The Georgia congresswoman levelled the offensive remark at “Democrats like Pete Buttigieg” while she was stumping in Michigan over the weekend alongside former President Donald Trump, who held the campaign-style rally where he once again voiced his unproven allegation that the 2020 election was stolen and simultaneously endorsed several Republicans in the November midterms.
“Democrats like Pete Buttigieg want to emasculate the way we drive and force all of you to rely on electric vehicles after they shut down your great Michigan auto industry.,” said Ms Greene while she touted the “Americanness” of the “roar of a V8 engine under the hood of a Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro”.
The transportation secretary struggled to hide a look of bemusement when the quote was read back to him by Fox News host Neil Cavuto on Tuesday night.
“I literally don’t even understand what that means,” said Mr Buttigieg. “My sense of manhood is not connected to whether or not my vehicle is fuelled by gasoline or whether it’s fuelled by electricity,” he said, before calling it “a strange thing to say”.
— Adam Wren (@adamwren) October 4, 2022
Mr Cavuto then asked the transportation secretary if he was offended by Ms Greene’s remarks, noting that there were people who even “share her politics that didn’t share that view”.
“You know, to be honest, there are other members of Congress that I pay more attention to when I’m thinking about opinions that really matter or ideas that are going to be critical to engage with,” Mr Buttigieg replied.
He went on to say that the conversation around electric modes of transportation needn’t be ideological, but rather a practical one.
“[It’s about] how we get from point A to point B. And if industry and the world are moving in a direction that adopts a new technology, the real question is are we gonna let China lead that or are we gonna lead it here in the United States of America?” he added.
This isn’t the first time that the Georgia congresswoman has gone on the attack against Mr Buttigieg’s policies on green transportation while using lines tinged with homophobic and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
In March, during a separate Trump rally, Ms Greene bizarrely accused Mr Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, of entering women’s bathrooms while using bicycles.
“You know what? Pete Buttigieg can take his electric vehicles and his bicycles and he and his husband can stay out of our girls’ bathrooms,” she said, a comment that became widely panned online with comedians like Kathy Griffin later tweeting: “You guys, I cannot get secretary Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten out of my bathroom”.
Other high-ranking GOP members have used homophobic lines to attack the transportation secretary for his green initiatives, such as when Michigan Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock called Mr Buttigieg a “weak little girl” in response to a video that showed him championing California’s 2035-ban on gas-powered cars.
Ms Greene’s record of anti-LGBTQ comments has become so extensive that the GLAAD Accountability Project has listed at least 10 recent instances where she has made problematic and hateful remarks about marginalised groups.
As well, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Georgia Equality – the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organisation – steadily tracked Ms Greene’s anti-LGBTQ and racist history as she rose to win her seat in 2020 and immediately condemned her victory in Georgia citing her dangerous embrace of “extreme, divisive and uninformed” views.