A total of 12 candidates met onstage in Westerville, Ohio, for a fourth for the 2020 Democratic presidential debate hosted by CNN and the New York Times. Below is a transcript of the debate.
I’m Anderson Cooper moderating tonight’s debate, along with CNN’s Erin Burnett and New York Times national editor Mark Lacey. We are in Ohio tonight, because it’s one of the most critical battleground states. Ohio has backed all but two presidential winners in every election since 1896.
BURNETT: The top 12 Democratic presidential candidates are at their positions behind the podiums. This is a record number of candidates for a presidential primary debate, so to accommodate the large group, there are no opening statements tonight.
LACEY: Before we begin, a reminder of the ground rules. You’ll each receive 75 seconds to answer questions, 45 seconds for responses and rebuttals, and 15 seconds for clarifications. Please refrain from interrupting your fellow candidates, as that will count against your time.
COOPER: And we remind our audience here in the Rike Center at Otterbein to be respectful so the candidates can hear the questions and each other. All right, let’s begin.
Since the last debate, House Democrats have officially launched an impeachment inquiry against President Trump, which all the candidates on this stage support. Senator Warren, I want to start with you. You have said that there’s already enough evidence for President Trump to be impeached and removed from office. But the question is, with the election only one year away, why shouldn’t it be the voters who determine the president’s fate?
WARREN: Because sometimes there are issues that are bigger than politics. And I think that’s the case with this impeachment inquiry.
When I made the decision to run for president, I certainly didn’t think it was going to be about impeachment. But when the Mueller report came out, I read it, all 442 pages. And when I got to the end, I realized that Mueller had shown, too, a fare-thee-well, that this president had obstructed justice and done it repeatedly. And so at that moment, I called for opening an impeachment inquiry.
Now, that didn’t happen. And look what happened as a result. Donald Trump broke the law again in the summer, broke it again this fall. You know, we took a constitutional oath, and that is that no one is above the law, and that includes the president of the United States.
Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences. This is about Donald Trump, but, understand, it’s about the next president and the next president and the next president and the future of this country. The impeachment must go forward.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator Warren. You’re all going to get in on this, by the way. Senator Sanders, do Democrats have any chance but to impeach President Trump? Please respond.
SANDERS: No, they don’t. In my judgment, Trump is the most corrupt president in the history of this country. It’s not just that he obstructed justice with the Mueller Report. I think that the House will find him guilty of — worthy of impeachment because of the emoluments clause. This is a president who is enriching himself while using the Oval Office to do that, and that is outrageous.
And I think in terms of the recent Ukrainian incident, the idea that we have a president of the United States who is prepared to hold back national security money to one of our allies in order to get dirt on a presidential candidate is beyond comprehension. So I look forward, by the way, not only to a speedy and expeditious impeachment process, but Mitch McConnell has got to do the right thing and allow a free and fair trial in the Senate.
COOPER: Vice President Biden, during the Clinton impeachment proceedings, you said, and I quote, “The American people don’t think that they’ve made a mistake by electing Bill Clinton, and we in Congress had better be very careful before we upset their decision.” With the country now split, have Democrats been careful enough in pursuing the impeachment of President Trump?
BIDEN: Yes, they have. I said from the beginning that if, in fact, Trump continued to stonewall what the Congress is entitled to know about his background, what he did, all the accusations in the Mueller Report, if they did that, they would have no choice — no choice — but to begin an impeachment proceeding, which gives them more power to seek more information.
This president — and I agree with Bernie, Senator Sanders — is the most corrupt president in modern history and I think all of our history. And the fact is that this president of the United States has gone so far as to say, since this latest event, that, in fact, he will not cooperate in any way at all, will not list any witnesses, will not provide any information, will not do anything to cooperate with the impeachment. They have no choice but to move.
COOPER: Senator Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that members of Congress have to be, in her words, fair to the president and give him a chance to exonerate himself. You’ve already said that based on everything you’ve seen, you would vote to remove him from office. Is that being fair to the president?
HARRIS: Well, it’s just being observant, because he has committed crimes in plain sight. I mean, it’s shocking, but he told us who he was. Maya Angelou told us years ago, listen to somebody when they tell you who they are the first time.
During that election, Donald Trump told us he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. And he has consistently since he won been selling out the American people. He’s been selling out working people. He’s been selling out our values. He’s been selling out national security. And on this issue with Ukraine, he has been selling out our democracy.
Our framers imagined this moment, a moment where we would have a corrupt president. And our framers then rightly designed our system of democracy to say there will be checks and balances. This is one of those moments. And so Congress must act.
But the reality of it is that I don’t really think this impeachment process is going to take very long, because as a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it. And he did it in plain sight. He has given us the evidence. And he tried to cover it up, putting it in that special server. And there’s been a clear consciousness of guilt. This will not take very long. Donald Trump needs to be held accountable. He is, indeed, the most corrupt and unpatriotic president we have ever had.
COOPER: Senator Booker, you have said that President Trump’s, quote, “moral vandalism” disqualifies him from being president. Can you be fair in an impeachment trial? Please respond.
BOOKER: So, first of all, we must be fair. We are talking about ongoing proceedings to remove a sitting president for office. This has got to be about patriotism and not partisanship.
Look, I share the same sense of urgency of everybody on this stage. I understand the outrage that we all feel. But we have to conduct this process in a way that is honorable, that brings our country together, doesn’t rip us apart.
Anybody who has criticisms about a process that is making all the facts bare before the American public, that works to build consensus, that’s what this nation needs, in what is a moral moment and not a political one. So I swore an oath to do my job as a senator, do my duty. This president has violated his. I will do mine.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator Booker.
Senator Klobuchar, you have — what do you say to those who fear that impeachment is a distraction from issues that impact people’s day-to-day lives, health care, the economy, and could backfire on Democrats?
KLOBUCHAR: We can do two things at once. That’s our job. We have a constitutional duty to pursue this impeachment, but we also can stand up for America, because this president has not been putting America in front of his own personal interests.
He has not been standing up for the workers of Ohio. He’s not been standing up for the farmers in Iowa. And I take this even a step further. You know, when he made that call to the head of Ukraine, he’s digging up dirt on an opponent. That’s illegal conduct. That’s what he was doing. He didn’t talk to him about the Russian invasion. He talked to him about that.
So I’m still waiting to find out from him how making that call to the head of Ukraine and trying to get him involved in interfering in our election makes America great again. I’d like to hear from him about how leaving the Kurds for slaughter, our allies for slaughter, where Russia then steps in to protect them, how that makes America great again. And I would like to hear from him about how coddling up to Vladimir Putin makes America great again.
It doesn’t make America great again. It makes Russia great again. And that is what this president has done. So whether it is workers’ issues, whether it is farmers’ issues, he has put his own private interests …
COOPER: Thank you.
KLOBUCHAR: … and I will not do that.
COOPER: Thank you. Secretary Castro, is impeachment a distraction?
CASTRO: Not at all. We can walk and chew gun at the same time. And all of us are out there every single day talking about what we’re going to do to make sure that more people cross a graduation stage, that more families have great health care, that more folks are put to work in places like Ohio, where Donald Trump has broken his promises, because Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania actually in the latest jobs data have lost jobs, not gained them.
Not only that, what we have to recognize is that not only did the Mueller Report point out 10 different instances where the president obstructed justice or tried to, and he made that call to President Zelensky of the Ukraine, but he is in ongoingly — in an ongoing way violating his oath of office and abusing his power.
We have to impeach this president. And the majority of Americans not only support impeachment, they support removal. He should be removed.
COOPER: Mayer Buttigieg, you have said that impeachment should be bipartisan. There’s been, obviously, very little Republican support to date, yet Democrats are proceeding. Is that a mistake?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, it’s a mistake on the part of Republicans, who enable the president whose actions are as offensive to their own supposed values as they are to the values that we all share.
Look, the president has left the Congress with no choice. And this is not just about holding the president accountable, for not just the things emerging in these investigations, but actions that he has confessed to on television. It’s also about the presidency itself, because a president 10 years or 100 years from now will look back at this moment and draw the conclusion either that no one is above the law or that a president can get away with anything.
But everyone on this stage, by definition, is competing to be a president for after the Trump presidency. Remember, one way or the other, this presidency is going to come to an end. I want you to picture what it’s going to be like, what it’s actually going to feel like in this country the first day the sun comes up after Donald Trump has been president.
It starts out feeling like a happy thought; this particular brand of chaos and corruption will be over. But really think about where we’ll be: vulnerable, even more torn apart by politics than we are right now. And these big issues from the economy to climate change have not taken a vacation during the impeachment process.
I’m running to be the president who can turn the page and unify a dangerously polarized country while tackling those issues that are going to be just as urgent then as they are now.
COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Congresswoman Gabbard, you’re the only sitting House member on this stage. How do you respond?
GABBARD: If impeachment is driven by these hyperpartisan interests, it will only further divide an already terribly divided country. Unfortunately, this is what we’re already seen play out as calls for impeachment really began shortly after Trump won his election. And as unhappy as that may make us as Democrats, he won that election in 2016.
The serious issues that have been raised around this phone call that he had with the president of Ukraine and many other things that transpired around that are what caused me to support the inquiry in the House. And I think that it should continue to play its course out, to gather all the information, provide that to the American people, recognizing that that is the only way forward.
If the House votes to impeach, the Senate does not vote to remove Donald Trump, he walks out and he feels exonerated, further deepening the divides in this country that we cannot afford.
COOPER: Thank you, Congresswoman.
Mr. Steyer, you’ve been calling for impeachment for two years. Does there need to be bipartisan support?
STEYER: Well, Anderson, this is my first time on this stage, so I just want to start by reminding everybody that every candidate here is more decent, more coherent, and more patriotic than the criminal in the White House.
But I also want to point out that Anderson’s right. Two years ago, I started the Need to Impeach movement, because I knew there was something desperately wrong at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, that we did have the most corrupt president in the country, and that only the voice and the will of the American people would drag Washington to see it as a matter of right and wrong, not of political expediency. So, in fact, impeaching and removing this president is something that the American people are demanding. They’re the voice that counts, and that’s who I went to, the American people.
COOPER: Mr. Yang, do you think there’s already enough evidence out there to impeach the president? Please respond.
YANG: I support impeachment, but we shouldn’t have any illusions that impeaching Donald Trump will, one, be successful or, two, erase the problems that got him elected in 2016. 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 are not stopping there. How many of you have noticed stores closing where you work and live here in Ohio? Raise your hands.
It’s not just you. Amazon alone is closing 30 percent of America’s stores and malls, soaking up $20 billion in business while paying zero in taxes. These are the problems that got Donald Trump elected, the fourth industrial revolution. And that is going to accelerate and grow more serious regardless of who is in the Oval Office.
The fact is, Donald Trump, when we’re talking about him, we are losing. We need to present a new vision, and that even includes talking about impeaching Donald Trump.
COOPER: Congressman O’Rourke, on impeachment, please respond.
O’ROURKE: You know, I think about everyone who’s ever served this country in uniform. We have two examples here on this stage tonight in Mayor Buttigieg and Congresswoman Gabbard, those who have willingly sacrificed their lives to defend this country and our Constitution. We are the inheritors of their service and their sacrifice.
And we have a responsibility to be fearless in the face of this president’s criminality and his lawlessness. The fact that as a candidate for the highest office in the land, he invited the participation, the invasion of a foreign power in our democracy. As president, he lied to investigators, obstructed justice, fired James Comey, head of the FBI, tried to fire Mueller, head of the investigation, then invited President Zelensky to involve himself in our politics, as well as China, in exchange for favorable trade terms in an upcoming trade deal.
COOPER: Thank you, Congressman.
O’ROURKE: If we do not hold him to account, if there is not justice, not only have we failed this moment, our Constitution and our country, but we have failed everyone who has sacrificed and laid their lives down on the line.
COOPER: Thank you.
O’ROURKE: And we cannot do that.
COOPER: Thank you, Congressman. The impeachment inquiry is centered on President Trump’s attempts to get political dirt from Ukraine on Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter. Mr. Vice President, President Trump has falsely accused your son of doing something wrong while serving on a company board in Ukraine. I want to point out there’s no evidence of wrongdoing by either one of you.
Having said that, on Sunday, you announced that if you’re president, no one in your family or associated with you will be involved in any foreign businesses. My question is, if it’s not okay for a president’s family to be involved in foreign businesses, why was it okay for your son when you were vice president? Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: Look, my son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine. And that’s what we should be focusing on.
And what I wanted to make a point about — and my son’s statement speaks for itself. He spoke about it today. My son’s statement speaks for itself. What I think is important is we focus on why it’s so important to remove this man from office.
On the — look, the fact that George Washington worried on the first time he spoke after being elected president that what we had to worry about is foreign interference in our elections, it was the greatest threat to America. This president on three occasions — three occasions — has invited foreign governments and heads of government to get engaged in trying to alter our elections. The fact is that it is outrageous.
Rudy Giuliani, the president, and his thugs have already proven that they, in fact, are flat lying. What we have to do now is focus on Donald Trump. He doesn’t want me to be the candidate. He’s going after me because he knows, if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum.
(UNKNOWN): Anderson — Anderson …
COOPER: Hold on, sorry, just to follow up. Mr. Vice President, as you said, your son, Hunter, today gave an interview, admitted that he made a mistake and showed poor judgement by serving on that board in Ukraine. Did you make a mistake by letting him? You were the point person on Ukraine at the time. You can answer.
BIDEN: Look, my son’s statement speaks for itself. I did my job. I never discussed a single thing with my son about anything having do with Ukraine. No one has indicated I have. We’ve always kept everything separate. Even when my son was the attorney general of the state of Delaware, we never discussed anything, so there would be no potential conflict.
My son made a judgment. I’m proud of the judgement he made. I’m proud of what he had to say. And let’s focus on this. The fact of the matter is that this is about Trump’s corruption. That’s what we should be focusing on.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, your response?
SANDERS: Let me make a point. I think that it is absolutely imperative we go forward with impeachment. I hope that he is impeached. But I think what would be a disaster, if the American people believe that all we were doing is taking on Trump and we’re forgetting that 87 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured. We’re forgetting about the existential threat of climate change. We are forgetting about the fact that half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck. So what we have got to do is end this corruption, set a precedent for future history that says presidents like this cannot behave this way.
But we cannot and must not turn our backs on the pain of the working class of this country.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, thank you. Mark?
LACEY: We want to move now to the economy.
(UNKNOWN): May I get in, please?
LACEY: You’ve proposed some sweeping plans…
LACEY: … free public college…
(UNKNOWN): It is wrong to move on.
LACEY: Thank you. We’re going to — Senator Warren.
(UNKNOWN): It is wrong to move on.
LACEY: Senator Warren, we’ve proposed — you’ve proposed some sweeping plans, free public college, free universal childcare, eliminating most Americans’ college debt. And you’ve said how you’re going to pay for those plans. But you have not specified how you’re going to pay for the most expensive plan, Medicare for all. Will you raise taxes on the middle class to pay for it, yes or no?
WARREN: So I have made clear what my principles are here, and that is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations, and for hard-working middle-class families, costs will go down. You know, the way I see this is, I have been out all around this country. I’ve done 140 town halls now, been to 27 states and Puerto Rico. Shoot, I’ve done 70,000 selfies, which must be the new measure of democracy.
And this gives people a chance to come up and talk to me directly. So I have talked with the family, the mom and dad whose daughter’s been diagnosed with cancer. I have talked to the young woman whose mother has just been diagnosed with diabetes. I’ve talked to the young man who has MS.
And here’s the thing about all of them. They all had great health insurance right at the beginning. But then they found out when they really needed it, when the costs went up, that the insurance company pulled the rug out from underneath them and they were left with nothing.
Look, the way I see this, it is hard enough to get a diagnosis that your child has cancer, to think about the changes in your family if your mom has diabetes, or what it means for your life going forward if you’ve been diagnosed with MS. But what you shouldn’t have to worry about is how you’re going to pay for your health care after that.
LACEY: Senator Warren, to be clear, Senator Sanders acknowledges he’s going to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for Medicare for all. You’ve endorsed his plan. Should you acknowledge it, too?
WARREN: So the way I see this, it is about what kinds of costs middle-class families are going to face. So let me be clear on this. Costs will go up for the wealthy. They will go up for big corporations. And for middle-class families, they will go down. I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families.
LACEY: Mayor Buttigieg, you say Senator Warren has been, quote, “evasive” about how she’s going to pay for Medicare for all. What’s your response?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, we heard it tonight, a yes or no question that didn’t get a yes or no answer. Look, this is why people here in the Midwest are so frustrated with Washington in general and Capitol Hill in particular. Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything. Except this.
No plan has been laid out to explain how a multi-trillion-dollar hole in this Medicare for all plan that Senator Warren is putting forward is supposed to get filled in. And the thing is, we really can deliver health care for every American and move forward with the boldest, biggest transformation since the inception of Medicare itself.
