2020 Presidential Candidate Tom Steyer Full Interview with Elise Labott | NowThis


– I’m Elise Labott and
I’m here with Tom Steyer. And this is the US in the World Presidential Candidate Interview Series. We’re sponsored by a broad coalition of nonprofit organizations, and we’re here to ask the candidates their views on the
challenges and opportunities facing the United States
beyond its borders. Mr. Steyer, thanks so much joining us. – Elise, it’s great to be here, and honestly, please call me Tom. – Ok, thank you. Let’s get started. So the United States
is the world’s richest and most powerful nation in the world. What is your view of the
U.S. role in the world today? – Look, I think that the United States has done best on the world stage when we’ve been a value-driven country leading a coalition of democracy and freedom-loving countries
from around the world. That’s when we’ve had
the most accomplishment, that is the place where we shine, and Mr. Trump’s ‘America first’ policy of everything being bilateral, everything being confrontational, and with absolutely no
values attached to it, to me is a strategic and moral
blunder of epic proportions that can’t work and can only make Americans less safe and less prosperous. – I wanna get to your
values-driven ideas in a bit, but what is the U.S. responsibility
to the rest of the world? – The U.S. responsibility is
to stand up for our values and to protect American citizens. And so, I believe that
we’ve fallen into this idea that we’re the world’s policemen, that on a bilateral basis, we will rely on the
strongest military in history to enforce our wishes, and frankly, I think that’s a terrible mistake. I think that it’s time for us to recognize that it has failed, that Iraq has been a failure, that Afghanistan has been a failure, and that that whole way of
responding is disproportionate, it doesn’t reflect our values, and it hasn’t worked for Americans to make us safer or richer. – So how would your budget reflect those priorities and values? If you were president. – Look, as we all know, we spend over $700
billion a year on defense. – [Elise] That’s right. – That dwarfs every other
non-entitlement spending. It’s gone up a hundred billion
dollars under Mr. Trump. So whether you use that number to compare to what we spend on
diplomacy and development, or whether you use it to compare to what the federal government
spends on education, you can see that it’s dramatically bloated compared to every other comparison. – So what does it mean to, you talk about reinvigorating
the State Department, what does that mean? Are you talking about
increasing foreign aid with the decrease in military spending? And how, in that sense,
do you project strength? – Well, let me put it to you this way. I don’t believe that
America’s image in the world is supposed to be the Empire
in the ‘Star Wars’ movie, the country in the world
with the strongest military that has no willingness
or ability to negotiate, no willingness or ability to put together coalitions
of like-minded countries, no willingness or ability to
really even do any analysis. It’s simply: We have the
strongest military in the world, you will do what we want or we will attack you and take you out. – Right, but you know that, you know, any kind of diplomacy is
really the most effective when it’s backed by strength, so if you’re talking
about kind of reducing, you know, that military prowess, how does the U.S. project strength that then will lead countries to
want to engage in diplomacy? – We spend so much more than
any other country on defense. I don’t think there’s a question about who has the strongest
military in the world. That really isn’t the question. – So you’re saying we
don’t have to show it? – The question I would ask you is are we safer when we’re the people with the strongest military that everybody distrusts and hates? Or are we safest when we’re
the good guys in the world who stand up for what’s right, who have allies who actually support us? Look, let’s go back to Iran for a second. After the U.S. killed Mr. Soleimani, ask yourself not whether
we were right or wrong– let’s not even go there yet– ask yourself how many of
our traditional allies came out to support us. Ask, there were countries from around the world condemning us, ok? There are countries who we disagree with who might condemn us
under all circumstances. My question is how many of
our traditional allies came out and said, ‘No, what the
United States did was right’? I can answer you: none. – So you’re talking then about an increase in kind of diplomacy
and development spending to compensate for that
reduction in military defense? – There’s a sense that somehow diplomacy, negotiation values are somehow ‘soft’ and not powerful. Actually, they’re the most
powerful thing in the world. You know, when people think
about how we won the Cold War, did we win the Cold War
by having stronger weapons than the Soviet Union? Or did we win the Cold
War because actually, we were standing for
freedom and prosperity? And then as people
around the world realized that what the Soviet Union stood for was a very mighty military,
empty stores where there was nothing you could buy, long lines, a failed consumer economy, really a system that
didn’t work for people, and they could go, get on their TV or on their phone and see, wow, the United States is
a place I’d like to live. Ask yourself, did we win the Cold War because of Ronald Reagan
spending all that money on the ‘Star Wars’ defense? Or did we win because people
around the world realized, wow, the Soviet Union
is promising something that is absolutely terrible! – I think it was probably–
– That is failing from around the world. – I think it was probably
a combination of both, but let’s move to how would
the U.S. military footprint be different under your administration? The way you are talking clearly
would be much different. – Well, let me put it to you this way. How many trillions of
dollars have we wasted? – How would it be diff– – In Iraq and Afghanistan?
