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Views on Israel of U.S. Presidential Candidates 2020:
Steve Bullock

(1966 - )

Stephen Clark Bullock * was born on April 11, 1966, in Missoula, Montana and was raised in Helena. He is the son of Penny Clark, a school board trustee, and Mike Bullock, a teacher and administrator. His parents divorced when he was in grade school.

He was student body president at Helena High School and graduated in 1984. He was also a student representative on the Montana Board of Public Education. Bullock received his B.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Claremont McKenna College and his J.D. with honors from Columbia Law School in 1994.

In 1996, Bullock served as chief legal counsel to the Secretary of State of Montana. He then spent four years with the Montana Department of Justice under Attorney General Joe Mazurek, first as executive assistant attorney general, and later as acting chief deputy (1997–2001). During this time, he also served as legislative director, coordinating the Attorney General’s legislative efforts.

Bullock entered private practice, working as an attorney for Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, DC from 2001 to 2004. He was also an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School. He returned to Montana in 2004, working in private practice in Helena where he represented individuals, consumer organizations, labor unions, peace officers, associations of political subdivisions, as well as small and large businesses.

In 2008, Bullock was elected Attorney General of Montana and served one term. He was elected governor in 2012 and, remarkably, was  reelected in 2016 despite Donald Trump carrying the state by 20 points.

Bullock, considered a moderate Democrat, made his name in Montana as a pragmatist who was able to win Republican support for liberal priorities. He attracted national attention by challenging the Citizens United decision through his defense of Montana’s 100-year-old ban on corporate campaign expenditures.[22] After winning in the Montana Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the State of Montana in a 5-4 decision.

On May 14, 2019, Bullock announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president.

Bullock is married and has three children.


Israel

  • Regarding Netanyahu’s call to annex the West Bank, “I’m hopeful that this was a political ploy by Netanyahu. We’ve got to get back that environment in which a two-state solution can be achieved, and I think most Israelis feel that way as well.” 

    Bullock said the idea of some Democratic candidates to cut military assistance to Israel would “undermine our own security, not just Israel’s.” He noted the Obama administration “expanded the security relationship, even while they were disagreeing in some respects.”

    “There’s always going to be discussions about policy and occasional disagreements,” Bullock said, noting that what “we’re talking about is money that is going for the security of Israel and is the only stable democracy in an increasingly unstable and hostile region. I think that commitment to Israel is more important now than probably forever. We can have serious discussions about domestic and foreign policy but not to politicize efforts that would undermine our commitment to Israeli security.” (JewishInsider, November 6, 2019)

  • Regarding Israel’s decision to bar Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) from entering the country: “Any elected representative from Washington D.C. ought to be able to go to Israel.”

    Referring to past statements by Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, that the two would be allowed to enter the country, he said, “That just shows you can’t have the chaos being caused by tweets and personal spite….There’s just no way to conduct foreign trade or foreign policy. And you know we’re still waiting two-and-a-half years in for this secret plan and how we’re going to have Middle East peace. We’ve been promised for two-and-a-half years. He’s made it actually a lot harder to get to a two-state solution.”

    When asked if it was appropriate for U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to applaud the ban, the Montana governor said, “absolutely not, absolutely not.”

    When asked about statements by his rivals for the Democratic nomination suggesting Netanyahu is a racist, Bullock said, “It’s not up to me…. I don’t think that Netanyahu should be doing the president’s bidding. And I think this was more about the president’s bidding than it was about welcoming elected officials from our country who might have different views.” (JewishInsider, August 20, 2019)

  • According to CBS News, Bullock told reporters he would keep the U.S. embassy in its current location in Jerusalem “because it’s moved.” He also said, “I wouldn’t have moved the embassy without getting something out of it.”

    Bullock said the prospect of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians is “becoming much more difficult because of the actions of this administration.” (JewishInsider, July 10, 2019)

Iran

  • “Look maybe you could’ve struck a better deal in Iran but you know what, Iran was allowing inspections. And maximum pressure has made it so our allies are even walking away from us.” He previously said he wouldn’t re-enter the deal “word for word” but made clear he supported the deal and did not want to let “the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Bullock added that he considered a nuclear Iran to be “a threat not just to the United States but to the security of the entire region.” (JewishInsider, July 10, 2019)

*AICE does not rate or endorse any candidate for political office.


Sources: Bullock 2020;
Governor Steve Bullock;
“Steve Bullock,” Wikipedia;
Jonathan Martin, “Steve Bullock, Montana Governor, Is Running for President,” New York Times, (May 14, 2019);
Ben Jacobs, “Steve Bullock: I would keep the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem,”JewishInsider, (July 10, 2019);
Samantha Sergi, Elizabeth Thomas and Benjamin Siu, “Steve Bullock: Everything you need to know about the 2020 presidential candidate,” ABCNews, (July 30, 2019);
Ben Jacobs, “Steve Bullock: Netanyahu doing Trump’s bidding,” JewishInsider, (August 20, 2019);
Ben Jacobs, “Bullock: Bernie Sanders is “flat wrong” on Israel,” JewishInsider, (November 6, 2019).