Why Eric Swalwell thinks he can win over Trump supporters — like his parents

JUDY WOODRUFF: There are now 23 candidates
in the 2020 presidential race, and among them is California Congressman Eric Swalwell. At 38, he is one of the youngest candidates
running in the Democratic primary, and has made gun control the key issue of his campaign. I spoke to Congressman Swalwell yesterday
about his run for the presidency. So, why should voters support a four-term
congressman from the state of California for president of the United States? REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), Presidential Candidate:
Well, first, I know how hard people work and what they expect it to add up to. I was the first in my family to go to college. I have two kids under 2. I’m paying off student loans. And so I see the promise of America for many
Americans broken, which is, you work hard, you do better, dream bigger. But I have been in the Congress on the Intelligence
Committee as our democracy has been on the ropes. And I have stood firmly for the rule of law. I have gone to the war zones. I have met with foreign leaders. I have taken the classified briefings. So, on day one, I will be ready to know who
we need as friends in this world and who the threats are, but also just to bring generational
optimism that I think is needed, fresh ideas on the issues of health care, education access,
and, of course, the centerpiece of our platform, being safe in your schools and reducing gun
violence. JUDY WOODRUFF: You have emphasized youth. And you are 38 years old. There is one candidate, though, who’s younger. REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s Pete Buttigieg,
who’s… REP. ERIC SWALWELL: He’s too young to run. JUDY WOODRUFF: … 37. (LAUGHTER) REP. ERIC SWALWELL: I’m just kidding. JUDY WOODRUFF: But he’s got executive experience. REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Yes, he does. JUDY WOODRUFF: He’s been the mayor of a small
city in Indiana. REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: Why are you more qualified? REP. ERIC SWALWELL: No, I like Mayor Pete. There’s Tulsi Gabbard and Seth Moulton, others
who are in this millennial generation. I believe that it’s being connected to everyday
folks, knowing why they work hard through my working-class roots. It’s the optimism that I can bring, believing
that health care cures is a way, not just coverage, but seeking cures to bring down
costs, and having a college bargain. So, if you go to college, do work study, serve
a community that needs it when you get out, it adds up to a debt-free education. And then, finally, again, that experience
of being day-one ready while our democracy has gone in this deep dark hole. I’m on the Judiciary Committee. I’m on the Intelligence Committee. We’re not rolling the dice on someone who
doesn’t know how the federal government works, as we did with this last president. JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to come to that issue
of gun control. You are making it a centerpiece of your campaign. But you do have other candidates in the race
who have been on this issue for years. Joe Biden worked for years on an anti-crime
bill. Kamala Harris, her work in California. She’s talking about using executive authority. How are your views, in a nutshell, different
from all the others? REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Well, I was a prosecutor who
worked in Oakland as a prosecutor. So I saw what gun violence does to our cities. I went to Chicago yesterday, similar issues
there. So, from the cities to the suburbs to the
rural areas, it’s access to firearms, it’s investing in mental health services in our
schools. And my — I’m the only candidate who’s calling
for a ban and buy-back of the 15 million assault rifles that are on our streets today. I came to Congress when Sandy Hook happened,
and was demoralized as we went from mass shooting to mass shooting. I sat for 26 hours on the floor after Orlando
in protest. So I want to seize the momentum that these
moms and the students and community activists have done to take out 17 NRA-endorsed members
of Congress. I want to seize it and negotiate up, not down
on policies on gun violence. JUDY WOODRUFF: And you think this is an issue
that can galvanize voters? I ask because, in the past, it hasn’t — it
hasn’t seemed to be something that gets voters energized enough to vote one way or another. REP. ERIC SWALWELL: I was in Fairfield, Iowa, a
very rural community, earlier this week. I did a gun violence town hall. Over 125 people showed up. And I asked a woman. I said: “I know why I’m here, this issue I
care about a lot. But in this safe community, why are you here?” And she said: “Because we don’t want a shooting
to happen at our church.” It’s also about our kids. I took my son to his preschool orientation
last week. And I thought about something I didn’t have
to think about when I was going to school, which is, is he safe in this building? And so this issue of safety in our schools
and our churches and the places we gather, it’s top of mind now for voters. JUDY WOODRUFF: Now I’m going to turn — turn