– Ok, so– – And so, when we think about
actually military action, the question is why are we
doing this all by ourselves? Is it all of a sudden we’re
the only country in the world that believes in freedom and democracy? Are we the only country in the world that believes we should be– that, whose citizens are under threat from totalitarian regimes? No, the question is why
we act as if that’s true. – So how would it be different
under you administration? – I would start with values. I would assume that when
we act in the world, we’re acting first and foremost to
protect American citizens– as commander-in-chief,
you have to do that. But the second question you have to ask is if we’re standing up for
rights around the world, where are the other people
who share our values? Where is the coalition of nations that’s willing to stand
up and do the right thing? – Do you think it’s worth
putting U.S. forces at risk when American values are at stake, or the security of our allies, but our direct security is not? – Well, let me put it to you this way. The job of a commander-in-chief,
first and foremost, is to protect the citizens
of the United States. Secondly, we have treaties that say that we will go to support our
allies if they’re attacked. So your question is, under
certain circumstances, we absolutely have to defend our allies. But there is a real question
here about everything– you asked a series of
questions about military power. Why don’t we talk about
actually the biggest international problem in
the world, which is climate? – Let’s talk about that, ok. – Ok, how does the
military play into climate? – How does the military play in climate? – If the military starts
to play into climate, that means we’ve lost. If the word ‘military’ is used in terms of combating climate change, we’ve gotten to a place
that we should never get to. The way we have to win in climate is doing exactly what I’m saying: We have to lead a coalition
of countries together to solve our climate crisis. It’s a common crisis, it cannot be solved by the
United States of America, and we if we don’t have moral leadership, financial leadership,
technological leadership, and commercial leadership,
it can’t happen, and there’s no other
country that can do it. So here is the #1 international issue, where all of our military
spending doesn’t matter. – Ok, well, let’s talk about that. So you spoke about climate diplomacy. How would you use U.S. foreign assistance and diplomacy to confront
the climate change? And would you condition foreign aid on sound climate policies? – Look, I think this is the #1 issue confronting us. I think it’s the #1 issue confronting us internationally. Every decision has to be
made in the context of we have a climate crisis that
we have to solve together. It’s not, they’re not doing us a favor– – Right, so would you con– – They’re doing themselves a favor. – Would you condition foreign
aid on sound climate policies? – Well, let me put it to you this way: I think that’s too simple a question. Do I think that every
decision about foreign aid– – You just- – [Tom] About diplomacy– – You just said every decision– – In the context of climate, yes. But you’re asking me, is there a straightforward quid pro quo? And what I’m saying, every
decision has to be made in that context, but you’re asking me a much simpler question, and
my answer is I don’t know because it’s a broader context
than just a quid pro quo. When you’re thinking about trade policy, that has to be done in
the context of climate. – Sure. – When you’re talking about aid policy, that has to be done in
the context of climate. But you asked me, is there a
straightforward quid pro quo, and I said, I don’t know,
that’s too simple a question. That’s not actually the
way to think about this. – So how do you apply foreign assistance and diplomacy to confront the challenge? – People have to understand that this is our #1 priority, that they have to be coming along with us, but you know, the other question, when you think about climate,
step back for one second. How many countries-and
there were something like 196 countries that are part
of the Paris climate accord. I don’t think any of ’em are
living up to their promises, and if they do, it’s not enough anyway. But my point is if you actually look at the number of countries
who are significant producers of greenhouse gases, it is not
196 countries, I promise you. It’s like 20. So when we really think about climate, we’re gonna have to focus
on those 20 countries and talk to them about what they can do and what we need to do together. – How do you kind of match that enthusiasm for a similar commitment to
helping poorer countries, who contribute the least,
but are the most affected? We’re talking about adaptation, right? I mean, how do you ensure
that climate solutions aren’t just dealing with kind of the rich and the biggest emitters, but also address the
disproportionate impacts of climate? – We are going to have to
be in a different position with regards to countries
around the world and climate. And there’s no question about it. And so, we’re gonna have
to do this as a coalition, and we’re going to have to give people the ability to develop in a way that doesn’t emit greenhouse gases, doesn’t destroy the
climate, leaves us all safe. And so, that’s gonna mean, that’s why I said we have to lead morally, technologically, financially,
and commercially. It’s gonna have to be a broad effort. – I mean, what kinds of
support can the U.S. provide to countries and regions experiencing record levels of internal displacement caused by climate, for instance? – Well, let me put it to you this way. If we get to the place where
the UN warns us we can get to, which is 2 billion climate
refugees around the world, no one has enough money for that. We don’t have enough money for that, neither does anyone else, neither does the world collectively. You’re asking me questions about money. We’re not just talking about money. We’re talking about 2 billion human beings who have to move because they cannot live where they were brought
up because it’s unsafe ’cause the climate has changed. That is a human problem of proportion that is bigger than any
problem in human history. You know, we had 5 million
refugees from Syria, partially based on climate.
– That’s right. – And a gigantic drought that
forced them to the cities and then political issues within the city, particularly around water–
– Yep. – Forced them to move to Europe
and roiled the entire world. Ok, just to be clear, 2 billion is 400 times
as many as 5 million. 5 million roiled the world. We’re talking 400 times
as many people, ok? So when we talk about
climate, my point is this: If we get there, we’re in a
place that no one understands. The whole point is not to get there. And for every one of these countries, it’s not just in our interest, it’s in China’s interest,
it’s in India’s interest, it’s in Brazil’s interest–
– I understand– – It’s in Turkey’s interest.
– I’m trying to understand, you know, once you put
this coalition together, you know, what do you do? I mean, for instance, you
said on your first day that you would, in office, if elected, you would impose a climate emergency, you would declare climate
change a national emergency. – It is. – [Elise] What does that look
like, a national emergency? – Internally, it looks
like the president, me, saying here is the schedule for us to move from fossil fuel-based
electricity generation to clean energy generation. Here is the schedule for us to move away from producing gasoline-powered cars. Here is the schedule for this country to redo, rebuild its buildings so they’re more energy-efficient. Here is the schedule in
terms of how we’re gonna do drilling in the United States or allow export of fossil fuels. It’s a series of rules that are
gonna force private industry to change what they’re
doing fast, but manageably, in a way that will
produce millions of jobs, that is gonna be better
from a health standpoint, specifically environmental justice, specifically cleaned up air and water in Black and brown communities, where this society
concentrates its poisons. But we’re gonna get it going, but the other point is this. Elise, think for one second. You and I are now the State
Department of the United States. We are going to meet with
the leaders of India. – Right. – We have to convince
them: No more coal plants, we’re all moving to clean energy together. We haven’t declared a state of emergency. We’re going along as the
highest producers per capita in the world of greenhouse gases and, over time, the people
who’ve contributed the most to greenhouse gas
emissions in human history. What do we say? Do we have any diplomatic, do we have any moral standing to ask India to change what it’s doing? – Good point. – However, if we’ve declared
a state of emergency and we’re on a schedule, and
we’re doing everything we can, including producing the technology, and we’re willing to support
them in the ways that I said for them to move to clean energy, which is much better for them, now think about the meeting we can have. – I’d like to move on from climate. What are, beyond climate,
what are the most urgent international crises
facing the United States? We’ve discussed multiple
threats that don’t necessarily respond to traditional security policies, including climate change. So let’s talk about how you’d address rising authoritarianism and the use of rapidly advancing technologies. I mean, beyond climate, what are the biggest threats to you? – Our most important international
relationship is China. And it’s very fraught. It’s fraught on a number of vectors. You know, we have huge
trade issues with China. I’ve done business in China for decades. I’ve been to China multiple times; I’ve met with government
officials, big business people; and I have a lot of Chinese friends. Do I know that they steal
our intellectual property? Heck yes! I’ve talked to them about it. I don’t think it, I know it. Do I know that they close
markets to American companies, against the orders of the
World Trade Organization? Course I do! I don’t think it. They’ve
told me how they do it! There’s no question. Shouldn’t we be pushing back on that? 100%! Are we rooting for China to fail? No. China is our most important relationship. We are tied to them. This
world is going like this, and it’s been going like this, and it’s gonna continue to go like that. We cannot separate ourselves from China. We do not want China to fail. We want them to succeed fairly and in a way that helps
us, doesn’t hurt us. – Well, here’s a– – So that’s a change. It’s not, we’re not an enemy. – We’re a frene–you call them a frenemy. – We’re a frenemy.
– Ok. – We have real issues where
we think they’re doing the wrong thing, but we
also depend on each other, and there are many
things, including climate, that we can only solve together. So we can’t isolate them, we can’t have them disappear, we can’t separate ourselves from China. We have to work within the relationship. – Ok, so let’s talk about that. You talked very passionately about a values-driven foreign policy. And, you know, how do you balance that with working with China? At the same time, how do you address their human rights records,
on Uyghurs, for instance? What if they say to you,
sure, I’m willing to make a big landmark deal with
you on climate change, but, you know, give us
a pass on the Uyghurs? – Here’s what I’d say: It’s not a bilateral question. That’s my whole point,
is you’re acting as if it’s China and the United States. That’s exactly the question
you were just asking me– – They’re the two greatest
powers in the world, I mean, it all does–
– But we’re standing– – [Elise] Yes, it’s a– – We’re standing up for rights. The United States is not
the policemen of the world. If we can’t stand
publicly with a coalition of other democracy- and
freedom-loving countries, let me ask you this, why not? Why is it that we’re standing alone? Where are our traditional allies? Where are the other people
who share our values? Where is the coalition that actually has been the basis for American international success for decades? That’s the question I’m asking you, and that’s the question I asked Mr. Trump: Since when did this become
a bilateral confrontation backed up by the American military, as opposed to an international coalition talking about values together? – It does sound, though, that
you’re prioritizing climate a little bit over some
of these other concerns. And that’s, I think some of your critics have said that, you know– – Like which concerns? – Like human rights, like
intellectual property, intellectual property theft– – Intellectual property
theft is a specific issue– – Like some of their military, their military buildup in
the region, for instance. – That we need to go
after very specifically. Look and see what Mr. Trump did about intellectual property
theft was to raise tariffs and then have the Chinese
raise tariffs back on us. It wasn’t a direct approach.
He did it bilaterally. He didn’t have a coalition. He didn’t work through
the existing channels. Yes, and it didn’t work. And it’s not gonna work. So when we think about
intellectual property theft, let’s go after intellectual
property theft, and let’s do it with all the countries that China steals
intellectual property from– we’re not the only country. Why are we not standing up
directly for what’s right? And why is there no coalition
when we talk about democracy? Why is it that the United States can’t pull together a coalition to stand up for the values of freedom? Why is that?
– I get your point, but I think in a lot of these things, the international community
looks for the U.S. to lead in terms of, you know, cracking down on political repression by
authoritarian regimes, killing of journalists
around the world, harassment. – Of course they do, of course they do. But let me say this. One of my good friends
is a Canadian diplomat, which he told me is,
the way it stands now, we have a team. The captain of the team, the
United States of America, has left the field, doesn’t exist. – Ok.
– So what you’re talking about actually doesn’t exist.
– I understand, but what I’m asking you is
if there’s a new captain– – There has to be a new captain. – Ok, if there is a new captain, what’s the new captain’s playbook here? – The new captain’s playbook is exactly what I’m saying,
is we do have to lead, but we have to lead a
coalition of other countries. If you look at what worked in Iran, it was actually a coalition
of our allies going to Iran, a country we don’t agree with, that has been antithetical to
our values for a long time, but where we actually went
and negotiated with them and used diplomacy and economic sanctions to convince them to give
up their nuclear ambitions. And it worked. It was real. It was diplomacy, it was
negotiation, it was coalition, it was values-driven,
it made Americans safer. – Let me ask you about immigration. A lot of the migration is
coming from Central America, as you know, and you’ve
spoken about Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador. How do you deal with the
root causes of migration, like poverty and violence, you’ve said creating
better living conditions in Central America is
connected to decreasing? – Well, let’s go a little further, Elise. You won’t like the answer. There’s a huge climate
problem in Central America. – We’ve gotten to
climate. Let’s talk about – [Tom] But I’m saying, you
can’t go, they’re all connected. – I hear you, I understand.
– And so when you look at why people are leaving, they’re leaving ’cause
they’re fleeing violence, they’re fleeing poverty,
and they’re fleeing climate. And so the question is
what are we gonna do about all of those things? – What are we gonna do? – The answer is we’re going to actually go and help these countries
address their root causes, that in fact, state, if
those countries stabilize, it’s not like people in
Honduras wanna leave their home, they wanna leave the violence, they want a chance to have a
decent life for their families, they wanna, you know, they are
having huge problems there. To the extent we help
them with their problems, people will stay there. – What, if elected, what
steps would you take to align U.S. immigration policy with
American values, as you say? Do you support a path for citizenship for the 11 million
immigrants without permission and others under protected status? – [Tom] Yes. Look, it’s somewhere between
11 and 12 million people. – Ok. – They’ve lived here
an average of 15 years. They pay taxes, their kids go to school, they don’t get benefits. It’s an open secret. This government is not telling the truth. Everybody knows they’re here. That’s a huge number of people. They’re living in the shadows without any legal documentation. I’d give ’em legal status
and a path to citizenship. – What about refugees? The Obama administration, as you know, had an average at about 110,000 refugees. This year, the presidential
determination was lower–or last year, was lowered to 18,000. – Right. – [Elise] How many would you admit? – Look, I think the Obama administration had an attitude towards immigration and towards refugees that was reasonable. Mr. Trump has a problem
with non-white people. He has a problem with
non-white people coming up from our southern border. He has a problem with non-white people coming to the United States, full stop. This isn’t about immigration;
this is about race. And let’s be clear, he is
using immigration as a front for talking about race and the
fact that he’s worried about non-white people, and dislikes them, and wants to stop any more of them from coming to the
United States of America. As I like to say, we don’t have a wall
on the Canadian border. We don’t.
– True. – And so, what’s really going on here? He’s making a racist statement. He said we’re out of room. That’s ridiculous! That is literally one of his many lies. This country has been
built by millions of people for centuries fleeing persecution,
violence, and poverty. And they have come here to work hard, make America stronger, and have a better life. So, in answer to your question, since when did that stop? Did that stop because all of a sudden, Mr. Trump didn’t like
the color of the skin of the people coming here? Yes. So my question is is it not true that America is made stronger
by immigrants coming here? Yes, it is. It has always been true. – Well, I mean–
– Can we control our borders? – I think there’s no doubt.
– Yes, we can. But since when did we get this
idea that torturing children is part of America’s values? It’s not, no part of any
value that I’ve ever heard. Since–literally, since when is committing crimes against humanity an American value? Never. What he’s done is wrong, and it’s racist, and people have to stand up
against it on that basis. We can talk about immigration.
We can control our borders. That’s not what he’s doing. He’s making a political point, and he’s using racism to try
and get himself re-elected, for political reasons, and what he’s doing is deeply
wrong, and he’s a liar. – Let’s move on to gender. How would you ensure that our
foreign and domestic policies not just protect sexual
and reproductive rights here at home, but around the world? If we can expand it a little, I think that issues of women, women of color, LGBTQ, transgender rights, I think it’s part of the whole, you know, panoply of issues that– – Elise, you weren’t the person who was givin’ me a hard time for sayin’ we’re supposed to be value-driven
in our foreign policy. – Ok. I wasn’t giving you a hard time. I don’t give you a hard time. I’m wondering what your policies would be. I mean, what is a policy for
dealing some of these issues under a Steyer administration? – So let’s take a step back. I wear a African belt every day. And I wear it for a reason. Besides the fact that
I think it looks good, which I actually–
– It does. – I know that. But I wear it for a
reason, and that’s this: I was over in Kenya looking
at schools for girls supported by Americans. Girls around the world don’t get educated to the same extent boys do. I mean, very broadly, that’s true. I think that societies decide that the boys are gonna be the
leaders and therefore– – Around the world, that’s a problem. – They get them much–yes, it is. And that’s why I wear the belt. My point is this. You’re asking me what
the policies would be. When girls get educated to
the same extent as boys, everything gets much better. And it’s a soft thing. But actually, it’s an
incredibly powerful thing across virtually every vector of success within those countries and
with their relationship to the United States and the world. So you’re asking me
what would be a policy. From my standpoint, believe it or not, the education of girls around the world is one of the most powerful forces, might be the single most powerful force for good in the 21st century. So you’re asking me about
what are we gonna do to change their internal policies in terms of gender equality
and LGBTQ equality? And I’m telling you that
the education of girls changes everything within those countries, and it’s a pure good. And including, and it’s
probably a better way, it’s a positive way, and it’s probably a better way to achieve all the
positive things you want in the real world by just doing some good, and the ripple effects are dramatic, powerful, and across the board. – You said that if elected, you would create a special envoy position within the State Department to make sure we’re protecting LGBTI rights,
or to make that a priority. What does that look like? – Look, one of the things that we stand for in the United States, and that I personally
take incredibly seriously, is treating human beings
as full human beings. And so, I think it’s really
important for the world to know that the United States
stands with LGBTQ individuals and with that community around the world because if you wanna
find a group of people who are maligned, attacked, in danger, that’s probably on a worldwide basis, the group that suffers the most. And I think it’s important
for the United States to be standing up for the rights
of people around the world in coalition with our allies. And making it clear what we stand for, and that it’s important for the safety and prosperity of Americans, but also for the heart
and soul of Americans, to do the right thing. Here’s a perfect example. – You’ve been a businessman,
a very successful one, but you also talk about, you know, kind of people over profits. – Yep. – Multinational corporations
are using tax havens, as you know, draining
resources from public services, and you know, increasing
inequality at the same time, dodging taxes, if you will. How would you eliminate
these kind of loopholes and remedy them?
