CNN hosts town halls with Biden and Warren

By Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:43 PM ET, Thu February 20, 2020
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8:26 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden's plan to beat Trump: "Tell the truth"

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Former Vice President Joe Biden laid out his plan Thursday to beat President Trump in 2020.

His plan is simple: "To tell the truth."

Biden continued: "I'm not being a wise guy now. I'm being deadly earnest. Remember when that tape came out about 'Access Hollywood' and he grabbed women and all that stuff and everybody said, 'God, that would kill any politician. They're done. They're over.' Well, what happened? We responded in kind. Well, all of the sudden this is what we're going to do. Instead of talking about what he's done, and then it gets back to this back and forth. It's about what he hasn't done for America. 

Biden went on to say the Trump has "devastated this country."

"He has put us in a terrible situation. He has diminished the middle class significantly. He has made it more difficult for everybody who is struggling every single day just to make it. The people I grew up with to be able to do anything about it," he said.

Hear more from former VP Biden:

8:12 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden "not surprised at all" to hear Russia taking steps to interfere with 2020 election

CNN
CNN

Former Vice President Joe Biden was "not surprised at all" to hear that Russia is poised to help President Trump get reelected in November through election inference.

"Not surprised at all. Look, I was deeply involved in the intelligence community when I was, when I was vice president. We knew it then. They have been involved. They continue to be involved. I guarantee you they're involved. And the fact is that I expect whoever did that is about to be fired," Biden said.

Some context: The intelligence community's top election security official delivered a briefing to lawmakers last week warning them that the intelligence community believes Russia is already taking steps to interfere in the 2020 election with the goal of helping Trump win, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

Last week's briefing, led by election security official Shelby Pierson and first reported by The New York Times, addressed the overall picture of Russia's efforts, including hacking, weaponizing social media and attacks on election infrastructure, one of the sources said.

Watch:

8:06 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden takes the stage in Nevada

CNN
CNN

Former Vice President Joe Biden will talk to voters at tonight's CNN town hall, two days before the Nevada caucuses.

Biden is running on the legacy of the eight years he served alongside President Barack Obama and has proposed advancing that legacy on key issues like health care and the climate crisis.

Read more about Biden here.

7:52 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Warren won't disavow super PAC in a shift on issue central to her campaign

From CNN's Daniella Diaz

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren indicated today that she would not disavow the help from a super PAC supporting her candidacy, a notable shift from a candidate who has spent most of the 2020 campaign railing against the influence of outside groups and criticizing her Democratic rivals for relying on super PACs.

"So look, the first day I got into this race over a year ago, I said I hope every presidential candidate comes in will agree, no super PACs for any of us," Warren told reporters today. "I renewed that call dozens of times and I couldn't get a single Democrat to go along with it."

Warren added: "Finally, we reached the point a few weeks ago, where all of the men who were still in this race and on the debate stage, all had either super PACs or they were multi billionaires, and could just, you know, rummage around in their sock drawers and find enough money to be able to fund a campaign. And the only people who didn't have them were the two women. And at that point, there are some women saying, you know, that's just not right."

Warren was referring to a group of progressive women who formed Persist PAC and will spend over $1 million to air a biography-focused television ad that links Warren to former President Barack Obama and claims Warren can "take on" President Donald Trump and "win."

"So here's where I stand: If all the candidates want to get rid of super PACs, count me in, I'll lead the charge. But that's how it has to be. It can't be the case that a bunch of people keep them and only one or two don't," Warren said.

Some context: The shift comes at a time Warren needs help raising her status and money in the presidential field after a disappointing fourth-place finish in New Hampshire that netted her no national delegates in her neighboring state. The Massachusetts senator is fighting to pick up momentum in Nevada ahead of the state's caucuses on Saturday.

7:40 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden slams Sanders and "cowards" in Congress over gun violence

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Joe Biden is focusing his campaign on gun violence ahead of Saturday's Nevada caucuses, criticizing Bernie Sanders by name and accusing "cowards" in Congress of being scared into inaction by the National Rifle Association.

The former vice president delivered one of his most focused, forceful speeches of the 2020 race Thursday in Las Vegas — the site of the deadliest mass shooting in American history, where a gunman killed 58 concertgoers in 2017.

Some background: The increased focus on gun violence marks an important turn in Biden's message after weak finishes in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

For most of his campaign Biden's message has looked backward at his record in former President Barack Obama's administration, and focused on his perceived electability — a factor outside the former vice president's control.

But on gun violence, Biden connected his own record that predates Obama to a forward-looking vision for his own administration, as the presidential race shifts to states that have been the sites of mass shootings — including the 2015 Charleston church massacre in South Carolina and the August 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas, one of 14 states that votes on Super Tuesday.

Biden was the only candidate to bring up gun violence in Wednesday night's debate in Nevada. He has focused television advertisements on the issue. And at a Nevada caucus kick-off dinner, Biden pledged that he would "not rest" on the issue until his "last breath."

The former vice president on Thursday focused on requiring universal background checks for gun purchases, banning the sale of high-capacity magazines and assault-style rifles, and repealing civil liability protections for gun manufacturers.

7:30 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Warren campaign hits new fundraising milestone

From CNN’s Daniella Diaz

Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaign has raised more than $5 million since yesterday's debate in Nevada, according to a tweet the lawmaker from Massachusetts sent today.

As a result, the campaign has upped their fundraising goal to $12 million before the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.

That amount is up from $7 million initially and then $10 million in a campaign email blast earlier today.

7:21 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

This Nevada Culinary Union won't endorse anyone in the Democratic presidential race 

From CNN's Eric Bradner

The Culinary Union, Nevada's largest labor union and political organizing force, will not endorse a candidate ahead of the Democratic caucuses there, the union's leaders announced last week.

"We respect every single political candidate right now. We know they are great people," said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, the union's secretary and treasurer. 

She said the union will "really work hard" to defeat President Trump in 2020. 

The Culinary Workers Union, or UNITE HERE Local 226, represents 60,000 hotel and restaurant workers in Las Vegas casinos, and also says it is the largest immigrant organization with a membership representing 178 countries and speaking over 40 different languages. The union boasts the state's largest massive grassroots organizing force, with 350 workers phone banking and canvassing in the 2018 midterms. 

While it stayed out of the Democratic primary, the union made one priority clear in recent days: opposing the "Medicare for All" plan championed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. It's offered softer criticism of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who proposes a similar or same plan.

Argüello-Kline said last week that members "want to protect their health care." 

7:11 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

There was a Democratic debate last night. Here's how it went.

From CNN's Eric Bradner, Dan Merica and Gregory Krieg

In the most fiery and contentious Democratic primary debate yet, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren led a non-stop barrage against the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who was appearing on stage for the first time.

She kicked off the debate Wednesday in Nevada by calling him an "arrogant billionaire" who "calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians."

Then everyone else jumped in.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar accused Bloomberg of "hiding behind his TV ads." Former Vice President Joe Biden hammered him for opposing Obamacare. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders attacked Bloomberg's support for stop-and-frisk policing in his first answer of the night. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg called him "a billionaire who thinks that money ought to be the root of all power."

The pile-on against Bloomberg came three days before the Nevada caucuses, as candidates trailing Sanders and with nowhere near Bloomberg's money are desperate to prove they deserve to remain in the race as it narrows.

Keep reading here.

6:58 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden and Warren will participate in back-to-back CNN town halls tonight

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will take the stage in Nevada tonight for hourlong, individual candidate town halls.

Biden will go on at 8 p.m. ET, followed by Warren at 9 p.m. ET.

Earlier this week, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar also participated in CNN town halls in Nevada.

How to watch: The town halls will air on CNN, CNN en Espanol, CNN International, CNN Airport Network, and stream on CNN.com, CNN OTT apps for AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Samsung SmartTV, and Android TV, and CNN Mobile apps for iOS and Android, CNN's SiriusXM Channels, and the Westwood One Radio Network.