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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN's Democratic Presidential Debate. Aired 10-11:10p ET
Aired January 14, 2020 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KLOBUCHAR: You have numerous governors that are Democratic that don't support this. You have numerous House members that put Nancy Pelosi in as speaker.
The answer is a nonprofit public option. The answer is -- the real debate we should be having is how do we make it easier for people to get coverage for addiction and mental health. I have a plan for that.
And then, finally, what should we do about long-term care? The elephant that doesn't even fit in this room. We need to make it easier for people to get long-term care insurance. We need to make it easier for them to pay for their premiums.
My own dad, I know when his long-term care insurance ends, and then we have some savings for him. He's in assisted living. He got married three times -- whole other story -- so there isn't much there.
But then we go to Medicaid, and I've already talked to Catholic Elder Care.
PHILLIP: Thank you.
KLOBUCHAR: They're willing to take him in. Our story is better than so many other families. We have to make it easier for long-term care.
PHILLIP: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: It's not just for seniors. It's also for the sandwich generation.
PHILLIP: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: People trying to help their parents.
PHILLIP: Senator Warren?
WARREN: So we need to start with what's happening in America. People are suffering. I'll just pick one: 36 million people last year went to the doctor, got a prescription, this is what they needed to get well, and they couldn't afford to have the prescription filled. They looked at it and said it's either groceries or this prescription. My approach to this is we've got to get as much as help to as many
people as quickly as possible. I have worked out a plan where we can do that without raising taxes on middle-class families by one thin dime.
What I can do are the things I can do as president on the first day. We can cut the cost of prescription drugs. I'll use the power that's already given to the president to reduce the cost of insulin and EpiPens and HIV-AIDS drugs. Let's get some relief to those families. And I will defend the Affordable Care Act.
I've got a plan to expand health care, but let's keep in mind, when we come to a general election, we Democrats may argue among each other about the best way to do health care, but we're going to be up against a Republican incumbent who has cut health care for millions of people and is still trying to do that. I'll take our side of the argument any day. We're going to beat him on this.
PHILLIP: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Warren. Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: The proposal I lay out does, in fact, limit drug cost. It sets up -- it allows all the drug companies -- excuse me, it allows you to -- Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for the price. It sets a system whereby you cannot raise the price of a drug beyond the cost of medical inflation. And by the way, there's mental health parity that I call for in the Obamacare expanded with the Biden option.
PHILLIP: Mr. Steyer?
STEYER: Look, we've had this conversation on this stage so many times. Everybody on this stage believes that affordable health care is a right for every single American. Everybody on this stage knows that Americans are paying twice as much for health care as any other advanced country in the world. And it makes no sense and the government has to step in.
I do happen to agree with Vice President Biden that we should move and develop the Affordable Care Act with a public option. But the real question is this. This is not a new problem. Why do we keep having this conversation? We have a broken government. It has been bought by corporations that include the drug companies, the insurance companies, and the private hospitals.
That's what I'm talking about. How do we get back government of, by, and for the people? How do we actually break...
PHILLIP: Thank you.
STEYER: ... the corporate stranglehold on our government so that we can get any of these things passed?
PHILLIP: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Steyer. Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
Senator Sanders, your campaign proposals would double federal spending over the next decade, an unprecedented level of spending not seen since World War II. How would you keep your plans from bankrupting the country?
SANDERS: No, our plan wouldn't bankrupt the country. And, in fact, it would much improve the well-being of working-class families and the middle class.
Let us be clear what Medicare for all does. It ends all premiums. It ends all copayments. It ends the absurdity of deductibles. It ends out-of-pocket expenses. It takes on the pharmaceutical industry, which in some cases charges us 10 times more for the same prescription drugs sold abroad as sold here.
What we will do through a Medicare for all single-payer program is substantially lower the cost of health care for employers and workers, because we end the $100 billion a year that the health care industry makes and the $500 billion a year we spend in administrative -- the administrative nightmare of dealing with thousands of separate insurance plans.
Health care is a human right. Every other major country on Earth is guaranteeing health care for all.
The time is long overdue for us to do the same.
PHILLIP: Senator Klobuchar?
KLOBUCHAR: Again, I think it is much better to build on the Affordable Care Act. And if you want to be practical and progressive at the same time and have a plan and not a pipedream, you have to show how you're going to pay for it.
And I would also note practically that the Affordable Care Act right now is 10 points more popular than the president of the United States. So I think the answer is to build on it.
And, yes, I think you should show how you're going to pay for things, Bernie. I do. This president is treating people out there like poker chips in one of his bankrupt casinos the way he is adding to our debt.
I am the one person up here who has on her website in her plan a plan to actually start taking on the deficit, by taking part of that money from that corporate tax cut that they put in there and putting it in a fund to pay back the deficit.
PHILLIP: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: And I have shown how I'm going to pay for every single plan...
PHILLIP: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: ... capital gains tax going to the personal level, getting rid of oil giveaways. PHILLIP: Let's move on.
KLOBUCHAR: Doing something about the hedge fund loophole. You can go through...
PHILLIP: Senator Klobuchar, your time is up. Let's move on to the next question.
KLOBUCHAR: ... and we can get the money to pay for things.
PHILLIP: Mayor Buttigieg, you're selling your plan as Medicare for all who want it, yet your plan would automatically enroll uninsured Americans into a public option, even if they don't want it, and force them to pay for it. How is that truth in advertising?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, it's making sure that there is no such thing as an uninsured American. Look, the individual mandate was an important part of the ACA because the system doesn't work if there are free riders.
What I'm offering is a choice. You don't have to be in my plan if there's another plan that you would rather keep. And there's no need to kick Americans off the plans that they want in order to deliver health care for all.
And my plan is paid for. Look, our party should no longer hesitate to talk about the issue of the debt and the deficit. Now, we've got a dramatically better track record on it than Republicans do. In my lifetime, it's almost invariably Republican presidents who have added to the deficit, a trillion dollars under this president. And it's why everything I've put forward -- from Medicare for all who want it to the historic investments we're going to make in infrastructure to dealing with climate change -- is fully paid for.
