Tom Steyer & Family Visit Drake
On Thursday, December 6, Sam Steyer, the son of Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, sat down at the local Drake Diner with four Drake students and staffers of the Iowa Caucus Project, Runal Patel, William Follett, Samantha Bayne, and me, Morgan Garner. Sam was young, charming, intelligent, and very open to our questions.
Unlike the November visit of his mother, Kat Taylor, and his father in April, Sam solely focused on why his father was running. “He had a deep intuitive feeling that he should be running. He had insomnia and he was obsessed with this. He really wanted to run,” Sam said.
Will asked a question about what Sam and Steyer thought of Democratic narratives that questioned what another billionaire would add to a crowded and otherwise exceptionally qualified field. Sam responded that he and his family were empathetic of those narratives. He expressed that he believed his father brought more to the table than being a mere businessman because he knew how to mobilize grassroots campaigns from his work with NextGen and Need to Impeach and because he supported a wealth tax and overturning Citizens United.
“[He’s running because] he felt like his vision and frame wasn’t coming through in the first debate,” Sam said. “Like my grandfather, he is genuinely doing this because he believes it is necessary.”
Sam said he knew his father was always interested in government or public service, and it was only chance that the position of president was the government position that urgently needed to be filled.
“President Trump, in my view and in my dad’s view, is unfit to be president and dangerous,” Sam said. “If my dad doesn’t win, we will not only endorse, but also support with all our energy and resources whoever the Democratic nominee is.”
Meeting Sam was unlike all of the other candidate meet and greets that I have attended. Most obviously, he was the youngest family member I’d met and was very relatable due to his age and recent college experience. Second, he was casual, interested in what we had to say, and seemed genuinely fascinated by our experience as political science students in Iowa. Third, it actually felt like Sam was one of our friends and we were sharing a regular meal together.
Sharing meals is said to be one way to win Iowa. If Sam, his mom, and his other three siblings continue to charm their way through diners and cafes across the state, the campaign might turn perception away from being that of just another billionaire.