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Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Saturday that he was recently asked why it took him so long to announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential election.

“Truth is, I was governing,” he told a crowd of about 50 people that came to hear him speak at Baked Beer & Bread in the Village of East Davenport. “I signed my last bill on Monday, announced on Tuesday, and by Thursday I was in Iowa.”

Bullock’s stop in Davenport was the eighth and final city he visited on his first trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate. He is the 24th Democratic candidate to announce a run for president.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who endorsed Bullock this week, was on hand Saturday to introduce him at Saturday’s meet and greet.

Miller said Bullock was not a moderate; rather, he is “sort of a mainstream progressive liberal.”

He described the Governor as a man of “very high character” who connects with people.

“If he’s president, this is exactly the kind of person we want as president,” Miller said, “to bring our country together in a real way, to work for things that will affect Americans in a positive way, and bring character back to the White House.”

Bullock, 53, who is serving his second term as governor, said Saturday that “far too many of us have seen the impact of a broken economy” and that the average American is working harder but making less money.

In the 1970s, 90 percent of people of at least 30 years old were doing better than their parents. Today, only half are, he said. And two-thirds of towns across the country have lost business, Bullock said.

“You look at a broken economy, you look at a broken political system, no wonder folks get frustrated,” he said. “No wonder folks get cynical and angry about the system. But instead of actually doing something to fix that, Donald Trump has poured gasoline on that fire.”

He added, “That’s why, first things first, we have to win this election. We have to make sure to bridge some of the divide so Washington is working for us. Not the Koch brothers or the Trumps or others.”

Bullock talked about his efforts in Montana to expand Medicaid and tackle campaign reform to keep “dark money” from impacting elections.

During Saturday’s event, he fielded several questions about diversity, gun violence, health care and education from members of the audience.

Speaking about gun violence, Bullock said the issue should be looked at as a public health issue rather than a political issue.

“Forty percent of households in America own a gun,” he said. “But from a public health approach, gun owners and those that don’t both want to keep their families safe, and they don’t want guns falling in the wrong hands.”

Bullock said a majority of Americans think universal background checks would be a “dang good idea,” as well as “red flag” laws where guns are removed from a household or area where domestic violence occurs.

Bullock said the country has to address the “corrupting influence of dollars” from organizations like the NRA and find common values to approach it as a public health issue.

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