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MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle Grills Mayor Pete: ‘Your City is in Crisis … Should You Be Skipping This Debate?’

MSNBC host Stephanie Rhule grilled South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg on the recent police shooting of an unarmed black man in his city, specifically asking him if it’s appropriate to be in Miami to participate in the Democratic presidential debates given the issues his constituents are facing.

“Your city is in crisis,” Rhule said as the two sat down ahead of Wednesday’s first round of Democratic debates. “Walk me through what the last two weeks have been like and, really, given what’s going on at home, should you be skipping this debate?”

“No, we have to be able to do many things at once,” he replied, as he is slated to appear on the debate stage Thursday night. “But this is a moment when my community is in anguish. We’ve been on the ground working with community leaders, working with community members trying to make sure that the facts can emerge. But also recognizing that the anguish over what has happened is not only about a family that has lost a loved one.”

‘The feeling among black Americans that they are being literally policed to death, and making sure that we have a way forward on that. This is not just a policy question, this is a moral question,” he continued. “And everything that all of us do, we do in the shadow of systemic racism that has poisoned the relationship between communities of color and police departments everywhere in the country.”

After Rhule asked Buttigieg why is poll numbers among black voters remains at 1 percent despite his attempts to address racist policing, the candidate said he hopes to win them over “like I’ve been able to earn support from black voters at home in South Bend.” The host also questioned the mayor on criticisms of his town hall in South Bend on Sunday, where the audience was made up of a majority of black residents from the city — some of which fiercely criticized Buttigieg’s mayoral tenure.

“Sometimes when you are seeing the pain of people who feel not just anger but anger rooted in fear,” he began. “These things express themselves in so many different ways, and what I found on that stage in that town hall, it was my job to absorb all of that pain, absorb all of that anguish knowing I could talk about all the things we had done and clearly we haven’t done enough. And accepting responsibility for that because I’m in charge. Sometimes you feel such powerful emotion during that, that actually the only thing you can do is try to sit still and sit tight and just absorb it.”

Watch above, via MSNBC.

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Caleb Ecarma is a reporter at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter here: @calebecarma