Interview with Presidential Candidate Steve Bullock. TRANSCRIPT: 5/15/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Dahlia Lithwick, Steve Bullock


need to  be focused as much on that as trying to stick to Donald Trump,

understanding that he is a symptom of something bigger than just himself. 

And that we need to get rid of him, sure, but this is about the democracy,

it`s about our Constitution.  That`s why they need to act. 


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Aisha Moodie-Mills and Rick Wilson, thank you for

joining us. 


That is ALL IN for this evening.


“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.


Good evening, Rachel. 


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  The one thing that is as close to exciting as

swearing on TV is narrowly averted swearing on TV.  It`s almost as good. 


HAYES:  Did you see my reaction?  Did you see how happy I was that I was

narrowly avoided? 


MADDOW:  I think you might have put an exclamation point on your reaction. 

Well done, my friend.


HAYES:  That was swearing with my face.


MADDOW:  Thank you, my dear. 


And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. 


Montana Governor Steve Bullock is our guest tonight.  He has just joined

the Democratic race for president.  You have never seen him on cable news

in this context, although you have seen him on this show before.  I`m very

excited to have him here tonight. 


Today was the deadline on the subpoena for the Justice Department to hand

over any of the counterintelligence information that was turned up by the

Robert Mueller investigation.  The Justice Department as of today appears

to be defying that subpoena, or at least they`re not handing anything over. 


Congressman Adam Schiff, the head of the Intelligence Committee, did a sort

of bombshell interview with “The Washington Post” today in which he

suggested that the counterintelligence investigation that was announced by

James Comey in the spring of 2017, that counterintelligence investigation

into potential links between the Russian government and their interference

effort and people associated with the Trump campaign, Schiff suggesting in

this interview today that that counterintelligence investigation appears to

have disappeared, and he and the rest of the intelligence committee at

least have not been able to get any information out of the Justice

Department or the FBI as to whatever happened to that investigation,

whether it continued, whether it was cut off, or what any of its findings



In defying that subpoena to hand over any counterintelligence information

turned up by Mueller, the Justice Department today also appears to be

defying that subpoena by that same committee to hand over the unredacted

version of Mueller`s report and to hand over its underlying evidence.  And

it`s one thing to refuse a request.  It`s another thing to refuse a



We will see what the result of that is, but this appears to be the Justice

Department again standing in defiance of a lawful congressional subpoena. 


So, we`ll see how that resolves.  In the short-term puts an even hotter

spotlight on the question of whether or not Robert Mueller himself will

testify to Congress about his findings and his investigation.  There

continues to be this strange ambiguity around this seemingly simple

question of whether or not Mueller is going to testify. 


The continuing ambiguity around that question has led some observers to

question whether the ultimate aim here might not be just to get Robert

Mueller alone testifying to Congress, but instead to get Robert Mueller and

his team from the special counsel`s office testifying together as a unit as

to what they discovered in their investigation and what they did and what

they turned up, and what they didn`t investigate, which is now becoming an

even more interesting question. 


Both Jerry Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary, and Adam Schiff, chairman of

Intelligence, both as of today making sort of increasingly urgent public

claims about that expected testimony from Mueller and/or his team, but

still no apparent movement from the Justice Department on allowing that to

happen.  So that is still pending, still out there. 


On top of all that today, the White House counsel sent this remarkable

letter to Congress making clear that the Trump White House position is that

they really are planning just to defy all subpoenas.  One year of Watergate

is enough.  You must stop investigating. 


No witnesses will be made available.  No testimony will be provided.  No

documents will be handed over, nothing.  This is their official stance in

writing now from the White House counsel. 


We saw them – we saw the president`s private lawyers, counsel for the

president that have been hired to try to keep his taxes and his finances

secret, we saw those lawyers make basically that same argument yesterday in

court in the oral arguments in the Mazars case, that`s where the

president`s lawyers are arguing that the oversight committee can`t

rightfully subpoena financial evidence about the president from his

accounting firm.  There was that, you know, sort of strange hearing in

court yesterday when to the judge`s astonishment, the president`s lawyers

argued bluntly that across the board, Congress has no right to investigate

a president for alleged corruption or any alleged crimes. 


The judge appeared to be plainly astonished by that claim from the

president`s lawyers yesterday in the Mazars case, but they apparently are

going with that as their argument.  Both in court and as their political

argument including from the White House counsel today.  It`s the same

grounds on which the White House counsel today said he would refuse to hand

over any witnesses or any testimony at all in any congressional



I mean, this – stepping back from this a second, this does mean that we

are now already at the point in the Trump presidency where between him and

William Barr and his White House counsel, Trump really could shoot somebody

on Fifth Avenue, like he said during the campaign, and not only get away

with it, but nobody could even investigate it.  I mean, remember when Trump

said that during the campaign?  I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue

and shoot somebody and nobody would – I would get away with it. 


