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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN's Town Hall with Democratic Presidential Candidate Former Vice President Joe Biden. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired February 5, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And live from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, a CNN Democratic presidential town hall event.
I'm Anderson Cooper.
We are at a critical moment in the 2020 election. The president has just been acquitted. Iowa is still counting votes. And the first-in- the-nation primary here in New Hampshire is just six days away.
Over the next two nights, the top Democratic candidates for president will be on this stage taking questions from New Hampshire Democrats and independents, many of whom are still undecided.
Later tonight, you're going to hear from Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, and Tom Steyer.
I want to begin right now and welcome to the stage former Vice President Joe Biden.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: Hi, sir.
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see you.
COOPER: Nice to see you. Nice to see you. Welcome.
BIDEN: Hi, folks.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: We have got a...
BIDEN: Reporting for duty, sir.
COOPER: We have got a lot of questions from the audience.
I just want to start out.
The president just today has been acquitted...
BIDEN: You're kidding?
COOPER: ... of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
COOPER: Perhaps you heard.
He's already calling it -- he says it's a victory on the impeachment hoax on Twitter.
Is this a victory for the president?
BIDEN: I can't imagine being president of the United States and having all one party, plus someone from your own party, vote to say you should be thrown out of office, and view that as a victory.
COOPER: As we stand here tonight, 86 percent of Iowa precincts have finally reported their vote counts.
You're currently in fourth place. You have called what happened there a gut punch. What happened?
BIDEN: Well, I think what happened -- well, look, let's put this in perspective. There are a total of, what, 44 delegates are going to come out of that?
And it looks like it's going to break down somewhere between seven and 15 among the top four of us. You need 1,900 delegates to become the president of the United States -- or to become the nominee.
So it's a -- I expected to do better. And I expected that our organization would perform better. But the fact is, I'm happy to be here in New Hampshire.
COOPER: All right.
COOPER: I think the crowd is happy to have you here.
I want to go to the audience.
This is this is Douglas Phelan. He's a family doctor from Concord. And he currently is undecided.
BIDEN: Hey, Doc, how are you? (LAUGHTER)
DOUGLAS PHELAN, FAMILY DOCTOR: Good. Thank you.
So, the Affordable Care Act did a lot of good for patients, but it also had flaws, and then subsequently has been gutted by court decisions, most notably the removal of the individual mandate.
How do you plan to lower premium costs in a market that still includes private insurance, in a country where the individual mandate is gone, and low-risk healthy patients do not enter the marketplace to help lower premiums?
BIDEN: Well, first of all, I'm going to change -- number one, I'm going to restore the cuts that were made by administrative rule by this president of the United States.
By the way, I was fascinated to learn he's the reason why we cover preexisting conditions. I heard that in the State of the Union. I didn't know that before, Doc.
BIDEN: But, at any rate, what I'm going to do is restore the cuts, number one, reduce the cost of out-of-pocket expenses and premiums that need to be paid, subsidizing it more.
And I'm going to add a public option, a Medicare option, for those who want it.
So, if you have your own private insurance you have negotiated with your company, and you have a good policy, and you like it, you get to keep it. If they cancel the policy, you can immediately buy into the -- the -- what will become the Biden plan, and/or you can, in fact -- and if you don't have the money, and you qualify for Medicaid, you would automatically be admitted into the plan.
Number two, I think that, also, that it's important to know that, you know, we made mental health parity and parity relating to drug abuse, that has to be covered by -- with parity, just like if you went and broke your arm, or someone showed up in your office with another physical break or ailment.
In addition to that, we made sure that we made -- I'm adding $1 billion in that plan for dealing with drug abuse and opioids.
And that, in fact, is really important, because you know what's happening in this state and all across America.
I go into opioids later.
But my generic point is that it costs $740 billion. That's a lot of money over 10 years. I can pay for it all by making sure that people pay their capital gains not at 20 percent, but at whatever their tax rate is.
That would raise $800 billion and pay for everything. And it's not a $35 trillion plan over 10 years, which cannot get passed.
COOPER: I want to follow up on that.
Senator Sanders, you -- you have been, I guess, escalating your -- your -- pointing out your differences with
Senator Sanders on Medicare for all. While you're not supporting that, you have said that the middle class, under Senator Sanders' plan, is going to pay a big, big premium.
Is Senator Sanders being honest about his plan?
BIDEN: Well, he was recently. He was on your show or someone else's, where he said -- they ask, how much is it going to cost? He said, nobody knows. Nobody knows.
BIDEN: Well, initially, he said it was going to cost the middle class to raise their taxes for the middle class. Now he's saying, nobody knows.
Now, I have been around a while. I have gotten a lot of important bills passed through the Congress. Can you imagine going to Congress, Democrats or Republicans, and saying, by the way, let's have Medicare for all? How much is it going to cost? Who's going to pay for it?
