Nov 21, 2019

Debate night: Tom Steyer defends billionaire status

Tom Steyer defended his billionaire status at the 5th Democratic debate Wednesday following months of attacks over using wealth to bankroll his campaign.

THE WASHINGTON POST'S ASHLEY PARKER: "You have spent over $300 million of your own money in support of your political goals. How do you respond to critics who see you as the embodiment of a special interest?"

STEYER: "What I've done over the last decade, is to put together coalitions of ordinary Americans to take on unchecked corporate power... Over the last decade, with the help of the American people, we have taken on and beaten the oil companies. We have taken on and beaten the tobacco companies. We have taken on and beaten utilities."

The big picture: Much of the 2020 Democratic field is rejecting large-dollar donations and focusing on grassroots fundraising. Steyer, who's vowed to use $100 million of his own money in the race, has faced accusations of buying his way to success. He launched his campaign in July.

  • Billionaires are facing increasing backlash from Democrats. Both Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is also a billionaire and is expected to make a decision this week on whether he'll enter the Democratic race, have felt some of the heat.

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Tom Steyer on the issues, in under 500 words

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Billionaire Tom Steyer is a former hedge fund manager who's become known for his philanthropy and liberal activism. In 2017, he launched "Need to Impeach," spending $10 million on a national ad campaign urging Congress to impeach President Trump, according to Forbes. He has since resigned his position to pursue the Democratic nomination.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 25, 2019

Booker: "There's more billionaires in the race than there are black people"

Cory Booker. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sen. Cory Booker described his initial reaction to Sen. Kamala Harris's exit from the 2020 presidential race on Buzzfeed's AM2DM show as anger since there are now more billionaires in the race than black people.

Why it matters: Harris, the first top-tier candidate to drop out, told her supporters that she doesn't have the financial resources to continue her pursuit of the presidency and isn't a billionaire, so cannot fund her own campaign. Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer and ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have received a barrage of criticism for buying their way into the 2020 race.

Go deeperArrowDec 4, 2019