Tom Steyer Reintroduces Himself As More Than A Billionaire

By Paige Godden

January 29, 2020

Stumping at the Grumpy Goat Tavern in Ankeny less than one week before Iowans head to their caucus sites, Tom Steyer said he was aware of his reputation in the press as the “billionaire businessman” candidate.

“That is not how I think about myself,” Steyer said. “My mom was from Minneapolis. My uncle actually taught at the University of Iowa for 45 years in Iowa City. I’ve been coming here since I was at least two for Easter.”

He explained his mom was a teacher in New York Public Schools after she moved from Minneapolis. When she retired as a teacher, she began tutoring at the Brooklyn House of Detention.

“Not exactly what you think of as a rich fancy person,” Steyer said. “And my dad, the first generation in his family to go to college.”

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With five days to go until the caucuses, Steyer is still introducing himself to Iowans. He told them why he founded NextGen America and Need to Impeach.

Jeremy, a Pleasant Hill man at the Ankeny event, asked Steyer when his views on climate change began to change, wondering if it happened in 2012.

“In 2012, you left your company and you divested yourself from oil and gas industry or coal companies,” Jeremy said. “And the climate change crisis became aware to the public in the 1980s … ”

Steyer cut Jeremy off, saying, “So, why am I so dumb?”

“No, no, no,” Jeremy said.

“It’s a fair question,” Steyer told him.

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The man said he was interested in what Steyer was thinking as information about the climate crisis started coming out, and why he decided to finally come forward in 2012.

“I didn’t change my mind in 2012,” Steyer said. “I actually took on these corporations long ago. I wish I was smarter.

“Look, when I was growing up, I had this opinion that basically this country works,” Steyer said. “That the way our political system worked is, we had two parties who would scream and yell at each other and they would meet in the middle and solve the problems and move on as a country.”

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Steyer said he would later discover that’s not how things go.

He launched a series of nonpartisan studies to prove the United States needed to deal with climate, and when those didn’t prompt enough action, he began to realize the influx of corporate money in politics was holding the government back.

That’s when he decided to divest his financial holdings.

Steyer spent more than an hour chatting with the crowd of about 50 in Ankeny. He talked about what he’d do to lessen gun violence and raise wages and how he’d begin working with foreign allies again.

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His speech was enough to leave an impression on a couple of Iowans who are considering caucusing for him.

James Adams, of Ankeny, said he has a few issues he cares about that Steyer touched on, including health care and the environment.

“I’m more of a moderate Democrat,” Adams said. “I’ve always been impressed with [Steyer’s] debate performances and his commercials.”

He’s still debating between Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Steyer, with the hope of making a final decision before Feb. 3.

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Thomas Lecaque, of Ankeny, a former Julian Castro supporter who is now with Elizabeth Warren, said he thought Steyer’s “values argument is a good argument.”

“I like his vision for the future,” Lecaque said. “I think he connects well with the room.”


By Paige Godden
Posted 1/29/20



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