Entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks onstage during the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Andrew Yang, whose longshot Democratic campaign has made surprising inroads into the race for the White House, flipped a debate question about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s to a slam on Amazon.

Yang said he supports impeachment, but then he quickly pivoted his focus.

“We’re standing in the great state of Ohio the ultimate purple state, the ultimate bellwether state. Why did Donald Trump win your state by eight points? Because we got rid of 300,000 manufacturing jobs in your towns and [we’re] not stopping there,” he said.

Yang, a former lawyer who became wealthy as an entrepreneur, has made the threat of automation one of the centerpieces of his 2020 campaign. A big part of his platform centers on the “freedom dividend,” a $1,000 monthly paycheck that would go to every American adult.

“How many of you notice stores closing where you work and live here in Ohio? Raise your hands,” he asked.

A number of retailers across the country have been downsizing their footprint as shoppers abandon the mall and head online.

Many of those retailers had overexpanded over the past decade which they are now retreating from as habits have changed and investment is needed in e-commerce. So far this year, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Party City, Pier 1 and Gap are among those that have announced store closures.

“It’s not just you,” Yang added. “Amazon alone is closing 30% of America’s stores and malls, soaking up $20 billion in business while paying zero in taxes.”

An Amazon representative did not immediately return a request for comment.

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