– Change the rules. – To allow companies to not
put profit before people. – We have corporations
paying way too little tax. There are plenty of tax loopholes in the United States of America. They didn’t just get there. Somebody pushed for them. It’s clear where we are with the biggest corporations in America paying an average of 11% of tax on their income. That is dramatically too low. – What is your range, do you think? – Look, it should be twice that. At least. Look, there’s something
that’s gone wrong here. These corporations own the government. This is my whole point. There’s a reason we are where we are. We have a corrupt system
where corporations have bought the government, and it’s not trying to
serve the American people. Yes, and you can see it. – Or people around the world. – Excuse me? – Or people around the world. – Well, the government
of the United States is supposed to serve the
people of the United States. We’re value-driven, we have values, we support positive
values around the world. But the government of the United States is supposed to be dealing with the people of the United States. – I understand, but we just
spoke about how, you know, when companies are going overseas, they’re kind of draining resources from some of these countries and then avoiding paying taxes on them. So that’s kind of
creating this whole circle and cycle of inequality
around the world, right? – Yes, but what we’re talking about here is whether United States
companies are paying- and companies in general are paying their fair share of taxes here. Those are the taxes we control. We can control that. And so the question is do we close tax loopholes
for corporations? We have to do that. They are gonna push back very hard. They just got the Republicans to give them the biggest tax windfall in history, at the expense of the American people, that the Republicans
are gonna try to pay for by taking away support for American people in terms of Medicare,
Medicaid, and Social Security. – All right, I have one more question, if you wouldn’t mind a quick lightning round of fun questions. – Fine. – How would your, you know, we talk a lot about these global issues, but, you know, how would
your policies shape the lives of one in 10 people in the world who are living in extreme poverty? – [laughs] It’s so funny. There’s an issue about supporting other countries through development. And the United States has a
long tradition of doing that and we’ll continue to do that. It’s a checkered history, in my opinion. It hasn’t been wildly successful. The question is how–you know, I was just talking to you about things that I think actually will
make a dramatic difference for people around the world. Will we continue to make sure that people don’t starve to death? Of course, we’ll be part of
the coalition of countries that makes sure that people don’t starve to death around the world. Will we, in fact, push to get
women to be better educated? Which changes the life–you know, take a look at the Grameen
Bank in Bangladesh. – Yes. – People know what a success it was. Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Prize. What people don’t realize is that more than 90% of the borrowers
of that microfinancing– – Have paid it back. – Were women.
– Yes. – So when we look around the world and see what we really need to do, why don’t we do the things
that have really worked, which include educating
and supporting women? Why don’t we look at the real issues that are gonna actually devastate at least 2 billion people in the world, which is called climate? When you really look around the world about how we can actually
make substantial changes by just doing the right thing, that’ll have ripple effects
for hundreds of years and make us the good guys, why don’t we do those things? – I’m still, maybe you can help me, I’m still a little
confused as to the balance between the values,
interests, and, you know, being able to do all these
things and building coalitions. I mean, values and
coalitions are not gonna actually get the job done. I mean, a lot of these countries are
saying, what’s in my interest? And that is a necessary–
– We’re gonna have to back it up with mo–you’re saying. – This isn’t always
necessarily values, right? I mean, countries are also
looking at their own interests. – Always. Yeah, so are we. Yes, I understand that. But unless we have a value system and a strategy for what
we’re trying to accomplish, then we’re just randomly behaving. That’s what Mr. Trump does. He doesn’t have a strategy
and he doesn’t have values. My question is when we’re
dealing with a country, what are we trying to accomplish? What are we trying to accomplish? – Well, some people might say– – [Tom] And if we can’t
answer that question– – Do you wanna be right or
do you wanna be effective? And sometimes, your values are right, but it doesn’t help you to
be effective, necessarily. – Let me put it to you this way. When you’re wrong, the
ripple effects go forever. When you behave unethically,
the ripple effects go forever. If you can’t be a trusted
partner who tells the truth, then how do you expect to
