DES MOINES, Iowa—California billionaire and activist Tom Steyer said his political agenda is centered on the idea of undoing the Reagan coalition and legacy, making those remarks just hours before he was set to make a "major announcement" regarding his political future as rumors continue to build that he is preparing for a presidential run.
"I'm not just some partisan, blind partisan," he said shortly after introductory small talk.
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"We are trying to undo the game plan that Ronald Reagan put forward in 1980," he added, which was followed by a slow crescendo of applause from the small gathering with the Asian and Latino Coalition PAC.
"And that game plan on the surface was: capitalism is good, and just; markets are fair; unions are bad; personal responsibility determines everything," he continued. "And what did that mean in practice? That's the genial, positive face of that game plan. Let's talk about what that means in practice."
"It means polluting is OK. It means you have to pay for tax cuts by cutting education. You have to cut health care. You have to allow corporations to pollute as much as they want and make as much as they want. It means you push really hard for guns. You push really hard against abortion. And you push really hard against non-white immigrants."
"There's some other things you do," Steyer said. "You try and make sure you suppress the vote in youth and minority communities because you figure they're not gonna vote for you."
Reagan was elected in two landslides ushering in a new era for Republicans, and according to Gallup, the 40th president's average approval rating through his eight years in office was just shy of 53 percent, better than his contemporaries Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
However, the former president has gained even more esteem in the eyes of Americans as time has worn on.
According to Gallup, "when Americans were asked in 2002 to state whether they approved or disapproved of the way Reagan handled his presidency, retrospectively, 73 [percent] approved."
The Reagan discussion was also a sharpening of rhetoric and a more focused criticism of the right compared to earlier town hall events Steyer has given in the last two months as he promotes his "5 Rights" agenda. One of those talks came in South Carolina, another key state in the caucus and primary calendar.