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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9:00 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden says he thinks Republicans would work with Democrats when Trump's "out of the way"

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Asked what he planned to do to work closely with Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, former Vice President Joe Biden joked, "Mitch is not my closest friend."

Biden went on to say he thinks it's possible to work with Republicans in the future, but added that they are "definitely afraid because this President is so vindictive, so vindictive."

"I guarantee you there are a number of Republicans, especially with this President out of the way who are ready to work on things like a rational immigration policy, who are ready to work on things like dealing with infrastructure, are ready to work on things like health care," he said.

Hear more:

8:50 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden: No majority, no nomination on first ballot at DNC

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Joe Biden does not think the Democratic presidential nomination should go to a candidate who wins a plurality — but not a clinching majority — of the primary delegates.

"Say you got to get over 1,900 delegates, that's the deal," Biden said, referencing the number needed to secure the nomination on a first ballot. "So let's say someone comes with the most delegates and it gets split up and they got a thousand delegates and the rest are split. Does that mean you should go ahead and change the rules? I don't think so. I guess I'm a Catholic school kid. You play by the rules."

The former vice president also defended the nearly 800 unelected superdelegates who would be allowed to vote on a second convention ballot — and potentially deliver a win to a candidate who did not accrue the most delegates during the primary process.

"There is an awful lot of Democrats who show up at that convention who worked really hard to be involved in the party and giving everybody a chance," Biden said.  

Last night, during the candidates' debate here, only Bernie Sanders said he believed the candidate with the most delegates, even if that person is shy of a majority, should be handed the nomination on the spot.

The other five people onstage said, as Biden did again tonight, that the process should play itself out. According to most recent polls, Sanders is in a good position to arrive in Milwaukee this summer with a plurality, so he has reason to push back against the prospect of a brokered convention.

Watch:

8:49 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden says he's running for president because of his "age and my experience"

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

On the issue of health and whether, because of his age, Joe Biden, 77, would only run for one term as commander in chief, the former vice president plainly said no.

"That's why I give all my medical records, everything, okay, the whole deal so you know where I am, number one. Number two, number two, look, anybody who starts off saying I'm only going to serve one term is already behind the eight ball because then you're a one-term president and nobody worries what the hell is going to happen after that, okay?" Biden said.

Biden then addressed how aside from Pete Buttigieg, most of the Democratic candidates are over 70 years old.

"All the candidates up on the stage, including the woman you're leaning towards, is over 70 years of age. And I'm in pretty good health. Knock on wood, as my mother would say," Biden said in response to a question from a man in the town hall audience leaning toward voting for Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Biden said that if anything ever happened during his first term that affected his health and thus make it unable for him to lead the country, he "would not run again," he said.

Biden added: "I'm running in large part because of my age and my experience. Every single time there is a general election for president, a slightly different set of criteria is needed for that moment. And I would respectfully suggest that the next president of the United States is going to inherit a world in disarray and a divided nation. ...  I've gotten the job done domestically. And that's what you I think is a totally legitimate to look at. And with age comes experience."

Hear former VP Biden's comments:

8:28 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden says Bloomberg is "advertising himself to be Barack's best buddy"

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Joe Biden harshly criticized Michael Bloomberg for the former New York City mayor’s television advertisements and revisited attacks on Bloomberg from Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate. 

“He's advertising himself to be Barack’s best buddy,” Biden said, referring to Bloomberg’s ads that feature Obama’s voice praising him. 

But, Biden said, Bloomberg opposed Obamacare, and was at odds with the Obama administration on Bloomberg’s controversial stop and frisk policing policy. 

“And the way he refers to people of color … I’m not even going to repeat the language he used about why he was doing this,” Biden said. 

He also lambasted Bloomberg for refusing — as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Biden had urged in the debate — to release women at his company who had alleged misconduct from non-disclosure agreements. 

“It’s just wrong,” Biden said. “How can you run against Donald Trump when you have, what is it, 10, 12, 14 NDAs?”
8:30 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden hits Sanders on guns and accuses him of not living up to his rhetoric

From CNN's Dan Merica

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Joe Biden said on Thursday that Bernie Sanders has not lived up to his rhetoric on guns and has not done enough about the issue.

The comments at his CNN town hall builds on comments Biden made earlier in the day, where he called out Sanders – by name – for voting against gun control measures in the 1990s, including the Brady Act, which mandated federal background checks and a waiting period for some handgun purchases.

“It is not so much what you say you believe,” Biden said. “It is what did you do and when did you do it.”

He added: “The fact is, Bernie has had a very different record than me for a long time. For example, I am the guy, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee worked to pass very difficult legislation. The Brady Bill, which had background checks, as well as waiting period. Bernie, when he was running for the Senate of Vermont and said it was a tough state to run in, he voted against it five times in the House of Representatives.”

Biden then hit Sanders for voting to “exempt gun manufacturers from any liability. Zero. They cannot be sued.”

Sanders, after a strong showing in Iowa and first place showing in New Hampshire, is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary, a position that has opened him up to increased attacks from nearly all the candidates in the race.

Biden’s critiques of Sanders have centered on guns and led the former vice president to elevate the issue. For example, he was the only candidate on the debate stage on Wednesday to bring up gun violence.

Biden closed his answer by saying, “Gun manufacturers, I am coming for you, period.”

Watch:

8:24 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden says Trump has "weaponized" the Justice Department

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

President Trump has "weaponized" the Department of Justice for his own benefit, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said at tonight's town hall in Las Vegas.

"No one, no one has ever abused that office or weaponized it. He has weaponized, flat out weaponized it. And he has made it real clear," Biden said.

The former vice president brought up pardons, saying Trump is sending a message that "whatever you do in my name to help me, you will get pardoned."

"The Justice Department is not the President's private lawyer. It's the people's lawyer. And I will never, never direct the Justice Department as to who they should or not indict and under what circumstance. That is an independent judgment to be made," Biden said.

He continued: "Let the justice department do its job, period."

8:24 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

On the site of the deadliest mass shooting in US history, Biden says he is coming for gun manufacturers

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

There's no love lost between Joe Biden and gun manufacturers which is something the former vice president made clear tonight in Nevada, claiming he is "coming" for them.

On site of the deadliest mass shooting in the US, where a gunman killed 58 concertgoers in 2017, Biden made his feelings about the National Rifle Association and weapons manufacturers clear.

"I'm the only guy that has beaten the NRA nationally, and I did it twice, nationally. And gun manufacturers, I'm coming for you. Period," Biden said.

More on Biden and his campaign on gun violence: The former vice president delivered one of his most focused, forceful speeches of the 2020 race Thursday in Las Vegas.

Standing behind Biden were family members of gun violence victims and gun control advocates — many of whom were members of Moms Demand Action, the grassroots arm of a group largely funded by Michael Bloomberg.

The walls were plastered with new signs that read "Beat the NRA with Biden." He was introduced by a woman whose 4-year-old daughter had been killed by a stray bullet, and Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada, whose father was killed when Horsford was 19.

Biden began by declaring it a beautiful morning and noting that the sun was shining. But, he said, by the end of the day, 100 Americans would be dead because of gun violence — "another normal day in America."

"Normal has become a living nightmare," he said.

8:22 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Biden on what he would do if Trump lurked behind him: "I’m gonna say, 'Jack, come here'"

From CNN's Eric Bradner and Dan Merica

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Joe Biden has a plan if, in a general election debate, President Donald Trump lurks behind him the way Trump did Hillary Clinton in one 2016 showdown. 

“If he stands behind me like he did Hillary, I’m gonna say, ‘Jack, come here. Come on up here,’” Biden said. 

Biden has previously insinuated he’d have been happy to brawl with Trump if the two had been in school together. His answer came when a woman asked how he would take on Trump. Biden said the President “has absolutely blemished the soul of this country.” 

Clinton described the moment with Trump in her memoir. She wrote: “He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled. It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, well, what would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, ‘back up you creep, get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’”

Watch the moment:

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: