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Andrew Yang chokes up reflecting on two years of campaigning in Iowa

Andrew Yang choked up Thursday night as he reflected on the trajectory of his upstart presidential campaign during a speech in Dubuque, Iowa.

“I’ve been coming to Iowa for almost two years,” said Yang, who entered the presidential race to no fanfare but has since gained a loyal following.

“I love Iowa,” he said. “Campaigning here for the last two years has been the journey of my life. I am really glad you are going to determine the future of our country.”

The comment caused Yang to visibly get emotional and cover his face.

After taking a drink of water, he composed himself before someone yelled, “Thank you, Andrew.”

“I know you know just what to do,” Yang said, before turning to his standard speech.

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The moment, just days before the Democratic caucuses in Iowa on Monday, reflects how far Yang has come as a candidate. Few knew his name when he announced his candidacy. And when the businessman told his family he was running for president, he told CNN, some members said, “President of what?”

But by championing a series of unique policy positions — like a universal basic income, wide-reaching programs to address automation, and the legalization of marijuana — Yang slowly created a devout following of liberal Democrats, libertarians and some disaffected Republicans. Many of those voters have told CNN they stayed with Yang because he was a happy campaigner, regularly dancing and crowd surfing at events.

Yang told CNN on Friday that the raw emotion he displayed at the event on Thursday evening was the result of him reflecting on the campaign and his family’s own “journey” during it.

“I was just reflecting on how far the campaign has come, how we have been here in the state for 19 or 20 months and realizing that there is a chance that after Monday, all of my time here in Iowa is going to be coming to an end,” Yang said ahead of a town hall in Tipton, Iowa. “The people have been very good to me and my family.”

Yang said part of the reason he got emotional was the fact that his family had given up so much for him to run for president.

“My family has been on the road with me this week,” he said. “The kids were really excited to be here and it made me reflect on the journey for my family, too.”

Erick Sanchez, a Yang spokesman, tweeted that the emotion reflected that growth.

“Andrew’s first official campaign visit in Iowa was in August 2018,” Sanchez wrote. “No matter what happens, his time as a candidate for the Iowa caucus comes to an end on Monday. Let’s make it worth it.”

Even some of Yang’s competitors were moved by the moment.

Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the campaign of former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, tweeted, “That was a very powerful moment,” in response to the video.

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