Politics

Steve Bullock 2020: Montana governor says he can “bridge divides” with Republicans

Helena, Montana – Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is running for president, becoming the 23rd candidate to enter the race for the Democratic nomination. He launched his campaign Tuesday in a high school science classroom he once attended.

Bullock waited so long because he had to wrap up gubernatorial duties last week that included signing or vetoing roughly 300 bills passed by the state legislature, reports CBS News correspondent Ed O’Keefe. He said it’s that executive experience – and the fact that he is a Democratic governor in a state President Trump won in 2016 – that sets him apart in a crowded field.

“I’m the only one that actually won in a Trump state. I was on the ballot when Trump got elected. He took Montana by 20. I won by four,” Bullock told O’Keefe in his first television interview as a 2020 candidate.

The two-term governor said it’s his ability to reach across the aisle that separates him from his Democratic opponents.

“I’ve also been able to really bridge divides here. My legislature’s always been 60 percent Republican,” Bullock said. 

In a field of 23 contenders, it’ll be an uphill battle for Bullock to break through. To qualify for the first Democratic presidential debates just over a month away, he’ll have to register at least 1% support in 3 separate polls, or find 65,000 unique campaign donors across at least 20 states.

He said he wants to defeat President Trump to make sure every American has a fair shot at being successful. Asked whether he thinks Mr. Trump is a good role model, Bullock said, “No. I don’t.”
   
“The way that he conducts in the office and divides people, how he belittles people. That’s not the example that you want out of the president. When we’re expecting more from preschoolers at times than a president, that’s not the role model that I think most families want for their kids,” Bullock said.
 
“A majority of Democrats support impeaching the president. A majority of Americans don’t. Do you support impeaching President Trump?” O’Keefe asked.
 
“I support Congress doing full investigations as they should. That’s their job,” Bullock said, adding, “People are more worried about, am I going to be able to afford college, is my kid going to get sick.”

The former Montana attorney general said tackling campaign finance reform in politics is his signature issue. He also wants universal background checks for gun purchases and actions to address climate change. Bullock told us China is a major economic threat, but that new tariffs are hurting American workers.

“Tariffs have hit your state hard. Especially the wheat farmers. And there’s been millions given to them in relief. But is that the way to combat China?” O’Keefe said.

“A payment from the Department of Agriculture isn’t going to make up for the markets lost. This is going to be long-term injury along the way for our producers. Not just here but all across this country,” Bullock said.

“Who is our greatest global foe?” O’Keefe asked.

“I think our greatest global foe potentially is ourselves if we continue to have the level of divisiveness we have,” Bullock said. “When the rest of the world sees that Congress and the president can’t agree, or the divisiveness we’ve seen on every single potential military action or other.”

“So potentially we are our own worst enemy?” O’Keefe asked.

“Well, I think we can be,” he responded.

We also asked Bullock whether he’d be willing to pick one of the women running for president as his running mate. He said there are “incredibly talented women” in the race and in the party, but that there would be several factors in that decision and that he’d look for the most qualified person.

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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