Well, I don't know. We will all find out later.
Well, you have to be realistic. You have got to level with the American people. Tell them the truth, what you think your plan is going to cost, the estimate of it, how you're going to pay for it, and how you're going to get it done.
I was able to get, with President Obama, the Obama plan passed. I was down on the floor making sure it got every vote. I have done it. I know how to get it done, and I can get it done right away, not in 10 years.
COOPER: I want to introduce you to Kenneth Berlin. He's a retired financial systems manager. He also serves as the vice chair for the New Hampshire State Commission on Aging. He's from Manchester and is still undecided.
KENNETH BERLIN, VICE CHAIR, NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE COMMISSION ON AGING: Welcome, Mr. Vice President.
BIDEN: Thank you.
BERLIN: It's an honor.
How exactly will you protect Social Security? BIDEN: I tell you exactly how I'm going to do it.
Number one, you know, there's two pieces to the protection.
Sorry, I have a little bit of a -- I have been talking too much. I'm a little bit of -- a little hoarse.
Number one, I'm going to make sure that we, in fact, are able to have Social Security for the students here when their time comes to be -- when Social Security is available.
Two, I'm going to make sure that we're in a position where we can, in fact, see to it that those folks who lost a spouse, or Social Security payment was reduced, or they're outliving way beyond their coverage, that they, in fact, can have it raised.
Say, well, how you going to do that, Biden?
Right now, as you know better than most, we pay about 6.2 percent out of your salary, up to roughly $130,000. I have been proposing for some time that we do the same thing for everybody making over $400,000.
So, for example, you, in fact, make 60 grand, you get 2-point -- excuse me -- 6.2 percent taken out of your salary. If you make $130,000, you get 2.6 (sic). If you're making a million, you don't -- you just get the same -- you pay the exact same amount as someone making 130.
By moving to increase the tax by the -- keep the tax at 6.2 for people making every dollar over $400,000, we can pay for everything I'm talking about. And you know we can make it solvent, solvent for all of these kids here. That's why it's important. That's what I would do.
COOPER: I want to follow up.
Senator Sanders has taken issue with your record on Social Security.
COOPER: He says that you're no defender, his words, of the program.
How do you convince voters that you are?
BIDEN: Well, I just have them look at the facts.
Look what Paul Krugman, "New York Times," said. It's a lie. He's simply dead wrong. Look what PolitiFact said. They have misrepresented my position on Social Security.
And whether he did it or not, his supporters put out a clip that took out of context of what I said.
Folks, I have been a strong supporter of Social Security my whole career. And the fact of the matter is, I -- one has a concrete plan as to how to make it work, and I think I can get it done. COOPER: I want you to meet Trevor McAden. He's an independent from
Rollinsford who's a student here at Saint Anselm. He is currently undecided.
BIDEN: Hey, Trevor.
TREVOR MCADEN, SAINT ANSELM COLLEGE STUDENT: Vice President Biden, you suggest that American fossil fuel workers learn how to code.
What do you say to many of baby boomer generation who are too young to retire, but feel that they are too old to embrace drastic career change at this stage in their life?
BIDEN: What I say that we're going to provide significant opportunities.
We're going to create six million new jobs. For example, if you are -- the IBEW just endorsed me today, the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers. They're going to be affected by moving in the direction of getting to net zero emissions.
But every new -- every new plan we have for infrastructure has to be green.
For example, we're going to be able to place 500,000 -- 500,000 charging stations along every new highway we build. We can afford to do that, and it's easy.
We're going to own the electric vehicle -- the electric vehicle market. We're going to create millions of jobs, millions of jobs. We're going to invest. For example, we have a circumstance where we invest more money in new technologies that, in fact, will get us to net zero emissions than we spent sending the man to the moon.
We should become the net exporters, the net exporters of this technology.
In addition, the next president of the United States not only has to deal with whether or not you're going to get to net zero and have a plan. We make up 15 percent of the world's problems. And we have to demonstrate we are part of the solution, a significant part.
But 85 percent of the pollution that we deal with comes from the rest of the world.
And so I was part of putting together the Paris climate accord. I would immediately rejoin it. And I would immediately bring in the single biggest polluters in the first 100 days to the
United States and say, we have to up the ante in how we move forward.
And we will create significant jobs. A transition will be made for people who, in fact, are in the business now, and the fossil fuel business, as well, to be able to move to other -- to other incomes that can make a significant amount of money they're making, but it takes some retraining. It's going to have to happen.
COOPER: Mr. Vice President, this is Martha Dickerson. She's a library assistant here at Saint Anselm College. Welcome, Martha.
TRUMP: Hey, Martha, how are you?
QUESTION: Hello, Vice President Biden. We hear about the plight of the middle class a lot. How come there's so little mention of the working poor? People have two and three jobs cobbled together, none of them with benefits. They're too exhausted to spend time with their kids. How would you go about raising wages?