I mean, think about that.  The attorney general now asserts bluntly that

the president cannot be criminally charged.  The attorney general also

asserts that if the president can`t be criminally charged, then he can`t be

criminally investigated either.  The attorney general also says that if the

Justice Department is investigating the president and the president

believes that`s bad, the president believe that`s wrong, that he`s been

wrongly accused, he definitely didn`t do anything wrong, nobody should be

looking at me, that`s grounds enough for the president to end that

investigation and fire the investigator. 


And now, both the president`s private lawyers and the White House counsel

and the Justice Department in defying the subpoenas, they are all arguing

one way or another that Congress has no right to investigate the president

for corruption or other crimes at all.  So, if you can`t be charged, you

can`t be investigated.  Anybody who does start investigating you, you can

fire.  And oh by the way, Congress can`t investigate you either. 


I mean, you really could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot

someone.  I mean, I don`t – I don`t know what we the rest of the country

are supposed to do with this new revelation about this view of the

presidency.  I guess stay off Fifth Avenue. 


But also, you know, look on the bright side.  If you have ever, ever

personally had truly epic, truly wicked criminal ambitions for yourself,

now you know what the job is for you.  I mean, if you were so lucky as to

get elected president, you could not only by definition not commit any

crimes, you could not be charged.  You could not be investigated.  You`d be

the freest criminal on earth if you were lucky enough to be elected

president of the United States and if you had Attorney General William Barr

working for you. 


So, I mean, clearly that`s not the way America is set up, right?  That`s

what they`re trying to argue now.  Clearly, that`s untenable.  But it just

means that we are in an untenable situation right now, which means there

will be change. 


We`ve got these assertions from the White House.  We`ve got these subpoenas

from Congress.  We`ve got the judiciary now getting involved in the first

time, trying to handle these remarkable claims from the White House about

how they are immune from all scrutiny. 


But that`s where we are.  Mark this moment in history.  That`s where we



So there is a lot going on in the news.  As I mentioned, we are going to

have the first live interview in just a moment with the latest Democrat to

announce he is running for president, Montana Governor Steve Bullock.  That

is coming up. 


But there is one other story that I want to make sure that we get to

tonight at the top, along with some expert help.  I want to start with this

map.  This is where Republicans have full party control of state

government, 22 red states, 22 Republican-controlled states across the

country the Republicans have control of the House and the state senate and

the governor`s mansion, 22 of those. 


By comparison, Democrats have control over just 14 state governments.  It`s

true that Republicans did get pummeled in the 2018 midterms, but on the

state level, it`s a different picture.  Republicans have really kept a very

stable foothold in a large part of the country. 


And in practical terms, that level of state domination by the Republican

Party is starting to have consequences for your rights.  For example, a

brand-new total abortion ban in the state of Alabama.  This new law that

has now been signed by the state`s governor bans all abortions statewide. 

A doctor who performs an abortion in Alabama would face up to 99 years in

state prison. 


There was a big fight before it passed as to whether there would be any

exceptions for women who became pregnant by virtue of rape or incest.  The

answer from Alabama legislature was no.  Total ban, except I should say the

Republican sponsor of the ban during last night`s debate and vote on the

bill, he did still seem to think there was one exception.  But I`ll have to

let him try to explain to you what he thinks it was. 




STATE SEN. RODGER SMITHERMAN (R-AL):  Does the deal make exception for

patients who are victim of rape?  And, of course, I kind of know the

answer.  Can you tell me why it doesn`t? 


STATE SEN. CLYDE CHAMBLISS (R-AL):  It allows for anything that`s available

today is still available up until that woman knows she`s pregnant. 




MADDOW:  Up until the woman knows she`s pregnant – hold on.  What?  Maybe

this is one of these things that is easy to misunderstand.  I mean, what it

sounds like the Republican sponsor of the Alabama abortion ban is saying

here is that a woman will still be allowed to get an abortion in Alabama as

long as she doesn`t know she`s pregnant.  I think that`s what he`s saying

here, but that is incomprehensible.  Just roll that part of the debate

again.  Say it again. 




SMITHERMAN:  Does the bill make exception for patients who are victim of

rape?  And of course I kind of know the answer.  Can you tell me why it



CHAMBLISS:  It allows for anything that`s available today is still

available up until that woman knows she`s pregnant.  So there is a window

of time, some say seven day, some say ten.  There is a window of time that

every option that`s on the table now is still available. 


So she has to take a pregnancy test, she has to do something to know

whether she is pregnant or not.  You can`t know that immediately.  It takes

some time for all those chromosomes and all that that you mentioned.  It

doesn`t happen immediately. 




MADDOW:  All those chromosomes and all that, it takes some time for that

voodoo that you do that happens in there.  I don`t sweat the details, but

what I`m saying is that you guys are overreacting because any woman in

Alabama will be free to get an abortion as long as she doesn`t know she`s

pregnant yet.  So you just go get yourself an abortion every day just in

case, and it`s legal until the moment that you find out you`re pregnant,

and then what you just did is going to put your doctor in prison for 99



I mean, honestly, sponsor of the bill, that`s what they`re arguing here. 

