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Yang looks ahead to long road after Iowa Caucus: ‘We believe we can compete all the way’

DES MOINES — Local 5’s Eva Andersen sat down with Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang a day ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Yang has been polling at...

DES MOINES — Local 5’s Eva Andersen sat down with Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang a day ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

Yang has been polling at sixth place in Iowa—behind Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar—but he says he’s not going anywhere.

A full interview transcript is below.

EVA ANDERSEN
You had a great turn out [at your Saturday rally]. How are you feeling about it?

ANDREW YANG
Feeling great! The energy‘s been growing and growing. We’re going to peak right where the running starts tomorrow night. [Yang looks into the camera]. Monday night! Caucus!

ANDERSEN

Half of your precinct captains aren’t from Iowa. They’ve never been to a caucus before. Does that worry you?

YANG

No, I think it’s a sign of just how much enthusiasm there is for the campaign. Around the country we have thousands of people drop everything to come here to canvass, knock on doors and in some cases become precinct captains.

ANDERSEN

I, in fact, met a man who came from Los Angeles to live in Ames for several weeks–Ames, Iowa–to campaign for you. And he was going around, talking to people at the local coffee shops here in Des Moines and talking about you. And you know what he told me? He said he’s never been to one of your rallies, and he doesn’t even care to meet you because if he’s at one of your rallies it’s keeping him away from one more person who is “Yang curious.”

YANG

Well, it’s extraordinarily heartwarming. It shows that they want to improve the way of life of everyday Americans. They care more about that than they do about getting a photo with me. And that’s exactly the substance of this campaign, Eva–we have to make things work for the family right here in Iowa so I think that person exactly understands what we are about.

ANDERSEN

Families here in Iowa have a very [strong] work ethic. We work hard for our money. And Some Iowans have referred to your free freedom dividend as “paying for votes”. What would you say to that?

YANG

Well, you have to look around. What’s happening here in Iowa, 30% of stores and malls are closing because Amazon is soaking up all the business and they are paying zero in taxes. So [the Freedom Dividend would be] getting the money that’s leaving your communities back into your hands. Our data is now worth more than oil, and people aren’t seeing a dime of it. So this is a dividend for the American people based upon the value that were already generating

ANDERSEN

So if people go onto your website, they can easily find the answer to this question. But if people are only turning into this interview, the night before the caucus, can you briefly explain the Value Added Tax (VAT)’s role in that?

YANG

Now if you look around the world, other countries have figured out that you can’t have trillion-dollar tech companies like Amazon paying zero taxes. So if we put a mechanism in place where we get our tiny fair share of every Amazon sale, every Google search, every Facebook ad, eventually every robot truck mile, that’s how we actually make ourselves participants in the 21st-century economy. And the Value Added Tax makes it impossible for those companies not to pay their fair share.

ANDERSEN

So people who receive disability benefits and Social Security, those benefits would stack on top of the freedom dividend.

YANG

Yeah Social Security and most disability does stack on top. And if you look around Iowa, you have thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who are struggling to retire meaningfully. Because you can’t retire on Social Security alone, I am proposing the biggest expansion of Social Security benefits ever: $1000 on top of your current benefits.

ANDERSEN

Would that cancel out things like food stamps and other welfare benefits?

YANG

Well, I’ve talked to people who are on these means-tested programs right here in Iowa, and they are very fast frustrated that if they go out and get a part-time job and start earning more money, it actually decreases the benefits they get. They look up and say, ‘Like why is that? I’m working part time but you’re making it so I don’t have the incentive.’ So what we do is we take those means-tested programs and we have those this option of $1000 in cash. And then the great thing about the dividend is you get to keep the cash if you get a part-time job you keep that too.

ANDERSEN

So this is $1,000 a month for everyone? No questions asked.

YANG

That’s right.

ANDERSEN

Including you!

YANG

Yes—

ANDERSEN

How would you spend your $1000?

YANG

Well I’ve got two kids. Eva, so it will go to the stuff they like, toys, games you know they’re discovering video games which is not very good for my peace of mind because now the soundtrack in our house is just like “beep beep beep beep beep beep  beep.”

ANDERSEN

So, if you don’t win the caucus tomorrow–what is the long-range strategy from there?

YANG

Well, we are seeing incredible enthusiasm and support from around the country. We are very, very strong in New Hampshire. We believe we can complete all the way. Through the spring. Particularly because our online support has been grassroots funded, there are people that really believe in our vision of an economy that works for us and our families.

ANDERSEN

There’s video are you getting emotional at one of your Iowa events you were at recently. Particularly when you are talking about how you are happy that the future of the country lies in the hands of Iowans. What was going through her head at that point?

YANG

I’ve been campaigning for the better part of two years here in the state. And I’ve just met so many people here, I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories honestly. From small farmers who are trying to make ends meet. People who are having to cut pills in half, or their high school classmates have fentanyl patches on their shoulders. And it really hit me that my time in Iowa — at least this time around — is coming to an end. And I thought about all of the experiences that my family has had here, my boys, traveling around the state. And yeah, it was a very emotional moment just reflecting on everything we’ve been through together here in the state.

I love Iowa. I think you all have a ton of wisdom as to where the future of the country should be should go.

ANDERSEN

People that I’ve spoken with say ultimately at the end of the day it comes down to they want a candidate who is able to defeat Donald Trump. He debates on stage in a very unique way. How do you feel you would perform toe to toe with him on a debate stage?

YANG

I would destroy Donald Trump on a debate stage. Because his most potent attacks are about saying, ‘You are a corrupt DC politician.’ None of that works on me. And I’m focused on actually solving the problems in our communities. But I have real solutions unlike his turn-the-clock-backwards and stuff that everyone knows that doesn’t work. We have four years of seeing that he’s been full bluster and not real solutions.

ANDERSEN

…If there’s one more thing you would like to impress upon our viewers, what would it be?

YANG

This election has to be about your families. We have to make your life better on the ground here in Iowa. Every single day. That’s the standard you should have for your president. That would be my standard for myself as your president. It’s not enough to send someone you like to DC as a ‘job well done.’ It’s about whether or not things are actually getting better for you, your families, your community right here in Iowa.