BILLINGS, Mont. - Thousands of people gathered in Missoula and Billings Wednesday to hear U.S. Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders speak. On the same day of Sanders' rallies, the Hillary Clinton campaign made an announcement: Bill Clinton will visit the Magic City on May 20.
KULR-8 Political Analyst Lee Banville said, with both campaigns making appearances in Montana this month, this is probably the point where Montana's role in the 2016 presidential election is at its highest.
"So Bernie Sanders and the announcement that former President Bill Clinton will be coming to Montana really does sort of signal that Montana has really entered its, probably the most intensive role it's going to play in the presidential campaign this year," Banville said. "By having both Senator Sanders and former President Clinton here, what we're seeing is really both sides making the case for why, not only should they win on June 7th, but their sort of vision of the Democratic Party ought to be the one that really shapes the future of the party."
Banville said it should be interesting to see how Bill Clinton makes the case for his wife when he visits Billings, and how his views will differ from Bernie Sanders, or possibly match them.
But why Bill rather than Hillary?
Banville said he doesn't think it's an accident the former president will be appearing in Montana. He said it has a lot to do with history.
"Bill Clinton is the last Democrat, the only Democrat to win Montana in the presidential campaign in the last 50 years," Banville said. "Now he won it in 1992 with a lot of help from a third party candidate, third party run by Ross Perot, but still he won Montana. He's the only Democrat to have done that in my lifetime. And so, by having him be the one who comes here, we are sort of a friendly ground to him and there is a history between the state of Montana and President Clinton."
Montana has been a reliably Republican state in recent presidential elections. According to the National Archives website, Montanans have only voted for two Democrats since 1952: Bill Clinton in 1992 and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.