A near-capacity crowd at Barley’s welcomed presidential candidate and governor of Montana Steve Bullock Tuesday afternoon.
Before entering Barley’s, Bullock, who had just toured flooding destruction in Pacific Junction, spoke briefly to the press.
Asked if he would consider recommending lowering the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Peck Dam reservoir to create additional flood storage capacity, Bullock said he would consider such a recommendation to lessen downstream flooding on the Missouri River.
Inside Bullock spoke for nearly an hour on topics including stopping corruption, healthcare reform, education, and the future of the U.S.
Council Bluffs marked his last stop in his “Fighting for rural Iowa tour.” The timing was mentioned as President Donald Trump was also in Council Bluffs as Bullock was speaking at Barley’s.
“Yeah, we need to beat Donald Trump, but we also need to make sure that this democracy and this economy are working for everyone, not just for the (Koch brothers) of the world or the Trumps of the world,” Bullock said.
Bullock noted Trump had won Montana by 20 points, and he had won his election to the governor’s office by 4, meaning 25% to 30% of his constituents had voted for Trump.
“We can’t just go to places that we win, or we think we can win. If we’re not willing to show up and give people a reason to be with us we’re probably not going to win and probably don’t deserve to,” Bullock said.
In Montana, Bullock said he helped create transparency by making it a matter of public record what companies are donating money to public entities. Bullock stated if elected president, he would sign an executive order calling for that type of transparency on his first day.
“The person that cleans this place tonight pays more taxes than Amazon, Chevron or 16 other Fortune 500 companies,” Bullock said.
Finances were another topic Bullock addressed when it came to healthcare.
Bullock said constituents in Montana had voiced their concerns that 43% of patients entering one hospital, a concern that his administration and Montana lawmakers have worked to address.
We haven’t lost one rural hospital, and (we) went from an uninsured rate of 20% to 7% today. Bullock said health care changes have allowed 30,000 people to receive mental health treatment who wouldn’t have.
Focusing on legislation on healthcare in Montana was why Bullock said he began his presidential campaign late.
Because of the state’s education system, Bullock said Montana has more middle class citizens than any other state.
“We’ve actually kept our public education public,” Bullock said. “We also haven’t just focused on folks going to college”
As Montana’s governor, Bullock said he had invested in public education and focused more on two-year degrees with apprenticeships and professionally recognized certificates rather than solely on four-year college degrees.
Bullock said passage of these laws in Montana required his working with a legislature where Republicans held a 60% majority. He also said he focused on listening to the community.
“We’re more divided (as a nation) than ever before, certainly in my lifetime. Forget about cable news or Twitter, you can’t even have conversation at the Thanksgiving table anymore without politics dividing us,” he said. “That’s not the promise of America.”