Tom Steyer announces 2020 bid, reversing course

Tom Steyer has changed his mind.

The billionaire progressive activist and a leader in the drive to impeach President Trump said earlier this year he wouldn’t run for the White House.

But on Tuesday, he announced in a four-minute campaign video that he's launching a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.


“The other Democratic candidates for president have many great ideas that will absolutely move our country forward, but we won’t be able to get any of those done until we end the hostile corporate takeover of our democracy,” Steyer said in a statement sent along with the video to supporters

Steyer said he would emphasize reducing corporate influence in politics and tackling climate change as he runs for the White House.

Touting his record “as an outsider,” Steyer noted that “I’ve led grassroots efforts that have taken on big corporations and won results for people. That’s not something you see a lot of from Washington these days. That’s why I’m running for President.”

The 62-year old former hedge fund manager has become a force in national politics. Five years ago he created NextGenAmerica, a grassroots advocacy organization that helped drive the youth vote in 2018, helping the Democrats win back the House of Representatives. And over the past two years, he’s become one of the ringleaders in the push to impeach Trump -- through his ‘Need to Impeach’ movement.

In January, when he announced he wouldn’t run for president, Steyer said he’d focus on pushing Congress to start impeachment proceedings against the president and vowed to spend $30 million behind his efforts.

Since then, Steyer's said he's become frustrated with the Democratic majority in the House over their pace in approaching impeachment.

But Steyer made no mention of impeaching Trump in his presidential campaign announcement. But Trump was briefly seen in Steyer’s campaign video.

Steyer starts his White House bid with some advantages. He has a vast amount of wealth and both NextGenAmerica and ‘Need to Impeach’ have a very large grassroots reach.

Steyer now has one week to receive contributions from 65,000 individual donors to make the stage at the second round of Democratic presidential nomination debates. The other threshold – reaching 1 percent in three qualifying polls – appears to be out of reach.

The Republican National Committee called Steyer the latest candidate “to join the Democrats’ clown car.”

“After a false start, left-wing extremist Tom Steyer has finally formalized his self-promotion tour under the guise of a presidential campaign. The only thing Steyer’s campaign will do is light more of his money on fire as he joins the rest of the 2020 Democrat field in pushing policies that are way outside the mainstream,” RNC spokesman Steve Guest said.

And Trump re-election campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh noted that "it doesn't say much for the whole Democrat field that the number one Democrat donor took a look around and decided that there's no one he can support. His presence in the race will just pull the whole group even further to the left."

Steyer - who reportedly will invest $100 milion of his own money into his presidential campaign - now joins an historically large field of roughly two-dozen Democrats.

One of the leading White House hopefuls, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, took aim at Steyer.

"I like Tom he is a good guy he’s a friend of mine, but I’m not a great fan of billionaires getting involved in the political process," Sanders said in an interview on MSNBC.

Another rival is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Asked about Steyer's entry into the race by reporters during a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Gillibrand merely said "God Bless him" before adding "I know why I'm running."