One of President Donald Trump‘s trademarks is branding his opponents with nicknames, so it was just a matter of time before South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — who has been rising in the polls — found himself as the butt of a presidential joke.
But Trump’s nickname for the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee not only didn’t land, it also served as a reminder that the current president is really, really old.
“Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States,” Trump said during an interview with Politico.
Alfred E. Neuman is the iconic (though dated) character from the cover of Mad Magazine. When Buttigieg was asked about the president’s remark, he turned the joke on its head.
“I’ll be honest, I had to Google that,” he said. “I guess it’s a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference. It’s kind of funny, I guess.”
Watch the video below:
— Carla Marinucci (@cmarinucci) May 11, 2019
Buttigieg’s off-the-cuff retort hits back on a number of levels. Most notably, Trump likes to promote himself as young. In late April, he told reporters that he’s “a young, vibrant man” — and Buttigieg’s “generational” quip just might carry a bit of a sting.
Unfortunately for Trump, this nickname doesn’t seem to have landed as cleanly as some of the others that he’s used for the 2020 Democrats.
He calls Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) “Pocahontas,” while former Vice President Joe Biden is “Sleepy Joe” and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is “Crazy Bernie.” Others, like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), haven’t yet gotten a nickname.
But the president has been known to reinvent nicknames if he’s not satisfied with his earlier attempts. He’s given Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) so many different monikers that Schiff once joked to reporters that the president is “breaking the cardinal rule of childish nicknames which is: You gotta pick one and stick with it.”