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Steve Bullock

Gov. Steve Bullock (right) listens to a question from Illinois resident Lisa Petrison. Petrison said she drove about two hours to listen to the Democratic presidential candidate speak for the second time since he announced his candidacy.

Sports Editor

Governor Steve Bullock of Montana has a reason for his late entrance to the 2020 presidential election. In fact, he cited that reason as part of his campaign stop in Vinton on Wednesday.

“I get that I’m like, the 37{sup}th{/sup} candidate in this race,” he joked in front of a crowd of roughly 30 attendees at La Reyna at 202 W. 4{sup}th{/sup} St. “Fact of the matter was, I had a job I had to do.”

The Montana legislature ended on April 25. Gov. Bullock announced his bid for the Democratic nomination a few weeks later on May 14.

Gov. Bullock touted his record on expanding Medicaid in his state, his support for women’s reproductive rights, his ambition to get rid of undisclosed “dark” money in politics, and his ability to win the governorship in a state President Donald Trump won by 20 points in 2016.

Gov. Bullock also made light of the number of candidates who have passed through the state of Iowa in the months leading up to the party primaries.

“I know that you have a lot of people that are coming to Iowa about this time of year, and they’re trying to make some attenuated connection,” he said. “I’m not going to tell you that my great-grandparents settled in Henry County in 1850.”

Instead, Gov. Bullock mentioned President Trump early and often in his speech, a shift in tactics from the candidates on stage during the first Democratic debates in late June.

“We’re here to make sure that Donald Trump is a one-term president,” he said.

Gov. Bullock spoke for about 17 minutes before taking questions from the audience members. Illinois resident Lisa Petrison, who said she drove two hours to hear him for the second time since he announced his candidacy, asked about the government’s responsibility toward farmers’ personal and financial safety. Gov. Bullock said he believed the federal government “can do some things” to ensure the longevity of family farms.

“Farmers here are getting the brunt of these Trump trade wars,” he said, “and you can’t change a whole country that’s been acting the same way the last 25 years without bringing along more of the global community.

“Bailouts from [the United States Department of Agriculture] ain’t going to make a bit of difference, because we’re going to lose this market share along the way.”

Gov. Bullock ended his appearance by talking with each of the attendees who came up to him afterward. He also addressed Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as working with Republicans in the U.S. Congress should he become president.

“People expect government to work,” he said. “I try to build relationships with Republican legislators [in Montana] ... I think the next president has to make his case or her case to the American people not just from Washington, D.C., but I’d spend as much time in Kentucky. Once you start talking to Kentucky voters, then maybe Mitch McConnell will listen to the needs of his constituents and not just the need of partisan gridlock.”