Andrew Yang talks rising tension in Iran, again calling the killing of Soleimani a 'mistake'

Yang: The commander-in-chief needs "the right temperament judgement and values."

January 8, 2020, 1:12 PM

Businessman Andrew Yang, and his wife Evelyn, joined ABC's "The View" Wednesday, his third guest appearance as a presidential candidate, to address the rising tension in Iran and the recent killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, which he has repeatedly called a "mistake."

"The View" co-host Abby Huntsman asked Yang how he would have handled relations with Iran and if he would have authored the attack that killed Soleimani.

"I would not have, no. I think it was a mistake," Yang said. "The story seems to be that a number of solutions were represented to President [Donald] Trump and he chose the most dramatic option that even the military leaders would never have expected him in some way."

Yang said he believes the American people are looking for a commander-in-chief with "the right temperament, judgment and values."

"I would push the power to declare war back to Congress where it belongs in our constitution," he told the hosts, echoing recent efforts by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to debate and vote on updates to the war powers resolution. While Congress does still have the constitutional power to “declare” war, it hasn’t taken a vote to do so since World War II.

According to the 1973 War Powers Act, the president must notify Congress within 48 hours of any armed conflict and is required to get congressional approval for any involvement beyond 60 days, but Congress has often been reticent to vote on such involvement.

Yang stands as one of the top several remaining candidates in the race less than a month before the first votes will be cast in the Iowa caucuses -- even outlasting several former and current lawmakers.

He and his wife have been campaigning together, openly speaking about the challenge of raising a son with special needs -- as one of their sons is autistic. The couple have hosted several campaign events focused on how they’d support other families who have children with special needs.

The entrepreneur is still three polls away from qualifying for the January Democratic debate, prompting his campaign in late December to write Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez a letter, urging the DNC to commission additional early state polls in order to help diversify the debate stage.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang appears on ABC's "The View," Jan. 8, 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang appears on ABC's "The View," Jan. 8, 2020.
Paula Lobo/ABC

Yang’s request was denied, but in that letter he stated that he agreed that the debate thresholds "should consistently be raised as we get closer to Caucus day in Iowa."

This seemed to contradict his stance from a couple weeks earlier when he signed on to a letter written by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker asking the DNC to revert the debate qualification criteria to the less stringent ones used in the earlier debates.

When pressed by ABC News about if he had contradicted himself, he clarified by saying he had hoped that the qualifications had not been raised" for the upcoming January debate, "in part so that Cory would have a better shot at qualifying."

But even as the candidate has plateaued in the polls, his fundraising totals have continued to grow each quarter. Yang conceded that the reason his poll numbers have struggled to gain traction, is because he has yet to introduce his campaign to more voters.

"Well I’m new to most Americans and as soon as people find out more about me and my vision for the country, how we need to humanize our economy and make it work for us and our families, then we see consistent increases in support,” he told "The View" co-host Sunny Hostin.

Yang told ABC News he feels confident he’ll make the debate stage, citing "the electricity" in his crowds.

Multiple campaign events in recent days have had to be spaced out between different venues to accommodate the growing interest. During one event in New Hampshire last week, his campaign moved a throng of supporters outside in 30 degree temperatures so Yang could address everyone.

The rise in interest also comes as Yang has been distinguishing himself from other candidates.

His signature universal basic income policy, the "Freedom Dividend," would give $1000 a month to every American citizen over the age of 18 who opts into the program. This approach has drawn countless supporters to his campaign, but he admittedly has yet to draw in support from a key Democratic voter block: African-Americans.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and his wife Evelyn Yang appear on ABC's "The View," Jan. 8, 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and his wife Evelyn Yang appear on ABC's "The View," Jan. 8, 2020.
Paula Lobo/ABC

"We have to make the economy work for us, for you, for your families and the best way to do that is to put money directly into your hands,” he said as he looked straight into the camera. "Dr. [Martin Luther King, Jr.] championed the guaranteed minimum income for all Americans and that is exactly what I’m fighting for.”

Unlike Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has proposed imposing a wealth tax on wealthy individuals, he argued, his money would go straight into the hands of Americans through his "Freedom Dividend."

Yang also proposed paying for his dividend plan by imposing a Value Added Tax on big corporations such as Amazon.

And after former Vice President Joe Biden suggested that coal miners could learn how to code, Yang said he disagreed.

"Joe and I get along very well but he and I disagree fundamentally on this. Where the skills necessary to be a coal miner and the skills necessary to be a coder are very, very different," he said. "And generalizing and saying that anyone can do one can do another is very counterproductive. It's not indicative of reality."

But his campaign continues to struggle with some more logical aspects.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang appears on ABC's "The View," Jan. 8, 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang appears on ABC's "The View," Jan. 8, 2020.
Paula Lobo/ABC

In the past week, his campaign said a "bureaucratic paperwork issue" caused their application for the Ohio ballot to be denied, now forcing them to launch a write-in campaign in order to appear on the state's ballot.

The 14-page document, pulled from Ohio's Portage County, shows a number of missing components in the paperwork filed by Mr. Yang's campaign, and calls attention to the fact that the Yang campaign is not run by traditional political operatives and staff.

"We appreciate the Ohio Secretary of State’s handling of this matter and respecting the democratic process," Yang’s National Press Secretary S.Y. Lee said in a statement. "We are thrilled that Andrew Yang will be able to engage with Ohio voters in a meaningful way."

Yang has said he’d be open to being a VP pick for any of his fellow candidates and reiterated that he’d be open to serving the American people in any capacity, even if it’s not as president.

"I’m here to help solve the problems that affect us all that we are leaving for our kids," Yang said. "If that’s as president, great. If that’s in some other capacity, also great -- because we all need to do more to help build the country."

ABC News' John Parkinson and Steff Thomas contributed to this report.