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Rep. Eric Swalwell: 7 things you need to know

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By Roey Hadar

Gwen Ifill Fellow

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) is running for president. The 38-year-old California Democrat, who announced his campaign on April 8, would be the youngest president in U.S. history.

Swalwell, known for his frequent television appearances and his support for investigations into President Donald Trump, is running a campaign that seeks to make gun control a top issue.

Here are seven things you need to know about the California congressman running for president.

  • Although he mostly grew up in California, Swalwell was born in Iowa. Swalwell has made more than a dozen visits to his birth state in the last two years in advance of his presidential run, seeking to leverage his ties there ahead of the Iowa caucuses, the first contest in the 2020 primary.
  • To get to Congress, he defeated a 40-year incumbent. Swalwell challenged Democratic Rep. Pete Stark in 2012, facing him in the general election due to California’s top-two runoff system and won thanks to an eccentric campaign that included tactics such as debating an actor who played Stark when the incumbent congressman refused to debate him.
  • In his 2020 campaign, Swalwell is prioritizing gun control measures. On his first full day of his candidacy, Swalwell set up a gun violence-themed town hall in Florida in conjunction with Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky, who was also Swalwell’s guest at the 2019 State of the Union. Swalwell has fought for gun control measures before, including in 2016, when he joined fellow Democrats in holding a sit-in protest on the House floor that called for stricter gun control measures after the Orlando nightclub shooting in June 2016 in which an ISIS-inspired gunman killed 49 people.
  • In Congress, he serves on two influential committees-- Intelligence and Judiciary. Both of the committees Swalwell serves on have substantial influence over both congressional investigations into the president and in exerting pressure on the Department of Justice. Swalwell has accused the president of “acting on Russia’s behalf” and proposed subpoenaing special counsel Robert Mueller to seek more details about his investigation.
  • He has embraced social media and streaming apps. Swalwell regularly streams parts of his job through the app Snapchat. The congressman faced the risk of punishment for streaming video from the House floor on at least two occasions. Swalwell broadcasted House Democrats’ 2016 sit-in protesting gun violence and uploaded a video of himself voting against a 20-week abortion ban to Vine, a now-defunct platform that allowed for the sharing of short videos.
  • He was a county prosecutor and city councilman before running for Congress. After graduating from law school, he came back to California and worked in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, eventually becoming the office’s lead prosecutor of hate crimes. Swalwell also served on the city council in Dublin, California.
  • Swalwell wants to guarantee healthcare for all Americans and expressed support for Medicare for all. In a March 2019 op-ed, Swalwell called for a “universal health guarantee” and advocated for Medicare for all as the solution to issues in America’s healthcare system. He has also called for more investment in finding cures to potentially fatal diseases, including cancer, HIV and Alzheimer’s disease.