SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – With an invitation to the first Democratic presidential debates officially in tow, Congressman Eric Swalwell returned to his home state of California on Friday to build on his image with the tech industry and millennial voters.
Speaking to the employees of a startup in downtown San Francisco, Swalwell called himself an “aspirational Democrat” best fit to tackle issues plaguing young Americans, like student debt and a lack of affordable housing.
“I’m a candidate who is the first in my family to go to college, with two kids two-and-under and paying off my student loans,” Swalwell, 38, said. “I live these issues and I can be a voice for solutions on them.”
Friday’s speaking event caps a busy week for the presidential candidate. On Thursday he both qualified for the debates in Miami and joined the crowd calling for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
A member of the House Intelligence Committee, Swalwell held out on an impeachment attempt in hopes that U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr would release the full Mueller report to Congress. But he says Trump’s recent admission that he would consider taking opposition research from foreign governments pushed him over the ledge.
“Once he essentially extended an invitation to our adversaries to do again what they did in 2016 and sabotage our elections, to me that is a crime,” the former county prosecutor said.
Since announcing his campaign in April, Swalwell has largely stuck to talking on the campaign trail about stricter gun control and eliminating student loan debt. He hopes to “champion” the issues that he believes have been neglected by the other Democratic candidates.
Swalwell says he accrued over $100,000 in debt as an undergraduate and then in law school, and calls his generation’s student loan debt “a great crisis of our time.”
By cutting the interest rate on federal student loans to 0% and making it easier for businesses to contribute to paying down their employees’ student debt, Swalwell sees an opportunity for Congress to provide an economic boon to middle-class families. Without racking up debt that can take years for college graduates to repay, Swalwell believes Americans will be better suited to buy homes and start families.
“For 40 million Americans, lifting them out of the student loan debt they have will put more money in more pockets to save and buy their first homes,” Swalwell said.
Thus far Swalwell’s campaign messages have fallen flat on most perspective voters, as he has consistently polled at or below 1% in recent surveys.
But his thoughts on the economy were well-received by employees at the carpool mobility startup Scoop, which hosted Swalwell for a question-and-answer session at its headquarters.
Scoop employee Charles Knuth, an undecided Democratic voter, said he was glad to hear a candidate talk about the challenges of California’s diverse economy and ways to improve retirement options for workers in the tech industry who often work on short-term employment contracts.
Jon Baker, also undecided, said Swalwell did a “solid job” and liked the candidate’s personal anecdotes. He says the debates in Miami will give Swalwell a great chance to interact with the rest of the country.
“The congressman made a huge impression and I’m sure he will stand out on the stage,” Baker said.
Swalwell will certainly be in front of a huge national audience June 27, as he will share the stage with top-polling candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg.
“I’m looking forward to introducing myself to the country,” Swalwell said after the event.
The Democrat also hopes to make a splash Monday when he plans to announce a “comprehensive national framework for ending gun violence” near the National Rifle Association’s headquarters in Virginia.
“We’re done letting the bullying, tweeting minority that leads the NRA dictate whether Americans live or die,” Swalwell said. “I’m taking the battle to the NRA’s doorstep with a new, broader package of commonsense reforms to end gun violence.”