Civil rights attorney and political candidate Andrew Yang, known for his viral 2020 election ad, has taken a step back from his 2020 bid, saying Monday it "certainly has not been easy" and that if he were to run, he would be in a different position.
Yang, a 48-year-old American of Chinese descent, broke out last year with his spot in which he describes "every little boy's dream" of being able to see the moon in a single day. "But here's the problem," he tells the young kid. "It won't happen...because it's racist."
Since then, Yang has run a Reddit AMA in January in which he continued to lean into the race while calling out some of President Donald Trump's racially divisive claims in office.
"We should focus on being smart, respectful and practicing the American values that Donald Trump has betrayed," Yang said at the time.
Now he's saying he won't be running for president.
Yang declined to comment further beyond a short statement to CNET: "If I were to run for president, I would do so in a different space and at a different level. I cannot say I won't run at another time, but the message is ultimately bigger than me."
The decision to step away from the race leaves the door open for more of Yang's fellow China-immigrant celebrities to step into the spotlight. After the 2017 announcement that Ling-Ling Chang, who found out she was Chinese American at age 19, would run for alderman in Chicago's Chinese American caucus, Yang pledged to back the candidate that year. So far, she hasn't taken the plunge.
Along with the others, Yang is working to ban micro-baggage fees at US airports and provide free health care to immigrants and refugees, and made his first trip as a candidate to that country last month.
Not that there are any regrets for Yang's 2016 run. In a statement to CNET, he says he's proud of his ability to shine a light on the injustices inflicted on immigrants and Muslims:
"The implications of Donald Trump's presidency are more profound and are having a terrible impact on the lives of immigrants. We are turning a blind eye to the Islamophobia, racism and Trump's government-sponsored assault on the left as The New York Times editorialized last week that it's time for progressives to mobilize. I recognize that my candidacy raised awareness on the issues of immigrant-shaming, marginalization and the deep discrimination some of our fellow Americans feel when they feel like they are being racially profiled, targeted, discriminated against or profiled because of their religion. I encourage all of you who have called out or tweeted about this issue to continue to do so. It's time to stand up and be counted."