2020 hopeful Andrew Yang hosts rally in Iowa City over a year ahead of caucuses

2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang promoted his goals of universal basic income and universal healthcare in Iowa City Nov. 16.


Nick Rohlman

2020 presedential candidate Andrew Yang speaks during the Johnson County Democratic Party Fall Barbecue at the Johnson County Fairgrounds on Sunday Oct. 14, 2018.

Julia DiGiacomo, Politics Reporter

More than a year ahead of the 2020 caucuses, Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang has channelled his efforts into early campaigning in Iowa.

Yang, who is in his first run for political office, addressed a crowd of arouond 40 at the IMU on Nov. 16 to try to gain early supporters and promote his political ideas, which includes supplying a monthly $1,000 “freedom dividend”  to every U.S. citizen ages 18-64 and establishing a universal health-care system.

The New York-based entrepreneur has now visited Iowa six times since August to rally support for Democratic candidates in the midterm elections and gain recognition in the Iowa political sphere.

University of Northern Iowa political-science Professor Christopher Larimer, who didn’t recognize Yang’s name, said many long-shot presidential hopefuls campaign heavily across Iowa and attempt to burst onto the national scene based on Iowa’s results because the Hawkeye State is the first to host presidential contests.

He said lesser-known candidates generally aspire to run a campaign similar to Jimmy Carter’s successful 1976 presidential campaign. After campaigning heavily in Iowa, Carter, who was little-known nationally, emerged as the front-runner in the Democratic primaries. Unlike Yang, Carter had some political experience. He was a state senator and governor before launching a bid for the Oval Office.

“I think that every long-shot candidates’ dream is to be the next Jimmy Carter,” Larimer said. “Certainly, we’ve seen candidates who maybe fly under the radar but who pick up some momentum in Iowa and do better than expected.”

Kelly Winfrey, the interim director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State, said the principal reason Iowa attracts early presidential hopefuls is the state’s role as the first in the nation to hold a presidential contest.

“Those candidates who particularly don’t have big name recognition want to come to Iowa early to start to build that name recognition and do a lot of public engagement so that they can raise their profile to be competitive when caucus time rolls around,” Winfrey said. “Eyes are on Iowa and New Hampshire now for the 2020 elections.”

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Yang, 43, is an author and the founder of Venture for America, a nonprofit that works to promote other startups. He has worked as a founder and executive in the startup industry for nearly two decades.

His primary objective is to establish a universal basic income of $1,000 monthly with no strings attached. All citizens ages 18-64 would receive the $12,000 annual stipend regardless of income or employment status. Americans over age 65 would not be eligible because of Social Security.

“The freedom dividend would put $16 billion per year into the hands of Iowans and would create approximately 40,000 jobs here in Iowa,” Yang said. “Universal basic income would be the single most powerful thing we could do.”

RELATED: In visit to UI, 2020 presidential hopeful Andrew Yang wants to give every American $1,000 a month 

According to the Yang 2020 website, he proposes funding this initiative through a 10 percent value-added tax on goods and services.

He specifically hopes to tax technology because, he said, advanced technology and automation lead to job loss.

“We are at a historic juncture where AI is about to take off and leave millions of Americans behind,” he said at the IMU.

Yang also emphasized “Medicare for all” as one of his primary campaign goals and supported forgiving student loans, decriminalizing marijuana, and taking action on climate change.

Iowa City is Yang’s final stop in his first series of rallies across the country. Since Nov. 8, he has also made stops in Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland.