Tom Steyer Thinks Voters Love Him For Who He Is Not For All His Money
Tuesday's Democratic debate in Iowa will be as white as, well, Iowa. Cory Booker dropped out of the race today because he didn't make the cut. Neither did Andrew Yang or even wannabe Obama Deval Patrick. As a presidential candidate, Patrick is like the alien race on Doctor Who that you only remember exists when you're looking right at them. Hey, no one ever said politics was easy ... or diverse. The candidates who didn't make it this far just didn't have a message that connected with voters. That's Tom Steyer's story, and he'll pay you good money to believe it.
Steyer has spent $116 million in television advertising. This marketing budget normally reserved for Star Wars movies was focused on Nevada and South Carolina. Steyer has started to see a return on his investment. Recent polls have him at third place in Nevada with 12 percent support and second place in South Carolina with 15 percent. Yes, you read that correctly. Steyer is second -- the one after first -- in South Carolina. That's also the state where his campaign "borrowed" voter data from Kamala Harris, so I don't know why he's still allowed to compete at all. It's insulting.
What's even more insulting is that Steyer won't cop to trying to buy the primary. No, he just has a great message that the poor bastards in Nevada and South Carolina can't escape.
STEYER: I think that the thing that has put me on this stage — and it is the same for every single person who's running for president — is message. I have a very simple message, which is, the government is broken. It's been bought by corporations.
I also have a very simple message for Steyer: Fuck you, asshole! The other billionaire in the race, Mike Bloomberg, is running on a self-financed "I'm better than these other guys" platform. I don't agree but it's at least in the same solar system with honesty. Steyer is a plutocrat in denim, who's trying to pretend he's the head of some grassroots movement. A single billionaire buying the presidency is no better than corporations doing so. Corporations at least have shareholders and a board.
Steyer spouted this bullshit on CNN's "State of the Union," and to his credit, Jake Tapper called him out on it.
TAPPER: So the reason people can hear your message, though, of course, is because of the TV ads and the millions of dollars you have spent. Let's talk about the two states that you polled well in that got you on the debate stage, South Carolina and Nevada. You and your campaign, you make up the overwhelming majority of television ad spending in those states; 91 percent of television ad spending in South Carolina is from you; 97 percent of television ad spending in Nevada is from you. Do you not think that it's your millions and the flood of advertising in those states that's why you did well in the polls and are now on the debate stage?
Of course, Steyer disagreed, because as a child, he probably thought all the kids coming over to swim in his pool really just wanted to hang out with him. [Editrix's note: He doesn't seem like a terrible fellow, and I hope he had childhood friends who liked him. But the money thing is pretty yeesh.] It's still possible that Steyer could spend hundreds of millions on his vanity campaign and only win a handful of delegates. But there's a worst-case scenario where Biden or Bernie Sanders catch a bad cold and Steyer ends up the nominee. He's never been fully vetted and he's the worst possible candidate to run against Donald Trump. Steyer might fancy himself a Bruce Wayne-style billionaire to Trump's Lex Luthor, but most voters will find it a distinction without a difference. Trump is also actively pushing the nation into war, so a Democratic nominee with zero foreign policy experience or credentials is unwise to say the least.
Steyer needs to go away, and we need to start publicly financing political campaigns to stop this madness. That'll probably never happen, but maybe we can get a campaign finance law on the books that applies the individual donor maximum to the candidates themselves. If Steyer had to rely on true "grassroots support" to fund his campaign, you'd forget he existed as quickly as you did Deval Patrick.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.