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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-FL) Was Interviewed About the Debate and How He Performed in the Stage with Other Candidates; Andrew Yang Was Interviewed About His Goal for the American People if He Makes it to the White House in 2020; 2020 Dems Clash At Final Debate Of 2019; Interview with Andrew Yang About His Presidential Campaign; Interview with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), About His Presidential Campaign; Interview With Tom Steyer, Presidential Candidate; Andrew Yang About His Presidential Campaign. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired December 19, 2019 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00]

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: -- Bernie broke through about Biden. The thing that the reason that Biden is the front runner and the reason that people see this levy of him, every question he was able to bring a background of jobs.

The climate peace. I mean, I worked with him on climate in the White House. He's talked about climate from the point of view of working folks, of working folks' needs. That type of stuff maybe for us and who cares. For a lot of people at home they want to hear that.

And so, I just want, listen, we have beat the crap out of Biden after every debate. He deserves a lot more credit tonight.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And can I just, on that, you mentioned the moment which was really extraordinary. Towards the beginning when he talked about the fact that he's had obvious incoming from the president against him and against his son. As proof that he can go head to head with the president.

But he also of course has to win the nomination first. And towards the end that moment with Bernie Sanders was not just, you know, telling him let me interrupt. It was on the substance of one of the most important questions. Which is how are you going to pay for everything and is it realistic? Which is the kind of argument that Senator Klobuchar makes. That Pete Buttigieg makes in the very big divide, the philosophical divide that is this field.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Right.

BASH: And he did it more clearly with more strength in a more cogent way within that moment with Bernie than I've ever heard.

CUOMO: Well, two things. First of all, it should be known that Amy Klobuchar is getting a lot more attention from the media than I've seen in debates past.

JONES: Yes.

BASH: Right. Right.

CUOMO: She's not the only candidate in the room right now. So, obviously her performance tonight is resonating. Two,

Axe, I asked this question for a reason. I'm not to disrespect Democrats with the comparing it dead batman into a man with a stick.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

CUOMO: But you're not having this debate with the president of the United States.

AXELROD: Right.

CUOMO: It's not going to go this way.

AXELROD: Yes.

CUOMO: And at some point, I know you have to impress the party.

(CROSSTALK)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They have to go through this. They have to go through this.

CUOMO: But you have to start seeing the kinds of things that will allow you --

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: Chris, let me assure you this.

CUOMO: -- to win on that stage.

AXELROD: Let me assure you this. You have a lot of smart people around these candidates they do a lot of research. And they really probe to see what kinds of messages are going to resonate with voters. And if they thought that the way forward here to distinguish themselves was to go sort of scorched earth against the president, they would have done it.

I mean, I think they were reading the electorate. And I think that it is baked in the cake the Democrats deeply, deeply dislike Donald Trump and want to beat him. And so, but they need to distinguish themselves from each other. Each of them will claim to --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And have a message that touches a little bit of the disaffection --

AXELROD: Yes.

CUOMO: -- that dismisses everything he does because they are worried about something bigger than his behavior.

BORGER: Right.

AXELROD: Yes.

BORGER: And --

CUOMO: You got to touch that.

AXELROD: No, no, you do.

BORGER: Well they did. But they all did it at the beginning when they were talking about impeachment and they were given an opportunity to do that. And to essentially get it out of the way before they started discussing --

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: The thing about --

BORGER: -- their differences with each other. But --

AXELROD: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

BORGER: No. But they want it to, you know, get that out of the way. Discuss their -- discuss -- and then go into their differences. I just wanted to, if you want to add to that, that's fine. I just want to switch to Bernie Sanders. So, I'll let you go and do that.

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: Yes. Before you do, because we should do that.

BORGER: OK.

AXELROD: But the thing about Joe Biden and the reason why there is a sense that maybe he could be the guy who beats Trump and the reason Trump obviously feels that way because he bought an impeachment trying to retard Biden's progress is that he is culturally akin to many of these disaffected voters.

BORGER: Sure.

AXELROD: You're talking about he's an establishment figure but culturally he comes from a different place. And he can speak to the voters in the --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And he's talking about spending less money.

BASH: Right.

CUOMO: I mean, I know we all hear it all the time.

(CROSSTALK) BASH: That was the --

CUOMO: Everything costs money that you're hearing from these Democrats. Is that what's going to resonate with people who feel --

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: But he also talks about --

CUOMO: -- that they are giving too much a route.

AXELROD: The dignity of this --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Absolutely, he does.

AXELROD: And I think a lot of Democrats are insensitive to the sense of estrangement that this --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: But Bernie is not.

AXELROD: -- and disdain that these voters feel.

BORGER: But Bernie Sanders --

CUOMO: Look, and the pivot on that is Bernie Sanders had been that candidate up until about --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And he's -- yes.

CUOMO: -- three months ago where he gets the anger, he gets --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And he still does. And he still does. But the Medicare for all which has become the talking point of every moderate. Which is you can't pay for it. How are you going to pay for it? I still think it's a real problem for him.

One thing I want to say about Bernie Sanders tonight who always by the way shows up and he's Bernie Sanders. He is.

AXELROD: He's done pretty well in that.

BORGER: The person you expect him to be. But we learned more about Bernie Sanders tonight. It was like his autobiography. He announced that he was proudly Jewish which was --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Proudly Jewish. BORGER: Proudly Jewish. That he lived in Israel.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: I've never heard him --

BORGER: That he lived in Israel --

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: Well, he's sort of --

BORGER: -- before he said --

AXELROD: -- making a point about --

BORGER: Well, before he said, before he said you must be pro- Palestinian as good.

