» READ MORE: In Atlanta, Booker pledges voting rights expansion
» AJC INTERVIEW: Cory Booker calls for Kemp election probe, talks Southern strategy
Yang, 44, chose Georgia as one of the 15 states on his “Humanity First Tour,” another symbol of the Democratic energy aimed at Georgia ahead of the 2020 election. Several Democratic hopefuls have visited the state since launching presidential bids this year, including U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.
Speaking with reporters after his speech, Yang addressed some hot-button local issues including voter rights and election security.
"We need to make sure more Americans have the right to vote, and one of the ways we can do that is by simplifying our voter registration and enrollment rules," he said. He said his team has reached out to former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is now leading an organization focused on voting rights.
“I would be thrilled to sit down with Stacey,” Yang said.
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang takes a photo with supporters following a campaign event in Piedmont Park. ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/SPECIAL
When asked about Georgia's controversial "heartbeat" abortion bill, which passed the Senate and House of Representatives this year, Yang said reproductive rights should be decided by women.
“As a man running for president, my opinion should not be that crucial or important when it comes to women determining their own reproductive rights,” he said. “I literally think that male legislators should just walk out of the room and let women figure out what they’d like to do.”
The candidate’s resume includes being the founder of a failed tech startup, and then becoming CEO of a lucrative test preparation company that was acquired by Kaplan. He later started the nonprofit Venture for America.
Yang said automation — the possibility of technology taking over human jobs — is one of the biggest threats facing the workplace. He mentioned “robot trucks” and automated customer service call centers as examples of new technology.
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang points to his "MATH" hat at a campaign event in Piedmont Park. ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/SPECIAL
“This is going to rip through our economy in a very dramatic way,” said Yang, wearing a blue ball cap that said “MATH.”
His answer to that, and his core campaign platform, is universal basic income, a policy that would give $1,000 per month to every American over the age of 18. Yang said that is “not some radical idea” and was discussed as mainstream ideology in the 1960s and ’70s.
“One-thousand bucks a month — what’s it going to do? It’s going to make it so we can actually breathe easier,” he said. “It’s going to make our community stronger.”
While critics say the idea is unrealistic and not financially possible, Yang said he would fund the program partly by taxing technology corporations more.
Earlier in the day, he met with community leaders at The Beautiful Restaurant on Cascade Road.
Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at www.ajc.com/politics.