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Elizabeth Warren is not going on Fox News. Pete Buttigieg explains why he did.

“If we ignore the viewers of Fox News … we will surrender our ability to speak directly to millions of American voters.”

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg attends a campaign stop at Stonyfield Farms on April 19, 2019, in Londonderry, New Hampshire.
Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Li Zhou is a politics reporter at Vox, where she covers Congress and elections. Previously, she was a tech policy reporter at Politico and an editorial fellow at the Atlantic.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has firmly declined to participate in any town hall held by Fox News, making her decision known in a series of tweets last week. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, however, is among the Democrats who’ve taken a different stance.

Buttigieg, who participated in a Fox News town hall on Sunday night, signaled that he agrees with many of Warren’s critiques of the media outlet — something she called a “hate-for-profit” racket — but argued that it was an important platform to reach voters who may not otherwise be exposed to the Democratic candidates.

“I get where that’s coming from,” he said. “When you got Tucker Carlson saying that immigrants make Americans dirty ... then there’s a reason why someone needs to swallow hard and think twice about participating in this media ecosystem.”

Buttigieg emphasized, however, that he did not see the viewers of Fox News as acting in the same bad faith as some of its commentators. “I think a lot of people tune into this network in good faith,” he said, noting that his decision to participate in the town hall was driven by a need to connect with those voters.

“If we ignore the viewers of Fox News and every news platform that doesn’t share our worldview, we will surrender our ability to speak directly to millions of American voters,” Buttigieg elaborated in an email to supporters on Sunday.

It’s a message that reflects how Buttigieg has tried to position himself in an immensely crowded field of Democratic candidates: He’s argued that as a mayor of a formerly industrial Midwestern town, he’s able to bring experiences different from those of other candidates who represent constituents on the more traditionally liberal coasts.

“[We need to] update our vocabulary so that we’re truly connecting with Americans from coast to coast,” he added on Sunday.

Buttigieg is far from the only 2020 candidate trying to make his geographic credentials a centerpiece of his platform. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has also highlighted her strength in the Midwest, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has touted his ability to win in a state that voted for Trump.

As the primary continues, it will be interesting to see how much this aspect of his record actually sets Buttigieg apart.

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