By Sharon Bernstein
(Reuters) - Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg on Sunday called for higher taxes on the wealthy, backed abortion rights and promised to run what he called an inclusive campaign in a New Hampshire town hall broadcast on Fox News.
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana and the only major candidate who is openly gay, was the first Democrat to appear on the right-leaning network after U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a rival for the nomination, refused an invitation from Fox.
Buttigieg said his position as mayor of a mid-sized Midwestern city in a conservative state has helped him understand that Americans disagree on many issues, including abortion. A veteran, he said the "hostile takeover of the Republican Party" by Trump makes the 2020 election particularly important.
"We're not just living through another election," Buttigieg said. "I believe we're living through one of those transitions in American history as consequential as the ones that brought us the New Deal or the Reagan Revolution."
Buttigieg is one of 23 Democrats seeking the party's nomination as it seeks to unseat Trump in 2020. At 37, he is the youngest candidate in the field.
Fox host Chris Wallace said in introducing Buttigieg that his appearance on the network had drawn the largest in-person audience of any town hall so far.
Hours before the town hall was set to begin, Trump criticized Fox News for showcasing Buttigieg, saying on Twitter the right-leaning network was "wasting time" covering him.
In a series of tweets Sunday afternoon, Trump also disparaged Fox News host Wallace for saying Buttigieg had substance, and taunted Buttigieg by calling him Alfred E. Neuman after a character from the satirical Mad Magazine.
Last week, Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said in a series of Twitter posts that appearing on Fox would help the network burnish its reputation as a legitimate news organization, and expand its audience for advertising purposes.
“Fox News has invited me to do a town hall, but I’m turning them down,” she posted. “Fox News is a hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists.”
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Chris Reese)