The billionaire philanthropist who lives in California said Trump his staking his re-election campaign on the economy.
"Despite his racism, his lies and his impeachable crimes, if Democrats don't nominate someone who will go toe to toe with him on the economy, Donald Trump will win in 2020," Steyer said.
Steyer, 62, touted his own record of building a business from the ground up, private sector record of creating jobs and experience running a successful international business as setting him apart from other candidates in the Democratic primary, like former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
"The Democratic Party and America needs a nominee who can go to Iowa and Michigan and Wisconsin and places all over this country and credibly talk about growth and prosperity, a nominee who can develop a compelling narrative that puts people over profits, a nominee who can square up to Donald Trump and actually beat him on the economy. I believe that my experience and my track record make me the Democrat best prepared to be that nominee," Steyer said.
He added that "the answer is not socialism."
"Decades of unchecked capitalism have failed, and while the Trump presidency is making it worse, the answer is not socialism," Steyer said. "The real answer is to make sure that the American people write the rules, not corporations. The real answer to historic inequality is not a government takeover of huge parts of our economy, but rather direct investment in the American people. We need to put people in the driver seat and let the innovation and competition of the private sector power our growth and prosperity."
Citing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's failure to beat Trump in 2016, Steyer argued that "conventional wisdom isn't going to work against Trump."
Steyer noted that another billionaire in the race, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, does not support a wealth tax, as he and other candidates like Sanders and Warren do.
"There's been a historic and unjust redistribution of wealth over the last 40 years and in the wrong direction," Steyer said. "A wealth tax is not a new burden, it's a long needed fix."
Under Steyer's wealth tax plan, anyone worth $32 million or more would pay 1 cent more on the dollar. At $500 million that would go up to 1.5 cents, and at $1 billion, it would go up to 2 cents.
Steyer said that over a decade, the policy would generate $1.7 trillion in tax revenue that could go toward fixing healthcare, addressing climate change and funding education.
Steyer is one of seven candidates who have met donor and polling requirements for the Democratic debate Thursday at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. But the candidates said they would not cross the picket line if a labor dispute there has not been resolved.