Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock and his Republican opponent Greg Gianforte met on the debate stage for the first time Sunday.  Neither strayed far from the lines of attack they’ve been using during the early months of the campaign, and both stayed on message on key areas of difference.  Different from the campaign jabs in stump speeches and on social media, Sunday morning was the first time they were face-to-face on issues across the political spectrum.

 
Both candidates played defense, while gamely and competently answering questions posed by a three-member panel of broadcasters during the debate carried live on radio and by some television stations.  The question-and-answer format left little opportunity for both candidates to engage aggressively with one another.  Professor of political science at Montana State University David Parker said there were no knock out blows thrown or received.