“Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States,” the president said, referring to the decades-old Mad character in an interview with Politico.
"We have a young man, Buttigieg. Boot-edge-edge,” Trump said at a rally on Wednesday. “He’ll be great representing us against President Xi of China. That’ll be great. I want to be in that room, I wanna watch that one."
Buttigieg, a relative political newcomer, has surprised many political observers by consistently polling ahead of higher-profile Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke and Kamala Harris.
Buttigieg, who has been mayor of South Bend since 2012, is a former Navy Reserve intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan. He's also a Rhodes scholar and one of the first openly gay major-party presidential candidates ever. Fred Karger ran as a Republican in 2012.
Although he has been criticized for his lack of executive experience in running for president, Buttigieg still has more experience than Trump had when he won. The mayor has also been criticized for his youthfulness, which may have been part of the president’s dig in reference to the adolescent-looking Neuman. Buttigieg is just two years older than the 35-year-old age requirement to run for president.
When asked about Trump's insult, Buttigieg claimed he'd never heard of the Neuman character.
"I’ll be honest. I had to Google that," Buttigieg said. "I guess it’s just a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference. It's kind of funny, I guess.
"But he’s also the president of the United States and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal,” Buttigieg said in reference to Friday’s trade talks with China.