BIDEN: Well, I would do it three ways. First of all, I talk about the working poor all the time. I know they call me middle class Joe, because they think I'm middle class Joe because I'm concerned about the middle class. And the reason I'm concerned about the middle class is to find an avenue to get to the middle class, to be able to stay in the middle class, and when the middle class does well, everybody has a shot. People have a way up and, in fact, the wealthy do very well.
The way I do it, first of all, no one should be working in the United States of America 40 hours a week and living in poverty. And that's why we have to raise, nationally, the standard of $15 an hour for every worker in America, number one.
Number two, we have to be in a position where we provide for the opportunities at the early stages. And you're a librarian. How many of the folks that you -- when you weren't a librarian at a college, how many folks do you know who come into the library and, in fact, don't have any idea how to proceed?
Well, I propose that we, for example, triple the amount of money we spend for Title I schools. That is disadvantaged schools economically. They don't have the wherewithal to invest the money in their schools. Right now, Title I schools -- and there are many of them here in New Hampshire and all across America -- they get $15 billion a year. I raise that to $45 billion a year, which means every single solitary child, age 3, 4, and 5, will be in school, not daycare, school.
And every university, including this great one and others, point out that if you do that, you increase exponentially the prospect of that child being able to go all the way through, all the way through high school, and go beyond high school. Somewhere between 48 percent and 54 percent of the people who go to preschool -- and I mean age 3, 4, and 5, not daycare, school -- you, in fact, wipe out the discrepancies that exist when you come from families that don't have opportunities.
Thirdly, I raise teacher salaries, raise teacher salaries in that process.
Fourthly, we make sure that we double the number of school psychologists and school nurses. How many times in this state have you heard, if you're all from New Hampshire, where the school district makes a choice between, do we hire two more teachers or a nurse? What do we do?
And it provides social workers, because we know an awful lot can be done -- if I only have $1 to spend, I spend it preschool rather than post-high school. But we can do both. I can get into that later.
But the biggest thing is to provide the opportunity to be able to get these jobs. Equip everybody, everybody, no matter what their ZIP Code is, to have access to a good-paying job in the middle class that, in fact, gets them to the middle class in the 21st century, no matter what ZIP Code you're born in.
COOPER: Mr. Vice President, yesterday -- I want to ask you about something that happened at the State of the Union. You were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor, by President Obama, and I'm wondering -- it was obviously a very emotional moment for you. I remember the ceremony. Last night, President Trump awarded the same medal to Rush Limbaugh. I'm wondering what you thought when you learned about that.
BIDEN: Look, Rush Limbaugh will spend his entire time on the air dividing people, belittling people, talking about how -- talking about blacks in ways, African-Americans in ways that -- anyway, I do feel badly -- and I mean this sincerely -- that he's suffering from a terminal illness. So he has my empathy and sympathy, no matter what his background is.
But the idea that he is a -- State of the Union receives a -- a medal that is of the highest honor that can be given to a civilian, I find, quite frankly, driven more by trying to maintain your right-wing political credentials than it is anything else.
I mean, if you read some of the things that Rush has said about people, their backgrounds, their ethnicity, how he speaks to them, I don't think he speaks -- I don't think he understands the American code of decency and honor. I just really -- but, look, this is Donald Trump.
COOPER: I want to take a short break. We're going to be back. We're going to be back more with former Vice President Joe Biden right after this.
COOPER: And welcome back. We're in New Hampshire with former Vice President Joe Biden for the first of several CNN Democratic live town halls.
Vice President Biden, this is Jennifer Cunha. She works for a special education nonprofit. She's from Manchester and is currently undecided. Jennifer?
BIDEN: Thanks for what you do.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Vice President Biden. Many young voters are concerned that you're an establishment candidate. They feel that you're out of touch, especially among young female voters. How do we know that you're in tune with the needs, priorities, and philosophies of the younger generation?
BIDEN: Look at my record. I -- no one's done more -- I found as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania young people, in fact, are very concerned about guns. I have the most advanced plan for guns.
I'm the only one who's taken on the NRA and beaten them.
In terms of climate change, one of the great concerns of a generation, a younger generation, and I have laid out clearly a plan that has been widely accepted as being very forward-leaning.
I find that they are considerably concerned about education and how they can pay for their education, get access to it. That's why I proposed free community college and being able to write off your student debt, if, in fact, you volunteer and you get involved in an agency working for, for example, women's organizations.
So I find myself in a position where I think it's mainly because I've been out of office for three years that I don't think a lot of the younger people know my record. I'm very proud of the record, and I think the more they see of it, the more I'm likely to get the kind of support I get on campuses around the country.
COOPER: Vice President Biden, this is George Matthews from Nashua. He works in manufacturing and is also currently undecided. Welcome, George.
BIDEN: Hey, George.
