High-Fives and Hugs from Tom Steyer

Posted: January 14, 2020 | By: Emma Bertrand Tagged: Blog

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa—On January 13, presidential candidate Tom Steyer made an appearance at a house party hosted by his supporters. I was lucky enough to have a front-row seat to hear Steyer’s remarks. Steyer gave a very brief, three-minute introduction before transitioning to answering questions from audience members. One guest, who stood next to me in the selfie line after the event, remarked that he liked that Steyer spent more time on questions than on giving a stump speech.

Of course, the first thing Steyer was asked to address was his status as a billionaire. Steyer and his supporters reiterated that his long history of philanthropy should be proof enough of his willingness to work for the people. I, along with many others in attendance, agreed that Steyer had an impressive past as a philanthropist. Steyer, who is known for his aggressive stance on climate change, was asked many questions pertaining to the issue. A young girl in an adorable shirt that read, “future CNN correspondent” asked Steyer if he would plant more trees. To which Steyer responded, “we are going to plant one trillion trees, and we are going to pay people to plant them.” He then high-fived the young girl.

Another woman teared up while asking Steyer what he would do for people of color as president. The woman said that she was a Senator Cory Booker supporter, and was devastated by his announcement earlier in the day to suspend his campaign. Before answering her question, Steyer offered her a hug to console her. He once again referred to his history of philanthropy as proof that he would fight for people of color. In fact, Steyer brought up previous philanthropic ventures in the majority of his answers. It seemed that Steyer was fond of answering the question, “what will you do,” by reminding people of what he has already done.

When the question and answer session ended, attendees were encouraged to line up for photos with the candidate. Before snapping a picture together, Steyer took some time to talk to me. He asked for my name and age and thanked me for attending. I used this time to thank Steyer for his positive comments about teachers, and his commitment to raising teachers’ salaries. As a future educator myself, I enjoy positive comments about the field of education no matter which candidate they come from. He thanked me for wanting to become an educator and shared with me his respect for the profession. Steyer also mentioned that his mother was a public school teacher. I received a high five, and we took our photo.