“I know everybody always describes me as being rich,” he said, according to The New York Times. “But I can tell you this: The one thing it does give me is the right to say nobody owns me. I mean I will do exactly what I think is right.”
The 62-year-old California resident, a native of New York City, said he plans to invest $100 million of his own money into his longshot candidacy.
Steyer is a vocal critic of President Trump and founder of the Need to Impeach campaign. He has appeared in numerous television ads promoting his effort to have the president removed from office.
He also founded Farallon Capital, a hedge fund that, among other things, invested in coal plants and private prisons – a blot to his self-made image as a progressive climate change activist, according to The Times.
Steyer told the moderator at Wednesday’s event he’s running for president because he’s the only person who’s willing and knows how to take on Trump.
He also fielded questions about the lack of diversity he brings to the crowded field.
“What are you saying to that question, that it’s time for someone that doesn’t look like Tom Steyer to be our president?” someone at the event asked. Steyer said a successful candidacy is more about having a vision voters can rally around.
Some in the audience of more than 100 people were impressed by the candidate, calling him a “low-key billionaire,” but others simply weren’t.
“I guess I’m curious how an old white man billionaire is going to beat an old white man billionaire,” one audience member shrugged of a potential matchup between Steyer and Trump, The Times reported.
“Is there a person who can be a billionaire in politics and not be a bad guy?” another questioned.
Steyer is currently polling at less than 1 percent in a field of more than 20 candidates, according to The Washington Times.