Tom Steyer, the California billionaire best known for his campaign to impeach President Trump, is making a move toward a potential 2020 White House bid, launching town halls in key primary states on the platform of “five rights.”
Steyer announced the move Tuesday on his website and with a full-page ad in newspapers across the country. His “five rights” focus on education, the environment, voting rights, the economy and health care.
“These rights are fundamental to our shared belief in the promise of America, a promise of the freedom and power to pursue our dreams and earn a fair share of this country’s vast wealth,” Steyer said in a statement announcing the tour. “A hostile takeover of our democracy by large corporations and their enablers in politics has eroded that promise, and we must act to reclaim that power and put it back in the hands of the American people.”
The tour begins Dec. 4 with an event in Charleston, S.C., and moves on to Fresno, Calif. There will also be stops in the key presidential primary and caucus states of Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa, according to Steyer spokeswoman Aleigha Cavalier.
Tuesday’s launch also includes a six-figure Web ad buy on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, Cavalier said.
Steyer, a philanthropist and former hedge fund manager, founded the advocacy group NextGen America in 2013 and has spent more than $100 million on political campaigns since 2016. But he took a pass on running for office in 2018, instead launching a nationwide TV ad campaign urging lawmakers to impeach Trump.
In an interview with The Washington Post in his San Francisco office in September, Steyer demurred when asked whether he plans to run for president. But he did suggest the next president need not be a current or former senator or governor.
“I think that the most important thing is going to be to have somebody who [has] thought really deeply on these issues in terms of understanding both how the process works and how that policy works,” he said. “That’s a real hurdle for everybody . . . Watching Mr. Trump, what you see is he hasn’t really thought about the policy implications of a lot of what he’s doing.”
Trump is the first person to win the presidency with no experience in public office or the military. Were Steyer to win, he would be the second.
The potential 2020 Democratic field includes dozens of would-be contenders, such as former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. One advantage Steyer would bring to the race, according to his team, is a network of more than 6 million grass-roots supporters built through his Need to Impeach effort.
The day after Election Day, Steyer was in Washington. During remarks to reporters at a news conference organized by environmental groups, it was clear future elections were on his mind.
“Flipping the House was a big step forward,” he added. “But we have to realize that’s just a step.”