Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on gun reform and how to win back red states from Trump

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on gun reform and how to win back red states from Trump


JUDY WOODRUFF: We now continue our series
of conversations with Democratic presidential candidates. Steve Bullock is the two-term governor of
Montana. And he joins me now. Governor Bullock, thank you for being here. GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), Presidential Candidate:
Judy, it’s great to be with you. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you are the governor of
a state of a little over a million people, very red, very conservative. Donald Trump won it by over 20 points. Why should Democrats support you? GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Well I think that, yes, I’m
the only one in this race that actually won in a state where Trump won. He took Montana by 20 points. I won by four; 25 percent to 30 percent of
my voters voted for Donald Trump. If we can’t win back some of these places
we lost, we’re not going to win. And it’s also more than that. Even with what is right now a 60 percent Republican
legislature, we have been able to Democrat that you can get meaningful things done that
impact people’s everyday lives. And people want both the economy and D.C.
to work for them. I mean, outside of Washington, D.C., I think
I have a little bit of different perspective than most folks here. JUDY WOODRUFF: You have called yourself progressive,
and you have favored things like the Earned Income Tax Credit. You were able to expand Medicaid in the state
of Montana. But there are other Democrats, like Bernie
Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who would say the country needs big and bold after Donald
Trump, it needs things like the Green New Deal, like Medicare for all. GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Yes. And I call myself progressive, and believe
it, because at the core of that word really is progress. We need to be able to make a meaningful difference
for people’s lives. We can’t just talk about the challenges. We have to actually first be able to hear
Americans, and address those challenges. So I want to make sure that, as I’m proposing
things, it’s not like with Medicare for all. I don’t discount it because it’s like you
couldn’t get it done necessarily. I do discount it in as much as I don’t think
that’s the best policy solution. And the most progressive solution is to make
sure everybody has health care that’s affordable. And you can do that without upending what’s
been about — it took about 70 years to get to where we were when the Affordable Care
Act passed. So, let’s build on that. Let’s not just rip it apart. JUDY WOODRUFF: Guns, uppermost in our minds
right now, as you know. Your own family has been touched by gun violence. You have talked about your then 11-year-old
nephew being shot to death on a school playground, what, 25 years ago. When you campaigned for reelection in 2016,
you were against universal background checks. GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Sure. JUDY WOODRUFF: Now you are for them. Why the change? GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Things like universal background
checks, it’s not just Democrats that say they would like this. I mean, NRA members say this makes sense. And, as a gun owner I mean, I’m calling on
other gun owners to say, we all want to keep our communities safe. We can do it in ways that — with, as an example,
universal background checks. JUDY WOODRUFF: But you acknowledge your position
changed… GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Absolutely. JUDY WOODRUFF: … because of what you have
seen. Some people are saying President Trump’s language,
his rhetoric has contributed to part of what’s going on. How do you see it? GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Yes. I — certainly, in — he has — you know,
I would never want to put the blood of people all across this country on one person’s hands. But for him to say we have to speak with one
voice when it comes to speaking out against racism and white nationalism and bigotry,
when so much of the language that he’s used over this last two-and-a-half years has included
racism, equivocating on white nationalism, and bigotry. So you can’t say this just the day after shootings,
when you haven’t lived it for last two-and-a-half years. I do think that, you know, when tacitly even,
white nationalists might think, well, this guy, if he equivocates on Charlottesville,
he has my back, I don’t think that helps at all with what we are as a country. JUDY WOODRUFF: Campaign finance. You have been waging a legal battle against
so-called dark money. This is money from donors who aren’t identified. You recently won a lawsuit against the Trump
administration having to do with foreign money, transparency. My question is, without a constitutional amendment
to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which, as you know, lifted restrictions
on corporate political spending… GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Sure. JUDY WOODRUFF: … is there a way to keep
dark money out of American politics? GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Oh, I think there absolutely
is. Even in Montana, with a two-thirds Republican
legislature, we passed a law that said, if you are going to spend in our elections — I
don’t care if you’re a 501(c)(4). I don’t care what you call yourself. In the last 90 days, you have to disclose
all that spending in contributions. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, two other things. You would, then, support an amendment to overturn… GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: I would love to see the 28th
Amendment passed. JUDY WOODRUFF: … the Citizens United? GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Absolutely. JUDY WOODRUFF: So you’re fighting dark money. But we know that you are also tonight in Washington
scheduled to attend a closed-door fund-raiser with a registered lobbyist as one of the co-hosts,
a man named Jay Driscoll. This has been reported by the Center for Public
Integrity. He’s lobbied 35 or so clients just this year,
many of whom give corporate money, but don’t disclose. GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Yes, but they certainly don’t
give corporate money to me. I mean, the fact that we could even be having
this conversation is what I want to add, is the sunshine and transparency. And as much as many of the presidential candidates
now have super PACs, some may even take corporate PAC money, I have said no PACs, know super
PACs, all individuals, and disclose completely, under the allowable rule, so that we can have
this conversation, so that one individual helping out a fund-raiser certainly isn’t
going to be influencing my everyday actions. And I think that it’s — to me, more nefarious
is the lack of transparency and sunshine. JUDY WOODRUFF: The environment. You don’t support the Green New Deal, which
critics say is too radical. But if climate is an existential threat, why
not do something dramatic? GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Oh, no, and we do have to take
bold and immediate steps. I mean, I’m from the West. Our fire seasons are 48 days longer than what
they were about four decades ago. So, rejoining Paris. The auto industry didn’t even want the removal
of these fuel-efficiency standards. Investing in technology and research, so we
can get more renewables onto the grid. We know the scientists say we have to be carbon-neutral,
not as a country, but as a world, by 2050. I think we could do it by 2040 or even earlier. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we will leave it
there. Governor Steve Bullock, thank you very much. GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: Thanks for having me, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: And our series of conversations
with the Democratic presidential candidates continues tomorrow with billionaire philanthropist
Tom Steyer.

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