You can get abortions, as many as you want, until you know you`re pregnant,

and then you can`t have any more abortions.  I mean, I don`t – but if you

want to see the Republican Party`s gobsmacking approach to this, and if you

want to see it get sort of scary fast, he will tell you that later when

that same Republican lawmaker was asked how under his total ban on

abortion, a woman who had a miscarriage could prove that she`d had a

miscarriage and not a criminal felony abortion, his reply was, quote, the

burden of proof would be on the prosecution, not on the female. 


The prosecution would have to prove that.  So don`t worry.  Alabama woman

who has just had a miscarriage with all of the attendant grief and terror

and upset this has caused you in your life, don`t worry if you`ve had a

miscarriage, you`ll be fine, as long as the prosecutor can prove that you

had a miscarriage. 


Guess how the prosecutor is going to prove it?  Yes, guess.  The voodoo in

the chromosomes, who knows? 


That total ban on abortion in Alabama passed the Senate last night. 

Tonight, the state`s Republican governor signed it into law.  This is the

strictest abortion ban to pass the legislature. 


But it`s not just happening in Alabama.  It is happening all over the

country in all the states where Republicans have full control.  This is

what Republicans are doing with their control of state government, right,

including Alabama.  We`ve got radical restrictive abortion bans passing at

least one chamber of the state legislature. 


So far in already half, already 11 of the 22 states under Republican

control, plus one more in Montana where Republicans control the

legislature, but there the Democratic governor, that Democratic governor,

Steve Bullock, who vetoed one of these anti-abortion bills in his state

last week, he is going to be here in just a moment to talk about his

presidential bid.


The Guttmacher Institute tracks abortion legislation.  They say they have

never seen anything like what we are seeing this year in 2019.  Quote: The

extreme nature of this year`s bills is unprecedented. 


But that`s what Republicans, that`s what the Republican Party is doing,

where they have control in the states.  They`re not moving anymore to limit

abortion.  They`re moving to ban it all together, full stop.  It`s

happening all at once in a new radical Republican Party-wide draconian

effort that we have never seen before. 


And that sounds unconstitutional, right?  Because you`re not supposed to be

able to ban abortion.  That would be against the law.  That`s, of course,

the entire point here, though.  With Republicans being very pleased with

their position on the Supreme Court right now with the Merrick Garland`s

nomination from President Obama having been denied as improper by Mitch

McConnell as the Republican leader in the Senate, and Mitch McConnell

calling that one of his proudest moments in the Senate since the current

president put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. 


For the first time, conservatives think they`ve got a solid right wing

majority on the high court that will overturn Roe v. Wade as long as they

get the chance.  They have to get a law up to the Supreme Court that they

believe will provoke the Supreme Court fight that will go to those five

conservative justices in the way they want to receive that fight so they

can overturn Roe and declare that abortion can be banned in states that are

Republican controlled or that anybody wants to do it across the country. 


All these Republican-controlled states this year are tripping over

themselves to try to make it happen.  But Alabama so far is in a class by

itself.  Lots of other states are trying to ban abortion at six weeks,

which is before women – 90 percent of women wouldn`t even know they were

pregnant.  Alabama isn`t even bothering with exceptions for pregnancies

that took place because of rape or incest. 


This guy who wrote Alabama`s total and complete abortion ban says bringing

one of those laws was the exception to the Supreme Court right now.  He

said that would be a wasted opportunity.  He said, quote, why not go all

the way? 


In response to this Alabama ban, the “New York Times” editorial board

interestingly sort of pulled the ripcord today.  I read this as them

“breaking glass in case of emergency”.  What “The Times” editorial

published today was essentially a primer for Americans to get ready and

start preparing to live in a post Roe versus Wade America. 


They literally published a guide for how to organize with your local

reproductive rights organization, how to become a clinic escort to protect

women who are to go – women going in for what are still available abortion

procedures.  How to learn about acquiring abortion pills on your own as you

anticipate your access to a possible abortion being cut off where you live. 


Quote: Don`t let abortion rights fade from consciousness as these extreme

laws become America`s new normal. 


Joining us now is Dahlia Lithwick.  She`s senior editor and legal

correspondent at “Slate”.


Dahlia, thank you for being here. 




MADDOW:  The theory of the case here is that the Republicans wherever they

have control, they are unleashed because they believe the real competition

here is a beauty contest for the prettiest anti-abortion law that those

five male justices will like the most that will lure them into overturning

Roe.  And it`s just a matter of who gets there with just the right pitch,

but it`s going to happen this year. 


