Steyer says 'grassroots organizing' in Nevada, South Carolina got him on debate stage

Steyer says 'grassroots organizing' in Nevada, South Carolina got him on debate stage
© Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Tom SteyerTom SteyerTV ads favored Biden 2-1 in past month Inslee calls Biden climate plan 'perfect for the moment' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration finalizes plan to open up Alaska wildlife refuge to drilling | California finalizes fuel efficiency deal with five automakers, undercutting Trump | Democrats use vulnerable GOP senators to get rare win on environment MORE pointed to his grassroots organizing efforts to explain how he made it onto next week’s debate stage amid accusations that the billionaire philanthropist is buying his way into the event. 

When asked by CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperThe Memo: Media accused of using kid-gloves on Biden CNN slammed for soft questions during Biden town hall: 'The media is broken' Biden's team says he views election against Trump as 'Park Avenue vs. Scranton' MORE on Sunday whether he thinks it’s his millions of dollars on campaign ads in South Carolina and Nevada that helped him qualify for next week’s debate, Steyer responded by discussing his organizing efforts. 

“I’m a grassroots person,” Steyer said on “State of the Union.” 

“I’ve been a grassroots organizer, as you know for 10 year, and that’s exactly what I'm doing in these early primary states,” he continued. “I’m going, I’m listening to people. I spend all my time in the kinds of meetings that I love, which is taking questions and asking questions and listening and learning.”

When asked if he’s suggesting it’s his organizing that helped propel him to the top of two recent South Carolina and Nevada polls that solidified his place in next week’s debate, Steyer said “that actually isn’t what I said,” but continued to discuss his organizing efforts. 

“What I said is we have 82 organizers, by far the most in South Carolina,” he said.

He also said that he is not a “famous person” like many of the politicians he’s facing in the primary. He said that he has “very low name recognition,” but said his support increases as voters hear his message. 

Steyer qualified for the debate last week after two Fox News polls showed him at 12 percent support in Nevada, tying Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon MORE (D-Mass.) for third place, and at 15 percent support in South Carolina, placing him in second behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Trump expects to nominate woman to replace Ginsburg next week Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral MORE

He qualified just one day before the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) deadline to make the stage. 

At least one of his opponents used it as an opportunity to call out inequality in the system. 

Sen. Cory booker (D-N.J.), who did not make the debate stage, told supporters in a fundraising email last week that the DNC’s debate thresholds “have systematically paved the way for a billionaire to buy his way onto the stage while pushing out candidates of color from participating.” 

Steyer will appear on stage Tuesday along with Biden, Warren, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board remembers Ginsburg: She 'will forever have two legacies' Two GOP governors urge Republicans to hold off on Supreme Court nominee Sanders knocks McConnell: He's going against Ginsburg's 'dying wishes' MORE (I-Vt.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Bogeymen of the far left deserve a place in any Biden administration Overnight Defense: Woodward book causes new firestorm | Book says Trump lashed out at generals, told Woodward about secret weapons system | US withdrawing thousands of troops from Iraq MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill EPA delivers win for ethanol industry angered by waivers to refiners It's time for newspapers to stop endorsing presidential candidates MORE (D-Minn.).