out the male privilege of Buttigieg's candidacy
Back in November, a New York Times article came out in which Klobuchar called out the sexism inherent in electoral politics. According to the article, Klobuchar had suggested that women candidates with as little political experience as Buttigieg would never be taken seriously. "Could we be running with less experience than we had? I don't think so. I don't think people would take us seriously,” she said when asked about his lack of experience, having only been Mayor of a small Indiana town before running for president.
Klobuchar and Buttigieg face off about lack of experience
By December of 2019, it had become clear that Klobuchar was going to keep repeating questions and concerns about Buttigieg’s lack of experience. In that month’s debate, Klobuchar called Buttigieg out for touting experience and comparing himself to other candidates on stage who have gotten “much more done” politically than him. “You actually did denigrate my experience, Senator,” Buttigieg said and added that he was going to let her comments go because they had bigger fish to fry. To that, Klobuchar responded, “Oh I don’t think we have bigger fish to fry than picking the President of the United States.”
Buttigieg looked visibly angry and responded that it was insulting that Klobuchar was acting like anyone on stage had any more or less commitment to the Constitution than any other candidate. To that, Klobuchar said it wasn’t a matter of questioning his commitment to the country but a question of electing someone who has won big in America before. “The point is, we should have someone heading up this ticket who has actually won,” she said in reference, again, to Buttigieg’s lack of experience beyond being a Mayor.
Klobuchar brought up Buttigieg's past tweets about health care
During the debate on February 7, Klobuchar made it clear that she had gathered receipts on Buttigieg’s past opinions from his Twitter feed. When health care was brought up, she seized the moment to call him out for flipping his politics around Medicare for All. Though he now supports a public option and vigorously criticizes Medicare for All and candidates who support it, Klobuchar pointed out a two-year-old opinion he’d posted to Twitter pre-election cycle.
"Pete, while you have a different plan now, you sent out a tweet just a few years ago that said: 'henceforth, forthwith, indubitably, affirmatively, you are for Medicare-for-all,'" she said, adding that leadership is about picking a position and sticking with it, insinuating Buttigieg lacks that ability.
Klobuchar calls out Buttigieg on his impeachment hearing comments
During the New Hampshire debate, Klobuchar called out a comment that Buttigieg had made earlier in the week about how exhausting the impeachment hearings were to pay attention to. Klobuchar used the moment to turn it into a conversation about leadership. This is also when she referred to Buttigieg as a “cool newcomer” to Washington, DC.
“I think this going after every single thing that people do because it's popular to say and makes you look like a cool newcomer, I don't think that's what people want right now," Klobuchar said. "We have a newcomer in the White House, and look where it got us. I think having some experience is a good thing.”
Buttigieg fires back at Klobuchar over voting records
Buttigieg shot back at Klobuchar's impeachment comment critique with his own clever response, harkening back to moments like this during the recent debate in Nevada. “If you're going to run based on your record of voting in Washington, then you have to own those votes, especially when it comes to immigration,” he said. Buttigieg then called out how Klobuchar voted to confirm the head of Customs and Border Protection under Trump, someone instrumental in solidifying his family separation policy.
Buttigieg criticizes Klobuchar for lapse in memory
In Nevada, Klobuchar admitted to forgetting the President of Mexico’s name, and was defended by Elizabeth Warren, who said policy is more important than an occasional slip-up. Buttigieg, however, took that as an opportunity to highlight her forgetfulness as a troubling sign that she’s not prepared to be president. He proclaimed that it’s a piece of knowledge that any candidate must know, especially someone like Klobuchar with “Washington experience” (hitting back at her for her comments about his lack thereof). “You’re staking your candidacy on your Washington experience,” Buttigieg said during the debate. “You’re on the committee that oversees border security. You’re on the committee that does trade. You’re literally part of the committee that’s overseeing these things. And you were not able to speak to literally the first thing about the politics of the country to our south?” Klobuchar didn’t respond to this kindly, for obvious reasons. "Are you trying to say that I’m dumb? Or are you mocking me here, Pete?" she asked.
Buttigieg & Klobuchar draw clear battle lines in Nevada
An NBC analysis of the most recent debate found the Klobuchar was on the attack towards Buttigieg more than anyone else that night, while Buttigieg mostly went for Bernie Sanders. Currently neck and neck, it’s been posited that as more moderate Midwesterners, Klobuchar and Buttigieg are ultimately competing for the same base of voters.