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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN Hosts Democratic Debate. Aired 10-11:05p ET
Aired October 15, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COOPER: And welcome back to the CNN-New York Times Democratic presidential debate. Mark Lacey from the New York Times starts off our questioning. Mark?
LACEY: Thank you. Let's turn to the growing concerns over the power of big tech companies.
Mr. Yang, Senator Warren is calling for companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google to be broken up. Is she right? Does that need to happen?
YANG: As usual, Senator Warren is 100 percent right in diagnosing the problem. There are absolutely excesses in technology and in some cases having them divest parts of their business is the right move.
But we also have to be realistic that competition doesn't solve all the problems. It's not like any of us wants to use the fourth best navigation app. That would be like cruel and unusual punishment. There is a reason why no one is using Bing today. Sorry, Microsoft. It's true.
So it's not like breaking up these big tech companies will revive Main Street businesses around the country. And as the parent of two young children, I'm particularly concerned about screen use and its effect on our children. Studies clearly show that we're seeing record levels of anxiety and depression coincident with smartphone adoption and social media use.
Breaking up the tech companies does nothing to make our kids healthier. What we have to do is we have to hone in on the specific problems we're trying to solve and use 21st century solutions for 21st century problems. Using a 20th century antitrust framework will not work. We need new solutions and a new toolkit.
LACEY: Thank you. Senator Warren, is Mr. Yang wrong? Your response, please.
WARREN: Look, I'm not willing to give up and let a handful of monopolists dominate our economy and our democracy. It's time to fight back. Think about it this way. When you talk about how it works in competition, about 8 percent, 9 percent of all retail sales happen at bricks and sticks stores, happen at Walmart. About 49 percent of all sales online happen in one place: that's Amazon.
It collects information from every little business, and then Amazon does something else. It runs the platform, gets all the information, and then goes into competition with those little businesses. Look, you get to be the umpire in the baseball game, or you get to have a team, but you don't get to do both at the same time. We need to enforce our antitrust laws, break up these giant companies that are dominating, big tech, big pharma, big oil, all of them.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
Mr. Steyer, your response?
STEYER: Look, I agree with Senator Warren that, in fact, monopolies have to be dealt with. They either have to be broken up or regulated, and that's part of it.
But we have to understand that Mr. Trump is going to be running on the economy. He's going to be saying he's the person who can make it grow. I started a business from scratch -- one room, no employers -- and built a multi-billion-dollar international business. We're going to have to show the American people that we don't just know how to tax and have programs to break up companies but also talk about prosperity, talk about investing in the American people, talk about harnessing the innovation and competition of the American private sector.
In fact, if we want to beat Mr. Trump, I think somebody who can go toe to toe with him and show him to be a fraud and a failure as a businessperson, and a fraud and a failure as a steward of the American economy is going to be necessary. He is one. His tax plan's a failure. His trade war is a failure. I would love to take him on as a real businessman and show that, in fact, he's failed the American people, and he has to go.
LACEY: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
Senator Booker, how do you respond? Would a President Booker break up big tech companies like Facebook and Amazon?
BOOKER: Anybody that does not think that we have a massive crisis in our democracy with the way these tech companies are being used, not just in terms of anti-competitive practices, but also to undermine our democracy -- we have seen it in the '16 election practices being used that have not been corrected now. We need regulation and reform.
And antitrust, I mean Robert Bork right now is laughing in his sleep. We have a reality in this country where antitrust, from pharma to farms, is causing trouble, and we have to deal with this. As president of the United States, I will put people in place that enforce antitrust laws.
And I want to say one last thing, and I feel qualified to say this as the vegan on the stage. Going back to the fact that we -- it's rich to me that we asked three people about their health when looking at this stage we know that the most unhealthy person running for the presidency in 2020 is Donald Trump.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator.
Congressman O'Rourke, you say you're not sure if it's appropriate for a president to designate which companies should be broken up. So what's the proper level of oversight here?
O'ROURKE: Yeah, we need to set very tough, very clear, transparent rules of the road, the kind of rules that we do not have today, that allow these social media platforms, where we, the people, have become the product, to abuse that public trust, and to do so at extraordinary profits.
Right now, we treat them functionally as a utility, when,
in reality, they're more akin to a publisher. They curate the content that we see. Our pictures and personal information that they share with others, we would allow no publisher to do what Facebook is doing, to publish that ad that Senator Warren has rightfully called out, that CNN has refused to air because it is untrue and tells lies about the vice president, treat them like the publisher that they are. That's what I will do as president.
And we will be unafraid to break up big businesses if we have to do that, but I don't think it is the role of a president or a candidate for the presidency to specifically call out which companies will be broken up. That's something that Donald Trump has done, in part because he sees enemies in the press and wants to diminish their power. It's not something that we should do.
So tough rules of the road, protect your personal information, privacy, and data, and be fearless in the face of these tech giants.
LACEY: Senator Sanders, your response?
SANDERS: When we talk about a rigged economy, it's not just the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality. It is also the fact that in sector after sector, whether it is Wall Street, where you have six banks that have assets equivalent to half of the GDP of the United States, whether it is media, where you have 10 media companies that control about 90 percent of what the American people see, hear, or read, whether it is agribusiness, where we see merger after merger which is resulting in the decline of family-based farming in this country, we need a president who has the guts to appoint an attorney general who will take on these huge monopolies, protect small business, and protect consumers by ending the price fixing that we see every day.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Senator. Senator Harris, to you, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that splitting up big tech companies will make election interference more likely because the companies won't be able to work together to fight it. Could breaking up these companies make the spread of disinformation worse?