the corner now and ask you about something that’s on a lot of people’s minds and certainly
farmers and others in business around this country, and that is the trade war with China. You have said you don’t think the trade war
is beneficial. But, again, what would you do differently
from what President Trump is doing specifically? Would you go back to the Obama-Biden trade
policies? REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Yes, I would form a class-action. We’re in a significant trade deficit with
China today. Going one-on-one with them in a trade war
is ineffective, and the way the president is prosecuting it is incompetent. They are a bad actor on intellectual property,
on dumping steel, on manipulating currency. That’s not the issue. The issue, though, is, can you band together
with Australia and Japan and South Korea, other victims of what China is doing, to prosecute
the case against them? Our president has alienated us from our traditional
allies. I would know who our friends are, and go to
them to make the case against China to protect our farmer, to protect our steel workers,
to protect our intellectual innovators. JUDY WOODRUFF: And on a subject that is on
the minds of Democrats and Republicans right now, and that is impeachment. I think it was just a few nights ago you said
in an interview that President Trump is giving Congress no option. But if Speaker Pelosi is right, what she’s
saying, it’s better to wait, see when you get the facts, let’s keep studying this, let’s
keep trying to gather information. Do you believe that she is inevitably going
to have to change her position on that and that there will be impeachment proceedings? REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Yes, I don’t really question
the wisdom of Speaker Pelosi. She’s been in these fights before. I think she sees where this is going. I think we’re on a road to impeachment. And she, like myself, believes that you have
to exhaust all of the remedies to show the American people you’re following the rule
of law, that we’re not going to do Donald Trump justice. The first remedy was the American people. They voted him in. We respected that. Then we put a balance of power on his abuses
of power in the midterms. He has not respected that. He’s outnumbered. The subpoena power and the courts are on our
side. But I think he’s backing us into the only
other remedy that’s the most extraordinary remedy, which is impeachment. But I want to make sure we do everything else
first before we get there. I think we’re pretty close. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think you’re giving,
in some way, the president a boost, as Democrats, if — the more there is even talk about impeachment,
much less moving to impeachment proceedings? REP. ERIC SWALWELL: I honestly I try not to think
about it that way, because that means I’m not looking at the evidence. And the evidence is, you have a lawless president
who is telling his administration officials not to comply with the law. He’s been characterized as a double-digit
obstructor in the Mueller report. No one’s above the law in this country. No one could get away with what he’s getting
away with. And that’s what I have to focus on. JUDY WOODRUFF: Speaking of President Trump,
finally, you said when you announced that you have family members — I believe your
own parents… REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Yes. Yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: … who are supporters of President
Trump. They have a magnet on the refrigerator in
the kitchen that says Trump-Pence. REP. ERIC SWALWELL: That’s right. JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that magnet still there? REP. ERIC SWALWELL: I hope it’s not. I may have to go into the voting booth with
my parents if I make it to the general election. But my parents, I would say, are strong Ronald
Reagan Republicans. And I was raised in the ’80s. And they wanted us to be strong in the world
and not waste the taxpayers’ dollars. And I think I can win over people like my
parents. I was born in the Midwest, have that fiscal
prudence, American values. And we see a president who has just racked
up debt with tax cuts for the wealthiest, and has alienated us in the world and has
drawn us closer to Vladimir Putin than he has to the Brits and the Australians and people
that we need. I think these never-Trump voters are going
to need a place to go. And the son of Reagan Republicans might be
that candidate. JUDY WOODRUFF: But you don’t have any doubt
your parents would vote for you? (CROSSTALK) REP. ERIC SWALWELL: They will vote for me, yes,
yes. Of course they will. But my wife’s also from Southern Indiana. And we just did an Indiana town hall over
the weekend in Columbus, Indiana, and saw hundreds of people show up there, many Republicans. So, born in Iowa, married to a Hoosier, educated
in the South, elected in a diverse part of California. I can add states in the general election. JUDY WOODRUFF: Congressman Eric Swalwell,
running for the Democratic nomination, we thank you. REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Thank you, Judy.

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