CNN hosts town halls with Sanders, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Patrick

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11:55 p.m. ET, February 6, 2020

Patrick defends his time at Bain Capital private investment firm

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

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

President Barack Obama hammered Mitt Romney in 2012 over the Republican nominee's track record in the financial industry.

The specific focus: Romney’s firm, Bain Capital.

On Thursday night, Deval Patrick was asked about his own time there, and whether he could regulate a world he so recently inhabited.

Patrick answered by arguing that his work at Bain was different from what the company is better known for – that he was in it for the greater good.

“I founded a fund at Bain Capital to invest in companies for social and environmental good because I wanted to prove what I believed to be true,” he said, “which is that this notion that having to trade financial return for social good was a false trade all along.”

Patrick ticked off some of the investments he made, framing them as the kind that benefit both big business and the public good.

“Capitalism has a lot to answer for,” Patrick eventually conceded. “We’ve been practicing a kind of capitalism in this country for a long time that was all about short term gains, next quarter’s results; sometimes I think without due interest for the enterprise of the people in the community and the planet.”

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11:47 p.m. ET, February 6, 2020

Patrick says he and Obama "have traded advice" about running for President

From CNN's Dan Merica

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

Deval Patrick described his relationship with former President Barack Obama on Thursday, telling people in New Hampshire that the two friends “have traded advice” on the methods of running for office.

Some of the most pointed advice Obama offered Patrick, he said, was about how difficult running for President could be.

“He warned me … about how hard, how mean and dehumanizing it can sometimes be to run for office, particularly for the presidency,” Patrick said. “But we've also talked about how many acts of extraordinary grace and kindness that you're shown” on the campaign trail.

Patrick has been compared to Obama throughout his career, in part because both have leaned on their personal stories and ties to Chicago to rise to political power throughout their career. Patrick's first campaign for governor was helmed by political consultants David Axelrod and David Plouffe and his slogan -- "Together We Can" -- was seen as a precursor to Obama's hopeful message in 2008.

And the two Democrats remain close to this day – and Patrick said on Thursday that they had known each other for 15 years.

“He was incredibly helpful,” Patrick said of Obama’s role in his first gubernatorial run. “We have traded advice, not so much on policy, because we're aligned pretty generally on policy, but on method, really, about the importance of running and connecting at the grassroots, about the importance of inviting people from the sidelines to come in and take responsibility for their own civic and political life.”

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11:24 p.m. ET, February 6, 2020

Patrick says he tips his hat to Romney over impeachment vote 

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

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

Deval Patrick said Wednesday he tips his hat to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the sole Republican to vote to convict the President on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power. 

“I commend all of the members of the House and the Senate who took this, this whole episode with a sense of sobriety that was intended, including, by the way, if I may say, Senator Romney, who stepped up. And I tip my hat to him,” Patrick said of Romney. Both Patrick and Romney are former governors of Massachusetts.

Romney joined with all Senate Democrats in a 52-48 not guilty vote on the abuse of power article of impeachment. Romney voted with Republicans against the obstruction of Congress charge, which fell along straight party lines, 53-47 for acquittal.

“It would have been wrong, I think, for members of the House not to take this up, in my view. And it was right for it to be taken up in the Senate,” Patrick said. 

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10:45 p.m. ET, February 6, 2020

Klobuchar says she was disappointed in senators who voted to acquit Trump 

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

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

Amy Klobuchar said she was disappointed in her Senate colleagues who voted on Wednesday to acquit President Donald Trump on articles of impeachment. 

“It made me sad because I know that they know better. I know they know exactly what went on here,” Klobuchar said. 

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was the sole Republican to vote to convict the President on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, joining with all Senate Democrats in a 52-48 not guilty vote. Romney voted with Republicans against the obstruction of Congress charge, which fell along straight party lines, 53-47 for acquittal.

CNN’s Don Lemon asked the senator, “Take me back to that moment in the Senate chambers when you had to vote guilty. You said you wanted to cry. What was that like?” 

Klobuchar said, “I was thinking about my own role in this journey, and how I feel so strongly that we need someone that understands that the role of a president is to unite instead of incite, that understands that you put the interests of our country before your private interests or your partisan interests, which really what this case is about.”

The senator said she doesn’t believe the US can take four more years of Trump as president. 

“Our democracy can't take another four years as (Trump) bulldozes through it. Our law can't take another four years. Our rule of law, as he thinks he's above it. And the American dream can't take another four years of a president who thinks he can choose who gets it,” Klobuchar said. 

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10:33 p.m. ET, February 6, 2020

Klobuchar on future of campaign: "Every single time I have exceeded expectations"

From CNN's Dan Merica

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

Amy Klobuchar, asked about the future of her campaign, said that she was happy with her top five finish in Iowa, but that she needs to continue exceeding expectations to turn in a strong performance in New Hampshire.

"There were so many people in this race, as you know, and I am now in the top five,” Klobuchar said. “Every single time, I have exceeded expectations. I look at Iowa and I look it this way: We did well.”

Klobuchar invested heavily in Iowa and needs a similarly strong performance in New Hampshire to keep her campaign going.

“We are surging and we are surging because people have stepped back and say, you know what, maybe I want a candidate that's actually going to get things done. That has my back,” she said. “And I've always told people, if you are tired of the extremes in our politics and you are tired of the noise and the nonsense, you have a home with me.”

Left unsaid in Klobuchar’s answer is the uphill climb she faces after New Hampshire. Polls show her with little support in Nevada and South Carolina and lacking serious organization in states that begin voting in March.

Watch:

10:06 p.m. ET, February 6, 2020

The town hall with Amy Klobuchar has begun

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has taken the stage. CNN's Don Lemon is moderating.

10:17 p.m. ET, February 6, 2020

Buttigieg discusses previously believing that being gay would keep him out of politics

From CNN's Dan Merica and DJ Judd

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

Pete Buttigieg said Thursday that while he – at one point in his life – thought being gay would have kept him out of politics, he now sees how his identity “is actually very much part of the impact I get to have now.”

Buttigieg is the first top tier gay candidate from a major American political party and his lead in Iowa has been seen as a seminal moment in the advancement of LGBTQ rights in the United States.

“I would have done anything, at a certain time in my life, I would have done anything not to be gay and believed that as that reality became inescapable, that it might cost the chance to serve, in uniform or in office,” Buttigieg said. “And here I am now finding that that very same fact that I thought might prevent me from having an impact in the world, at least a certain kind of impact in a certain kind of way, it's actually very much part of the impact I get to have now.”
Buttigieg added: “I mean, I'm not running to be the gay President of the United States. I'm running to be a president for everybody but talk about God having a sense of humor.”

Buttigieg, who came out in an op-ed in 2015, has reluctantly embraced his unlikely role as a symbol of LGBTQ progress. While he speaks about it across the country, it is not central to his candidacy, nor is it something that regularly comes up at events.

And he wrote in his pre-campaign memoir that he worried that his coming out would define him beyond what he had accomplished in his young life.

"I had strongly supported the causes from the beginning, but did not want to be defined by them," he wrote of LGBTQ rights.

But now that Buttigieg has delivered a strong showing in Iowa, Buttigieg says that “young people who question whether they fit in in their own family, in their community” see him running for president as a sign that they could do the same.

“I think the fact that I'm standing here, the fact that my husband's in the audience watching right now is just an amazing example of that belief that that yes, yes, you belong. And this country has a place for you,” he said.

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10:03 p.m. ET, February 6, 2020

Buttigieg on mental health issues: “I will be a president who will give voice to those struggles”

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

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

Pete Buttigieg on Thursday said if elected president, he would give voice to mental health struggles and empower local organizations and communities in the US to deliver solutions. 

An undecided voter in New Hampshire told Buttigieg at the CNN town hall, “In June, I lost my daughter Abigail. Despite working in the field, it was a struggle to access adequate evidence-based treatment. I had to fly her across the country to access services which were often times not provided in an evidence-based way.” 

“Having recently lost a child to inadequate mental health and substance abuse services,” she continued, “what strategies do you support to eliminate the disparities between mental health and physical health services?”

Buttigieg responded, “First of all, I'm so sorry for the loss of your daughter, and I admire your being prepared to stand up and talk about that loss."

"I think the first thing that has to change -- before we get to the policy, I'll come to the policy in a moment -- but the first thing that has to change is a willingness to talk about this, because mental health struggles affect every family," he continued.

Buttigieg said the American people need to create a culture “where it is as acceptable to talk about struggling with bipolar disorder as it would be to talk about a fight with cancer, where it is as routine to seek an emotional health checkup as it is a physical.”

“If we make that change in how we talk about and think about serious mental illness and addiction, that makes it so much easier to get the policy right. And I will be a president who will give voice to those struggles,” he said. 

Buttigieg said there needs to be a build-up of mental health providers in the country. He also said technology can be better used to assist in providing mental health care, and that he would use federal funds for "healing and belonging grants" in local communities.

“We will empower local health departments, local communities, and local organizations seeking to deliver those solutions and make sure that they get funding to help them as they do,” Buttigieg said. 

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9:34 p.m. ET, February 6, 2020

Buttigieg: Trump's attacks on Romney were "disgraceful"

From CNN's Dan Merica and DJ Judd

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

Pete Buttigieg said Thursday that President Donald Trump attacking Utah Sen. Mitt Romney over his vote in favor of ousting the President was “disgraceful.”

Trump took veiled shots at Romney at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, telling the assembled religious leaders and politicians that he didn’t “like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.”

“It was disgraceful, especially to hear the way he attacked Senator Romney for clearly following his own conscience and being more concerned about, as Senator Romney clearly was, more concerned about the judgment of history and perhaps about his relationship with God, than about party loyalty,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg added: “The silver lining is this is 2020. This is an election year. And so, the Senate may have been the jury yesterday but we, the people, are the jury now. And the final verdict on the President and on the Senate is going to be up to us this year.”

Buttigieg, later in the event, said he didn’t know “where to begin” on Trump’s comments about faith.

He added that they were “especially” concerning coming from “a President who tries to cloak himself in religion and tell believers that they somehow have to vote for him, have to vote Republican.”

“I guess he just has a very different take on faith than I do,” Buttigieg said.

Watch the moment: