'Powerhouse Politics': Tom Steyer

Liberal activist authors petition to impeach Trump.
21:49 | 05/14/18

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Transcript for 'Powerhouse Politics': Tom Steyer
Well welcome ABC news powerhouse politics podcasts and live stream. I am ABC news chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl and on ABC news political director Rick Klein and our guest today is billionaire hedge fund manager. Tom Starr liberal activists founder of need to impeach. So let me start right there you're putting heck of a lot of money into this in these mid term elections should the impeachment. Of Donald Trump be a central issue in. This campaign. I'll be we are. Next gen Americas the organization founded as a grassroots organization. We're on the ground organizing more people under the age of 35 and and you and health the United States of America. That's something we've been doing for years we've been on the ground. Being a bunch of states for five years and some new ones to. But that is an effort that goes on its own and is very focused on them in terms of the need to impeach campaign. Which is a drive to get people to sign up. To acknowledge that we have a reckless dangerous. And lawless president is separate from that. But we do feel that the question of mr. trunks recklessness and lawless lawlessness is being number one issue in the United States of America so of course. Every candidate is going to hack who's going to have to reflect their feelings about his presidency he is and his right to stay in office. And you believe that if the Democrats take over the house. Impeachment should be if not the very top of the agenda very high. Linksys. I think that regardless. Of who's in charge of the house and sent. Mr. trump has more than earned the right to be impeached and removed from office where candidates but do you think candidates can it's who you wanna support. Where you and you and you put what's forty million dollars so far in the campaign I'm review putting I think if you look at our grassroots effort what we've said it is. Where in 33. Congressional districts in eleven states and we've said we'll spend at least thirty million dollars. And you want those candidates you help win. Two. Lead the charge to impeach will throw actually I think you've got this wrong. Because what we are as a grassroots organization. About 75% of democratic voters want this president to be impeached like figure if you're running as a Democrat. And the number one issue of the day. You should at least tell -- the people who you expect to vote for you why you agree with them and why it's important or why you disagree with them and they have. And number one issue that he referred to as impeaching opera. I think regardless of how you look at this election this is going to be largely a referendum on this administration. And we believe that that referendum should be saying that he should be removed from office but no matter what we do we say the American people are going to be talking. Whether you're running for senate or governor or congress or state legislature people are gonna wanna know where you stand in terms of this president's extreme reckless project. You watching these primaries develop with an interest and his enormous step right labs. Have you seen enormous democratic enthusiasm in some cases maybe too much enthusiasm offer for Democrats own good but it it'll of these places where it's being played. Pennsylvania eighteen a couple of months ago in the in the special election is a good example just last week in West Virginia there is that a new democratic candidate. A down in the southern part of the state who says he voted for Donald Trump he says he was mistake now we vote form. How you captured from voters and capture those sentiments that you need with a two taxi batch of congressional district. If you're out there saying we need to impeach when obviously he won images of a majority congressional districts. I think the question in 2016. And the question in 2018 in America is going to be who shows up to vote. The number one party in the United States of America is the people who choose not to go to the polls. So to a very large extent they are saying what the institutional parties have to say. Doesn't appeal to me. So the question is going to be. How are they going to be included our democracy I was saying we organize people under thirty spots that were the biggest group in the United States doing that. They voted half the rate of other Americans and they're the largest age cohort in the United States so the real question is. If they show up and vote is that really going to change the electorate if people understand the politics is really important. That their voice and their vote really count we have a different United States and our reaction is the answer is more democracy. We want the people's voice to be heard more loudly and we want to fight back against the elites who want to keep the power for themselves. You don't wanna see hedging in the race as you want to seek clarity on among candidates that the democratic candidates on that question. Well if you talk to people under thirty and asking them what they think they'll say. Establishment politics is meaningless to me neither party is talking about the relations. And if you look at the Parkland students what they're saying is to the adults. Do your job protect us from getting killed. I think that is a really powerful American voice saying to the to the establishment. You guys you're not talking about the real issues I don't think we get people who pols like saying nothing. I think we inspire people in our democracy by telling the truth and putting people first so your group. Next and got a lot of attention over the weekend for an online ad not a not a big advertising Malick the impeachment ads but. This one was a Mother's Day themed ad and street scene of the few times a. Since since it surfaced over the weekend but we watch over Beers. And I started noticing some issues with and keeping in middle school. This ceiling started outs mom a few dollars here and there not from me unplanned nap but from less fortunate kids. He is never afraid to talk quicker. Things never really worked out for summaries. I'm worried when he went to college. And he came home moms and I guess he never really learned to do his own laundry. It was an until I met his college buddies. And I really stick might be tuning. New mother can catch the signs are and this Mother's Day talk to your child about the GP. I wish night. OK so clearly clearly it is a lighthearted. Attempts here it says its top quality but that is in serious imagery to use Charlottesville the Tiki torches white supremacists and equating them with the Republican Party. You feel comfortable with that message the help tell younger voters Republicans are neo Nazis white supremacists. If you look what the Republican Party has been doing. And if you look at what people said in the elections last year who were running for state office for governor. We saw an incredible amount of overt racists. You saw the president refuse. To denounce the racist and Charlottesville. You've seen it consistent. Systematic attempt by the Republican Party to take the franchise away from African Americans. So my point would be yes that was a joke. And it was supposed to be funny and action it is pretty funny. But dictate have a party say oh my gosh your acquainting us with racist policies. They're following a racist policies if they don't wanna be called racist tell them to stop being racist. Because the fact that matters I see them trying to get on their high horse and an ounce on my gosh that isn't who we are actually that they are putting up with it they're supporting it. They're courting and if you listen to the Ed Gillespie. They were overtly racist and it wasn't just had left. People have gone there in the Republican Party including the president of the United States when they start denouncing trumps racist remarks. Then they can say it won't work but as a matter of fact that if a party which has courted racism this thing Condit it's perfect it's just like the parking thing. We send your condolences we give your thoughts and prayers not good enough. Kabul is. The country even to overtake support Republicans. You're saying that half the country's essentially neo Nazi I'm you don't and that the first. All global look at that and it's offensive on your ignorant or you're comparing Republicans have been a Republican to the Tiki torch after torch carrying. Protesters. Who followed. Republican. Campaign in Virginia it was overtly racist they ran campaign ads that were Willie Horton type ads that were straight appeals to racism. So in fact everybody who sits there and says always just these people. In Charlottesville it was just the president saying they're good people on both sides I think there's an attempt here to gloss over what's going on which there is an undercurrent of racism. To an awful lot of their agenda. And to sit there and then try and say oh no that isn't really what's going on when you see what's going on. There's no question that if they wanna come clean and they would have to change an awful lot of it. Policy and unify this country that you got. The people you're supporting the money you're putting it in the campaign essentially portraying. Your opponents you know as as if not neo Nazis as as as as supervisors to neo Nazis on the other side. You have all of the you know they did that the scapegoating of the left of of immigrants and we. This is this is this is profoundly disturbing to our country is that you're putting millions of dollars tens and hundreds of dollars this campaign. Is a theory want to exploit your me and that's this you're saying when did the lights start when we punch back. To say so he seemed act like they act so what we're doing is telling the truth. Re if you look at it a little room. If you go through. And take a look issue by issue. You'll see fit Democrats for the reason that you said have not been telling the truth to trying exculpate an excuse Republican behavior. And that if you actually call out news happened at the white house correspondents' dinner if you actually call it out straightforwardly. Every goes like oh my gosh you are sold rude. But he's so out of downs O Michael Norton says oh by the way by acquiescing to that you're absolutely out of bounds so bringing up the truth. He's considered out of bounds doing something distinctly. Un American and unpatriotic but that's okay we can normalize that but if you bring it up. Even in a funny way it's a which Michelle wolf did it's like oh my gosh you're kidding me you said that in public that so route why actually there