'You're justifying bigotry': CNN anchor battles GOPer over Rush Limbaugh's homophobic attack on Buttigieg
Jim Sciutto speaks to Ben Ferguson (CNN/screen grab)

Conservative CNN contributor Ben Ferguson suggested on Thursday that Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg's "masculinity" was inferior to that of President Donald Trump.

After Rush Limbaugh recently attacked Buttigieg's sexual orientation on his radio show, Ferguson appeared on CNN to defend the right-wing radio host.

"I don't think it matters that he's gay," Ferguson said of Buttigieg. "I think that the thing that you are talking about here is two different issues. One, is anyone going to look masculine next to Donald Trump on stage? I think the only Democrat would be Joe Biden."

"Do I think it should matter on the issue of his sexuality? No," he continued. "Does it matter that he is an openly gay man? There was a surprising number of Democratic voters [on my radio show] that said that it was an issue for them."

Ferguson, however, once again insisted that he had "no problem with him being a gay man."

"There are Democrats sitting there worried that this is going to be a bigger issue," he insisted.

CNN host Jim Sciutto took issue with Ferguson's premise.

"What's more manly? Volunteering for military service as Pete Buttigieg did or avoiding it?" Sciutto asked.

Ferguson seemed caught off guard.

"I'm talking about appearance," he explained.

"What about the substance?" the CNN host interrupted. "You said the president appears more manly for I don't know what reason -- I'm citing an issue of the record here. Buttigieg volunteered for military service, the president took great pains to avoid it. I'm talking about the substance. Which is more manly?"

For his part, Ferguson declined to say that Buttigieg was "more manly" because he had volunteered to serve.

"If you asked 100 Democratic voters which candidate looked more masculine, Joe Biden or Mayor Pete..." Ferguson opined as he was interrupted by CNN co-host Poppy Harlow.

"Ben, I don't understand in what world is the definition of the qualification for being president of the United States how manly someone appears?" Harlow wondered.

"I did not say it was a qualification," Ferguson stuttered in response. "When you put two different candidates on stage and there are people that make millions of dollars on both sides of the aisle that talk about what you wear for goodness sakes -- men and women -- what you say."

"We don't," Harlow shot back.

"It seems to me you're justifying bigotry," Sciutto told Ferguson.

"Not at all," the conservative pundit replied.

"Are you not?" the CNN host pressed. "Because here's the thing, consultants might have said it's a negative to be a person of color, you might have heard that. This is the year 2020. I'm just curious what you're justifying here."

Watch the video below from CNN.