accomplish anything in any sphere? So when you say, do you wanna be right or do you wanna be effective,
lemme answer you this way: If you’re not honest,
if you’re not trusted, how are you gonna be
effective in any scheme? If that’s what you’re doing, then every single action, transaction, relationship is a one-off. – I’m just saying that some
countries don’t necessarily, you know, lead with their values. They lead with, like China, for instance, leads with their interests. A lot of countries in the Middle East are not leading with their values. – I know, and why China can never lead. That’s why they can never lead. Because no one will ever trust
them ’cause they shouldn’t, ’cause they’re making it clear they don’t lead with their values. If you ask me, when I say the only person who can lead the world on climate is us, China can never lead the world on climate. – All right. – No one believes when
they’re saying something, they’re saying anything except we’re gonna do what’s right for China. That takes away all of their
leadership and moral authority. The United States of America is an idea about freedom, and justice, and equality, and it makes us much more powerful to actually be that country. That is how we win the hearts and minds of people who we never
specifically address because they can look and see who we are. China does the exact opposite. You can see, if they can
cheat you, they will. Ok, now we may come and
ask you for friendship, why you gonna give it to ’em? – All right, let’s do a
quick, lightning, fun round. ‘Cause I think people wanna get to know you a little bit better. First country you would
visit as president and why. – China ’cause it’s our
most important relationship. – First foreign leader you would
welcome at the White House. [sighs] – Right now, I’d say Angela Merkel. – How come? – Because I believe that she is the person who is the leader of the free world because Donald Trump has
given up on that title. And it’s important to cement
that, that’s who we are. – If you could have dinner
with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be? – Jesus. – Why? – Foundation of thought. The value-driven person who didn’t have a big military budget. – Didn’t, nope! – Didn’t do any of the
things you’re suggesting, but actually because of
standing up for what was right had a ripple effect 2,000 years later. Who even remembers who King Herod was except he was the SOB who
Jesus had to overcome? [laughs] Had a big defense budget,
huge defense budget, got nothing done. – Ok, this is where we might
get into the singing portion. First concert you ever went to. [sighs] – I think the first concert I ever went to was at the Fillmore East. – Ok. – I was probably 11, and
I went to hear a band that my big brother liked called Mountain. – Mountain, I’ve never heard of that. – Exactly my point.
– Mine was Air Supply. – Lemme say that the first one I think anyone would ever heard of is, I went to my cousin’s
wedding in Los Angeles. And it was, I think they
call them the Grateful Dead. – Oh, well, maybe afterwards,
we can sing a few– – And my mother picked–
– I’m a Deadhead a bit, and I know–
– My mother picked me up in a car midway through,
and I was the only person in the entire stadium who wasn’t high. [laughing] – If you were, now is the time to say it. – I know. [laughing] – Favorite band? [sighs] – The person I listen to
the most is probably Aretha. – Ok. – I mean, obviously, she’s
dead and she’s not a band, but if you’re asking me–
– Every time that I wake up, I put on my makeup.
– What I really love. There are so many songs. Did you– there’s a movie about Aretha in 1970. – R-E-S-P-E-C-T. – No, there’s so many songs. – All right, we’ll get to that after. – Greatest gospel singer ever. – What is your favorite thing to cook? – To cook? Listen, probably my favorite meal– – Ok. – Is a medium-well
cheeseburger with a salad. That’s honestly my favorite meal. – It has a bun, though? – Yeah.
– Ok. – Cheeseburger.
– Cheeseburger, ok. Fun fact about you that nobody knows. – I don’t know if this is fun. – Ok. – But I’m trying to climb
all the 14,000-foot mountains in my home state of California. – Ok.
– Of which there are 15, of which I have climbed either 10 or 11. And the last of ’em, about
half of ’em are technical, and of the ones that are left, three-quarters of ’em are technical, so. – Ok.
– You have to stay strong. – Ok, well, stay strong and good luck. Tom Steyer, thanks very
much for joining us. – Thank you, Elise,
thank you for having me. – Thank you.
– Pleasure.

8 Replies to “2020 Presidential Candidate Tom Steyer Full Interview with Elise Labott | NowThis”

  1. I really like this guy, he’s made some valid points and I seriously believe he’s going to win 2020s election. Good luck from the Netherlands!

  2. Trump don't care what race you are in terms of immigration, Trump cares about if you can bring a net positive to US national budget: Are you and your family going to ask more from the Government: A.K.A school, healthcare, food stamp… My uncle's family applied for a Special Talent Immigration status and received the USCIS approval and green care in about four months.

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