QUESTION: Russian President Vladimir Putin has interfered with Georgian, Ukrainian, French, Germany, U.K., and U.S. elections. He has occupied territories of Georgia and Ukraine. What will you do as president of the United States to end all of these attacks, which some have said are acts of war?
BIDEN: Well, I think they are. They're acts that are violating our sovereignty. I'm the guy who, in fact, went over to our NATO colleagues and spoke with the -- worked out with a group of NATO leaders and European leaders an agreement before their last series of elections a year and a half ago, where we got everybody running for office to take a pledge that, in fact, they would, in fact, let anyone know that if there was any interference taking place, they would reject any outside help. And one of the very reasons why the president got impeached is because he went to outside folks, seeking help in this -- in our election. But I think we have to go -- we have to understand that Vladimir Putin
-- when the president stands before -- on the world stage and turns to Vladimir Putin -- and this is something I know a lot about, because I've spent a lot of time with Vladimir Putin alone and with other people -- this is a guy who, in fact, is not anything remotely approaching a democrat with a small "d." His entire objective is to weaken Eastern Europe, bring down NATO, so that he does not have to face the constituency that, in fact, he faces now, in terms of impact on his economy and/or impact at all, on anything.
And so what we have to do is we have to make sure -- make it clear to Vladimir Putin -- by the way, you know, Facebook said they're not going to take down ads, even if they're true. Well, guess what? They've taken down thousands of Putin ads and thousand of Russian ads where they have identified that they're putting up bots for me, thousands of them misrepresenting me, saying lies about me.
So what we should be doing is everybody should take the pledge that if they see anything or have any -- any information at all, candidates, they will not accept any help, they will not get involved, they will expose the fact that, in fact, he is interfering. The entire Russian apparatus is interfering.
And look what's happened. The president stands on the stage at the G- 20 before the whole world, looks at Vladimir Putin and says, when they ask did you raise with his interference -- say, well, he told me he didn't interfere. Why would Vladimir Putin want to interfere in our election?
When 18 -- 18 -- of our security agencies said we have absolute proof, I guarantee you there's proof. And what are we doing? What are our friends in the Congress doing? They're blocking the ability to make sure we secure the election. We should be making available to all the states a way in which we will help them fund the change in their electoral process so that they can have the machines that are not able to be tapped, that -- paper ballots, et cetera. It costs a lot of money.
There is a bill on the desk of Mitch McConnell to be able to bring up. What are we doing? Why are we putting our head in the sand and pretending that these guys don't want to interfere in our election? They have. They are. And they'll continue to be. It will be an overwhelming priority for me when I'm president of the United States to see to it that ends and there will be consequences if it doesn't.
COOPER: Looking back...
Looking back in the final year of the administration, of you and President Obama, was there more -- looking back, was there more you could have done to prevent Russian interference?
BIDEN: In retrospect, there is something -- look, we found out -- we were informed by the agency, the director of central intelligence, that there was evidence that they were interfering in electoral process, trying to break in everything from machines to change voter registration, to encourage people to have doubts about the legitimacy of our electoral process, OK? But that was in August.
We then went to what -- there's a Gang of Six -- you're able to have -- call the president -
the president can call together a group of Democrats and Republicans, leadership, and tell them something that is highly classified -- because it was at the time -- and say we all ought to speak out against this.
Because what Barack Obama was worried about was if we spoke out against it, without having more proof and support, then, in fact, what would have happened is they said we're trying to interfere in the election.
And so it wasn't until after we got out of office that -- before we left the White House that we knew the detail of how deep they were. But we went to Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership in the House, they said, no, no, we don't want any part of pointing this out, we don't want any part of getting involved in this. That's what happened. We didn't know for certain hard data until the election was over.
We had clear, overwhelming circumstantial evidence that it was being done and we wanted everyone to speak out. And President Obama did confront Putin, did confront Putin at a meeting, saying that stop it, stop it. He denied he was doing it. We believed he was doing it.
But if we -- the concern was, imagine what would happen if on the eve of the election we came out and said the Russians are trying to damage Hillary Clinton. I think it would have been -- it would have blown up, in a way. So we needed everybody to say, he's not damaging -- not damaging anyone in particular. This is what's going on. But our Republican leadership refused to participate.
COOPER: When you talk about consequences for Vladimir Putin, if it continues to interfere in elections, what kind of consequences are you talking about?
BIDEN: The kind of consequences I'm talking about are dealing with their cybersecurity invasions of our security. And we have to make it clear that we would respond in kind. The next -- the next confrontation is less likely to be a nuclear exchange than a cyber exchange. And what we have to worry about is, what are they going to do?
We have to organize, not only -- you said -- I spoke to a businessman, a manufacturer. You not only have to get the agencies involved, you've got to get American business involved to make it clear that we have a system by which we can all deal together with making sure we know when there is a cyber breach.
