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Mayor Pete Throws Shade? ‘I Was A Big Fan Of Bernie Sanders When I Was 18 Years Old’

South Bend Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was asked about his support among young voters, and appeared to throw a little shade in Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ direction.

On Thursday morning’s edition of CBS This Morning, co-anchor Tony Dokoupil asked Mayor Pete about his polling with young voters, saying “You don’t have a majority of young voters in this country, according to polls,” and asking “Is there a way in which you are out of touch with your own generation?”

“No, but it is certainly the case that often younger candidates tend to attract more support from older voters,” Buttigieg said, adding “but we are building a coalition that’s going to draw voters from every part of this country.”

“You are at 3 and 4 percent among people under the age of 44 in South Carolina,” Dokoupil said, but displayed a graphic showing Buttigieg leading with young voters in New Hampshire. Nationally, Buttigieg underperforms with young voters relative to his overall support, but by very little.

“It’s almost as bad as minority voters. What explains that gap?” he asked.

“There is going to be a continued process to earn support across the coalition, but it certainly the case that many of the younger voters are more attracted to, for example the Sanders campaign definitely has more young voters,” Buttigieg said, adding “I was a big fan of Bernie Sanders when I was 18 years old.”

“It’s also the case that we are pulling together a coalition to talk about issues like climate, to act on issues like climate and guns and the economy, that the longer you are planning to be here, the more you have at stake,” Buttigieg continued. “And young voters have to mobilize in a way that hasn’t happened before if we’re going to be able to defeat this president.”

He then went on to contrast his plans for dealing with the cost of higher education with those of Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, saying he differs from “the other candidates who think that even the child of a billionaire should have their… college tuition paid completely by taxpayers. I just don’t think that’s right.”

The not-so-subtle message of the Sanders comment was that Buttigieg had outgrown his fandom, and so should other young voters.

At least one Bernie Sanders aide picked up on the remark. Sanders Communications Director Mike Casca tweeted a clip of the remark, and quoted Buttigieg.

“‘the sanders campaign definitely has more young voters. i was a big fan of bernie sanders when i was 18 years old.’ – @PeteButtigieg,” Casca wrote.

Casca may have been trying to highlight Sanders’ support with young voters, but other supporters of the Vermont senator have recently been trying to make an issue of Mayor Pete’s past support for Sanders by recirculating a prize-winning “Profile in Courage” essay that Buttigieg wrote while in high school.

As it happens, Buttigieg was asked about that essay early in his campaign, and he responded graciously while making a point to call Sanders a “socialist.”

At a Nashua, New Hampshire meet and greet in April, Buttigieg was reminded of the essay, and was asked “Why do you think you would be a better candidate now?”

Buttigieg jokingly referred to the subject of his essay as “this obscure Vermont congressman, Bernie Sanders,” and said he felt like “I found a band before it was cool.”

He expressed admiration for Sanders, and said “The thing I appreciated about him, and still do, is that he’s very candid about what he believes,” and went on to add that “He’s just like ‘Oh this is what, I’m a socialist, so there,’ and I really respected that.”

Buttigieg staffers have taken notice of the use of the essay, and if Mayor Pete’s dig is any indication, so has he.

Watch the clip above via CBS.

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