LITHWICH:  Yes, I guess if that were the theory, Alabama is probably not

winning, because what Alabama did was just bonkers.  This is not attractive

to John Roberts.  This is not attractive to Brett Kavanaugh.  This is an

all-out ban, no exceptions for rape or incest.  This is a cruel and

heartless deliberate vehicle, but it doesn`t look like anything that the

court would bless, particularly thinking about going into an election year. 


The court has a long game, I think.  John Roberts has a long game.  We know

how he feels.  We know I think how the five conservative justices feel

about Roe v. Wade, and we know largely because of how they voted just three

years ago in the Texas abortion case. 


But you can do away with Roe with a chip, chip, chip, slow erosion of

rights.  You can do it as I think the court had planned to do by just

simply taking tiny incremental steps saying this too is not an undue

burden.  You know, we`ll close more clinics.  We`ll do what has been

happening in red states for years, right? 


Just say nothing is an undue burden.  You have to pave the halls with gold,

and that`s OK.  And that was a strategy that I think was going to work

eventually at the Supreme Court when Kavanaugh comes on the court. 


When Alabama kind of jams the court like it did today and said here`s this

completely crazy ban that doesn`t care at all about the welfare of women,

that forces the court into a position that I don`t think this court wants

to be in. 


MADDOW:  But you`ve got Ohio, and you`ve got these other states that are

pursuing the next best thing to what Alabama did, which is the six-week

bans.  That`s essentially a 90- percent abortion ban because women don`t

know they`re pregnant 90 percent of the time at six weeks.  All those

states I think are operating under that same sort of theory of the case

that I was just laying out. 


They`re all pushing, as Guttmacher says, it`s not that we haven`t been

seeing lots of abortion restrictions lately.  We haven`t seen abortion bans

this complete.  Presumably that`s because they think the Kavanaugh court

wants a complete ban.  No longer wants to chip away, no longer wants to

make it impossible to access. 


They want a ruling that a fetus is a voting adult who you can murder by

exercising your right to choose. 


LITHWICK:  I think that`s right.  And I think that that is – look, there

has been a real split in the pro-life – I`m hesitant to call it that after



MADDOW:  Anti-abortion rights. 


LITHWICK:  Into the anti-abortion community.  And the split has been do we

do this fast door we do this slow?  And I think there has been a general

consensus for a long time.  We`ll do it slow and not force the issue and

not test the court into giving us an adverse ruling that will set us back. 


Now, there seems to be some kind of foot race to be the ones to get there

first and to do it in a way that completely disregards I think the fact

that there are already two cases teed up at the court.  The court has to

think right now there is a Louisiana case that has functionally the same

admitting requirements that Texas had the court upheld three years ago. 

The court is dancing around taking that. 


There is an Indiana case before the court that would, again, jam the court

up, but not in a way that is embarrassing, that would allow the court to

continue to essentially say drip, drip, drip, we can make this go away. 


MADDOW:  So you think these states are wrong?  You think they`ve

miscalculated how this court is going to handle these outright bans? 


LITHWICK:  I think that John Roberts, everything you and I have ever said

about John Roberts, institutionalist, incrementalist, incredibly aware of

public opinion.  I think the idea that you`re going to force John Roberts

to do something bonkers in an election year that will motivate women in

ways that we haven`t seen before, I think John Roberts is aware that he can

get exactly the same outcomes by just waiting until Louisiana and Indiana,

those other states do functionally the same thing as a ban. 


MADDOW:  I don`t know.  I – I know you know more things about this than I

do, and I know you understand this better than I do.  I don`t know. 


I feel like these guys all coordinate.  I feel like the pro-life movement

gets these judges elected.  I feel like they socialize, they strategize

together at the same events. 


I mean, we`ll see.  We`ll see.  We`ll see.  I`m not going to bet you, not

even a beer. 


OK.  Dahlia Lithwick, great to have you here, Dahlia, 


We`ll be right back. 




MADDOW:  In 2006, the minimum wage in the state of Montana was $5.15 an

hour – $5.15.  That meant if you were working 9:00 to 5:00, eight hours a

day, Monday to Friday, 40 hours a week, you never took a day off, you never

took a sick day, you never took a vacation, you worked five days a week for

52 straight weeks every single week of the year.  Cumulatively, you would

make for the year $10,712 as your annual salary, before taxes. 


In that state that year, 2006, they decided they would put a measure on the

ballot to raise that state`s minimum wage, raise it from $5.15 an hour to

$6.15 an hour, and then importantly, they would tie the minimum wage to

prices so when prices went up the minimum wage would automatically keep

pace.  It would tick up every year.  I mean, $6.15 an hour still sucks, but

that ballot measure that year would mean a dollar an hour raise right away

for the lowest paid people in that state, and it would mean the minimum

wage would never fall that far again behind the cost of living. 


So, it was 2006, that measure was on the ballot.  It won in that state by a

46-point margin.  Margin.  Seventy-three percent of the state voted for it. 

Only 27 percent voted against it.  That was a landslide and an avalanche

and a tsunami and all the other metaphors for bigness all piled up on top

of each other. 