With regard to Putin, we should be -- well, let me put it this way. I know President Putin, and he knows I know him. And he knows me. And he knows that there will be similar consequences if he engages -- engages in trying to interfere with our election by moving in a direction to seek greater sanctions against Russia, because they're doing it, as you pointed out, sir, all across -- all across Europe and other parts of the world.
But one more thing. We also have to make it clear the Chinese, the Chinese are engaging in similar practices, not nearly as in depth, not nearly as significant, but they're real. We have to stand up and organize the world. The world is not a self-organizing operation. It requires American leadership.
And what's happened is we've lost our credibility around the world to convince our allies and our friends that, in fact, we are on the right page, that we should all work together, because we've walked away from them.
We've embraced Putin, we've embraced Kim Jong-un. We have gone out and dealt with thugs in ways that we've never dealt with them before. And we've poked our finger in the eye of our allies, I mean, literally. Literally poked our finger in the eye of our allies. And they're unwilling to trust us.
Look what's happened with regard to, Anderson, with regard to what happened recently in Iran. Have you ever heard of -- you can't answer, I know, but has anyone ever heard of a time when our European allies, our NATO allies, made a moral equivalence between us and Iran, saying, "Both of you, stop it"? Did you ever think, any of you, any of you military women or men, did you ever think you'd see a time when our NATO allies would say, "Stop, both of you, both of you"?
Because we have distanced ourselves so badly from our allies. And if you think I'm exaggerating, look what happened on the 70th anniversary of NATO. OK, 70th anniversary, a great historic accomplishment. After the president left, there was an unfortunate circumstances where our allies, the leaders of the free world, were making fun of Trump, pointing out they didn't think he knew anything, they didn't trust him, et cetera.
It wasn't just an embarrassment to the United States, as a country. It was devastating in terms of the -- it says a lot about whether or not the rest of the world and the intelligence communities are willing to work with us, share everything with us. It's a significant problem.
Like I said, the world is not self-organizing. When we create the vacuum, the bad guys step in. And we've got to reunite the democratic nations of the world in a way that we used to exist, existed when we left office.
COOPER: I wanted you to meet Gabriel Gever, he's a student at Dartmouth College who interned for the New Hampshire Young Democrats. He's currently undecided. Gabriel? QUESTION: Thank you, Vice President. Today, Bashar al-Assad, a man guilty of war crimes, remains in power in Syria. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died in the devastating civil war. Back in 2012, you advised President Obama against arming and training Syrian opposition forces. Do you stand by your decision?
BIDEN: No, I think you got that wrong. I didn't say that. The issue at the time was whether or not we should use military force if they were moving with chemical weapons. What I did say was, we should not -- and the president agreed -- and the military did -- we should not be sending a large number of ground troops into Syria.
What I did help do is organize an organization made up of Arab countries, Arab fighters, and the Kurds together, that took on ISIS, and they provided the caliphate, 61 nations, and with a small contingent of American forces, American special forces, training them.
Ten thousand Kurds died in defeating ISIS, re-establishing the caliphate. And what happened? What happened? This president of the United States, dealing with a man I know incredibly well, the prime minister of Turkey, what did he do? He yielded to Erdogan and he said that we would withdraw our forces from along the Turkish border between Turkey and Syria, allowing -- allowing the Turks to move in on the Kurds, who they don't like.
The Kurds, having to move to protect themselves and their families, ISIS being put in a position where they could reconstitute themselves, and what happened? Close your eyes and remember what you saw on television. What you saw on television. Our troops coming out in up- armored Humvees, our military men and women, against the advice of all the military advisers to the president. Against the advice.
And you have Kurdish women holding up babies saying, please, don't leave us, don't leave us. Do you remember what you saw? Those of you who are military personnel, you saw those men and women in our military and uniform with their heads down. They're ashamed. They're ashamed.
Who's going to trust us? We made a commitment, a sacred commitment, just like we did in NATO. We made a sacred commitment that an attack on one is an attack on all. And what this president treats NATO like it's a protection racket. If you don't give us more, we're not going to protect you. What's going on here? This is not America. And we're losing our ability to lead the world for our own safety's sake.
COOPER: Mr. Vice President, this is Patricia Henking. She's a pastor from Merrimack. Patricia, welcome.
BIDEN: Pastor, how are you?
QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you. Vice President Biden, what advice would you give a college student who has struggled with stuttering since he was a young child?
BIDEN: You know, stuttering, when you think about it, is the only handicap that people still laugh about, that still humiliate people about. And they don't even mean to. When I was a kid, I "t-t-t- talked" like that. And some of you smile. If I said to you when I was a kid I had a cleft palate, and people made fun of me, right, or a withered arm, no one would smile. No one would smile. It's a debilitating situation.
I deal with about 15 stutterers I keep in contact with, all the time. I met with the young man -- I will not name him -- day before yesterday, took him after my staff got upset because we did a town meeting like this. And I met him. I can tell when I met him, and you can tell, too, Reverend, you can see the face, you can see the anxiety in their faces.