HARRIS: No, I don't agree with that at all. And serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee, working with Amy Klobuchar on what we need to do to upgrade the elections infrastructure, knowing that Russia needs to be held accountable for the fact that they interfered in the election of the president of the United States and will attempt to do it again, that's -- that's a ridiculous argument he's making.
But I do want to also say this. What we're talking about is a grave injustice, when rules apply to some but not equally to all, and in particular when the rules that apply to the powerless don't apply to the powerful.
And so, Senator Warren, I just want to say that I was surprised to hear that you did not agree with me that on this subject of what should be the rules around corporate responsibility for these big tech companies, when I called on Twitter to suspend Donald Trump's account, that you did not agree, and I would urge you to join me.
Because here we have Donald Trump, who has 65 million Twitter followers and is using that platform as the president of the United States to openly intimidate witnesses, to threaten witnesses, to obstruct justice, and he and his account should be taken down.
We saw in El Paso that that shooter in his manifesto was informed by how Donald Trump uses that platform, and this is a matter of corporate responsibility. Twitter should be held accountable and shut down that site. It is a matter of safety and corporate accountability.
LACEY: Thank you. Senator Warren, you can respond.
WARREN: So, look, I don't just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter. I want to push him out of the White House. That's our job.
HARRIS: Well, join me -- join me in saying that his Twitter account should be shut down.
WARREN: But let's figure -- no. Let's figure out...
WARREN: ... why it is that we have had laws on the books for antitrust for over a century, and yet for decades now, we've all called on how the big drug companies are calling the shots in Washington, big ag, how the gun industry, big tech -- you know, we really need to address the elephant in the room, and that is how campaigns are financed.
HARRIS: You can't say you're for corporate responsibility if it doesn't apply to everyone.
WARREN: I announced this morning -- I announced this morning that I'm not going to take any money from big tech executives, from Wall Street executives. We've already agreed, Bernie and I, we're not taking any money from big pharma executives.
You can't go behind closed doors and take the money of these executives and then turn around and expect that these are the people who are actually finally going to enforce the laws. We need campaign finance rules and practices...
LACEY: Thank you, Senator Warren. Senator Harris?
WARREN: ... that support us all.
HARRIS: You -- it does not represent a system of justice to say that the rules will apply differently to different people. This is a matter, you are saying, of holding big tech accountable.
HARRIS: Holding big tech accountable because they have an outsized influence on people's perceptions about issues, and they actually influence behaviors. We all have to agree this is their power. It is immense.
LACEY: Senator Klobuchar, let me bring you in here.
LACEY: Your response?
HARRIS: I'm not finished. I'm not finished.
HARRIS: And so what I am saying is that it seems to me that you would be able to join me in saying the rule has to apply to Twitter the same way it does to Facebook.
WARREN: Look, I think all of the rules should apply across the board. I don't have a problem with that.
HARRIS: So you will join me in saying Twitter should shut down that account?
WARREN: What I do have a problem with is that if we're going to talk seriously about breaking up big tech, then we should ask if people are taking money from the big tech executives. If we're going to talk seriously about breaking up big drug companies, we should ask if people are financing their campaigns by taking money from big drug executives. If we are going to talk about Wall Street and having some serious regulation over Wall Street, we should ask if people are funding their campaigns by taking money from those executives.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Senator Klobuchar, let's bring you in here. (CROSSTALK)
KLOBUCHAR: I would like to have a different take on this. I was in the private sector for 14 years, represented companies that were fighting to get into the telecom markets. I had a life before government.
And what I saw was when we got more competition there, the prices went down in a big way in the long distance market. Well, right now we have another gilded age going on, and I am the lead Democrat on the Antitrust Committee. I have the lead legislation, which means, one, changing the standard so we can do a better job of doing just what we've been talking about here, is breaking down some of this consolidation, and also making sure that the enforcers have the resources to take them on because they're so overwhelmed.
But the issue here is this. Start talking about this as a pro- competition issue. This used to be a Republican and Democratic issue, because America, our founding fathers, actually wanted to have less consolidation. We were a place of entrepreneurship. We are seeing a startup slump in this country.
LACEY: Thank you, Senator. Secretary Castro, would you like to weigh in?
KLOBUCHAR: And this means everything from tech on down.
LACEY: Please respond.
CASTRO: Yeah, I think that we're on the right track in terms of updating how we look at monopolistic practices and setting, as Congressman O'Rourke said, rules for the road that match the challenges that we face today.
And, you know, whether that's Amazon that is leveraging its size I think to help put small businesses out of business, and then at the same time shortchanging a lot of its workers, not paying them as they should, not giving them the benefits that they should, or it's a number of other companies, big tech companies. We need to take a stronger stance when it comes to cracking down on monopolistic trade practices, and that's what I would do as president.
LACEY: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
YANG: The best way we can fight back -- the best way we can fight back against big tech companies is to say our data is our property. Right now, our data is worth more than oil. How many of you remember getting your data check in the mail? It got lost. It went to Facebook, Amazon, Google. If we say this is our property and we share in the gains, that's the best way we can balance the scales against the big tech companies.
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Yang.
GABBARD: There's a bigger issue here... BURNETT: Turning to women's reproductive rights, Ohio is now one of several states that has banned abortions after as early as six weeks of pregnancy. Many women don't even know they're pregnant at that time. The Ohio law, like many others, is being challenged in the courts and has not yet taken effect. Senator Harris, if states prevail on restricting abortion, what's your plan to stop them?