When it comes to health care, you can do it in two moves. Of course, my plan costs $1.5 trillion over a decade. No small sum. But not the $20 trillion, $30 trillion, $40 trillion that we're hearing about from the others. All you've got to do is two things, both of them are commonsense. Allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and roll back the Trump corporate tax cuts that went to corporations and the wealthy that didn't even need it.
PHILLIP: Senator Warren?
WARREN: So I started this by talking about 36 million Americans, including Americans with insurance, who just can't even afford to have a prescription filled. We all talk about plans, health care plans that we have, and these plans are paid for.
The problem is that plans like the mayor's and like the vice president's is that they are an improvement. They are an improvement over where we are right now. But they're a small improvement. And that's why it is that they cost so much less, because by themselves, they're not going to be enough to cover prescriptions for 36 million people who can't afford to get them filled.
What we need to do is make the commitment that we know where the money comes from. We can ask those at the very top, the top 1 percent, to pay a little more. Those giant corporations like Chevron and Amazon who paid nothing in taxes, we can have them pay. And we can go after the corporate tax cheats. And when we do that, we have enough money to provide health care for all our people.
Yes, we build on the Affordable Care Act, but where we end up is we offer health care to all of our people. And we can offer it at no cost or low cost to all of them.
PHILLIP: Mayor Buttigieg?
BUTTIGIEG: It's just not true that the plan I'm proposing is small. We've got to move past a Washington mentality that suggests that the bigness of plans only consists of how many trillions of dollars they put through the Treasury, that the boldness of a plan only consists of how many Americans it can alienate.
This would be a game-changer. This would be the biggest thing we've done to American health care in a half-century. Let's measure the effects of our plans based on what they would do in our everyday lives.
And, yes, we're taking on cost. On prescription drugs, we'll have an out-of-pocket cap, even if you don't get the subsidies that would make it free, a $250 monthly cap. And here's why it's got to be monthly. You ever been in that situation or known somebody who finds that they've got to defer a procedure or delay filling a prescription to try to have it happen in the right month because of when your out-of- pocket cap hits?
It makes no sense medically because most of us don't experience the economy on an annual basis. Our bills don't come in every year. They come in every month. Same with our paychecks, biweekly or monthly.
PHILLIP: Thank you.
BUTTIGIEG: That's why we set this up in a way to solve the problem without running up $20 trillion, $30 trillion, $40 trillion bills.
PHILLIP: Thank you, Mayor Buttigieg. Senator Warren, your response?
WARREN: Look, the numbers that the mayor is offering just don't add up. The average family in America last year paid $12,000 in some combination of deductibles and co-pays and uncovered expenses and fees. You can't cover that with the kind of money that the mayor is talking about.
The way we have to approach this is we've got to build this and we've got to build the alliances to make this happen. I can bring down the cost of prescription drugs like insulin and take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the system immediately in costs. We can get help to families.
But we have to be willing to work together. We can let people experience what health care is like when it's you and your doctor, your mental health professional, your nurse practitioner, with no insurance company standing in the middle.
PHILLIP: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Warren.
WARREN: When people try it and use it, then...
PHILLIP: Senator Klobuchar?
KLOBUCHAR: Senator Warren, you acknowledged that Medicare for all -- that you couldn't get there right away. You got on the bill that said on page eight, which is why I didn't get on it, that you would kick 149 million Americans off their current health insurance. Then, a few months ago, you said, no, you're going to wait a while to get there.
And I think that was some acknowledgment that maybe what we're talking about is true. And I don't buy that it's not enough. It is a big, big step to say to people making $100,000 that your premiums will be cut in half, which is what the nonprofit public option will do.
And as you talk, Mayor Buttigieg, about Medicare and having negotiation, I actually have led that bill for years. I have 34 cosponsors. As president, I can get it done. That would allow Medicare to finally negotiate and lift the ban that big pharma got into law that says they can't negotiate for better prices for our seniors.
KLOBUCHAR: I will get it done.
PHILLIP: Senator Sanders, coming to you now. CNN reached out to Iowa Democratic voters for their most pressing questions. Edward from here in Des Moines writes, "Des Moines is an insurance town. What happens to all the insurance industry -- the health insurance industry here if there is Medicare for all? What happens to all the jobs and the livelihoods of the people that live in insurance towns like Des Moines?"
SANDERS: We build in to our Medicare for all program a transition fund of many, many billions of dollars that will provide for up to five years income and health care and job training for those people.
But here is the issue. Tom Steyer made the point a moment ago. We are now spending twice as much per person on health care as do the people of any other country. That is insane. In some cases, 10 times more for prescription drugs. Why is that? Why is that? And the answer is: the greed and corruption of the drug companies and the insurance companies.
And if we want to do what every other major country on Earth does and guarantee people health care is a human right, not a privilege, you know what we have to do? We are finally going to have to stand up to the health care industry...
STEYER: Can I respond to this?
SANDERS: ... and end hundreds of billions of dollars of waste and profiteering.
PHILLIP: Mr. Steyer?
STEYER: I just want to emphasize what Senator Sanders said. This is not a complicated problem. Between what Senator Warren and Senator Sanders said, it's clear. There are two problems. We're spending way too much because corporations own the system and we're not negotiating against those corporations.
And we've given tax cuts to the richest Americans and the biggest corporations for decades. That's all this is. We have corporations who are having their way with the American people and people are suffering.
Senator Warren is right. This is cruelty for money. In order to break this, we're going to have to break the corporate stranglehold and solve both the tax and the negotiating problem. That's why I'm for term limits. We need to redo Washington, D.C., and...
PHILLIP: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: ... actually take back the government from the corporations who've bought it.
PHILLIP: Thank you, Mr. Steyer. Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: I would argue that the biggest breakthrough in recent time was us being able to do in our administration what five -- five Democratic presidents couldn't get done, and that is pass Obamacare. It was a big deal.
