I spent three decades in the private sector figuring out, actually, what makes the country prosperous. Actually, how countries succeed; what it takes. I am excited to get on a stage with this guy and show that he's a fake business person, and a failure.

Town Hall
Scheman Bldg - Rooms 250/252
Iowa State University
Monday, January 27, 2020


INTRODUCTION: I'm Cornelia Flora. I'm an emeritus professor of sociology and agriculture at Iowa State University and I have the enormous privilege of getting to give a little introduction to Tom Steyer.

I first met Tom in 2014 around NextGen Climate Change where he was doing a a wonderful with young people, mobilizing them to express their values as concrete policies to address climate change. Unlike other politicians with great deal of money, he spent his money on creating a better world. Rather than building hotels, golf clubs and casinos with his name emblazoned on them, and financing those incredibly socially sound investments by hiring undocumented workers and then not paying for them, overestimating his net worth to get loans from foreign banks or going bankrupt when it was clear that all that money was a sham.

In contrast, Tom is using his money and his talent to bring a better world for people and the planet. When Tom sees something wrong, he does something about it. When he saw the government's inaction on climate change, he started the largest youth mobilization effort, NextGen Climate Change. When he saw that corporations had bought the government, he organized to use direct democracy to beat fossil fuel companies. Now he's ready to go toe to toe to Trump—with Trump, and I think we are very, very lucky that in November we have somebody like Tom out there fighting for us. Join me in welcoming Tom Steyer.  [applause]

MUSIC: "Up Around The Bend" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

STEYER: Hey guys. Hello. It is so nice to be here with you My goodness. Dr Flora thank you so much Cornelia. That was so nice.

Look, I assume you know that what I really am here for is to take your questions, but I am going to do a little bit of an introduction for those of you who don't know me that well about—a little bit about who I am and why I'm running.

I am aware, as Dr. Flora said, that sometimes people describe me as a rich person. And that isn't who I think I am. So I want to describe a little bit about who I actually think I am.

My mom was a teacher; my mom was from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and she was a teacher in the New York Public Schools. And after she retired as a teacher, she was a teacher at the Brooklyn House of Detention, teaching prisoners how to read. My dad was the first generation in his family to go to college. My father graduated—  My grandfather was a plumber. My father graduated from college at the age of 18. He went to law school, became a lawyer. He left the law in order to become a naval officer in World War II. My parents were Depression era World War II babies who thought that the United States was the greatest idea in history, and that you had to make sure you gave back as much to the country as you got from the country. And because he was already a lawyer and honestly, because he got great grades in law school, they made him the assistant to the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials prosecuting Nazi war criminals. [applause]

And one of the things that he taught us when we were growing up—I have two older brothers—was, if you see something that's really wrong in the center of the United States, then you it's your responsibility to oppose it as early and hard as possible, so it doesn't take root the way it did in Germany and the way he could see at the end of World War II what had happened. And that was why I started Need to Impeach. There was something terribly wrong at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. [applause]

And look, I—People always ask me, do I take credit for this? And the answer's no.

The people who deserve the credit, eight and a half million people signed the petition the need to impeach petition, but they also called their Congresspeople, they emailed and texted their Congresspeople to say, do the right thing for the United States of America. This is not about partisanship or political maneuvering or tactics. This is about doing the right thing. And I believe their voice is what dragged Congress to actually impeach this president and put him on trial. I think they deserve huge hand. [applause]

So I did start a business. I never inherited a penny from my parents. I started a business, I built it over 27 years. It's a pretty big multi-billion dollar international business. I walked away from it. I took the Giving Pledge to give the bulk of my money away to good causes while I'm alive. And I've spent 10 years, organizing. [applause] I actually think it makes life a hell of a lot more interesting and valuable to do. But I've spent 10 years organizing American citizens like the people in this room to take on what I think of as unchecked corporate power. And let me say for 10 years, we have never lost. [applause] Never.

You know I started it doing clean energy against two oil companies in my home state of California, and I got the job because no one else wanted it. No one else was stupid enough to do it, because everyone figured the oil companies are so rich and so mean you're sure to lose and you're going to lose your reputation and your money along with it. And we got 70% of the vote. [applause]

I've taken on—. I took on the tobacco companies. They'd won 17 times in a row. We got a $2 a pack cigarette tax passed, $3 to $4 billion dollars a year that we gave to Medical. [applause]

And let me say this. We won, it actually was very close. And it was, the people were starting to panic on our campaign, and we ran a campaign with a picture of my mom fishing. So she's fishing at twilight on a lake in northern Minnesota, and you know everyone thinks their mom is beautiful. I think my mom was really beautiful. And she's got her line out and she's wearing an upside down Navy cap, you know those ones you can turn up on the side or turn over. Absolutely beautiful lake, perfect thing, and she's got a butt hanging out of her mouth, and she died of lung cancer. And we killed them. It was like, look at this picture; what is wrong with this picture? The butt.

But anyway, we've won. We've beaten oil companies, we've beaten utilities, we've beaten drug companies. We've won every time, and I also started one of the largest grassroots organizations in the United States which is called NextGen America. I think we're on 41 campuses in the state of Iowa. We've been here, this is I believe our seventh year in the state. And in 2018 NextGen went into the 38 Republican congressional districts, more than doubled the turnout of young people, and 33 of the 38 districts flipped to Democratic. [applause] So when people talk about being a grassroots person, I actually am a grassroots person. NextGen has partners in the labor movement, and together in the last two cycles, the organization that we put together has knocked on 25 million doors.

We actually—when people talk about how we're gonna win, I know how we're gonna win because we, I've been doing it for years. We're going to do it by being grassroots people and getting people out to vote. And that's exactly what NextGen has been doing. And that's actually what I believe in which is otherwise called democracy. This strange idea in the United States that people are going to participate and take back this government from the corporations who bought it. That's actually why I'm running for president.

Our government's broken. If you go through the list of things that it refuses to deal with, there is a company making a boatload of money on the other side of that problem who doesn't want anything to change.

And I'm an outsider; I've been fighting these people for a decade. We've never lost. I have no allegiance to the structure of Washington, DC. And in fact, that's why I'm for term limits. I want 12 years for congresspeople and senators. If you want change, put new and different people in charge. [applause] You know I always say to people, the six-word argument for term limits are Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley. It's like you want to change, make a change.