But the way to do it without a giant multi-trillion-dollar hole and without having to avoid a yes-or-no question is Medicare for all who want it. We take a version of Medicare. We let you access it if you want to. And if you prefer to stay on your private plan, you can do that, too. That is what most Americans want, Medicare for all who want it, trusting you to make the right decision for your health care and for your family. And it can be delivered without an increase on the middle-class taxes.
LACEY: Thank you, Mayor. Senator, your response?
WARREN: So, let’s be clear. Whenever someone hears the term Medicare for all who want it, understand what that really means. It’s Medicare for all who can afford it. And that’s the problem we’ve got.
Medicare for all is the gold standard. It is the way we get health care coverage for every single American, including the family whose child has been diagnosed with cancer, including the person who’s just gotten an MS diagnosis. That’s how we make sure that everyone gets health care.
We can pay for this. I’ve laid out the basic principles. Costs are going to go up for the wealthy. They’re going to go up for big corporations. They will not go up for middle-class families. And I will not sign a bill into law that raises their costs, because costs are what people care about.
I’ve been studying this, you know, for the biggest part of my life…
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Can the — can the…
WARREN: … why people go bankrupt.
LACEY: … mayor respond?
BUTTIGIEG: I don’t think the American people are wrong when they say that what they want is a choice. And the choice of Medicare for all who want it, which is affordable for everyone, because we make sure that the subsidies are in place, allows you to get that health care. It’s just better than Medicare for all whether you want it or not.
And I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage to everybody is to obliterate private plans, kicking 150 million Americans off of their insurance in four short years, when we could achieve that same big, bold goal — and once again, we have a president — we’re competing to be president for the day after Trump. Our country will be horrifyingly polarized, even more than now, after everything we’ve been through, after everything we are about to go through, this country will be even more divided. Why unnecessarily divide this country over health care when there’s a better way to deliver coverage for all?
LACEY: Thank you. Thank you, Mayor. Senator Sanders?
WARREN: I’d like to be able to respond…
SANDERS: Well, as somebody who wrote the damn bill, as I said, let’s be clear. Under the Medicare for all bill that I wrote, premiums are gone. Co-payments are gone. Deductibles are gone. All out-of-pocket expenses are gone. We’re going to do better than the Canadians do, and that is what they have managed to do.
At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of people will save money on their health care bills. But I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up. They’re going to go up significantly for the wealthy. And for virtually everybody, the tax increase they pay will be substantially less — substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out-of-pocket expansions.
BUTTIGIEG: Well, at least that’s a straightforward answer, but there’s a better way.
LACEY: Senator Warren, will you acknowledge what the senator just said about taxes going up?
WARREN: So my view on this, and what I have committed to, is costs will go down for hardworking, middle-class families. I will not embrace a plan like Medicare for all who can afford it that will leave behind millions of people who cannot. And I will not embrace a plan that says people have great insurance right up until you get the diagnosis and the insurance company says, “Sorry, we’re not covering your expensive cancer treatments, we’re not covering your expensive treatments for MS.”
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Senator Klobuchar…
WARREN: “We’re not covering what you need.”
KLOBUCHAR: At least Bernie’s being honest here and saying how he’s going to pay for this and that taxes are going to go up. And I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that, and I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we’re going to send the invoice.
I believe the best and boldest idea here is to not trash Obamacare but to do exactly what Barack Obama wanted to do from the beginning and that’s have a public option that would bring down the cost of the premium and expand the number of people covered and take on the pharmaceutical companies. That is what we should be doing instead of kicking 149 million people off their insurance in our years.
And I’m tired of hearing, whenever I say these things, oh, it’s Republican talking points. You are making Republican talking points right now in this room by coming out for a plan that’s going to do that. I think there is a better way that is bold, that will cover more people, and it’s the one we should get behind.
LACEY: Senator Warren?
WARREN: You know, I didn’t spend most of my time in Washington. I spent most of my time studying one basic question, and that is why hardworking people go broke. And one of the principal reasons for that is the cost of health care.
And back when I was studying it, two out of every three families that ended up in bankruptcy after a serious medical problem had health insurance. The problem we’ve got right now is the overall cost of health care. And, look, you can try to spin this any way you want. I’ve spent my entire life on working on how America’s middle class has been hollowed out and how we fight back. I’ve put out nearly 50 plans on how we can fight back and how we can rebuild an America that works. And a part is that is we have got to stop…
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
WARREN: … Americans from going bankrupt over health care costs.
LACEY: Senator Klobuchar, do you want to respond?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, I do. And I appreciate Elizabeth’s work. But, again, the difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done. And we can get this public option done. And we can take on the pharmaceutical companies and bring down the prices.
But what really bothers me about this discussion, which we’ve had so many times, is that we don’t talk about the things that I’m hearing about from regular Americans. That is long-term care. We are seeing — I once called it a silver tsunami. The aging — and then someone told me that was too negative, so I call it the silver surge — the aging of the population.
We need to make easier to get long-term care insurance and strengthen Medicaid. In this state, the state of Ohio, that has been hit by the opioid epidemic, we need to take on those pharma companies and make them pay for the addictions that they have caused and the people that they have killed.
LACEY: Thank you. Thank you, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: Those are the issues that I hear about when I’m in Toledo.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Vice President Biden…
HARRIS: I’d like to be…
LACEY: Let me — let me bring you in here, Vice President, for your response. Are Senators Warren and Sanders being realistic about the difficulty of enacting their plans?
BIDEN: First of all, the plan we’re hearing discussed is the Biden plan, the one I built forward. Build on Obamacare, add a public option. We can go into that. I can talk about that if you’d like.
But here’s the deal. On the single most important thing facing the American public, I think it’s awfully important to be straightforward with them. The plan is going to cost at least $30 trillion over 10 years. That is more on a yearly basis than the entire federal budget.
And we talk about how we’re going to pay for it. The study recently came out showing that, in fact, it will reduce costs. But for people making between $50,000 and $75,000 a year, their taxes are going to go up about $5,000, because the fact is they’ll pay more in new taxes, 7.4 percent plus, or 5 percent, plus a 4 percent income tax. If you’re making — if a fireman and a schoolteacher are making $100,000 a year, their taxes are going to go up about $10,000. That is more than they will possibly save on this health care plan. We have a plan put forward that will work.
LACEY: Senator Sanders, do you want to respond to — we were coming to you.
SANDERS: I get a little bit tired — I must say — of people defending a system which is dysfunctional, which is cruel, 87 million uninsured, 30,000 people dying every single year, 500,000 people going bankrupt for one reason, they came down with cancer.
I will tell you what the issue is here. The issue is whether the Democratic Party has the guts to stand up to the health care industry, which made $100 billion in profit, whether we have the guts to stand up to the corrupt, price-fixing pharmaceutical industry, which is charging us the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
And if we don’t have the guts to do that, if all we can do is take their money, we should be ashamed of ourselves.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator Sanders.
BIDEN: We can stand up to them.
LACEY: Senator Harris, your response?
HARRIS: This is the sixth debate we have had in this presidential cycle and not nearly one word, with all of these discussions about health care, on women’s access to reproductive health care, which is under full-on attack in America today.
And it’s outrageous. There are states that have passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive health care. And it is not an exaggeration to say women will die, poor women, women of color will die, because these Republican legislatures in these various states who are out of touch with America are telling women what to do with our bodies.
Women are the majority of the population in this country. People need to keep their hands off of women’s bodies and let women make the decisions about their own lives.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: And let’s talk about that.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: That is a significant health care issue in America today.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
BURNETT: I want to turn now to jobs. According to a recent study, about a quarter of American jobs could be lost to automation in just the next 10 years. Ohio is one of the states likely to be hardest hit.
Senator Sanders, you say your federal jobs guarantee is part of the answer to the threat from automation, but tens of millions of Americans could end up losing their jobs. Are you promising that you will have a job for every single one of those Americans?
SANDERS: Damn right we will. And I’ll tell you why. If you look at what goes on in America today, we have an infrastructure which is collapsing. We could put 15 million people to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our water systems, our wastewater plants, airports, et cetera.
Furthermore — and I hope we will discuss it at length tonight — this planet faces the greatest threat in its history from climate change. And the Green New Deal that I have advocated will create up to 20 million jobs as we move away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
We need workers to do childcare. We need workers, great teachers to come in to school systems which don’t have the teachers that we need right now. We need more doctors. We need more dentists. We need more carpenters. We need more sheet metal workers. And when we talk about making public colleges and universities tuition fee and cancelling student debt, we’re going to give those people the opportunity to get those good jobs.
BURNETT: Senator Sanders, thank you. Mr. Yang, your main solution to job loss from automation is a universal basic income. Why is giving people $1,000 a month better than Sanders’ plan to guaranteeing them a job?
YANG: I am for the spirit of a federal jobs guarantee, but you have to look at how it would actually materialize in practice. What are the jobs? Who manages you? What if you don’t like your job? What if you’re not good at your job?
The fact is, most Americans do not want to work for the federal government. And saying that that is the vision of the economy of the 21st century to me is not a vision that most Americans would embrace.
Also, Senator Sanders, the description of a federal jobs guarantee does not take into account the work of people like my wife, who’s at home with our two boys, one of whom is autistic. We have a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month. It actually recognizes the work that is happening in our families and our communities. It helps all Americans transition.
Because the fact is — and you know this in Ohio — if you rely upon the federal government to target its resources, you wind up with failed retraining programs and jobs that no one wants. When we put the money into our hands, we can build a trickle-up economy from our people, our families, and our communities up. It will enable us to do the kind of work that we want to do. This is the sort of positive vision in response to the fourth industrial revolution that we have to embrace as a party.
BURNETT: Senator Booker, a federal jobs guarantee or $1,000 a month, are those the best solutions there? Please respond.
BOOKER: Well, first of all, I’m happy to get in finally. And I just want to say, as a great — as a great New Jersian, Yogi Berra, said, “I am having deja vu all over again.”
I’m having deja vu all over again, first of all, because I saw this play in 2016’s election. We are literally using Donald Trump’s lies. And the second issue we cover on this stage is elevating a lie and attacking a statesman. That was so offensive. He should not have to defend ourselves. And the only person sitting at home that was enjoying that was Donald Trump seeing that we’re distracting from his malfeasance and selling out of his office.
And I’m having deja vu all over again. And I’m having deja vu all over again because we have another health care debate, and we’re not talking about the clear and existential threat in America that we’re in a state that has had two Planned Parenthoods close. We are seeing all over this country women’s reproductive rights under attack. And God bless Kamala, but you know what? Women should not be the only ones taking up this cause and this fight.
BURNETT: Thank you.
BOOKER: It is not just because women are our daughters and our friends and our wives. It’s because women are people. And people deserve to control their own bodies.
BURNETT: Senator, thank you. We are going to get to that issue later on tonight.
Senator Warren, you wrote that blaming job loss on automation is, quote, “a good story, except it’s not really true.” So should workers here in Ohio not be worried about losing their jobs to automation?
WARREN: So the data show that we have had a lot of problems with losing jobs, but the principal reason has been bad trade policy. The principal reason has been a bunch of corporations, giant multinational corporations who’ve been calling the shots on trade, giant multinational corporations that have no loyalty to America. They have no loyalty to American workers. They have no loyalty to American consumers. They have no loyalty to American communities. They are loyal only to their own bottom line.
I have a plan to fix that, and it’s accountable capitalism. It says, you want to have one of the giant corporations in America? Then, by golly, 40 percent of your board of directors should be elected by your employees. That will make a difference when a corporation decides, gee, we could save a nickel by moving a job to Mexico, when there are people on the board in the boardroom saying, no, do you know what that does to our company, do you know what that does to our community, to what it does to our workers?
We also need to make it easier to join a union and give unions more power when they negotiate.
We need to restructure strength in this economy, and that’s where it starts.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator.
Secretary Castro, what’s your response to Senator Warren’s claim that automation is a good story, except it’s not really true?
CASTRO: Well, I think — I think what folks have said is that that is only part of the issue, right? You know, I believe that we need to address communities that are being impacted by automation. I’m even willing to pilot something like UBI and to see how that would work.
But I think we need to focus on making sure that we spark job opportunity for people across this country. As I mentioned earlier, here in Ohio, in the latest job data, Ohio is losing jobs under Donald Trump. He has broken his promises to Ohio and the industrial Midwest. I would invest in infrastructure to put people back to work. I would invest in a Green New Deal to unleash millions of new jobs in a clean energy economy.
I was in Newton, Iowa, a few weeks ago and I visited a place called TPI. Newton, Iowa, had a Maytag washing machine manufacturing facility, and then it closed down. TPI manufactures wind turbines. They’re putting hundreds of people to work at decent-paying jobs and creating a better future for those families.
On top of that, let me just say this. We need to support working families. We need to invest in things like…
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
CASTRO: … universal childcare, so that people can afford childcare instead of having to pay 20 percent of their income for it.
YANG: Senator Warren, I just need — I just need to address this.
BURNETT: Go ahead, Mr. Yang.
YANG: Senator Warren, I’ve been talking to Americans around the country about automation. And they’re smart. They see what’s happening around them. Their Main Street stores are closing. They see a self-serve kiosk in every McDonalds, every grocery store, every CVS. Driving a truck is the most common job in 29 states, including this one; 3.5 million truck drivers in this country. And my friends in California are piloting self-driving trucks.
What is that going to mean for the 3.5 million truckers or the 7 million Americans who work in truck stops, motels, and diners that rely upon the truckers getting out and having a meal? Saying this is a rules problem is ignoring the reality that Americans see around us every single day.
BURNETT: Senator Warren, respond, please.
WARREN: So I understand that what we’re all looking for is how we strengthen America’s middle class. And actually, I think the thing closest to the universal basic income is Social Security. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve put forward a plan to extend the solvency of Social Security by decades and add $200 to the payment of every person who receives Social Security right now and every person who receives disability insurance right now.
That $200 a month will lift nearly 5 million families out of poverty. And it will sure loosen up the budget for a whole lot more. It also has a provision for your wife, for those who stay home to do caregiving for children or for seniors, and creates an opportunity for them to get credit on their Social Security.
BURNETT: Thank you.
WARREN: So after a lifetime of hard work, people are entitled to retire with dignity.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator Warren.
WARREN: I see this as an important question about just — I want to understand the data on this.
BURNETT: Senator, thank you very much.
WARREN: And I want to make sure we’re responding to make this work.
BURNETT: Your time is up.
BURNETT: I want to give Congresswoman Gabbard a chance to respond.
GABBARD: Thank you. You know, really what this is about is getting to the heart of the fear that is well founded. As people look to this automation revolution, they look to uncertainty. They don’t know how this is going to affect their jobs and their everyday lives.
And I agree with my friend, Andrew Yang. I think universal basic income is a good idea to help provide that security so that people can have the freedom to make the kinds of choices that they want to see.
This has to do with bad trade deals that we’ve seen in the past that have also driven fear towards people losing the way that they provide for their families. Really what we need to do is look at how we can best serve the interests of the American people. I do not believe a federal jobs guarantee is the way to do that. The value that someone feels in themselves and their own lives is not defined by the job that they have but is intrinsic to who we all are as Americans, whatever we choose to do with our lives, and we can’t forget that.
BURNETT: Thank you very much.
LACEY: One of the industries most at risk from a changing economy is the auto industry. General Motors used to be the largest employer in Ohio. Now it’s 72nd. Today, thousands of GM workers here in Ohio and across the country are on strike. All of you on the stage have voiced support for these workers.
Senator Booker, one of the latest impasses in negotiations involves bringing jobs back from Mexico. As president, how would you convince GM to return production to the United States?
BOOKER: Well, first of all, the one point I wanted to make about the UBI conversation — and I hope that my friend, Andrew Yang, will come out for this — doing more for workers than UBI would actually be just raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It would put more money in people’s pockets than giving them $1,000 a month.
We have to start putting the dignity back in work. And, number one, you start having trade deals, not like this thing that the president is trying to push through Congress right now that gives pharmaceutical companies and other corporations benefits and doesn’t put workers at the center of every trade deal.
We must make sure we are not giving corporate tax incentives for people to move jobs out of our country, but start to put the worker at the center of that and make sure that they have the resources to succeed.
But it’s more than that. I stood with these workers because we’re seeing this trend all over our country. I stood with unions because, right now, unions in America are under attack. As union membership has gone down, we have seen a stratification of wealth and income in this country.
So the other thing that I’ll do as president of the United States is begin to fight again to see union strength in this country spread, to make sure we have sectoral bargaining so that unions from the auto workers all the way to fast food workers can ensure that we improve workers’ conditions and make sure that every American has a living wage in this country.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
Congressman O’Rourke, same question for you. How would you convince GM to bring production back to the United States from Mexico?
O’ROURKE: I’ve met with these members of the UAW who are striking outside of facilities in Cincinnati, in Lordstown, Ohio, which has just been devastated, decimated by GM and their malfeasance, paying effectively zero in taxes last year. The people of Ohio investing tens of millions of dollars in the infrastructure around there.
What they want is a shot. And they want fairness in how we treat workers in this country, which they are not receiving today. Part of the way to do that is through our trade deals, making sure that if we trade with Mexico, Mexican workers are allowed to join unions, which they are effectively unable to do today. Not only is that bad for the Mexican worker, it puts the American worker at a competitive disadvantage.
If we complement that with investment in world-class pre-K through 12 public education, get behind our world-class public school educators, if we make sure that cost is not an object to be able to attend college, and if we elevate the role of unions in this country, and create more than 5 million apprenticeships over the next eight years, we will make sure that every single American has a shot.
They don’t want a handout. They don’t want a job guarantee. They just want a shot. And as president, I will give them that shot.
LACEY: Thank you, Congressman.
BURNETT: Income inequality is growing in the United States at an alarming rate. The top 1 percent now own more of this nation’s wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. Senator Sanders, when you introduced your wealth tax, which would tax the assets of the wealthiest Americans, you said, quoting you, Senator, “Billionaires should not exist.” Is the goal of your plan to tax billionaires out of existence?
WARREN: When you have a half-a-million Americans sleeping out on the street today, when you have 87 people — 87 million people uninsured or underinsured, when you’ve got hundreds of thousands of kids who cannot afford to go to college, and millions struggling with the oppressive burden of student debt, and then you also have three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society, that is a moral and economic outrage.
And the truth is, we cannot afford to continue this level of income and wealth inequality. And we cannot afford a billionaire class, whose greed and corruption has been at war with the working families of this country for 45 years.
So if you’re asking me do I think we should demand that the wealthy start paying — the wealthiest, top 0.1 percent, start paying their fair share of taxes so we can create a nation and a government that works for all of us? Yes, that’s exactly what I believe.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator.
Mr. Steyer, you are the lone billionaire on this stage. What’s your plan for closing the income gap?
STEYER: Well, first of all, let me say this. Senator Sanders is right. There have been 40 years where corporations have bought this government, and those 40 years have meant a 40-year attack on the rights of working people and specifically on organized labor. And the results are as shameful as Senator Sanders says, both in terms of assets and in terms of income. It’s absolutely wrong. It’s absolutely undemocratic and unfair.
I was one of the first people on this stage to propose a wealth tax. I would undo every Republican tax cut for rich people and major corporations. But there’s something else going on here that is absolutely shameful, and that’s the way the money gets split up in terms of earnings.
As a result of taking away the rights of working people and organized labor, people haven’t had a raise — 90 percent of Americans have not had a raise for 40 years. If you took the minimum wage from 1980 and just adjusted it for inflation, you get $11 bucks. It’s $7.25. If you included the productivity gains of American workers, it would be over $20 bucks.
There’s something wrong here, and that is that the corporations have bought our government. Our government has failed. That’s why I’m running for president, because we’re not going to get any of the policies that everybody on this stage wants — health care, education, Green New Deal, or a living wage…
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: … unless we break the power of these corporations.
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
Vice President Biden, you have warned against demonizing rich people. Do you believe that Senator Sanders and Senator Warren’s wealth tax plans do that?
BIDEN: No, look, demonizing wealth — what I talked about is how you get things done. And the way to get things done is take a look at the tax code right now. The idea — we have to start rewarding work, not just wealth. I would eliminate the capital gains tax — I would raise the capital gains tax to the highest rate, of 39.5 percent.
I would double it, because guess what? Why in God’s name should someone who’s clipping coupons in the stock market make — in fact, pay a lower tax rate than someone who, in fact, is — like I said — the — a schoolteacher and a firefighter? It’s ridiculous. And they pay a lower tax.
Secondly, the idea that we, in fact, engage in this notion that there are — there’s $1,640,000,000,000 in tax loopholes. You can’t justify a minimum $600 billion of that. We could eliminate it all. I could go into detail had I the time.
Secondly — I mean, thirdly, what we need to do is we need to go out and make it clear to the American people that we are going to — we are going to raise taxes on the wealthy. We’re going to reduce tax burdens on those who are not.
And this is one of the reasons why these debates are kind of crazy, because everybody tries to squeeze everything into every answer that is given. The fact is, everybody’s right about the fact that the fourth industrial revolution is costing jobs. It is. The fact is also corporate greed is they’re going back and not investing in our employees, they’re reinvesting and buying back their stock.
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
BIDEN: See, I’m doing the same thing.
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
Senator Warren, your response.
WARREN: So I think this is about our values as a country. Show me your budget, show me your tax plans, and we’ll know what your values are.
And right now in America, the top 0.1 percent have so much wealth — understand this — that if we put a 2 cent tax on their 50 millionth and first dollar, and on every dollar after that, we would have enough money to provide universal childcare for every baby in this country, age zero to five, universal pre-K for every child, raise the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher in America, provide for universal tuition-free college, put $50 billion into historically black colleges and universities…
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator Warren.
WARREN: … and cancel — no, let me finish, please, and cancel student loan debt for 95 percent of the people who have it. My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax. It’s why is it does everyone else on this stage think it is more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans?
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator Warren.
BIDEN: No one is supporting billionaires.
BURNETT: Mayor Buttigieg? Mayor Buttigieg, your response?
BUTTIGIEG: I’m all for a wealth tax. I’m all for just about everything that was just mentioned in these answers. Let me tell, though, how this looks from the industrial Midwest where I live.
Washington politicians, congressmen and senators, saying all the right things, offering the most elegant policy prescriptions, and nothing changes. I didn’t even realize it was unusual to have empty factories that I would see out the windows of my dad’s Chevy Cavalier when he drove me to school, I didn’t know that wasn’t every city until I went away to college. Now I drive my own Chevy. It’s a Chevy Cruze. It used to be built right in Lordstown, which is now one more symbol of the broken promises that this president has made to workers.
But why did workers take a chance on this president in the first place? It’s because it felt like nobody was willing to actually do anything. And while he’s unquestionably made it dramatically worse, this is time to realize that we’re paying attention to the wrong things. We’re paying attention…
BURNETT: Thank you, Mayor. Thank you, Mayor Buttigieg.
BUTTIGIEG: … to who sounded better on a debate stage or in a committee hearing…
BURNETT: Senator Klobuchar — Senator Klobuchar…
BUTTIGIEG: This is what it’s going to take to get something done.
BURNETT: Will a wealth tax — will a wealth tax work?
KLOBUCHAR: It could work. I am open to it. But I want to give a reality check here to Elizabeth, because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires. Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires.
We just have different approaches. Your idea is not the only idea. And when I look at this, I think about Donald Trump, the guy that after that tax bill passed went to Mar-a-Lago, got together with his cronies, and said, guess what, you guys all got a lot richer. That was the one time in his presidency he told the truth.
So we have different ways — I would repeal significant portions of that tax bill that help the rich, including what he did with the corporate tax rate, including what he did on international taxation. You add it all up, you got a lot of money that, one, helps pay for that childcare, protects that dignity of work, makes sure we have decent retirement, and makes sure that our kids can go to good schools.
BURNETT: Thank you. Senator…
KLOBUCHAR: It is not one idea that rules here.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar. Senator Warren, please respond.
WARREN: So understand, taxing income is not going to get you where you need to be the way taxing wealth does, that the rich are not like you and me. The really, really billionaires are making their money off their accumulated wealth, and it just keeps growing. We need a wealth tax in order to make investments in the next generation.
Look, I understand that this is hard, but I think as Democrats we are going to succeed when we dream big and fight hard, not when we dream small and quit before we get started.
KLOBUCHAR: I would like to respond to that.
BURNETT: Senator Klobuchar, respond, please.
KLOBUCHAR: You know, I think simply because you have different ideas doesn’t mean you’re fighting for regular people. I wouldn’t even be up on this stage if it wasn’t for unions and the dignity of work. If my grandpa didn’t have unions protecting him in those mines, he wouldn’t have survived. If my mom didn’t have unions as a teacher, she wouldn’t have been able to make the wages she made when my parents got divorced.
So just because we have different ideas, and get to the same place in terms of beating Donald Trump and taking this on, we are in Ohio. We can win Ohio in the presidency, but only if we unite, if we unite around ideals and don’t go fighting against each other and instead take the fight to him.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator.
Senator Harris, you want to give working families a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year to help close the income gap.
BURNETT: Is that a better solution than a wealth tax?
HARRIS: Well, here’s how I think about it. When I was growing up, my mother raised my sister and me. We would often come home from school before she came home from work. She’d come home, she’d cook dinner, and at some point we’d go to bed, and she’d sit up at the kitchen table trying to figure out how to make it all work.
And when I think about where we are right now in 2020, I do believe justice is on the ballot. It’s on the ballot in terms of impeachment, it’s on the ballot in terms of economic justice, health justice, and so many other issues.
So when I think about this issue, I’m thinking about that dad who tonight is going to be sitting at his kitchen table, after everyone’s gone to sleep, and sitting there with his cup of tea or coffee trying to figure out how it’s going to make — how he’s going to make it work. And he’s probably sitting there deciding that on that minimum wage job that does not pay enough for him to meet the bills at the end of the month, he’s going to have to start driving an Uber. And what does that mean? That means that with those two jobs, he’s going to miss his kids’ soccer games.
That’s the reality for Americans today, which is why, yes, when I get elected and pass this bill, which will give the American family who makes less than $100,000 a year a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year that they can take home at up to $500 a month, that’s going to make a real difference in that man’s life. And don’t tell him that’s not a big deal…
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: … when he’s trying to get through to the end of the month.
BURNETT: Mr. Yang, your response. Would you impose a wealth tax?
YANG: Senator Warren is 100 percent right that we’re in the midst of the most extreme winner-take-all economy in history. And a wealth tax makes a lot of sense in principle. The problem is that it’s been tried in Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, and all those countries ended up repealing it, because it had massive implementation problems and did not generate the revenue that they’d projected.
If we can’t learn from the failed experiences of other countries, what can we learn from? We should not be looking to other countries’ mistakes. Instead, we should look at what Germany, France, Denmark, and Sweden still have, which is a value-added tax. If we give the American people a tiny slice of every Amazon sale, every Google search, every robot truck mile, every Facebook ad, we can generate hundreds of billions of dollars and then put it into our hands, because we know best how to use it.
BURNETT: Thank you. Thank you.
Congressman O’Rourke, do you think a wealth tax is the best way to address income inequality? Your response.
O’ROURKE: I think it’s part of the solution. But I think we need to be focused on lifting people up. And sometimes I think that Senator Warren is more focused on being punitive and pitting some part of the country against the other instead of lifting people up and making sure that this country comes together around those solutions.
I think of a woman that I met in Las Vegas, Nevada. She’s working four jobs, raising her child with disabilities, and any American with disabilities knows just how hard it is to make it and get by in this country already. Some of those jobs working for some of these corporations, she wants to know how we are going to help her, how we’re going to make sure that her child has the care that she needs, that we strengthen protections for those with disabilities, that she just has to work one job because it pays a living wage.
And Senator Warren said show me your budget, show me your tax plan, and you’ll show me your values. She has yet to describe her tax plan and whether or not that person I met would see a tax increase. Under my administration, if you make less than $250,000 a year as a family, you will not see a tax increase. That family needs to know that.
BURNETT: Thank you, Congressman.
(UNKNOWN): Erin, let me say…
BURNETT: I want to give Senator Warren a chance to respond.
WARREN: So I’m really shocked at the notion that anyone thinks I’m punitive. Look, I don’t have a beef with billionaires. My problem is you made a fortune in America, you had a great idea, you got out there and worked for it, good for you. But you built that fortune in America. I guarantee you built it in part using workers all of us helped pay to educate. You built it in part getting your goods to markets on roads and bridges all of us helped pay for. You built it at least in part protected by police and firefighters all of us help pay the salaries for.
And all I’m saying is, you make it to the top, the top 0.1 percent, then pitch in two cents so every other kid in America has a chance to make it.
BURNETT: Senator, thank you.
WARREN: That’s what this is about.
BURNETT: Senator Castro, your response?
O’ROURKE: There’s no argument there. I just want to make sure that we’re lifting up those families who are working and need help through an expanded earned income tax credit or child tax credit…
WARREN: But that is…
O’ROURKE: … which we will do in my administration.
BURNETT: Go ahead, Senator.
WARREN: That is the point. This is universal childcare for every baby in this country, early educational opportunities for every child, universal pre-K no matter where you live for every 3-year-old and 4-year-old.
O’ROURKE: But in addition to that, will they see a tax increase?
WARREN: Raising the wages — no, raising the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher in this country. This is about universal college, about investment in our HBCUs, about making sure that we get rid of the student loan debt burden that is crushing…
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator…
O’ROURKE: … I just want to know if working families are going to see a tax increase.
BURNETT: I want to get Secretary Castro in here, please, Congressman. Go ahead, Secretary.
CASTRO: Thanks a lot, Erin. And you see that everybody has their own plans. And let me just say that the way that I view this is born out of my own experience.
I grew up like I bet a lot folks in this room grew up and folks that are watching on TV. I grew up with my twin brother, Joaquin, in a single-parent household where my mom was working hard to support us and also her mom, my grandmother. And we knew what it was like to wonder whether we were going to be able to pay the rent at the first of the month or sometimes have the electricity turned off.
And when I was a kid, to look at the grocery list that seemed to get shorter and shorter, and that’s what’s happening to a lot of families these days. I was in Las Vegas a few months ago, and I visited people who were homeless, who are living in storm drainage tunnels under the Las Vegas strip in the shadow of hotels and casinos that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, where people from around the world are spending so much money on vacations.
We can do better than that. I believe that wealth and equality tax, as I’ve proposed, is part of the answer, but also I’ve proposed an inheritance tax, raising the top marginal tax rate…
BURNETT: Thank you, Secretary.
CASTRO: … and investing in things like universal childcare and affordable housing.
BURNETT: All right. Senator Booker, please respond.
BOOKER: Well, first of all, I just want to be respond by — you know, we’ve got one shot to make Donald Trump a one-term president. And how we talk about each other in this debate actually really matters.
I’ve had the privilege of working with or being friends with everybody on this stage, and tearing each other down because we have a different plan to me is unacceptable. I have seen this script before.
It didn’t work in 2016, and it will be a disaster for us in 2020. And so I have a different plan than Elizabeth Warren. I have a different plan than many people on this stage. And it involves, again, fair taxes for the richest. We have a lot of work to do there. But we’ve had 20 years of presidential debates, and we have never talked about the violence in America of child poverty.
We have got to begin to talk more eloquently and persuasively and urgently about doing the things not just to make sure fair taxes are paid by people on the top, but that we deal with the moral obscenity of having the highest levels of child poverty in the industrial world.
My plan will focus on that, and these are some of the issues we should be talking about, not defining ourselves just by what we’re against, but we need to win this election by talking about who and what we are for.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator Booker.
COOPER: We’ve got to take a quick break. We’ve got to take a quick break right now. The CNN-New York Times debate live from Otterbein University in Ohio will be right back after this.
COOPER: And welcome back to the CNN-New York Times Democratic presidential debate live from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.
I want to turn now to foreign policy. President Trump ordered the withdrawal of all American forces from northern Syria, abandoning America’s long-time Kurdish allies. As a result, Turkey has now evaded Syria, ISIS detainees have escaped, and the Kurds have announced a new deal with the government in Damascus, a victory for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and Russia, and Iran.
Vice President Biden, we know you would not have withdrawn troops from northern Syria in this way, but that is already in process. So would you send American troops back into northern Syria to prevent an ISIS resurgence and protect our Kurdish allies?
BIDEN: I would not have withdrawn the troops and I would not have withdrawn the additional thousand troops who are in Iraq, which are in retreat now, being fired on by Assad’s people. And the president of the United States saying, if those ISIS folks escape from the prisons they’re in, they’ll only go to Europe and won’t affect us.
It has been the most shameful thing that any president has done in modern history — excuse me, in terms of foreign policy. And the fact of the matter is, I’ve never seen a time — and I’ve spent thousands of hours in the Situation Room, I’ve spent many hours on the ground in those very places, in Syria and in Iraq, and guess what? Our commanders across the board, former and present, are ashamed of what’s happening here.
What I would do is I would be making it real clear to Assad that, in fact, where he’s going to have a problem — because Turkey is the real problem here. And I would be having a real lockdown conversation with Erdogan and letting him know that he’s going to pay a heavy price for what he has done now. Pay that price.
COOPER: Just to clarify, Mr. Vice President, would you want American troops back in northern Syria?
BIDEN: I would want those thousand troops to be protected by air cover, those thousand troops that are being — having to withdraw under fire, make it clear that they’re not going anywhere, and have them protected, and work my way back toward what, in fact, needs to be done, protecting those Kurds. They lost their lives. This is shameful, shameful what this man has done.
COOPER: Congresswoman Gabbard, last week you said that American troops should get out of Syria now. You don’t agree with how the president handled the withdrawal. What would you have done differently? How would you have pulled out troops without the bloodshed we’re seeing now?
GABBARD: Well, first of all, we’ve got to understand the reality of the situation there, which is that the slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war that we’ve been waging in Syria.
Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand, but so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime change war in Syria that started in 2011, along with many in the mainstream media, who have been championing and cheerleading this regime change war.
Not only that, but the New York Times and CNN have also smeared veterans like myself for calling for an end to this regime change war. Just two days ago, the New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears. This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia. Completely despicable.
As president, I will end these regime change wars by doing two things — ending the draconian sanctions that are really a modern-day siege the likes of which we are seeing Saudi Arabia wage against Yemen, that have caused tens of thousands of Syrian civilians to die and to starve, and I would make sure that we stop supporting terrorists like Al Qaida in Syria who have been the ground force in this ongoing regime change war.
COOPER: Thank you.
GABBARD: I’d like to ask Senator Warren if she would join me in calling for an end to this regime change war in Syria, finally.
WARREN: So, look, I think that we ought to get out of the Middle East. I don’t think we should have troops in the Middle East. But we have to do it the right way, the smart way.
What this president has done is that he has sucked up to dictators, he has made impulsive decisions that often his own team doesn’t understand, he has cut and run on our allies, and he has enriched himself at the expense of the United States of America. In Syria, he has created a bigger-than-ever humanitarian crisis. He has helped ISIS get another foothold, a new lease on life.
I sit on the Armed Services Committee. I talk with our military leaders about this.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
WARREN: I was in Iraq and went through the neighborhoods that ISIS destroyed.
COOPER: Thank you.
WARREN: We need to get out, but we need to do this through a negotiated solution. There is no military solution in this region.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator. Mayor Buttigieg, Mayor Buttigieg, like many of your fellow candidates on the stage, you’ve been calling for an end to endless wars. What’s your response on Syria?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, respectfully, Congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence. It’s a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.
Look, I didn’t think we should have gone to Iraq in the first place. I think we need to get out of Afghanistan. But it’s also the case that a small number of specialized, special operations forces and intelligence capabilities were the only thing that stood between that part of Syria and what we’re seeing now, which is the beginning of a genocide and the resurgence of ISIS.
Meanwhile, soldiers in the field are reporting that for the first time they feel ashamed — ashamed — of what their country has done. We saw the spectacle, the horrifying sight of a woman with the lifeless body of her child in her arms asking, what the hell happened to American leadership?
And when I was deployed, I knew one of the things keeping me safe was the fact that the flag on my shoulder represented a country known to keep its word. And our allies knew it and our enemies knew it.
COOPER: Thank you, Mayor.
BUTTIGIEG: You take that away, you are taking away what makes America America.
COOPER: Thank you, Mayor.
BUTTIGIEG: It makes our troops and the world a much more dangerous place.
COOPER: Congresswoman Gabbard, your response?
GABBARD: Yeah, absolutely. So, really, what you’re saying, Mayor Pete, is that you would continue to support having U.S. troops in Syria for an indefinite period of time to continue this regime change war that has caused so many refugees to flee Syria, that you would continue to have our country involved in a war that has undermined our national security, you would continue this policy of the U.S. actually providing arms in support to terrorist groups in Syria, like Al Qaida, HTS, al-Nusra and others, because they are the ones who have been the ground force in this regime change war? That’s really what you’re saying?
COOPER: Mayor Pete — Mayor Buttigieg?
BUTTIGIEG: No, you can embrace — or you can put an end to endless war without embracing Donald Trump’s policy, as you’re doing.
GABBARD: Will you end the regime change war, is the question.
BUTTIGIEG: What we are doing…
GABBARD: What is an endless war if it’s not a regime change war?
COOPER: Allow him to respond. Please allow him to respond.
BUTTIGIEG: What we are doing — or what we were doing in Syria was keeping our word. Part of what makes it possible for the United States to get people to put their lives on the line to back us up is the idea that we will back them up, too.
When I was deployed, not just the Afghan National Army forces, but the janitors put their lives on the line just by working with U.S. forces. I would have a hard time today looking an Afghan civilian or soldier in the eye after what just happened over there. And it is undermining the honor of our soldiers. You take away the honor of our soldiers, you might as well go after their body armor next.
This president has betrayed American values. Our credibility has been tattered.
COOPER: Thank you.
BUTTIGIEG: I will restore U.S. credibility before it is finally too late.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, is Turkey still a U.S. ally? Should they remain in NATO?
SANDERS: I’m sorry. Say that again?
COOPER: Is Turkey still a U.S. ally? Should they remain in NATO?
SANDERS: No, Turkey is not a U.S. ally when they invade another country and engage in mass slaughter.
The crisis here, as I think Joe said and Pete said, is when you begin to betray people, in terms of the Kurds, 11,000 of them died fighting ISIS, 20,000 were wounded. And the United States said, “We’re with you, we’re standing with you.” And then suddenly, one day after a phone call with Erdogan, announced by tweet, Trump reverses that policy.
Now, you tell me what country in the world will trust the word of the president of the United States. In other words, what he has done is wreck our ability to do foreign policy, to do military policy, because nobody in the world will believe this pathological liar.
BUTTIGIEG: But this is really important, because what this president has done shows that American leadership shapes the behavior of our allies, or sometimes allies, too. Remember, the problem right now is not just that — with our competitors. And, for example a place like China, the people of Hong Kong rise up for democracy and don’t get a peep of support from the president. It’s just not the behavior of adversaries like Russia.
But our one-time allies, like Saudi Arabia, which the CIA just concluded was responsible, as we all knew, for murdering and dismembering an American resident and journalist.
And Turkey, which was an American ally. That’s the point. We had leverage. But when we abandon the international stage, when we think our only choices are between endless war or total isolation, the consequence is the disappearance of U.S. leadership…
COOPER: Thank you, Mayor.
BUTTIGIEG: … from the world stage.
BUTTIGIEG: And that makes this entire world a more dangerous place.
COOPER: Senator Klobuchar, should Turkey remain in NATO? Your response?
KLOBUCHAR: We need to work with our allies, to work with Turkey and bring them out. This is an outrageous thing that happened here. And I think we need to talk about this not only in terms of the horror of what happened here with Turkey, but the fact that our president blew it and now he’s too proud to say it.
And what do we do now? We continue that humanitarian aid, but then we work with our allies to say come back, Turkey, and stop this, because what Mayor Pete has just said is true. Think about our other allies, Israel. How do they feel right now? Donald Trump is not true to his word when they are a beacon of democracy in the Mideast.
Think about our allies in Europe when he pulls out of the Iranian agreement and gives them holding the bag and gives the power to China and Russia.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: Think about the nuclear agreement with Russia that he precipitously pulled out of. This is part of a pattern. It’s not an isolated incident.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
Senator Harris, given that the U.S. abandoned our Kurdish allies, what would you do as president to convince the rest of the world that we can still be trusted?
HARRIS: That’s a great question, Anderson, because the commander-in-chief of the United States of America has as one of her greatest priorities and responsibilities to concern herself with the security of our nation and homeland.
I serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee. I have over a period of time received classified information about the threats to our security and hot spots around the world.
What has happened in Syria is yet again Donald Trump selling folks out. And in this case, he sold out the Kurds, who, yes, fought with us and thousands died in our fight against ISIS.
And let’s be clear. What Donald Trump has done, because of that phone call with Erdogan, is basically giving 10,000 ISIS fighters a “get out of jail free” card. And you know who the winner is in this? There are four: Russia, Iran, Assad, and ISIS.
This is a crisis of Donald Trump’s making. And it is on a long list of crises of Donald Trump’s making. And that’s why dude got to go. And when I am commander-in-chief, we will stop this madness.
COOPER: Secretary Castro, your response.
CASTRO: Well, I mean, you asked the question of, how are we going to get people to trust us again? The first thing is we got to boot Donald Trump out of the Oval Office so that people will trust us again.
You know, I also want people to think — the folks this week that saw those images of ISIS prisoners running free to think about how absurd it is that this president is caging kids on the border and effectively letting ISIS prisoners run free.
He has made a tremendous mistake, a total disaster there in Syria. And just to connect the dots for a second, if you’re Kim Jong-un, for instance, why in the world would you believe anything that this president says to contain your nuclear weapons program, when he tore up an Iran nuclear agreement that we just signed four years ago, which was the strongest agreement to contain Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and now he’s abandoned the very people that we gave our word to?
I would make sure that we work with our allies to pressure Syria to stop the aggression, and I support efforts at stronger sanctions than this president has announced.
COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
LACEY: Senator Booker, the American intelligence community says that Russia is trying to capitalize on the power vacuums around the world as we’re seeing right now in northern Syria. What specifically would you do as president to check Vladimir Putin’s power on the world stage?
BOOKER: So, first of all, understand that this president is turning the moral leadership of this country into a dumpster fire. We literally have great generals like Mattis who said on the world stage, the United States of America, there can be no better friend than the United States of America and no better — no greater enemy than the United States of America. This president has turned that upside down and now is doing things to undermine our critical alliances and partner with Russia.
And so clearly, to your question, number one, we cannot allow the Russians to continue to grow in influence by abandoning the world stage. We cannot allow Russia to not only interfere in the democracies of the Ukraine, and Latvia, and Lithuania, but even not calling them out for their efforts to interfere in this democracy are unacceptable.
Russia and Putin understand strength, and this president time and time again is showing moral weakness. He makes promises to the American people that he’s going to protect this nation. Well, instead of doing something to defeat ISIS, he’s now given them a foothold again.
This is an American president that even right now is lying to the American public and saying he’s bringing our troops home, at the same time he’s increasing troop presence with the Saudis, while they’re involved in an unjust war that is killing tens of thousands of children in Yemen.
This president is making us less safe. He is partnering more with Putin than he is with Merkel and Macron. And as president of the United States, I will stop this and restore American integrity abroad.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Vice President?
BIDEN: I think I maybe — it doesn’t make me any better or worse, but maybe the only person who spent extensive time alone with Putin, as well as with Erdogan. And Erdogan understands that — you talk about should he stay in or out of NATO — he understands if he’s out of NATO, he’s in real trouble.
But the fact of the matter is, we have been unwilling in this administration, because we have an erratic, crazy president who knows not a damn thing about foreign policy and operates out of fear for his own re-election.
Think what’s happened. The fact of the matter is, you have Russia influencing and trying to break up NATO. What does the president do? He says, “I believe Vladimir Putin. I believe Vladimir Putin. I don’t believe our intelligence community.”
SANDERS: You’re suggesting I’m Vladimir Putin here.
BIDEN: No, no, I’m not. No, I’m not. I’m not.
SANDERS: I know.
BIDEN: But here — look, but here’s the deal. Think what that did. He turns around and he questions whether or not he’ll keep the sacred commitment of Article 5 for the NATO members. If he is re-elected, I promise you, there will be no NATO. Our security will be vastly underrated, under — we will be in real trouble.
And with regard to regime change in Syria, that has not been the policy we change the regime. It has been to make sure that the regime did not wipe out hundreds of thousands of innocent people between there and the Iraqi border.
And lastly, and I apologize for going on, but lastly, what is happening in Iraq is going to — I mean, excuse me, in Afghanistan, as well as all the way over to Syria, we have ISIS that’s going to come here. They are going to, in fact, damage the United States of America. That’s why we got involved in the first place and not ceded the whole area to Assad and to the Russians.
LACEY: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
Congressman O’Rourke, Senate Democrats put out a report last year on Russia’s hostile actions around the world. They suggest the next president could fight back by publicly revealing what the U.S. knows about Putin’s corruption and work with allies to freeze his bank accounts. Would you take either of those actions, even in the face of possible retaliation?
O’ROURKE: Yes. We must be unafraid in ensuring that we hold Russia accountable for invading the world’s greatest democracy and being able to do it thanks to Donald Trump functionally with impunity so far, so much so that they are invading this democracy right now as we speak, still at the invitation of this president. So if there are not consequences, we will continue to see this problem going forward.
But in addition, y ademas, to answer the previous question that you asked, how do we stand up to Russia on the global stage, we do that by renewing our alliances and our friendships. That is what makes America stronger. There isn’t enough money in this country, there aren’t enough servicemembers as brave and courageous as they are to do everything that we want to accomplish militarily around the world.
And the Kurds are case in point. In fact, because we turned our backs on them, those Kurds who fought for us in Syria, helped to defeat ISIS not just for themselves, but for the United States of America, it makes it more likely that we will have to send another generation of servicemembers to fight those battles there.
And then lastly, as General Mattis, who was invoked earlier, has said, we have two powers, one of intimidation and one of inspiration. We need to now focus on that latter power and make sure that we invest in diplomacy and our State Department and peacefully and non-violently resolving our foreign policy goals not on the backs of 18-, and 19-, and 20-year-olds any more, but making sure that our diplomats are invested in, have the focus necessary by this next president to make that they can accomplish those goals for this country and for the world.
LACEY: Thank you, Congressman. Thank you, Congressman.
Mr. Steyer, would you publicly reveal what the U.S. knows about Putin’s corruption or work to freeze his bank accounts? Please respond.
STEYER: Absolutely. As far as I’m concerned, Mr. Trump’s America first program, which involves having no plans, having no process, and having no partners, has proved to be a disaster in Syria, it’s proved to be a disaster in terms of our response to Russia’s attacking our democracy, and more than that, when we look at the problems around the world, the idea that the United States is going to act unilaterally against a country without the support of our traditional allies makes absolutely no sense.
Let’s go to the most important international problem that we’re facing, which no one has brought up, which is climate. We can’t solve the climate crisis in the United States by ourselves. It’s an international crisis. I’ve been working on it for 10 years, taking on the corporations. But we have to work with our allies and our frenemies around the world.
So if you look at what Mr. Trump is doing, of course he’s been bought by the oil and gas companies. But any problem that we’re going to do, but specifically climate, we’re going to have to lead the world morally, we’re going to have to lead it technologically, financially, and commercially.
This is the proof that this kind of America first, go-it-alone, trust nobody and be untrustworthy is the worst idea I have ever heard and I would change it on day one in every single light.
LACEY: Mr. Yang, your response to Putin and Russia.
YANG: Of course. We have to look at the chain of events. How did we get here? The fact is, we were falling apart at home, so we voted in Donald Trump, and he’s now led us down this dangerous path with erratic and unreliable foreign policy.
We have to let Russia know, look, we get it. We’ve tampered with other elections, you’ve tampered with our elections. And now it has to stop. And if it does not stop, we will take this as an act of hostility against the American people. I believe most Americans would support me on this.
But Russian hacking of our democracy is an illustration of the 21st century threats. Artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, climate change, loose nuclear material, military drones, and non-state actors, these are the threats that are going to require our administration to catch up in terms of technology.
We all know we are decades behind the curve on technology. We saw when Mark Zuckerberg testified at Congress the nature of the questioning. As commander-in-chief, I will help pull us forward…
LACEY: Thank you.
KLOBUCHAR: I want to respond to Mr. Yang.
YANG: … and that’s going to be the responsibility of the next president.
KLOBUCHAR: I want to respond to Mr. Yang. I don’t see a moral equivalency between our country and Russia. Vladimir Putin is someone who has shot down planes over Ukraine, who has poisoned his opponent, and we have not talked about what we need to do to protect ourselves from Russia invading our election.
This wasn’t meddling. That’s what I do when I call my daughter on a Saturday night and ask her what she’s doing. Sorry.
KLOBUCHAR: This was much more serious than that. This was actually invading our election. So to protect ourselves in 2020, what we need, one, backup paper ballots in every single state. That is a bill that I need, and we need to stop Mitch McConnell from stopping that from happening.
And then we need to stop the social media companies from running paid political ads, including ones last time in rubles, without having to say where those ads came from and who paid for them. That’s the Honest Ads Act. That’s a bipartisan bill that I lead. And we can’t wait…
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: … to become president to get that done. We need to get it done now.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
COOPER: We want to turn back to domestic issues and the epidemic of gun violence in this country. We’re less than 100 miles from Dayton, Ohio, where two months ago a gunman killed nine people using an AR-15-style weapon with a high-capacity magazine.
Congressman O’Rourke, in the last debate, you said, quote, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” but when you were asked how you’d enforce a mandatory buyback, you said police wouldn’t be going door to door. So how exactly are you going to force people to give up their weapons? You don’t even know who has those weapons.
O’ROURKE: Look, we’re going to make sure that the priority is saving the lives of our fellow Americans. I think almost everyone on this stage agrees that it’s not right and as president would seek to ban the sale of AR-15s and AK-47s.
Those are weapons of war. They were designed to kill people effectively, efficiently on a battlefield. You mentioned the massacre in Dayton. Nine people killed in under 40 seconds. In El Paso, Texas, 22 were killed in under three minutes. And the list goes on throughout the country.
So if the logic begins with those weapons being too dangerous to sell, then it must continue by acknowledging, with 16 million AR-15s and AK-47s out there, they are also too dangerous to own. Every single one of them is a potential instrument of terror.
Just ask Hispanics in Texas. Univision surveyed them. More than 80 percent feared that they would be a victim of a mass terror attack like the one in El Paso that was targeted at Mexican Americans and immigrants, inspired in part by this president’s racism and hatred that he’s directed at communities like mine in El Paso.
O’ROURKE: So I expect my fellow Americans to follow the law, the same way that we enforce any provision, any law that we have right now.
O’ROURKE: We don’t go door to door to do anything in this country to enforce the law. I expect Republicans, Democrats, gun-owners, non-gun-owners alike to respect and follow the law.
COOPER: Congressman, let me follow up. Just to follow up, your expectations aside, your website says you will fine people who don’t give up their weapons. That doesn’t take those weapons off the street. So to be clear, exactly how are you going to take away weapons from people who do not want to give them up and you don’t know where they are?
O’ROURKE: If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47, one of these weapons of war, or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate, as we saw when we were at Kent State recently, then that weapon will be taken from them. If they persist, they will be other consequences from law enforcement.
But the expectation is that Americans will follow the law. I believe in this country. I believe in my fellow Americans. I believe that they will do the right thing.
COOPER: Thank you. Mayor Buttigieg, just yesterday, you referred to mandatory buybacks as confiscation and said that Congressman O’Rourke has been picking a fight to try to stay relevant. Your response on guns?
BUTTIGIEG: Look, Congressman, you just made it clear that you don’t know how this is actually going to take weapons off the streets. If you can develop the plan further, I think we can have a debate about it. But we can’t wait. People are dying in the streets right now.
We can’t wait for universal background checks that we finally have a shot to actually get through. We can’t wait to ban the sale of new weapons and high-capacity magazines so we don’t wind up with millions more of these things on the street. We can’t wait for red flag laws that are going to disarm domestic abusers and prevent suicides, which are not being talked about nearly enough as a huge part of the gun violence epidemic in this country. We cannot wait for purity tests. We have to just get something done.
COOPER: Congressman O’Rourke, your response.
O’ROURKE: This is not a purity test. This is a country that loses 40,000 of our fellow Americans every year to gun violence. This is a crisis. We’ve got to do something about it.
And those challenges that you described are not mutually exclusive to the challenges that I’m describing. I want to make sure we have universal background checks and red flag laws and that we end the sale of these weapons of war, but to use the analogy of health care, it would be as though we said, look, we’re for primary care, but let’s not talk about mental health care because that’s a bridge too far. People need that primary care now, so let’s save that for another day.
No, let’s decide what we are going to believe in, what we’re going to achieve. And then let’s bring this country together in order to do that. Listening to my fellow Americans, to those moms who demand action, to those students who march for our lives, who, in fact, came up with this extraordinary bold peace plan…
COOPER: Thank you, Congressman.
O’ROURKE: … that calls for mandatory buybacks, let’s follow their inspiration and lead and not be limited by the polls and the consultants and the focus groups. Let’s do what’s right…
COOPER: Mayor Buttigieg, your response? Mayor Buttigieg?
BUTTIGIEG: The problem isn’t the polls. The problems is the policy. And I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal. Everyone on this stage is determined to get something done. Everyone on this stage recognizes, or at least I thought we did, that the problem is not other Democrats who don’t agree with your particular idea of how to handle this.
The problem is the National Rifle Association and their enablers in Congress, and we should be united in taking the fight to them.
O’ROURKE: That’s a mischaracterization. Anderson, I’ve got to answer this. Never took you or anyone else on who disagrees with me on this issue. But when you, Mayor Buttigieg, described this policy as a shiny object, I don’t care what that meant to me or my candidacy, but to those who have survived gun violence, those who’ve lost a loved one to an AR-15, an AK-47, marched for our lives, formed in the courage of students willing to stand up to the NRA and conventional politics and poll-tested politicians, that was a slap in the fact to every single one of those groups and every single survivor of a mass casualty assault with an AR-15 and an AK-47.
COOPER: Thank you.
O’ROURKE: We must buy them back.
BUTTIGIEG: What we owe to those survivors is to actually deliver a solution. I’m glad you offered up that analogy to health care, because this is really important. We are at the cusp of building a new American majority to actually do things that congressmen and senators have been talking about with almost no impact for my entire adult life.
COOPER: Thank you, Mayor.
BUTTIGIEG: No, this is really important, OK? On guns, we are this close to an assault weapons ban. That would be huge. And we’re going to get wrapped around the axle in a debate over whether it’s “hell, yes, we’re going to take your guns”? We have an opportunity…
COOPER: Thank you, Mayor. Your time is up.
BUTTIGIEG: … to deliver health care to everybody, and some on this stage are saying it doesn’t count unless we obliterate…
COOPER: I want to give somebody — I want to give other — I want to give other candidates a chance. Senator Booker, what’s your response to Mayor Buttigieg?
BOOKER: Well, look, I again, worry about how we talk to each other and about each other and what this last week has shown. There was a young man in my neighborhood, I watched him grow up. I lived in some high-rise projects with him named Shahad, and he was murdered on my block last year with an assault rifle.
I’m living with a sense of urgency on this problem, because when I go home to my community, like millions of Americans, we live in communities where these weapons, where these gun shots are real every single day.
And I know where the American public is. This is not about leadership. This is why when I talk about things like gun licensing and point out the differences between us, I’m not attacking people or their character or their courage on these issues. We all have courage.
But it’s frustrating that when the American people, 77 percent of Americans agree on licensing, we don’t need leadership right now. We just need folks that are going to stand up and follow where the people already are, because there are millions of Americans where this is a daily nightmare, where we’re surrendering our freedoms…
COOPER: Thank you.
BOOKER: … to fear in this country. This is the first time in American history, this fall, where we have sent our children to school, the strongest nation on the Planet Earth, and said to them, “We can’t protect you”…
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
BOOKER: … “so in school, we’re going to teach you how to hide.” There are more duck-and-cover drills and shelter-in-place drills in America now than fire drills.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
BOOKER: If I’m president of the United States, I will bring an urgency to this issue and make sure that we end the scourge of mass violence in our country.
COOPER: Senator Klobuchar — Senator Klobuchar, Senator Warren — Senator Warren supports a voluntary — excuse me, Senator Klobuchar, you support a voluntary buyback, if I’m correct, right. What is wrong with a mandatory buyback? Your response.
KLOBUCHAR: I just keep thinking of how close we are to finally getting something done on this. I’m looking at the mayor of Dayton. I met one of the survivors from that shooting, 30 seconds, nine people killed.
The public is with us on this in a big way. The majority of Trump voters want to see universal background checks right now. The majority of hunters want to see us move forward with gun safety legislation. There are three bills right now on Mitch McConnell’s desk, the background check bill, my bill to close the boyfriend loophole so domestic abusers don’t get guns, the bill to make it easier for police to vet people before they get a gun. That’s what we should be focusing on.
And I just don’t want to screw this up. When I’m president, I do want to bring in an assault weapon ban and I do want to put a limitation on magazines so what happened in Dayton, Ohio, will never happen again. But let’s not mess this up with this fight.
COOPER: Senator Warren, you support a voluntary gun buyback of assault-style weapons, as well. Why not a mandatory one?
WARREN: So, look, I want to get what works done. I want to use the method we used, for example, with machine guns. We registered them, we put in a huge penalty if you didn’t register them, and a huge tax on them, and then let people turn them in, and it got machine guns out of the hands of people.
But the problem here that we need to focus on is, first, how widespread gun violence is. As you’ve rightly identified, it’s not just about mass shootings. It’s what happens in neighborhoods all across this country. It is about suicide, and it is about domestic violence.
This is not going to be a one and done, that we do one thing or two things or three things and then we’re done. We have to reduce gun violence overall. And the question we have to ask is, why hasn’t it happened?
You say we’re so close. We have been so close. I stood in the United States Senate in 2013…
COOPER: Thank you.
WARREN: … when 54 senators voted in favor of gun legislation and it didn’t pass because of the filibuster.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator. Senator…
WARREN: We have got to attack the corruption and repeal the filibuster or the gun industry will always have a veto over what happens.
COOPER: Senator Harris? Senator Harris, you disagree with Senator Warren. You think the buyback should be mandatory. Please respond.
HARRIS: Five million assault weapons are on the streets of America today. During the course of this debate, eight people will die from gun violence. The leading cause of death of young black men in America is gun violence, more than the top other six reasons total.
This is a serious matter. I have personally hugged more mothers of homicide victims than I care to tell you. I have looked at more autopsy photographs than I care to tell you. I have attended more police officer funerals than I care to tell you. I’m done. And we need action.
And Congress has had years to act and failed because they do not have the courage. When I’m elected, I’ll give them 100 days to pull their act together, put a bill on my desk for signature, and if they don’t, I will take executive action and put in place a comprehensive background check requirement and ban the importation of assault weapons into our country because it is time to act.
COOPER: Senator Biden — Vice President Biden, your response.
BIDEN: I’m the only one on this stage who has taken on the NRA and beat them, and beat them twice. We were able to get assault weapons off the streets and not be able to be sold for 10 years. Recent studies show that mass violence went down when that occurred.
The way to deal with those guns and those AR-15s and assault weapons that are on the street — or not on the street, that people own, is to do what we did with the National Firearms Act as it related to machine guns. You must register that weapon. You must register it. When you register it, the likelihood of it being used diminishes exponentially.
I’m the only one that got — got — moved the — to make sure that we could not have a magazine that had more than 10 rounds in it. I’ve done this. I know how to get it done. If you really want to get it done, go after the gun manufacturers and take back the exemption they have of not being able to be sued. That would change it.
COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
Secretary Castro, the vast majority of homicides committed with a gun in this country are from handguns, not assault-style weapons. What’s your plan to prevent those deaths?
CASTRO: Thank you very much for the question. You know, I grew up in neighborhoods where it wasn’t uncommon to hear gunshots at night. And I can remember ducking into the back seat of a car when I was a freshman in high school, across the street from my school, my public school, because folks were shooting at each other.
You know, in the neighborhoods — let me answer this question about voluntary versus mandatory. There are two problems I have with mandatory buybacks. Number one, folks can’t define it. And if you’re not going door to door, then it’s not really mandatory.
But also, in the places that I grew up in, we weren’t exactly looking for another reason for cops to come banging on the door. And you all saw a couple days ago what happened to Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth. A cop showed up at 2:00 in the morning at her house when she was playing video games with her nephew. He didn’t even announced himself. And within four seconds, he shot her and killed her through her home window. She was in her own home.
And so I am not going to give these police officers another reason to go door to door in certain communities, because police violence is also gun violence, and we need to address that.
COOPER: Secretary Castro, thank you.
LACEY: Turning to another key issue here in Ohio and around the country, the opioid epidemic, Senator Klobuchar, CNN reached out to Ohio Democratic voters for their most pressing questions. Brie, a teacher in Proctorville, asks, in rural Ohio, the opioid epidemic has affected our communities and schools. I have many high school students who have lost one or both parents to heroin. Teachers are on the front lines daily, witnessing these tragedies. How will you tackle this problem in general, but specifically what will you offer people in rural communities where rehabilitation is not easily accessed and access to jobs is difficult?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I want to thank her for this question. This is something that should never have happened to begin with. I remember, when I was a prosecutor, these were not the kind of cases that were coming in our door. And it’s gotten worse and worse. And we now know why.
As the evidence is coming out of those lawsuits, probably one of the most horrible things that I saw was the e-mail from one of the pharma executives that actually said, “Keep pumping them out. They’re eating them like Doritos.”
So my first answer to that question, and which is included in my plan, is that the people that should pay for this, that should pay for the treatment, are the very people that got people hooked and killed them in the first place. And that is the people that are manufacturing these opioids. That’s the first way.
And you can, with a 2 cents per milligram tax, bring in the money, plus with the federal master settlement, to help rural areas where they’re so isolated, and also in urban areas, where it’s, by the way, not just opiates. There are still mental health issues and crack cocaine issues.
This is personal for me. My dad, he struggled with alcoholism his whole life. And by his third DWI, they said to him, the prosecutor, you’ve got to face jail or you got to go to treatment. He picked treatment, and he was pursued by grace. And he has been sober ever since. And now he’s 91 and in assisted living, and he said to me last year, it’s hard to get a drink around here, anyway. But he still has an AA group that visits him there.
And so for me, I believe that everyone in this country, including the people in rural America, have that same right to be pursued by grace.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Mr. Steyer, how would you address the opioid epidemic that exists here in Ohio and around the country? Please respond.
STEYER: Well, I think this is one of the most heartbreaking experiences that America has had, 72,000 people died of opioid overdoses last year, and that’s not only a tragedy for them, it’s a tragedy for their family and their communities.
And so I think we have to treat this as a health citizens. We have to move the resources and the support there to try and help people.
But I think that Senator Klobuchar makes a good point. The reason I’m running for president is that we have a broken government. And we have a broken government because corporations have bought it. And every single one of these conversations is about that broken government. It’s about drug companies buying the government and getting what they want. It’s about the gun manufacturers buying the government and get what we want.
We need to break the corporate stranglehold on our government. I’ve put forward actual structural changes, including term limits, a natural referendum, the end to the idea that corporations are people and have the rights of American citizens politically, and make it a lot easier to vote
These corporations have taken over our government. And 72,000 deaths…
LACEY: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: … last year are the tragic result.
LACEY: Thank you, Mr. Steyer. Mr. Yang, you want to decriminalize the possession and use of small amounts of opioids, including heroin. How would that solve the crisis?
YANG: That’s exactly right. And we have to recognize this is a disease of capitalism run amok. There was a point when there were more opiate prescriptions in the state of Ohio than human beings in the state of Ohio. And for some reason, the federal government thought that was appropriate.
They ended up levying a $600 million fine against Purdue Pharma, which sounds like a lot of money, until you realize that company made $30 billion. They got a 2 percent fine, and they killed tens of thousands of Americans, eight an hour.
So if the government turned a blind eye to this company spreading a plague among its people, then the least we can do is put the resources to work in our community so our people have a fighting chance to get well, even though this is not a money problem. We all know this is a human problem.
And part of helping people get the treatment that they need is to let them know that they’re not going to be referred to a prison cell. They will be referred to treatment and counseling. I talked to an EMT in New Hampshire, and he said he saves the same addicts over and over again, because the fact is, after you save someone who’s OD’ing, you just bring them back to their house and they OD again the following week.
So we need to decriminalize opiates for personal use. We have to let the country know this is not a personal failing. This was a systemic government failing. And then we need to open up safe consumption and safe injection sites around the country, because they save lives.
LACEY: Thank you, Mr. Yang. Congressman O’Rourke, is decriminalizing opioids part of the solution? Please respond.
O’ROURKE: Yes, it is, for many of the reasons that Mr. Yang just described. And also just from some personal experiences I’ve had as a member of Congress where constituents of mine have come forward, in some cases publicly, at a town hall meeting to describe their addictions.
I remember a veteran telling me that he bought heroin off the street because he was originally prescribed an opioid at the V.A. Now, imagine if that veteran, instead of being prescribe an opioid, had been prescribed marijuana because we made that legal in America, ensured the V.A….
YANG: Yes, preach, Beto.
O’ROURKE: … could prescribe it, expunge the arrest records for those who’ve been arrested for possession, and make sure that he was not prescribed something to which he would become addicted.
I also want to agree with Senator Klobuchar. Until we hold those responsible accountable for their actions, Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, we’re going to continue to have this problem going on again. So that veteran that I met, and anyone with drug addiction today, is not a problem for the criminal justice system.
LACEY: Thank you.
O’ROURKE: They’re an opportunity for our public health system in America.
LACEY: Thank you, Congressman. Senator Harris, you want to hold the drug manufacturers that fueled the crisis accountable. Are you in favor of sending those drug company executives to jail?
HARRIS: I am. And I will tell you, as a former prosecutor, I do think of this as being a matter of justice and accountability, because they are nothing more than some high-level dope dealers. They have been engaged…
And I’ve seen it happen before. I’ve taken on the pharmaceutical companies when I was attorney general of California and led the second largest Department of Justice. I’ve seen what they do.
The biggest pharmaceutical companies, the eight biggest pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies last year profited $72 billion on the backs of people like the families that we are talking about that have been overwhelmed by this crisis, which is a public health epidemic.
And they knew what they were doing. They were marketing false advertising. They knew what they were pushing in communities and states like Ohio, without any concern about the repercussions because they were profiting and making big bucks. And, yes, they should be held accountable. This is a matter of justice.
