Is presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s sexual orientation preventing him from having a real chance with Black voters? South Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn thinks so.
On Sunday, CNN’s Dana Bash asked the lawmaker if he thought the South Bend, Ind., mayor’s being gay is why he’s been polling so low among in South Carolina ahead of its “First in the South” 2020 Democratic primary and he answered honestly.
Clyburn, 79, who serves as House Majority Whip, said he and older African American voters had a “generational” issue supporting an openly gay candidate, and that there was “no question” that Buttigieg’s lack of popularity with older Black people in the state was a direct reflection of those biases.
“I know of a lot of people my age that feel that way,” said Clyburn. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you otherwise. I think everybody knows that’s an issue.”
The State newspaper reports that thanks to findings from a focus group over the summer, Buttigieg’s campaign is all too aware that his sexuality is a sticking point in South Carolina, particularly in the Black community.
But the 37-year-old candidate is still hopeful that continued outreach will help his team break down barriers with those who are hesitant to accept him.
“I think the most important thing is the message,” said Buttigieg. “I believe that when you go to the ballot, you go to the voting booth and that you’re asking yourself, how is my life going to get better if I pick this president instead of that? I think we’re going to win on that.”