Conservative strategist calls Steyer's 2020 bid a 'vanity run'

Conservative strategist Rachel Bovard on Tuesday dismissed billionaire philanthropist Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges 2020 Democrats recognize Pronouns Day Third-quarter fundraising sets Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg apart MORE's presidential bid as a distraction for Democrats as they seek to find a nominee to take on President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE.

“Definition of a vanity run,” Bovard, a senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute, said during an appearance on Hill.TV's "Rising."

“For the large majority of Democrats…he’s a distraction,” she added.

In response to Bovard's comments, Steyer's national press secretary Alberto Lammers told Hill.TV that Steyer is facing attacks from conservatives because "they're afraid of him," saying "he's the only one who can beat Trump." 

While he won't be on the stage Thursday night in Houston for the next round of Democratic debates, Steyer has qualified for the fourth round of being held next month.

The environmentalist received his first presidential endorsement on Tuesday, with former South Carolina state Rep. Harold Mitchell (D) backing his bid, giving Steyer some backing in a key early voting state.

Mitchell in a statement called Steyer “the best candidate that can address climate and environmental justice issues.”

The billionaire environmental activist has made climate change a key issue for his campaign.

In 2013, Steyer formed the progressive political action committee NextGen America, which is aimed at fighting for clean energy and supports candidates looking to take action on climate issues.

Steyer has pledged to spend $100 million of his own money on his presidential bid and has already funneled millions of dollars into digital and television ads since joining the crowded Democratic field in a push to propel himself past several other candidates.

—Tess Bonn