When a Democrat named Jon Tester that same night took a U.S. Senate seat

away from an incumbent Republican senator that year in Montana, that

surprise victory that night was credited in part to the huge support for

that sorely needed minimum wage increase that was on the same ballot.  And

the big turnout boost that came from people who wanted to go to the polls

to vote for it who may also have decided to vote for Jon Tester while they

were there. 


Well, this was the voter information pamphlet in Montana that year, showing

the argument for that minimum wage hike.  It`s $5.15 now.  Let`s boost it

to $6.15 and let`s tie to it price hikes. 


And you can see down there at the bottom of the page who was behind it, the

director of Raise Montana, the private citizen who that year led that

hugely successful effort to give people a raise in that state was a man

named Steve Bullock who in 2006 was the director of Raise Montana.  That`s

what Steve Bullock did for his state in 2006. 


Two years later in 2008, he ran for attorney general in Montana.  Not easy

for a Democrat to win statewide in a red state in a presidential election

year.  Again, that was 2008.  John McCain was at the top of the ticket. 

The Republican Party carried that state in the presidential race over

Barack Obama, but Steve bullock won his race for attorney general that

year, even as the state went red for the presidency. 


Then four years later in 2012, Steve Bullock ran for governor – again, not

easy for a Democrat to win statewide in a red state, again in a

presidential election year.  This time the Republican nominee was Mitt

Romney, and Mitt Romney that year carried Montana, won Montana over Barack

Obama by solid double-digits.  Nevertheless, that same year, that same

night in 2012, Democrat Steve Bullock won the governorship, even as the

state went red for the presidency again that same night. 


Then four years later, 2016, he ran for reelection as governor – again,

not easy for a Democrat to win statewide in a red state, this time again in

a presidential election year.  This time it was Republican Donald Trump who

that same election night trounced Hillary Clinton by 20 points in Montana. 

But even as the state went that red that night in November 2016, Democrat

Steve Bullock was re-elected governor that same night. 


And it`s not like he`s just squeaking by.  By some measure, Steve Bullock

is the most popular Democratic governor in the country, and he`s governing

as definitely a Democrat.  I will note for the record that now that he is

governor, he now gets the privilege of announcing to the state when the

minimum wage goes up every year because of that battle he led and won with

such a huge margin back in 2006.  This was the announcement this year about

Montana`s minimum wage going up again because it is yoked to price

increases.  So it keeps pace with inflation. 


As a Democratic governor with a very Republican legislature, Steve Bullock

has also figured out a bipartisan way to expand Medicaid in his state. 

That got about 100,000 people in his state on to health insurance who

hadn`t previously had it. 


And that`s – 100,000?  That`s a lot, right, just hearing that as a number. 

But considering the fact that that`s 100,000 people in Montana finally

getting health insurance in a state that only has about a million people. 

So, that`s – I mean 10 percent of the state gets health insurance through

Medicaid expansion?  I mean, that`s a transformation in that state, and he

did it with a Republican legislature. 


Bullock also figured out a way to raise spending on public schools.  He

figured out a way to freeze college tuition in the state.  He figured out a

way to stop ruining people`s lives at the stupid and petty point of the

criminal justice system by no longer letting them seize your driver`s

license if you were late paying a fee or paying a fine. 


After Citizens United gutted the no corporate money rule for its elections,

Steve Bullock fought that all the way to the Supreme Court as attorney

general.  He then as governor worked with the Republican legislature to

ultimately enact some of the most progressive new campaign finance

protection laws in the country.  I mean, that said, it is a red state, and

it`s a really Republican legislature that he`s got. 


Steve Bullock is pro-choice.  That means he has vetoed approximately one

gazillion efforts at abortion bans and abortion restrictions in the state,

including one as recently as this month.  He vetoed Republican efforts to

end same-day voter registration in his state. 


After Trump`s FCC repealed Net Neutrality nationwide, Bullock was the first

governor in the country to sign an executive order requiring net neutrality

in his state.  He was the first governor to do that, but then other

governors followed. 


So, there is this Democrat who keeps finding concrete ways to make progress

in what is nevertheless this really, really red state.  That Democratic

governor is as of yesterday now running for president.  He is the only

Democratic candidate running who has won a state that Trump won in 2016,

but he has won statewide in that state three times, including on the night

when Trump took his state by 20 nights that night, the election night 2016,

20 to 30 percent of the voters in the state who voted for Trump

nevertheless that same night on that same ticket crossed over and voted for

Democratic Governor Steve Bullock as well. 


Now, is that what Democrats are looking for in a presidential candidate

this year?  I don`t know.  Democrats have every choice imaginable and some

that are unimaginable.  At this point, it`s easier to list the Democrats

not running than the ones who are. 


But this is what it would look like for them to run Steve Bullock.  I mean,

day one of the Republican Congress after the Trump election, as soon as the

Republican Congress came in to start the new Congress at the beginning of

2017, day one they passed a rules package that would make it easier to give

away public lands. 


