Tom Steyer, the billionaire from California pushing for Donald Trump’s impeachment, drew a crowd to Iowa to make an announcement about his political future on Wednesday: he will not run for president in 2020.
“I am not running for president at this time,” Steyer said in Des Moines. “Instead, I am strengthening my commitment to Need to Impeach in 2019, until the House starts impeachment proceedings or Mr. Trump resigns. That is how we will define success.”
“Most people come to Iowa around this time to announce a campaign for president,” Steyer said in his speech. “But I am proud to be here to announce that I will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to remove a president. Not because I disagree with his policies. Not because we hold different ideologies. But because the people must do what our elected officials have been unable or unwilling to do: hold President Trump accountable.”
After the event, Steyer told The Daily Beast that his final decision was made in just the last few days.
“Honestly I made this decision over the weekend,” he said. “And I wanted to get it out as fast as possible for a whole bunch of reasons internal and external. My attitude was I made the decision, let’s get it out there and act on it. If you have something that you think is the right thing to do go do it.”
The ensuing campaign will entail spending an additional $40 million in 2019 that will encompass an initiative informing the public about the president’s impeachable offenses, town-hall meetings across the nation, a summit on impeachment in Washington, D.C. on January 28, and an advertising campaign to get members of Congress to support impeachment. Steyer said he plans to focus on the new leaders of House investigative committees, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Richard Neal (D-MA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Elijah Cummings (D-MD).
Steyer told The Daily Beast that his massive email list of over 6.5 million people (he claimed it hit 6.7 during the interview) through his “Need to Impeach” campaign will stay with the organization and keep growing. Asked whether he would farm it out to another campaign or use it as a means to support a candidate in need, Steyer said: “We’re not going to use this list to promote somebody.”
He said that selling the list or using it for other purposes would “abuse” the members’ confidence in our organization.
It remains unclear if he would endorse another presidential candidate in the future but part of the initiative will focus on getting 2020 candidates to back impeachment.
Asked directly if Steyer would support another prospective Democratic candidate, he told The Daily Beast: “I don’t know. It’s way too soon to figure that out.”