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Billionaire Tom Steyer jump-starts presidential bid with $1.4 million national ad campaign

Key Points
  • Billionaire presidential candidate Tom Steyer launched a $1.4 million ad campaign on Wednesday, highlighting his vision for ending corporate corruption and beating President Donald Trump in 2020.
  • The former hedge fund manager said he will spend $100 million on his presidential campaign.
  • In the last two years he has spent millions of his own funds on a drive to impeach President Donald Trump.
  • To qualify for the third debate in September, Steyer will have to hit 2% in four polls and attract 130,000 donors.
Anti-Trump Billionaire Tom Steyer hosts a town hall meeting on December 4, 2018 in Charleston, South Carolina. Steyer, founder of NextGen America and Need to Impeach, is testing the waters for a 2020 presidential run.
Sean Rayford | Getty Images

Billionaire presidential candidate Tom Steyer launched a $1.4 million ad campaign on Wednesday, highlighting his vision for ending corporate corruption and beating President Donald Trump in 2020.

The two ads, "Money Where His Mouth Is" and "Keeping the Promise" will run for two weeks from July 10 to July 23. The ads will appear on CNN and MSNBC nationally and locally in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the first four caucus and primary states. The ads will focus on Steyer's platform to break corporate gridlock and introduce practical policies to benefit all Americans, his campaign said in a press release.

Steyer entered the crowded Democratic field on Tuesday, vowing to focus on climate change and reforming the political system. In the last two years he has spent millions of his own funds on a drive to impeach President Donald Trump that has included advertising and public speaking engagements. The former hedge fund manager will spend at least $100 million on his presidential campaign, said spokesman Alberto Lammers.

Campaign manager Heather Hargreaves said in the release that Steyer is running for president because he sees how the "broken political system in Washington has failed the American people and has a plan to change it."

Steyer will have to receive donations from at least 65,000 unique donors and poll at 1% or higher in three qualifying polls by July 16 to join the Democratic presidential primary debates at the end of the month. To qualify for the third Democratic debates, he will have to hit 2% in four polls and receive 130,000 unique donors.

"Government by and for all the people, not just the powerful and well connected. That's the American promise," Steyer said in one of his ads, according to the press release. "But corporations and special interests are in control. Nothing's happening for real people. Our democracy has been purchased. The candidates running for president have great ideas, but we can't get anything done unless we make our democracy serve the people again. I'm running for President because it's time our democracy works for people."

The Steyer campaign did not immediately return CNBC's request for further comment.

Correction: Tom Steyer launched a $1.4 million ad campaign on Wednesday. An earlier version misstated the day.

— CNBC's Brian Schwartz contributed to this report.

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Key Points
  • Billionaire activist Tom Steyer said Tuesday that he will run for president in 2020, entering the crowded Democratic field late in the race with a pledge to focus on climate change and reforming the political system.
  • In a video, the Democratic megadonor, who has funneled millions of dollars into pushing for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, reversed his decision announced earlier this year not to run.  
  • Steyer's entrance into the race is likely to shake up the primary field, in no small part because of the vast sums of money at his disposal. The former hedge fund manager will spend at least $100 million on his presidential campaign, spokesman Alberto Lammers said.