Fox News host, Chris Wallace, started Sunday night's one hour town hall with Pete Buttigieg by acknowledging that it was a "hot ticket" and that demand to be in the live audience for the event was the highest the network had seen thus far this political season for such a broadcast.
The mayor of South Bend who officially announced his candidacy as a Democratic candidate for president on April 14, answered a wide range of questions from the audience on everything from his age to drug addiction to student loan debt.
When asked about how he can win over voters who may not be ready for a gay president, Buttigieg responded by saying, "Anybody can make their way to the right side of history."
Buttigieg was also asked about the lack of support he is getting from African American voters. He said he is continuing to reach out to minority voters saying that "it's not just the crininal justice system" that these voters care about. He said voters of color also need to hear from candidates on a whole host of issues including jobs, healthcare and entrepreneurship.
Buttigieg addressed head on the criticism he received for being willing to appear on Fox News. He openly criticized several Fox hosts for previous remarks they had made, but he said he wants to meet people where they are and get his message out to people who otherwise might not hear it. He says he wants to reach Fox viewers of goodwill.
As for President Trump, Buttigieg said that he believes Trump is "putting troops at risk." Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan, addressed a question about the use of military force by saying, "Do not send young men and women into war when there's an alternative."
Asked how he responds to Trump's tweets and name-calling — including referring to Buttigieg as Alfred E. Neumann, the "Mad" magazine character — the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, responded, "I don't care." He said Democrats need to talk less about Trump and more about what they'll do for the American people.
Buttigieg jabbed at President Donald Trump, saying he understands why people and the media are "mesmerized" by his tweets because "it is the nature of grotesque things that you can't look away."
Buttigieg was asked about laws passed recently to ban or restrict abortion in states such as Alabama. He said he believes the right to have an abortion is "an American freedom" and that the government shouldn't have a role in limiting it.
"I think the dialogue has gotten so caught up on where you draw the line that we've gotten away from the fundamental question of who gets to draw the line," he said. "And I trust women to draw the line."
Asked whether his position extends to the third trimester of pregnancy, Buttigieg said those late-term abortions make up a small percentage of abortions performed and asked the audience to put themselves in that woman's shoes. Any woman making that decision has likely been expecting to carry the baby to term, he said, and received "the most devasting medical news in their lifetime," forcing them to make "an impossible, unthinkable choice."
"And the bottom line is as horrible as that choice is, that woman, that family may seek spiritual guidance, they may seek medical guidance," he said. "But that decision's not going to be made any better medically or morally, because the government is dictating how that decision should be made."
Near the end of the town hall, host Chris Wallace employed a "lightning round" technique focusing on quick questions and answers. One of those questions was what was Buttigieg's biggest mistake as mayor. Buttigieg replied by saying that early on in his administration he fired someone without doing it in person. He said he should have looked that person in the eye.
The town hall ended with a standing ovations from the audience who filled the high school gym in Claremont, New Hampshire.
Fox News is hosting town halls with other Democratic presidential candidates as well.
Prior to the town hall, President Trump tweeted out criticism of Fox News for featuring Buttigieg in the one hour broadcast. Trump criticized Fox for "wasting airtime" on Buttigieg, saying Fox "is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems." He added, "Alfred E. Newman will never be President."