Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Sunday argued that one of her opponents in the presidential race, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, would not have qualified for the Democratic primary debates if he were a woman, given his lack of experience in Washington.
“Of the women on the stage ... do I think we would be standing on that stage if we had the experience that he had? No, I don’t,” she said, referring to herself and Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “Maybe we’re held to a different standard.”
“Of the women on the stage… do I think we would be standing on that stage if we had the experience that [Mayor Pete Buttigieg] had? No, I don’t. Maybe we’re held to a different standard.” - Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Mayor Buttigieg’s qualifications #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/xz0cEH86OZ— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 10, 2019
Buttigieg’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the remark.
A New York Times/Siena College survey conducted last month in battleground states found that Buttigieg was 1 to 5 percentage points ahead of Klobuchar among Democratic voters in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. However, Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden were in the lead with double-digit support.
Though Klobuchar said she believes Buttigieg is qualified, at the heart of her criticism is that his political background lies in his eight years as mayor of a small city, rather than having held a state or federal post.
“We should be able to have those debates about candidates without being accused of being negative,” she said.
However, Buttigieg, the youngest candidate in the field at 37 years old, has had to repeatedly defend his experience and has argued that his mayorship allowed him to manage issues felt by everyday Americans in a diverse and mostly low-income area. He has also cited his past military service in Iraq and Afghanistan, whereas neither President Donald Trump nor Barack Obama are veterans.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.