Standing in Barley’s Bar in front of roughly 40 Council Bluff voters, Steve Bullock made his case for why he should be entrusted with the future of the Democratic Party. Bullock spent much of his time describing the America of his childhood, and how, as governor of Montana, he has been fighting to protect that version of his country.
When Bullock announced his presidential campaign just a month ago, he was joining a full race — 22 other 2020 hopefuls with months of campaigning behind them. Although he joined the conversation about wh
om Democrats need to defeat President Donald Trump late, he has managed to carve a unique space for his ideas to be heard by voters.
While other candidates have gotten wrapped up in debates over moderatism or radicalism, Bullock has a different plan for victory. He believes the votes needed for a Democrat to win are hidden in counties Democrats have given up on, saying, “If we don’t win back some of the places we’ve lost, if we don’t give people a reason to vote for us and not just against him, he could win again next November.”
Bullock may have found his lane in the dense traffic of the Democratic candidates, but he couldn’t rally enough support to qualify for the upcoming Democratic debates. Upon hearing this Tuesday, a woman in the crowd ye
lled, “Oh, shit!” In response, the 53-year-old Bullock lightheartedly replied, “Funny, I said the same thing.”
He never explicitly laid out a plan for how to win over historically Republican voters in 2016. However, his winning record in a Trump state creates excitement among his supporters. That year, 25 percent to 30 percent of Montanans who voted for Bullock also voted for Trump. That fact was met with gasps from the crowd at Barley’s Bar.
Bullock did not win over Trump supporters in Montana by shying away from liberal beliefs. He bragged to those gathered in Council Bluffs about his record of support for a woman’s right to choose. Also, in answer to a question about the first acti
ons he would take if elected president, he slipped in his hope to abolish the filibuster.
He also did not win Republicans’ support in Montana by staying quiet regarding his beliefs about Trump. In the beginning of his speech, he criticized the president, who was also visiting Council Bluffs, joking, “I think he is in the neighborhood somewhere. I don’t think he’ll stop to talk to you. Probably won’t look at the floods. Won’t ask a farmer what the prices are, but you know, what the heck.”
Although he did not back down from his beliefs to win conservative support, he did talk, similarly to Trump, about getting back to the way things were. He talked about the optimism he has for the country, saying, “We know that we actually are at our best when all voices can be heard. … Or when everybody has even greater opportunities than even I had no matter where they come from, or where they are, or where their parents come from. I do believe we can be that country again.”