Montana Governor Steve Bullock staked out moderate terrain in his presidential debate debut last night in Detroit Tuesday.
Bullock, wearing a dark blue suit and brown leather boots, opened with what’s become the major talking point of his campaign: Winning as a Democrat in a state that went for Trump by 20 points in 2016.
"Look, I'm a pro-choice, pro-union, populist Democrat that won three elections in a red state -- not by compromising our values but by getting stuff done," he said.
After missing the qualifying cut for last month’s debate, he joined a crowded CNN stage featuring Democratic primary front-runners Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Bullock used his roughly 11 minutes of speaking time to argue that eliminating “dark money” from politics will solve the country’s most pressing issues.
“And it’s not just gun violence," he said. "It's when we talk about climate, when we talk about prescription drug costs. Washington, D.C. is captured by dark money, the Koch Brothers and others. That's been the fight of my career."
Holding a moderate line, Bullock called Medicare for All “wishlist economics” and instead pushed for improving the Affordable Care Act.
"It used to be just Republicans wanted to 'repeal and 'replace.' Now many Democrats do as well. we can get there with a public option, negotiated drug prices, ending --" he said before his time ran out.
In the second hour Bullock sat out questions on race and infrastructure.
The Washington Post called Bullock one of the losers of the night, saying he didn’t deliver on his attempt to act as a moderate foil to Sander’s calls for a revolution and often stumbled over his words.