And he looked at me and he said, "Huh-huh-huh-huh." And I said, why don't you and I go back in -- in the green room here and I'll show you how I write my speeches? Did you see the movie "The King's Speech"? Well, you should see it, if you haven't. What "The King's Speech" was all about is a man with enormous courage standing up in the middle of the beginning of war speaking to his countrymen and saying he needed help.
The guy who actually helped them write that speech knew how I do my speeches, how I mark up my speeches. I go through so that I make sure that I try to get a circumstance where I don't have to go quickly. And what happens is that, if you notice, most people who -- in fact, Mel Tillison, great singer, never stutters, but has difficulty speaking, difficulty talking, stutters badly.
A lot of people are like that. And we can overcome it. The point I make to these young people that I still work with is that, in fact, it's critically important for them not to judge themselves by their speech, that -- not let that define them.
And I get on the phone and I -- and the hardest thing to do is to
talk on the telephone, is talk on the telephone, or to read out loud, to look at a paper and have to read something. And so I work with these students.
And when I was up at Syracuse University, I worked with the school of speech pathology as a student. I was not -- I'm not a professional, but as a law student, I would spend time with them. There was a young man whose first name was Bruce from a town that starts with "B," I don't want to identify him without his permission. He's doing very well now, working for IBM. But this is a guy who could -- would -- would -- would -- my -- my -- my -- and he can speak now.
But here's what's happening. It's still halting. And so what I say to anybody out there, and any of the people you work with, young people who stutter, I'll give you my phone number -- not a joke -- and they can call me. I'll give you a private number. Because it's really important they know, they know -- they want to say, you really did stutter? And you -- and I still occasionally, when I find myself really tired, ca-catch myself saying something like that. It has nothing to do with your intelligence quotient. It has nothing
to do with your intellectual makeup. It has something to do with going back a long time, relating to -- I think part of it is confidence. And how you -- what circumstances you faced.
I know I'm talking too long about this, but I feel desperately -- I feel strongly about this. In "The King's Speech," the fellow who was, in fact, actually helped him write the speech found the speech in the attic and sent me a copy of it. Because he found out that I do my speeches the same way.
So what I do, if I say, the Democratic presidential town hall is tonight on CNN, I'll say, the presidential town hall -- slash -- is on CNN tonight -- slash -- it's going to have the following people -- slash -- Anderson Cooper is going to speak -- slash. It forces me to think in terms of not rushing, to be able to talk in a way -- and when you begin it, it's really hard. It's really hard to say to -- for example, you know, you say, well, let me tell you what I want to talk about.
Because you have to break it up. Because you get so nervous when you say, let me tell you what I want to talk about. So there's a lot we can do. And, Reverend, I'm happy to. I really mean it.
I have -- one young man that I met, I don't have permission to use his name, but I met his mom. She was very involved in Tennessee with Democratic politics. I could tell when I saw him, when he put his hand out, he went like this. And I said, why don't you and I go back and help me write my speech here? He ended up being able -- he was in sixth, seventh grade. He spoke at his class commencement, and he went on to a great university, where he, in fact, is doing well.
But it still is something that you have to be able to work yourself through, because you will slip once in a while, and it's embarrassing. And it shouldn't be. It doesn't define who he is or who she is or who they are. I'm sorry. But, anyway, I feel -- it's a big deal.
COOPER: Actually, I just want to follow up on that. My mom actually stuttered, and even at 95, when the last couple of years -- the last year of her life...
BIDEN: She was incredible.
COOPER: She still had a stutter from time to time when she got tired, as you said. How were you able to -- how were you actually able to overcome it? I mean, how did you learn how to do that with the writing?
BIDEN: What I did was, I didn't have professional help, but I had three things going for me. I had a mother who had a backbone like a ramrod. And she'd look -- she'd go, Joey, look at me, look at me, Joey, you're handsome, you're smart, you're a good athlete, Joey, don't let this define you, Joey, remember who you are, Joey, you can do it.
And so every time I'd walk out, she'd reinforce me. I know that sounds silly, but it really matters. The worst thing a parent can do is finish the kid's sentence. Mom, I w-w-w-want -- you want what? Don't finish their sentences, number one.
Number two, what I found was -- I practiced. You know, when my colleagues kid me, as you heard about, always quoting Irish poets. Well, I had a book of Yeats' poetry, because my uncle, Ed Finnegan, loved Yeats. And we had a small bedroom with four bunks in it, I mean, two bunks, four beds, and occasionally -- he was a traveling salesman, when he'd be down in Delaware, he'd sleep with us. And he'd have -- and I would get up in the night, in the middle of the night with a flashlight, and I'd look in the mirror, and I would try to memorize what I could. And another small book on Emerson quotes.
