Former Clinton adviser defends her -- 2 months later -- from criticism by likely 2020 Dem Pete Buttigieg

Call it a delayed reaction.

A former top aide to Hillary Clinton expressed outrage Friday night, more than two months after expected 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg shared his views on why Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016.

In a January profile in the Washington Post Magazine, Buttigieg -- the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., who has formed an exploratory committee in anticipation of a White House run -- provided some post-mortem commentary on the 2016 election.

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“Donald Trump got elected because, in his twisted way, he pointed out the huge troubles in our economy and our democracy,” Buttigieg said back then. “At least he didn’t go around saying that America was already great, like Hillary did.”

Two months later, Nick Merrill, the former Clinton aide, finally issued his rebuttal via Twitter.

“This is indefensible," Merrill wrote about Buttigieg's comments. "Hillary Clinton ran on a belief in this country & the most progressive platform in modern political history. Trump ran on pessimism, racism, false promises, & vitriol.

“Interpret that how you want, but there are 66,000,000 people who disagree. Good luck,” Merrill added.

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Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve and is South Bend's first openly gay mayor, has seen a recent surge in the polls, ranking fifth in the most recent Quinnipiac survey with support from 4 percent of Democratic respondents.