Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist, said Wednesday he will not run for president and instead pump more money into his effort to remove Donald Trump from the White House.
Steyer detailed his plans in downtown Des Moines, one of several states where he’s launching a new round of ads as part of his multi-million-dollar TV and digital campaign calling for Trump’s impeachment.
“Most people come to Iowa around this time to announce a campaign for the presidency,” Steyer told reporters there.
“But I am proud to be here to announce that I will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to remove a president, not because I disagree with his policies — not because we have different ideologies — but because the people must do what our elected officials have been unable or unwilling to do: Hold President Trump accountable.”
Steyer has flirted with runs for office before, including for governor of California in 2018 and the Senate in 2016. But people close to him said this was most serious he’s ever been about running.
He has spent recent weeks working the phones and reshuffling staff, after spending more than $120 million in the midterm election cycle. While leaning toward a presidential run, Steyer also has been courting staffers and speaking with high-level operatives who could guide a campaign.
People familiar with his operation — groups with different names that are largely autonomous — said Kevin Mack, one of the architects of Steyer’s impeachment push, is staying on with the Need to Impeach organization and splitting his time between the Bay Area and Washington.
Steyer has long harbored political aspirations; he spent years traveling the world sounding the alarm on climate change. But after Trump took office, he devoted more time to making himself the face of impeachment, dialing up pressure on fellow Democrats by generating 6.6 million signatures.
For all of his efforts, he’s struggled to build a national brand for himself and remains a virtual unknown in early polls. The location of his announcement turned some heads. As one Democratic operative put it, “Why go to Iowa and say you’re out?”
Steyer said because the 2020 Democratic field has yet to settle, he didn’t want to comment on any particular candidate, calling it “super premature.” He also declined to address calls from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who launched her presidential campaign last week, for wealthy candidates not to fund their own campaigns.
Steyer, for his part, said he plans to invest another $40 million into the impeachment gambit, including more town halls in early states and supporting House investigations into Trump‘s actions.
“I think there is a huge, dangerous threat to our country posed by our president,”Steyer said. “I think this is the most important thing I can do.”