And then they literally put up this bill right off the bat.  Look at the

title of it.  “Disposal of Excess Federal Lands.”


Disposal, really?  They`re excess, public land that`s extra that nobody

needs.  It`s just junk.  Let`s give it away.  Let`s dispose of it. 


A huge chunk of the land that congressional Republicans decided in 2017,

decided was excess and should be disposed of, should be given away to

private interest, a huge chunk of that public land they wanted to get rid

of was land in Montana.  Here`s what Steve Bullock in Montana had to say

about that. 




GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT):  It`s time that we send a message to that floor

of the building that proposes the transfer of our public lands or starting

(ph) to transfer of public lands have no place in this building and no

place in Montana. 




And the beauty is with a crowd like this, not only do we need them to hear

us up here, we need them to hear us all the way to Washington, D.C.




Look, this ain`t about politics, whether you`re Democrat or Republican, a

libertarian, a vegetarian, these lands belong to you. 




MADDOW:  That bright idea right at the start of the Republican Congress in

2017, that bright idea in Washington the take away 3 million acres of

public land in Montana and sell it off, that did not fly.  Republicans

thought better of it, shelved it, backed off.  You can see why from these

pictures, right? 


But that was how the Trump era started in 2017 in Montana.  Now, Montana

Governor Steve Bullock wants to run against Trump to get him out of the

White House in 2020.  Governor Bullock joins us live here next. 




MADDOW:  Joining us now here for the interview is Steve Bullock.  He is the

governor of Montana.  He is the newest contender in the very large

Democratic presidential primary. 


Governor, thank you so much for making the trip.  Good to have you here.


BULLOCK:  Rachel, it`s good to be here, for sure. 


MADDOW:  So you are joining the race as either number 22 or number 23. 


BULLOCK:  Thirty-seven. 


MADDOW:  Thirty-seven or 40. 


BULLOCK:  At this point.  Yes. 


MADDOW:  And people are looking differently at the 22nd candidate – 


BULLOCK:  Yes, yes.


MADDOW:  – than they might have been at the second candidate.  And why did

you wait this long to get in? 


BULLOCK:  Yes, because fundamentally, I would have loved to get in earlier,

but I have a job to do.  I have a 6 percent Republican legislature.  I had

medication expansion reauthorization, 100,000 Montanans lives were at stake

for me to get that through.  Had freezing college tuition.  Had a foreign

dark money ban that few other states have passed. 


I signed my last bill just Monday. 




BULLOCK:  And now, it`s Tuesday and here I am with you.  So I really

couldn`t have – if I was going to do my job, I think it would have been

that much more difficult to get some real difficult things through this

time if I was here with you instead of with people in Montana.  So I get

that I`m late into it.  But thing is a lot of room for me to do some things



MADDOW:  Am I right that the legislature meets like 90 days every two

years?  Like it`s a pretty tight time frame. 


BULLOCK:  Ninety days or – yes, 90 legislative days every two years. 


MADDOW:  Why has the Democratic Party never, ever, ever elected –

nominated a westerner president?  I mean, LBJ, Texas, yes.  But that`s as

close as you get. 


BULLOCK:  You bet, yes.  You know, I don`t know if it`s in part population,

in part, there is a bias towards the coasts.  But when we talk about public

lands, when we talk about sort of the importance of winning in the places

like I am, we really need to have sort of the Western values I think on the

ticket.  I think it contributes significantly for sure. 


MADDOW:  When you had that remarkable night in November 2016 when you won

reelection while Donald Trump took your state by 20 points, you set out

thereafter and tried to kind of start a conversation with national

Democrats about the Democratic Party speaking to rural voters and speaking

to people who they night not expect to support them, speaking to people who

might have crossed over to vote for Trump. 


How do you assess the success of that overture that you made?  Do you think

that the Democratic Party is taking that seriously or getting any better at



BULLOCK:  Well, I think they need to, because fundamentally, two things. 

One of which if we don`t win back some of the places that we lost in 2016,

we`re not going to win this presidency.  And second of which, even if you

win, it`s not just about cobbling together 270 electoral votes.  I mean,

you showed your map earlier, 22 states completely Republican controlled. 


You`re never going to get anything done in Congress if there is a whole lot

of the country that says well this Democratic Party just doesn`t identify

or fight for me or work for me.  So, I think that hopefully, you know,

since even 2016, I`ve traveled quite a bit talking about what we need to be

doing to win back places that we ought to have never lost in the first

place, and this next step is going to be part of that, for sure. 


MADDOW:  The common wisdom about that divide has been that the Republican

Party has been really good about picking cultural divisive social

conservative issues to make rural Democrats and working class Democrats and

potential crossover voters feel like the Democratic Party is elite and

cosmopolitan and against them on these sort of values-based issues.  I

think that was a long-standing diagnosis here. 