I remember the first one, looking in the mirror with a flashlight in my face, because you get embarrassed because you -- you -- you -- you contort your face, and it's embarrassing. And so I'd stand there and say, meek young men, grow up in libraries, believing it's their duty to accept the words of Cicero, Bacon, and Locke, forgetful that Cicero, Bacon, and Locke were only young men in libraries with themselves.
Or, you know, history teaches us not to hope on this side of the grave, but then, once in a lifetime, that long forward tidal wave of justice rises up and hope and history rhyme.
I would practice and practice and practice, because I was determined, determined to overcome it. And I was led to believe I could. And I basically did. And it's not appropriate for me to ask you about your mom, but your mom was an incredible lady.
COOPER: Yes, she was.
BIDEN: No, no, she was an incredible lady. And the idea that Gloria Vanderbilt would be in a position where she stuttered -- I want everybody to know that we can get through this. What's the one thing you're concerned about most when you have a real problem and it's devastating to you? And someone comes up and says, "I know how you feel." And you know they have no idea how you feel. When someone who comes up to you and says, "I've been through this, I can tell you, I know how you feel," you immediately say, "Tell me." Because all people are looking for is to say, "You made it. It's possible to make it, huh? It's possible to make it."
How many of you lost someone to cancer? Raise your hand. Husband -- OK, when someone comes up, that person you lost, you say, I know how you feel. And they have no idea if they haven't lost somebody, but if they have, you know, you look at them, and you say, intuitively, I guess there's a way through, I guess I can make this, I guess I can make it.
My mom had an expression. She said, Joey, you're defined by your courage and redeemed by your loyalty. You're defined by your courage and redeemed by your loyalty. It's about -- it really is about reaching out. And I don't want -- I'm not making this political, but that's what I
find so reprehensible about what's going on now. Making -- when -- in my household -- and in mine with my children, as well -- no one is -- no matter how bitter the fight is with a friend, or anyone else, you can never say something about them that was true. You can never say something -- if they were ugly, you couldn't say, "You ugly so-and- so." You can say, "You're a jerk."
No, I really mean it. Because things that people cannot control, it's not their fault, no one has a right, no one has a right to mock it and make fun of them, no matter who they are.
I probably got in trouble for saying I empathize with Rush Limbaugh dying of cancer. I don't like him at all, but he's going through hell right now. He's a human being. We just have to -- we just have to reach out a little more for people, man. We don't do it enough. We've got to heal this country. We didn't use to do -- we didn't used to be like this. Some were, but we weren't as a nation. We weren't like this.
Anyway, I'm sorry.
COOPER: We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back with Vice President Biden.
COOPER: Welcome back. We are with former Vice President Joe Biden for a live town hall from New Hampshire. I want to go back to the questions. Actually, I want to point out, yesterday was World Cancer Day. Obviously, it's very personal for you. Your son, Beau, died from brain cancer.
You had said in the past that, if elected, we're going to cure cancer. Do you believe a cure is that close, potentially?
BIDEN: Yes. Let me make -- well, I said two things. I said, I believe we can cure some cancers and make other cancers a chronic disease. There are other 204 different strains of cancer requiring different methodologies to deal with them. And we have so many tools available to us now.
The president allowed me to set up the moon shot, and then I left office and set up the Biden Cancer Initiative. We have 17 Nobel laureates and 21 heads of cancer hospitals. And what's happening, Anderson, that didn't happen before is that docs don't play well in the sandbox together. It's not that they don't work like the devil. They're incredible. They're brilliant. They work hard.
But back in 1970, when Nixon decided that he was going -- to was -- to declare war on cancer, he had no army, he had no capacity to do it, no ability to share data. Now we can do a million, billion calculations a second. We're in a position where we can exchange information that's real.
And what I was able to do with the cancer initiative was to turn this from an objective into a movement. And so one of the things that we now have is we've set up, for example, we know that -- and this is what I mean by why I think we can make great progress -- we're learning that -- and some docs are out here, maybe oncologists, as well, that, in fact, there may be multiple drugs needed to deal with a particular strain of cancer, just like with AIDS.
And so -- but the idea of getting four or five folks working on -- you know, people working on the same cancer strain to give you their information is almost zero. So sometimes it's best not to know a lot of detail.
So I suggested, why don't -- why are we able to go out and say, assign a numerical value to the effort you have underway, and you and you and you -- and we say, OK, the effort you have underway, if you put your research on the table, and then we find a cure, it's worth 28 percent of whatever we do, yours is 17, and go down the list.
So we got a number of these major operations to do that and put their drug on the table that they're working on, because if, in fact, they don't have to spend another $50 million or $100 million, but together, we have outside people with expertise being able to come in and we made them -- we provided for immunity from suing, from being sued, no liability, et cetera, and so now, if, in fact, you get a cure for a particular drug, a particular specific strain of cancer, all of a sudden, you get 28 percent or you get 16 percent.
