By all appearances, President Donald Trump is going into the 2020 election as a confident incumbent set on securing four more years.
But does a Wednesday morning tweet from the president mean that Trump would be OK taking an L as long as he’s dethroned by a certain Hoosier from South Bend?
Shortly before 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “Eric, I can live with that!” in response to conservative political commentator Eric Bolling sharing his praise of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
In the tweet, Bolling makes it clear that he is 100% Team Trump. He also says that if he has to live in America with any of the current Democratic presidential candidates as commander-in-chief, Mayor Pete would be his pick.
“He seems smart, even tempered and as moderate as any on the stage,” Bolling tweeted Tuesday night. “Holds his own with career pols.”
What’s unclear is exactly what Trump meant in the tweet. Is he OK with the idea of President Pete? Or is he simply OK with his supporters accepting Buttigieg as president if he wins?
With no follow-up tweet to clarify, your guess is as good as mine.
What Buttigieg says about Trump’s tweet
What is crystal clear, however, is that Buttigeig isn’t keen on receiving any kind of praise from Trump.
Around 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, Buttigieg responded to the president’s tweet by saying, “What none of us can live with is four more years of your chaos, cruelty, and division.”
He then shared a link to campaign website, telling Twitter users to “donate now to kick Trump out of the White House.”
This isn’t the first time Buttigieg and Trump have had back-and-forths that have spilled onto social media.
Their most notable exchange came in May 2019 when Trump gave Buttigieg the nickname “Alfred E. Neuman” during an interview with Politico. Buttigieg fired back by saying that he had no idea who the MAD Magazine mascot was, calling it “a generational thing.”
That of course led the MAD Magazine tweeting, “Who’s Pete Buttigieg? Must be a generational thing.”
About a week later, when asked how he would deal with Trump’s tweets and insults should he win the Democratic nomination, Buttigieg said he didn’t care about the social media jabs.
That response came just a few hours after Trump tweeted that “Alfred E. Newman (sic) will never be President!”
But the interactions haven’t been all negative. Earlier this month, on the day of the New Hampshire primary, Trump again had kind words of Buttigieg and his competitive showing against Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Sanders would go on to narrowly defeat Buttigieg in New Hampshire.
Call IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack at 317-444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.