South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is reportedly skeptical that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) could defeat President Donald Trump in 2020.
Speaking in Nashua, New Hampshire, Buttigieg suggested Trump and Sanders were similar, the New York Times reports.
Voters' desire to "blow up the system" in 2016, Buttigieg argued, "could lead you to somebody like Bernie and it could lead you to somebody like Trump. That’s how we got where we are."
The Times report also includes separate remarks Buttigieg made about Sanders in an interview.
"In an interview, Mr. Buttigieg said Mr. Sanders's left-wing proposals were no longer as provocative as in 2016 — ‘people were refreshed by the novelty of that boldness' — and expressed skepticism that a self-described democratic socialist in his late 70s could win a general election," the Times writes.
"I have a hard time seeing the coalition ultimately coming together there," Buttigieg added.
Sanders's campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, responded to Buttigieg's criticism, arguing the Vermont senator's "unifying progressive agenda" made him "the best-positioned candidate to defeat Donald Trump in the general election."
Buttigieg has risen in the polls in recent weeks, and three recent surveys of Democratic voters across the country show him in a distant third place behind former vice president Joe Biden and Sanders. State-level survey in Iowa and New Hampshire show him polling closer to Biden and Sanders.
NBC reported earlier this week that Buttigieg's rise has prompted competing Democratic campaigns to search for dirt on the mayor.
CNBC recently highlighted disappointment in Buttigieg's tenure by residents of South Bend's poor neighborhoods, with one saying "he’s improved s—."