Andrew Yang says "Yangmentum" is surging in key states like New Hampshire and Iowa

Andrew Yang on plan in New Hampshire and Iowa

Last Updated Sep 5, 2019 2:37 PM EDT

While some political watchers have cast entrepreneur Andrew Yang as a presidential longshot, the 2020 contender says the growing support of his "Yang Gang" is surging in key states like New Hampshire and Iowa, where the nation's first primary and caucus are held. 

"What do you think of Yangmentum?" CBS This Morning co-host Anthony Mason asked of Yang's rise in the polls. 

"I love it. You know, it — it's very catchy. We should make Yangmentum a thing. We've certainly made Yang Gang a thing," he said. "You can see there's an upward trajectory, and then you can imagine what the next headlines will say. Where it's like, now it's, 'How's Andrew Yang on the debate stage when senators and governors didn't make it?' And then after that it's, 'How is he top five?' And then they just-- it's going to continue."

In order to compete with the likes of Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, Yang says he's visited New Hampshire and Iowa 17 times each, kicking off his ground game much earlier than some of his top-tier competitors. 

"Some of the people that I met there I met a year and a half ago, and they — for them, it's so exciting to see our campaign go from the guy no one's ever heard of, and just shows up in New Hampshire one day. To now, sixth in the polls. Same thing in Iowa," he said. 

Yang said the benefit of Iowa's caucus system is that voters there "reward passion and activism."

"It's not just go and pull a ballot. You have to want to debate your neighbors, and really make a case. And that's very much aligned with-- people that are attracted to this campaign. We get a lot of passion and activism in the Yang Gang," he said. 

It's that attraction that led Yang to the upcoming fall debates after surpassing former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke in recent Iowa polling.  Yang crossed the second of two debate thresholds last month when he polled at 2 percent in a Monmouth University poll. 

As for the Granite State, Yang says his personal ties alone won't do the trick for wooing voters. 

"I actually went to high school in New Hampshire. Not that that probably had anything to do with my support," he said. "I think that we need to exceed expectations. And I'm certain we will do just that, because the press has set relatively low expectations for us at every level."

Asked if he would pursue a third party candidacy should plans for the Democratic nomination fall through, Yang was adamant against handing Donald Trump another term. 

"My job is to help get Donald Trump out of office. And I would do nothing that would — increase the odds of him sticking around. And I think a third party candidacy would do just that," he said. 

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    Emily Tillett is the digital producer at "Face the Nation"