HARRIS: My plan is as -- as follows. For any state that passes a law that violates the Constitution, and in particular Roe v. Wade, our Department of Justice will review that law to determine if it is compliant with Roe v. Wade and the Constitution, and if it is not, that law will not go into effect. That's called pre-clearance.
Because the reality is that while we still have -- as I said earlier -- these state legislators who are outdated and out of touch, mostly men who are telling women what to do with their bodies, then there needs to be accountability and consequence.
But, you know, I'll go further. You may have seen it. I questioned Brett Kavanaugh when I was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and asked him as a nominee to serve on the United States Supreme Court, could he think of any law that tells a man what to do with his body? And the answer was, uh, uh, no.
The reality of it is, this is still a fundamental issue of justice for women in America. Women have been given the responsibility to perpetuate the human species. Our bodies were created to do that. And it does not give any other person the right to tell a woman what to do with that body. It is her body. It is her right. It is her decision.
BURNETT: Senator Harris, thank you.
Senator Klobuchar, what would you do to stop states from prevailing? Your response?
KLOBUCHAR: I would codify Roe v. Wade and make it the law of the land. But what I want to do right now is just say, what if Donald Trump was standing up here on the debate stage with me? You know what I would say to him? I said, you knew -- you said you wanted to do this in your race for president. You actually said that you wanted to put women in jail. Then you tried to dial it back, and you said you wanted to put doctors in jail.
That is exactly what the Alabama law is. It put doctors in jail for 99 years. You, Donald Trump, are not on the side of women. You are not on the side of people of this country, when over 75 percent of people want to keep Roe v. Wade on the book, when over 90 percent of people want to make sure we have available contraception. You defunded Planned Parenthood. I would fund it again.
BURNETT: Senator, thank you.
Senator Booker, if states prevail on restricting abortion, how would you stop them? Please respond.
BOOKER: Well, first of all, let's be clear about these laws we see from Alabama to Ohio. They're not just attacks on one of the most sacrosanct ideals in our country -- liberty, the ability to control your own body -- but they're particularly another example of people trying to punish, trying to penalize, trying to criminalize poverty, because this is disproportionately affecting low-income women in this country, people in rural areas in this country. It is an assault on the most fundamental ideal that human beings should control their own body.
And so the way as president of the United States I'm going to deal with this is, first of all, elevating it like we have with other national crises to a White House-level position. And I will create the Office of Reproductive Freedom and Reproductive Rights in the White House and make sure that we begin to fight back on a systematic attempt that's gone on for decades to undermine Roe v. Wade.
I will fight to codify it, and I will also make sure that we fight as this country to repeal the Hyde amendment, so that we are leading the Planet Earth in defending the global assault we see on women right now.
BURNETT: Thank you, Senator.
Congresswoman Gabbard, your response?
GABBARD: This is often one of the most difficult decisions that a woman will ever have to make, and it's unfortunate to see how in this country it has for so long been used as a divisive political weapon.
I agree with Hillary Clinton on one thing, disagree with her on many others, but when she said abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, I think she's correct. We see how the consequences of laws that you're referring to can often lead to a dangerous place, as we've seen them as they're passed in other countries, where a woman who has a miscarriage past that six weeks could be imprisoned because abortion would be illegal at that point.
I do, however, think that there should be some restrictions in place. I support codifying Roe v. Wade while making sure that, during the third trimester, abortion is not an option unless the life or severe health consequences of a woman are at risk.
BURNETT: Thank you very much.
The Supreme Court is currently made up of five Republican-appointed justices and four appointed by Democrats. The court just announced it will hear arguments in a case challenging some abortion rights.
Vice President Biden, the Constitution does not specify the number of justices that serve on the Supreme Court. If Roe v. Wade is overturned on your watch and you can't pass legislation in Congress, would you seek to add justices to the Supreme Court to protect women's reproductive rights?
BIDEN: I would not get into court packing. We had three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all.
I want to point out that the justices I've supported, when I defeated Robert Bork -- and I say when I defeated Robert Bork, I made sure we guaranteed a woman's right to choose for the better part of a generation. I would make sure that we move and insist that we pass, we codify Roe v. Wade.
The public is already there. Things have changed. And I would go out and I would campaign against those people in the state of Ohio, Alabama, et cetera, who in fact are throwing up this barrier. Reproductive rights are a constitutional right. And, in fact, every woman should have that right.
And so I would not pack the court. What I would do is make sure that the people that I recommended for the court, from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Elena Kagan, who used to work for me, to others, that they, in fact, support the right of privacy, on which the entire notion of a woman's right to choose is based. And that's what I would do. No one would get on the court.
And by the way, if, in fact, at the end of this -- beginning next year, if, in fact, one of the justices steps down, God forbid, in fact, I would make sure that we would do exactly what McConnell did last time out. We would not allow any hearing to be held for a new justice.
BURNETT: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
Mayor Buttigieg, you have discussed expanding the court from 9 to 15 justices. What's your response to the vice president?
BUTTIGIEG: That's right. When I proposed reforming the Supreme Court, some folks said that was too bold to even contemplate. Now, I'm not talking about packing the court just with people who agree with me, although I certainly will appoint people who share my values, for example, the idea that women's reproductive freedom is an American right.
What I'm talking about is reforms that will depoliticize the court. We can't go on like this, where every single time there is a vacancy, we have this apocalyptic ideological firefight over what to do next.
Now, one way to fix this would be to have a 15-member court where five of the members can only be appointed by unanimous agreement of the other 10. Smarter legal minds than mine are discussing this in the Yale Law Journal and how this could be done without a constitutional amendment. But the point is that not everybody arrives on a partisan basis.
