AMES, Iowa -- Andrew Yang didn't make the cut to appear on the debate stage, so the Democratic presidential candidate employed another method Tuesday that he said would help explain to voters his fears about automation's impact on the American economy.
"I've been told over and over again, when you're on the debate stage people don't see the actual substance of the argument because you're kind of compressed in a 60-second time crunch," Yang told a few hundred people in an art gallery, standing in front of a PowerPoint presentation projected on a wall. "You're all here for Andrew Yang's version of a Netflix special."
He rolled through job-loss statistics that he argued led to the election of President Donald Trump, and warned of automation causing the loss of 2.5 million jobs annually in retail, driving and other job sectors.
"The reason Donald Trump is president today is because we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in the last few years. And where were those jobs? Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri and 40,000 right here in Iowa," Yang said. "I have been to a town that lost their manufacturing jobs here in Iowa. After the plant closed, the shopping center closed, and then people left and then the school shrank. The town has never recovered."
Yang touted his universal basic income of $1,000 per month for every adult American citizen as the solution.
It was a message that resonated with Lisa Kuehl, 60. The retired airline pilot had been planning on caucusing for former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. But after seeing Yang speak in Ames, she was leaning toward supporting him instead.
"I really liked what I heard," she said. "I liked the slideshow, the facts, the data. You can talk all you want about these issues, but sometimes the presentation format needs to be different for it to resonate. And I saw that, especially the explanation of why Donald Trump won so many of the industrial states."
Kuehl was worried that Yang's absence from the debate stage could harm his prospects.
"I think at this point if you're not out there, people might forget about you," she said. "It's like in the laws of learning: The last thing you hear is what you remember."
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