Businessman Andrew Yang blasted President Donald Trump as a “symptom of a disease” that has been broiling in America for decades.
Yang, who is campaigning as a Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential election, was speaking at a debate in New Hampshire on Friday that included former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Tom Steyer.
During the debate, Buttigieg said if Democrats wanted to win in 2020 they would have to “be ready to move on from the playbook that we have relied on in the past.”
And referencing Trump’s recent impeachment vote acquittal, the former South Bend Mayor added: “If the Senate was the jury before, you are the jury now. The American people are the jury that will have the final verdict on this president and on the senators in the GOP who protected him.”
Yang—who ultimately had the least speaking time during the debate according to CNN—took issue with the statement and fired back to say Trump’s victory was misunderstood.
“Trump is not the cause of all of our problems and we are making a mistake when we act like he is,” Yang said. “He is a symptom of a disease that has been building up in our communities for years and decades. It’s our job to get to the harder work of actually curing the disease.
“Most Americans feel like the political parties have been playing you-lose-I-lose for years and you know who has been losing the entire time? We have.
“Our communities have. Our communities have been disintegrating beneath our feet. That’s why Iowa, a traditional swing state, went to Trump by almost 10 points. That’s why Ohio, a traditional swing state, is now so red that I am told we are not even going to campaign there,” he continued. “These communities are seeing their way of life get blasted into smithereens.
“We have automated away four million manufacturing jobs at counting, we are closing 30 percent of New Hampshire stores and malls and Amazon, the force behind that, is literally paying zero taxes. These are the changes that Americans are seeing and feeling around us every day.
He added: “If we get to the hard work of curing those problems we will not just defeat Donald Trump in the fall but we will actually be able to move our communities forward.”
It’s not the first time Yang made similar cases. He made similar statements last December, also noting Amazon’s tax record, in an interview with ABC News. “The Democratic Party … is acting like Donald Trump is the cause of all of our problems. He’s a symptom and we need to cure the underlying disease,” he said at the time, RealClearPolitics reported.
Yang has proposed a form of universal basic income (UBI) dubbed the Freedom Dividend as a way to combat job losses from automation, and has said huge tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon should have to pay U.S. citizens for use of their personal data.
Earlier this week, Trump was acquitted on both articles of impeachment that he was facing in the Senate. The Iowa caucuses ended with mass confusion as software designed to count votes malfunctioned. Buttigieg and Sanders were left closely matched at the top of the results.