There are other reforms that we could consider, from term limits -- don't forget, justices used to just retire like everybody else -- to a rotation off the appellate bench.
BURNETT: Thank you.
BUTTIGIEG: I'm not wedded to a particular solution, but I am committed to establishing a commission on day one...
BURNETT: Thank you, Mayor Buttigieg.
BUTTIGIEG: ... that will propose reforms to depoliticize the Supreme Court, because we can't go on like this.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Mayor Buttigieg. Secretary Castro, he's talking about making the court bigger. Your response? Is it a good idea?
CASTRO: I don't think it is. I wouldn't pack the court. You know, I think the plan that Mayor Pete mentioned is an interesting one, but I actually believe, if we were selecting from one of those things, that the smarter move might be to look at term limits or having people cycle off from the appellate courts so that you would have a replenishment of perspective.
I would also make sure that I appoint as president people who respect the precedent of Roe v. Wade, that we codify Roe v. Wade, and that we do away with things like the Hyde amendment, because you shouldn't only be able to have reproductive freedom if you have money. We have to think about people who do not, people who are poor. And we have to concern ourselves not only with reproductive freedom, but also reproductive justice and invest in the ability of every woman to be able to make a choice and to be able to have her health care needs met.
BURNETT: Senator Warren, would you consider adding more justices to the Supreme Court to protect Roe v. Wade? Your response?
WARREN: I think there are a number of options. I think, as Mayor Buttigieg said, there are many different ways. People are talking about different options, and I think we may have to talk about them.
But on Roe v. Wade, can we just pause for a minute here? I lived in an America where abortion was illegal, and rich women still got abortions, because they could travel, they could go to places where it was legal.
What we're talking about now is that the people who are denied access to abortion are the poor, are the young, are 14-year-olds who were molested by a family member. And we now have support across this country. Three out of four Americans believe in the rule of Roe v. Wade. When you've got three out of four Americans supporting it, we should be able to get that passed through Congress.
BURNETT: Senator, thank you.
WARREN: We should not leave this to the Supreme Court. We should do it through democracy, because we can.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Senator.
COOPER: As some of you have indicated, the differences between all of you on this stage are tiny compared to the differences between you and President Trump. There are, however, fundamental differences between many of you on this stage.
Vice President Biden, just on either side of you, Senator Warren is calling for big structural change. Senator Sanders is calling for a political revolution. Will their visions attract the kind of voters that the Democrats need to beat Donald Trump?
BIDEN: Well, I think their vision is attracting a lot of people, and I think a lot of what they have to say is really important. But, you know, Senator Warren said we can't be running any vague campaigns. We've got to level with people. We've got to level with people and tell them exactly what we're going to do, how we're going to get it done, and if you can get it done.
I'm going to say something that is probably going to offend some people here, but I'm the only one on this stage that has gotten anything really big done, from the Violence Against Women Act to making sure that we pass the Affordable Care Act to being in a position where we, in fact, took almost a $90 billion act that kept us from going into a depression, making us -- putting us in a position where I was able to end roe -- excuse me, able to end the issue of gun sales in terms of assault weapons.
And so the question is, who is best prepared? We all have good ideas. The question is, who is going to be able to get it done? How can you get it done? And I'm not suggesting they can't, but I'm suggesting that that's what we should look at. And part of that requires you not being vague. Tell people what it's going to cost, how you're going to do it, and why you're going to do it. That's the way to get it done. Presidents are supposed to be able to persuade.
COOPER: Just to clarify, Vice President, who are you saying is being vague?
BIDEN: Well, the senator said -- she's being vague on the issue of -- actually, both are being vague on the issue of Medicare for all. No, look, here's the deal. Come on. It costs $30 trillion. Guess what? That's over $3 trillion -- it's more than the entire federal budget -- let me finish, OK?
COOPER: You'll both get in.
BIDEN: If you eliminated the entire Pentagon, every single thing, plane, ship, troop, the buildings, everything, satellites, it would get you -- it would pay for a total of four months. Four months. Where do you get the rest? Where does it come from?
SANDERS: Two things. Let me explain in two ways.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, respond. SANDERS: Joe, you talked about working with Republicans and getting things done. But you know what you also got done? And I say this as a good friend. You got the disastrous war in Iraq done. You got a bankruptcy bill, which is hurting middle-class families all over this country. You got trade agreements, like NAFTA and PNTR, with China done, which have cost us 4 million jobs.
Now, let's get to Medicare for all. Let's be honest. We spend twice as much per person as do the people of any other major country on Earth. And the answer is, if we have the guts that I would like to see the Democratic Party have that guts, to stand up to the drug companies and the insurance companies and tell them that the function of health care is to guarantee care to all people, not to make $100 billion in profit.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
SANDERS: If we stood together, we could create the greatest health care system in the world.
COOPER: Vice President Biden, you can respond, and then Senator Warren.
BIDEN: We can do that without Medicare for all. We can do that by adding a public option.
BIDEN: We can.
SANDERS: No, you can't.
BIDEN: And we can afford to do it.
SANDERS: You've got to take on the greed and the profiteering of the health care industry.
BIDEN: By the way, the greed and...
COOPER: Let him respond. Mr. Vice President?
BIDEN: The greed and profiteering of those insurance companies, they are as much against my bill as they are anybody else. They were strongly against Obamacare. They know it cost them. And it's going to take away the right of people to choose, the 160 million people out there who've negotiated their health insurance, and they want to keep it. They should have a right to keep it.
COOPER: Senator Warren, your response?