So, I want to say one other thing that you should know. I am the only person in this race who will say the climate is his or her number one priority. And I've been working on this for 12 years. Look, everyone thinks that climate is a loser politically. We've never lost. We do it differently. We do climate starting with environmental justice. We go to the communities where you can't breathe without getting asthma and there are, there are communities in my home state of California, with a 92% rate of childhood asthma. I mean, it's amazing. And we go to the communities where if you mix up a pitcher of lemonade from the tap water, you're going to get sick. And I've been to those communities. There's some in Iowa. They're rural communities here like that. But they're also urban communities like Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey. And this is actually a rural community, but there's a place called Denmark, South Carolina which you definitely will get sick if you drink the tap water. And if you go through the spine of California, inland, the San Joaquin Valley, you will definitely get sick if you drink the tap water. They tend to be black and brown communities. If you start with environmental justice and clean up the air and water, that's how you get a justice-based climate plan, and that's what we call ours, a justice-based climate plan.

But the second thing is this. Our plan will create over four and a half a million good paying union jobs around the country. For everybody who's worried about employment and wages, it's like think, step back and think for one second. We have to rebuild the United States of America on an accelerated basis. That makes this the biggest job creation plan in history. We have to do it. If you look at it, an outside economist looked at our plan and said, If this happens, we will have the highest rate of union employment in the United States since 1945. We're going to have, it's, and this is not a question of, we're going to be poorer. We're going to have job problems. Energy is going to be more expensive. We're not going to be healthy. Every single one of those is false. The argument here is, can we beat the oil and gas companies and their minions in the Congress of the United States? That is actually the question. [applause]

And the answer is yes. We absolutely can.

And I want to say one other thing, well a couple other things before; I want questions but. Look, we know Mr. Trump's running on the economy. He's said it. He says it every day. He basically says, he said last month in Florida to a group of American citizens, at the American Israeli conference. He said, you don't like me. And I don't like you. But you're all going to vote for me, because if the Democrats get in control, they're gonna destroy the economy in 15 minutes. That is actually his campaign. It's a little bit more elaborate, but that is pretty much a quote.

But here's what he meant to say. I'm a criminal. I think we can agree on that. And I despise 80% of you, and you know it, and you despise me. If I showed up in Ames, Iowa, none of you would let me in the front door or ask me to dinner. And by the way, my mother would have died before she let him in the front door. But you're all going to vote for me, because the Democrats are a bunch of socialists who will ruin the economy. You can't afford not to vote for me even though you hate me. And here's what I will say. We're gonna have to beat this man with—that's his actual campaign. And we're going to have to have somebody go on the stage and prove not that he's a criminal, because we all know that that's not up for grabs. That he is a hater. He is a hater; he's a racist. Or even that he's, you know borderline [grimaces] [some audience laughter]

We're gonna have to prove something else. He's incompetent. He is incompetent; he is actually bad for Americans on the economy. And honestly, I spent three decades in the private sector figuring out, actually, what makes the country prosperous. Actually, how countries succeed; what it takes. I am excited to get on a stage with this guy and show that he's a fake business person, and a failure. He played a business person on a reality TV show. That is not actually reality. That's a TV show. And as a president he's been a terrible steward of the American economy for the American people. And I'd love to go on and show it, because he's a fake. And that's exactly why I'm asking you. Look, I can do this at a level that nobody else in this race can do because I've spent decades actually answering that question. What makes countries succeed, what creates jobs, what creates shared wealth, not for just the richest people, or the biggest corporations—what makes countries succeed in a broad based way. That's actually the question for the United States.

And I can tell you I've been. I just got to Iowa today. I came from Nevada and South Carolina. In the four early primary states, the last poll I saw had me averaging 15%. Actually I think this is something that can happen. That in fact, we need somebody who can take him on. And I can tell you, I can take him on, on the one thing he's going to claim, which is he's a job creator, that he's good for the American people in terms of money, and that you can't afford not to vote for him, because none of those things is true. [applause]

So, I think we have people with microphones. If you have questions. I will see if I have answers.

There is a lady right here if someone has a mic.

And please say your name so that everybody can just

QUESTION: Barbara [phon. Rom].  STEYER: Nice to meet you.  BARBARA: Glad to meet you. I'd like to know what should be done about the national debt, not just the deficit but the debt.

STEYER: Right.  So Barbara's question has to do with our approximately 20 trillion, give or take dollars of national debt, which is going up by a trillion dollars a year.

And let me say this.

I hate to be a niggler, but Mr Trump swore he was going to balance the budget. And he also swore that his tax cut of, to rich people and the biggest corporations was actually going to lead to an increase in tax revenue. Both are amongst his 15,000 lies. The actual truth. What will I do? Here's what I will do, I will they take back all the tax giveaways to rich people and big corporations. They're completely unfair. It's absolutely—. Let me say they benefit me, I get that. They're completely ridiculously unfair. We have a regressive tax system where the rich people pay a lower percentage than working people that's deeply wrong.

Secondly I proposed a wealth tax almost a year and a half ago. Long before I was running for president I said, as unjust, as the income distribution is in this country, the wealth distribution—. We have redistributed the money in this country to the richest Americans. It's absolutely wrong. I put in a wealth tax.

I will also treat investment income the way earned income is treated, at the same rates. Why it isn't, I'm not exactly sure. But if we do that, 95% of Americans can get a 10% tax cut and we'll have money left over.

So in answer to your question, how are we going to solve the deficit? We are going to grow because I actually believe that broad based growth with everybody doing well is the actual way that countries grow well.

But secondly, we're going to tax rich people and big corporations at different rates, so we have more money, so we get rid of this deficit. They created the deficit by cutting taxes for the richest people and the biggest corporations. The top 400 corporations in this country last year paid an average tax rate of 11%. That is preposterous. Absolutely preposterous. Some of the biggest corporations including Amazon, zero. That is preposterous. So we're going to have to change that; people are going to have to pay their fair share of taxes. And that's just the way it's going to be.

This has been the biggest giveaway ever; it's one of the many reasons he's actually a terrible steward of the American economy, because the way they want to settle this deficit is to cut entitlements. He said it the other day. And the Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin said, How are we going to settle it? They said what's, why do you have a billion— trillion dollar deficit? He said, it's the Democrats' fault. They won't cut spending on social programs. That's called Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. That's their answer and it's deeply, deeply wrong. [applause]

QUESTION: Tom. I'm Keith Puntenney. I'm lead plaintiff against the Dakota Access Pipeline, currently at the U.S. Supreme Court with the case. But here's my question to you, and I've asked this of every presidential campaign. So far, you're the only one who's said you would do a climate emergency from day one, and props to you for doing that. Nobody else on the presidential campaigns has, has joined you in that. But you can't do this alone. So here's my question to you.

