Tom Steyer holds Iowa City meet and greet at Hamburg Inn No. 2

Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer stopped in Iowa City on Thursday as part of a two-day swing during the Sept. 12 debates.


Jenna Galligan

Democratic candidate Tom Steyer talks to diners at a meet and greet at Hamburg Inn on September 12, 2019.

Julia Shanahan, Assistant Politics Editor

In his first stop of a two-day swing through Iowa, 2020 presidential hopeful Tom Steyer said being an outsider candidate and a long-time advocate for President Trump’s impeachment makes him different than the other Democrats seeking the nomination.

“I’ve been [campaigning] for about eight weeks. There are people who have been out here for more than two years,” Steyer told reporters at Hamburg Inn No. 2 in Iowa City. “The question is, do you have a message that reverberates and resonates with Democratic voters? From what I can tell, mine actually does.”

Steyer has campaigned heavily on breaking down large corporations and addressing climate change and has championed his creation of Need to Impeach — a national coalition of Americans who support an impeachment process. According to its website, over 8 million people have committed their support.

On Thursday, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved a resolution for investigative procedures into an impeachment process. Democrats in the House have not agreed on what to formally call the impeachment inquiry.

“I want to stop talking about the nomenclature … we are moving forward on an impeachment proceeding, and we have the new powers, so this [resolution] is actually a big change,” Steyer said on Thursday. 

Steyer’s Sept. 12 visit comes ahead of the third round of presidential debates. Steyer missed the deadline to qualify for the Thursday debate, but he did meet the requirements to make the debate stage in October. The candidate needed 130,000 unique donors and had to be polling at 2 percent in four DNC-approved polls. 

He has spent $2.7 million on advertisements in Iowa, more than any other candidate.

Steyer said when he watched the last couple rounds of debates, he thought there was too much discussion around policies and not enough about large corporations.

“I was very scared, because I think we were having a lot of policy discussions about what’s the best health-care policy. Very, very important. What’s the best Green New Deal? Very, very important. What’s the best education policy? Very, very important, and on and on,” he said. “But no one was making the point that unless we break the corporate takeover of our government, our failed government in Washington, D.C., we’re not getting any of those policies.”

In both the June and July debates, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders talked about their plans to break down large corporations — Warren with her wealth tax and Sanders with his plan to place a tax on Wall Street — in an effort to pay for universal health care and free public college.

Shirley Bush Zahn was eating lunch at Hamburg Inn No. 2 when Steyer made his appearance. Zahn grew up in Iowa but now lives in Tallahassee, Florida, and was visiting with a friend. She said she didn’t travel to Iowa specifically to see Steyer, but she wanted to make a point to see some of the candidates who would be making their way through the state.

Zahn said Steyer is among her top choices, but she has not yet committed to a candidate.

“I love to come to the Hamburg Inn when I come to Iowa City, and I’ve seen all the other president’s pictures [on the walls], and now I actually see one live,” she said. “It’s exciting.”

Reese Bobitt, a University of Iowa freshman studying political science, said she came to the meet and greet partly out of curiosity for the candidate, and also because she’s on a caucus research team with a UI professor.

“I think this was a good move on his part to just talk to some locals in a really more relaxed setting,” Bobitt said. “A lot of candidates don’t take the time to really get to know people and talk about issues that are really specific to them.”


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