As Montana Gov. Steve Bullock struggles to qualify for September’s Democratic debate, he had strong criticism for party rules that have allowed billionaire Tom Steyer to use deep pockets to inch closer to the debate stage.
Bullock said that while the Democratic National Committee’s rules may be well-intentioned, the effects are problematic.
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“The thought that you can spend $10 million to get on a debate stage, I don’t think that that’s really good for democracy,” he told host Dana Perino on “Fox News Sunday.” Steyer swiftly reached the donor requirements for qualifying for the debate, and needs to reach at least 2 percent in just one more poll out of the four needed to secure his spot. Bullock said he recently hit the 2 percent mark in two polls.
Bullock said that while Steyer’s progress is not the result of anonymous “dark money” contributions, his approach goes against what Bullock believes campaigning should be about.
“It’s disclosed money, but we should be actually talking to voters; not spending money just trying to get individual donors,” he said.
This echoed Bullock's criticism of the philanthropist and hedge fund manager Steyer from a statement last week.
"We’re kidding ourselves if we’re calling a $10 million purchase of 130,000 donors a demonstration of grassroots support,” Bullock said Tuesday. “It’s not serving the candidates, and it sure isn’t helping the voters who will actually decide this election.”
As a Democratic governor of a state President Trump won in 2016, Bullock views himself as being able to win swing states where his Democratic opponents who lean further to the left could run into problems.
“People want to make sure we can win back places we lost,” Bullock said, referring to Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, valuable states that President Trump narrowly won in 2016.
“If we really want to make sure that we can be competitive in red states, it might help to have somebody that’s actually won in a red or purple state at the top of the ballot, and that’s me.
When asked if, as a moderate he could gain traction should former Vice President Joe Biden somehow end up out of the race, he said, “certainly that’s the case,” then took a jab at the more progressive wing of the party.
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“The word progressive, at the core of that is progress,” Bullock said. “I’ve actually been able to make progress on health care, affordable college … kicking dark money out of our elections,” he boasted.
“I view myself as kind of in the actually-get-stuff-done-that-matters-to-people’s-lives' lane. I think that’s what we, as Democrats, need to be focusing on.”
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Despite his early campaign struggles, Bullock is focused on his goal of winning the presidency and has no intention of running for Senate as an alternative.
“I will do everything I can to get who we nominate from Montana elected," he said. "It won’t be me.”