Pete Buttigieg Rips Ron Johnson For Enabling Extremism

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is no stranger to the campaign trail considering his 2020 run for president, joined an event promoting Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes this week.

Barnes is running against Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), and surveys indicate a close race. Johnson has faced criticism for downplaying the reality of last year’s Trump-incited Capitol riot, including that the crowd was armed, dismissing the basic facts of climate change, promoting the idea of making Medicare and Social Security subject to annual budget negotiations in Congress, thereby potentially imperiling the programs’ funding amid partisan infighting, and spreading dangerous propaganda about COVID-19. He has held himself out as supposedly unvaccinated and once claimed authorities elsewhere in the world were establishing internment camps for those who refused the vaccine. That’s not true. Well-stocked Australian facilities for two-week stays in isolation for residents returning from outside of the country weren’t internment camps, by any means.

“We’re not talking about what we used to think of as normal Republicans, not when it comes to somebody like Ron Johnson,” Buttigieg said. “We’re talking about a fork in the road over what kind of country we’re going to be. It used to be plain as day that if nothing else we could all agree what a democracy was.” Johnson has also faced push-back for promoting a change to tax rules that stood to benefit wealthy donors. As then-chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Johnson also led a hearing after the 2020 presidential election for airing false claims about the presidential race.

Buttigieg also discussed the attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). An apparently Trump-aligned attacker broke into a California home of the Pelosis and struck Paul with a hammer, looking for the House Speaker. Trump has specifically named Paul in some of his angry, public rhetoric, and he and other Republicans have obviously long isolated Nancy for harsh criticism. She was also personally targeted during last year’s Capitol violence. One member of the mob who spoke after investigators found him of wanting to find Nancy — and seemed to suggest, although not explicitly, he wanted to use one of his loaded guns on her — was recently sentenced to five years in prison.

“Public figures should always be free from violence, harassment, and intimidation,” Buttigieg remarked Friday. “That’s even more importantly true for their families. Wishing Speaker Pelosi and the entire family well, and a speedy recovery to Paul Pelosi.” Paul went into surgery but is expected to make a recovery.