On Tuesday, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) told MSNBC he is considering a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. While he has long teased the possibility of his candidacy, the congressman says he will make a decision by the end of the month. Swalwell is notorious for leading the Democrats on the Trump-Russia collusion narrative, even pressing attacks he could not confirm. He said the only reason he might not run for president is “child care” for his son.
MSNBC’s Morning Joe asked about the “rumor” that Swalwell is running for president.
“I’m getting close. I’ll make a decision by the end of this month,” the congressman said.
Swalwell said he would run for president “because I have lived a life where I saw hard work paid off for my parents so I could be the first in my family to go to college. I have two kids under two. I’m paying off just under $100,000 of student loan debt. I know why people work hard, I know what they expect it to add up to, but when I look in different neighborhoods and different floors of different buildings, I see that promise of America not reaching all Americans.”
“I believe I’m a generational candidate that can bring optimism to a city, a place that’s very pessimistic and I have experience,” he said. “In the last seven years particularly the last few on Intelligence Committee, our democracy has been on the ropes. I know who our threats are from the outside. I know who is attacking the rule of law on the inside and I’ll stand firmly and defend it.”
That “experience” centers on the investigation into whether the Donald Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election. This experience is only central to “democracy” to people who demonize President Trump.
As for why he might not run for president, Swalwell said, “Childcare.” Co-host Willie Geist joked, “Is there an app for that?”
As for his platform, the congressman actually did not focus on Trump-Russia. Instead, he emphasized healthcare innovation. “I support coverage for all, which would be a public option that would drive down the pressure on the private insurers,” he said. “But I hope we don’t miss the opportunity to do what I think we do best as a country: Find the unfindable, solve the unsolvable, and cure the incurable.”
“I would take a trillion dollars over ten years, the trillion dollar tax cut that the president gave to the wealthiest Americans, a trillion dollars over ten years to invest in genomics, data therapies, data sharing, targeted therapies, so you can look every ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s patient in the eye and say, ‘We have given you the best shot in a lifetime to find a cure,'” Swalwell said.
He insisted that he would not end private health insurance, but supported a public option.
On the topic of 2020, Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough started the interview by asking Swalwell if 2020 Democrats should have debates on Fox News.
“I want to start with a fascinating clip I saw from Bill Maher’s show this week where he was scolding the Democrats for refusing to have the presidential debate on Fox News and talked about the Resistance,” Scarborough said. “Republicans will come on his show despite knowing everybody will root against them except for two staff members they bring along.”
Maher reportedly praised Swalwell as “the exception to the rule” because the Democrat goes on Fox News. “Can you talk about that a little bit more, and how Democrats need do a better job in 2020, getting outside of the bubble with their message?” Scarborough asked.
“Maher’s right, Joe,” Swalwell replied. “We can’t ignore such a large audience.”
The possible 2020 candidate said he appears on Fox News so that his parents — who are Republicans — will see him. “They won’t see me anywhere else.”
Then he joked, “I get to brief the president every morning and evening.”
He also mentioned a third audience, one that could be critical to Democrats in 2020. “So many women come up to me across the country and say, ‘Hey, I love seeing you on Fox News,’ and then whisper, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not a Republican, my husband watches it and it’s the only way I can watch.’ I don’t want to dismiss people like that.”
Swalwell suggested that many Democrats watch Fox News because the owner of their establishment prefers that news channel over others. “What about the bartenders whose bar owner insist that’s what’s on in the restaurant? So you may be able to dismiss the host and president who they support but we can’t dismiss the viewers,” he said.
While Swalwell’s appreciation for Fox News is both welcome and warranted, his potential candidacy represents yet another strand of the Resistance. With more and more Democrats entering the race, this congressman seems a long shot. He may hope to be a “dark horse” candidate, but even with his record attacking Trump on Russia, his race, his sex, and his sexual orientation will likely cut against him. Democrats don’t want to be the party of straight white males, after all…
It is possible Swalwell just wants more attention, and as the 2020 primary gears up, hints of a presidential run — or an actual run for president — will keep his name in the news. As happened with the Republican primary in 2016, many of the less viable candidates may be entering the race just to build their brands.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.