But now we`re in sort of a different place.  I mean, we`re – Roe versus

Wade very well may get overturned this year. 


BULLOCK:  You bet (ph).


MADDOW:  Places where Republicans are in control really are looking at

banning abortion, and they`re starting right now tonight in Alabama. 


You yourself have been through a transformation on gun policy in recent



Those issues aren`t just symbols.  They`re real policy issues that have

real implications.  I`m not sure the Democratic Party is going to go back

in terms of being anti-abortion or being pro-gun in the way that they were. 


Is that the right diagnosis about what`s wrong with the Democrats in

talking to rural voter, or is it a totally different conversation? 


BULLOCK:  Well, thing is a couple of different things.  One of which, like,

in Montana, I can`t win just by going to patches of blue, right?  I have to

travel over the 147,000 square miles state.  We`re not even showing up,

we`re not ultimately going to win. 


Second of which, if you look over the last decade or so, a third of the

counties in the country actually had business gains, 150,000 new businesses

were in a third of the counties of the country.  Two-thirds of the counties

actually lost businesses.  You take that map and line it up where Donald

Trump won, and it`s dang near the exact same thing. 


So, fundamentally, I think that there are parts of it that certainly your

cultural issues.  But if you don`t feel like your life is getting better,

that you have a fair shot at success – when I was growing up, 90 percent

of 30-year-olds are doing better than their parents.  Today, it`s only

half.  The average worker hasn`t gotten a wage increase in 40 years in real

terms.  If you don`t feel like you`re life is getting better and the

Democrats aren`t even giving you a path along that way, we`re not giving

them a reason to vote for us. 


MADDOW:  Uh-huh.  I wonder how that maps for you on to the issue of

climate.  Climate is a foreground issue for everybody who is running this



BULLOCK:  You bet. 


MADDOW:  I think the Republicans are even starting to think that they may

have to talk about climate. 


BULLOCK:  It`s about time. 


MADDOW:  Yes, I do think they`re having – I think they`re doing their own

assessment of how they`re going to deal with that. 


Montana is a coal state. 


Governor Jay Inslee from Washington, also another popular Democratic

governor, he is running this year.  He is running on a climate change

platform.  He`s called for an end to coal-fired power plants by 2030.  He

said yesterday about you, that the two of you fundamentally disagree on

what the science demands right now in terms of climate. 


How do you compete for a Democratic electorate and for a country that

really wants climate to be tackled head-on? 


BULLOCK:  Well, as I do.  Look, we`re outdoors people.  I had any second

worst fire season two years ago, 1.3 million acres burned.  Come to Glacier

Park soon because the glaciers will be gone. 


I mean, I`ve doubled our wind generation just in my six years, quadrupled

our solar, and I know that we need to do things.  


Scientist says ultimately we`ve got to get carbon neutral by 2050.  I think

we can do it before that.  I think we can do it by 2040.  And there are

steps we can take. 


You know, we have to be getting rid of a billion tons of CO2 globally a

year.  We need to rejoin Paris.  We are the – we emit about 5 billion tons

a year.  China is actually twice as much. 


We cannot do this alone.  We need to regain our leadership in the world. 

We need – we could actually then get back in the CAFE standards. 


You also need to say, let`s actually figure out short-term and long-term

how we get to 2040.  But there has been more coal plants closed in two

years, two and a half years of Trump than in eight years of Obama.  By and

large, these were older plants.  Price makes a difference and consumer

preference makes a difference. 


MADDOW:  And do you think that needs to accelerate?  Do you think need the

coal-fired power plants need to be phased out? 


BULLOCK:  I think that by – you know, the scientists say right by 2050 –


MADDOW:  Some scientist says by 1950 would have been a better idea if you

look at Glacier Park melting right now. 


BULLOCK:  No – and I think you either have to – I mean, you have not –

you get more technological changes in your phone in the last five years

than how we`ve ever generated energy from coal in the last 40 or 50.  So,

there has been some efficiencies.  But a lot of these old plants are just

going away anyway. 


And think about from the perspective of George H.W. Bush, the first Bush 30

years ago, right?  He said we`re going to address the greenhouse effect

from the White House effect.  Meaning we will lead from the very top. 


Republicans don`t even acknowledge the climate change exists because of the

outside influences, the Koch brothers and others that turn around, finance

their elections and they can`t even have a meaningful discussion.  I think

we are at a really exciting time where we`re talking about the steps we

need to take, and we`ll be taking those steps and I`ll be taking those



MADDOW:  You have been a target of the Koch brothers in recent elections. 

That`s one of the things I want to talk with you about. 


I will be right back with Montana Governor Steve Bullock right after this. 

Stay with us. 




MADDOW:  We`re back now with Montana Governor Steve Bullock, newly

announced Democrat in the race for the presidency. 


Governor, thank you for sticking with me. 


BULLOCK:  It`s great to be there. 


