Steve Bullock says ‘no’ to providing health care for undocumented immigrants

PHOTO: Montana Governor Steve Bullock talks to the media and students at Helena High School in Helena, Mont., May 14, 2019.PlayJim Urquhart/Reuters, FILE
WATCH Montana Governor Steve Bullock makes his case for the presidency

A defining moment of the second night of the first Democratic presidential debates was when every candidate raised their hand in favor of guaranteeing health care to undocumented immigrants.

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When Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who did not qualify for the first debate, was asked whether he supports the same, he said, “No. I think we need to do comprehensive immigration reform.”

“A lot of the immigration crisis that we're facing right now is a crisis of this administration's making. The idea of ripping families apart or getting rid of protections for dreamers,” he told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks on the ‘Powerhouse Politics’ podcast Wednesday. “I would work on fixing that and immigration reform rather than just throwing health insurance for everybody that's undocumented in this country.”

PHOTO: Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Kristen Gillibrand participate in the second night of the first 2020 democratic presidential debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, June 27, 2019. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Kristen Gillibrand participate in the second night of the first 2020 democratic presidential debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, June 27, 2019.

Unlike several Democrats running for president, Bullock additionally has not thrown his support behind the Medicare-for-all plan which would establish a national single-payer health care system. The Montana governor instead advocated for a “public option” for those who want it.

“I'd make it a Medicare for anyone who wants a public option where people can buy in,” he told Parks. “What I don't want to do is opt into a system where 156 to 180 million, depends on who's talking about employer sponsored health insurance, where generally, there are the times, concerns about coverage and cost, but they want to be able to keep that insurance. Let's build on what we have. Let's not just throw it all out and disrupt the lives of 160 million folks,” he added.

Bullock touted his background as a Democratic governor in a traditionally red-state, saying he would bring something unique to the debate stage as someone who has been able to “get things done in a divided government.”

“Missing from that stage was someone that actually won in a Trump-state. We got to be able to win back places that we lost,” Bullock said.

PHOTO: In this June 9, 2019, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Steve Bullock speaks during the Iowa Democratic Partys Hall of Fame Celebration in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/AP, FILE
In this June 9, 2019, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Steve Bullock speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Celebration in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

With billionaire Tom Steyer entering the 2020 presidential race this week, Klein asked whether Bullock was concerned about a self-funder joining the race.

“He certainly has the right and the ability to do this, but when the message is all about money in politics, which is part of what he made his launch, well we got to make sure that, you know, keeping it clean on his own side,” Bullock responded.

Bullock then commented on the wealth of a fellow 2020 candidate who is an outspoken critic of money in politics -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“Certainly there are a lot more wealthy people in this field running for office, including I think Senator Sanders himself compared to me.”

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to the media on June 26, 2019, in Miami. Joe Raedle/Getty Images, FILE
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to the media on June 26, 2019, in Miami.

The second Democratic debates are set to take place at the end of this month in Detroit, Michigan, and Bullock is confident that he has met the threshold to qualify this time around through “five qualifying polls.”

“I am excited that I have qualified for that second debate. Look forward to being on the stage.”

Powerhouse Politics podcast is a weekly program that posts every Wednesday, and includes headliner interviews and in-depth looks at the people and events shaping U.S. politics. Powerhouse Politics podcast is hosted by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.