Former Vice President Mike Pence defended his “maternity leave” joke about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg after sparking backlash from liberal commentators and the White House.
Pence joked about Buttigieg taking paternity leave after adopting infant twins at the annual Gridiron Dinner Saturday, where notable guests traditionally make humorous jabs at other political figures.
“When Pete’s two children were born, he took two months maternity leave, where upon thousands of travelers were stranded in airports, the air traffic system shut down, airplanes nearly collided in midair. I mean, Pete Buttigieg is the only person in human history to have a child and all the rest of us get postpartum depression,” Pence said. The joke sparked backlash from White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and notable liberal commentators, including the co-hosts of “The View,” who accused it of being “homophobic.”
“The Gridiron Dinner is a roast. I had a lot of jokes directed to me, and I directed a lot of jokes to Republicans and Democrats,” Pence told reporters Thursday night, according to Fox News. “The only thing I can figure is Pete Buttigieg not only can’t do his job, but he can’t take a joke.”
Jean-Pierre told the Washington Blade, a pro-LGBTQ outlet, that the joke was “homophobic” and “offensive” and called on the former vice president to issue an apology. Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of the transportation secretary, slammed the joke both in a March 13 tweet and on Thursday’s episode of “The View.”
“An honest question for you, @Mike_Pence, after your attempted joke this weekend. If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old – their tiny fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background – where would you be?” Buttigieg said.
An honest question for you, @Mike_Pence, after your attempted joke this weekend. If your grandchild was born prematurely and placed on a ventilator at two months old – their tiny fingers wrapped around yours as the monitors beep in the background – where would you be? pic.twitter.com/pCWvl8pb5N
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) March 13, 2023
“The View” co-hosts criticized Pence for making an alleged “terrible joke” during Tuesday’s segment of the program. During their Friday panel, the co-hosts defended actress Jane Fonda’s alleged joke as she called for the “murder” of pro-life politicians and activists. (RELATED: Pence Spokesperson Hits Back At Jean-Pierre For Accusing Former VP Of Making A ‘Homophobic’ Joke)
“The joke was terrible!”co-host Whoopi Goldberg yelled. “The joke was terrible.”
“He needs a joke writer,” co-host Joy Behar said.
Pence’s spokesperson, Marc Short, called on the White House to spare the “faux outrage” and accused them of being hypocrites after Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a joke about Jews.