We did the same thing, cancer genome.
When -- we go out now -- we couldn't a long time ago -- and you can take the cancer cell that, in fact, is one that -- a cancer you have. Imagine if we could take every single solitary sequence cancer genome for a particular type of cancer and put it in one place. And you had a million samples. Well, we can do a million, billion calculations per second. We can find out why that drug with the cancer -- you have that cancer, and you have that cancer, why it worked on you and didn't work on you. We can narrow down these incredibly specific differences that are there.
For example, when I was asked to do it, to put together this cancer initiative, the moonshot, for the president, the one great thing about him, he always gave me presidential authority so I could task anybody in the administration. They asked me why I brought into the Department of Energy, why I brought in NASA.
Well, a lot of people, those of you who had someone dealing with cancer, particularly brain cancer, you find that the radiation sometimes does more damage than it helps. But guess who knows more about radiation than anybody in the world? NASA. NASA knows about it. So now they're using protons and finding out new technologies. Proton beams can be used and not do as much damage. There's a whole lot of exciting things going on. And, Anderson, What I'm going to do, and I really mean that, I think I
can get it done, we have a thing called DARPA, you know well, the defense agency. They're the guys who came up with geo-positioning, the interest, a whole range of other things. And what they do, it's a separate agency, works on specific programs that will in fact consequentially impact our defense capabilities.
Well, I want to do the same thing for the Department of Health and provide ARPA-H (ph), and invest, invest $50 billion in that agency just like we do in the military side, get the leading Nobel laureates to decide which cancers are the most promising ones to find diseases on, and do extensive research at a federal level on what to do about those particular -- that particular cancer.
We can make enormous progress. And by the way, you know, the -- I'm going on too long. Anyway, I feel very strongly about it. But I promise you, I guarantee you, we're going to be able to make enormous progress, enormous progress. Docs and researchers are now in fact working much harder.
I've met with over 1,900 researchers, and guess what, they work like the devil. But they're not clinicians. So they don't have (INAUDIBLE) like the -- but all of you clinicians out there know, and come up and say, doc, I know I'm not going to make it but can you give me three more months just to see the baby? Doc, can you just give me -- like my son, can you just give me a couple of more months so watch my son speak at his moving-up ceremony in school?
And this gets down to days. It's not about forever. It's days. It's months. And it can make a gigantic difference in people's lives and families' lives. And we're going to do it, I promise you.
COOPER: Mr. Vice President, I want you to meet Frances Donahue. She's a retiree from Merrimack. She's currently undecided. Frances?
FRANCES DONAHUE, RETIREE: Good evening, Vice President Biden.
BIDEN: Good evening.
DONAHUE: What is your criteria for choosing a running mate?
BIDEN: Are you available?
BIDEN: Look, it's incredibly presumptuous for me at this stage to be talking about a running mate. And I'll get killed if I get specific. But let me tell you what rather than who, and there's a number of incredibly qualified people. The first criteria is that I have to -- particularly in my case because I'm older, just like with John McCain, I have to pick someone, if God forbid something happened tomorrow, if I contracted what my son had or something like that, that the person is ready on day one to be president of the United States. But the second criteria is I would very much like my administration to
look like the country, like Barack and our administration looked like. Black, brown, women, men, gay, straight, across the board, to look like the country. As vice president, I think it would be wonderful to have a woman or a person of color as vice president. But the most important thing I've learned from my relationship with Barack, I call him Barack, not president, because I don't want to confuse him with the president.
BIDEN: At any rate, one of the things I learned is that no president in the 21st Century can handle the job all by themselves. It's just too much that lands on your plate. So you've got to be prepared to turn over significant responsibility, as the president did with me on matters relating to a
whole range of issues, and turn it over and run it from beginning to end.
Like I gave him a memo on how we should deal with the $900 billion program we had, the Recovery Act, to keep us from going into a depression. And I wish I hadn't because at the State of the Union he turned and said, and "Sheriff Joe" will do this, he's going to do it. He loved doing that at commencements -- I mean, at commencement, at States of the Union.
But when he did it, he gave me presidential authority. And the most important thing I know, I know is necessary from being vice president, we're listed by most presidential scholars and vice presidential scholars as the two closest president and vice president in American history. Whether that's true or not, I don't know. But I know we were close and became very close friends and our families were.
But I know one thing. You have got to be on the same page. Whomever I pick, man, woman, whoever it is, has to agree with my strategic vision for the country. We can disagree on tactics. But unless you agree -- and they can be totally trustworthy, but if they don't agree on strategically where we are, it's impossible to say, here, you take this responsibility with regard to Ukraine, you take care of it and just do it.
You have to know you're on the same page. So that's the first criteria I know has to exist no matter who you pick.
COOPER: Mr. Vice President, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
BIDEN: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up, Senator Elizabeth Warren joins Chris Cuomo here on the stage. Stay with us.