BEN SMITH: Tom - Ben Smith from BuzzFeed here. Thanks for doing this! To start, could you send over a selfie, and tell me where you are right now and what you’re doing?
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Selfie of Tom Steyer.
TOM STEYER: Sitting at my desk reading the San Francisco Chronicle.
BS: To start with impeachment.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Screenshot of an article entitled “Trump’s 10 Impeachable Offenses”
BS: You were calling for impeachment long before the Ukraine mess. Do you think the articles should include these other issues?
TS: We need to keep it simple. The impeachment hearings should be on TV, where the American people see for themselves. The court that matters is the Court of Public Opinion. We get to decide!
BS: You’ve invested so much in this, and in climate, and at times been ahead of the rest of the party. Do you worry that maybe you’re just the wrong messenger right now -- a white guy in his 60s who comes out of finance?
TS: For ten years, as an outsider in politics, I’ve been pushing on the most important issues facing Americans. I continue to do so. Given the broken nature of our political system, Americans should be asking who they can trust. I am an outsider who’s beat the corporations for ten years and built the grass~roots. You can trust me Look at my record.
BS: On the debate stage last week, a certain amount of the commentary was about this:
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Screenshot of a tweet from @akarl_smith on 10/15/19 reading, “Tom Steyer looking directly into the camera for every answer,” with a picture of Tom Steyer onstage looking into camera.
BS: What was the thinking?
TS: I thought the most important people to talk to that evening were the American people.
BS: Some Florida Republicans recently had a public change of heart on climate change. Do you think there’s hope for bipartisanship there?
TS: Bipartisanship on climate is inevitable because the facts are inevitable. But as long as they lie, we should call them out.
BS: Oh shoot - and one more I thought I’d asked, and totally forgot to: You were able to get on the debate stage by spending more than $1 per $1 donor. Isn’t there something ridiculous about the system, and unfair to people like Steve Bullock?
TS: I was able to get on the debate stage because voters in the early states are responding to my message. Most Americans didn’t know who I am, and as they’ve gotten to know me and hear my message, it’s resonating with them. That will continue to drive who gets on the future debate stages.
BS: And finally - when we first met last year, you showed me a symbol you draw on your hand every day. Could you send over a photo, and explain what it means to you?
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Photo of Tom Steyer’s left hand with a cross drawn on it, with four smaller crosses drawn in the angles of the larger cross.
TS: It means to tell the truth no matter what the cost is. That ultimately the truth wins.
BS: Can you explain a little more where it comes from?
TS: For a while now, I have drawn it on my hand every day to remind myself to always tell the truth. I later discovered that is has traditionally been known as the Jerusalem cross.
BS: Thanks for doing this!
TS: Thanks Ben!