Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) sought to explain his reversal on a pledge he made in February to give up his seat in Congress if he ran for president, saying Monday he's running for re-election because he dropped out of the White House race before December.
Swalwell told the It's All Political podcast in February that he would leave his Bay Area seat and commit fully to a White House bid if he did run for president.
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"You have to assure the people you're asking to vote for you that you're not hedging and that you don't have a lifeboat," he said.
He launched his White House bid on April 8 and exited the crowded Democratic field exactly three months later, having made no headway in polling or fundraising while advocating staunch gun control measures. Announcing Monday he would seek a fifth term in his heavily Democratic district, he had a ready response when a reporter noted his earlier pledge.
"I'd said that I wouldn't seek both," Swalwell said. "Our attorneys have told us that you could run for both. That decision wouldn't have to come until December, and that if we were still in it in December, I wouldn't seek both. But, you know, the polls have had their way, so here we are in July. I'm excited, as I said, to continue this work."
Swalwell did not have any equivocations in his initial pledge, simply telling podcast host Joe Garofoli he would "burn the boats as [Hernán] Cortés did."
He'll have a primary challenger for his seat in 2020: Aisha Wahab, the first Afghan-American woman elected to office when she won a Hayward City Council seat last year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Swalwell said his presidential campaign platform addressed issues within his district, like student debt, climate change, and gun violence, and he said he ran a "credible" White House campaign.
"I don't take anything for granted," Swalwell said. "I beat a 40-year incumbent in 2012 who had taken the district for granted, and I hope the district sees that these issues that I was running on nationally were the district's issues."
"What my district will find is a congressman who's reinvigorated and ready to bring these issues front and center," he added. "I believe because we ran a credible campaign, one that is ending today but a credible campaign, I will be able to advocate in an even more effective way for my constituents."