Will you, when you become president, name a climate czar and make that position equal to the other cabinet secretaries and give them a portfolio that will include reaching out to the Paris Accord and all the countries there, that will deal with all of the cabinet officers in terms of climate issues in turn that there, and also reach down to the 50 states?

And then the second thing is, because I worked 32 years for the IRS as an estate and gift tax attorney chasing people like you. STEYER: Not like me, Keith. Woah, big boy. QUESTION: No,  the wealthy, in terms of paying their fair share, in terms of that. Will, when you do all of these, these kinds of things, will you score any bill that comes to your desk, like, the other bills which go through OMB on a climate change, you know, type of analysis, both with short term and long term gain, but also with costs?

STEYER: So the short answer to your questions are yes and yes because— But I want to talk for one second, and I know that they're trying to double the flow of the Dakota Access Pipeline through Ames. And I know that the people who own that pipeline are trying to prevent public hearings and public commentary. So for all of you who are fighting to actually open up this process and get the information out, thank you for doing that.

I, as Keith said, I'm the only person who says its my number one priority on this race, climate. I've also said I'd declare a state of emergency on day one, to get going. And I'd use the emergency powers of the presidency to do things like set how we generate energy, equivalent of a renewable portfolio standard, over what period of time we move to completely clean energy generation and electricity. What kind of cars can be built, and how quickly we move to all non gasoline burning cars. How we rebuild buildings to make them more energy efficient around the country. We— they're going to be rules that the President has the right to put out that companies can respond to and invest against, so that we become sustainable over time and they can do it in a way that's manageable and doable but we also deal with the climate crisis.

Keith's question about a climate czar is actually a really good question. Because there is going to have to be a constant monitoring of everything. How we, for instance, the United States is the biggest buyer of fossil fuels in the world, the government including our armed services. That is something that's going to have to be watched really closely. We also lease out our public lands for development in terms of fossil fuels. That's something that's going to have to be changed, and watched really closely.

And as Keith said, this is not an American problem, this is a global problem. There is only one country in the world that can lead the solution, and that is the United States of America. There is no second choice here.

And the numbers I like to use to illustrate how big an international problem, not within the borders of the United States is: we have 237 coal plants left in the United States, we've closed 290. We'll close the other 237 because they make no economic sense. There are 1,500 coal plants in the world and there are plans to build 1,200 more. If they build 1,200 coal plants, and we close 237, we lose; everybody loses. Who could actually lead a moral technological commercial and financial charge to clean up the way we generate and use the world other than us? Nobody. So the fact is we are going to have to think about this internationally. We're gonna have to think about it in terms of how our government works, and now we relate to other people. And in fact, let me say this—I was saying before, this is not bad. Having a purpose as a country, to stand up for what's right and to save the world is not a bad thing. [applause]

And let me say, that's what they invented the United States of America for. That. This is exactly who we're supposed to be the people who make the moral choice to do the right thing and lead the world in a way that makes everybody better off. That is exactly what we're about and what we're supposed to be about. So I have never felt bad about this. I have always felt like this is our chance.

QUESTION: Will you answer the question; will you name climate czar?

STEYER: Yes. I said yes and yes. Keith, I started—you said, will you name a climate czar? Yes. Will you score things in terms of climate as you go forward. I said yes and yes, because your questions are good. You're saying, will you operationalize this? And I'm saying yes and yes. If you're going to manage this, you have to manage it. And your point is, Tom, here are two points that are going to be necessary to execute the strategy. And I agree. [applause]

On your left over here. QUESTION: Hi, my name is Kayla Bergman, I want to ask you to talk about your plan for involving agriculture in addressing climate change.  [ed. Bergman is a policy associaate at the Center for Rural Affairs]

STEYER: Okay. So let me start by saying that our family raises grass finished cattle, chickens and pigs. And we've done it for 15 years. And part of it has been an experiment to prove that you can raise animals in a way that net sequesters carbon into the soil. And so we've spent a lot of time thinking about—and I must say that within the family I'm definitely not the person who knows the most—regenerative agriculture.

So partly, let me say this, we are going to go to the farmers of the United States and specifically the farmers of Iowa, and ask them to partner with us to figure out the best way to sequester carbon. And what does that mean? It means to plant and grow things. We are not going to go to the farmers of Iowa, who are experts in this and have been innovating for over 100 years and tell them what to do, but we are going to have to do it together. It is going to be important part of our climate plan. And then we're going to pay them to do a service for the country and the world.

So in fact, when I look at the rural economy in Iowa, but more broadly across the United States as well, I see this as a significant new revenue source for a significant service that they're going to do for everybody. And that it's going to be some, one of the ways if you look at our rural plan, it's one of the four ways specifically of trying to reinvent, to create a more prosperous rural America and more prosperous farmers. But the truth is, we're going to be relying on the expertise of farmers and specifically Iowa farmers to figure out how best to do it, because there's, we're not just going to have to go to zero. We're going to have to do things to draw down carbon out of the atmosphere and farmers are going to be our partners.

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Michelle Daniels, and I want to start off with two thank yous. The first thank you is for wearing your Masai mirror belt. I saw it in your commercial and I was like, I hope I get to see it in person. So thank you for that. Second thank you for being the only person or thing that can make me smile on my birthday—  STEYER: Today's your birthday?  QUESTION: No, no. In 2017. Okay, that was when Trump was inaugurated. I decided, of all places in the world that I wanted to be was at a friend's house in Amsterdam because I can feel what was coming. And I saw the Need to Impeach site, and I signed up. So I want to thank you for making me smile then.

Speaking of needing to impeach we're obviously at a standstill right now because no witnesses, no documents, pure cover up. And so this is the Senate that's doing this. So I was wondering during this election cycle if you or/and Need to Impeach is doing a major push to get Senators, especially Republican Senators that are vulnerable right now, because I think Mitch is considering we have a new Kentucky governor who's Democrat—are you going to be doing something during this election cycle, other than just the presidential because I'm really rooting for you. Thank you.

STEYER: So Michelle. Just, you know, let me talk for one second about impeachment and then let me talk about the Senate. In terms of impeachment what we've been pushing for, what I've been pushing for from the beginning is televised hearings, where the members of the administration testify under oath in front of the TV cameras, with no editing, to the truth, or go to jail for the rest of their lives. Because the people who are whose judgment I care about are you. I want the people of the United States, for us, to be allowed to see what happened. And for us to judge what we think about it, because the people who I trust are you guys. And I think if we get that, then I trust the judgment of everybody Republicans, Democrats, independents. This has never been about partisanship. This is about letting us see what happened from the standpoint of protecting the country.

