CNN hosts town halls with Biden, Warren, Yang and Steyer

By Jessica Estepa, CNN

Updated 7:25 p.m. ET, February 6, 2020
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9:11 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Biden says he'd like a woman or person of color as running mate

From CNN's Eric Bradner

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

Former Vice President Joe Biden said that because of his age -- he is 77 -- the most important qualification in a potential running mate is “that the person’s ready to be president of the United States.” 

Biden said at a CNN town hall in New Hampshire he’d like to pick a woman or person of color as his running mate, though it would be “incredibly presumptuous” of him to talk in detail about it or name names at this stage of the Democratic primary. 

He said he would want a close relationship with his vice president, and would want someone prepared to handle tasks “from beginning to end” -- pointing to Obama assigning him to disburse federal stimulus dollars in the wake of the economic collapse. 

9:45 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Biden says he keeps in contact with about 15 people who stutter 

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

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

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has dealt with stuttering throughout his life, said he keeps in contact and works with many people who stutter.

“I deal with about 15 stutterers I keep in contact with all the time,” Biden said.

Biden was asked at the CNN town hall what advice he would give a college student who has struggled with stuttering since he was a young child. The question led the former vice president to open up more publicly about his own struggles than he has before in the 2020 race -- and acknowledge that he still stutters at times.

“You know, stuttering, when you think about it, is the only handicap that people still laugh about. That still humiliate people about. And they don’t even mean to,” Biden said. 

“The point I make to these young people that I still work with, is that in fact it’s critically important for them not to judge themselves by their speech. (To) not let that define them,” Biden said. 

“What I say to anybody out there, and any of the people you work with, young people who stutter, I'll give you my phone number, not a joke, and they can call me. I’ll give you a private number, ” Biden said. 

Watch the moment:

8:40 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Biden to Republicans on election interference: "Why are we putting our head in the sand"

From CNN's Dan Merica

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

Former Vice President Joe Biden forcefully accused Republicans – namely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – of putting their “head in the sand” over election interference by Russia.

“There is a bill on the desk of Mitch McConnell” to take on election interference and strengthen US elections, Biden said on Wednesday in New Hampshire. “What are we doing? Why are we putting our head in the sand and pretending that these guys don't want to interfere in our election?”

The US intelligence community assessed following the 2016 election that Russian intelligence agencies interfered in the election and concerns remain that the same could happen in November.

Biden said Democrats and Republicans should be “making available to all the states a way in which we will help them fund the change in their electoral process so that they can have the machines that are not able to be tapped, paper ballots, et cetera.”

“What are our friends in the congress doing? They're blocking our ability to make sure that we secure the election,” Biden added.

And on Russia, Biden added, “They have, they are, and they'll continue to be. It will be an overwhelming priority for me when I'm President of the United States to see to it that it ends and there will be consequences if it doesn't.”

8:42 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Biden on Limbaugh: “I don't think he understands the American code of decency and honor”

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

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

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that President Donald Trump awarding conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom was more about maintaining his right-wing political base than anything else. 

First lady Melania Trump placed the medal on Limbaugh during Trump’s State of the Union address in a surprise move on Tuesday, one day after Limbaugh publicly revealed he has advanced lung cancer. 

“Rush Limbaugh will spend his entire time on the air dividing people, belittling people, talking about how, talking about blacks in ways, African Americans in ways that — anyway, I do feel badly, and I mean this sincerely, that he's suffering from a terminal illness. So he has my empathy and sympathy no matter what his background is,” Biden said. 

“But the idea that he … receives a medal that is of the highest honor that can committed, given to a civilian, I find, quite frankly, driven more by trying to maintain your right-wing political credentials than it is anything else,” Biden said. 

Biden himself was awarded the Medal of Freedom by then-President Barack Obama in 2017. Biden served as Obama's vice president.

“I mean, if you read some of the things that Rush has said about people, their backgrounds, their ethnicity, how he speaks to them. I don't think he speaks, I don't think he understands the American code of decency and honor,” Biden said. 

“But, look, this is Donald Trump," Biden said.

Watch the moment:

8:26 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Biden: You can trust me on Social Security, criticizes Sanders supporters

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Faced with Sen. Bernie Sanders' criticism of his record on Social Security, former Vice President Joe Biden promised to protect and expand the program, then called out Sanders' supporters for distorting his position in a misleadingly edited video.

Biden touted his own campaign's plan before responding to a single clip in which he appears to be agreeing with former GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan.

"Well I just have (doubters) look at the facts," Biden said. He then cited Politifact, which wrote that the video in question "misrepresented my position on Social Security."

But Biden stopped short of directly criticizing Sanders.

"Whether he did it or not, his supporters put out a clip that took out of context what I said," Biden said. The Sanders campaign played up the video, but did not cut or create it.

"Folks, I’ve been a strong supporter of Social Security my whole career," Biden added, "and the fact of the matter is I’m the one that has a concrete as to how to make it work and I think I can get it done."

Still, beyond the controversial clip, the questions over his past record are less easy to answer.

Many high-ranking Democrats in the 1980s and 1990s -- like Biden -- sought to signal their seriousness about the deficit by expressing a willingness to negotiate with the GOP over plans to slow its growth or raise the retirement age.

Despite having gone on the record in the past decades saying he would be willing to buck his party to strike a bipartisan deal on Social Security, Biden drew a clear line on one of the most aggressive GOP proposals: The George W. Bush administration quickly abandoned a 2005 move to privatize it.

8:10 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Biden on Iowa: "I expected to do better"

From CNN's Eric Bradner

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

Former Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged his Iowa finish -- which appears on pace to be fourth place, behind former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- was a disappointment.

“I expected to do better and I expected that our organization would perform better. But the fact is, I’m happy to be here in New Hampshire,” Biden said during a CNN town hall Wednesday night in New Hampshire. 

Iowa is a marquee state for candidates hoping to generate momentum, but Biden minimized the state’s impact, pointing out that it awards a tiny share of the overall number of delegates required to win the Democratic nomination. 

8:05 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Joe Biden's town hall has begun


The former vice president is addressing New Hampshire Democrats and independents who say they are going to vote in Tuesday's primary, as well as Saint Anselm College students.

8:04 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Biden sharpens attacks on Buttigieg and Sanders after Iowa defeat

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Ahead of Wednesday night's town hall, Joe Biden warned attendees at an event that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would hurt Democrats running in down ballot elections because he is a democratic socialist. And he admonished former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg for what he described as criticism of President Barack Obama's presidency.

The attacks come after a poor showing in Iowa for the former vice president.

Biden's comments were a notable shift in tone for the former vice president, who had a disappointing showing in Iowa behind Buttigieg, Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Buttigieg is currently leading the Iowa caucus with 71% of precincts reporting, with Sanders close behind.

Read the full story here.

8:05 p.m. ET, February 5, 2020

Here is tonight's lineup


Four candidates will speak to New Hampshire voters on Wednesday night. All times are ET:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden at 8 p.m.
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 9 p.m.
  • Businessman Andrew Yang at 10 p.m.
  • Businessman Tom Steyer at 11 p.m.