It’s all fun and games until the gnats arrive and just won’t go away. That’s what candidate Pete Buttigieg found out Tuesday night. As he stood on the stage during night one of the second round of Democrat debates, Mayor Pete had to fight off gnat attacks as well as attacks from other candidates.

When some viewers noticed something that looked like a smudge on Buttigieg’s forehead during the telecast, the candidate later said that it may have been a dead gnat. I noticed him making a swatting gesture at the very end of the debate but I didn’t realize he killed a gnat on his forehead during it. Tuning into CNN’s New Day this morning, I heard Mayor Pete’s explanation when Alisyn Camerota asked about it. Then she and co-anchor John Berman gushed over Buttigieg, as they tend to do.

“I have a totally cosmetic, superficial question for you. Did you have a smudge on your forehead last night? And what was that?” CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked Buttigieg on “New Day” Wednesday.
“Alright, so our best guess is that it — there were these little, kind of gnats around. Maybe I smushed one and it got on my forehead. I don’t know. I didn’t know about it until after. That’s the thing about having something on your forehead,” he replied. “But hopefully it didn’t distract from the message about what’s at stake in this election.”

“Not at all and it’s also very cool that you killed a gnat on your way out,” Camerota said.

“It shows lightning-quick reflexes,” CNN’s John Berman added.

“Well, you want to show that you can do many things at once in this election,” Buttigieg said.

The smudge eventually disappeared from the mayor’s forehead, but can be seen during his first few moments on stage.

Remember that time when President Obama killed a fly during an interview on CNBC? Mayor Pete didn’t quite rise to that level of insect-killing, but you get the picture. I wonder if PETA will go after him as they did Obama.

Mayor Pete’s campaign is touting his performance in the debate as a solid one. From where I sat, it wasn’t his best performance. I didn’t watch the beginning hour of the debate in full – I switched back and forth with different programming – but what I saw of him wasn’t impressive. Maybe the younger voters in the base of the Democrat Party liked his answers and demeanor but I found him to be more arrogant than he’s previously been and he made some obvious swipes against conservative Christians and Republicans in Congress.

To be honest, at one point I thought to myself that I don’t appreciate being lectured to by a smug 37-year-old guy. The most honest riff he pulled off was when he said the following: “It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say. If it’s true that if we embrace a far-left agenda they’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. So let’s just stand up for the right policy, go out there and defend it.” The riff was quoted in today’s Importantville, Buttiegieg’s newsletter. The name comes from Trump’s final rally in South Bend just before the Indiana GOP primary in 2016. Trump told the audience of the importance of their votes. ” It’s called Importantville right?”

He said all of that in response to Marianne Williamson’s insistence that Republicans will not accept the far-left ideas being suggested in the debate. She’s right. Buttiegieg knew she was right – he’s the mayor of a small city in the midwest – yet he told everyone to embrace their inner crazy socialist. Hoo boy. He’s going all the way to the edge of the cliff and he’ll not listen to any advice to the contrary.

He spoke of his military service and contrasted it with that of President Trump’s military deferments during the Vietnam war. “Nominate me and you get to see the president of the United States stand next to an American war veteran and explain why he chose to pretend to be disabled when it was his chance to serve.” I don’t think, though, that the deferments from that time in American history are going to make a difference now if they didn’t in 2016. I’m old enough to remember that time and am married to a Vietnam veteran. Deferments were not usual, especially for young men in wealthier families, while the military draft was in effect.

Buttiegieg is at 5% nationally in the Real Clear Politics ranking today. In Iowa he is at 6.5%, and in New Hampshire he is at 9.7%. We’ll see if he moved the needle one way or the other up against his competition Tuesday night.