And I believe that if we get that, that the people in Iowa, are going to say to Joni Ernst, Get him out of there, or we're going to get you out of there. And I believe she will suddenly discover her constitutional leanings and how important it is really to protect the country that has been around for the last 240 years.

I will say this, if they manage to bury the evidence, I believe it will be a dramatic and obvious miscarriage of justice, that they will have been doing damage to their oath and the Constitution, and I believe that they will pay for that too.

And let me say this, I have said from the beginning, I started one of the largest grassroots organizations in the United States. We're on 41 campuses in Iowa; we'll be on all those campuses. I said, NextGen goes door to door with the unions; we're going door to door with the unions. I'm a grassroots person. I believe we're going to have the biggest victory in history in 2020. I believe the way you know it. We're gonna get turnout that is higher than anyone in this room has ever seen because Americans are not stupid. We're all going to know what's at stake, including the Republicans.

In 2018 the Democrats in Washington DC were screaming at me to stop talking about impeachment because it would inflame Republican voters, and they would turn out, and we wouldn't flip the House. And I said, relax. They're inflamed. There's nothing I can do to inflame or uninflame them. They're gonna vote because they always vote. And more Republicans voted in 2018 than in 2014. But what I said to them was, it's not about whether they vote. They're voting. The question is are we voting? And the truth is the difference between 2014 and 2018—we had a terrible 2014 and a very good 2018.  35 million people voted Democratic in 2014. 59 million people voted Democrat in 2018. It went up by 24 million people. We did not convince one person net to change from being a Republican to a Democrat. 24 million people thought, oh my God, I better do something, and we were better organized.

So, Michelle, as far as I'm concerned, 2020 is all about the highest turnout by young people—which is why we do NextGen America, young people they vote at half the rate of other American citizens—African Americans, Latinos, the underrepresented people in this country. The question is do we all now understand what's at stake? Do we understand that this guy is incompetent, as well as cruel? And are we going to turn out? That's going to be the question. I think the answer is going to be a resounding yes. And regardless of what happens to me, I will be working full time to make sure that the answer to the question is that we're as close to 100% turnout as we can possibly be. Because all those people are Democrats. And if they show up we're gonna win everywhere.

QUESTION: Hi, I'm Tom Domac [phon.]  STEYER: That's easy for me to remember. Thank you. 
QUESTION: Excellent.  In 1987 we passed the Montreal Protocol. It was ratified around the world. It banned chlorine based refrigerants and propellants. It was an enormous win for the entire globe, environmentally. Where do we find our next Montreal Protocol; where do we focus for the next big tangible win?

STEYER: So, let me say this, Tom. You know one of the people—  I spent four years trying to do climate things on a nonpartisan or bipartisan basis, which, may I tell you, did not work. I'll just—in case you're planning on doing that you can stop now and just ask me why it doesn't work. But I partnered a lot with George Shultz, who is a Republican, Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, head of OMB, head of, Secretary of Labor, and George, who I think is now 100 years old, was a great partner and he's a wonderful guy. And he always talked about the Montreal Protocol which was basically doing the equivalent of a cap and trade system for these fluorocarbons that were creating the hole in the ozone layer. And it turned out that DuPont had a technology on the shelf, which they introduced; it was cheaper than what people were using. And so they solved it really quickly and everybody was happy. And the question is, it's an argument that people employ for a price on carbon, basically using a carbon tax or cap and trade.

And let me say this. In California, the good thing about California is we try everything. We've tried everything. You know, some of it works, some of it doesn't work. But when it comes to what works in terms of greenhouse gases and climate, we literally have had a price on carbon since 2006. So we can, and we've tried every single one of these other things.

So my answer is this. A price on carbon, whether it's a carbon tax or a cap and trade system, has an impact but it's not that big. As somebody who spent 30 years in the private sector and believes we need an innovative, dynamic, competitive private sector, what works in the real world, believe it or not, is rules. You tell people this is where we're going. This is the, these are the parameters that you have to work within and they invest against those rules, knowing they're not going to change. And one of the things George Schultz always said to me was Tom, it's got to be long term so people can invest against it. If it's short term people don't know what the heck to do and nothing changes.

And that's actually what I believe has worked in California. Rules. You tell the utility by this date you have to be 50% clean energy. Boom. Figure it out. You get to figure— make money within those parameters? Great. But for the people of the United States, these are the rules that we have to have to protect us. And that's actually what, really, when I was talking to Keith about what are the things we're going to do when we declare a state of emergency on day one. We're gonna put out rules. We're gonna say the private sector, go thou and prosper within these rules that protect the people of the United States. You're not writing the rules anymore. We're writing the rules for our sake. [applause]

QUESTION: Mark Lohafer (+). And I'm concerned with these career politicians so how do you get there with accomplishing term limits?

STEYER: it's actually true, Mark. So let's talk about for a second how—  Look, we have to break this corporate stranglehold. And I want to step back for one second before I answer your question say this. The problem I like to talk about in terms of corporate stranglehold is gun violence, because no one thinks it has to do with corporations. But actually, 90% of Americans want background checks on every gun purchase. Republicans want background checks on every gun purchase. NRA members want background checks on every gun purchase. So you have to ask why don't we have background checks on gun purchases to keep them out of the hands of people who would be especially dangerous owning guns. And the answer is, the gun manufacturers actually control the NRA through their money, and they don't want background checks on guns, partially because they like to sell guns and partially they think if we ever start passing things to stop gun violence that we will really do things that will affect their bottom line.

So, when I talk about breaking this corporate stranglehold, structurally we have to do this or we'll never get affordable health care, or the quality public education we need or a living wage or a right to clean air and clean water. We have to break this corporate stranglehold.

But as Mark said, you know, it has to go through DC and as the old saying goes, "No turkey has ever voted for Thanksgiving." Yeah, that's right. So how are we going to— the first thing that has to happen in order to really change structures in the United States is this: we have to agree this is what we want. If you think about 2008, Barack Obama was running on changing our health care system. And the election was about that. And when he got in, he said, I have a right to do this because the American people voted for it and voted me in. And now we're going to go do it and change something that we haven't been able to change before because people voted me in for his, and that's what they want.