MADDOW:  You have had a weird series of headlines that most people haven`t

had to the deal with – just a few people in your category here.  But there

are Democrats who are speaking anonymously to the press saying they wish

you were running for Senate instead.  There`s a Republican senator in your

state who is up next year who everybody thinks is vulnerable and everybody

thinks you would beat. 




MADDOW:  You don`t want to be a senator.  You`re worried about that race? 


BULLOCK:  Yes – 


MADDOW:  How are you thinking? 


BULLOCK:  You know, Rachel, this wasn`t an either/or.  Like I was never

going to run for the Senate. 




BULLOCK:  And I do think that I have both the skills and abilities as an

executive to bridge some divides.  That`s the kind of work I`ve always



MADDOW:  Never been a legislator. 


BULLOCK:  Never been a legislator.  And I have great respect for the

senators, but this is something that never really got me excited. 


MADDOW:  Uh-huh. 




MADDOW:  One of the hurdles that I see for you is that the Democratic

electorate nationwide and in a whole bunch of important early states has a

really key constituency in African-American voters and African-American

women in particular.  Montana is less than 1 percent African-American.  You

don`t have experience talking with the black community in order to earn

their votes and earn their trust and get them to vote for you. 


How do you anticipate meeting that challenge? 


BULLOCK:  No, and I think I`ll do it the same way I`ve been attorney

general and governor in Montana, certainly both trying to represent

everyone but also recognizing that there are unique challenges.  I mean,

we`re 7 percent Native American.  We`ve had significant challenges there,

things that I`ve done for the LGBTQ community in a state like Montana from

repealing it hateful laws to executive orders protecting gender identity,

things that I`ve done on equal pay for equal work. 


Now, I will approach this and the rest of sort of historically

disadvantaged communities, I`ll show up, I`ll listen, hopefully more than I

talk, and I`ll recognize that this notion of fair shot at the American

Dream hasn`t been available for everyone.  There`s no reason why an

African-American woman is four times more likely to die in childbirth than

not, or in Montana, why an American-Indian has on average a life span 20

years less than a non-native. 


In each of these areas, we`ll certainly come in and say, I need to learn. 

But I`ve been successful I think in both listening and trying to bring

everybody up and recognizing there are different challenges in different

communities, and I think now right now, better than perhaps ever before,

not only does the Democratic Party recognize that, but the country

recognizes it. 


MADDOW:  Tell me about your evolution on guns.  I know that you have

changed your mind over time, both about whether or not certain assault

rifles should be banned but also on universal background checks, which

surprised me.  As recently as just a few years ago – 




MADDOW:  – you were not in favor of universal background checks.  And I

can understand some of the other policy distinctions even among Democrats

on guns issues, but the background check issue to me – 




MADDOW:  – feels very black and white. 


How as recently as a few years ago could you have believed that you

shouldn`t have to get a background check to get a gun? 


BULLOCK:  Yes.  And a couple of things, I`ve signed bills, I`ve vetoed a

lot of bills relating to guns –


MADDOW:  Sure.


BULLOCK:  – in my six years as well.


I`ve been asked to lower the flags by both presidents, Trump and Obama, 53

times in total.  Over a quarter of those were for mass shootings. 


When I drop off my sixth grader this year when he started school, he

learned his first week where to go if an active shooter comes.  No sixth

grader should have to deal with this. 


So, I started looking at it as a public health issue more than even a

political issue.  Public health issue – gun owners don`t want guns to get

in the wrong hands.  Universal background checks now make sense to me.  And

ultimately, they make sense to the majority of Americans, gun owner and



It was actually going to a March for Our Lives rally where I was asked to

speak that I said, I don`t want to speak.  I`m just going to listen.  When

I went with my kids, that`s when I said, listen, assault weapon, it`s not

used for self-protection.  It`s rarely used for hunting.  Stores and chains

like Dick`s and Walmart, they`ve banned them.  It`s time to have this



I think we can have a conversation because everybody wants to keep their

family safe.  Everybody wants to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  But

even think post-Vegas.  It took a year plus to ban bump stocks. 


At some point, we`ve got recognized and this again goes to the influences

aren`t necessarily in the buildings.  It`s the outside dollars.  If the

NRA, which was a hunting and a gun safety organization when I was a kid,

now it`s a political organization, not allowing any compromise.  If we

looked at this as a public health issue more, we would take steps like



MADDOW:  Steve Bullock, Democratic governor of the great state of Montana,

who with a Republican legislature has managed over your two terms as

governor to get a lot of stuff done that a lot of Democrats would feel

envious of even in non-totally red states – sir, I am intrigued by your

candidacy and I`m happy to have you here talking about it.  Thank you.


BULLOCK:  Great to be here, for sure.  Thanks. 


MADDOW:  Good luck.


All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 




MADDOW:  That does it for us tonight.  Very happy to have you with us. 

I`ll see you again tomorrow. 




Good evening, Lawrence. 







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