After Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) accused South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of being woefully inexperienced when it comes to national security and foreign policy, Buttigieg fired back by saying he would never have met a "murderous dictator" like she did.
In 2017, six years after the start of the Syrian Civil War, Gabbard traveled to the country to meet with its leader, Bashar al-Assad. The United States considers him a war criminal who killed his own citizens, and facing criticism for her trip back home, Gabbard refused to denounce Assad or apologize for the meeting.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) brought this up earlier in the debate, mentioning Gabbard's reluctance to call Assad a war criminal.
— POLITICO (@politico) November 21, 2019
After Gabbard accused Buttigieg of having no experience and making a "careless statement" saying he would "be willing to send our troops to Mexico to fight the cartels," Buttigieg picked up where Harris left off. He first accused Gabbard of taking the remarks out of context, telling her it was preposterous to think he proposed invading Mexico.
"If your question is about experience, let's also talk about judgment," Buttigieg said. "One of the foreign leaders you mentioned meeting was Bashar al-Assad. I have in my experience, such as it is whether you think it counts or not since it wasn't accumulated in Washington, enough judgment that I would not have sat down with a murderous dictator like that." Gabbard told Buttigieg this was proof he "would lack the courage to meet with both adversaries and friends," and brought up Franklin Roosevelt meeting with Josef Stalin and John F. Kennedy convening with Nikita Khrushchev. Buttigieg interrupted to bring up another dynamic duo: "Like Donald Trump met with Kim [Jong Un]," he said.
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