Montana Gov. Steve Bullock called congressional candidate Greg Gianforte’s alleged assault on a reporter “a real wake-up call” in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, as voters in his state headed to the polls Thursday.
Gianforte allegedly “body-slammed” Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs at an event in Bozeman Wednesday after Jacobs attempted to ask him a question about President Trump’s health care plan. Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault.
Bullock, a Democrat who defeated Gianforte in the 2016 gubernatorial election, said the assault was unacceptable and a clear sign of the country’s increasingly hostile political environment.
“It is unsettling on so many levels that he would physically assault a reporter who was just doing his job, [then] lie and not take responsibility for his actions,” Bullock said. “Things like this serve as another wake-up call — not just for Montana but for all Americans — that we need to be restoring sensibility in politics and government and demanding more … from people seeking the public trust.”
Gianforte’s actions do not represent the state of Montana or the values of Americans, Bullock said, even if the Republican wins the election.
“No matter what ends up happening, the actions of Gianforte don’t reflect the values of Montana or the values of its people,” Bullock said. “Making journalists the enemy … that’s not what we as a country are.”
While most Montana voters have already cast their ballots by mail, Bullock maintained that he hoped the incident would serve as a “wake-up call” for undecided voters who head to the polls today.
“It is just troubling for our overall system,” he said, adding that he was “hearing real concern” from voters.
Bullock also discussed Trump, who won Montana by 20 points. He said the president’s signature health care bill — the American Health Care Act — would harm rural areas, including much of his own state.
“One thing that really resonates … is President Trump taking health care away from Montanans,” he said, adding that his state worked in a bipartisan effort to pass a Medicaid expansion that could be reversed.
“As the president talks about that and Greg Gianforte said that it’s good the House bill is moving forward — that has real effect,” Bullock said. “That is an impact for our rural communities and our health care, and that’s one area where we really hear people saying, ‘This isn’t what we signed up for,’ as far as taking away our health care and giving tax cuts to rich guys.”
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