CNN hosts town halls with Biden and Warren

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10:24 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

4 key lines from the Biden and Warren town halls

CNN
CNN

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren took the stage in Nevada tonight, days before the state's caucuses.

In back-to-back town halls, the Democratic candidates addressed a variety of topics, including the Department of Justice, President Trump and the 2020 presidential race.

In case you missed it, here are some of the key lines from tonight's town halls:

Biden

  • On Bloomberg: Biden harshly criticized Michael Bloomberg for his television advertisements and revisited attacks on the former New York City mayor from Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate. "He's advertising himself to be Barack’s best buddy," Biden said.
  • On Trump: He said the President "has put us in a terrible situation." Biden went on to say: "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."
  • On Russian meddling: Biden responded to reports that Russia is looking to help Trump win in 2020, saying that he was "not surprised at all." He continued: "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."
  • On the National Rifle Association: On site of the deadliest mass shooting in the US, where a gunman killed 58 concertgoers in 2017, Biden made his feelings about the NRA 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," he said.

Warren

  • On Bloomberg: She said Bloomberg should be disqualified from running for president over allegations of sexist and misogynistic behavior. But Warren added that if he’s nominated, she’ll support him.
  • On gender and politics: Warren discussed the difficulties of being a woman candidate on the national stage, describing it as getting “caught in between” of not calling out sexism and being accused of whining.
  • On Russian meddling: She reacted to reports that Russia is poised to interfere in the US election this November, saying, "What's deeply worrisome about this is we now live in America where one political party seem to think political interference helps them in an election. And that makes the challenge enormous."
  • On super PACs: Warren denied that she backtracked on not taking any help from super PACs, despite her website explicitly saying she “rejects the help of Super PACs and would disavow any Super PAC formed to support her in the Democratic primary.” Warren declined earlier today to disavow a new super PAC supporting her by spending over $1 million to air a biography-focused television ad in Nevada.

10:12 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Warren closes out her town hall by addressing what she wants in a running mate

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Sen. Elizabeth Warren closed out her town hall tonight in Nevada by explaining what she is looking for in a vice president.

"I want somebody who will be in this fight alongside me for your families. That's the whole idea. There is so much we need to do. So many pieces that we need to work on, so I want someone who feels this fight passionately and who brings his or her or their own energy to this to get it done. That's what I'm looking for in a vice president," Warren said.

Warren was particularly effusive about former Democratic hopefuls Sen. Kamala Harris and Julian Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary.

See the moment:

10:05 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Warren explains how she plans to attract new teachers and retain current educators

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a former special education teacher, shared her plans for attracting new teachers in the US through "providing tuition free technical two-year college, four-year college for anyone who wants to get an education," among other things.

One of the crucial steps necessary in getting more teachers into the system starts with children, Warren said.

"We can take a two-cent wealth tax and provide — now, stay with me on this — universal childcare and early childhood education for every single baby in this country age zero to 5. Universal pre-k for every 3-year-old and 4-year-old in America. And we can stop exploiting the largely women, largely black and brown women, who do this work. Part of my budget says we will increase the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher in America. So that's what we can do for our babies," Warren said.

The next part of Warren's education plan focused on grades K-12.

"What we can do k-12 is that my two-cent wealth tax permits us to put an historic $800 billion of federal investment into our public schools. Think what that means. Quadruple the funding for title 1 schools so that we can truly pay our teachers and make sure our kid get a fair start here," said.

And when it comes to young adults, Warren wants to provide prospective teachers with a free college education.

"We can also bring more young teachers in by providing tuition free technical two-year college, four-year college for anyone who wants to get an education, increasing Pell grants so people who come from low income backgrounds have a chance, put $50 billion into our historically black colleges and universities which turn out a huge number of our teachers, and for people who are already teachers, we can cancel student loan debt for 43 million Americans," Warren said.

Watch the moment:

9:54 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Warren denies she backtracked on super PAC purity despite past comments and campaign website

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Elizabeth Warren denied on Thursday that she backtracked on not taking any help from super PACs, despite her website explicitly saying she “rejects the help of Super PACs and would disavow any Super PAC formed to support her in the Democratic primary.”

Warren declined earlier on Thursday to disavow a new super PAC supporting her by spending over $1 million to air a biography-focused television ad in Nevada.

“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.

Warren, for the bulk of her campaign, has used her purity on campaign finance to both subtly and directly attack those candidates who were receiving super PAC support.

And on Thursday, Warren said she would disavow super PACs if “all” candidates running for president “disavow super PACs”

“I'm saying come on, Democrats, all of us should disavow super PACs,” Warren said, adding, “I hope every other Democrat will join me and let's all agree to get rid of super PACs.”

But Warren’s position on campaign finance has not always been linked to all candidates doing the same thing on super PACs and the candidate has used the fact that she didn’t take super PAC help as a way to attack her opponents.

Warren, less than two weeks ago, used her national platform at a debate to say, “If you really want to live where you say, then put your money where your mouth is and say no to the PACs."

Warren's website still says, “Elizabeth rejects the help of Super PACs & would disavow any Super PAC formed to support her in the Democratic primary... Democrats should show some moral backbone by refusing their own Super PACs in the 2020 primary.”

And Warren tweeted in October that it’s “disappointing that any Democratic candidate would reverse course and endorse the use of unlimited contributions from the wealthy to run against fellow Democrats. A handful of wealthy donors should not be allowed to buy the Democratic nomination. That's not who we are.”

Hear from Sen. Warren:

10:01 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Warren says Bloomberg should be disqualified — but would still support him if he's the nominee

Elizabeth Warren, speaking at tonight's town hall, said former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg should be disqualified from running for president over allegations of sexist and misogynistic behavior.

Warren blasted Bloomberg for refusing to release women who signed nondisclosure agreements.

"If he's not willing to remove those gags and let those women and maybe those men talk, then he is disqualified from being president of the United States," she said.

But Warren added that if he’s nominated, she’ll support him.

"I will support the Democratic nominee because I believe that everyone on that stage would make a better president than Donald Trump," she said.

Warren went on to add: “It’s going to be Donald Trump versus someone. And what I can guarantee is that I’m liking someone.”

Watch:

9:41 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Warren discusses imbalances in scrutiny for male, female candidates

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Elizabeth Warren discussed the difficulties of being a woman candidate on the national stage on Thursday, describing it as getting “caught in between” of not calling out sexism and being accused of whining.

The answer came in response to a question that noted Democratic 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton “had an illness” in 2016 and “the narrative for weeks was is she fit enough to serve,” while Bernie Sanders had a heart attack last year and “he has not been subjected to the same scrutiny.”

Warren did not take on the Sanders aspect of the question, but described overcoming sexism as a question “we all struggle with every day.”

“If you complain about it, then you are whining,” Warren said. “And if you don't complain about it, the rest of the women think, what planet are you living on? And so you get caught in between the two.”

Warren added that while “the world has changed since 2016,” the best way to fight the sexism is by “calling it out.”

“You've just got to name it. You've got to name it over and over and over and keep saying, this isn't right, look what you've done, we've got to change this,” she said. “But the second is nothing is going to work nearly as well as electing a woman president of the United States. I'm ready.”

Watch the moment:

9:33 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Warren describes Trump's pardons as "a lawlessness that we have never seen" before

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Sen. Elizabeth Warren took a dig at President Trump's recent pardons, saying, "That is a lawlessness that we have never seen in this country before."

Warren has vowed to create an independent Department of Justice task force. Asked if the creation of such a task force would essentially weaponize the Justice Department, here's what Warren said:

"No, listen to the first word. 'Independent.' Look, we live in an America right now where the president of the United States has effectively said publicly that if anyone breaks the law helping him, he will intervene and either offer a pardon or at least a reduced sentence."

She continued: "If that becomes the pattern in America, that each person who becomes president says in effect, forget the oath you took to the Constitution and instead just become the henchman of whoever is the president, our country changes. We lose one of the fundamental principles of our democracy."

Warren then issued a warning: "So what I have said is I want everyone to hear it who is in the administration right now: If you get out there and break the law now serving this President, he may be willing to look the other way, but President Warren will not look the other way."

See the moment:

9:36 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

When it comes to gender and politics, Warren says it's an issue of getting "caught in between"

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Asked about how the two female presidential candidates have been treated in comparison to their male counterparts when it comes to their health, Sen. Elizabeth Warren called it something "we all struggle with every day."

Jolie Lindley, a teacher in Nevada, pointed out how the media covered Sen. Bernie Sanders' health issue along the campaign trail recently and how, in 2016, when Hillary Clinton fell ill, "the narrative for weeks was is she fit enough to serve."

"And I have to say, it's one that is really tough for women candidates. I'm just going to be blunt about this. Because you kind of get caught in between. If you complain about it, then you're whining. And if you don't complain about it, the rest of the women think, what planet are you living on? And so you get caught in between the two," Warren said.

In way of a solution, Warren added, to vigorous applause: "So here's how I see this. We have to recognize that the world has changed since 2016. And how do I know that? I'm here in Nevada with a woman majority state legislature, hello!"

9:29 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Warren calls reports of Russian meddling in 2020 election "deeply worrisome"

Will Lanzoni/CNN
Will Lanzoni/CNN

Sen. Elizabeth Warren shared her concern tonight in Las Vegas over reports that Russia is poised to interfere in the US election this November.

"Look, what we're going to do about this is we're going to keep pushing Mitch McConnell to tighten security around our election. What's deeply worrisome about this is we now live in America where one political party seem to think political interference helps them in an election. And that makes the challenge enormous," Warren said.

Warren added: "This is up to you and to people all across this country. Let's face it. We cannot afford to win in November by a little tiny bit. We gotta win by so much that no one can deny. So everybody, out and winning. That's what we're going to do."

What we know about the Russian interference: 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.

Hear Sen. Warren's comments: