CNN town hall with Biden, Bloomberg, Klobuchar and Warren

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10:47 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Warren: I'm ready for a convention floor fight

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Elizabeth Warren is ready for a convention floor battle this summer if none of the Democratic candidates reach a delegate majority during the primary.

Warren made it clear on Wednesday night that she'd be willing to lobby superdelegates, who have a vote on the second ballot if there's no outright winner, when asked if she would continue her candidacy even if she was trailing in the delegate count.

Asked by an audience member why the person who gets the most votes shouldn't be awarded the nomination, Warren said that the rules set a higher bar — and she intended fight to the last.

Warren also suggested that Bernie Sanders' argument that a candidate with a plurality should be declared the nominee was disingenuous, noting that his 2016 campaign, despite losing to Hillary Clinton, publicly argued that convention superdelegates should consider swinging the contest in his favor.

In the aftermath of that primary, in which the superdelegates overwhelmingly backed Clinton, Sanders and others struck a deal to dilute their power. Unlike four years ago, they will only be able to vote on a second ballot in 2020.

But in this crowded field, that compromise could come back to bite Sanders.

"The way I see this is, you write the rules before you know where everybody stands. And then you stick with those rules. So for me, Bernie had a big hand in writing these rules. I didn't write them," Warren said.

"When they were putting together the 2016 platform for the Democratic convention, those are the rules he wanted to write. And others wanted to write. Everybody got in the race thinking that was the set of rules," she added. "I don't see how come you get to change it because he thinks that an advantage to him for doing it."


10:46 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Housing is a big part of how Warren wants to help at-risk communities

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Dana Lang, an attorney, has a son with autism who is about to graduate from high school and eager to become independent.

During Sen. Elizabeth Warren's town hall tonight, Lang asked the Massachusetts lawmaker what plan she has for "integrating this generation of young adults with autism who are ageing out of school system" and what can she do to ensure people like him have "meaningful lives in the community?"

Warren cited her background as a special education teacher and how housing remains at the crux of her plan for helping people like Lang's son.

"I think of it as we have to think about how we let every human being in this country have an opportunity to be all they can be," Warren said. "Housing for example. There are a lot of people who face challenges who want to be able to live independently. We have a problem in America. We don't have enough housing period. And we sure don't have enough housing for people who have special requirements on housing. Maybe group housing or somewhat more supervised housing."

Warren went on to explain how the US is in need of 3.2 million new housing units to help "middle class families, for working class families, housing for the working poor. Housing for the poor poor. Housing for homeless. For people with disabilities. Housing for seniors who want to age in place. For people who have been incarcerated and making it back into the community."

Warren added: "We need to treat housing like a basic human right. And safe accessible housing for everyone."

See the moment:

10:23 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Warren says she wants go after gun dealers to address gun violence

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Elizabeth Warren outlined tonight the first executive order she would sign to address gun violence.

She vowed that her first action would be to go after gun dealers.

"We have let so many loopholes slip through. It turns out that most of the data suggest it's a handful of dealers and people who show up at gun shows who are getting most of the guns into circulation," Warren said.

The Massachusetts senator went on to say she wants to address gun violence as if it were a "public health emergency."

"That's what I want to see us do on guns. I want to see us do the things that are obvious the background checks. Get assault weapons off our streets," she said.

Hear Sen. Warren's response:

10:28 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Warren: I'll use border wall money to combat coronavirus

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday pledged to divert funds from President Trump's border wall and use "every dime" of it to fight the escalating threat of coronavirus.

"I'm going to be introducing a plan tomorrow to take every dime that the President is now spending on his racist wall at the southern border and divert it to work on the coronavirus," Warren said.

She also criticized the administration's announcement that Vice President Mike Pence would lead the current effort to combat the spread of the illness, saying his past performance in dealing with a health crisis had "disqualified" him from the job.

"Do keep in mind that this Vice President has dealt with a public health emergency before — in Indiana. And what was his approach? To put politics over science and let a serious virus expand in his state and cost people lives," she said.

During his time as governor, Pence hesitated in green-lighting a needle exchange program designed to stop the spread of HIV in a rural Indiana county. Under his watch, the outbreak spread and at least 200 people were infected. 

See her response:

10:21 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Warren vows to bring white supremacists "to justice"

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was emphatic in her denouncement of domestic terrorism following a question from the pastor of Charleston's Mother Emanuel AME Church, where, in 2015, a white supremacist killed nine African-Americans during Bible study.

Rev. Eric Manning asked the Massachusetts senator during her town hall tonight what her response would be "to the families to the survivors of those who suffer at the hands of so much hatred and evil. And racism."

"With an open heart. I also understand that we are called onto act. A pure heart by itself is not enough. That we are called onto put action behind that. Faith without deeds. And so I think of this as the place with need to start is that we need a justice department and president who treat white supremacy as the domestic terrorism that it is that threatens this United States every bit as much as terrorism," Warren said.

Warren added: "That we commit as a people as a government that we will aggressively pursue white supremacists and that we will bring them to justice. I also believe that we have to redouble or efforts on gun violence. And as you know more than anyone, gun violence is an issue of mass shootings."


10:06 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Elizabeth Warren's town hall has now started


Sen. Elizabeth Warren just took the stage at her CNN town hall in South Carolina, just days before the state's primary and Super Tuesday.

10:25 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Klobuchar: I can work with Sanders and Warren despite differences

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Amy Klobuchar has a message for Democrats worried about the party's progressive-moderate divide.


Asked how, if elected, she could work with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Klobuchar pointed out that they already do in the Senate.

"I'll bet you wish you were in those meetings and we have worked together on many, many issues and I admire both of them," she said.

"I have worked with Elizabeth on a lot of the financial reforms and have supported the work that she has done there," Klobuchar said. "I have worked with Bernie extensively on pharmaceutical issues ... in bringing in less expensive drugs from other countries to bring the prices down."

But the Minnesota senator did draw a line, noting that she opposed "Medicare for All."

"I think it's better to build on the Affordable Care Act with a public option," Klobuchar said, referring to her own health care plan.


11:09 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

One of the first things Klobuchar would do as president is fire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Edward M. PioRoda/CNN
Edward M. PioRoda/CNN

Tammie Green is an attorney and public defender who filed for bankruptcy after taking out public and private loans to pay for law school.

Green, who "is drowning in student loan debt," asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar tonight during her town hall what help she would provide as president to her and many in her situation.

One of the things Klobuchar discussed was the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and how it is "messed up."

"It says if you stay in a certain area that you can get your loans paid back in ten years. It is so messed up and I have found 137 things that I can do in the first hundred days of my presidency without Congress that are legal and one of things that I would do in the first 100 seconds is fire Betsy DeVos," Klobuchar said. "That would actually go a long way toward what we need to do which is making that program work and actually phasing it in."

The repayment program allows borrowers who work in the public sector, like teachers and social workers to apply for debt cancellation after making 10 years' worth of payments, was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007. But the first time anyone would have made enough payments to qualify was the fall of 2017, under the Trump administration.

Congress set aside $700 million to expand the program in 2018 to address the low number of people qualifying for forgiveness, but the new report shows that fix hasn't had the desired results.

More on DeVos: DeVos and the Department of Education were held in civil contempt by a federal judge in late October and ordered to pay damages to student borrowers who took out loans to attend a now defunct for-profit college.

The judge had previously ordered the Department of Education to stop collecting on the loans. In September, the department admitted that more than 16,000 borrowers were incorrectly informed that they owed a payment on their debt after the court order. About 1,800 had their wages garnished and more than 800 were mistakenly subject to adverse credit reporting.

Under DeVos, the Department of Education has scrapped a rule that was intended to protect students from for-profit colleges, and is rewriting a rule about how defrauded students can qualify for loan forgiveness. DeVos and the department have also been sued over the high rejection rate in a debt forgiveness program for public sector workers.

Watch her comments:

9:51 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Klobuchar explains what she was thinking in debate moment captured in photo

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Amy Klobuchar explained tonight what she was thinking in a photo showing her in the middle of a heated debate between Joe Biden and Tom Steyer.

The moment happened on stage at the Democratic debate in South Carolina on Tuesday.

Here's how she explained the moment:

"That moment with those two, they were going at it and I stood there. And what was somewhat amusing about it was that Tom Steyer was so heated he was moving into my little area right there, and so I actually thought he was flailing his arms that I actually might get hit in the process and then I thought, well, if something happens and I fall off my little stool I was standing on because I'm the only one who is truly 5'4" despite the fact that the President called Michael Bloomberg, 5'4", I'm the only one that can hold that and I thought to myself, at least Steyer has deep pockets. I'll be in good shape. I can get something out of this and it will be okay."

Klobuchar went on to describe the debate as a "slug fest."