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Billionaire Tom Steyer bills himself as an "outsider" ready to take on corporate greed

Steyer bills himself an outsider in 2020 run
Billionaire Tom Steyer bills himself an "outsider" ready to take on corporate greed 06:42

In his first national television interview since announcing his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager, says he's the best candidate to take on President Trump in 2020 because he's an "outsider" who is ready to "break the corrupt stranglehold that corporations have on our government" and "return power to the American people."

Speaking to "CBS This Morning" on Thursday, Steyer, a billionaire who will reportedly spend $100 million of his own money on his run, says his candidacy is "not about the money" but rather "trying to retake the government" from a "corporate takeover."

"This is about retaking the democracy from the corrupt corporate power that is determining what happens in Washington, D.C."

In his announcement video posted on social media, Steyer said that he was running because too many Americans feel that the system was rigged against them -- a message that echoes that of Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as Mr. Trump.

"I've been doing this successfully, beating the oil companies, the tobacco companies, closing tax loopholes, from the outside for 10 years, I don't believe that this failed government is going to be reformed from the inside. I believe it's a question of coming from the outside and doing what I've been doing for the last 10 years, going directly to the people," Steyer told CBS. 

The philanthropist formally launched his presidential campaign on Tuesday, months after he announced in January that he would not enter the Democratic presidential primaries. Steyer raised his political profile in recent years by launching a campaign urging members of Congress to impeach President Trump. 

Asked about the change of heart, Steyer clarified: "Actually, what I said was I was not running then."

"I felt at this point I had a responsibility to push the impeachment of Mr. Trump. We had 6 million people who had signed our petition, we were still a lonely voice in the wilderness saying he's the most corrupt president in history, he's unfit for the office, he's dangerous to the American people."

Steyer earlier told CBS News in February that he thought he'd be more effective keeping focused on impeachment than seeking the Oval Office. Despite his run, Steyer, who called the lack of impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump a "failure of government," said he'd continue to fund his efforts in leading an impeachment charge. 

"I believe we've won that argument, I think everyone in D.C. including Republicans realizes that what we were saying for 20 months is now obvious and true," he said. 

While Steyer has missed the deadline to join the upcoming debate at the end of the month, he told CBS that he intends to take the effort to reach the third debate stage in September "very seriously."

Grace Segers contributed to this report. 

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