HELENA — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock delivered a blistering critique of President Trump Wednesday in a speech at the National Press Club -- but said Democrats won’t defeat him in 2020 if they don’t pursue sensible policies.
Bullock, one of two dozen Democrats running for president, also spoke in favor of a range of restrictions on gun ownership, that he believed gun owners could support.
“I’m calling on my fellow gun owners to take leadership in the right against gun violence that’s tearing our country apart,” he said. “I know their hearts, and their hearts are not with the white supremacists and domestic terrorists.”
Bullock, a two-term governor, has been consistently polling in the low single digits in polling on Democratic presidential candidates, and is in danger of missing the next debate in September.
Yet he said Wednesday in Washington, D.C., that if Democrats don’t nominate someone like him, who is closer to the middle on many policies, they will lose the presidential race in 2020.
He said Democrats should not be proposing to replace “Obamacare” with a single-payer system or decriminalizing illegal entry into the country.
“We cannot defeat Donald Trump’s politics of personal destruction if we practice the politics of self-destruction,” Bullock said.
Still, Bullock pulled no punches in disparaging the president, saying re-election of Trump would mean destruction of the “American Dream” of the average citizen being able to improve their lives.
He called Trump a “lying New York con man with orange hair and a golden toilet,” referred to “Donald Trump and his hate-fueled presidency” and said Trump is “giving aid and comfort to the enemies of democracy abroad and incites the enemies of decency at home.”
“Donald Trump has done all he can to rip us apart,” Bullock said. “His hymn of hatred is `Damned Be the Ties that Bind.’”
Bullock led his speech with comments on the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, saying people are sick of politicians offering “hopes and prayers” and then doing nothing to pass “common-sense gun-safety laws.”
He said Montana and the West have a tradition of hunting and gun-ownership, but that “no real hunter” needs a 30-round clip, “weapon of war,” or a bump-stock, or supports allowing terrorists, domestic abusers and the mentally ill to purchase or own guns.
Bullock also spent a good part of his speech praising the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), saying it has greatly expanded health coverage for Americans and should be improved and built upon -- not dismantled for a “Medicare for All” plan that would replace private health insurance.
“It has taken 70 years for us to get this close,” he said. “It makes no sense to go back to Square One. … If you propose abolishing private health insurance, you will lose.
“My opponents look at our health-care system and see a tear-down. I see an add-on. We don’t need a wrecking ball for Obamacare; just a repair job.”