And so as president of the United States, I would ensure that the United States Department of Justice, understand that you want to deal with who is really a criminal? Let’s end mass incarceration and end that failed war on drugs, and let’s go after these pharmaceutical companies for what they’ve been doing to destroy our country and states like Ohio.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Secretary Castro, are you in favor of sending those drug company executives to prison? Please respond.
CASTRO: Yes, I am. They need to be held accountable, not only financially, but also with criminal penalties. And, you know, you can draw a straight line between making sure that we hold executives accountable, whether it’s these drug manufacturers or Wall Street executives that should have been held accountable a decade-and-a-half ago.
LACEY: Thank you.
BURNETT: Now to the issue of candidates and their health. Senator Sanders, I want to start with you. We’re moving on, Senator. I’m sorry.
SANDERS: I’m healthy. I’m feeling great, but I would like to respond to that question.
BURNETT: I want to — I want start by saying…
BOOKER: And Senator Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana. I want to make sure that’s clear, as well.
BURNETT: Senator Sanders, this debate does mark your…
SANDERS: I do. I’m not on it tonight.
BURNETT: This debate — this debate, sir, does mark your return to the campaign trail. Go ahead and finish your point and then I’ll ask my question, Senator.
SANDERS: I’m more than happy to answer your question, but I wanted to pick up on what Kamala and Cory and others have said. Let’s take a deep breath. Take a look at this opioid epidemic.
You have executives, CEOs of major pharmaceutical companies, making tens of millions of dollars a year. And in this particular case with the opioids, they knew that they were selling a product to communities all over this country which were addicting people and killing them. And last year, the top 10 drug companies made $69 billion in profit.
This is what unfettered capitalism is doing to this country. And it’s not just the drug companies. Right now, the CEOs in the fossil fuel industry know full well that their product is destroying this world. And they continue to make huge profits.
SANDERS: That is why we need a political revolution…
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator.
SANDERS: … that says enough is enough to this behavior.
BURNETT: Senator, we are all very glad you’re feeling well…
SANDERS: Thank you.
BURNETT: … as you just said. But there is a question on a lot of people’s minds, and I want to address it tonight. You’re 78 years old, and you just had a heart attack. How do you reassure Democratic voters that you’re up to the stress of the presidency?
SANDERS: Well, let me invite you all to a major rally we’re having in Queens, New York, berniesanders.com. We’re going to have a special guest at that event. And we are going to be mounting a vigorous campaign all over this country. That is how I think I can reassure the American people.
But let me take this moment, if I might, to thank so many people from all over this country, including many of my colleagues up here, for their love, for their prayers, for their well wishes. And I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. And I’m so happy to be back here with you this evening.
BURNETT: Vice President Biden, if you’re elected, you will turn 80 during your first term. Last month, former President Jimmy Carter said he could not have undertaken the duties of the presidency at 80 years old. Why are you so sure that you can?
BIDEN: Because I’ve watched it. I know what the job is. I’ve been engaged.
Look, one of the reasons I’m running is because of my age and my experience. With it comes wisdom. We need someone to take office this time around who on day one can stand on the world stage, command the respect of world leaders, from Putin to our allies, and know exactly what has to be done to get this country back on track.
It is required now more than any time in any of our lifetimes to have someone who has that capacity on day one. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to run, why I decided to run this time, because I know what has to be done. I’ve done it before. I’ve been there when we pulled the nation out of the worst financial recession in history. I’ve been there, and I’ve got so many pieces of legislation passed, including the Affordable Care Act, as well as making sure that we had the Recovery Act, which kept us from going into a depression.
I know what has to be done. I will not need any on-the-job training the day I take office. And I will release my medical records, as I have 21 years of my tax records, which no one else on this stage has done, so that you can have full transparency as to my health and what I am doing.
BURNETT: Just to be clear, Mr. Vice President, when will you release those records?
BIDEN: Before the first vote.
BURNETT: Before Iowa?
BURNETT: Not by the end of this year?
BIDEN: Well, before Iowa. I mean, look, I’ve released them before. I released 55 pages of my — I’m the only guy that’s released anything up here.
BURNETT: Senator Warren, like Senator Sanders and Vice President Biden, if you win the presidency, you would be the oldest president ever inaugurated in a first term. You would be 71. Forty percent of Democratic primary voters say they think a candidate under the age of 70 is more likely to defeat President Trump. What do you say to them?
WARREN: Well, I say, I will out-work, out-organize, and outlast anyone, and that includes Donald Trump, Mike Pence, or whoever the Republicans get stuck with.
Look, the way I see this, the way we’re going to win is by addressing head-on what millions of Americans know in their bones, and that is that the wealthy and the well-connected have captured our democracy, and they’re making it work for themselves and leaving everyone else behind.
And political pundits and Washington insiders and, shoot, people in our own party don’t want to admit that. They think that running some kind of vague campaign that nibbles around the edges of big problems in this country is a winning strategy. They are wrong.
If all Democrats can promise is after Donald Trump it will be business as usual, then we will lose. Democrats win when we call out what’s broken and we show how to fix it. Democrats will win when we fight for the things that touch people’s lives, things like childcare and health care and housing costs. Democrats will win when we give people a reason to get in the fight.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator Warren.
Congresswoman Gabbard, you’re 38 years old, and you would be the youngest president if elected. Should age matter when choosing a president?
GABBARD: I’m glad you asked, because I was going to say it’s not fair to ask these three about their health and their fitness to serve as president but not every other one of us. I am grateful to have been trained very well by the Army and do my best to stay in shape.
But here’s the real question I believe you should be asking is: Who is fit to serve as our commander-in-chief? This is the most important responsibility that the president has. What Donald Trump has been doing in Syria and what we have just seen with him, inviting Turkey to come in and slaughter the Kurds, show what an unfit president looks like. It highlights how critical it is that we have a president and commander-in-chief who is ready on day one, bringing experience and understanding in foreign policy and national security.
Bringing the experience that I have, both serving in Congress now for nearly seven years, serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee, serving on the Armed Services Committee, subcommittees related to terrorism and upcoming threats, serving on the Homeland Security Committee, the experience that I have as a soldier, serving for over 16 years in the Army National Guard, deploying twice to the Middle East, being able to serve in different capacities, joint training exercises, training the Kuwait National Guard.
I understand the importance of our national security. I am prepared to do this job, to fulfill this responsibility as commander-in-chief on day one.
BURNETT: Thank you, Congresswoman.
GABBARD: I’d like to ask our other candidates this question. I’d like to start with Senator Warren…
BURNETT: Sorry, Congressman, I’m sorry.
GABBARD: … what her experience and background is to serve as commander-in-chief.
BURNETT: I’m sorry, thank you. We’re going to take another break now. The CNN-New York Times debate live from Otterbein University here in Ohio will be back in just a few moments.
COOPER: And welcome back to the CNN-New York Times Democratic presidential debate. Mark Lacey from the New York Times starts off our questioning. Mark?
LACEY: Thank you. Let’s turn to the growing concerns over the power of big tech companies. Mr. Yang, Senator Warren is calling for companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google to be broken up. Is she right? Does that need to happen?
YANG: As usual, Senator Warren is 100 percent right in diagnosing the problem. There are absolutely excesses in technology and in some cases having them divest parts of their business is the right move.
But we also have to be realistic that competition doesn’t solve all the problems. It’s not like any of us wants to use the fourth best navigation app. That would be like cruel and unusual punishment. There is a reason why no one is using Bing today. Sorry, Microsoft. It’s true.
So it’s not like breaking up these big tech companies will revive Main Street businesses around the country. And as the parent of two young children, I’m particularly concerned about screen use and its effect on our children. Studies clearly show that we’re seeing record levels of anxiety and depression coincident with smartphone adoption and social media use.
Breaking up the tech companies does nothing to make our kids healthier. What we have to do is we have to hone in on the specific problems we’re trying to solve and use 21st century solutions for 21st century problems. Using a 20th century antitrust framework will not work. We need new solutions and a new toolkit.
LACEY: Thank you. Senator Warren, is Mr. Yang wrong? Your response, please.
WARREN: Look, I’m not willing to give up and let a handful of monopolists dominate our economy and our democracy. It’s time to fight back. Think about it this way. When you talk about how it works in competition, about 8 percent, 9 percent of all retail sales happen at bricks and sticks stores, happen at Walmart. About 49 percent of all sales online happen in one place: that’s Amazon.
It collects information from every little business, and then Amazon does something else. It runs the platform, gets all the information, and then goes into competition with those little businesses. Look, you get to be the umpire in the baseball game, or you get to have a team, but you don’t get to do both at the same time. We need to enforce our antitrust laws, break up these giant companies that are dominating, big tech, big pharma, big oil, all of them.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
Mr. Steyer, your response?
STEYER: Look, I agree with Senator Warren that, in fact, monopolies have to be dealt with. They either have to be broken up or regulated, and that’s part of it.
But we have to understand that Mr. Trump is going to be running on the economy. He’s going to be saying he’s the person who can make it grow. I started a business from scratch — one room, no employers — and built a multi-billion-dollar international business. We’re going to have to show the American people that we don’t just know how to tax and have programs to break up companies but also talk about prosperity, talk about investing in the American people, talk about harnessing the innovation and competition of the American private sector.
In fact, if we want to beat Mr. Trump, I think somebody who can go toe to toe with him and show him to be a fraud and a failure as a businessperson, and a fraud and a failure as a steward of the American economy is going to be necessary. He is one. His tax plan’s a failure. His trade war is a failure. I would love to take him on as a real businessman and show that, in fact, he’s failed the American people, and he has to go.
LACEY: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
Senator Booker, how do you respond? Would a President Booker break up big tech companies like Facebook and Amazon?
BOOKER: Anybody that does not think that we have a massive crisis in our democracy with the way these tech companies are being used, not just in terms of anti-competitive practices, but also to undermine our democracy — we have seen it in the ’16 election practices being used that have not been corrected now. We need regulation and reform.
And antitrust, I mean Robert Bork right now is laughing in his sleep. We have a reality in this country where antitrust, from pharma to farms, is causing trouble, and we have to deal with this. As president of the United States, I will put people in place that enforce antitrust laws.
And I want to say one last thing, and I feel qualified to say this as the vegan on the stage. Going back to the fact that we — it’s rich to me that we asked three people about their health when looking at this stage we know that the most unhealthy person running for the presidency in 2020 is Donald Trump.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
Congressman O’Rourke, you say you’re not sure if it’s appropriate for a president to designate which companies should be broken up. So what’s the proper level of oversight here?
O’ROURKE: Yeah, we need to set very tough, very clear, transparent rules of the road, the kind of rules that we do not have today, that allow these social media platforms, where we, the people, have become the product, to abuse that public trust, and to do so at extraordinary profits.
Right now, we treat them functionally as a utility, when, in reality, they’re more akin to a publisher. They curate the content that we see. Our pictures and personal information that they share with others, we would allow no publisher to do what Facebook is doing, to publish that ad that Senator Warren has rightfully called out, that CNN has refused to air because it is untrue and tells lies about the vice president, treat them like the publisher that they are. That’s what I will do as president.
And we will be unafraid to break up big businesses if we have to do that, but I don’t think it is the role of a president or a candidate for the presidency to specifically call out which companies will be broken up. That’s something that Donald Trump has done, in part because he sees enemies in the press and wants to diminish their power. It’s not something that we should do.
So tough rules of the road, protect your personal information, privacy, and data, and be fearless in the face of these tech giants.
LACEY: Senator Sanders, your response?
SANDERS: When we talk about a rigged economy, it’s not just the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality. It is also the fact that in sector after sector, whether it is Wall Street, where you have six banks that have assets equivalent to half of the GDP of the United States, whether it is media, where you have 10 media companies that control about 90 percent of what the American people see, hear, or read, whether it is agribusiness, where we see merger after merger which is resulting in the decline of family-based farming in this country, we need a president who has the guts to appoint an attorney general who will take on these huge monopolies, protect small business, and protect consumers by ending the price fixing that we see every day.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Senator.
Senator Harris, to you, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that splitting up big tech companies will make election interference more likely because the companies won’t be able to work together to fight it. Could breaking up these companies make the spread of disinformation worse?
HARRIS: No, I don’t agree with that at all. And serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee, working with Amy Klobuchar on what we need to do to upgrade the elections infrastructure, knowing that Russia needs to be held accountable for the fact that they interfered in the election of the president of the United States and will attempt to do it again, that’s — that’s a ridiculous argument he’s making.
But I do want to also say this. What we’re talking about is a grave injustice, when rules apply to some but not equally to all, and in particular when the rules that apply to the powerless don’t apply to the powerful.
And so, Senator Warren, I just want to say that I was surprised to hear that you did not agree with me that on this subject of what should be the rules around corporate responsibility for these big tech companies, when I called on Twitter to suspend Donald Trump’s account, that you did not agree, and I would urge you to join me.
Because here we have Donald Trump, who has 65 million Twitter followers and is using that platform as the president of the United States to openly intimidate witnesses, to threaten witnesses, to obstruct justice, and he and his account should be taken down.
We saw in El Paso that that shooter in his manifesto was informed by how Donald Trump uses that platform, and this is a matter of corporate responsibility. Twitter should be held accountable and shut down that site. It is a matter of safety and corporate accountability.
LACEY: Thank you. Senator Warren, you can respond.
WARREN: So, look, I don’t just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter. I want to push him out of the White House. That’s our job.
HARRIS: Well, join me — join me in saying that his Twitter account should be shut down.
WARREN: But let’s figure — no. Let’s figure out…
WARREN: … why it is that we have had laws on the books for antitrust for over a century, and yet for decades now, we’ve all called on how the big drug companies are calling the shots in Washington, big ag, how the gun industry, big tech — you know, we really need to address the elephant in the room, and that is how campaigns are financed.
HARRIS: You can’t say you’re for corporate responsibility if it doesn’t apply to everyone.
WARREN: I announced this morning — I announced this morning that I’m not going to take any money from big tech executives, from Wall Street executives. We’ve already agreed, Bernie and I, we’re not taking any money from big pharma executives.
You can’t go behind closed doors and take the money of these executives and then turn around and expect that these are the people who are actually finally going to enforce the laws. We need campaign finance rules and practices…
LACEY: Thank you, Senator Warren. Senator Harris?
WARREN: … that support us all.
HARRIS: You — it does not represent a system of justice to say that the rules will apply differently to different people. This is a matter, you are saying, of holding big tech accountable.
HARRIS: Holding big tech accountable because they have an outsized influence on people’s perceptions about issues, and they actually influence behaviors. We all have to agree this is their power. It is immense.
LACEY: Senator Klobuchar, let me bring you in here.
LACEY: Your response?
HARRIS: I’m not finished. I’m not finished.
HARRIS: And so what I am saying is that it seems to me that you would be able to join me in saying the rule has to apply to Twitter the same way it does to Facebook.
WARREN: Look, I think all of the rules should apply across the board. I don’t have a problem with that.
HARRIS: So you will join me in saying Twitter should shut down that account?
WARREN: What I do have a problem with is that if we’re going to talk seriously about breaking up big tech, then we should ask if people are taking money from the big tech executives. If we’re going to talk seriously about breaking up big drug companies, we should ask if people are financing their campaigns by taking money from big drug executives. If we are going to talk about Wall Street and having some serious regulation over Wall Street, we should ask if people are funding their campaigns by taking money from those executives.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Senator Klobuchar, let’s bring you in here.
KLOBUCHAR: I would like to have a different take on this. I was in the private sector for 14 years, represented companies that were fighting to get into the telecom markets. I had a life before government.
And what I saw was when we got more competition there, the prices went down in a big way in the long distance market. Well, right now we have another gilded age going on, and I am the lead Democrat on the Antitrust Committee. I have the lead legislation, which means, one, changing the standard so we can do a better job of doing just what we’ve been talking about here, is breaking down some of this consolidation, and also making sure that the enforcers have the resources to take them on because they’re so overwhelmed.
But the issue here is this. Start talking about this as a pro-competition issue. This used to be a Republican and Democratic issue, because America, our founding fathers, actually wanted to have less consolidation. We were a place of entrepreneurship. We are seeing a startup slump in this country.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Secretary Castro, would you like to weigh in?
KLOBUCHAR: And this means everything from tech on down.
LACEY: Please respond.
CASTRO: Yeah, I think that we’re on the right track in terms of updating how we look at monopolistic practices and setting, as Congressman O’Rourke said, rules for the road that match the challenges that we face today.
And, you know, whether that’s Amazon that is leveraging its size I think to help put small businesses out of business, and then at the same time shortchanging a lot of its workers, not paying them as they should, not giving them the benefits that they should, or it’s a number of other companies, big tech companies. We need to take a stronger stance when it comes to cracking down on monopolistic trade practices, and that’s what I would do as president.
