DETROIT, Michigan — The second Democratic debate has already produced one breakthrough candidate: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who is appearing onstage for the first time Tuesday evening as one of the twenty competitors over two nights.
Bullock, a Democratic governor from a state that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, argues that he is the only candidate who understands how to win in Trump country, and win back the rural and working-class voters that the party lost.
The New York Times notes that the “centerpiece” of Bullock’s campaign is removing big money from politics. But he has also raised a few eyebrows by opposing the rest of the Democratic presidential field on key issues.
For example, Bullock has opposed providing free health insurance to illegal aliens — unlike the rest of the field. He also opposes “Medicare for All,” the plan preferred by every frontrunner except former vice president Joe Biden. And contrary to most of the other candidates, who have largely endorsed the “Green New Deal” of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Bullock opposes it, believing fossil fuels will remain a core part of the American economy.
In an interview with Montana Public Radio, Bullock elaborated:
I haven’t said that Medicare for all. I haven’t been in support of that. I agree with the aspiration. But I also fundamentally don’t think that we should start out of the gate saying, all right 155 million people that have private insurance, they may think they’ve paid too much, but ultimately that may not necessarily be the best way to completely disrupt the whole system from the start. So I think that we can agree on the overall objectives and get to the same place.
I think that the Green New Deal is a sort of resolution aspiration in Washington D.C., and I’m less, I guess, interested in signing on to resolutions that probably won’t take meaningful steps going forward in Washington D.C. than what are the tangible things that we could start doing now.
Bullock’s chances are still remote. He only qualified because Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) dropped out of the race after the first debate.
But while the second Democratic debate may be the last chance for many of the lagging candidates, Bullock has secured a crucial first chance to show a stark contrast with the rest of the field, which is the most left-wing in several decades, if not in American history.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.