JONES: It's good.

BORGER: But this was Bernie -- and I sat there and I thought wow, Bernie Sanders offered some --

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: I think we never talk about Bernie Sanders. He's actually doing pretty well in this polling. He's actually picked up and the fact is Bernie Sanders is as consistent --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Exactly.

[23:05:02]

AXELROD: -- as consistent can be. You know what he's going to say. I will say he's like a Billy Joel concert, you know, you hear the hits from the 80s, the 90s, the 2000s. Everybody knows the words and they sing along. But they love it and the (Inaudible) has got a very devoted following.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And that's comforting. And that's comforting.

BASH: But there is something -- there is something that's new. And I'm going to sing from Van Jones song sheet right now. And that is the ascendants, I wouldn't say, you know, very, very high but certainly enough to get him on this debate stage of Andrew Yang. Andrew Yang has very similar messaging. Not entirely. A very similar messaging on the forgotten man and woman to Bernie Sanders. But he does it in such a different kind of person --

(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: Dana and I experienced it firsthand. He was talking about the

biggest industrial revolution, you know, right now our fourth industrial revolution. What it means for young people.

AXELROD: Yes.

BORGER: Right.

CUOMO: What they need. And the cheap seats.

JONES: Yes.

CUOMO: Up top where the younger people were a lot of the students were loving it.

BASH: Exactly.

CUOMO: Yet Bernie breaks in because he realizes this is my lane. Says I want to go back and talk about the environment for a second. And they didn't like it. There were moans and groans.

AXELROD: Andrew Yang is at third place among young votes. He is competing with Bernie Sanders for the vote.

BASH: Yes.

AXELROD: And the way he talks about the economy is actually different because of what you said.

JONES: Right.

AXELROD: Because his explanation for what's going on is a very contemporary one.

CUOMO: And a private sector one.

AXELROD: Yes.

CUOMO: He has a real acumen of what works in the economy.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Absolutely. He does it with that but it's actually quite accessible.

AXELROD: Yes.

JONES: He is a threat to Pete in ways that I don't think we understand. He shows when Pete is telling. In other words, Pete tonight he got a little bit rattled. He was a little -- he was punching back Pete for a while. He did fight back. But he wasn't that optimistic happy warrior that he started with. He was a little bit more grim and determined. He needs to show that backbone but he was a little bit dower.

Andrew Yang brought the light. He brought the joy, he brought the funny. But he also brought really, really fresh ideas. Watch what happens with him. People have underestimated him from the very beginning. I think that he's doing something very, very extraordinary.

AXELROD: I think part of the difference --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Well, he's not -- he's not --

AXELROD: Go ahead.

BORGER: He's not talking from talking points.

JONES: Yes.

BORGER: This is somebody who is clearly thought about things. Digested things. Written a book as he told us. It's now going to be in all our mailboxes. But he is somebody who didn't just run for president because he wanted to be famous. He had ideas.

JONES: Ideas he's running on.

BORGER: And he had beliefs.

JONES: He has cause he's fighting for.

BORGER: And he decided OK, I'm going to give it a shot and he's the one who seems to be the most surprised and he's a joyful warrior.

JONES: Joyful.

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: He also mention he also speaks so I think authentically and movingly about his special needs' child. And I have a special needs child myself and I deeply, deeply appreciate it.

CUOMO: That was a huge point. Because when Yang said today, I mean talk about sometimes things hit you even though we've been through this so many times, so many iterations as journalists. Where it hits you with your own personal experience. When he said hey, I don't know how many of you are in schools out there, but having special needs is the new normal in this country.

AXELROD: Yes.

CUOMO: Boy, if you have a kid in public or private school, do you know that that is the truth? That there's such an expanded understanding. But it hasn't been met by our cultural understanding and how we deal with education. He was on point about that.

Now to the point that everybody seemed strong tonight, the mayor from South Bend had people coming at him in two directions. He had women candidates coming at him. And it was a test of how he deals with it. It's good to know. Let's see if it's the same magic of where I make the suggestion creates the candidate. And sure enough, here he is. Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you.

CUOMO: So tonight, on that stage, we've been saying we think you guys were at your best tonight.

BUTTIGIEG: Yes.

CUOMO: Is that about less seats for you? Is that about you knowing who Mayor Pete the candidate is? To what do you ascribe strong great performance tonight.

BUTTIGIEG: Well, it certainly feel like our campaign our message continues to get stronger as we go. And I think the contrasts among us are coming into focus as well. What you've got up there is a good faith contest among different ideas, different world views, different experiences. Each of us making the case for why what we bring would be the best.

My focus of course is on making that we are capable of defeating Donald Trump so resoundingly that it puts an end not just to the Trump White House but to Trumpism. And realizing that this is by definition not just a contest for the nomination, it's a contest to be the president for the day after Trump.

And focusing on policies that are going to solve the big problems. And do it in a way that can actually unify a frighteningly divided and polarized American people.

CUOMO: So, let's shadow a couple of the swings that were taken at you tonight. Amy Klobuchar, fair criticism that part of the downside of your, look, I'm not part of this Washington, D.C. insider game is the criticism she made that you don't respect our collective experience enough. You haven't been here to do it that's why you don't understand it. Fair criticism?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think the suggestion is that I don't understand the ways of Washington. Realities that I understand them, I just don't accept them. The American people are fed up with the way things are going in Washington. And I think we need to bring change. It might just be a good idea for that change to come from outside the beltway.

[23:10:03]

CUOMO: Her follow was he's smart, he's good. He doesn't win big enough. He won statewide. He didn't make it. He tried to be head of the party, he didn't make it. fair point?

BUTTIGIEG: Well here's the beauty of caucus, primary and election process. The best way to settle the question of whether you can win is to win.

CUOMO: Wine cave Pete. It's not the catchiest thing but it's working on Twitter right now. Let me play you a little sound for about that exchange. You take us through it from your perspective. BUTTIGIEG: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The mayor just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900 a bottle wine.

BUTTIGIEG: I'm literally the only person on the stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire.

Senator, your net worth is 100 times mine. Now supposing that you went home feeling the holiday spirit. I know this isn't likely but stay with me -- and decided to go on to Peteforamerica.com and give the maximum allowable by law, $2,800. Would that pollute my campaign because it came from a wealthy person? No. I would be glad to have that support.

WARREN: I do not sell access to my time.

BUTTIGIEG: Hold on a second.

WARREN: I don't do call time, it's millionaires and billionaires --

(CROSSTALK)

BUTTIGIEG: Sorry, as of when, Senator? Senator, your presidential campaign right now as we speak is funded in part by money you transferred having raised it at those exact same big-ticket fundraisers you now denounce.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, you did your homework on this.

BUTTIGIEG: Yes.

CUOMO: You knew the record. You knew it was going to come at some point. It came tonight. But you can't -- it's not good enough to be in a who's worse situation. What is your take about money in your campaign and how you get it and what the truth is of the reality of politics?

BUTTIGIEG: Well first of all, I'm the mayor of South Bend. That's not known as an establishment fundraising power house. I wouldn't be here if I hadn't worked a way to build grassroots support.

We got the better part of a million individuals who have given to this campaign. And last time I check our average contribution was 32 bucks. But I'm not going to define my campaign about who we exclude or who we reject.

This is a moment where we've got to bring together all of the resources that we can. Because I can tell you over on the other side, Donald Trump and his buddies they are not going to tie one hand behind their back. They've already put together over $300 million in order to keep their grip on power. They're just getting warmed up.

So, we got to go to this with everything that we've got. And the problem with this purity test is they distract from the effort to make sure that all of us bring everything that we can to the ultimate goal which is to defeat Donald Trump and set up the era that's going to come next.

CUOMO: All right. To the pros. Dana?

BASH: Well, I'm just curious about your prep for this. Because you knew that you had the incoming. You knew that you were going to get attacked from all of these opponents. I think you thought it was going happen the last debate. This time it happened. And you were ready to go.

I mean, did it feel different? Are we right about the fact that you clearly prepped in a big way for all of the -- and it's not just attack.

BUTTIGIEG: Yes.

BASH: It was the specifics from the fundraising to from Senator Warren to the fact that your experience is a, you know, very limited from Senator Klobuchar.

BUTTIGIEG: So, I think the bottom line is when you're doing well, folks might attack you. But you've just got to be ready to respond. I want to make sure that when my campaign or my ideas are attacked, I defend them. And you know, I think it's an honest debate up there about different ideas, different approaches. But I did think it was important that we move past the purity test, especially if they're coming from folks who wouldn't be able to pass them themselves.

BORGER: Well, when you said it was an honest debate, though. At one point you turn to Senator Warren and said, wait a minute, you're a millionaire and you're -- so, is she a hypocrite on this?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, my point is demonizing donors because they're millionaires is a strange thing to hear from a Democratic millionaire. I don't fault her. I don't have anything against her for having become wealthy. I'm saying that you can't say that and then contend that your campaign is somehow corrupted if you ever get support from wealthy Democrats.

CUOMO: Now the interesting thing here is, look, we all get the debate. We've heard it had, you know, for a generation and a half. I asked all of you guys the same question. When you were up there listening to it, do you guys think that you have your head on the fight that you're about to have when you get out of this.

Of course, every party has purity tests, we've all seen it. You've come to the convention. There's got to be a move back to the center because you have to be competitive.

This race is going to be different, Mr. Mayor. This man is the most judgment proof politician within his own party we've ever seen. BUTTIGIEG: Yes.

CUOMO: He can say and do whatever he wants. He will lose no one. You will not have that advantage. You will not have Democrats behind you that way. Do you believe the Democrats are ready for the fight you or someone will be in?

BUTTIGIEG: I think we know what we're up against. And so, I do believe that we cannot only rally Democrats together. But am meeting so many independents and a lot of folks who I'd like to think of this future former Republicans. They come up to me at events. I meet them all the time who would ordinarily vote Republican.

[23:15:05]

I'm not tricking them. They know that we disagree on quite a few things. But they know that the biggest thing we've got to do right now as a country is bring an end to the Trump presidency and restore some level of decently to the White House.

CUOMO: Disagreement with decency was on display there tonight. Do you think you can do that opposite President Trump?

BUTTIGIEG: Look, the reality is you can't deal with Trump by having some kind of equal and opposite energy. You've got to be able to absorb and redirect and change the energy he throws at you. If you're playing his game, if you're on his show, even when you're winning, you're losing by definition.

And so, what is going to take is to bring at every turn. I mean, when he lies, we got to call it out. When he does some wrong, we got to confront it.

CUOMO: When he bullies you.

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, sure. You got to stand up for yourself. But you've got to deny him his signature quality which is the ability to change the subject. Because I believe every election is about this question.

From a voter's perspective, how is my life going to be different if you are president instead of you? We have the better answers on that on issue after issue from wages to paid family leave to health. To even areas where my party has been on defense in the past like guns and immigration. The American people are with us. Which is exactly why he needs us talking not about their lives but about him.

CUOMO: We're pointing out, Gloria pointed out, Dana pointed it out. Of course, the men were oblivious to it when you were each asked would you give a gift or ask for forgiveness. The women only said they'd ask for forgiveness. The rest of you were about the gifts.

BUTTIGIEG: You know, I notice that too.

BORGER: We did.

BUTTIGIEG: And it's a -- I think there's an expect -- let me say this. Obviously, we, you know, we can each have our part in the debate, throw in elbow, defend ourselves. But no woman should ever have to apologize for being fired up.

JONES: That's right.

BUTTIGIEG: For being angry. Especially about what's going on right now.

JONES: That's right.

BUTTIGIEG: Or for getting hot under the collar. We all do. And it is very gendered. It's expected of men. As a matter of fact, it's probably the case as a male candidate that you'd be viewed as having something kind wrong with you if you didn't get hot enough under the collar.

And one of the many effects we still have in sexism in our politics is quite likely a different set of expectations for female candidates and leaders.

CUOMO: Well, you saw two great female leaders up there tonight holding their own setting pace some of the times. So certainly, you guys have that part of the mix.

BUTTIGIEG: Women rights is what I'm actually going to say.

CUOMO: Right. Don. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much. Best for the holidays you and your husband and your family.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.

CUOMO: We'll see you again soon.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.

CUOMO: Congratulations on tonight.

BUTTIGIEG: Thanks very much.

BORGER: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Let's take a little bit of a break. We've been lucky here. We had two of the people who made very strong cases, and Senator Klobuchar and, of course, Mayor Buttigieg.

We're going to take a breather. When we come back, we'll have more coverage live from Los Angeles. We're trying to choral the candidates and figure out what resonated tonight. So, stay with CNN.

[23:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. We're back here in Los Angeles with our continuing coverage of the sixth Democratic debate. It was strong tonight. There was disagreement with decency. Is that the winning message for Democrats?

One of the people who certainly made gain today especially if you ask Van Jones but only because he wants to give himself credit for knowing that Andrew Yang would make a move. And now he joins us.

Andrew Yang, thank you very much. So, your analysis. Fewer people up there is that the end of the analysis of why people seemed on their game tonight? Or do you think it's also finding your footing?

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a different dynamic. I have to say seven is a lot more compacted than 10. And so, you felt like the ball was going to come to you pretty quickly each time. I certainly enjoyed this dynamic much more.

CUOMO: Forget about better worse, smarter or less. Why do you think you speak about economics and movement of industry and evolution of industry in a different way than other people up there?

YANG: Well, I spend seven years running a national non-profit that helped create thousands of jobs in primarily the Midwest and the south. So, doing that work led me to see firsthand the impact of automation in many of these communities.

It's a little bit like if you want to try and convince some of the climate change you might bring them to a glacier in Alaska. If you want to convince some about the impact of automation you might bring them to Detroit or Cleveland or one of those cities.

So, I did that work for seven years, plus I'm a numbers guy. And they numbers are staggering. I also understand technology much better than the other candidates, frankly. And technology is now transforming our economy in more and more powerful and fundamental ways.

CUOMO: How do you deal with the fact that the reality of the tech sector of the private sector is often ahead of government?

YANG: No. My gosh.

CUOMO: But it's about you've got to speak their language. And you have to understand. Look, Schwarzenegger has a great quote on this. That he was used to getting things done in the private sector investing, moving and not just movies. He got in the government and he learned I've got to speak their language. I've got to build a coalition of where their heads are at on this or there is no progress. How do you do that?

YANG: Well, we all know that D.C. is 25 years behind on technology. We literally got rid of the office of technology assessment in 1995. So, we have to play catch up as quickly as possible.

Because with the rate of change you can't afford to be decades behind the curve. You might have been able to get away with that at earlier points in our history. But it's gone from being dangerous to disastrous very, very quickly.

I believe I can help us play catch up. And when I sat with the technologists in Silicon Valley some of them said something to me that you would not expect. They said we actually need government regulation and government input on this because we're making these decisions that we should not be making.

And one of them actually said that all of their incentives on artificial intelligence are going as fast as possible, and eventually they're going to do something deeply, deeply problematic if that's their incentive.

CUOMO: Now I want to open it up to the floor of the better minds here. But two things I thought really stood out tonight. One is that you said something that's so true for parents. You have a kid who's on the autism spectrum, has special needs you said, but that's the new normal. Is that everybody seems to need something.

Boy, that resonated with the room even with me has a kid -- with kids in lower school, middle school and high school.

[23:24:58]

But then you were ready. Of course, you were the only minority group represented, although you could really add women in that. You were ready for the question. You immediately turned it away from yourself in a way that was very non-normal for a politician.

And you had statistics ready to telescope the issue into an argument about African-American, Latino and emerging. So, you knew it was coming. Why go that way? Let me play it in case people missed it at here.

YANG: Sure.

CUOMO: Here's what I'm talking about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YANG: It's both an honor and disappointment to be the lone candidate of color on the stage tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

YANG: I grew up the son of immigrants and I had many racial epithets used against me as a kid. But black and Latinos have something much more powerful working against them than words. They have numbers.

The average net worth of a black household only 10 percent that of a white household. for Latinos it's 12 percent. These are the numbers that define race in our country. And the question is why am I the lone candidate of color on this stage?

Fewer than 5 percent of Americans donate to political campaigns. You know what you need to donate to political campaigns? Disposable income.

(APPLAUSE) YANG: The way we fix it -- the way we fix this is we take Martin Luther King's message of a guaranteed minimum income, a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month for all Americans. I guarantee if we had a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month, I would not be the only candidate of color on the stage tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The Yang gang in full effect in the cheap seats of the students. When you said that you were mothing (Ph) it up. Making America think harder. Why did you instead of doing what a lot of politicians would do which was kind of milk it. You know, about what it means about me and this is about me. And I'm an Asian-American and this is what about our way. You telescoped it. Why?

YANG: Well, I would never put my experience growing up Asian-American and somehow frame that as representative of the experience of over 120 million Americans of color. Particularly because the Asian-American experience is distinct from the black experience and the Latino experience.

And it was 100 percent natural for me to try and give that perspective. No one wants to hear a sob story about some Asian kid, you know, getting like picked on for being scrawny. I mean, frankly, like no one cares. And they shouldn't care. Maybe they should care a tiny bit. Because I've got two Asian kids who are also, you know, a little bit scrawny.

CUOMO: Let's see whatever -- what's the rest of the floor have here?

BASH: I actually do have a question. At the very beginning of the debate, the questions were about impeachment. And I spent time with you in Iowa last month. You mention this to me there and you said it again now and it's even more relevant. And that is the Democrats are spending way too much time on impeachment.

Now that the president has been impeached and it's heading to the Senate for a trial do you still feel that way?

YANG: I've been campaigning non-stop since we spent time together in Iowa.

BASH: Yes.

YANG: I can't even remember anyone asking me a question about impeachment.

JONES: Right.

YANG: Americans are not focused on this in the same way that the networks are. And to me, there's just a crucial number of zero. That's the number of Republicans that have signaled that they are going to cross party lines and you need 20 in the Senate. So, until that number becomes greater than zero, unfortunately, this does seems like a foregone conclusion.

BASH: And it's -- and do you still think it's hurting your party and whomever the candidate who goes up against Trump will be?

YANG: I was disappointed that I seem to have the lone difference of opinion up there where everyone else was signaling impeachment, impeachment. And when I talk to Americans a lot of them are saying look, I don't care as much about impeachment as the fact that I'm choosing between my drugs and my heating oil. Or that my kid is depressed. Like those are the issues that voters tell me that they are focused on rightfully so.

BORGER: But you say -- you said you will have to stop being obsessed. Was the word you used. Obsessed over impeachment. Is that the media you're saying as obsessed as impeachment? I mean, this is the President of the United States who was impeached yesterday by the House.

CUOMO: It's OK. They can take it.

BORGER: Yes, you can, you know.

YANG: No, no. Well, you can't blame a TV network for saying impeachment is --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: No, no.

YANG: -- like the news of the day like all the time.

BORGER: Sure.

YANG: Like -- and it is historic. As a candidate running for president, I need to be talking about things that are different from impeachment.

BORGER: Do you think it will it affect votes of moderates who might vote Republican might vote Democrat. I mean, do you see it affecting --

(CROSSTALK)

YANG: What I see it doing --

BORGER: -- the election?

YANG: -- is reinforcing polarization. And it's also a missed opportunity for candidates to present a unifying vision of the country that can peel off people who are independent or disaffected Trump voters.

AXELROD: So, Andrew, you're making a marketing argument. And you're making -- and it's a sensible one. But what do you do -- I mean, there's a constitutional argument as well.

[23:30:00]

And do you not pursue so blatant violations of the constitution on the oath of office, if you -- if there's not an interest among in the market for it? I mean, where do you draw the line? How do you make those judgments?

ANDREW YANG, AMERICAN ENTREPRENEUR AND PHILANTHROPIST, 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm pro-impeachment. I think that, Nancy Pelosi did the right thing by moving it forward. I will -- would say that I would be much more excited about impeachment if they manage to wrangle a Republican or two, before they decided to leave the station. Because it is a very poor message to the country where you have -- virtually all the Democrats on one side and virtually all the Republicans on the other. But -- I agree that Democrats did the right thing by moving forward.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A lot of people are talking about impeachment. Nobody is talking about artificial intelligence and the actual national security threat that China's moving in that direction poses. Nobody is talking about putting real cash in people's pockets. People talking about jobs, people got a bunch of jobs and it ain't got no money.

You were somebody who brought completely fresh thinking. Because you are so future focused. But you also have this grip on American history as well. And you're starting to move. Why are you -- why do you think you've been able to survive? You have now out lasted governors, Senators. Billionaires. People in the House of Representatives. People who are household names are not on that stage. You are on the stage. Why?

YANG: I think, because we're having a conversation that Americans recognize. As the truth of what's happening in their community. We blasted away 40,000 manufacturing jobs in Iowa alone. And Iowa went to Trump by eight points. And this is playing out now on main streets around the country where Amazon is closing 30 percent of our stores and malls and being a retail clerk, the most common job in this communities. I have had the same message the entire time. And it's broken through to the American people that these are the real problems and we have real solutions.

JONES: You have got support from somebody who I didn't think you would ever get the support of. I didn't think any politician would, Donald Glover. You know, Childish Gambino, a hip hop legend. He comes out, he doesn't come out for Cory Booker. He doesn't come out for Kamala Harris. He doesn't come out for Obama, Biden. He comes out for you. And more are coming. There is something that is being shift around you. How did you get Childish Gambino on the Yang gang?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You stole my question.

(LAUGHTER)

Go ahead we know --

YANG: This is a thrill for me. Because I'm a huge Donald Glover fan. I was like, no way. This is crazy. So, someone on his team reached out to an agent that we knew in common and then said hey, next time you're in L.A. Donald wants to sit down with you. And we talk about our concerns and vision for the future. And we found that we were very, very aligned. And then from there we talk about different ways to collaborate. And I'm thrilled to be working with someone who sees the future as clearly as Donald does.

JONES: You're starting to steal from different parts of the Democratic Party coalition. Moderate, young blacks and others. I just think that I'm proud to see that you're starting to prove with a smaller stage you can get your argument across.

CUOMO: Let's see where it goes. Andrew Yang, the best to you and your family for the holidays.

YANG: Thank you all. You too.

Huge fan of these people. Real pros.

CUOMO: And just as a point of fact, not a little guy, 6'2, about 200 pounds. Not a little guy.

(LAUGHTER)

All right. We are going to take a break right now. After we take the break we are going to come back. Part of our live coverage will be, another candidate who made a lot of head way on the stage tonight, Senator Elizabeth Warren. Next. Stay with CNN. Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:35:00]

CUOMO: All right. A very strong night here at the sixth Democratic debate here at LMU in Los Angeles. We're joined by Senator Elizabeth Warren. Thank you.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), 2020 U.S. DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: Thank you.

CUOMO: In advance Merry Christmas for you and the family.

WARREN: Thank you.

CUOMO: It was an interesting night tonight. One of the skills, a great debater must have is how to change a perceived negative into a positive. You did that several times. One that stood out was this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Warren, you would be the oldest president ever inaugurated. I'd like you to weigh in as well.

WARREN: I'll also be the youngest woman ever inaugurated.

(CHEERS)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: It's always good when the candidate is pleased with their own answer.

(LAUGHTER)

WARREN: I was enjoying the laughter.

CUOMO: The meaning of age, of viability, of strength. What have you learned about what it takes to win and lead?

WARREN: You know, I think of this in the context of this historic moment. The president of the United States was just impeached yesterday. And he was impeach, because of corruption. It's been going on throughout his administration, right?

He's had ambassador ships for sale. His been helping out his wealthy buddies. He goes around the government. He puts everyone's interest ahead of the interest of the people of the United States of America. And I think, the way that Democrats are going to be able to beat Donald Trump is to draw a sharp contrast on that as possible.

So, he's the corrupt one, we have to be able to say credibly we're out there fighting for the American people. We're fighting for folks who are struggling to pay student loans. We are fighting for the folks who can't rustle up child care. We are fighting for the folks who can't pay their medical bills. That's the distinction between us.

CUOMO: One policy point. One political point. We will open it on the floor. On the political side, you were talking to Pete Buttigieg tonight -- and I use the verb talking, because there was disagreement with decency. WARREN: Yes.

CUOMO: And I think that was good for the audience to see certainly ever (inaudible) to us. The idea of how he gets his money. He was ready for you to say that and he came back at you about what you've done in the past. And you are no different than he is. And why would you ignore the reality of the system. Were you ready for his response and do you think he made a good point?

WARREN: You know. I just fundamentally disagree. When I made the decision to get into this race, it was because I see a government that for decades has worked a little better and a little better and little better for those with money.

[23:40:10]

And worked worse and worse for everyone else. Look at one of the economy questions we got that I was waving my hand on. And didn't get to talk about. But the fact that GDP going up in this country. Record corporate profit. Yes, no kidding, you know why? It didn't happen just because of gravity. It happened because government just piece at a time made the world just a little nicer.

CUOMO: But those are the rules. So did you. He transferred that money the same way I did.

WARREN: Why did the rules just keep working better and better and better for those folks in a democracy?

CUOMO: Because money wins in Washington.

WARREN: Because money wins in Washington. We have to be willing and ready to credibly make the case that that's not who we are.

CUOMO: Are you better than Pete when it comes to money in the campaign?

WARREN: I have made it clear since the day I got in this race, my time is not for sale.

CUOMO: Is his?

WARREN: I don't hold close door fundraisers.

CUOMO: That was wasn't close door, you know, there was full representatives of sort of a media there.

WARREN: Oh, not at the dinner.

CUOMO: Oh, yes there was.

WARREN: No, I don't think that's right. I don't think there were people in the dinner.

CUOMO: The pool there was a pool there to cover it.

WARREN: The dinner, they were serving, the $900 wine. That is my understanding. They were at a reception but not at the dinner. And when the 50 donors who got the $900 bottle of wine in the wine cave --

CUOMO: So, you think having media there in the front part is not enough? It should be open the whole time.

WARREN: It means that nobody knows what was said behind closed doors.

CUOMO: I hear you on that.

WARREN: Now, he's opened his fundraisers right?

He said he opened them before that. But look, this is about how we're going to behave as Democrats. And whether we're going to be able to say credibly to the American people, I'm not here to fight for the billionaires. I'm not here to fight for the big corporations. I'm here to fight for a family like yours. I'm here to fight for your family.

JONES: How do you respond though when Pete says, you're a millionaire? You are a millionaire. Are you saying if I take money from you, I'm corrupt? I didn't hear you respond to that. If I run for office, but I will never will and I took money from you, would I be corrupt? WARREN: I said, I don't sell access to my time. So whether you give

me $5 or whatever is the maximum. I'm not spending my time doing call time. I'm not spending my time having private conversations with you.

JONES: Are you worried about these whole idea --

WARREN: I'm selling a photograph for $5,000.

JONES: Well said. But are you worried, you know, when he says a thing, when he says thing purity test. That resonates with me. I do feel that there's something begin to happen in the party where you got to be pure on every issue, you got to be above and a lot of people start feeling left out and excluded by your kind of populism which can sometimes sound elitist? Would that make sense to you?

WARREN: You know, that's now how I see it. I don't think the American people are looking for purity. I think they are looking for someone who is trying. And that's what I'm doing. I'm out there trying. I said, I'm going to run a campaign from grass roots donation. I suppose that point I' supposed to say, please go to Elizabeth Warren.com and pitch in 5 bucks if you think that's how a campaign should run. I do call time. Do you know who I called in my last call time? A couple of people who gave 5 bucks each. Somebody who gave 20 bucks. Because --

AXELROD: Senator, you didn't answer Chris's question which is for six years you did raise money that way.

WARREN: Sure.

AXELROD: Did you feel corrupted by the money you were raising?

WARREN: I saw what it is that people expect in return. And I also understand --

AXELROD: But you didn't give it.

WARREN: I understand that the American people who watch this government worked better and better and better. For giant corporations and for rich people. Want to hear someone who credibly can say I will take on the billionaires. I will fight to beat back the influence of money in Washington. I'm building a grass roots movement and you know what the number one thing we start with this, is anticorruption. I'm the biggest anti-corruption plan since Watergate. And it's about campaign contribution and so much more.

AXELROD: One last question.

WARREN: Sure.

AXELROD: He made -- the point he made at the end was the amount of money that is going to be thrust behind the Trump campaign and the Republican campaign. It's probably going to be historic. And is it responsible to disarm in the face of that and limit the amount of money that you can raise and spend?

CUOMO: Buttigieg said the Democrats are going to tie one hand behind their back if they continue on your road.

WARREN: Look, I have never asked other Democrats who are running against a Republican to unilaterally disarm. I don't believe in doing that. But I'm telling you how I run my campaign. I'm running it with the grass roots movement. Because here's the thing, you can only spend so much money on TV ads versus TV ads. So much money on internet ad vs. Internet ads. Do you know what our comparative advantage it's going to be as Democrats?

[23:45:16]

It's going to be the grass roots movement we build. The one thing that beats out the fake stuff that comes in over the internet or that comes across the air waves. It's face to face. It's hearing from the neighbor. It's somebody who knocks on your door. Somebody who makes a phone call. It's somebody who reaches out, at your church or somebody reaches out while you're waiting at the bus stop for the kids to get picked up for school.

We have to do this by grass roots movement. If we are going to take this country back and make it work for the people. We got to build this one from the bottom up. And here's the thing. Here's why I'm so joyous at this moment. We have an opportunity in 2020 that's not like an opportunity we have seen in a long, long time. Donald Trump has taken a corrupt system and made it so much more corrupt. That millions of people are now off the sideline. Millions of people are saying I'm in the fight and the door has opened a crack. When the door opens a crack, put your shoulder down and run hard it and let's make (inaudible).

CUOMO: All right, let me take this crack in the door right now. Dana, you have another question?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: OK.

WARREN: Hi, Dana.

BASH: Hi, So, big picture, the fight, the debate over who the nominee is going to be is still very much a philosophical one. Is it you or somebody like you who talks about revolutionary ideas and making sweeping change? Or somebody who says that's not realistic, we will not win because the Republicans the president will destroy us with ideas like that. Do you feel now that the debate stage was smaller, you know, we're getting closer to the actual votes. How do you think that that debate is playing out right now?

WARREN: So, I think what's unrealistic is to offer more of the same businesses as usual. And think you're going to inspire people to get out and vote.

BASH: But some people are scared. If they're not hard core Democrat. And they are thinking, I don't like Donald Trump, I might be interested in a Democrat. And what Elizabeth Warren is saying scares me. What do you say?

WARREN: I'm thinking of Democrats, independents and Republicans. Who are ready for an anticorruption bill? I'm not talking about folks in Washington. I'm talking about folks across these nation. Democrats, independents and Republicans who support a two cent wealth tax? Democrats, independents and Republicans who want to see us increase social security payment. I have got that $200 a month for everybody on social security and disability. Start with the things that we agree on. That's how we can win. We can win the Democrats. We can win the independents and we are going to scratch off a lot of the Republicans.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: How about those Democrats who don't want to give up the healthcare that they have? For a Medicare for all plan. Which would make them change. I mean, aren't they scared of that maybe what Dana's referring to.

WARREN: Look, 36 million Americans didn't have a prescription filled last year. Because they can't afford it. And a lot of those people have health insurance. But people are just getting crushed by the deductibles, by the co-pays. Fees are going up. Expenses that are not covered. So, here's my plan, as to say as president, I will do as much as I can as quickly as I can for as many people as I can. I'll tell you what, I'm going to start with -- I'm going to start by standing up to the big drug companies. I'm going to bring down the cost of Epipen and insulin. That going to (inaudible).

BORGER: What if I don't want to change my plan?

WARREN: That's where we are going to start. That's going to save people hundreds of millions of dollars across this country.

JONES: I have a question about the --

CUOMO: You changed on this though, do you acknowledge that? That you have changed the sell on your plan to meet concerns that are expressed here about price tag and about musts. I think the most recent iteration Senator was, we are going to try this if people want to try this then they can. Optionality as opposed to, yes, you have to give up your insurance. Yes, it has to be this way. Was that intentional? Or you just give in to the pushback.

WARREN: I support Medicare for all. This has been my transition plan since I first laid it out. It's to give the maximum amount of help to the maximum number of people as quickly as we can. And to do that without raising taxes on middle class families by one penny.

JONES: Hey, listen, I do think that I like that sales pitch better. So, it's under lying thing is good. It sound better when you say it now. But you keep talking about corruption, corruption, corruption. Do you think that Joe Biden now is wounded by this Burisma, the whole thing? They seem to be trying to tag Joe Biden as corrupt. Do you think that because of the fire that he's taking, that he is now incapable of leading this anticorruption effort the way you are?

[23:50:05]

WARREN: But I think that what the president has tried to do to Joe Biden is despicable. And I think most Americans agree with that.

JONES: But has it wounded him?

WARREN: I don't think so. I don't think so. I think Joe is strong on this point. But understand this, when we talk about corruption in the system, we have to talk about whether or not someone is going to be willing to stand up to the big drug companies, to stand up to big ag.

JONES: But not just willing in fact, but willing in terms of their images, in terms of the peoples' understanding. So, Joe Biden has a son that did take a job that seems kind of weird, and does that make him less -- is he now incapable of carrying the argument to the American people, I'm against corruption because of his son?

WARREN: Look, as I've said from the beginning, we're going to have to make a credible argument that we are willing to stand up to giant corporations --

JONES: Can Biden do it?

WARREN: I think that I am the best person to do this. This is why I'm running for president. And remember this, because you and I know this. We've been talking about this. This is what I talked about on the first day I ran for president.

JONES: And before that.

WARREN: And before that. I put out the biggest anticorruption plan since Watergate. Because the problem of money in Washington, sure, it's about campaign contributions, but it is also about lobbying and lawyers, and P.R. firms and bought and paid for experts and so-called think tanks that just keep pushing Congress in exactly one direction. And that is just a little something for the rich. Just a little exception for the well-to-do, just a little nibble, a few word changes for the giant banks, for big AG, for big tech.

And understand this. People talk about gridlock in Washington. There's no gridlock in Washington. Keep in mind that when they wanted to pass a tax break of a trillion and a half dollars, got it, done in no time at all. Five weeks? Six weeks? But here's the deal. They don't pass anything else. Why? Because not passing anything helps big oil. Even though we see climate change bearing down on us.

Not passing anything helps big pharma, because they just keep charging prices that are through the roof. Not passing anything helps the gun industry, because that means we're not fighting back. All of it, over and over and over is about an unwillingness to confront money and power in Washington. It's time to make this government work not for those at the top but everyone else and that's why I'm in this race.

AXELROD: Can I just ask one thing?

WARREN: Sure.

AXELROD: Just about this Biden thing, why do you think the president went to such extraordinary lengths to sully Joe Biden, the lengths that have landed him now in front of you as a juror under impeachment? Why did he feel Biden was such a threatening candidate? WARREN: You know, look, I can't get into the head of Donald Trump.

That's just -- that's a really horrible place to go. I think that Donald Trump looks out for Donald Trump. And he looks out for Donald Trump's closest buddies who give him total loyalty, and he looks out for the other billionaires because he thinks they've got a whole bro thing going on. That's what Donald Trump does. And if he had to step on a cute little kitten to get something done that would help himself --

AXELROD: he obviously feared Biden as a candidate didn't he?

WARREN: He saw an opportunity and he took it.

CUOMO: Senator Warren, let me take this opportunity, I know time is short up here. Thank you for being with us. I appreciate it.

WARREN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Again, an advanced Merry Christmas to you and your family. Congratulations on the debate. And thank you for being with us tonight.

WARREN: Thank you, it's good to be.

CUOMO: Congratulation on the debate.

WARREN: Thank you. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So, we've been lucky here, we've had some of the main players from the debate stage tonight. Let's talk about the implications, their answers afterwards, and what it lets us know about where these campaigns are headed. Stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:55:00]

CUOMO: All right. Thank you for following our continuing coverage of what happened out here in Los Angeles tonight, the sixth Democratic debate. It was very interesting. Seven tonight made a difference. There was a lot more exchange. It helped people to know they didn't have to fight for time the same way and points were made. Joining us now, Tom Steyer. Good to have you.

TOM STEYER, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Chris, good to see you.

CUOMO: greeting advance, best for the holidays to you and the family, Merry Christmas. You made the important point of saying Christmas. I like Christmas. Very good. Very good to (inaudible) Christmas. The president thinks he brought it back, but it's always been here. It's good to hear that.

Now, we thought this was your Christmas tie but you wear it all the time. It's become a little bit of your signature. Your other signature up on the stage is, I know the economy better than these people with all due respect, so to win on the economy you can't do it from the Washington perspective. That's how Trump beat you. I'm the only one who can go toe for toe. You get eye rolls across the board from your fellow competitors from the party. Why are you right and they're wrong?

STEYER: Look, I think we know how Mr. Trump is going to run for president because he said it last week. You know, he was talking to, I think, the Israeli American conference of Americans and he said, you don't like me and I don't like you, but you're all going to vote for me because if the Democrats get in control they're going to destroy the economy in 15 minutes. That's how he's going to run for president.

So, whoever is going to be the Democratic nominee, he's going to be on stage saying that and we're going to have to be able to take him out because he's a fake. He hasn't been good for the American economy. He wasn't a successful business person. He's a fake. He's been terrible for the American people on the economy and we have to talk about what it would look like to have true prosperity for Americans, not fake prosperity.

CUOMO: All right, here's the rebound. You say fake prosperity, 55 percent of people, his highest positive rating on the economy.

STEYER: Right.

CUOMO: You ask Americans are you better off than four years ago, the numbers are high on the positive side. They see him in a way that he has a grip on his Party.

END