Montana Gov. Steve Bullock: Dems must focus on needs of everyday Americans

Alex Nester
The Detroit News

Detroit — Reaching the American people and working to improve life for ordinary citizens could be the path for Democrats to reclaim areas Donald Trump won in 2016, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock argued at Tuesday night's Democratic debate. 

"I'm a pro-union, pro-choice, progressive Democrat who won three elections in a red state, not by compromising, but by getting stuff done," Bullock said in his opening remarks. "That's how we win back the places we lost: showing up, listening and focusing on the challenges of everyday Americans."

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock speaks during the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates Tuesday in Detroit.

Bullock, 53, made his first Democratic primary debate appearance on Fox Theatre's stage Tuesday evening. He was elected three times — once as attorney general and twice governor — in a red state, and expanded Medicare not once, but twice, in a state with a Republican-dominated Legislature. 

Though Bullock said he supports a public health care option, he said taking away private plans in favor of a universal healthcare system is "wishlist economics" and would "disrupt" the lives of the millions who benefit from their private health care plans.

"At the end of the day, I'm not going to support a plan that rips away quality health care from individuals. This is an example of wishlist economics," Bullock said. "It used to be Republicans that want to repeal and replace. Now, many Democrats want to as well."

Bullock said his 12-year-old son had a heart attack, and the governor said he credited his insurance plan for saving his child's life.

Unlike some other candidates, Bullock said he would not include providing health care for undocumented immigrants in his health care or immigration plans. 

"A sane immigration system needs a sane leader. And we can do that without decriminalizing and providing health care for everyone," Bullock said. "And that's not me saying that, that's Obama's Homeland Security secretary." 

Bullock has been known as an avid supporter for campaign finance transparency. He has attacked the Citizens United decision that defended campaign spending on the grounds that donating to campaigns is a form of free speech protected in the First Amendment. 

Bullock and his family live in Montana. He was elected governor in 2012 after four years in the state's attorney general office. Prior to his time in the state government, Bullock worked in law firms in Washington, D.C., New York, and Helena. 

"I'm a progressive, emphasis on progress, and I'm running for president to get stuff done for all those Americans Washington has left behind," Bullock said.

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