are. I would argue calling half the country leaders suggest we didn't think we out of the country is studio and arts is not funny I mean it's on its vomit did you know it and it was funny I I I I didn't think that was. Let me say this. And you don't always thought the joking about John McCain and he won't be around congress on. I don't don't in his office particularly on I will say this if you have a party. Pursues. Paul set of policies that have an undercurrent of racism if you have candidates including the head of your party who say overtly racist things repeatedly. If you never call out the old right but actually court them that I think in fact you deserve that. Do you think that president come is doing anything right he's had a decent couple in Newsweek's you look at the economy's doing very well as approval ratings are up a bit. Potential breakthrough in North Korea I think we all cheered the release of those prisoners. Last week that he did he greeted at Andrews air force bases the president. The president move in the right direction. No I don't think it since moving in the right direction. I think that from my standpoint if you talk long talk for 12 about economics. I think that you see of their you low unemployment rate. Which is continued to move down book which was when Democrats took over in 2009 when present Obama took office was at its highest point I think. Since the great depression and where basically we had eight years of moving down and we've got another year and a little bit. They're continuing to move down. But I think if you look at the signature Republican economic. Policy. It would be the tax bill and I think that the tax bill will turn out to be a 100%. Unmitigated disaster for tonight. Do you think the president has it in foreign policy expert on that for second talked about the economy and foreign policy to see that seat to see what happened with with that the hostages. He brought home last week from North Korea the possibility of a sit down denuclearization. Of the Korean Peninsula. I think that is a good outcome I agree review and that wreck but I think if you look at our foreign policy engine. And look at where we've gone in he big framework what we've really done is to repudiate. All of our existing. Relationships. And partnerships. And we've moved to say it explicitly a miracle first idea which is we don't have any partners. We don't cooperate with any when we don't lead the free world we bully people in doing what we've walked. And Timmy in the long run to I think that that is the way and up with the kind of progress. It is important for our country. And puts us in the role which I believe we should have a beating the leaders of the free world which are definitely not now. No I think that's a disaster in state. But if it works if there is a deal with and that's a huge oh concede that but if he actually pulls off a deal in the north Koreans agree to give up their nuclear weapons. You prepared to stand up and applaud give the president credit. If something good happens in North Korea I would say that something good happens in Korea. I agree with Europe. But I'm not gonna take away the entire context where basically we walked out of the Paris accords so that doesn't count anymore. That is a huge dean Hornish finished a whole series of answers them but it really give the president credit for that one thing yes. But my point is if you look at the whole context of where we are. That one thing while good doesn't come close to making up for what we're doing rest of the world. And it's. You know we. I would say to you. Who are the allies that we have how are we doing across the globe in terms of getting along with people and moving our agenda forward and moving the our ideals for. What do what do you say it had prominent Democrats. There say that we you're doing is counterproductive. That the idea of running. Effectively on impeaching the president of the United States. He's a disastrous message for for Democrats it's not a positive message on unifying message it what it's one instantly alienates. You know good chunk of the country anybody who voted for Donald trawl. And even some media didn't vote for cultural if essentially trying to nullified election Democrats say that's simply a losing message greets don't. Prominent Democrats don't even want the word impeachment uttered during this campaign. Yes Nancy Pelosi she might human argued that is just not not the message that Democrats. Jihad that you and you can say that she might yet so I would say exactly when it's accurate which is this. Are we going to tell the truth the American people were re going to try and be. Manipulative and keep the truth from our we actually going to do what if the writers of the constitution founders of our country. Gave us to do if we have a reckless and lawless president. Or are we gonna try and slip it under the rug and pretend it's not happening just the way the Parkland could say look I look back NIC every. Important movement in the United States has had to push back from Washington DC that said look we don't even want to talk about. We'll get to civil rights. We'll get to it but you. Very very awkward loss in mid terms because the American people are not prepared hear the truth that's what we need to do is bury it. Forget the truth forget patriotism forget our ideals. What we're talking about