LACEY: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
YANG: The best way we can fight back — the best way we can fight back against big tech companies is to say our data is our property. Right now, our data is worth more than oil. How many of you remember getting your data check in the mail? It got lost. It went to Facebook, Amazon, Google. If we say this is our property and we share in the gains, that’s the best way we can balance the scales against the big tech companies.
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Yang.
GABBARD: There’s a bigger issue here…
BURNETT: Turning to women’s reproductive rights, Ohio is now one of several states that has banned abortions after as early as six weeks of pregnancy. Many women don’t even know they’re pregnant at that time. The Ohio law, like many others, is being challenged in the courts and has not yet taken effect. Senator Harris, if states prevail on restricting abortion, what’s your plan to stop them?
HARRIS: My plan is as — as follows. For any state that passes a law that violates the Constitution, and in particular Roe v. Wade, our Department of Justice will review that law to determine if it is compliant with Roe v. Wade and the Constitution, and if it is not, that law will not go into effect. That’s called pre-clearance.
Because the reality is that while we still have — as I said earlier — these state legislators who are outdated and out of touch, mostly men who are telling women what to do with their bodies, then there needs to be accountability and consequence.
But, you know, I’ll go further. You may have seen it. I questioned Brett Kavanaugh when I was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and asked him as a nominee to serve on the United States Supreme Court, could he think of any law that tells a man what to do with his body? And the answer was, uh, uh, no.
The reality of it is, this is still a fundamental issue of justice for women in America. Women have been given the responsibility to perpetuate the human species. Our bodies were created to do that. And it does not give any other person the right to tell a woman what to do with that body. It is her body. It is her right. It is her decision.
BURNETT: Senator Harris, thank you.
Senator Klobuchar, what would you do to stop states from prevailing? Your response?
KLOBUCHAR: I would codify Roe v. Wade and make it the law of the land. But what I want to do right now is just say, what if Donald Trump was standing up here on the debate stage with me? You know what I would say to him? I said, you knew — you said you wanted to do this in your race for president. You actually said that you wanted to put women in jail. Then you tried to dial it back, and you said you wanted to put doctors in jail.
That is exactly what the Alabama law is. It put doctors in jail for 99 years. You, Donald Trump, are not on the side of women. You are not on the side of people of this country, when over 75 percent of people want to keep Roe v. Wade on the book, when over 90 percent of people want to make sure we have available contraception. You defunded Planned Parenthood. I would fund it again.
BURNETT: Senator, thank you.
Senator Booker, if states prevail on restricting abortion, how would you stop them? Please respond.
BOOKER: Well, first of all, let’s be clear about these laws we see from Alabama to Ohio. They’re not just attacks on one of the most sacrosanct ideals in our country — liberty, the ability to control your own body — but they’re particularly another example of people trying to punish, trying to penalize, trying to criminalize poverty, because this is disproportionately affecting low-income women in this country, people in rural areas in this country. It is an assault on the most fundamental ideal that human beings should control their own body.
And so the way as president of the United States I’m going to deal with this is, first of all, elevating it like we have with other national crises to a White House-level position. And I will create the Office of Reproductive Freedom and Reproductive Rights in the White House and make sure that we begin to fight back on a systematic attempt that’s gone on for decades to undermine Roe v. Wade.
I will fight to codify it, and I will also make sure that we fight as this country to repeal the Hyde amendment, so that we are leading the Planet Earth in defending the global assault we see on women right now.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator.
Congresswoman Gabbard, your response?
GABBARD: This is often one of the most difficult decisions that a woman will ever have to make, and it’s unfortunate to see how in this country it has for so long been used as a divisive political weapon.
I agree with Hillary Clinton on one thing, disagree with her on many others, but when she said abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, I think she’s correct. We see how the consequences of laws that you’re referring to can often lead to a dangerous place, as we’ve seen them as they’re passed in other countries, where a woman who has a miscarriage past that six weeks could be imprisoned because abortion would be illegal at that point.
I do, however, think that there should be some restrictions in place. I support codifying Roe v. Wade while making sure that, during the third trimester, abortion is not an option unless the life or severe health consequences of a woman are at risk.
BURNETT: Thank you very much.
The Supreme Court is currently made up of five Republican-appointed justices and four appointed by Democrats. The court just announced it will hear arguments in a case challenging some abortion rights.
Vice President Biden, the Constitution does not specify the number of justices that serve on the Supreme Court. If Roe v. Wade is overturned on your watch and you can’t pass legislation in Congress, would you seek to add justices to the Supreme Court to protect women’s reproductive rights?
BIDEN: I would not get into court packing. We had three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all.
I want to point out that the justices I’ve supported, when I defeated Robert Bork — and I say when I defeated Robert Bork, I made sure we guaranteed a woman’s right to choose for the better part of a generation. I would make sure that we move and insist that we pass, we codify Roe v. Wade.
The public is already there. Things have changed. And I would go out and I would campaign against those people in the state of Ohio, Alabama, et cetera, who in fact are throwing up this barrier. Reproductive rights are a constitutional right. And, in fact, every woman should have that right.
And so I would not pack the court. What I would do is make sure that the people that I recommended for the court, from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Elena Kagan, who used to work for me, to others, that they, in fact, support the right of privacy, on which the entire notion of a woman’s right to choose is based. And that’s what I would do. No one would get on the court.
And by the way, if, in fact, at the end of this — beginning next year, if, in fact, one of the justices steps down, God forbid, in fact, I would make sure that we would do exactly what McConnell did last time out. We would not allow any hearing to be held for a new justice.
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
Mayor Buttigieg, you have discussed expanding the court from 9 to 15 justices. What’s your response to the vice president?
BUTTIGIEG: That’s right. When I proposed reforming the Supreme Court, some folks said that was too bold to even contemplate. Now, I’m not talking about packing the court just with people who agree with me, although I certainly will appoint people who share my values, for example, the idea that women’s reproductive freedom is an American right.
What I’m talking about is reforms that will depoliticize the court. We can’t go on like this, where every single time there is a vacancy, we have this apocalyptic ideological firefight over what to do next.
Now, one way to fix this would be to have a 15-member court where five of the members can only be appointed by unanimous agreement of the other 10. Smarter legal minds than mine are discussing this in the Yale Law Journal and how this could be done without a constitutional amendment. But the point is that not everybody arrives on a partisan basis.
There are other reforms that we could consider, from term limits — don’t forget, justices used to just retire like everybody else — to a rotation off the appellate bench.
BURNETT: Thank you.
BUTTIGIEG: I’m not wedded to a particular solution, but I am committed to establishing a commission on day one…
BURNETT: Thank you, Mayor Buttigieg.
BUTTIGIEG: … that will propose reforms to depoliticize the Supreme Court, because we can’t go on like this.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Mayor Buttigieg. Secretary Castro, he’s talking about making the court bigger. Your response? Is it a good idea?
CASTRO: I don’t think it is. I wouldn’t pack the court. You know, I think the plan that Mayor Pete mentioned is an interesting one, but I actually believe, if we were selecting from one of those things, that the smarter move might be to look at term limits or having people cycle off from the appellate courts so that you would have a replenishment of perspective.
I would also make sure that I appoint as president people who respect the precedent of Roe v. Wade, that we codify Roe v. Wade, and that we do away with things like the Hyde amendment, because you shouldn’t only be able to have reproductive freedom if you have money. We have to think about people who do not, people who are poor. And we have to concern ourselves not only with reproductive freedom, but also reproductive justice and invest in the ability of every woman to be able to make a choice and to be able to have her health care needs met.
BURNETT: Senator Warren, would you consider adding more justices to the Supreme Court to protect Roe v. Wade? Your response?
WARREN: I think there are a number of options. I think, as Mayor Buttigieg said, there are many different ways. People are talking about different options, and I think we may have to talk about them.
But on Roe v. Wade, can we just pause for a minute here? I lived in an America where abortion was illegal, and rich women still got abortions, because they could travel, they could go to places where it was legal.
What we’re talking about now is that the people who are denied access to abortion are the poor, are the young, are 14-year-olds who were molested by a family member. And we now have support across this country. Three out of four Americans believe in the rule of Roe v. Wade. When you’ve got three out of four Americans supporting it, we should be able to get that passed through Congress.
BURNETT: Senator, thank you.
WARREN: We should not leave this to the Supreme Court. We should do it through democracy, because we can.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Senator.
COOPER: As some of you have indicated, the differences between all of you on this stage are tiny compared to the differences between you and President Trump. There are, however, fundamental differences between many of you on this stage.
Vice President Biden, just on either side of you, Senator Warren is calling for big structural change. Senator Sanders is calling for a political revolution. Will their visions attract the kind of voters that the Democrats need to beat Donald Trump?
BIDEN: Well, I think their vision is attracting a lot of people, and I think a lot of what they have to say is really important. But, you know, Senator Warren said we can’t be running any vague campaigns. We’ve got to level with people. We’ve got to level with people and tell them exactly what we’re going to do, how we’re going to get it done, and if you can get it done.
I’m going to say something that is probably going to offend some people here, but I’m the only one on this stage that has gotten anything really big done, from the Violence Against Women Act to making sure that we pass the Affordable Care Act to being in a position where we, in fact, took almost a $90 billion act that kept us from going into a depression, making us — putting us in a position where I was able to end roe — excuse me, able to end the issue of gun sales in terms of assault weapons.
And so the question is, who is best prepared? We all have good ideas. The question is, who is going to be able to get it done? How can you get it done? And I’m not suggesting they can’t, but I’m suggesting that that’s what we should look at. And part of that requires you not being vague. Tell people what it’s going to cost, how you’re going to do it, and why you’re going to do it. That’s the way to get it done. Presidents are supposed to be able to persuade.
COOPER: Just to clarify, Vice President, who are you saying is being vague?
BIDEN: Well, the senator said — she’s being vague on the issue of — actually, both are being vague on the issue of Medicare for all. No, look, here’s the deal. Come on. It costs $30 trillion. Guess what? That’s over $3 trillion — it’s more than the entire federal budget — let me finish, OK?
COOPER: You’ll both get in.
BIDEN: If you eliminated the entire Pentagon, every single thing, plane, ship, troop, the buildings, everything, satellites, it would get you — it would pay for a total of four months. Four months. Where do you get the rest? Where does it come from?
SANDERS: Two things. Let me explain in two ways.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, respond.
SANDERS: Joe, you talked about working with Republicans and getting things done. But you know what you also got done? And I say this as a good friend. You got the disastrous war in Iraq done. You got a bankruptcy bill, which is hurting middle-class families all over this country. You got trade agreements, like NAFTA and PNTR, with China done, which have cost us 4 million jobs.
Now, let’s get to Medicare for all. Let’s be honest. We spend twice as much per person as do the people of any other major country on Earth. And the answer is, if we have the guts that I would like to see the Democratic Party have that guts, to stand up to the drug companies and the insurance companies and tell them that the function of health care is to guarantee care to all people, not to make $100 billion in profit.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
SANDERS: If we stood together, we could create the greatest health care system in the world.
COOPER: Vice President Biden, you can respond, and then Senator Warren.
BIDEN: We can do that without Medicare for all. We can do that by adding a public option.
BIDEN: We can.
SANDERS: No, you can’t.
BIDEN: And we can afford to do it.
SANDERS: You’ve got to take on the greed and the profiteering of the health care industry.
BIDEN: By the way, the greed and…
COOPER: Let him respond. Mr. Vice President?
BIDEN: The greed and profiteering of those insurance companies, they are as much against my bill as they are anybody else. They were strongly against Obamacare. They know it cost them. And it’s going to take away the right of people to choose, the 160 million people out there who’ve negotiated their health insurance, and they want to keep it. They should have a right to keep it.
COOPER: Senator Warren, your response?
WARREN: So you started this question with how you got something done. You know, following the financial crash of 2008, I had an idea for a consumer agency that would keep giant banks from cheating people. And all of the Washington insiders and strategic geniuses said, don’t even try, because you will never get it passed.
And sure enough, the big banks fought us. The Republicans fought us. Some of the Democrats fought us. But we got that agency passed into law. It has now forced big banks to return more than $12 billion directly to people they cheated.
I served in the Obama administration. I know what we can do by executive authority, and I will use it. In Congress, on the first day, I will pass my anti-corruption bill, which will beat back the influence of money…
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
WARREN: … and repeal the filibuster. And the third, we want to get something done in America, we have to get out there and fight…
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
WARREN: … for the things that touch people’s lives.
BIDEN: I agree. Let me — she referenced me. I agreed with the great job she did, and I went on the floor and got you votes. I got votes for that bill. I convinced people to vote for it. So let’s get those things straight, too.
COOPER: Senator Warren, do you want to respond?
WARREN: I am deeply grateful to President Obama, who fought so hard to make sure that agency was passed into law, and I am deeply grateful to every single person who fought for it and who helped pass it into law. But understand…
BIDEN: You did a hell of a job in your job.
WARREN: Thank you.
But understand this. It was a dream big, fight hard. People told me, go for something little, go for something small, go for something that the big corporations will be able to accept.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
WARREN: I said, no, let’s go for an agency that will make structural change in our economy.
COOPER: Senator, thank you.
WARREN: And President Obama said, I will fight for that, and he sometimes had to fight against people in his own administration. We have…
BIDEN: Not me.
WARREN: We have to be willing to make good, big, structural change.
COOPER: Mayor Buttigieg, which is the right vision for a Democrat to beat Donald Trump? That’s the essential question.
BUTTIGIEG: If I had a buck for every argument that I’ve witnessed like this, I could pay for college for everybody. We need to move past what has been consuming this whole political space for as long as I’ve been alive.
We’re being offered a false choice. I don’t agree with the vice president that Trump is an aberration. I don’t agree that there’s any such thing as back to normal. Because here in the industrial Midwest, definitely where I live, normal didn’t work. That’s part of how we got here. That’s part of how a guy like Donald Trump managed to get within cheating distance of the Oval Office in the first place.
But I also don’t agree with Senator Warren that the only way forward is infinite partisan combat. Yes, we have to fight — absolutely, we have to fight for the big changes at hand, but it’s going to take more than fighting. Once again, I want to take you back to that day after Trump has stopped being president. Think about what the president can do to unify a new American majority for some of the boldest things we’ve attempted in my lifetime — Medicare for all who want it, actually getting something done on immigration for the first time since the ’80s, an assault weapons ban, which would be a huge deal, making college free for low- and middle-income students.
Yet there are some here on this stage who say it doesn’t count unless we go even further, free college for low- and middle-income students isn’t good enough unless we’re also paying for the children of billionaires. Immigration reform isn’t enough unless we also decriminalize border crossings. We have an opportunity to do the biggest things we’ve done…
COOPER: Thank you, Mayor.
BUTTIGIEG: … in my lifetime…
BIDEN: I did not say back to normal.
COOPER: Thank you, Mayor. Senator Klobuchar? Senator Klobuchar?
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. You know, this isn’t a flyover part of the country to me. The heartland is where I live. And I want to win those states that we lost last time, and I have bold ideas to get us there. And I think just because they’re different than Elizabeth’s doesn’t mean they’re bold.
But we can’t get any of this done on climate change or immigration reform unless they win. And what I have done is win and the only one up here, time and time again, the reddest of red districts, Michele Bachmann’s, I — I won that district three times, rural districts that border Iowa and North and South Dakota. And I do it by going not just where it’s comfortable but where it’s uncomfortable.
And that is why I have been in Pennsylvania and in Michigan and in Wisconsin and all over Ohio and in Iowa, because I think we need to build a blue Democratic wall around those states and make Donald Trump pay for it.
COOPER: Thank you. Senator Warren, she referenced you, so you can respond.
WARREN: Now, people who are struggling to pay health care are fighting today. People who are getting crushed by student loans are in a fight today. People who are getting stopped by the police or paid less because of the color of their skin are in a fight today.
And anyone who doesn’t understand that Americans are already in these fights is not someone who is likely to win them. For me, this is about knowing what’s broken, knowing how to fix it, and, yes, I’m willing to get out there and fight for it.
COOPER: Senator Sanders…
BUTTIGIEG: There’s a missing people, and that is…
COOPER: Senator Sanders, why is your approach more likely to beat President Trump?
SANDERS: I’ll tell you why.
COOPER: Please respond.
SANDERS: And here’s the radical reason why. It’s what the American people want.
SANDERS: All right, the American people do not want tax breaks for billionaires. They want the rich to start paying their fair share of taxes. A poll came out yesterday, 71 percent of Democrats support Medicare for all. The people of this country understand that we’ve got to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. And more and more Americans, including Republicans, understand we need bold action if we’re going to save this planet for our children and our grandchildren.
The way you win an election in this time in history is not the same old, same old. You have to inspire people. You have to excite people. You’ve got to bring working people and young people and poor people into the political process…
COOPER: Thank you. Thank you.
SANDERS: … because they know you stand for them, not corporate America.
COOPER: Congressman O’Rourke, is political revolution what the American people want? Your response.
