South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg failed to defend Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) against Hillary Clinton's recent attacks. Clinton recently suggested Gabbard is a "Russian asset" that is being groomed to run third party during the 2020 election.
NBC News' Chuck Todd asked Buttigieg about the ordeal, at which point Buttigieg failed to condemn Clinton.
"I'm just curious if you had any reaction to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton implying that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard might be a Russian asset," Todd said.
"What I'll say is that I'm not going to get into their dispute," he replied. "What I will say is that we know, right now–"
"Is that appropriate?" Todd pressed.
"Well, I suppose when you become a private citizen that you can say whatever you want but–" Buttigieg replied.
"A sitting member of Congress, she served," Todd said, referencing Gabbard's record.
"Well, I certainly honor her service. As we saw in the debate I also had strong disagreements with her on topics like Syria, but the bigger issue here is that Russia is working to interfere with our elections, right now," Buttigieg explained. "And we know a big part of how they're going to do it is exploiting divisions among the American people with their information operations."
Buttigieg then used the opportunity to talk about how, as president, he would protect American elections from foreign interference.
"We’ve got to become a harder target and as president, I will make sure using all of our tools – diplomatic, economic and security – there is enough deterrence that Russia or any country would never again calculate that it is in their interest to mess with our democracy," he explained.
Buttigieg's response is cowardly. Clinton isn't just a "private citizen" wanting to voice her thoughts on public policy. She's a former First Lady and Secretary of State. She's run for president (unsuccessfully) twice. She needs to be held accountable for what she said. And Buttigieg needs to quit pandering. Either he agrees with Clinton or he doesn't. And right now it's looking like he agrees.