The Note: Steyer's entry scrambles 2020 cash dash

PHOTO: Tom Steyer speaks on stage during the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at Moscone Center in San Francisco, June 1, 2019.PlayJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
WATCH Tom Steyer enters 2020 presidential contest

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Is there room in a crowded primary for a billionaire? What about one who almost certainly won't make the next debate?

And is having unlimited funds to spend on one's own behalf indicative of the problems in politics -- or part of the potential solution?

Those are among the big questions Tom Steyer's late entry into the Democratic presidential primary field poses for Democratic voters.

With lines about "banks screwing people on their mortgages," Steyer's campaign launch video sounded at times like something Sen. Elizabeth Warren might have scripted.

PHOTO: Tom Steyer speaks on stage during the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at Moscone Center in San Francisco, June 1, 2019. Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
Tom Steyer speaks on stage during the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at Moscone Center in San Francisco, June 1, 2019.

But his vow to self-fund his campaign is pretty much the opposite of what Warren and other candidates are trying to achieve.

"I'm a bit tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power," Sen. Bernie Sanders said on MSNBC after Steyer's announcement.

Second-quarter fundraising totals have revealed fascinating disparities between cash hauls and polling standing.

Now comes a billionaire who doesn't need small-dollar donations, yet already has an established donor network in place via his impeachment push.

Steyer's candidacy will be a topic of debate, whether or not he makes the stage at the end of this month.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Instead of acknowledging why alleged victims may have been upset, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta unflinchingly stood by his actions and decisions 10 years ago in the controversial plea deal in a sex crimes case involving financier Jeffrey Epstein.

He tweeted on Tuesday: "With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator."

Acosta also tweeted: "The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence."

PHOTO: Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta testifies during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on the Labor Budget for Fiscal Year 2020, on Capitol Hill, April 3, 2019. Al Drago/Getty Images
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta testifies during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on the Labor Budget for Fiscal Year 2020, on Capitol Hill, April 3, 2019.

Democrats will likely continue to call on Acosta to resign.

And while President Donald Trump complimented his cabinet secretary on Tuesday -- and said he felt "very bad" for him -- he also left open the door to take action.

"We'll have to look, we'll have to look at it very carefully," Trump said in the Oval Office.

The fact is, Trump has had to look into controversies involving his cabinet officials many, many times in just 2 1/2 years. Acosta is one of only eight cabinet members who have been with the administration since early 2017.

The TIP with Sasha Pezenik, Johnny Verhovek and Briana Stewart

For all the criticism already levied against Steyer for his billionaire status, he's eager to paint himself as an outsider in a race that's been dominated by political insiders.

His campaign announcement video spent four minutes on a veritable who's-who of infamous faces, moneyed villains deployed as a foil for his staunch stance against corporate corruption. Among them: Bernie Madolf, Donald Trump Jr. and Sr., "Pharma Bro" Martin Shrkeli, Paul Manafort and Epstein. The gang's all there -- figures who put a face on the forces Steyer said he's running to defeat.

His campaign told ABC News that Steyer has used his wealth to fight systemic failure, donated it "to progressive causes" and is using the money to "fight corporations."

But that foil may be flipped as Steyer's progressive competitors take issue with his fortune. It's sure to come up on the debate stage, if Steyer can make it there. His campaign acknowledges the debate stage isn't likely to be the right platform to make his case, but with his considerable resources Steyer is better positioned than most candidates to introduce himself to the American public on a national stage.

ONE MORE THING

This year's third Democratic primary debate will be hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision and is scheduled for Sept. 12 and 13 in Houston, the Democratic National Committee announced Tuesday.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News Chief National Affairs correspondent Tom Llamas, who says the calls for Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta's resignation are growing louder in the wake of the Jeffrey Epstein indictment. Then ABC News Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer recaps arguments over an Obamacare lawsuit Tuesday. And ABC News' James Longman checks in from London amid backlash over leaked cables from the U.K. ambassador to the U.S. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, talks with ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks. https://bit.ly/2FA0CIm

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Donald Trump will deliver remarks on kidney health at 11:10 a.m. in Washington.
  • Vice President Mike Pence travels to California to attend a Trump Victory event in Coalinga, delivers remarks on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in Lemoore and then visits Vandenberg Air Force Base to participate in a launch operations briefing, combined space operations center mission briefing and then speaks to base personnel.
  • Marianne Williamson is in Chester, South Carolina, to hold a leadership breakfast, tour the city and have lunch with Mayor Pro Tem Angela Douglas. She then travels to North Carolina to attend the Charlotte Election Season Kickoff.
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock hosts several meet-and-greet events in Iowa City, Vinton, Waterloo and Marshalltown, Iowa.
  • The League of United Latin American Citizens will host its 90th Annual National Convention and Exposition in Milwaukee. Former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., is scheduled to attend.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the sharpest political analysis every weekday.

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