O’ROURKE: There was some talk about getting big things done. When I was first elected to Congress, I found that El Paso, Texas, had the worst wait times in the country to see a mental health care provider at the V.A. I don’t know how sensational or exciting that was to everyone in the country or even most people in El Paso, but it was important to those veterans who I serve.
So we set about turning around the V.A., hiring up the psychiatrists and psychologists and therapists to take care of those women and men who had put their lives on the line for this country. And we were able to do that, and we took what we learned, and we applied it to a national law as a member of the minority working with Republicans and Democrats alike to expand mental health care access for veterans nationally.
And then in Texas, one of what was thought to be the reddest states in the country, going to every single county…
COOPER: Thank you, Congressman.
O’ROURKE: … talking about this progressive agenda, and winning more votes than any Democrat has ever won, that’s the way that we defeat Donald Trump in November of 2020.
COOPER: Congressman O’Rourke, thank you. We have to take a quick break. The CNN-New York Times debate live from Ohio will continue right after this.
COOPER: We are back with the CNN-New York Times Democratic presidential debate. We have time for one more question that we would like all of you to weigh in on.
Last week, Ellen DeGeneres was criticized after she and former President George W. Bush were seen laughing together at a football game. Ellen defended their friendship, saying, we’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different.
So in that spirit, we’d like you to tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us and what impact it’s had on you and your beliefs.
Secretary Castro, let’s begin with you.
CASTRO: Well, first of all, thank you to Marc, thank you, Anderson, and thank you, Erin, and CNN, and New York Times and everybody who is here tonight.
You know, some of the most interesting friendships that I’ve had have been with people different from me, either people older than me that had a lot to teach me, or people who grew up very different from me. Also, teachers, as I was growing up, people that had a life experience that when I was growing up was beyond mine.
And sometimes also — and this goes to the heart of your question, I think — people who thought differently from me, folks that I considered and have considered friends, and I think that there’s a value to that. I think that that should be reflected more in our public life.
I also believe, to just speak about the incident last week with Ellen and George W. Bush, I completely understood what she was saying about being kind to others. I believe that we should be more kind to other folks.
I also believe that we should hold people to account for what they’ve done, especially public servants who have a record of having done something or not done something. And I think that we can do both of those things. I think that we can be kind to people and also hold them accountable for their actions.
And there are people, whether it’s our former president, George W. Bush, or others that should be held accountable. Just as we should be kind, we shouldn’t be made to feel shameful about holding people accountable for what they’ve done.
COOPER: Congresswoman Gabbard?
GABBARD: Thank you. You know, where I come from in Hawaii, many of you know, we greet each other with “aloha.” It’s not a word that means hello and goodbye. It actually means something much more powerful than that. It means I come to you with respect and a recognition that we’re all connected, we’re all brothers and sisters, we’re all God’s children.
So I’ve developed friendships that some people may be surprised about within the Washington circles, especially, with Republicans, like Trey Gowdy, for example. He and I disagree a lot and very strongly on a lot of political issues. We’ve developed a friendship that’s based on respect. And he’s been there for me during some personally challenging times.
The challenge before us today is that our country is very divided. Donald Trump must be defeated. But we must do more than just defeat Donald Trump. We need to deliver a win for the American people. We must stand united as Americans, remembering that we are all brothers and sisters, that we are all connected. This is the kind of leadership that I seek to bring as president, inspired by the example of presidents like Abraham Lincoln, who talked about how we should have malice for none and charity for all.
When I look out at our country, I don’t see deplorables, I see fellow Americans, people who I treat with respect, even when we disagree and when we disagree strongly. I will work to restore a White House that represents light and compassion and respect for every American regardless of race, religion, orientation, gender, or political affiliation.
So I want to ask everyone to join me. Join me in bringing about this government of, by, and for the people that serves all the people of this country. You can visit my website, tulsi2020.com, for more information.
COOPER: Thank you, Congresswoman.
KLOBUCHAR: For me, it’s John McCain, and I miss him every day. I traveled all over the world with him. And he would sometimes, when we were seated with world leaders, and they would look away from me, he’d say, “Senator Klobuchar is the lead Democrat on this trip, and she will go next.”
And I still remember being there at his ranch. John and I went to visit him and Cindy when he was dying. And he pointed to some words in his book, because he could hardly talk. And the words says this: “There is nothing more liberating in life than fighting for a cause larger than yourself.”
That’s what we’re doing right now. And while we have had major debates about policy, we have to remember that what unites us is so much bigger than what divides us. And we have to remember that our job is to not just change policy, but to change the tone in our politics, to look up from our phones, to look at each other, to start talking to each other, because the way we win — and not just win the presidency, but take back the U.S. Senate — is by winning big.
And the way we win big is with that fired up Democratic base that’s out there today, but it is also about bringing in independents and moderate Republicans. I can lead this. And I ask you to join me because I’ve done it before and I will do it again, amyklobuchar.com. Join our team. Thank you.
COOPER: Senator, thank you very much.
Mr. Steyer, tell us about your most surprising friendship.
STEYER: So I’m friends with a woman from Denmark, South Carolina, named Deanna Berry, who’s fighting for clean water and environmental justice in her community. She’s a different gender. She’s a different race. She’s from a different part of the country. But she reminds me of my parents in terms of her courage and her optimism and her honor.
My mother was a schoolteacher in the New York Public Schools and in the Brooklyn House of Detention. My father was the first generation in his family to go to college. My grandfather was a plumber. He interrupted his law degree to go into the Navy in World War II and he ended up prosecuting the Nazis at Nuremberg. And when I asked him what that experience meant, he said, when you see something wrong in your society, you fight it from the first day and every single day after.
And that’s why I started the Need to Impeach movement two years ago, because there was something terribly wrong at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And over 10 years ago, I saw that there was a terrible threat to the safety and health of every American in terms of the climate crisis. And I’ve been fighting those companies with the help of the American people ever since successfully, and that’s why I’m running for the president, because our government has failed, it’s been bought by corporations, and it’s absolutely essential to return power to the people.
I have been doing exactly what my parents taught me to do, which is to take on the biggest problems in America directly and fight for them every single day.
COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
O’ROURKE: I’ve always tried to bring people in to the solutions that we have to our common challenges, regardless of the differences. I did that as a small-business owner more than 20 years ago, making sure that we could get a small tech company off the ground in El Paso, Texas.
Did it as a member of the City Council, where I saw my colleagues not as Republicans or Democrats, but my fellow El Pasoans who had a responsibility to deliver for our community.
As a member of Congress, I remember being in San Antonio. I was visiting the V.A. there, March of 2017. Found that my flight had been snowed in, in Washington, D.C. I happened to be in the elevator with a Republican member of Congress, Will Hurd. And on a whim, I said, do you want to just rent a car and drive from San Antonio to Washington?
And he called my bluff. We got in that Chevy Impala, last car on the lot. It was spring break. Drove 1,600 miles across the country. Live streamed the conversation, a Republican and a Democrat finding out what we had in common.
By the end of that trip, not only had we formed a friendship, but we had formed trust. We worked with each other on each other’s bills. I got Will to work with me on an immigration bill, showing party leaders from either side that Republicans and Democrats could work together on an otherwise contentious issue.
And then across Texas, I mentioned winning more votes than any Democrat. We won independents and Republicans in record numbers, as well. I will bring people in and together to face the common challenges that we have and to make sure that America rises to this opportunity.
COOPER: Senator Booker, tell us about your most surprising friendship.
BOOKER: Well, look, I have so many, I don’t even know where to count. I was the mayor of a large city with a Republican governor. He and I had to form a friendship, even though I can write a dissertation on our disagreements. When I got to the United States Senate, I went there with the purpose of making friendships across the aisle.
I go to Bible study in Chairman Inhofe’s office. He and I pass legislation together to help homeless and foster kids. I went out to try to invite every one of my Republican colleagues to dinner. And let me again say, finding a dinner at a restaurant, agreeing on one with Ted Cruz was a very difficult thing. I’m a vegan, and he’s a meat-eating Texan.
But I’ll tell you this right now, this is the moment in America that this is our test. The spirit of our country, I believe in the values of rugged individualism and self-reliance, but think about our history. Rugged individualism didn’t get us to the Moon. It didn’t beat the Nazis. It didn’t map the human genome. It didn’t beat Jim Crow. Everything we did in this country big.
And, Vice President, we have done so many big things. The fact that there’s an openly gay man, a black woman, all of us on the stage are because we in the past are all inheritors of a legacy of common struggle and common purpose.
This election is not a referendum on one guy in one office. It’s a referendum on who we are and who we must be to each other. The next leader is going to have to be one amongst us Democrats that can unite us all, not throw elbows at other Democrats that are unfair, because the preparation is being the leader that can revive civic of grace in our country, teach us a more courageous empathy, and remind America that patriotism is love of country, and you cannot love your country unless you love your fellow countrymen and women.
And love is not sentimentality. It’s not anemic. Love is struggle. Love is sacrifice. Love is the words of our founders who said at the end of the Declaration of Independence that if we’re ever going to make it as a nation, we must mutually pledge to each other…
COOPER: Thank you.
BOOKER: … our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. I am running for president to restore that sacred honor.
COOPER: Thank you.
BOOKER: And if you believe in that like I do, please join me by going to corybooker.com. Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator. Mr. Yang?
YANG: First, I want to thank all the voters tuned in at home. And if you don’t feel like you answered your — you got your question answered tonight, it’s understandable. There are 12 of us.
I’m going to be answering voter questions for 10 straight hours this Friday. My web site, yang2020.com. And if you ask your question tonight, there’s a better chance I’ll get to it.
My surprising friendship, it’s been so much fun running for president, because I’ve gotten to meet so many Americans I never would have gotten to meet otherwise. The friendship that sticks out for me is a guy named Fred, who’s an avid Trump supporter, a trucker. He let me ride in his truck for hours. He spent some time in jail. I heard about his experiences trying to get other people off of drugs.
And I’m happy to say that, after our ride together, he actually said that he would move from Donald Trump to my campaign, which was a thrill for me. And we remained in touch ever since.
The truth is that what happened to the 4 million manufacturing workers here in Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Iowa did not care about our political party. The fourth industrial revolution is now migrating from manufacturing workers to retail, call centers, transportation, as well as to white-collar workers like attorneys, pharmacists, and radiologists. It does not care about our party.
Donald Trump had a set of solutions in 2016. What did he say? He said we’re going to build a wall, we’re going to turn the clock back, we’re going to bring the old jobs back. America, we have to do the opposite of all of these things. We have to turn the clock forward. We have to accelerate our economy and society as quickly as possible. We have to evolve in the way we think about ourselves and our work and our value. It is not left. It is not right. It is forward. And that is where we must take the country in 2020.
COOPER: Mr. Yang, thank you very much. Senator Harris?
HARRIS: Thank you. Probably Rand Paul. He and I — actually, I invited him to join me on a bill to end the money bail system in the United States. He and I agree on almost nothing, but we agree on that. And after we joined forces, he said to me, “Kamala, you know, Appalachia loves this.” And it really made the point that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us.
And I guess that’s why I’m running. I do believe that to beat Donald Trump, but also to heal our country, we need a leader who has the ability to unify our country and see that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us.
And I’ll tell you, my mother was 19 when she left India alone. And she wanted to travel to learn science because her mission in life was to cure cancer. And so she arrived in California. She got — you know, she was supposed to have an arranged marriage, but she got involved in the civil rights movement, she met my father, and that produced my sister and me. They got married. But when I was five, that marriage ended.
But my mother convinced us that we could do anything. And so I became the first woman attorney general of California, the second black woman elected to the United States Senate, and I will tell you, that’s part of why I’m running, because Donald Trump, if he had his way, my story would not be possible. And I am running to make sure that that dream, the American dream, American values, American ideas will always hold true.
And so that’s what is at stake in this election. And I believe I am uniquely able to see the commonalities among us and to speak the story of the American dream and the need to reclaim it.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator Harris. Mayor Buttigieg?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think about the friendships that I formed in the military, people who were radically different from me, different generation, different race, definitely different politics. And we learned to trust each other with our lives.
When they got into my vehicle and when we went outside the wire, they didn’t care if I was going home to a boyfriend or a girlfriend, they didn’t care what country my dad immigrated from and whether he was documented or not. We just learned to trust each other.
In fact, the fact that I want every American to have that experience without having to go to war to get there is one of the reasons why I believe national service is so important. I guess I’ll follow in the pattern tonight and point out you can go to peteforamerica.com and read all about it.
It’s also about building a sense of belonging in this country, because I think that’s what friendship and that’s what service can create. And I think we have a crisis of belonging in this country that is helping to explain so many of our problems, from our politics being what it is to the fact that people are self-medicating and we’re seeing a rise in the deaths from despair.
I believe only the president can build a sense of belonging and purpose for the entire country. The purpose of the presidency is not the glorification of the president. It is the unification of the American people. And I’m asking for your vote to be that president, when the dust clears over the rubble of our norms and institutions at the end of the Trump presidency, pick up the pieces and guide us toward a better future.
COOPER: Mr. Mayor, thank you. Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: When I was chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, I tried to get through the most comprehensive piece of veterans legislation in modern American history. And I failed. I only had two Republicans to vote with me in the Senate. So we had to go back to the drawing board.
And I worked with John McCain. I certainly did not get in that legislation working with McCain all that I wanted. But it turned out that we were able to pass a very, very significant piece of legislation, including $5 billion more for the Veterans Administration.
More recently, I worked with a very conservative Republican from Utah, Mike Lee. And Mike understood, although he and I disagree on everything, that the U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen was a catastrophic disaster for the people of Yemen. And for the first time in 45 years, we were able to get the War Powers Act utilized and get U.S. — get the votes to get the U.S. troops out of that area.
But I think, at the end of day, what I appreciate is that we have got to end the hatred that Trump is fostering on our people, the divisiveness, trying to divide us up by the color of our skin or where we were born or our sexual orientation or our religion.
And there is no job that I would undertake with more passion than bringing our people together around an agenda that works for every man, woman, and child in this country rather than the corporate elite and the 1 percent. A progressive agenda that stands for all is the way that we transform this country.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, thank you. Senator Warren?
WARREN: You ask about a surprising friend. For me, it would be Charles Fried. Twenty-seven years ago, when I was under consideration for a job, he was someone who had been George Bush, the first, solicitor general, a deeply principled Republican.
And we didn’t agree on much. I was far more liberal than he was. But he also was willing to listen to my work about what’s happening to America’s middle class. And Charles engaged with it over and over and ultimately is the person who made sure I got the job.
You know, I grew up out in Oklahoma. I have three elder brothers. They all served in the military. Two of the three are still Republicans. I love all three of my brothers. And there are a lot of things that we’re divided on, but there are core things that we believe in together.
We want to see all of our children get a good start in life. We don’t want to see any of our friends or neighbors not get covered by health care. We’re willing to get out there for the things we believe in.
Look, people across this country, whether they’re Democrats, independents, or Republicans, they know what’s broken. They know that we have an America that’s working better and better and better for a thinner and thinner and thinner slice at the top and leaving everyone else behind.
People across this country, regardless of party, are ready to say no more, we want an America that works for everyone. 2020 is our moment in history. It is a deep honor to be here, to be in this fight.
COOPER: Thank you.
WARREN: I know what’s broken. I know how to fix it. And we are building a grassroots movement to get it done that includes everyone.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator Warren. Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: This is reassuring in the fact that we’re all acknowledging that we have to reach across the aisle, get things done. No other way to get anything done in this country.
The two people maybe would surprise you the most were — he’s been mentioned twice, but John McCain. John McCain worked for me when he worked in the Navy, and he was — he was my assigned to me to travel around the world. We became close friends. He became very close friends with my wife, Jill. Visited our home. He was there with his children.
And on his death bed, he asked me to do his eulogy. John, I would say to John, “John, you didn’t see a war you never wanted to fight.” And he’d say, “You didn’t see a problem you never wanted to solve.” But he was a great man of principle. He was honorable. He was honorable.
And one of the things — that’s the reason why I’m running. We have to restore the soul of this country. That’s why I’m doing this. In fact, this president has ripped the soul out of this country, divided us in ways that are absolutely outrageous. A liar, he cheats, he does not do anything to promote people generally.
Secondly, we have to rebuild the middle class. The only way we’re going to do that is to be able to reach across the aisle. My dad used to say a job is about a lot more than a paycheck, Joey. It’s about your dignity. We have to restore people’s dignity.
And lastly, we have to unite the country, because, folks, it’s time we stopped walking around with our heads down. We are better positioned than any country in the world to own the 21st century. So for god’s sake, get up. Get up and remember, there is the United States of America. There’s nothing, nothing we’re unable to do when we decide we’re going to do it. Nothing at all. Period.
COOPER: Candidates, thank you. That concludes the fourth Democratic presidential debate. We want to thank Otterbein University for hosting us. Now please stay tuned to CNN for special coverage of tonight’s debate with Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo.