John Hickenlooper takes questions at CNN town hall

11:49 p.m. ET, March 20, 2019

9 key takeaways from John Hickenlooper's town hall

Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper, the former Colorado governor, spoke directly to voters at tonight's town hall in Atlanta, Georgia, where he answered questions on a range of issues.

We're wrapping up our live coverage, but in case you missed it, here are some key quotes from his town hall, from his thoughts on gun violence and white nationalism, to why he wants female candidates to say if they'd put a man on the ticket, too:

  • On white nationalism: "Any time you are making comments and creating, fanning the flames of hatred, then you’re doing a genuine harm to your community.“I don’t know what to say – I think President Trump should be ashamed of himself.”
  • On the death penalty: “I’m against it. It makes no sense."
  • On whether he'd put a woman on the ticket: “How come we’re not asking more often the women, would you be willing to put a man on the ticket."
  • On bullying and Trump: “Most bullies are insecure and narcissistic. And what they hate more than anything else is being laughed at."
  • On declaring a national emergency for gun violence: "I don’t think that that is the purpose of declaring national emergencies. I think what the President has done on the border diminishes our military efforts at creating processes by which you establish what is a national emergency."
  • On having face blindness: "Well, turns out there is a medical condition, and really a spectrum. And some people can look at 150 people in a video and remember every face and tell you if you show them five minutes later, a different picture of one person, they'll tell you exactly where they were. I'm the opposite. And I think in a way it's been a blessing."
  • On legalizing marijuana: "I think where states do legalize marijuana with the voters or through their general assembly, the federal government should get out of the way and allow them to get banking, allow them to look at systems by which you can have this experiment go on successfully.”
  • On what his last name means: "Well, we were always told as kids that Hickenlooper was Dutch for hedge hopper."
  • On watching a porn movie with his mother: "We thought it was a little naughty but we didn't think it was that bad. You've got to understand I was 18 years old."

11:28 p.m. ET, March 20, 2019

Hickenlooper stuck around after his town hall and talked to voters

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper hung around after his town hall at the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, to talk to voters in attendance.

He also took photos with some of them.

Hickenlooper spoke for an hour about his policies on climate change, the death penalty and his thoughts on bullying.

12:47 a.m. ET, March 21, 2019

Why John Hickenlooper took his mom to see an X-rated movie

John Hickenlooper, the Democratic former governor of Colorado, went into great detail on Wednesday evening explaining the time he took his mother to see an X-rated movie at a theater in the 70s.

The awkward moment started with a question from CNN's Dana Bash. She brought his memoir in which he talked about seeing an X-rated movie with his mother. Bash then let him have the floor.

The movie, Hickenlooper said, was "Deep Throat" —the X-rated film that turned into a pop culture phenomenon after its release in 1972.

Hickenlooper said he had left for college and had returned home to visit his mother for Thanksgiving.

"And I got home for Thanksgiving and we thought it was a little naughty but we didn't think it was that bad. You've got to understand I was 18 years old," he said.

She had this huge dinner laid out, he explained. And so he promised:

"Jed we'd go to the movie theater and see this new movie, you want to come? And it's an x-movie, and I was sure she wouldn't say no, and I made a mistake. And she said I'd love to go because she didn't want to be left alone in the house again. So I took my mother to see 'Deep Throat.'"

He admitted his mother was "mortified" at the first scene, and so he told her they should leave, but she said no -- she paid for a ticket.

"I said repeatedly, 'I think we should leave, I think we would should go.' And my mother was someone who rarely went to a movie. She thought almost every movie would get on TV, obviously not this one. When she paid, she was going to stay. And at the end she knew I was humiliated. And as we drove home and you know how the dashboard in the old cars had a kind of green light, and I asked her, I said, 'That was some experience,'" Hickenlooper said.

"And she goes, 'I thought the lighting was very good in the movie.' I thought I saw a little grin in that green light," he added.

See the moment:

11:36 p.m. ET, March 20, 2019

Hickenlooper asks why female Democratic candidates aren't being asked if they'd pick a man as VP

After he was asked about whether he would put a woman on the presidential ticket, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper retorted by asking why women are not being asked if they would select a man as their running mate.

“Governor,” said CNN’s Dana Bash, “some of your male competitors have vowed to put a woman on the ticket. Yes or no, would you do the same?”

“Of course,” Hickenlooper said, before saying he wanted to ask Bash a question.

“How come we’re not asking more often the women, would you be willing to put a man on the ticket,” he said to a shrug and audible groans in the audience.

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has pledged repeatedly over the last few days to make a woman his running mate if he wins the Democratic nomination.

“No matter what, I’m looking you in the eye and saying this: There will be a woman on the ticket. I don’t know if it’s in the vice president’s position or in the president’s position,” Booker recently said in New Hampshire.

He later told Ellen DeGeneres on Wednesday, ���If I am elected as the nominee, I’m going to make sure there is gender diversity on the ticket.”

Watch the moment:

11:02 p.m. ET, March 20, 2019

Hickenlooper's response to Trump's bullying? Expose his "ridiculousness"

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper offered a different approach to standing up to President Donald Trump’s notorious name-calling and taunts. Drawing on his childhood as a “skinny kid with thick Coke bottle glasses and a funny last name,” Hickenlooper said his go-to device to deal with bullies is not to punch back, but rather focus on the punchline itself.

“Most bullies are insecure and narcissistic. And what they hate more than anything else is being laughed at,” he said.

For Trump, Hickenlooper said that exposing the President’s ridiculousness would be more effective than “trying to punch back and fight tooth and nail, then you’re just dividing all of us back into one camp or the other.”

“I think showing how ridiculous he is, you have at least some chance of winning over not everybody but some of the people from the other side,” he added.

Watch the moment:

10:56 p.m. ET, March 20, 2019

Hickenlooper tells fellow geologist: "It would be nice to have somebody in the White House who actually understands science"

John Hickenlooper got a chance to dig into his geologist past after meeting a fellow geologist at tonight's town hall when she got the opportunity to ask him a question.

Kate Nahodyl, the geologist in the audience, joked, "I don't normally look like this. Normally a lot more dirt."

Hickenlooper laughed and said that he was honored to meet her.

"I should point out I think I'm the first professional geologist to become a governor in the history of America. I'm not sure what that means. But I'm honored to be with another geologist," he said.

She asked him a question about oil and gas regulations. After answering it, he added a dig at President Donald Trump.

"I do appreciate it as one geologist to another. Thank you for promoting science. Lord knows it would be nice to have somebody in the White House who actually understands science."

Watch the moment:

10:53 p.m. ET, March 20, 2019

Hickenlooper, under pressure from progressives, defends his record on oil and gas regulations

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper defended his record on regulating oil and gas companies and fighting climate change on Wednesday, saying he would put his record on the issue up against anybody else.

Hickenlooper, a former geologist, has been criticized from the left for his efforts to regulate the oil and gas industry in Colorado, arguing that he has not gone far enough and worked too closely with the industry to craft regulations.

“I would hold Colorado’s success in regulating the oil and gas industry and really all of our emissions up against anybody,” the 2020 candidate said.

“We got the oil and gas industry to sit down with the environmental community. I mean, these people hate each other. It’s worse than Coke hating Pepsi or the Hatfields and the McCoys. But we got the environmental community to sit down in the same room for 14 months and created the first methane regulations in the country.”

But the answer is unlikely to assuage some of his critics on the left, who believe the governor is too willing to promote the fracking industry – including by once drinking fracking fluid.

10:45 p.m. ET, March 20, 2019

Hickenlooper says he won't declare a national emergency on gun violence

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Wednesday that despite his feeling that gun violence in the United State is a national emergency, he would not – as president – declare it a national emergency like President Donald Trump has done with immigration along the U.S-Mexico border.

"I don’t think that that is the purpose of declaring national emergencies. I think what the President has done on the border diminishes our military efforts at creating processes by which you establish what is a national emergency,” he said.

“I think it also, you know, just deflects his desire for building a wall, his political vanity and deflects the public attention from just how bad that is.”

Behind the question: Trump has declared a national emergency on the border in an effort to build a wall and fulfill a long-held campaign promise. In response, many Democrats have suggested there are more pressing national emergencies like climate change and gun violence, and some have said Trump’s tactics could be used by the next Democratic president.

Hickenlooper was governor during the July 20, 2012, movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado and during his tenure, the governor helped pass a statewide universal background check bill and a high capacity magazine limit.

“It was a tough battle,” he said.

“And I’m a great believer that you can -- you know, you should be able to sit and talk with anyone. And if you work hard enough and listen hard enough and repeat back people’s words and really try to make sure they know that you’re listening, you should be able to find compromise on almost everything. But the NRA would not listen to reason.”
10:45 p.m. ET, March 20, 2019

Hickenlooper: Trump "should be ashamed of himself" over white nationalism comments

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper said President Donald Trump “should be ashamed of himself” for saying that he doesn’t view white nationalism as a rising global threat following mosque terror attacks in New Zealand that killed 50 people.

Asked about Islamophobia and white nationalism during CNN’s presidential town hall, Hickenlooper noted that “the rise of Islamophobia and white nationalism are different sides of the same coin.”

“Any time you are making comments and creating, fanning the flames of hatred, then you’re doing a genuine harm to your community,” Hickenlooper continued.

He added:

“I don’t know what to say – I think President Trump should be ashamed of himself.”

Watch the moment: