Issues

White Billionaire Tom Steyer: It’s ‘Critically Important’ for 2020 Field to Be More Diverse

White billionaire Tom Steyer said Tuesday that the 2020 Democratic field needed to be "more diverse," adding that it was important the party reflect its voters.

Steyer reacted defensively to Sen. Cory Booker's (D., N.J.) comments Monday about the importance of diversity to Democratic voters, particularly as it becomes increasingly likely the party's nominee will be white.

"The day after Senator [Kamala] Harris dropped out, I wrote an open letter to the Democratic National Committee and said I believed they should change the criteria for getting onto the debate stage to make it more open, to make sure we had a more diverse group of candidates," Steyer said during an MSNBC appearance. "I think that is important. It's critically important for the Democratic Party to reflect the people of the United States and the people who vote Democratic, and so I asked for it."

Steyer grew even more animated when MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson asked if he would join Michael Bloomberg's pledge to financially support the eventual nominee. Bloomberg, another billionaire in the Democratic race, said he could spend up to $1 billion through November to support the Democratic nominee.

"As you know, I started one of the largest grassroots organizations in the United States, NextGen America. In 2018, NextGen did the largest youth voter mobilization in American history," Steyer said. "We're doing all of that, and we'll continue to do that…. I am 100 percent all in on this."

Steyer will be one of six Democrats, all of them white, on Tuesday night's debate stage in Iowa. The staying power of Steyer and Bloomberg in the 2020 race, owed in large part to their ability to pay for hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising, has outraged more liberal Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.).

"Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand—two women senators who, together, won more than 11.5 million votes in their last elections—have been forced out of this race, while billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have been allowed to buy their way in," Warren wrote in a fundraising email last month.

Booker, who is black, dropped out of the Democratic race on Monday, facing dwindling poll and fundraising numbers. He told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that women in his life expressed concern when Harris, a black woman, dropped out in December.

"This is something we have to understand, that we have to inspire record black and brown turnouts," Booker said.