politics

Tom Steyer: Rise in Polls Is ‘Opposite of a Flash in the Pan’

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Tom Steyer says he's not surprised to see the latest presidential polls out of Nevada showing him tied for third place, or those in South Carolina showing him in second place.

Those results make him just the sixth of the 13 Democratic candidates to make next week's debate stage.

"This is the opposite of a flash in the pan," he said. "Because I can see, both from being on the ground and knowing how many people come and then seeing their response, that this is something that has been gradually but consistently building since I got in the race."

He was asked how he responds to those who say this just proves that a billionaire can buy his way into the top-tier.

"It's about message," Steyer said. "That, in fact, I have a message that is different from everybody else."

It's a progressive message about taking back a corrupt and broken government, and it makes climate change Steyer's top issue.

But would these poll numbers be where they are if Steyer were not able to get his message out with millions of dollars? Steyer steers the question in another direction.

"I'm completely different from the other people on the debate stage," he said. "I'm the only non-career politician right now on the debate stage. I'm the only outsider."

Where does Steyer see himself as a Democrat on a spectrum of progressive to moderate?

"I am a progressive," Steyer said. "But I also believe in a vibrant, competitive and innovative private sector. Bernie Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist. I'm not a socialist."

And does he believe in full, government-run Medicare for all?

"No," he said. "We can preserve choice and not scrap everything. We can build on the affordable care act."

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