So when I think about actually how we're gonna do this, the first step is to agree. We are— it is a difficult prospect that is going to involve a lot of grassroots change. There couple of different ways to do it, but all of them involve participation at the grassroots and the American people insisting on it. But I really do think we have to—look I'm also for direct democracy, that we get to pass our own laws if they won't do it. I'm also for getting rid of Citizens United, that a corporation is not a person. [applause]  Duh, are you kidding me? You know, there's an old joke. I'll believe a corporation is a person when Texas puts one to death. It's like, come on. That's really, it's ridiculous. And I'm also for public financing of elections. [applause]  We need to change the structure and get the money out. And I'm just telling you, whether you, however we're going to do this, it's actually going to involve a lot more direct grassroots democracy, pushing things through., because the people— no turkey is going to vote for Thanksgiving. Nobody who is running as a career politician will even say they're against term limits. They literally will never use the word term limits.

And so, Mark's right. In order for this to happen, we're going to actually have to believe that this democracy can work, that we can we can make changes, that there can be constitutional changes. And we need them really desperately. And if this democracy can't respond to the needs of the people—which it is broken now and is not responding to the needs of the people—then were not going to solve this, but we're also not going to solve any of the other progressive policy things that the people of the United States have a right to and desparately want. [applause]

QUESTION: Hello Tom. Hello Tom. Okay, can you hear me now?  STEYER: Just Fine. QUESTION: Okay, Tom, my name is Jan Lee (+). I'm a retired nursing professor.  STEYER: Here at Iowa State?  QUESTION: No, University of Iowa and other places around the country. STEYER: You're a brave woman, Jan.  QUESTION: I know, but Ames has been kind to me. What I want to first do is thank you for running a rights and a values based campaign. Thank you. STEYER: Thank you.  QUESTION: And what is your plan for breaking the stranglehold of big pharma and the insurance companies in terms of health care so we can actually get health care to people who need it?

STEYER: So I know there has been an enormous amount of talk about this in the Democratic Party and on the debate stage. And I've been saying from the beginning, there are two things that have to be true. Affordable health care is a right for every single American, and that has got to be true. And secondly, the United States government has got to drive down the cost of health care because we are paying twice as much as other advanced countries for the exact same or worse health care. So Jan's question is how are we going to do that?

So let me start by saying I'm one of the people who believes that we don't need to scrap the Affordable Care Act and the existing policies, that we can basically put on a public option to the Affordable Care Act, basically have people sign up for Medicare and leave those who want their employment based health care in place to keep it.

Now my goal is to actually make the public option so much cheaper and better that all those people will go to their employers and say, give me the money you're spending on me; I'll buy my own health care through the public option and I'll get a raise. That's my goal.

But I also know—I've heard people say nobody likes their health care through their employment. And I can tell you, that not true. Because I've had people, specifically union members, who've negotiated for their health care over decades, who think their health care is really good and have told me, we want this. And my goal is to prove to them there's a better choice. But I also think that this is a free country, so you should have your right to make your choice, not have me tell you, you know what, I know your life and your family and your health better than you do. You're going to do it my way or your going to break the law.

But let's talk about how we're going to drive down costs. Okay. The United States government does not negotiate on costs for drug companies, and as a result we pay—I mean everybody knows this at this point—we pay 10 times more for drugs than other countries for the exact same molecule and not for things that were invented in the last seven years so they're under patent. We aren't, we just literally don't negotiate on our own behalf. That's insane.

But we also have done a terrible job of negotiating with private hospitals. And if you look at what things cost overseas and what they cost here for the exact same operations or bed stays, it's frightening.

And if you look at the way the healthcare system operates and how it creates monopolies with, for the providers, it's also scary. I mean I was going through this, I was like, okay, that you go to jail for. And everyone's like, no, no, that's the way we do it. Okay, that's the way you used to do it. That, you're going to jail for. Because there's just an attempt to jimmy this system that is extraordinary. And, Keith was asking, am I gonna have czar for climate, and I was saying, you bet. Well there's somebody whose job is got to be this, because this is a huge deal in terms of negotiation and standing up for Americans.

And we haven't done it, because, you know, something. You want to know who owns the government? The drug companies, the insurance companies, the private hospitals. There's been a— you know they've been negotiating in effect with themselves at the expense of the American people. And that has got to end. And it'll end the first day. And we will do everything, every single thing to drive down those costs because it's not just cost that's killing people. It's so expensive there's no availability. People can afford to get the health care they need. That's just wrong. And it's gonna end. [applause]

: Hi, my name is— STEYER: Make sure we got this lady in the front but go ahead. QUESTION: Okay. Hi, my name is Julia Stevens (+). I want to first thank you so much for your climate plan; I really appreciate you trying to tackle such a big problem. So my question is about a little bit of a more specific environmental issue. So I'm really concerned with the really bad plastic pollution we have; you know plastic bags and stuff like that. So I want to ask for your solution, specifically what do you think of using like biodegradable plastics made of like corn or potatoes or stuff like that.

STEYER: So, of course I'm for that Julia, but let me say this. I know we're focused on climate, and I know we have to be focused on climate, but your broad point is, Tom, aren't we degrading the environment in multiple ways that we cannot sustain, right. Yes, of course we are. I mean one of the things that's true in Iowa is the health of the soil and the quality of the soil has dramatically been reduced. And we can't keep doing that. And there are a number of ways where we're going to have to use technology and use our smarts, and do things in new ways, and still make money and be prosperous, but we can't keep going this way. And so is plastic a perfect example? Sure it is. Because if you, if you have a piece of plastic and it costs nothing to throw it into the ocean and it makes a huge, you know, iceberg of plastic that kills animals and creates a dead zone in the ocean, it's free to you. And so we're going have to be much more thoughtful about the way we do things. And let me say this. Fine.

You know, I'm someone who camped on my honeymoon. I love the out of doors. I view our national parks and our out of doors, as this incredible treasure that we share as a people. And so, to me, protecting that treasure, protecting the oceans of the world, protecting.— That's, that's great. I'm all in. So I'm not wondering, is it worth a little foresight and a little care to protect the world that God gave us and hand on to the next generation. I'm not wondering about that. That's an obligation for everybody. And something we should be super proud about, just like we should be super proud about this amazingly beautiful country we have. And of course we want it to be beautiful and of course we want to hand it on proudly to the next generation so they can hand it on. And I, I don't think there's any question about it, and the idea that somebody is going to degrade that for the rest of us, so they can make some more money it's not going to happen.


QUESTION: You mentioned something about Nuremberg, that your dad was a judge. And I understand this is Iowa and the demographic in, in this state. Can you also mention something that today is the Holocaust Memories Day, and 12 million died, not just Jewish ,die 6 million; the rest of them were unemploy, gay, handicap, and you name it, Catholics, Polish. So, a few of us in this room may not be spared.  STEYER: So, what's your name, ma'am?  QUESTION: Mabel. 

: Mabel. Let me say this. This is definitely at the heart of this election. This isn't just you know the day to remember the Holocaust. As far as I'm concerned, every day in America there's a question about who do we consider a full human being. And when I look at American history, we started with a fraction of the people in this country being recognized politically as full human beings. No women, no black people, no natives. It was a very—and to me, the greatness of America is not where we started. It's the progress. Including marriage equality, but right up to today.

And so I was talking about, okay, it's great that we have to be the moral country. that's going to save the world on climate. That's fine with me; I think that's great. We have to do it. We can do it. We'll be proud of ourselves, That's all were invented for. But the other thing that's true in the United States of America, our progress is in increasingly being able to accept everyone as full human beings. And going back on that progress on Holocaust Remembrance Day, or any of the other 364 days a year, should never happen.

And so, I view this as a very straightforward question and I think this is actually—look we're in a huge spiritual void. And I always say to people, the number one statistic for me in the United States, three years in a row of declining life expectancy. And why does that matter. Well, I'll tell you what, three of the four reasons are alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide. Deaths of despair.

And the reason people are sad is, I don't think they know what they're on the planet for or what it may be an American stands for, or what we stand for, or what our values are or what we're trying to accomplish together, and this is a perfect example. So for us, go back to being a value-driven country that stands at the forefront of freedom and equality and justice for everybody, that's America. That's who we aspire to be; that's who we have to be.

So, to me— Look, I talk about this all the time. We have got to make America great again for whom? At what time? Our whole goal is actually to make America much better than we've ever been, to actually move forward on this way, and every other way. And so to me I look here. Look, I'm one of the people— I think I might be the only person in this race who says, I'm for reparations. [applause] I'm somebody who believes we move forward by telling the truth about history, repairing it and moving forward together. That's what I'm favor of. [applause]

QUESTION: Sir, my name is Robin. I'm way down here on the floor. Well I'm down here. I'm sorry, I should have stood up but I'm a little older than I used to be so I don't know that I can pop up. Thank you so much for your work and I'm aware that your positions on the things that most of us in this room care so deeply about are strong and they make a lot of sense to me. What intrigued me tonight—and I came out, up from Des Moines to have a chance to talk with you in person—was when you just said a few minutes ago, a few questions ago about you didn't think that the bipartisan working together on certain issues at least worked. And I'm very curious, from your very unique perspective running in the field, what that's about: what have you seen and what your thoughts are.  STEYER: I love that question Robin.  QUESTION: Thank you.  STEYER: Seriously.  QUESTION: I'm a teacher.  STEYER: Well I'm on a grade and I hope you're an easy grader.

STEYER: Look, I know that this country is at its most partisan now since the Civil War. That's statistically true. And you will never hear me ever say one disrespectful thing about Republican voters, because I actually don't feel any disrespect. I think that they voted for Mr. Trump because they thought he was going to drain the swamp, that we had a government that was corrupt, that didn't care about them, hat didn't serve them, and they were mad, and they figured this guy's gonna break it and drain the swamp. And you know what they had a, they made a very bad choice in my mind, but they did it for a very good reason. I mean I'm sitting here saying these corporations have bought the government. It's not that different. It's just, it turns out Mr Trump is the biggest swamp rat that we've ever found. And so right question wrong answer.

What I do think is this. What I was referring to when I was talking about climate and bipartisanship is, it wasn't like we didn't convince Republican voters. If you actually do the research, and there's a guy at Yale who does it very rigorously and has for a couple of decades, you'll see that Republican voters on climate actually know what's going on. They are for clean energy. They realize that in fact the climate's changing is caused by human activity, and they want to stop it. They don't believe it as strongly or as in high percentages as Democrats and independents but they know it. It's not, it's sort of like what I was talking about gun violence. They agree. I think they're in the 70s to move to clean energy in percentages just so you know, just to give a number.

It's not them. It's the elected officials who we never moved. You know because we had dozens of senior CEOs in this country and very senior Republicans talking about what needed to be done and what the upshot would be, and that we'd be richer and healthier and better paid, and we'd have cheaper energy and we grow faster. It wasn't a question about the evidence; it's never been a question about the evidence. As I like to say, we won the argument; we just didn't win the fight. Their attitude is, you know, we need Exxon Mobil to support us. And you know what, we're going to support them. And if that means throwing the American people under the bus, then we're going to do it. And that's exactly what they've been doing, and the Congress has never passed climate legislation in history, ever.

And so that's why you want to declare a state of emergency on day one. Do I want them to pass the, you know, some version, my version of the Green New Deal? Sure I do. And I'm going to push for it as hard as possible, but we can't wait for them. My attitude is we, Mother Nature has a time schedule, and she's not giving extensions on the paper. It's physics. [audience member: she's not an easy grader] No. And so we've got to get going. And we really actually have to get going, not talk about getting going. And that's why I've said, day one state of emergency.

And I'll tell you a story. In World War II, you know, after Pearl Harbor, we hadn't done anything to prepare for the war. We hadn't done anything since World War I; we were way behind in terms of tanks and ships and planes. And so FDR asked the three auto companies. What are you going to give me in terms of production—because they were basically the productive capacity of the country. And they were Americans, they're patriotic Americans; they said we'll give you 20% of our production free, you know go that we need to win the war. And he said, okay, I have a different number in mind. 100%. You're going to give me 100% of your capacity, or I'm going to shut you. Four years won the war. They never produced a passenger car in that time. They did just fine. They weren't hurting. They were busy the whole time building things, but the truth was we couldn't afford to have them do 20% of their production and pretend we weren't in a war for our lives.  And that's right where we are right now.

And we better accept that and deal with it in the real world. And if people don't want to tell the truth about it, and want, and don't want to do the right thing, tough. We're going to do the right thing because we have to, and it's going to make us much better. And actually, we're going to end up doing it as a people together, Republicans and Democrats and independents, and it's actually going to be the thing that pulls us together. Because we have to do it, we're gonna do it, we're going to succeed at doing it, and then we're going to be very proud that we did it and that when the chips were down we did the right thing. [applause]

QUESTION: Hi, Tom. My name is Joseph Lekowski (+). I just want to start by thanking you. I worked for NextGen Climate in Iowa from 2015 to 16 and we won so thank you for that.  STEYER: Were you here in Ames?  QUESTION: Yes I was; our district won.  STEYER: Great.  QUESTION: And second of all, I was speaking with your daughter on the phone a few days ago and I mentioned to her one of the newest CRP practices, CP-43. Iowa used to be a historically tallgrass prairie—80 plus percent. And over time humans have came in and put drainge tiles, tilled it all in, biodiversity, increased chemical use. And now we have people at Iowa State and all these different places that are advocating for increased awareness, because not only do these prairie strips hold the soil in place with roots that are more than a couple inches deep, they go feet, 20 feet plus.  STEYER: Otherwise known as carbon sequestration. QUESTION: Yes, exactly, Tom. And you know grasses sequester more carbon than shrubs which sequester less than trees, so to speak. So we gotta focus on grasses, and as part of your presidency on day one would you declare restoring Iowa's prairies to prevent them from soil erosion, nutrient runoff and biodiversity decline?

