UPDATED with video: Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show became the first TV program on which two candidates have announced their 2020 White House bids with Monday’s announcement by California Rep. Eric Swalwell.
“You’ve been very critical of President Trump; you’ve called him a wrecking ball, a Russian agent,” Colbert said, asking what he can do, by way of setting up the Democratic congressman’s announcement.
Swalwell began his statement, declaring democracy “on the ropes.”
“I see a country in quicksand, unable to solve problems and threats from abroad, unable to make life better for people here at home,” Swalwell said. The congressman said he talks to people who feel like they’re running in place and kids who sit in classrooms afraid they’ll be the next victim of gun violence, while lawmakers love guns more than kids.
“I’m ready to solve these problems. I’m running for president of the United States,” he finished. After a brief pause, he added, “Boy, did it feel good to say that!”
Swalwell becomes the second Dem to receive a special pin that reads: “I Announced on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced her candidacy on Dems’ favorite late-night therapy hour in January, telling Colbert, “I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom, I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own.”
In return, Colbert presented her with the pin and a plane ticket to Michigan “so you will campaign there” in a not-even-thinly veiled dig at Hillary Clinton.
Colbert nearly set the record that month. Days before Gillibrand announced, Colbert came this close to snaring his first official presidential bid announcement, when Sen. Kamala Harris of California appeared on his show to tout her new book.
“Many people who put out books two years before a presidential election do so to introduce themselves in a broad way to the American people,” Colbert noted, asking, “Are you going to run for president?”
To which, Harris smiled coyly and responded, “I might,” then broke out laughing as Colbert’s crowd reacted wildly.
She reportedly planned to officially throw her hat in the ring on MLK Day and Colbert asked if he should leave his bookings open for that night. Harris ducked the question. (Though no one was unclear of her intentions after listening to her exchange with Colbert, Kamala made her “official” announcement on ABC’s Good Morning America.)