CNN hosts 5 Democratic town halls

By Veronica Rocha, Dan Merica and Gregory Krieg, CNN

Updated 12:44 a.m. ET, April 23, 2019
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8:58 p.m. ET, April 22, 2019

Warren was a registered Republican. Here's why she became a Democrat.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was a registered Republican, but she said she changed her political affiliation once she saw an eroding middle class under her (now former) party.

In the late mid 1990s, Warren said she was watching what was happening to America's working families and noticed they were in debt.

"I looked around the middle of that fight and I realized all the money was on one side and all the hurting was on the other and that's when I jumped in politically. I got in that fight and I fought it for 10 years, and by the end of that fight I fully understood that every single Republican stood there for the banks and half of the Democrats did. So my party was the party that at least we got half of them to stand up for working people, and that was the big change for me," she said.

8:48 p.m. ET, April 22, 2019

Warren on impeaching Trump: If anyone else did what he did, "they would be arrested and put in jail”

From CNN's Dan Merica

Sen. Elizabeth Warren detailed Monday why she supports impeaching President Donald Trump, arguing “if any other human being in this country had done what’s documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail.”

Warren argued that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report gave Congress a road map for impeaching the President and “serves up” a moment for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.

“He serves the whole thing up to the United States Congress and says in effect, if there’s going to be any accountability, that accountability has to come from the Congress,” Warren said. “And the tool that we are given for that accountability is the impeachment process. This is not about politics; this is about principle.”

Warren came out in favor of impeaching Trump after reading Mueller’s report. She – along with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro – are among the few 2020 Democrats who are in favor of starting impeachment proceedings.

“If you’ve actually read the Mueller report, it’s all laid out there. It’s not like it’s going to take a long time to figure that out. It’s there,” Warren said. “It’s got the footnotes, it’s got the points, it connects directly to the law. But this really is fundamentally -- I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and so did everybody else in the Senate and in the House.”

Warren said she believes each member of the House and Senate should have to vote on whether they are comfortable with what Trump did:

“If there are people in the House or the Senate who want to say that’s what a president can do when the president is being investigated for his own wrongdoings or when a foreign government attacks our country, then they should have to take that vote and live with it for the rest of their lives."

8:48 p.m. ET, April 22, 2019

Warren says she won't get "Hillary'd" in 2020, which is what a student called sexist attacks

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Elizabeth Warren has no intention of being "Hillary'd" in this 2020 presidential primary.

That was the phrase, used as a shorthand by a student asking about sexist attacks, that prompted Warren to recall her successful 2012 campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

It was a campaign, Warren said, that almost never happened. Democrats were telling her she ought to run, that she'd make a great senator. But most of them were confident Warren would lose, and didn't mind telling her.

"I heard that," Warren remembered on Monday, "as, 'Get in this race, right now.' Which is what I did."

Warren defeated Brown handily, after some controversial early press coverage, continuing an ascent that led her into this 2020 presidential primary -- after being re-elected to the Senate comfortably last year.

The road ahead, Warren continued, looked a lot like what came before.

"So the way I see it," Warren said, "is here we are in a presidential (campaign), and it's the same kind of -- you stay after it every day.

"One might say you persist," she said.

Warren also shared her blueprint.

"Organize, build a grassroots movement, fight for working people," she said. "And that's how I'm going to be the first woman elected President of the United States."

8:34 p.m. ET, April 22, 2019

Warren says she will defend law enforcement by pushing new gun safety laws

From CNN's Dan Merica

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Monday that she will defend law enforcement from violence by pushing gun safety laws.

The answer came in response to a question that noted she had been a “vocal critic of state police” and asked, “How can you assure me that you will support legislation that keeps law enforcement safe?”

“One of the main ways that we could help make our police safer is to get serious about gun safety in this country,” Warren said, noting that the questioner mentioned the shooting of Sgt. Sean Gannon in November.

“We need universal background checks, we need to take weapons of war off our city streets,” Warren said. “Right now, we live in America, where seven children and teenagers will die every single day, where the lives of officers are put at risk. We need, as a country, to step up, to be more responsible, to be willing to push back against the NRA and to put some sensible gun safety laws in place.���

8:31 p.m. ET, April 22, 2019

The last thing Warren bought on Amazon was a mailbox

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to break up tech giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook.

The proposal would impose new rules on certain kinds of tech companies with $25 billion or more in annual revenue, forcing Amazon and Google to spin off parts of their companies and relinquish their overwhelming control over online commerce. 

But just because Warren wants to break up big companies, it doesn't mean she doesn't shop with them.

Asked about her last purchase on Amazon, she said it was mailbox.

CNN's Anderson Cooper then asked, "What did they put the mailbox in when they deliver it? 

Warren replied, "It comes in a box. It was a box of mailbox."

8:26 p.m. ET, April 22, 2019

Warren lays out her plan for free college and eliminating student debt

Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren opened her town hall by detailing her new plan to eliminate the student loan debts of tens of millions of Americans and making all public colleges tuition-free.

"This is the America we live in now. Basically to get a shot at a middle class life you've got to have some post high school technical training, two-year college, four-year college, maybe graduate school depending on who you are and what you're ending up doing. The position of the federal government has been, good luck to you, you're on your own. The one thing they've done, they have ... lent tens of thousands of dollars to students. It is crushing them," she said.

The proposal has two parts: "Part one is that we say that we're going to roll back student loan debt for about 95% of students who have debt ... And part two is to make sure that we never get in this mess again on student loan debt and that is to make college universally available with free tuition and fees and to put more money into Pell grants so that students of color, so that our poorest students have real access to college and that we put real money into our historically black colleges and universities." Warren's new plan would forgive $50,000 in student loans for Americans in households earning less than $100,000 a year. 

And here's how she plans to make the rich pay for it: Warren said she plans to fund the proposal with "a wealth tax." According to documents provided by Warren's presidential campaign, the plan would impose a 2% tax on Americans whose net worth exceeds $50 million, with an additional 1% levy on billionaires. It does not specifically address marginal tax rates.

8:05 p.m. ET, April 22, 2019

NOW: Elizabeth Warren takes the stage for CNN town hall

It's time for Sen. Elizabeth Warren's town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper. Watch it live in the video player above.

7:59 p.m. ET, April 22, 2019

Elizabeth Warren is up now. Here are 4 key proposals from her platform.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who officially launched her 2020 presidential campaign in February, unveiled several major policies this year aimed at dismantling wealthy and powerful interests.

The Democratic presidential candidate put forward far-reaching, progressive proposals, including a plan to tax the wealthiest Americans, break up tech giants and on universal child care.

Here are some of Warren's key proposals:

  • Dismantle big companies: She's released a plan to break up tech giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook. The proposal would impose new rules on certain kinds of tech companies with $25 billion or more in annual revenue, forcing Amazon and Google to spin off parts of their companies and relinquish their overwhelming control over online commerce. 
  • Universal child care plan: Warren has also proposed a sweeping plan that would guarantee child care from birth until the time children enter school.
  • A "wealth tax": In January, Warren released a "wealth tax" plan aimed at the most affluent Americans whose net worth exceeds $50 million. Her child care plan would be paid by a part of the revenue from her proposed wealth tax.
  • Tax on big corporations: The new tax would hit the 1,200 most profitable companies in the country, including Amazon, according to Warren. Under Warren's plan, corporations would have to pay an additional 7% tax on any earnings above $100 million.

She takes the stage now.

8:32 p.m. ET, April 22, 2019

Searching for her moment, Klobuchar again pushes pragmatism over promises

Analysis by CNN's Jeff Zeleny

Sen. Amy Klobuchar capped a strong performance tonight with a rousing and forceful closing message, telling students in the audience: “This is your moment.”

The question is when it will be Klobuchar’s moment.

It’s been two months since she stood on the stage of St. Anselm College at her first CNN town hall in February. Since then, she has grown as a candidate. She weaves in anecdotes and policy positions with ease, showcasing a depth and breadth of knowledge that rivals any of her fellow Democratic candidates.

Yet one aspect of her candidacy has remained the same. She is still willing to say one word that often goes unspoken by presidential candidates: No.

Free college and forgiving student loans is the latest hot topic in the Democratic primary fight. Klobuchar didn’t overpromise, continuing a balancing act between pragmatism and purity that has been at the heart of her campaign from the start. 

“I wish I could staple a free college diploma under every one of your chairs. I do. Don’t look. It’s not there,” she said. “I wish I could do that, but I have to be straight with you and tell you the truth.”

The question facing Klobuchar is whether the truth -- or a campaign with remarkably minimal pandering -- will help deliver a breakout moment for her candidacy or simply keep her in a steady spot near the middle of a still-growing field.