STEYER: Well, Joseph let me say this.  I'm going to come to— we're at Iowa State University. This is a land grant college. This is a college has a led in terms of agricultural innovation. I'm very scared about coming to Iowa State University as a guy who runs a farm in Northern California, and telling everybody what to do.

What I promise I will do, and someone in my family will probably move here to do it, is to sit down and talk about how we do this. Do I know that what you're talking about, we have to do? Sure. But am I ever— I'm never going to tell the farmers of Iowa I know more about Iowa than they do. I'm going to want to come to Iowa State University, the land grant college in this state, and sit down and say, these are the problems; we know these are the problems. Now we're going to have to answer these questions in a real way in real time. I promise I will do that.

But I believe, and I wasn't kidding when you asked, how are we going to change our, how are we going to use rural America to help solve the climate problem. This is exactly what you're talking about. You may well be right Joseph. My daughter probably has a strong opinion. I'm sure my wife has a very strong opinion. But I don't know enough, and I would hesitate at any time to come in and order on the first day. Would I come on the first day to sit down to figure out the problem together? I promise I will. Keith was asking me, do I promise I'd have a climate czar. Yes. Will we score things on climate. We have to. Will we come here to this university to solve the problem. You have my word on it. [applause]

MALE VOICE: This is going to be the last question.

QUESTION: Hi, Tom, name's Kevin Lex (+). I appreciate what you said earlier about, you know, mental health, being an issue—suicide, alcoholism, addiction—all issues that have affected me and my family. Kind of coupling that with student debt. You know, we kind of—you know it used to be the dream to go to college and then people come out with tens and thousands of debt and can't pay it for years and years and years and it kind of, you know, they declare bankruptcy and they still have their student debt, you know. Can you speak on that or kind of what a good plan would be on that?

STEYER: I sure can. Look. When we—44 million people have student debt in the United States. Half of them delay getting married or having a kid because of student debt. So you can't get much more personal than getting married or having a kid. So obviously it's a huge issue.

What I've talked about, and college has to be affordable. I'm somebody, we haven't talked about it, but I am a gigantic education bug. My mom was a teacher. I believe that it's not just about creating prosperity for Americans, which it is, that basically a prosperous country has well educated productive people, but it's also about justice. That if we're going to have the American Dream be alive and anyone able to get wherever their talents will take them, then we have to have an education system that makes that possible. And we don't.

So just so you know, we could talk a long time about why universal pre-K is something that's critical. The number one statistic on success in the United States, if you're going to predict success for a person: third grade reading level. So if you think third grade reading level is critical, don't start in the third grade. I mean I've heard from my brother, who's a, an advocate for at risk kids forever, if you don't get them by three it may be too late and if you don't get them by five it's definitely too late. Just so you know. I am getting to college. I'm just saying this is something in my mind where this country is profoundly underinvesting in ourselves. We spend over $700 billion on defense; it's gone up by $100 billion under Mr Trump. We spend $70 billion on education. Think about the relationship and what that means and the trillions of dollars we spent in the Middle East on failed wars that we did not spend on the children of the United States. Just, it's painful actually.

College. I believe, every kid has got to be able to afford college. And here's my package: My package is two years of free community college. 1% interest on your debt. We have debt that chews people up. We are basically loan sharking the young people of America. The average— It's crazy. [applause]

1% debt; you pay it back one time. If you go to work for the country or your community—and that's if you're in the military, which you get this already, or if you're a teacher or social worker or a nurse— at the end of 10 years your debt just gets one. But in the whole point is this, it has to be affordable.

And I can tell you that this is a question of corporations. I've said corporations have bought this government. Before I was running for president this year, I was going door to door in my home state of California for a student borrower's bill of rights. All I was asking for was if somebody calls up, if you're speaking to someone who's your loan server, they have to tell the truth. They have to tell what's in your interest, not so much in their interest, and that California would have an office where you could call to get the facts. Really basic stuff. And don't forget, these are students. They have a loan out because they were trying to be educated and become better citizens, that their parents probably asked them to do since they were two years old.

I'm only talking to Democrats, only Democrats because why would a Republican listen to me anyway. They wouldn't, I promise. And I walked into the head of the committee, the first committee it has to go through, and he said, do you care about this? And I was like, yes, that's why I'm here.
Of course I care about students getting loansharked by banks and loan service companies. And I knew, because his staff had told me, that they had had lobbyists from the banks and the loan servicing companies in that office every single morning for two weeks. And I know that those lobbyists gave money to that person, and if they didn't give it to him because he did something they didn't like, they'd give it to his opponent. So he asked me, do you care about this? And you're thinking do I care about young people getting an education in the United States of America who are not rich? Of course I do, don't you? And they shelved it. We'll eventually get it.

But just think about it; this was a student borrowers' bill of rights just telling the truth on the phone about how these very complicated loans work so kids can make good decisions and not get screwed. That's what we're talking about. And so, in my mind, 1% interest, I think my package works. I think it makes everybody can afford college, and one thing you should know is I'm a gigantic believer in community colleges. I know we're in the city where Iowa State University resides and you should know my uncle, I hate to say this in Ames, was a professor at the University of Iowa for about 45 years and my aunt turned 100 in December of last year in Iowa City and still lives there, so you should know that in terms of full disclosure.

Do we have time for one more question? We'll do two more questions but we're going to make them really quick. Okay we'll get this lady; first this guy and then this lady. And you be fast and I'll be fast.

QUESTION: Okay, this election cycle I've heard a lot about domestic policy but Trump has committed catastrophic damage to our foreign policy whether it is insulting our allies, the abandoning the Kurds, or the tarrifs. What will you do to build trust back in American foreign policy and what will the Tom Steyer doctrine be?

STEYER: So, let me say this. If Mr Trump has done it, I'm opposed to it pretty much in foreign policy. Pretty much down the line.