Secondly, I would argue that the way you control drug prices is you limit what they can charge for those prices. You don't have to pay the price. Limit what they can charge. If, in fact, they charge more than we set the price for, they can -- they can, in fact -- we can -- people can import from abroad, assuming that it is -- it is -- it is safe.
We, in fact -- it's only yellow, Wolf, OK? And we can, in fact, do all of this and still provide people the option to stay -- the roughly 150 to 160 million Americans who like the negotiated plan they have with their employers. If they don't like it, or the employer gets rid of it, they can buy into a Medicare plan in the Biden plan.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit more about prescription drugs right now. Prescription drug prices in 2018, Americans spent $335 billion on prescription drugs alone. That's about $60 billion more than they paid a decade ago.
Senator Warren, you've called for the creation of a government-run drug manufacturer that would step in if there is a drug shortage or a price spike. Why does it make sense for the government -- for the government to manufacture drugs, especially when public trust in government is near historic lows? WARREN: So, let's do this both ways. What I also have said is, I'm
just going to use the power that is available and I will do what a president can do all by herself on the very first day, and that is lower the prices of certain prescription drugs. I will lower the price of insulin.
We already have the legal authority with the president to do that. The president just hasn't picked up and used it. I will lower the price of EpiPens, of HIV-AIDS drugs. That's going to bring a lot of relief to a lot of families immediately.
But, you know, there are a whole lot of drugs, about 90 percent of drugs, that are not under patent. They're generic drugs. But the drug industry has figured out how to manipulate this industry to keep jerking the prices up and up and up.
So my view is, let's give them a little competition. The government lets contracts for all kind of things. They let contracts to build buildings. They let contracts to build military weapons. Let's let the contracts out. Put the contracts out so that we can put more generic drugs out there and drive down those prices.
This is a way to make markets work, not to try to move away from the market. You don't have to even use price controls. The whole idea behind it is get some competition out there so the price of these drugs that are no longer under patent drops where it should be.
BLITZER: Senator Klobuchar, do you believe the government should be manufacturing drugs?
KLOBUCHAR: I am open to looking at it, but I would try these things first. Number one, I mention the Medicare negotiation. Number two, I have a plan, 137 things I've found that a president can do herself in the first 100 days without Congress -- that are legal.
And one of those things is that you can start bringing in less expensive drugs from other countries. Bernie and I had an amendment on this. We got 14 Republican votes on it. It was at midnight. They might have not known what they were voting for. But we got that.
I now have an actual bill with Senator Grassley that does that. And I have a bill to get at what Elizabeth was talking about, which is to stop generics from taking money from big pharmaceuticals to keep their products off the market.
The issue here is that there are two pharma lobbyists for every member of the Congress.
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: They think they own Washington. They don't own me.
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: And as president, I will get this done.
PFANNENSTIEL: We're going to turn now to childcare, a huge expense for many new families and a problem that's especially acute in rural Iowa. We have another question for an Iowa Democratic voter.
Mayor Buttigieg, this is for you. Tiffany from Clive writes, as a young mom, I had to quit a job I love because childcare costs were taking up two-thirds of my income. Many families don't have the option of quitting a job because that little bit of income is needed. That leads to families using whatever care they can find, and sometimes the results are deadly, as we've seen in Iowa over the last few years. How will you prioritize accessing quality, affordable child care in your first 100 days in office?
BUTTIGIEG: It makes no sense for childcare to cost two-thirds of somebody's income. We've to drive it to 7 percent or below, and zero for those families who are living in poverty.
But this is happening to folks at every level of the income spectrum. I meet professionals who sometimes say that they're working in order to be able to afford childcare in order to be able to be working. It makes no sense, and it must change, and we shouldn't be afraid to put federal dollars into making that a reality.
Subsidizing childcare and making sure that we are building up a workforce of people who are paid at a decent level to offer early childhood education, as well as childcare writ large. We can do that.
And until we do, this will be one of the biggest drivers of the gender pay gap. Because when somebody like the voter asking the question has to step out of the workforce because of that reason, she is at a disadvantage when she comes back in, and that can affect her pay for the rest of her career.
PFANNENSTIEL: Senator Warren, your education plan includes tuition- free public college for all, but you impose an income limit for free childcare. Why do your plans cover everyone for public college, but not childcare and early learning?
WARREN: No, actually, my plan is universal childcare for everyone. It just has some people adding a small payment.
But understand this about the plan.
I've been there. You know, I remember when I was a young mom. I had two little kids, and I had my first real university teaching job. It was hard work. I was excited. But it was childcare that nearly brought me down. We went through one childcare after another, and it just didn't work.
If I hadn't been saved by my Aunt Bee -- I was ready to quit my job. And I think about how many women of my generation just got knocked off the track and never got back on, how many of my daughter's generation get knocked off the track and don't get back on, how many mamas and daddies today are getting knocked off the track and never get back on.
I have a two cent wealth tax so that we can cover childcare for all of our children, and provide universal pre-K for every 3-year-old and 4- year-old in America, and stop exploiting the people who do this valuable work, largely black and brown women. We can raise the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher in America. That's an investment in our babies. That's an investment in their mamas and their daddies. And it's an investment in our teachers and in our economy.
PFANNENSTIEL: Senator Sanders, will your...
WARREN: It's what we need to do.
PFANNENSTIEL: ... universal childcare program be free for everyone regardless of income?
SANDERS: Yeah. Let me pick up on this childcare thing. Every psychologist in the world knows zero through 4 are the most important years of human life, intellectually and emotionally. And yet our current childcare system is an embarrassment, it is unaffordable. Childcare workers are making wages lower than McDonald's workers.
We need to fundamentally change priorities in America. We should not be one of a few countries that does not have universal high-quality affordable childcare. We should not be one of the only major countries not to guarantee health care to all people as a human right. We should not be spending more than the 10 next countries on the military, hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, tax breaks for billionaires, and then tell the moms and dads in this country we cannot have high-quality affordable childcare.
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Senator. Vice President Biden, I'm coming to you now.
SANDERS: That is wrong.
PFANNENSTIEL: Vice President Biden, infant care is more expensive than in-state public college tuition in more than half the country. Do you support free universal infant care?
BIDEN: There should be free universal infant care, but here's the deal. You know, I was a single parent, too. When my wife and daughter were killed, my two boys I had to raise. I was a senator, a young senator. I just hadn't been sworn in yet. And I was making $42,000 a year.
I commuted every single solitary day to Wilmington, Delaware, over 500 miles a day -- excuse me, 250 miles a day, because I could not afford but for my family childcare. It was beyond my reach to be able to do it. And that's why there are several things we do. When I triple the
amount of money for Title I schools, every child, 3, 4, and 5 years old, will, in fact, have full schooling. They'll go to school and after-school programs, which will release some of the burden.
Secondly, I think we should have an $8,000 tax credit which would put 7 million women back to work that could afford to go to work and still care for their children as an $8,000 tax credit. I also believe that we should, in fact, for people who, in fact, are not able to afford any of the infant care to be able to get that care.
But Bernie's right. We have to raise the salaries of the people who are doing the care. And I provide for that, as well. My time is up, I know, but I'm not going to go over like everybody.
PFANNENSTIEL: Mayor Buttigieg -- Mayor Buttigieg, higher education is another huge expense for families. You oppose free public college for all because you don't want to make it, quote, "free for the kids of millionaires." But lots of public services are available to the kids of rich people, like libraries and public schools. Why do you draw the line at public colleges and universities?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, it's simple. We expect and hope for everyone to get through 12th grade. It's not the same for college. Now, again, I don't want cost ever to be a barrier to somebody seeking to attend college. And under my plan, it won't be.
As a matter of fact, for the first 80 percent of Americans by income, it is free at public colleges. But if you're in that top income bracket, don't get me wrong, I still wish you well. I hope you succeed when you go to college. I just need you to go ahead and pay that tuition, because we could be using those dollars for something else.
There is a very real choice about what we do with every single taxpayer dollar that we raise, and we need to be using that to support everybody, whether you go to college or not, making sure that Americans can thrive, investing in infrastructure, and something that hasn't come up very much tonight but deserves a lot of attention, poverty.
You know, the Poor People's Campaign is marching on Iowa right now calling on us to talk about this issue more. They are driven by their faith. I think because even though in politics we're supposed to talk middle class, they know there's no scripture that says as you've done unto the middle class, so you've done unto me.
We've got to be making sure that we target our tax dollars where they will make the biggest difference. And I don't think subsidizing the children of millionaires and billionaires to pay absolutely zero in tuition at public colleges is the best use of those scarce taxpayer dollars.
PFANNENSTIEL: Senator Warren?
WARREN: So, look, the way I think we need to do this is we need a wealth tax in America. We need to ask people with fortunes above $50 million to pay more. And that means that the lowliest millionaire that I would tax under this wealth tax would be paying about $19 million in the first year in taxes.
If he wants to send his kid to public university, then I'm OK with that, because what we really need to talk about is the bigger economic picture here. We need to be willing to put a wealth tax in place, to ask those giant corporations that are not paying to pay, because that's how we build an economy and, for those who want to talk about it, bring down the national debt.
You do universal childcare and you've got a lot of mamas who can go to work, a lot of mamas who can finish their education. We make that investment in universal college. We've got a lot of people who...
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Senator. Senator Klobuchar?
KLOBUCHAR: Yeah, you know, I appreciate your thoughts, Elizabeth, but I want to step back. I actually think that some of our colleagues who want free college for all aren't actually thinking big enough.
I think what we have to look at is how we connect our education system with our economy. Where are our job openings? And what do we need? We are going to have over a million openings for home health care workers that we don't know how to fill in the next 10 years. We are going to have open 100,000 jobs for nursing assistants. We -- as my union friends know -- we're going to have over 70,000 openings for electricians.
We're not going to have a shortage of MBAs. We're going to have a shortage of plumbers. So when we look at that, then we step back. Where should our money go? It should go into K through 12. It should go into free one- and two-year degrees, like my dad got, like my sister got.
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: And then we should double the Pell grants, because we're going to need four-year degrees...
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar. Mr. Steyer...
KLOBUCHAR: ... so the money goes where it should go, instead of to rich kids going to college.
PFANNENSTIEL: Mr. Steyer, as a billionaire, should your children have been entitled to free public college?
STEYER: No. And let me say this. I was one of the people who talked about a wealth tax almost a year-and-a-half ago. I believe that the income inequality in this country is unbearable, unjust, and unsupportable, and the redistribution of wealth to the richest Americans from everyone else has to end. And I proposed a wealth tax almost a year-and-a-half ago to start to address it and to raise some of the money that we need.
But I want to go beyond this and go back to this question about education, because we're talking a lot about college. But, in fact, if you talk about the Poor People's Campaign, you have to realize that for the youngest kids, they are getting an education that's relative to the taxes in their neighborhoods. We need to redistribute money so every kid has a chance, so we're not legislating inequality for the next generation, and so we actually invest in every single kid, specifically poor kids, specifically black kids, specifically brown kids. We need to start using the money dramatically more for that.
BLITZER: We'll be back with more from CNN's Democratic presidential debate, live from Des Moines, Iowa. Stay right here.
BLITZER: Welcome back to CNN's Democratic presidential debate. We're live in Des Moines, Iowa.
Tomorrow, the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, will send articles of impeachment against President Trump to the United States Senate, launching the third trial of a U.S. president. The Republican-led Senate has signaled that it is likely to acquit him.
Vice President Biden, if you're the nominee, is it going to be harder to run against President Trump if he's been acquitted and able to claim vindication, especially after what he's said about your family?
BIDEN: It's irrelevant. There's no -- there's no choice but to -- for Nancy Pelosi and the House to move. He has, in fact, committed impeachable offenses. Whether the Senate makes that judgment or not, it's for them to decide.
But -- and, by the way, I'm told that, you know, we -- that I don't -- I say we have to unite the country and it's going to be harder after this trial. It may be. But, look, you know, I understand how these guys are, this Republican Party. They've got gone after -- savaged my surviving son, gone after me, told lies that your networks and others won't even carry on television because they're flat-out lies.
And I did my job. The question is whether or not he did his job. And he hasn't done his job. And so it doesn't really matter whether or not he's gone after me. I've got to be in a position that I think of the American people. I can't hold a grudge. I have to be able to not only fight, but also heal.
And as president of the United States, that's what I will attempt to do, notwithstanding that -- we're going to be more division after he's defeated by me this next time.
BLITZER: Senator Klobuchar, you're going to be a juror in the trial in the Senate that's about to start.
Do you worry President Trump will be emboldened by acquittal?
KLOBUCHAR: No. We have a constitutional duty to do -- to perform here. And when I look at what the issue is, it's whether or not we're going to be able to have witnesses. We've asked for only four people as witnesses. And if our Republican colleagues won't allow those witnesses, they may as well give the president a crown and a scepter. They may as well make him king. And last time I checked, our country was founded on this idea that we didn't want to be ruled by a king.
And I think the best way to think about this is trial and what we're facing in this election is a story of a man from Primghar, Iowa. His name was Joseph Welch. He came from humble beginnings, a son of immigrants. He became the Army counsel. And he was the one that went to the Joseph McCarthy hearings. And when McCarthy was blacklisting people and going after people because of their political beliefs or supposed political beliefs, there was only one man.
Everyone that was afraid, they were afraid of being blacklisted, Joseph Welch, he stood up and looked at McCarthy and said, have you no sense of decency, sir? Have you no sense of decency. This is a decency check on our government. This is a patriotism check. Not only is this trial that...
BLITZER: Thank you.
KLOBUCHAR: ... but also this election. And no matter if you agree with everyone here on the stage, I say this...
BLITZER: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: ... to Americans, you know this is a decency check on this president.
BLITZER: Mr. Steyer, you have spent millions and millions of dollars telling the American people that President Trump deserves to be impeached. Will it have been worth if it he has been impeached but not removed from office?
STEYER: Well, Wolf, actually what I have done is to organize a petition drive of 8.5 million Americans to sign and say this president deserves to be impeached and removed from office. And those 8.5 million people have called their congresspeople, have emailed their congresspeople, and have actually dragged Washington, D.C., to see that in fact this is a question of right and wrong and not of political expediency.
So if you ask me whether standing up for what's right in America, standing up for the American people and our safety, standing up for the Constitution, whether doing that and trying to bring the truth in front of the American people in televised hearings so we can decide what the truth is for ourselves, if you think that that isn't worth it, then you don't share the idea that I do about what America is about.
Standing up for what's right is always worth it, Wolf. And I will never back down from that.
BLITZER: Senator Warren, a Senate trial is expected to keep you in Washington in the weeks leading up to the Iowa Caucuses here. How big of a problem is that for you as you're making your closing pitch to voters here?
WARREN: Look, some things are more important than politics. I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. It says that no one is above the law. That includes the president of the United States. We have an impeachment trial. I will be there because it is my responsibility.
But understand this, what that impeachment trial is going to show once again to the American people, and something we should all be talking about, is the corruption of this administration. That is what lies at heart of it. It is about Donald Trump putting Donald Trump first. Not the American people. Not the interests of the United States of America. Not even helping Ukraine defend against Russia.
It is about him helping himself. That is what we need to do to win this election. We need to draw that distinction and show that as Democrats we're not going to be the people who are just out for the big corporations, people who want to help themselves, that we are going to be the party that is willing to fight on the side of the people. That's why we're here.
PFANNENSTIEL: Let's turn now to the climate crisis. Here in Iowa parts of the state remain under water after record-breaking flooding began last spring, racking up an estimated $2 billion in damages. Today many Iowans are still displaced from their homes.
Mayor Buttigieg, you have talked about helping people move from areas at high risk of flooding. But what do you do about farms and factories that simply can't be moved?
BUTTIGIEG: That's why we have to fight climate change with such urgency. Climate change has come to America from coast to coast. Seeing it in Iowa. We have seen it in historic floods in my community. I had to activate our emergency operation center for a once-in-a- millennium flood. Then two years later had to do the same thing.
In Australia there are literally tornadoes made of fire taking place. This is no longer theoretical and this is no longer off in the future. We have got to act, yes, to adapt, to make sure communities are more resilient, to make sure our economy is ready for the consequences that are going to happen one way or the other.
But we also have to ensure that we don't allow this to get any worse. And if we get right, farmers will be a huge part of the solution. We need to reach out to the very people who have sometimes been made to feel that accepting climate science would be a defeat for them, whether we're talking about farmers or industrial workers in my community, and make clear that we need to enlist them...
PFANNENSTIEL: But, Mayor Buttigieg...
BUTTIGIEG: ... in the national project to do something about it.
PFANNENSTIEL: ... to clarify, what do you do about farms and factories that cannot be relocated?
BUTTIGIEG: We are going to have to use federal funds to make sure that we are supporting those whose lives will inevitably be impacted further by the increased severity and the increased frequency. And by the way, that is happening to farms, that is happening to factories, and that disproportionately happens to black and brown Americans, which is why equity and environmental justice have to be at the core of our climate plan going forward.
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Mayor Buttigieg.
Mr. Steyer, what's your response?
STEYER: Look, what you're talking about is what's called managed retreat. It's basically saying we're going to have to move things because this crisis is out of control. And it's unbelievably expensive. And of course we'll come to the rescue of Americans who are in trouble.
But this is why climate is my number one priority. And I'm still shocked that I'm the only person on this stage who will say this. I would declare a state of emergency on day one on climate.
I would do it from the standpoint of environmental justice and make sure we go to the black and brown communities where you can't breathe the air or drink the water that comes out of the tap safely. But I also know this, we're going to create millions of good-paying union jobs across this country. It's going to be the biggest job program in American history.
So I know we have to do it. I know we can do it. And I know that we can do it in a way that makes us healthier, that makes us better paid, and is more just. But the truth of the matter is, we're going to have to do it and we're going to have to make the whole world come along with us. And it's going to have to be...
PFANNENSTIEL: Mr. Steyer...
STEYER: ... priority one.
PFANNENSTIEL: Mr. Steyer, to clarify, you say you're the climate change candidate, but you made your $1.6 billion in part by investing in coal, oil, and gas. So are you the right messenger on this topic? STEYER: I absolutely am. Look, we invested in every part of the
economy. And over 10 years ago I realized that there was something going on that had to do with fossil fuels, that we had to change. So I divested from fossil fuels. I took the Giving Pledge to give most of my money away while I'm alive. And for 12 years I have been fighting the climate crisis.
I have beat oil companies in terms of clean air laws. I have stopped fossil fuel plants in Oxnard, California. I fought the Keystone pipeline. I have a history of over a decade of leading the climate fight successfully.
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: So actually, yes, I am the person here who has the chops and the history that says, I'll make it priority one, because I have been doing it for a long time.
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
Senator Warren, President Trump is rolling back major environmental rules to allow pipeline and other major infrastructure projects to be built without strict environmental review. Will you restore those protections and in a way that the next president can't overturn?
WARREN: Yes. Climate change threatens every living thing on this planet. And the urgency of the moment cannot be overstated. I will do everything a president can do all by herself on the first day. I will roll back the environmental changes that Donald Trump is putting in place. I will stop all new drilling and mining on federal lands, and offshore drilling. That will help us get in the right directions. I'll bring in the farmers. Farmers can be part of the climate solution.
We should see this for the problem it is. Mr. Steyer talks about it being problem number one. Understand this, we have known about this climate crisis for decades. Back in the 1990s we were calling it global warming, but we knew what it was. Democrats and Republicans back then were working together because no one wanted a problem.
But you know what happened? The industry came in and said, we can make big money if we keep them divided and make no change. Priority number one has to be taking back our government from the corruption. That is the only way we will make progress on climate, on gun safety, on health care, on all of the issues that matter to us.
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Senator Warren.
Senator Klobuchar, some of your competitors on this stage have called for an all-out ban on fracking. You haven't. Why not?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, first of all, I would note that I have 100 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters. And that is because I have stood tall on every issue that we have talked about up here when it comes to this administration, this Trump administration, trying to reverse environmental protections. I think it is going to lead to so many problems. And one thing that hasn't been raised, by the way, is the rules on
methane, which is actually one of the most environmentally dangerous hazards that they have recently embarked on.
And I would bring those rules back as well as a number of other ones.
When it comes to the issue of fracking, I actually see natural gas as a transition fuel. It's a transition fuel to where we get to carbon- neutral. Nearly every one of us has a plan that is very similar. And that is to get to carbon neutral by 2045 to 2050, to get to by 2030 to a 45 percent reduction.
And I want to add one thing that no one's really answered. When we do this, we have to make sure that we make people whole. And when we put a tax on carbon, which we will do either through cap-and-trade or through a renewable electricity standard or through a fee on carbon...
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: ... then we have to make sure the money goes back to the people...
PFANNENSTIEL: I want to...
PFANNENSTIEL: ... into this conversation.
KLOBUCHAR: ... that will be hurt by it.
PFANNENSTIEL: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: ... to help with their energy bills and to bring jobs to areas that will lose jobs.
PFANNENSTIEL: Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: Thank you.
Let's be clear. If we as a nation do not transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, not by 2050, not by 2040, but unless we lead the world right now -- not easy stuff -- the planet we are leaving our kids will be uninhabitable and unhealthy.
We are seeing Australia burning. We saw California burning. The drought here in Iowa is going to make it harder for farmers to produce the food that we need.
This is of course a national crisis. I introduced legislation to indicate it's a national crisis. We have got to take on the fossil fuel industry and all of their lies and tell them that their short- term profits are not more important than the future of this planet. That's what the Green New Deal does. That's what my legislation does. And that is what we have to do.
PFANNENSTIEL: Vice President Biden, your response?
BIDEN: My response is, back in 1986, I introduced the first climate change bill -- and check PolitiFacts (sic); they said it was a game- changer. I've been fighting this for a long time. I headed up the Recovery Act, which put more money into moving away from fossil fuels to -- to solar and wind energy than ever has occurred in the history of America.
Look, what we have to do is we have to act right away. And the way we act right away is, immediately if I'm elected president, I'll reinstate all the mileage standards that existed in our administration which were taken down. That's 12 billion gallons of gasoline -- barrels of gasoline to be saved immediately.
And with regard to those folks who in fact are going to be victimized by what's already happened, we should be investing in infrastructure that raises roads, makes sure that we're in a position where we have -- that every new highway built is a green highway, having 550,000 charging stations.
We can create -- and this is where I agree with Tom -- we can create millions of good-paying jobs. We're the only country in the world that's ever taken great crisis and turned it into great opportunity. And one of the ways to do it is with farmers here in Iowa, by making them the first group in the world to get to net zero emissions by paying them for planting and absorbing carbon in their fields right -- there's more to say, but I know my time is...
PHILLIP: A key part of your mission in this primary is going to be to prove to Democratic voters that you're strong enough to take on Donald Trump. Each of you face unique challenges in doing that.
Mayor Buttigieg, you say you've had trouble earning the support of black voters because you're unknown. But you've been campaigning for a year now and polling shows you with next to no black support, support that you'll need in order to beat Donald Trump. Is it possible that black voters have gotten to know you and have simply decided to choose another candidate?
BUTTIGIEG: The black voters who know me best are supporting me. It's why I have the most support in South Bend. It's why, among elected black officials in my community who have gotten into this race, by far most of them are supporting me.
And now, nationally, I am proud that my campaign is co-chaired by a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and to have support right here in Iowa from some of the most recognizable black elected leaders, from Mayor Hart of Waterloo to former Representative Berry in Black Hawk County.
Now, the biggest mistake we could make is to take black votes for granted. And I never will. The reason I have the support I do is not because any voter thinks that I'm perfect. It's because of the work that we have done facing some of the toughest issues that communities can, not from the luxury of -- of a debate or a television panel or a committee room but on the ground, issues from poverty to justice in policing.
And I'm proud to say we have been nationally recognized for our work as a race-informed city on delivering greater economic justice, that we have reduced use of force by leading the region in transparency around the use of force in policing.
Of course there is a much longer way to go, in my community and around the country. But I will be a president whose personal commitment is to continue doing this work.
PHILLIP: Senator Sanders, you call yourself a Democratic Socialist. But more than two-thirds of voters say they are not enthusiastic about voting for a socialist. Doesn't that put your chances of beating Donald Trump at risk?
SANDERS: Nope, not at all. And that is because the campaign that we are going to run will expose the fraudulency of who Donald Trump is. Donald Trump is corrupt. He is a pathological liar and he is a fraud.
Now, when Trump talks about socialism, what he talks about is giving hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Donald Trump as a businessman received $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury housing.
My Democratic Socialism says health care is a human right. We're going to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. We're going to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. We're going to have a Green New Deal and create up to $20 million, saving the planet for our children and our grandchildren. We are going to take on the greed and corruption of the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance company. That is what Democratic Socialism is about and that will win this election.
PHILLIP: Mr. Steyer, you've spent more than $100 million of your own dollars on television ads. How do you convince voters that you're more than just your money?
STEYER: Look, we know how Donald Trump is going to run for president. He's going to run on the economy. He's already told Americans last month in Florida, "You don't like me and I don't like you, but you're all going to vote for me because the Democrats are going to destroy the economy in 15 minutes if they get in control."
So let's be clear. I started a business by myself in one room. I didn't inherit a penny from my parents. I spent 30 years building that business into a multi-billion-dollar international business. Then I walked away from it and took the giving pledge and started organizing coalitions of ordinary Americans to take on unchecked corporate power.
But whoever is going to beat Mr. Trump is going to have to beat him on the economy. And I have the experience and the expertise to show that he's a fake there and a fraud. Look, Mayor Pete has three years as an analyst at McKinsey. I have 30 years of international business experience. I can beat Trump on the economy. We're going to have to beat him on the economy. And I look forward to taking him down in the fall on the debate stage.
PHILLIP: Mayor Buttigieg?
BUTTIGIEG: You demoted me. I was actually an associate, but that's OK.
BUTTIGIEG: It was not the biggest part of my career. But I am ready to take on this president on the economy because I am from the exact kind of industrial Midwestern community that he pretends to speak to and has proven to turn his back on, and guided that community through a historic transformation.
When, at the beginning of the decade, I took office, we were described as a dying city. I'm ready to take on Donald Trump because, when he gets to the tough talk and the chest-thumping, he'll have to stand next to an American war veteran and explain how he pretended bone spurs made him ineligible to serve.
And if -- and if he keeps trying...
... to use religion...
If a guy like Donald Trump keeps trying to use religion to somehow recruit Christianity into the GOP, I will be standing there not afraid to talk about a different way to answer the call of faith and insist that God does not belong to a political party. I am ready to take on this president...
PHILLIP: Thank you.
BUTTIGIEG: ... on everything.
PHILLIP: Senator Klobuchar...
Senator Klobuchar, you're pitching yourself as a practical candidate who can get things done. And even tonight you've dismissed some of the ideas that are offered in this primary as pipe-dreams. How are you going to inspire Democratic voters with a message of pragmatism?
KLOBUCHAR: Our voters, actually all Americans, have seen now a number of years of a guy that has, I think, told over 15,000 lies. He is someone that literally has a rap sheet of divisive rhetoric. And I think what Americans want is something different. I am going to be able to stand across from him on that debate stage and say to my friends in Iowa, "The Midwest is not flyover country for me; I live here."
I'm going to be able to look at him and say, "You've treated these workers and farmers like poker chips. For me, these are my friends and these are my neighbors."
I'm going to be able to look at him and say, "You know what? You got $413 million over the course of your career.
That's how you built your fortune." And what I'm going to say is this. "My grandpa worked 1,500 feet underground in the iron ore mines, saved money in a coffee can in the basement, to send my dad to a two-year community college. That's my family trust. And when you have been given an opportunity like that, you go into the world not with a sense of entitlement, Donald -- Donald Trump, but with a sense of obligation."
PHILLIP: Thank you.
Senator Warren, what do you say to voters who like your policies but they're worried they will scare away swing voters you need to win this race in November?
WARREN: So I was born and raised in Oklahoma. I have three older brothers who are all retired, who are all back there still. And two of my three brothers are Republicans. And, sure, there are a lot of things we disagree on, and we can take to our corners and do the Democratic/Republican talking points, but the truth is there's a whole lot we agree on.
You know, my brother is just furious over Chevron and Eli Lilly and Amazon, that are giant corporations making billions of dollars in tax -- make billions of dollars in profits and pay nothing in taxes.
My brother said, "I don't get this. I have to pay my taxes. Somebody has to keep the roads paved and the schools open and pay for our defense."
They understand that we have an America right now that's working great for those at the top; it's just not working for anyone else. We have a chance to unite -- unite as Democrats, but also with independents and Republicans who are sick of living in a country that's working great for the politicians that are taking the money; it's working great for the lobbyists; it's working great for the corporate executives, it's just not working for everyone else.
I'm building the grassroots movement, leading the fight. We're going to make this America work for everyone else. That is how we're going to beat Donald Trump.
PHILLIP: Vice President Biden, the eventual nominee will face President Trump, who has no problem mocking people, using insulting nicknames, slinging mud and telling lies. The debate against him will make tonight's debate look like child's play.
Are you prepared for that?
BIDEN: I am prepared for that. Look, I've been the object of his affection now more than anybody else on this stage.
I've taken all the hits he can deliver, and I'm getting better in the polls, my going up. And by the way, I have overwhelming support from the African-American community, overwhelming -- more than everybody else in this operation, number one.
Number two, working-class people, where I come from, in Pennsylvania and the places I come from Delaware, I have great support.
I have support across the board, and I'm not worried about taking on Donald Trump at all. And with regard to the economy, I can hardly wait to have that debate with him. Where I come from, the neighbors I come from, they're in real trouble, working-class people and middle-class people.
When the middle class does well, the working class has a way up and the wealthy do well. But what's happening now? They're being clobbered. They're being killed. They now have a situation where if they -- the vast majority believe their children will never reach the stage that they've -- they've reached in economic security.
We -- I love that debate because the American public is getting clobbered. The wealthy are the only ones doing well, period. I'm looking forward to the economic debate.
BLITZER: We'll be right back with more from CNN's Democratic presidential debate, live from Des Moines, Iowa.
Stay right here.
BLITZER: Welcome back to CNN's Democratic presidential debate, live from Des Moines, Iowa.
Time now for closing statements. You each have one minute. Senator Klobuchar, let's begin with you.
KLOBUCHAR: Donald Trump thinks this is all about him. I think it's about you. It's not about his resorts or his tweets or even his ego. It is about your health care. It is about your schools. It is about your lives and your future. So if you want to do something about racial justice and immigration reform and climate change and gun safety, we need a candidate who is actually going to bring people with her. I have won every race, every place, every time. I have gotten the highest voter turnout in the country when I've led the ticket. I have passed more bills as the lead Democrat than anyone who's in Congress that's running for president. I believe that we need a president that's going to look out for you.
It is easy to hurl insults. It is easy to draw lines in the sand and sketch out grand ideological sketches that will never see the light of day. What is hard is bringing people together and finding common ground instead of scorched earth. What is hard is the work of governing.
So if you are tired of the extremes in our politics and the noise and the nonsense, you have a home with me. Join me at amyklobuchar.com.
BLITZER: Mr. Steyer?
STEYER: I know that Iowans are going to caucus within three weeks, and I want to tell you how I feel about the American people. Look, I played team sports my entire life. The bond between teammates is deep and emotional and full of love. And as far as I'm concerned, the American people are my teammates.
And if there's one thing I will not permit, it is someone to run down the field and kick my teammate in the face. And that is exactly what I've seen over the last seven years, traveling around this country, seeing these Republicans, led by Mr. Trump, basically kicking the American people in the face.
I am prepared to take on Mr. Trump on the debate stage and take him down on the economy. But I am asking for your support because I know that if I'm -- if I'm going to be a good teammate to you and give you absolutely everything, without any compromise, I need the support of you on caucus night so I can turn around and together we can take back this country and together we can save the world.
BLITZER: Mayor Buttigieg?
BUTTIGIEG: This is our moment, this is our one shot to defeat Donald Trump, and to do it by such a big margin that we send Trumpism into the dust bin of history, too. But we cannot take the risk with so much on the line of trying to confront this president with the same Washington mindset and political warfare that led us to this point.
If you are watching this at home and you are exhausted by the spectacle of division and dysfunction, I'm asking you to join me to help turn the page on our politics. You're seeing the president boast about the Dow Jones, wondering whether any of that will ever get to your kitchen table. Join me.
If you're a voter of color feeling taken for granted by politics as usual, join me. If you're used to voting for the other party but right now cannot look your kids in the eye and explain this president to them, join me.
We have a chance to change all of this if we can summon the courage to break from the past. That is why I am running for president. It is why I'm asking you to caucus for me on February 3rd. And I hope that you'll go to peteforamerica.com and join me in this effort.
BLITZER: Senator Warren?
WARREN: So much is broken in this country. I sat here in the break and just made notes about many of the things we didn't get to talk about tonight: how the disability community is struggling for true equality; how gun violence and active shooter drills worry every mother in this country; how children are living in poverty and seeing their life chances shrink; how transwomen, particularly transwomen of color, are at risk; black infant mortality; climate change that particularly hits black and brown communities; people who are being crushed by student loan debt; farmers who are barely holding on; people struggling with mental illness.
And yet I come here tonight with a heart filled with hope. And it's filled with hope because I see this as our moment in history, our moment when no one is left on the sidelines, our moment when we understand that it comes to us to decide the future of this country, our moment when we build the movement to make real change.
Hope and courage. That is how I will make you proud every day, as your nominee and as the first woman president of the United States of America.
BLITZER: Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: It's been a good debate, but we haven't asked the major question. The major question is, how does it happen in the richest country in the history of the world that half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, trying to get by on $9, $10 bucks an hour?
How does it happen that when the top 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 92 percent, half a million people are sleeping out on the streets tonight? How does it happen that in this great country we are the only major nation not to guarantee health care to all? How does it happen that we have a childcare system which is dysfunctional, a criminal justice system which is broken and racist, an immigration system that needs reform?
This is the moment when we have got to think big, not small. This is the moment when we have got to have the courage to take on the 1 percent, take on the greed and corruption of the corporate elite, and create an economy and create a government that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent. Thank you.
BLITZER: Vice President Biden. BIDEN: Character is on the ballot this time around. The American character is on the ballot. Not what Donald Trump is spewing out, the hate, the xenophobia, the racism, that's not who we are as a nation.
Everyone in this country is entitled to be treated with respect and dignity. Every single, solitary person has to have in a position that, in fact, we treat them with decency. It's about fundamental basic decency.
We in the United States of America can put up with -- we can overcome four years of Donald Trump, but eight years of Donald Trump will be an absolute disaster and fundamentally change this nation.
We have to restore America's soul, as I've said from the moment I announced. It is in jeopardy under this president of the United States. We lead the world when we lead by example, not by our power. We, in fact, have to regain the respect of the world in order to be able to change things.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are in a position right now where we have to remember who we are: This is the United States of America. There is not a single thing beyond our capacity to do if we do it together. Let's go do it.
BLITZER: Candidates, thank you very, very much. That concludes the first Democratic presidential debate of 2020. The Iowa caucuses are only 20 days away. Tune into CNN for continuing coverage of this presidential election.
Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo pick up our coverage right now.