President Trump told Fox News host Geraldo Rivera on Thursday that he, personally, would consider voting for a gay president, name-checking Pete Buttigieg, "but there would certainly be a group that probably wouldn't." Among that group, evidently, is Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk-radio icon Trump gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to last week.
"They're sitting there and they're looking at Mayor Pete — a 37-year-old gay guy, mayor of South Bend, loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage," Limbaugh said on his radio show Wednesday. "And they're saying, okay, how's this going to look, a 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband onstage next to Mr. Man Donald Trump? What's going to happen there?"
Limbaugh's jab at Buttigieg's sexual orientation "quickly reverberated around right-wing circles," The Washington Post reports. Several Trump allies used Buttigieg's sexuality to criticize his policies or question his masculinity, while The Federalist insisted Limbaugh's remarks were "not homophobic," just "uncouth" punditry. Several Republican lawmakers declined to comment on Limbaugh's Buttigieg remarks while a handful disagreed with them.
"It's a miscalculation as to where the country is at," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Associated Press. "I think the country is not going to disqualify somebody because of their sexual orientation." Townhall political editor Guy Benson compared Buttigieg's conservative marriage record with Limbaugh and Trump's liberal matrimonial history.
Buttigieg's allies hit back at Limbaugh but Buttigieg's campaign did not. It isn't clear how the general electorate will respond to an openly gay, married presidential candidate. When a supporter in Des Moines asked Buttigieg last year what he should tell friends who said America isn't ready for a gay president, Buttigieg said: "Tell your friends I said 'hi.'"