Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell formally launched his 2020 presidential run Sunday in his hometown of Dublin, California, promising to center his campaign on gun control inspired by the Parkland shooting.
“I’ve come back here to Dublin, backed by my neighbors who have always been in my corner to declare my candidacy for President of the United States of America,” Swalwell said to a cheering crowd.
“Only in a country as generous as ours could a moment like this even be possible,” Swalwell added, describing his childhood odd jobs as his family moved around the country in search of economic prosperity. While their final stop in Dublin “was not Mar-a-lago,” he said, the family “lived right smack in the middle of the middle class, and those were during the good times.”
The California Democrat focused squarely on the issue of gun control, describing his shock at learning of the Sandy Hook shooting while leaving his congressional freshman class’ orientation and his frustration as gun control legislation stalled in Congress.
“A year ago, hope died at Parkland,” Swalwell said. “But, in a uniquely American way, owing to the courage and strength of children, hope was reborn at Parkland. Hope has been reborn here in America too. That’s why I started my campaign at Parkland. I pledged to that community what I pledge to you – I will be the first campaign to make ending gun violence the top priority in my campaign.”
Swalwell proposed an assault weapons ban and buyback program as well as a violent history check on all gun purchasers, pointing to various recent shootings as depriving the American people of their rights “greater than any other right in the Constitution,” to live and love in peace.
“We believe that every child has a right to learn without fear, that every parent has a right to hug their beautiful little babies when they come home from school, and that all of us, we have a right to dance at a concert, laugh at the theater, pray at a synagogue at a church and at a mosque,” he said. “Our rights to live and to love each other, those rights are greater than any other right in the Constitution, period.”
Swalwell also promised to be a “different” kind of candidate in a crowded Democrat field with more established stars, vowing that his campaign would not accept donations from corporate political action committees.
“This is not a campaign that will be beholden to special interests. We will accept no corporate PAC money and we’re not going to be driven by the polls,” he said.