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Andrew Yang Says There Is No Guarantee Impeaching Trump Will Be Successful

Tech entrepreneur, author and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang says the impeachment inquiry being conducted by House Democrats "is the right way to go."

But he also cautions that those who support impeachment should be realistic about the chances of a GOP-controlled Senate voting to remove President Trump from office.

"I think impeachment is the right way to go, but I do not think that we should have any illusions that it's necessarily going to be successful," Yang told NPR's Noel King on Saturday as part of NPR's Off Script series of interviews with 2020 presidential candidates.

"When we are talking about Donald Trump, we are losing to Donald Trump, even if it's in the context of talking about impeaching him," Yang said.

Instead, Yang said, Democrats should be articulating a new vision for the United States.

"That's how we move the country forward. That's how we'll win in 2020," Yang said.

On the subject of winning, King pushed Yang on whether he can actually secure the Democratic nomination.

"Are you running for president to win?" King asked. "Or are you running for president to introduce ideas into the conversation?"

In response, Yang struck a confident tone.

"I 100% can win," he said. "I'm running to solve the biggest problems of our time."

Yang has never run for public office and was a relative unknown before he launched his Oval Office bid. He has managed to break through a crowded Democratic field with a sobering message that new technologies are already responsible for killing millions of American jobs.

His signature proposal of a universal basic income, which his campaign calls a "freedom dividend," would give every American adult $1,000 a month, no strings attached. Yang says he would pay for it by consolidating certain welfare programs and implementing a 10% tax on the goods and services that businesses produce.

A universal basic income is necessary, Yang argues, to mitigate "an unprecedented crisis" of wide-scale job losses due to automation.

King pointed to the fact that Yang is garnering single digits in presidential preference surveys.

Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, NPR host and correspondent Noel King (center, right), and undecided voters Hetal Jani and John Zeitler talk politics over fried soup dumplings at Baodega in Manhattan.
/ A.J. Chavar for NPR
A.J. Chavar for NPR
Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, NPR host and correspondent Noel King (center, right), and undecided voters Hetal Jani and John Zeitler talk politics over fried soup dumplings at Baodega in Manhattan.

According to RealClearPolitics, Yang is polling at roughly 2%, putting him slightly ahead of other presidential hopefuls, such as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and about even with former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke.

But he lags far behind top-tier candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

King floated the possibility of Yang serving in different ways — commerce secretary, perhaps. He was noncommittal but left the door open.

"I'm open to contributing in any of a range of roles," Yang said.

The interview took place in New York City's Flatiron District, roughly 2 miles away from Trump Tower, at a dim sum restaurant Yang selected called Baodega.

As the American-born son of Taiwanese immigrants, Yang's Asian heritage is central to his campaign, something he reflected on during the interview.

"It's given me a lot of joy and pride to think about an Asian child turning on the Democratic debates and seeing me up on that stage," Yang said. "Hopefully, it gives them a sense that we're just as American as anyone else."

On the campaign trial, Yang has received criticism for playing up Asian stereotypes, which has produced mixed reactions from Asian Americans, as a recent Vox report detailed. In one debate, he said, "The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math."

Yang has taken a jaunty approach to campaigning, including at times donning a blue and white hat with "MATH" on it — an acronym for "Make America Think Harder." It's a tongue-in-cheek play on Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again," and it has been a hit with his followers.

His most devoted supporters even have a moniker — the Yang Gang.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker
Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.