is how recent win in terms so you're saying Democrats like Nancy plus hear me deceptive to the American people. When they don't talk about impeachment because that's what they're continue to Democrats or going to nothing to do we're talking that the people. We're go and we are you hiding the real about five and half million Americans who signed up. To say we need us we're trying to go out to people across the country and have face to face conversations about the biggest issue said. Yeah I told the biggest. Party in the United States as the party people who choose not to vote from my standpoint the question is if we don't have people showing up. That's really happen 2016. That's really what happened in 2014. He's most Americans and a huge number of Democrats stayed home historic levels because they didn't feel that the tree they were hearing the truth. Didn't think people were addressing these issues. Impacted their families and them on day to day basis and you're telling me that the way to get through that is to not tell the truth really. That's impressive art you know. So liquidity. It's just it's just fascinating it you've talked to some of the president's. Far right supporters and he may seem argument Europe which is Democrats really want to impeach the president the way that we can rally our case. Is by telling people. Can't waste a common nullified election. You're a lot in common with some. Terms of a tactics. Of what's wrong. Its interest because it's it's what Steve was trying to do with you populist. He was trying to speak directly to people. And he was attacking his party's veered directly and the only thing we're trying to do is Rotterdam. Put the power in the hands of the American people because we believe the broadest democracy is the answer to our problems. And we believe that means engaging people on the real issues and talking to about. Why is it. When I went on last week I asked someone what that you. The brunt through your mind in repairs mental health. And an accident okay is that another word for the opium problem that exists in. Note department. Exit the fact we have a law that's coming back from Italy's post. You know that's part. But basically what worsening. We are not answering request that Americans about what is the most how are we going to have an America that is hopeful and optimistic and just. And prosperous going port in the continue. The American experiment inclusive and positive way so when you get up in the morning you think I know we're trying to do. And it's good and I'm excited about it and I understand. Where I think that is not happening. And that is the question and you don't get there by not to treatment. Quick question and hosted a California primaries there a couple of weeks and Democrats have this really interesting phenomena going on where. Democrats we keep themselves off some of some of the general election ballots because there's so many democratic candidates cannibalizing each other's votes. You could lead to a 34 seats on the table very winnable seats. Is there anything that that you and your group or prepare to do in these next couple weeks to get that message out the democratic voters went for at least one gets on the ballot there will. I think it's important for people who aren't from California to understand our system is different from some other licensing rights it reduces the top two primary. Candidates. Reverend Otis art regardless of party and amateur every knows that his top two primary system. And since so many Democrats have signed up because of the enthusiasm it's possible that they would spread. On the job you know pretty good majority of the vote amongst themselves but no one of them would have more than say two Republican who's who split a much smaller. Part of the vote and went on the ten count complaint. And from art form I think what you extremely unpleasant. What we and we thought about this of course you know this is not news what we're trying to do as much as possible he is too. Getting information to voters. About the different candidates hold forums that they concede. That it can really get a chance to get as much information make good choices we're really trying to put the ball. In the hands of voters and let them know. If people have done what they stand for today committing this. You know I think there's a lot of talk about different ways to try to force a decision and that's actually not who we are we really are if you look at our. Need to be it's a petition drive organized the voice of beer can. All right we've got to let you go before we say goodbye you run for present. What I have said I'm gonna say right now and continues we 100%. Focus on November 6 when he. We have as a result so let me finish let me finish the audience we have no idea what can happen and in. The mid term elections this year and we're going to be completely different position as a country that Democrats are convenient completely different position as part. I have no idea. What is going to be and neither has any pollster and neither do you guys as Smart as you wore you can't richt knows what but I can't tell. Your Russian right. Tom start next in thank you very much for joining us here on. Powerhouse politics pleasure all the time we have for now we.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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