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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

CNN's Town Hall with Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 5, 2020 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[21:00:00]

CUOMO: Live from Saint Anselm College here in New Hampshire, this is a CNN town hall event. I'm Chris Cuomo.

The top Democratic candidates are on one stage across two nights, taking questions from New Hampshire Democrats and independents. Now, here's the key: Many of them are undecided. They have six days to make up their minds before they cast their votes. We just heard from former Vice President Biden. Later tonight, you're going to hear from presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer.

But right now, let's welcome Senator Elizabeth Warren.

(APPLAUSE)

WARREN: Hello. Good to see you.

CUOMO: Good to see you, Senator.

WARREN: Nice to see you. Good to see you guys. Hi.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Let's deal a little bit with today, Senator, and then we'll get to the audience questions. An historic vote you cast today in favor of the charges that were against this president, that he is guilty of them. He was acquitted, largely because of the galvanizing of his own party. How daunting a prospect is it, if you are the nominee, to run against a president who knows that his party will back him no matter what?

WARREN: You know, I don't think that's hard at all. In fact, I think what today shows is what kind of human being that we're running against. Donald Trump is someone who thinks that the world is there to save him and to serve him. And he's been that way evidently ever since he was a kid.

You know, look, I look at it as the contrast of what this election is going to be about. Donald Trump was -- grew up in a 23-room mansion with nine bathrooms. By the time he was 3 years old, he had $200,000 a year allowance from his dad's real estate empire. I grew up in a two-bedroom, one-bath house with a garage converted to

hold my three older brothers, out in Oklahoma. I spent my time babysitting and waitressing and sewing clothes to make money.

I think it's how you look at the world. My first job in this world was as a special education teacher. And that's where I learned the worth of every single human being. And it's where I came to understand what public service, what teaching is all about. It's about being there for others. Donald Trump thinks that others are there for him.

And I think that's what today is about. And I think that's what the election of 2020 is about, that kind of contrast, what kind of an America we want to be and what kind of a people we want to be. That's why I'm in this race.

CUOMO: All right, so let's talk about the election. Obviously, New Hampshire, the first primary, not a caucus. Best guess at this particular time, given on the data we've been given and nine other different, you know, suggestions that we don't know everything yet.

You look at Buttigieg, you look at Sanders, they seem to be at the top of the field. What does that mean for you here in New Hampshire? What do you need here as a result to prove that you are in that top tier?

WARREN: You know, look, I see this as just getting out and talking to people. I've been doing town halls here in New Hampshire. I've been doing them out -- I did them out in Iowa. I've done them in Nevada and in South Carolina.

But it's about talking to people and listening to people and trying to build a grassroots movement. I made the decision right at the beginning that I was not going to spend my time in closed-door fundraisers, I was not going to sell access to my time to millionaires and billionaires and corporate lobbyists, that I was going to fund this grassroots and I was going to build this grassroots.

And so that's why I'm delighted to be in New Hampshire right now, but also building out all across this country. So, you know, we got 55 more states and territories. I'm in 31 states now with a thousand people on the ground as paid campaign workers, as organizers, field organizers, because I believe in field work, because I believe we have to build a grassroots campaign.

And, again, I think this is a big part of what this election of 2020 is about.

[21:05:00]

If we want to have a government that just works for millionaires and billionaires, we should continue a financing system that is largely driven by millionaires and billionaires and PAC money. If you think it ought to be from the grassroots up, then I hope a lot of people will go to elizabethwarren.com and pitch in five bucks or volunteer an hour to do phone calls or to knock on doors or get more information so they can talk to people in front of them in line at the grocery store.

But, ultimately, it's about getting in this fight. We can't have a government that continues to work better and better for a smaller and smaller group at the top and doesn't work for the rest of us. And the only way we're going to turn that around, the only way we're going to make this government work for us starts right here in the Democratic primaries.

CUOMO: Well, tonight, you get an opportunity to speak to voters...

WARREN: Good.

CUOMO: ... many of whom haven't made up their mind yet. First one, Catherine Pollack, PhD student at Dartmouth College, hasn't made up her mind yet...

WARREN: Hi, Catherine.

CUOMO: ... about who to support in the primary. Catherine, welcome.

QUESTION: Hey.

WARREN: Hi.

QUESTION: Hi, Senator Warren, thank you for taking my question.

WARREN: Sure.

QUESTION: I understand that each party has a base that it can rely on for votes. However, a large portion of the electorate is independent and can lean in either party's direction. How can you avoid alienating the important independent vote by moving too far progressive on issues such as free college tuition, Medicare for all, and forgiveness of student loans? And how can you ensure success in critical states that are not traditionally blue?

WARREN: So I'm glad you asked this question. You know, I was saying earlier, I was born and raised in Oklahoma. I have three older brothers. They're all back in Oklahoma now. And one is a Democrat. Do the math, right? Two are Republicans.

And we can think of the world in terms of our traditional Democrat- Republican, you go to your corner, I'll go to my corner. And believe me, my brothers and I have done this more than once. But there are certain issues that completely shake that table up and say, you know what, this isn't how we see the world.

Let me give you an example of that. When my brothers and I get together, recently, I asked them about how they felt about Amazon and Eli Lilly and Halliburton. You know what those companies have in common? Last year, they all reported billions of dollars in profits. And how much did they pay in taxes? Zero. Nothing.

And you know how all three of my brothers look at that? They look at that and they say, that's not right. They pay their taxes. They pay their fair share. How is it that the guys at the top don't have to do that?

And somebody's got to keep this country running. Somebody's got to pay to pave the roads and bridges. Somebody's got to pay for our defense. So how come those guys get off the hook?

And the answer? Corruption. Those guys get off the hook because they figured out it was cheaper to make a lot of campaign contributions and to hire a bunch of lobbyists and lawyers in Washington to open up a loophole in the tax code. Oh, just a little twist, just a little reinterpretation, to the point that they end up paying nothing and all that burden gets shuffled off to everyone else.

We make that case in 2020, we get out there and fight this presidential election against the most corrupt president in history, we make that case, that's how we win. But it's also how we do it by pulling people together.

CUOMO: How does it go with the brothers?

WARREN: You know, actually, on that one, I think I've gotten the vote from all three of them now. I think I'm in.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: That's no easy task.

WARREN: Yeah, no. If you knew my brothers, one of them especially, man, yeah.

CUOMO: When there's going to be heat in that conversation, are you bringing the heat most of the time or taking the heat from the three of them? Because I'm figuring they feel like they need to be all together to come at you in the first place.

WARREN: Oh, no, no. They're not all together. We're two and two.

CUOMO: Oh.

WARREN: Oh, in these fights. One of my brothers is a Democrat, and he just keeps saying, "What Betsy said." He's not the talker in the family.

CUOMO: And the Republicans, what works best?

WARREN: With them?

CUOMO: Yeah.

WARREN: It's to talk about things like this. Corruption just drives them crazy. And, look, I think it drives -- I'm not talking about Republican politicians. I'm talking about Republicans, and Democrats, independents, I think it drives people across this country crazy.

Because they understand it's not right when these giant corporations or these billionaires use their influence to get the government to work for them. It's like making an investment. Instead of building a new factory or instead of training new workers or starting a new product line, they can improve product -- improve profits by going to Washington and getting the rules rewritten in their favor.

And the thing is, it's been going on now for decades. And most of it is completely outside the headlines. And it just happens a little bit, and then

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a little bit more, and then a little bit more. And the next thing you know, we have an America where the GDP keeps going up, where corporate profits keep going up, where we're -- the stock market keeps going up, and where hard-working families have flat wages and rising expenses for health care, for housing, for childcare, for trying to send a kid off to school.

The squeeze on working families, on middle-class families, on the working poor is just getting unbearable. But those at the top just keep sucking more and more value out. We've got to change that in 2020. That's why I'm in this fight.

CUOMO: So let's talk about something that really is affecting people no matter what your income level...

WARREN: Sure.

CUOMO: ... and it's a problem that's getting worse all the time. And that comes from Jonathan Fried, another student at Dartmouth, he says he's undecided. What's your question?

QUESTION: New Hampshire has one of the largest opioid problems in our country.

WARREN: Yeah.

CUOMO: How do you plan to address the opioid problem in our state and the country at large?

WARREN: So, thanks for asking this one, Jonathan. You know, this is one -- I ask groups, whenever I'm together with them and this topic comes up, how many people in here have lost a loved one, a friend, a neighbor, a cousin, to the opioid crisis? And look how many people raised their hands.

The estimate I've seen is that 193 people die every day from addiction and overdoses. It's like a plane crash. And it happens today, and again tomorrow, and again the next day, and the next day, and the next day, if we don't do something about it.

