Pence's Buttigieg Jokes Don't Amuse White House

Biden aide calls for apology over 'maternity leave' and postpartum depression remarks
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2023 6:05 PM CDT
Pence's Buttigieg Jokes Don't Amuse White House
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, left, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg speak in 2013 in South Bend.   (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP)

President Biden's press secretary said Monday that former Vice President Mike Pence owes a round of apologies for jokes he made about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, which the White House called homophobic. Pence made the remarks in his speech Saturday night at journalists' yearly Gridiron dinner in Washington, the Guardian reports, in referring to the paternity leave taken by Buttigieg—which he called a maternity leave. "Thousands of travelers were stranded in airports, the air traffic system shut down, and airplanes nearly collided on our runways," Pence said. "Pete is the only person in human history to have a child and everyone else gets postpartum depression."

In fall 2021, Buttigieg said his twins were hospitalized with a respiratory virus infection. They were listed in critical condition at one time, per the Hill. The administration was dealing with supply chain problems and trying to get the infrastructure bill passed, and though Buttigieg said he worked every day from the hospital, he was criticized by political opponents for not doing more. Fox's Tucker Carlson was among those who ridiculed Buttigieg with remarks some considered homophobic.

At the White House, Karine Jean-Pierre called Pence's attempts at humor offensive and homophobic, saying he "used postpartum depression as a punchline." The former vice president "should apologize to women and LGBTQ people, who are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect," she added. Buttigieg's husband, Chasten, tweeted a photo Monday of the transportation secretary holding one of their infants in the hospital, saying he had a question for Pence. "If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old ... where would you be?" the tweet asked. (More Mike Pence stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.