I mean, he doesn't believe in allies; I believe in allies. He doesn't believe in telling the truth and being a decent partner for other countries; I desperately believe in that. He doesn't believe that we should be value driven; I know we have to be value driven. You know, if you look at an example of something that worked it was President Obama putting together a coalition of countries to negotiate with Iran for them to give up their nuclear ambitions in return for a loosening of economic sanctions. That's what we should be doing. We're value driven with our allies, building a safer world for American citizens, and everybody else. And we're the good guys who stand up for what's right because that is who we should be. That we go around the world— we are not the Empire in the Star Wars movie, which is faceless people who shoot you if you disagree. We're the guys who stand up for freedom, justice, democracy, equality, around the world because that's what's best for us. That's what makes us safest, that's who we are and that's what the United States of America should stand for again. And that is what we're going to stand for.

I mean I'm talking to you guys about what this country is supposed to be. There is a reason to be value driven, which is have reason to walk around this planet on two legs. That's what we're talking about the United States today. He's talking about confrontation, dishonesty, escalation and competition. And I always say to people who ever built something beautiful during a fistfight. Never. So we're going to do it completely differently. We're going to have a completely different role around the world. And we're going to have to go back to leading the world in terms of values, and taking everybody to a safer place, and a more prosperous place, including the people of the United States. He's made us less safe. [applause]

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Hope Bostard [phon.], and I know we've talked a lot about education tonight and I'm a retired administrator and have my—  STEYER: Here in Ames.  QUESTION: Close. Gilbert, so not too far away.  But my real concern is right now we have a Secretary of Education that is against public education. And if we went down the Cabinet we could probably make the same argument across the board. So one question I haven't heard people address is, how will you choose your cabinet members, because I think that's equally important.

STEYER: You know the old saying that personnel are policy. Well personnel are policy, because they're going to be making a lot of decisions and their values are going to come out in those decisions. So you have to be really careful.

So let me say this. I'm a huge believer in diversity. I'm a gigantic believer that the most diverse group of people, it's not just and more just more representative, also makes better decisions. So if you look at our campaign. We're more than 50% women; the campaign manager is a woman. We're more than 50% people of color, we're 30% LGBTQ. I am a gigantic believer that having people with different backgrounds, and this includes diversity in ways that people don't normally talk about and that I didn't just talk about. Someone pointed out to me, and it's a huge point, of the nine Supreme Court justices zero are from rural America. Well guess what, it matters. So when we talk about diversity, it's also about understanding and new ideas.

So I can tell you that the people who I've found who knock me out, in terms of their insight and their values are diverse and I'll give you some examples, maybe not in terms of education because I couldn't in terms of my brother who's been in the education field and my mom. But I can tell you that the person who I think has done the best job in foreign policy. One person. Well first of all I think Barack was brilliant in foreign policy. He was the person who as a state senator from Illinois said no Iraq's mistake. Everyone in Washington DC thought it was a great idea. He didn't think it was a great idea.

The only person who fought against giving unlimited powers in the war on terror to George W. Bush was a black congresswoman from Oakland California named Barbara Lee, who said, you know what, this isn't right. And she had to get police protection, and everybody was like you don't know what you're talking about. Who are you? She was right.

The people who I found who were the best on the environment live in communities where they're fighting for the lives of their constituents, and they know climate. But if you think about the places in Iowa where you can't drink the water, they know for sure you have to be able to drink the water. So as part of it, we're gonna make sure we do environmental justice.

And so when it comes to education, I want the people who are coming at this from a grassrootsy, independent viewpoint and bringing something new. And that's, and it's going to be, I really believe that's when we've got the best answers.

And I'll tell you something. So I obviously loved my mom; everybody I guess loves their mom but I loved my mom. She voted for Shirley Chisholm. And everyone was like Marnie, aren't you cute. You know you voted for the black Congresswoman from Brooklyn; aren't you cute. And she's like, no, she's the best person. And you want to know something. You look back and see Shirley Chisholm was the best person.

So we're gonna get people who aren't part of the elite, who are from outside the conventional thinking, because the conventional thinking hasn't worked, and it's time for us to go back to the grassroots of the United States of America, and get people like you guys who aren't bought into the Washington think to shake things up and go back—

Look, I have this simple attitude about this race. Everyone asks me is it grueling? And I go, no I love this. This has been the best chance for me to realize that actually the cornier we are, the better we are. The more simple and old fashioned we are about American values, the better we are. We don't have to be manipulative and cynical and negative; that's not working. That's what got us here. You know when America is great? When we're idealistic and freedom loving and compassionate and brave. That's who I want. Really. 

And let me say this. I talk about this a lot, and people make this too complicated. You know they talk about the differences in these health care plans and the differences in the Green New Deals and the differences, the policy differences. That is not what's going on here. This is a lot simpler than that. There are people who are cutting taxes on rich people and big corporations, and then taking it out on working people and they've been doing it for 40 years. And they can talk about whatever they want, but that's actually what I see on the ground.

And I was in Iowa, probably two months ago, three months ago talking to some nurses, mental health nurses, unionized workers working for the state of Iowa. And they told me, we don't get time and a half for overtime, because they judge us to be teachers. Okay, nurses aren't teachers. We got a raise; the legislature took it away to build an airport. We get beat up at work by the people in the mental health institutions that they're nurses at and these are 80% women and some of them not big people. And then we get fired if we don't get back to work fast enough and we're hurt. And if we talk about it outside work, we get fired for that.

There is something going on in this country, which is political violence against the people of the United States for money. And that's all this is. And I'm telling you, I am not going to put up with it, because it is wrong. And it is not complicated, and it is not complicated to cut kids' education and not give them a chance. That's political violence to Americans in my opinion. [applause]

[Music starts: "Up Around The Bend" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.]

And I am asking you guys to support me. Don't get me wrong. I am dying to take on this fight. [Music down] I'm not kidding you;that's why I'm running. I am dying to take on this guy and his whole crew, because I think they're cruel. And I think it's time for us to turn it around and I definitely can't do it by myself. This is either we do it together or It ain't happening. So please, give me your support, be in my corner. I know we're down to the brass tacks. We can actually do this and be the country that we dream of being and the people we dream of being.

[Music: "Up Around The Bend" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.]


About 150 people attended.  Steyer spoke for about 14 minutes, then took questions for a bit more than an hour. The 14 questions covered a broad range of topics: national debt, climate change (czar, scoring of bills), climate change and agriculture, impeachment, environmental win, term limits, health care, plastic waste, Holocaust remembrance, bipartisanship, prairie restoration, student debt, foreign policy, and selecting a Cabinet.