So a couple of years ago, I was having lunch with Elijah Cummings. Some of you may remember Elijah, one of the best men God put on this earth. Elijah was the congressman from Baltimore, Maryland. And we were talking about the opioid crisis and how much it looked like the AIDS crisis, in that it had two things about it. One is a lot of stigma, so people don't like to talk about it, they don't like to talk about who's caught in it, people don't come for help. And the other part is, the resources we need, our federal government, was always just an hour late and a dollar short.

So the crisis took off on AIDS, and it was always just behind on what the government did, until a little boy named Ryan White said that he had AIDS and Congress said, "This is it," America said, "This is it." We put the resources into the research. We put the resources into treatment and really tackled the AIDS crisis and brought down the number of deaths.

There are people, lots of people alive today because of the work we did collectively through the federal government, and then down on the ground.

So Elijah and I decided, why not do the same thing with the opioid crisis? And that is put in the real resources. Put in the resources to save our brothers and sisters. Put in the money and don't put it at the state level and get it all tangled up in bureaucracy. Don't have Washington say there's only one way to do this. Put this right down in the local communities that are on the front lines.

Put this right down with the tribal nations that are facing a different kind of problem than perhaps the city of Manchester. Different localities have different needs.

I was visiting a place in northern New Hampshire -- it's been several months ago to talk about this crisis -- and visiting a treatment facility. You know what they said they needed most? They're an inpatient treatment facility, residential facility. They said the thing they needed most is they needed transportation. People were ready to work, but they were in a very isolated place and they couldn't get them to work and back. They still needed to come back in the evenings. They still needed that much support. But they didn't have the money for the transportation they needed. We could put that money in and we could get that money down to the communities.

So Elijah and I came up with a plan. We talked to everybody we could about how much money it would take. It will take a lot of money, about $10 billion a year for the next 10 years. But think of what we're losing every day. We're losing the lives of our brothers and sisters. The best estimate is it's costing us $50 billion a year, this crisis. Put the money in. I've shown how we can pay for it.

We could save lives by doing this. This is what the federal government should be. It should be a good partner to the localities that are on the front lines doing the hard work that needs to be done.

CUOMO: And this state knows, they have twice the national average.

(APPLAUSE)

WARREN: Yep, we can do this.

CUOMO: Twice the national average of death rate here from opioids. All right. Next question. Jenifer Wallitsch, student here at Saint Anselm College, still undecided. What's your question?

QUESTION: As a woman studying politics here at Saint Anselm, I sometimes feel as if I will be at a disadvantage when I enter the workforce,

[21:15:00]

since the majority of people associate politics with men. Do you believe that the men in this race have a better chance of beating Trump solely because of their gender?

WARREN: I believe that they think so, but they would be wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

WARREN: You know, Jenifer, and let's just talk about this. You're studying this, you're looking at the numbers on it. The world changed in 2016. Once Donald Trump was elected, the world changed. Think about it this way. The day he was sworn in, what happened the very next day? It was the Women's March, the largest protest rally in the history of the world.

And I still remember, a lot of commentators were saying afterwards, well, yes, you know, the women really turned out here, and friends of women, also known as men.

(LAUGHTER)

WARREN: They really turned out here but are they really going to be here in month? And the answer was, yes. Were they really going to be here in six months? And the answer is, oh, yes. Were they still going to be here in a year? And the answer was, you better believe it.

Understand this. We took back -- we Democrats took back the House of Representatives in 2018, and statehouses around this country, because of women candidates and women and friends of women who were energized by those candidates. What the data show now is that in competitive elections, women are outperforming men.

So here's how I see this. At the end of the day, when people start picking who they want for a president, it has got to be somebody they trust. And it can't just be somebody who looks like what presidents looked like in the past. Sometimes we've got to think differently.

Remember, in 1960, a lot of folks said, not sure we can do a Catholic because nobody has ever done a Catholic before, we've never had a catholic president before. Or in 2008, a lot of folks said, we can't have an African-American nominee because we've never had an African- American president before.

But our party is better than that. And we proved that our country is better than that. 2020, we can and should have a woman for president.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Senator Warren, thank you. Let's take a quick break. We'll be back with more from Senator Elizabeth Warren.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:21:30]

CUOMO: All right. Welcome back to a CNN DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL TOWN HALL. We have Senator Elizabeth Warren with us. Let's get back to the questions for the senator from the audience.

All right. JerriAnne Boggis, she's the executive director of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, supported Cory Booker, now leaning towards Steyer. You have a question for the senator.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Senator Warren.

WARREN: Good afternoon.

QUESTION: Thank you so much for being here. Given the critique that New Hampshire should not have first in the nation status for our party's primary because of our perceived lack of diversity, what have you done to engage this population in conversation? What have you learned from this underrepresented group? And how does this reflect on the issues faced by this population across the country?

WARREN: So it's a wonderful question, because it has really been a year years-long process of learning and growing. Sitting right in front of you is my pastor who has led me in a large part of this, because I've learned that church is one of the best places to go to meet people who have come from a different set of experiences, people of color, who experience life very differently.

A big part of what I've tried to do during the time I've been a senator, and now in my presidential campaign, is I've tried to build both a Senate office and a campaign office that looks like the rest of America and that has a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds, has people of color in it that we have -- people who have lived in this world differently. And I try to learn and listen from that.

One of the groups I've spent a lot of time with is Black Womxn For, I don't know if you're familiar with them. But it's a wonderful group of women, who I have to say, are really outspoken and dare I say it, pushy. And I mean that in the nicest meaning of the word.

They push me on ideas. They give me ideas, great ideas, and have helped inform a lot of what I've done. But they also call me out when I get it wrong. And they've called me out publicly when I've gotten it wrong. And you know what, they were right to do that. Because ultimately I want to be better.

And I want to be better, not just as a presidential candidate, I want to be better as a president, I want to be the kind of president that truly can make a meaningful contribution to making this world one that doesn't just work for those at the top, that doesn't just work for those who are born into privilege, but that truly works for everyone.

It's why I'm in this fight and it's how I'm trying to get better every single day. I hope that's enough to be helpful in this conversation. Thank you. QUESION: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. I want to bring in Christopher Rose. He's from Raymond. He's a retired town manager, still undecided, don't let the tie fool you, the Tom Steyer tie...

WARREN: It sure is.

CUOMO: ... but he says he's undecided.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: It's a tartan tie. Hello, Senator.

WARREN: Hi.

QUESTION: There are thousands of people trying to cross the border into the United States every month. What is your plan to stop that or to handle that influx?

WARREN: Well, you know, when you talk about it, let's start, you're talking about an overall immigration system. And I just want to start with a statement of our values.

[21:25:00]

Immigration does not make this country weaker. Immigration makes this country stronger.

(APPLAUSE)

WARREN: It's true economically and it's true in terms of how we build ties all around the world. It's how we build a future.

So let's think about the different ways we do that. I want to expand legal immigration into this country. I think that's going to help us. Donald Trump has cut legal immigration. Makes no sense at all. Not good for us.

The second thing I want to do is I want to take people who are here, who are living in the shadows, who live in fear, and I want to bring them out into the open and make them able to participate in our economy openly. That means a pathway to citizenship. Not just for DREAMers but for all people who are here to stay.

I've spent a lot of time with mixed status families and understand that this issue about people who are here, who are undocumented, is one that's powerfully important. We can't save a portion. We need to have a path to citizenship for everyone who is here.

The third part of this is the crisis at our border. And I've been down there, I've seen it. And here is how I think about this. This so-called crisis at our border is one that Donald Trump helped blow up. He did it in part by disrupting aid and assistance for the Central American countries. And that meant that both their economy struggled and the government struggled to keep control over the gangs, to keep rule of law in place that made it a whole lot safe for a lot of human beings.

When I first read about our government, our government, spending our tax dollars to take children away from their families, this has been now a year-and-a-half ago, I went down to the border, I went down to McAllen, Texas, right at the beginning of this. And I went into -- I just want you all to think about this. I went into what looked like a giant Amazon warehouse, only it was a warehouse that was dirty and smelled bad.

And on my left when I walked in, cage after cage after cage, jammed right against each other, crammed full of men. So full of men, maybe 10 feet wide, 40 feet deep, a toilet back in the corner. So full of men that they couldn't all lie down at the same time.

Over here were cages full of women. And I thought, this is terrible, until I walked into the main area and that's where the cages of children were. Right in the center. A cage full of little girls. Just little girls. No toys, nothing to play with, no television, children who don't even know each other. And they were all just sitting there.

They were the saddest little girls I've ever seen. And then another cage of little girls, over there a cage of little boys. Back in the corner, a cage of nursing mothers. And I talked to one of these mothers and she said that what she had done is she came from Central America, she said she had given a drink to a police officer. He was thirsty. And the next day, she got the word that the gangs believed she was working with the police.

She knew that meant that she and her baby would be killed. So she wrapped her baby up and she ran for our border. So what we have to do is we have to restore aid in Central America, get our allies to do that, help stabilize those governments, so people don't feel that they have to

[21:30:00]

flee for their lives in order to have any future.

And then at the border, we have to live our values every day. A nation -- we cannot be a nation that takes away children from their families. We cannot be a nation that treats people who come to us, people who are desperate, people who are afraid for their lives, and treats them with anything other than humanity.

We are measured by how we treat these, the least of thy brethren, Matthew 25, "I was a stranger and you took me in." We have a moral responsibility to other people around this world and we have a responsibility to each other to live our moral values every day. That's the kind of president I will be.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Senator, can't push you on the humanity that's involved, you're right about what you saw, you're not the only one who has seen it. Let me advocate for Chris's underlying premise for a second, which is how you deal with the deterrence aspect for illegal immigration.

You are in favor, I believe, now this is a chance for you to clarify your position, of decriminalizing illegal entry into the country...

WARREN: Right.

CUOMO: ... and to allowing those who come in illegally to have free health care. The question becomes, how is that a deterrent to coming in illegally, if it's not a crime and you get free health care?

WARREN: So, remember, I started this with how we do the deterrent. We actually reduce the need for people to have to flee for their lives.

WARREN: This is part of what our foreign policy should be about.

We should be working with our allies, helping stabilize these governments in Central America and in other places, in hot spots around the world.

But when people are refugees; when people come to seek asylum, we have to treat them with basic humanity. That is a part of international law. That is a part of who we are and the kind of people we want to be.

And you bet -- look, I want to put the people who are here to stay -- remember, these are our neighbors. These are people that you may work with. These are people who may be cleaning the room that you stay in tonight. Those people should be on a path to citizenship.

It needs to be fair. It needs to be managed. But it needs to be a path to citizenship. And, yes, if people are on a path to citizenship, they should have health care. And their children should get an education. Because that is how we build an America that works for everyone.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Next question. John (ph) Banks, middle school teacher from Bow, New Hampshire, undecided.

John (ph)?

WARREN: John (ph)!

QUESTION: Good evening, Senator. My question is, what will you do to stop gun violence in our schools?

And I'm frankly not interested in your NRA ranking or how you will take on the NRA. I'm asking what actionable steps you plan on taking to keep our children safe?

WARREN: All right. So thank you, John (ph), for the question. But I think you have to ask a broader question here than simply our schools. We have a gun violence problem in America. And it has to do with mass shootings. Schools are targeted. Theaters are targeted. Churches are targeted. But it also happens in neighborhoods, shootings that occur on street corners, on playgrounds, often in communities of color. They just don't make the same headlines.

We also have a gun violence problem with suicide, the lethality of suicide attempts in America because of the ready availability of guns. And we have a problem with women dying from domestic violence and the increased odds that a woman will die because she is in a house with someone who is an abuser and there is also a gun available.

So I see this as there is no single one answer here. We have to treat this, in my view, like we treated the problem of death by auto. Years ago, we started looking at the statistics on people dying on the highways, auto violence. And we said, "It's just too high."

The headlines were things like, "Carnage on our roads." And so we took an approach to it -- public health approach -- took an approach to it that said "We're going to reduce the number of deaths."

It's not a one answer. It's a multiple answer. So what did we do?

We did some more obvious. You put in safety glass so people don't get cut if they bump against a window, seatbelts. Some things hadn't even been put into cars at the time, like airbags and automatic braking systems.

But over time we reduced deaths by auto by more than 80 percent. And that's what I want to do. I want to see us reduce gun violence overall.

Some steps are going to be obvious, like we need national background checks of our guns. We need to get weapons of war off our streets. Some are less obvious, and the kind that you want to try and then study.

So, for example, there are studies right now that suggest a waiting period to be able to buy a gun reduces deaths by suicide by somewhere around 11 percent. We just need to keep working on it, studying, doing more.

But here's the part I want you to understand. The question you should be asking is why haven't we done anything? Why nothing?

In an America where more than 90 percent of Americans want to see us do background checks and get weapons of war off the street -- 90 percent, that's Democrats and Republicans and independents -- we do nothing. And the United States Senate can't even get a vote.

And the reason, once again -- it's corruption. It is the power of the gun industry and the power of the NRA. Until we are willing to attack that corruption head on and the influence that those industries have over our elections and over our processes and decision-making in Washington, we're not going to get it done.

So I go back to this central point about what 2020 is about. It is about who government works for. Is it going to be working only for those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers? Are we going to take this government back and make it work for

everyone?

We take this government back, make it work for everyone. I want to make a commitment as president of the United States of America, while I'm president -

[21:35:00]

give me eight years on this -- I want to reduce death by gun violence by 80 percent. That's going to be my goal on this.

(APPLAUSE)

(inaudible)

CUOMO: I think it's worth taking another step...

WARREN: Sure.

CUOMO: ... on this issue.

Your analogy about death by auto...

WARREN: Um-hmm.

CUOMO: ... reducing the speed limit, changing changing human behavior, how you punish DUI -- human behavior aspects made a difference. The idea, the counter-argument is, "Well, if you're going to license people or you're going to register guns, which you're in favor of, registering all firearms..."

WARREN: Um-hmm.

CUOMO: ... how does that change the problem of who gets them in the first place?

And isn't that the biggest need to be met, who has the gun and how you control that, if at all?

WARREN: So, look, part of -- this is part of what gun registration is about. We want to track where the guns are. But it's about background checks. There are people who should not have access to guns. And I think most gun owners would say that as well. That's what background checks are about.

It's also about learning. And this is what we should be doing. We need to treat this like a public health emergency. And that means you keep collecting data about where the threats come from and what we can do to reduce those threats.

Look, I want to be in an America were children don't have to have active shooter drills, where teachers don't have to worry about being shot. That's what we should all be driving toward.

And there isn't going to be a single answer for that. It's going to take a lot of pieces to make that work. I'll do all the things I can do as president of the United States.

And there are things that a president can do without the help of Congress. For example, we can crack down on -- using the Justice Department more to crack down on people who violate our current laws.

On gun dealership, we can change the definitions and up the standards for what it means to be a gun dealer. That way we have fewer guns slipping out and -- and losing control over them. There's a lot we can do.

But that's how we have to look at it. We have to be a nation committed to reducing gun violence. I have met with so many mothers, sisters, brothers, dads, who have lost loved ones to gun violence, and so many people around this country who are ready for change.

We can no longer let a single industry continue to put the lives of our children and our loved ones at risk. We've got to make change here.

CUOMO: One of those...

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: One of those parents, by the way, got thrown out of the State of the Union last night, Fred Guttenberg.

We have a lot more questions for Senator Elizabeth Warren. So let's take a break and we'll get back to them in a moment.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

[21:40:00]

CUOMO: All right, welcome back. We're live from St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. And we're with Senator Elizabeth Warren.

I have another question from the audience for you. Meet Lindy Hamilton. She's the vice president of the New Hampshire College Democrats and is a state delegate. And as a state delegate, she is not endorsing a candidate but has a question.

WARREN: Hi, Lindy.

QUESTION: Hi, Senator. As president, how would you handle the growing tensions between the U.S. and Iran in a way that would prevent war?

WARREN: Ah. So I'd like to follow the lead of President Obama here. Look, Iran is a bad actor. There's no doubt about that -- in the world; they sponsor terrorism. They have been engaged in a lot of disruptive and dangerous actions. But here's how I see it. An Iran with nuclear weapons is a whole lot

more dangerous than an Iran without nuclear weapons. So President Obama realized this. The rest of the world realized this.

And so, starting several years ago, President Obama worked with our allies and -- and other nations that cared about this, like Russia, and said, "Let's tell Iran they need to stop their nuclear program, and we're going to -- it's going to have carrots and sticks to it. We're going to really put economic pressure on them until they do it. If they will stop the program, we will release the economic pressure."

And that's ultimately how we ended up with a deal during the Obama years to get Iran to stop its nuclear program. It didn't make Iran a perfect actor. But, boy, it showed that you can make diplomacy work. And you can particularly make it work when you deal with your allies, that we are stronger when we work together than any one nation alone.

Of course Donald Trump came in then and tore up the agreement. Our allies asked that he not do that, didn't want him to do that, but, nope, he tore it up. And Iran has gone back to working on its nuclear program. And that has escalated tensions. And of course he has taken one step after another that has brought us closer and closer to war.

So the way I see this is the way we keep America safe, which is the primary responsibility of the president of the United States, and to reduce tension in the area, is we do what we've done before. We work with our allies. We build out our State Department that has been truly hollowed out during the -- during the Trump years. We bring economic pressure. We try to get them back to the negotiating table. And we back away from the edge of war.

Iran has shown before they are willing to negotiate. We need to use all of our tools to get us there, to back us away from war. That's what's good for the United States. It's what's good for the rest of the world.

CUOMO: Senator, a key ally in the region, of course, Israel. President Trump moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Would you move the embassy back out of Jerusalem?

WARREN: I -- here's the overall approach we need to use. We need to encourage both

[21:45:00]

Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate with each other. The United States should not be putting a thumb on the scale, should not be saying in these negotiations, "We stand only with one party." We should recognize that Israel has a right to its security. The Palestinians have a right to self-determination and to be treated with respect.

The two-state solution has been the official policy of the United States and of Israel for nearly 70 years now. How do you make that happen? You want to be a good friend to Israel and to the Palestinians. Keep pushing them to the negotiating table. Let them negotiate, for all of the pieces they want, how they create a long- term, sustainable home for Palestinians and a safe, stable home for the Israelis.

But we -- our job is to get them to the negotiating table and stop handing out for political reasons just favors to one side and hurting the other. That does not in the long run move that region closer to peace and it does not treat the people in the region with the respect they deserve.

CUOMO: So the embassy?

WARREN: The embassy is what they should be negotiating. They should be negotiating the capital.

CUOMO: Where -- where the U.S. embassy is?

WARREN: No, they should be negotiating what constitutes the capital. That's really my point, is that that's what the parties should decide. The parties should negotiate whether or not the capital is in Jerusalem, where the capital is, and then the United States should move its embassy to be in the capital of each of the two states in a two-state solution.

CUOMO: OK. A question from the audience. All right? Let's meet Lee Ann Kluger. Good to have you. She's a retired teacher from Nashua who says undecided. What's your question?

QUESTION: Welcome, Senator Warren.

WARREN: Thank you.

QUESTION: I recently read that the country of Italy has mandated environmental science beginning in elementary school. What programs will you initiate to provide our young people with the necessary environmental knowledge that they need in order to live a safe future?

WARREN: Oh, thank you, it's a great question, and just what I'd expect from a teacher. Let me start by saying something that is very controversial in Washington, at least when you're on the floor of the United States Senate, but I feel safe to say it here: I believe in science.

(APPLAUSE)

QUESTION: Thank you.

WARREN: But if I can, since you asked this not from the perspective of climate change, which we should be talking about, climate change that threatens every living thing on this planet and the urgency of the moment, you asked from an educational perspective. And what I'd like to do is I'd like to focus for just a minute on education.

The way the president influences education principally in the United States is through the Department of Education. So here's how I see it. I will have a secretary of education who has been a public school teacher. (APPLAUSE)

I will have a secretary of education who believes in public education.

(APPLAUSE)

I will have -- and I will have a secretary of education who understands that public dollars should stay in public schools. I believe that we can have a Department of Education that is either working for for-profit colleges, for-profit charter schools, trying to move money out of our public schools, or we can have a Department of Education that is really on the side of public education and students getting a better public education.

So you asked me specifically about science. For me, it's about every part of it. It's how we support public education. That starts with the Department of Education and then, if I can, just real quick, it also, in my view, means it is time for us to acknowledge that the financing of public education simply cannot be done solely at the local and state level. We are leaving too many school districts and too many children behind doing this.

I have proposed a two-cent wealth tax that would permit us to put $800 billion new dollars into our public schools, quadruple the funding for Title I schools so all our kids get a chance in education. And it won't surprise you coming from a former special education teacher, for the first time ever, fully fund IDEA so every child with a disability gets the full educational opportunities they need.

CUOMO: We have a question that follows on exactly that theme.

WARREN: We can do this.

[21:50:00]

CUOMO: Senator, a good time to get to this next question. Ruth Morrissette, she works for a nonprofit organization in Nashua, also does advocacy work as the grandmother of a child with a developmental disability. She says she is leaning toward supporting you. Question?

QUESTION: Thank you so much for taking my question.

WARREN: Hi, Ruth.

QUESTION: What role do you see people with disabilities playing in your campaign? And even better yet, what role do you see people with disabilities playing in the White House, if you become president?

WARREN: I love this. Can I start with equal means equal? And that means in the eyes of our government and in the eyes of our president and in the eyes of my campaign, I want everybody to have a chance to participate. I want to have everybody have a chance to be all that they can be.

So let me tell you this. This isn't just aspirational. I've already been doing this. I decided, gosh, nine months ago, ten months ago, just barely into this campaign, that as I was looking at different issues, like housing -- we have a terrible housing problem in this country. We just have a shrinking housing supply and a growing population, among middle-class families, working-class families, the working poor, the poor poor, the homeless, formally incarcerated people, seniors who want to age in place, and also people with disabilities.

So when I was doing a housing plan, I thought about, we need to think about this also about how we provide housing for people with disabilities. Because it's different. For some it may mean group housing. But an opportunity, for those who want to, to be able to live independently, what that would mean, and how we need to invest in housing.

I did the same thing when I was thinking about workplace issues and childcare issues. And then it hit me. You know, I really need -- I'm a woman with plans. I need a disability plan overall. And I thought, I'm not going to write this myself. I'm going to reach out to the community, to the disability communities, and say, what parts do we need to be able to build that equality?

And over the past several months, we've been working together, and now we've come up with a disability plan. I hope you'll go to elizabethwarren.com, click in disability. No, take a look at it, because it really talks about the places that we have so failed as a nation, but the place where there are so many opportunities, opportunities to build, to open, to be inclusive, of people -- as someone told me the other way, no matter how they walk or how they roll, to be a part of our campaign, to be a part of my administration, and to be a full and equal participant in this -- everything that happens in this country. That's what I want to do. I hope that's...

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Senator, a few minutes left. Let's shift and end here with your perspective on campaigning. You've been doing this a long time, but this is a new experience. You've been exposed to the country in a way that I'm sure you never imagined before now.

WARREN: Yep.

CUOMO: What has been the most difficult aspect of this for you that came as a surprise?

WARREN: The stories in the selfie lines. Look, I do selfie lines. I love them. They're great fun. And we stand, and most of them are you put an arm around somebody and you wave and you take a picture. And some people want to do crazy things while they do it, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

And it's big groups, and you get a lot of family dynamics in this. "Stand over there, Harold. No, no, over here." And they're working the children around.

(LAUGHTER) I've -- I've had some of the best moments have been with little girls. We've done why -- my name is Elizabeth, I'm running for president because that's what girls do. And then we do pinky promises to remember. Those have been some of the best times of the campaign.

But at the same time, it's also the people who whisper in my ear who just in a few seconds tell me about their lives, who put a note in my hand, who need a government on their side.

I met mom and a little girl a couple of months back. Little girl was delightful. She had sparkles in her hair. And we took our picture. We did our pinky promise. Another smiling. And the little girl bounces on off the stage. And the mother reaches over to give me a hug and puts her mouth right up to my ear and says, "Please, please, please, please, fight for universal health care. She has brain cancer. And we're not sure how long we're going to last."

[21:55:00]

It's over and over, our friends, our neighbors, Americans who need a government on their side. They need a government on their side that's not just a debt collector on student loans. They need a government that says, "I believe in you and I believe in your future, I believe in your education."

I'm going to cancel the student loan debt so you can actually get a start in life, so you can actually get out there and try a different job, so you can move out of your mom's basement, so you can save up some money to buy a car, so you can start a small business, because I believe in you. I want to invest in you.

It's about the mothers who tell me -- and the daddies -- about what childcare would mean to them and how they sit home because childcare would cost more than they could make, and they watch the clock tick knowing they're falling behind in their fields, knowing they're not making the progress they would make at their jobs, knowing there are things they can't do.

CUOMO: Senator?

WARREN: Because they simply can't afford it. We're running out of time here?

CUOMO: I know. I...

WARREN: You asked me the hard part.

CUOMO: I know. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to break in on you when you're talking about all the need in America. But I have to, because there are other candidates to come on.

WARREN: Fair enough.

CUOMO: Senator Elizabeth Warren, thank you very much.

WARREN: Thank you. CUOMO: Thank you.

All right. Coming up next, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang with Don Lemon. Stay here.