WARREN: So you started this question with how you got something done. You know, following the financial crash of 2008, I had an idea for a consumer agency that would keep giant banks from cheating people. And all of the Washington insiders and strategic geniuses said, don't even try, because you will never get it passed. And sure enough, the big banks fought us. The Republicans fought us. Some of the Democrats fought us. But we got that agency passed into law. It has now forced big banks to return more than $12 billion directly to people they cheated.
I served in the Obama administration. I know what we can do by executive authority, and I will use it. In Congress, on the first day, I will pass my anti-corruption bill, which will beat back the influence of money...
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
WARREN: ... and repeal the filibuster. And the third, we want to get something done in America, we have to get out there and fight...
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
WARREN: ... for the things that touch people's lives.
BIDEN: I agree. Let me -- she referenced me. I agreed with the great job she did, and I went on the floor and got you votes. I got votes for that bill. I convinced people to vote for it. So let's get those things straight, too.
COOPER: Senator Warren, do you want to respond?
WARREN: I am deeply grateful to President Obama, who fought so hard to make sure that agency was passed into law, and I am deeply grateful to every single person who fought for it and who helped pass it into law. But understand...
BIDEN: You did a hell of a job in your job.
WARREN: Thank you.
But understand this. It was a dream big, fight hard. People told me, go for something little, go for something small, go for something that the big corporations will be able to accept.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator.
WARREN: I said, no, let's go for an agency that will make structural change in our economy.
COOPER: Senator, thank you.
WARREN: And President Obama said, I will fight for that, and he sometimes had to fight against people in his own administration. We have...
BIDEN: Not me.
WARREN: We have to be willing to make good, big, structural change.
COOPER: Mayor Buttigieg, which is the right vision for a Democrat to beat Donald Trump? That's the essential question.
BUTTIGIEG: If I had a buck for every argument that I've witnessed like this, I could pay for college for everybody. We need to move past what has been consuming this whole political space for as long as I've been alive.
We're being offered a false choice. I don't agree with the vice president that Trump is an aberration.
I don't agree that there's any such thing as back to normal. Because here in the industrial Midwest, definitely where I live, normal didn't work. That's part of how we got here. That's part of how a guy like Donald Trump managed to get within cheating distance of the Oval Office in the first place.
But I also don't agree with Senator Warren that the only way forward is infinite partisan combat. Yes, we have to fight -- absolutely, we have to fight for the big changes at hand, but it's going to take more than fighting. Once again, I want to take you back to that day after Trump has stopped being president. Think about what the president can do to unify a new American majority for some of the boldest things we've attempted in my lifetime -- Medicare for all who want it, actually getting something done on immigration for the first time since the '80s, an assault weapons ban, which would be a huge deal, making college free for low- and middle-income students.
Yet there are some here on this stage who say it doesn't count unless we go even further, free college for low- and middle-income students isn't good enough unless we're also paying for the children of billionaires. Immigration reform isn't enough unless we also decriminalize border crossings. We have an opportunity to do the biggest things we've done...
COOPER: Thank you, Mayor.
BUTTIGIEG: ... in my lifetime...
BIDEN: I did not say back to normal.
COOPER: Thank you, Mayor. Senator Klobuchar? Senator Klobuchar?
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. You know, this isn't a flyover part of the country to me. The heartland is where I live. And I want to win those states that we lost last time, and I have bold ideas to get us there. And I think just because they're different than Elizabeth's doesn't mean they're bold.
But we can't get any of this done on climate change or immigration reform unless they win. And what I have done is win and the only one up here, time and time again, the reddest of red districts, Michele Bachmann's, I -- I won that district three times, rural districts that border Iowa and North and South Dakota. And I do it by going not just where it's comfortable but where it's uncomfortable.
And that is why I have been in Pennsylvania and in Michigan and in Wisconsin and all over Ohio and in Iowa, because I think we need to build a blue Democratic wall around those states and make Donald Trump pay for it.
COOPER: Thank you. Senator Warren, she referenced you, so you can respond.
WARREN: Now, people who are struggling to pay health care are fighting today. People who are getting crushed by student loans are in a fight today. People who are getting stopped by the police or paid less because of the color of their skin are in a fight today.
And anyone who doesn't understand that Americans are already in these fights is not someone who is likely to win them. For me, this is about knowing what's broken, knowing how to fix it, and, yes, I'm willing to get out there and fight for it.
COOPER: Senator Sanders...
BUTTIGIEG: There's a missing people, and that is...
COOPER: Senator Sanders, why is your approach more likely to beat President Trump?
SANDERS: I'll tell you why.
COOPER: Please respond.
SANDERS: And here's the radical reason why. It's what the American people want.
SANDERS: All right, the American people do not want tax breaks for billionaires. They want the rich to start paying their fair share of taxes. A poll came out yesterday, 71 percent of Democrats support Medicare for all. The people of this country understand that we've got to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. And more and more Americans, including Republicans, understand we need bold action if we're going to save this planet for our children and our grandchildren.
The way you win an election in this time in history is not the same old, same old. You have to inspire people. You have to excite people. You've got to bring working people and young people and poor people into the political process...
COOPER: Thank you. Thank you.
SANDERS: ... because they know you stand for them, not corporate America.
COOPER: Congressman O'Rourke, is political revolution what the American people want? Your response.
O'ROURKE: There was some talk about getting big things done. When I was first elected to Congress, I found that El Paso, Texas, had the worst wait times in the country to see a mental health care provider at the V.A. I don't know how sensational or exciting that was to everyone in the country or even most people in El Paso, but it was important to those veterans who I serve.
So we set about turning around the V.A., hiring up the psychiatrists and psychologists and therapists to take care of those women and men who had put their lives on the line for this country. And we were able to do that, and we took what we learned, and we applied it to a national law as a member of the minority working with Republicans and Democrats alike to expand mental health care access for veterans nationally.
And then in Texas, one of what was thought to be the reddest states in the country, going to every single county...
COOPER: Thank you, Congressman.
O'ROURKE: ... talking about this progressive agenda, and winning more votes than any Democrat has ever won, that's the way that we defeat Donald Trump in November of 2020.
COOPER: Congressman O'Rourke, thank you. We have to take a quick break. The CNN-New York Times debate live from Ohio will continue right after this.
COOPER: We are back with the CNN-New York Times Democratic presidential debate. We have time for one more question that we would like all of you to weigh in on.
Last week, Ellen DeGeneres was criticized after she and former President George W. Bush were seen laughing together at a football game. Ellen defended their friendship, saying, we're all different and I think that we've forgotten that that's OK that we're all different.
So in that spirit, we'd like you to tell us about a friendship that you've had that would surprise us and what impact it's had on you and your beliefs.
Secretary Castro, let's begin with you.
CASTRO: Well, first of all, thank you to Marc, thank you, Anderson, and thank you, Erin, and CNN, and New York Times and everybody who is here tonight.
You know, some of the most interesting friendships that I've had have been with people different from me, either people older than me that had a lot to teach me, or people who grew up very different from me. Also, teachers, as I was growing up, people that had a life experience that when I was growing up was beyond mine.
And sometimes also -- and this goes to the heart of your question, I think -- people who thought differently from me, folks that I considered and have considered friends, and I think that there's a value to that. I think that that should be reflected more in our public life.
I also believe, to just speak about the incident last week with Ellen and George W. Bush, I completely understood what she was saying about being kind to others. I believe that we should be more kind to other folks.
I also believe that we should hold people to account for what they've done, especially public servants who have a record of having done something or not done something. And I think that we can do both of those things. I think that we can be kind to people and also hold them accountable for their actions.
And there are people, whether it's our former president, George W. Bush, or others that should be held accountable. Just as we should be kind, we shouldn't be made to feel shameful about holding people accountable for what they've done.
COOPER: Congresswoman Gabbard?
GABBARD: Thank you. You know, where I come from in Hawaii, many of you know, we greet each other with "aloha." It's not a word that means hello and goodbye. It actually means something much more powerful than that. It means I come to you with respect and a recognition that we're all connected, we're all brothers and sisters, we're all God's children.
So I've developed friendships that some people may be surprised about within the Washington circles, especially, with Republicans, like Trey Gowdy, for example. He and I disagree a lot and very strongly on a lot of political issues. We've developed a friendship that's based on respect. And he's been there for me during some personally challenging times.
The challenge before us today is that our country is very divided. Donald Trump must be defeated. But we must do more than just defeat Donald Trump. We need to deliver a win for the American people. We must stand united as Americans, remembering that we are all brothers and sisters, that we are all connected. This is the kind of leadership that I seek to bring as president, inspired by the example of presidents like Abraham Lincoln, who talked about how we should have malice for none and charity for all.
When I look out at our country, I don't see deplorables, I see fellow Americans, people who I treat with respect, even when we disagree and when we disagree strongly. I will work to restore a White House that represents light and compassion and respect for every American regardless of race, religion, orientation, gender, or political affiliation.
So I want to ask everyone to join me. Join me in bringing about this government of, by, and for the people that serves all the people of this country. You can visit my website, tulsi2020.com, for more information.
COOPER: Thank you, Congresswoman.
KLOBUCHAR: For me, it's John McCain, and I miss him every day. I traveled all over the world with him. And he would sometimes, when we were seated with world leaders, and they would look away from me, he'd say, "Senator Klobuchar is the lead Democrat on this trip, and she will go next."
And I still remember being there at his ranch. John and I went to visit him and Cindy when he was dying. And he pointed to some words in his book, because he could hardly talk. And the words says this: "There is nothing more liberating in life than fighting for a cause larger than yourself."
That's what we're doing right now. And while we have had major debates about policy, we have to remember that what unites us is so much bigger than what divides us. And we have to remember that our job is to not just change policy, but to change the tone in our politics, to look up from our phones, to look at each other, to start talking to each other, because the way we win -- and not just win the presidency, but take back the U.S. Senate -- is by winning big.
And the way we win big is with that fired up Democratic base that's out there today, but it is also about bringing in independents and moderate Republicans. I can lead this. And I ask you to join me because I've done it before and I will do it again, amyklobuchar.com. Join our team. Thank you.
COOPER: Senator, thank you very much.
Mr. Steyer, tell us about your most surprising friendship.
STEYER: So I'm friends with a woman from Denmark, South Carolina, named Deanna Berry, who's fighting for clean water and environmental justice in her community. [22:50:00]
She's a different gender. She's a different race. She's from a different part of the country. But she reminds me of my parents in terms of her courage and her optimism and her honor.
My mother was a schoolteacher in the New York Public Schools and in the Brooklyn House of Detention. My father was the first generation in his family to go to college. My grandfather was a plumber. He interrupted his law degree to go into the Navy in World War II and he ended up prosecuting the Nazis at Nuremberg. And when I asked him what that experience meant, he said, when you see something wrong in your society, you fight it from the first day and every single day after.
And that's why I started the Need to Impeach movement two years ago, because there was something terribly wrong at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And over 10 years ago, I saw that there was a terrible threat to the safety and health of every American in terms of the climate crisis. And I've been fighting those companies with the help of the American people ever since successfully, and that's why I'm running for the president, because our government has failed, it's been bought by corporations, and it's absolutely essential to return power to the people.
I have been doing exactly what my parents taught me to do, which is to take on the biggest problems in America directly and fight for them every single day.
COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
O'ROURKE: I've always tried to bring people in to the solutions that we have to our common challenges, regardless of the differences. I did that as a small-business owner more than 20 years ago, making sure that we could get a small tech company off the ground in El Paso, Texas.
Did it as a member of the City Council, where I saw my colleagues not as Republicans or Democrats, but my fellow El Pasoans who had a responsibility to deliver for our community.
As a member of Congress, I remember being in San Antonio. I was visiting the V.A. there, March of 2017. Found that my flight had been snowed in, in Washington, D.C. I happened to be in the elevator with a Republican member of Congress, Will Hurd. And on a whim, I said, do you want to just rent a car and drive from San Antonio to Washington?
And he called my bluff. We got in that Chevy Impala, last car on the lot. It was spring break. Drove 1,600 miles across the country. Live streamed the conversation, a Republican and a Democrat finding out what we had in common.
By the end of that trip, not only had we formed a friendship, but we had formed trust. We worked with each other on each other's bills. I got Will to work with me on an immigration bill, showing party leaders from either side that Republicans and Democrats could work together on an otherwise contentious issue.
And then across Texas, I mentioned winning more votes than any Democrat. We won independents and Republicans in record numbers, as well. I will bring people in and together to face the common challenges that we have and to make sure that America rises to this opportunity.
COOPER: Senator Booker, tell us about your most surprising friendship.
BOOKER: Well, look, I have so many, I don't even know where to count. I was the mayor of a large city with a Republican governor. He and I had to form a friendship, even though I can write a dissertation on our disagreements. When I got to the United States Senate, I went there with the purpose of making friendships across the aisle.
I go to Bible study in Chairman Inhofe's office. He and I pass legislation together to help homeless and foster kids. I went out to try to invite every one of my Republican colleagues to dinner. And let me again say, finding a dinner at a restaurant, agreeing on one with Ted Cruz was a very difficult thing. I'm a vegan, and he's a meat- eating Texan.
But I'll tell you this right now, this is the moment in America that this is our test. The spirit of our country, I believe in the values of rugged individualism and self-reliance, but think about our history. Rugged individualism didn't get us to the Moon. It didn't beat the Nazis. It didn't map the human genome. It didn't beat Jim Crow. Everything we did in this country big.
And, Vice President, we have done so many big things. The fact that there's an openly gay man, a black woman, all of us on the stage are because we in the past are all inheritors of a legacy of common struggle and common purpose.
This election is not a referendum on one guy in one office. It's a referendum on who we are and who we must be to each other. The next leader is going to have to be one amongst us Democrats that can unite us all, not throw elbows at other Democrats that are unfair, because the preparation is being the leader that can revive civic of grace in our country, teach us a more courageous empathy, and remind America that patriotism is love of country, and you cannot love your country unless you love your fellow countrymen and women.
And love is not sentimentality. It's not anemic. Love is struggle. Love is sacrifice. Love is the words of our founders who said at the end of the Declaration of Independence that if we're ever going to make it as a nation, we must mutually pledge to each other...
COOPER: Thank you.
BOOKER: ... our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. I am running for president to restore that sacred honor.
COOPER: Thank you.
BOOKER: And if you believe in that like I do, please join me by going to corybooker.com. Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator. Mr. Yang?
YANG: First, I want to thank all the voters tuned in at home.
And if you don't feel like you answered your -- you got your question answered tonight, it's understandable. There are 12 of us.
I'm going to be answering voter questions for 10 straight hours this Friday. My web site, yang2020.com. And if you ask your question tonight, there's a better chance I'll get to it.
My surprising friendship, it's been so much fun running for president, because I've gotten to meet so many Americans I never would have gotten to meet otherwise. The friendship that sticks out for me is a guy named Fred, who's an avid Trump supporter, a trucker. He let me ride in his truck for hours. He spent some time in jail. I heard about his experiences trying to get other people off of drugs.
And I'm happy to say that, after our ride together, he actually said that he would move from Donald Trump to my campaign, which was a thrill for me. And we remained in touch ever since.
The truth is that what happened to the 4 million manufacturing workers here in Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Iowa did not care about our political party. The fourth industrial revolution is now migrating from manufacturing workers to retail, call centers, transportation, as well as to white-collar workers like attorneys, pharmacists, and radiologists. It does not care about our party.
Donald Trump had a set of solutions in 2016. What did he say? He said we're going to build a wall, we're going to turn the clock back, we're going to bring the old jobs back. America, we have to do the opposite of all of these things. We have to turn the clock forward. We have to accelerate our economy and society as quickly as possible. We have to evolve in the way we think about ourselves and our work and our value. It is not left. It is not right. It is forward. And that is where we must take the country in 2020.
COOPER: Mr. Yang, thank you very much. Senator Harris?
HARRIS: Thank you. Probably Rand Paul. He and I -- actually, I invited him to join me on a bill to end the money bail system in the United States. He and I agree on almost nothing, but we agree on that. And after we joined forces, he said to me, "Kamala, you know, Appalachia loves this." And it really made the point that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. And I guess that's why I'm running. I do believe that to beat Donald Trump, but also to heal our country, we need a leader who has the ability to unify our country and see that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us.
And I'll tell you, my mother was 19 when she left India alone. And she wanted to travel to learn science because her mission in life was to cure cancer. And so she arrived in California. She got -- you know, she was supposed to have an arranged marriage, but she got involved in the civil rights movement, she met my father, and that produced my sister and me. They got married. But when I was five, that marriage ended.
But my mother convinced us that we could do anything. And so I became the first woman attorney general of California, the second black woman elected to the United States Senate, and I will tell you, that's part of why I'm running, because Donald Trump, if he had his way, my story would not be possible. And I am running to make sure that that dream, the American dream, American values, American ideas will always hold true.
And so that's what is at stake in this election. And I believe I am uniquely able to see the commonalities among us and to speak the story of the American dream and the need to reclaim it.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator Harris. Mayor Buttigieg?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think about the friendships that I formed in the military, people who were radically different from me, different generation, different race, definitely different politics. And we learned to trust each other with our lives.
When they got into my vehicle and when we went outside the wire, they didn't care if I was going home to a boyfriend or a girlfriend, they didn't care what country my dad immigrated from and whether he was documented or not. We just learned to trust each other.
In fact, the fact that I want every American to have that experience without having to go to war to get there is one of the reasons why I believe national service is so important. I guess I'll follow in the pattern tonight and point out you can go to peteforamerica.com and read all about it.
It's also about building a sense of belonging in this country, because I think that's what friendship and that's what service can create. And I think we have a crisis of belonging in this country that is helping to explain so many of our problems, from our politics being what it is to the fact that people are self-medicating and we're seeing a rise in the deaths from despair.
I believe only the president can build a sense of belonging and purpose for the entire country. The purpose of the presidency is not the glorification of the president. It is the unification of the American people. And I'm asking for your vote to be that president, when the dust clears over the rubble of our norms and institutions at the end of the Trump presidency, pick up the pieces and guide us toward a better future.
COOPER: Mr. Mayor, thank you. Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: When I was chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, I tried to get through the most comprehensive piece of veterans legislation in modern American history. And I failed. I only had two Republicans to vote with me in the Senate. So we had to go back to the drawing board.
And I worked with John McCain. I certainly did not get in that legislation working with McCain all that I wanted. But it turned out that we were able to pass a very, very significant piece of legislation, including $5 billion more for the Veterans Administration.
More recently, I worked with a very conservative Republican from Utah, Mike Lee. And Mike understood, although he and I disagree on everything, that the U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen was a catastrophic disaster for the people of Yemen. And for the first time in 45 years, we were able to get the War Powers Act utilized and get U.S. -- get the votes to get the U.S. troops out of that area.
But I think, at the end of day, what I appreciate is that we have got to end the hatred that Trump is fostering on our people, the divisiveness, trying to divide us up by the color of our skin or where we were born or our sexual orientation or our religion.
And there is no job that I would undertake with more passion than bringing our people together around an agenda that works for every man, woman, and child in this country rather than the corporate elite and the 1 percent. A progressive agenda that stands for all is the way that we transform this country.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, thank you. Senator Warren?
WARREN: You ask about a surprising friend. For me, it would be Charles Fried. Twenty-seven years ago, when I was under consideration for a job, he was someone who had been George Bush, the first, solicitor general, a deeply principled Republican.
And we didn't agree on much. I was far more liberal than he was. But he also was willing to listen to my work about what's happening to America's middle class. And Charles engaged with it over and over and ultimately is the person who made sure I got the job.
You know, I grew up out in Oklahoma. I have three elder brothers. They all served in the military. Two of the three are still Republicans. I love all three of my brothers. And there are a lot of things that we're divided on, but there are core things that we believe in together.
We want to see all of our children get a good start in life. We don't want to see any of our friends or neighbors not get covered by health care. We're willing to get out there for the things we believe in.
Look, people across this country, whether they're Democrats, independents, or Republicans, they know what's broken. They know that we have an America that's working better and better and better for a thinner and thinner and thinner slice at the top and leaving everyone else behind.
People across this country, regardless of party, are ready to say no more, we want an America that works for everyone. 2020 is our moment in history. It is a deep honor to be here, to be in this fight.
COOPER: Thank you.
WARREN: I know what's broken. I know how to fix it. And we are building a grassroots movement to get it done that includes everyone.
COOPER: Thank you, Senator Warren. Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: This is reassuring in the fact that we're all acknowledging that we have to reach across the aisle, get things done. No other way to get anything done in this country.
The two people maybe would surprise you the most were -- he's been mentioned twice, but John McCain. John McCain worked for me when he worked in the Navy, and he was -- he was my assigned to me to travel around the world. We became close friends. He became very close friends with my wife, Jill. Visited our home. He was there with his children.
And on his death bed, he asked me to do his eulogy. John, I would say to John, "John, you didn't see a war you never wanted to fight." And he'd say, "You didn't see a problem you never wanted to solve." But he was a great man of principle. He was honorable. He was honorable.
And one of the things -- that's the reason why I'm running. We have to restore the soul of this country. That's why I'm doing this. In fact, this president has ripped the soul out of this country, divided us in ways that are absolutely outrageous. A liar, he cheats, he does not do anything to promote people generally.
Secondly, we have to rebuild the middle class. The only way we're going to do that is to be able to reach across the aisle. My dad used to say a job is about a lot more than a paycheck, Joey. It's about your dignity. We have to restore people's dignity.
And lastly, we have to unite the country, because, folks, it's time we stopped walking around with our heads down. We are better positioned than any country in the world to own the 21st century. So for god's sake, get up. Get up and remember, there is the United States of America. There's nothing, nothing we're unable to do when we decide we're going to do it. Nothing at all. Period.
COOPER: Candidates, thank you. That concludes the fourth Democratic presidential debate. We want to thank Otterbein University for hosting us. Now please stay tuned to CNN for special coverage of tonight's debate with Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo.