- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 18, 2019

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Sunday he’ll “break through” in a crowded Democratic primary field despite his struggle to gain traction in polls and gather enough donors to reach the debate stage.

Mr. Bullock is the only 2020 Democratic contender who holds statewide office in a place that Mr. Trump won in 2016, yet he’s struggled to poll higher than the very low single digits — far below frontrunners like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, senators Bernard Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris and a host of second-tier contenders.

“I did get in a little bit later,” Mr. Bullock told Fox News Sunday, saying he’s still got 24 weeks before voting begins in Iowa. “”I think that I will break through.”

Mr. Bullock said he’s uniquely qualified to take on Mr. Trump, citing his ability to gradually expand health care and college affordability instead of lurching to the left and alienating partners.

“I’ve actually been able to make progress,” he said.

Mr. Bullock also dinged Mr. Trump on the issues. He said he’s all for border security, but Mr. Trump is ripping families apart and relying on the wrong people, saying putting former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a conservative firebrand, in charge of immigration is like “putting Putin in charge of election security.”

He said Mr. Trump is harming farmers in Montana and elsewhere with his trade war, since China is a key market. He said Mr. Trump’s bailout payments won’t make them whole.

“The payments won’t matter if ultimately we do lose market share,” Mr. Bullock said.

The Montana also took a swipe at fellow primary contenders.

He said billionaire Tom Steyer appeared to buy his way onto the debate stage through heavy spending on online advertising, which in turn brought in enough donors to meet key thresholds.

“I don’t think that’s really good for democracy,” Mr. Bullock said.

Mr. Bullock made a similar complaint earlier this week, prompting a response from Mr. Steyer’s campaign manager.

“Fewer than half of Tom’s donations came from advertising,” Heather Hargreaves tweeted. “Writing off the support of thousands of Democratic voters who are responding to Tom’s message isn’t the way to beat Trump in 2020, no matter what you think about the DNC’s criteria.”

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