Steyer makes a final pitch in Coralville the day before the Iowa caucuses

Speaking to a packed Backpocket Brewery, Tom Steyer focused on attacking Donald Trump and promoting his ideas for reforming elections and climate change.


Shivansh Ahuja

Businessman and democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer speaks during a campaign rally at Backpocket Brewery in Coralville on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. The Iowa Caucuses will be held on Feb. 3.

Rylee Wilson, Politics Reporter

First-year student Sydnie Franklin came to see presidential hopeful and billionaire Tom Steyer at Backpocket Brewery in Coralville, hoping to hear a signature line from his television and digital advertising — “Donald Trump is a fraud and a failure.”

On an unusually warm Superbowl Sunday, the doors to the restaurant were left open to allow the breeze to circulate. The restaurant was packed with around 150 people looking to see the Democrat speak at a town hall.

“If he doesn’t say that — I’m going to be kind of disappointed. I think it works, I think it’s a good selling point, right now, for the climate we’re at right now, it’s clever,” Franklin said, adding that she thinks the abundance of campaign advertisements online and on TV are effective in reaching Iowans. 

Franklin said she plans to caucus for the first time Monday night, but she is not completely decided which candidate she will support.

Steyer has spent an estimated $11.8 million advertising in Iowa, according to FiveThirtyEight. 

Steyer said he wanted to take as many questions as possible, joking he wanted to be done before the Superbowl began.

 Steyer described his family connections to Iowa City, saying he was going to visit his 100-year-old aunt at retirement home Oaknoll after speaking at the event. 

 Carissa Gunderson, 36, said she does not watch much TV and was instead swayed to caucus for Steyer by canvassers who came to her home.

“I was introduced to [Steyer] because one of his canvassers came by the house a couple months ago, and I wasn’t familiar with who he was at all,” said Gunderson an Iowa City resident. “I read about his five rights and I thought that was pretty awesome. I liked that he wasn’t tied to any political party intensely .. being a little bit of an outsider might be helpful.” 

Steyer’s website outlines five universal human rights he believes should be protected under the law — the right to health, an equal vote, clean air and clean water, the right to learn, and the right to a living wage. 

 Steyer was asked a question at his town hall, questioning his attitude toward working with Republicans. Steyer said he has respect for Republican voters, but is willing to criticize Republican leaders like U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

 “You will never hear me say a disrespectful word about Republican voters. As far as I’m concerned, they voted for Donald Trump because he said they would drain the swamp,” Steyer said. “The problem is they voted for the biggest swamp rat in history. He didn’t drain the swamp, he is the swamp.”

 In response to a question asking if Steyer can garner support from African-American voters, Steyer said he was the only candidate advocating for reparations. 

 “I believe I am the only person running for president who says, all the time, that I am the only person for reparations. I would start a formal commission on race on the first day of my presidency. I believe that policy comes out of narrative.

Steyer was polling at 2 percent in Iowa in the Jan. 10 Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll.

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