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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Presidential Town Hall With Mike Bloomberg (D), Presidential Candidate. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 26, 2020 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:14]

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And live from Charleston, South Carolina, at the Memminger Auditorium, this is a CNN town hall event.

I'm Anderson Cooper.

We have just heard from President Trump addressing the administration's response to the coronavirus, as well as the mentioning latest on the shooting at the Molson Coors complex in Milwaukee.

Information is still coming in on that shooting. As of now, authorities say there are multiple fatalities, and the alleged shooter is also dead.

We're going to continue to bring you any updates throughout this evening as we learn more. And we will be discussing coronavirus, as well as gun violence, throughout this evening with four Democratic presidential hopefuls.

Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg is here, former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Senator Elizabeth warren.

As you know, we are three days away from a major test here in South Carolina, the most diverse contest so far in this election cycle.

Many of the voters here are undecided, and they're eager to hear from the candidates. So, let's get started.

Making his first appearance at a CNN presidential town hall, please welcome former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Welcome. Thanks.

BLOOMBERG: Thank you. (APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: Thank you, everyone.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: We -- before we get to the audience, I just want to ask you about what the president just talked about.

We just heard from the president. He said that the U.S. is very, very ready for this, talking about the coronavirus. They have done a great job, he said, keeping it at a minimum here in the United States, and he's putting Vice President Pence in charge of the effort.

Do you have confidence in this administration to handle a potential pandemic? What would you do differently?

BLOOMBERG: I feel so much better.

(LAUGHTER)

BLOOMBERG: No.

Number one, he fired the pandemic team two years ago. Number two, he's been defunding Centers for Disease Control. So, we don't have the experts in place that we need.

I hope he's right that the virus doesn't come here, that nobody gets sick. That would be a wonderful outcome. But the bottom line is, we are not ready for this kind of thing.

And the president is not a scientist, is a nice way to phrase it, doesn't seem to believe in science. We are as exposed to this kind of thing as we have ever been, probably more so.

COOPER: What would you do if you were president right now?

BLOOMBERG: Well, right now, you have to marshal the teams. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a team in place.

I can tell you what we did in City Hall back in New York. We had -- for Hurricane Sandy, for 9/11, for the swine flu -- there are a whole bunch of things that happened during the 12 years I was in office. And we were ready for it, in the sense that we had played out what would happen, how we would communicate with people, how we would distribute drugs, how we would include the hospitals and the nurses.

And what do you do about the seniors homes and people with special needs and that sort of thing? You can't just walk in and all of a sudden go and create the kind of environment where everybody gets taken care of.

And he has left us very exposed. And I think it just -- I spell team T-E-A-M. There's no I in team. I always joke about it.

But, in his case, the only letter he uses is I. And nobody's smart enough to know all this stuff, particularly since this is not his bag, if you will.

He doesn't have any understanding of science, of public health. And he has left us without the team that he needs to address the issues.

Now, there are some people in CDC and these other agencies that are competent and there. But you have to plan for this stuff. You have to game it out. You have to see what will work and what doesn't.

And none of this stuff is easy. You say, all of a sudden, well, what happens if this -- well, we will move people. But then it turns out that there's no electricity when that happens, so the buses don't work and the cars don't go. The street lights are all stopped.

And unless you go really through a simulation all the time, you just can't feel comfortable and be prepared. Then you have to trust to luck. And I hope we have some luck, but that's not a good strategy.

COOPER: I want to go into our audience.

As you know, as we talked about, as I mentioned at the top, the mayor of Milwaukee reports multiple people have been killed in a shooting at the Miller (sic) Coors campus.

It brings me to the topic of gun violence, and that's where we want to begin tonight.

I want you to meet Melvin Graham Jr. He's the brother of Cynthia Graham Hurd. She was a beloved librarian here in Charleston for 31 years. She was killed in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in June of 2015, along with eight other people.

Melvin says he's supporting former Vice President Biden.

Melvin, I'm so sorry for your loss. Welcome. I'm glad you're here.

What is your question?

QUESTION: Good evening, Mayor Bloomberg.

[19:05:00]

My question is, what can you do to bring commonsense gun control into law and close all the loopholes with and without Congress?

BLOOMBERG: Well, we have created an organization, Everytown for Gun Violence.

It has six million members across the country. A subgroup within it is something called Moms Demand Action. And you see them. They have these white -- red shirts on, Moms Demand Action on it.

And what we have done so far is, we have about 20 -- I think it's 20, 21 states that now have background checks, which I'll come back to in a second, and also red flag laws.

Unfortunately, last time I checked, there were 50 states in the union, and we still have 30 to go. And it would be easier if we could do this at a federal level.

But I noticed just backstage, when I was watching the president, he said, our prayers should be with the families.

And I'm sympathetic with that.

But what he should have said is, and we're going to do something to have background checks to stop guns from being sold to people who shouldn't buy them, people...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: Whether you look it or not, the Second Amendment gives you the right to bear arms.

But the Supreme Court has said, there are reasonable restrictions that we can put on that privilege without violating the Constitution. The reasonable privileges include things like having background checks, so you don't sell guns to minors, to people with psychiatric problems, or people with criminal records.

And if you did that, and just took 24 hours to go through the background check, you would make a very big difference in this country.

Let me give you the numbers. This year, 40,000 people will be shot with illegal and legal handguns. Forget about the assault weapons, which is another disgrace. We shouldn't be selling assault weapons to the average person. They're designed for the military to kill as many people as possible.

They're not used for going out and hunting. The last time I saw a deer with a flak jacket was a long time ago. So, you really have to focus on this.

And if you have background checks -- and let me step back for a second. The federal law requires you to have a background check before you can buy a gun in this country if you buy it from a gun store. So, the gun rights activists would say, oh, you're going to take away my freedoms.

No, right now, you can't go into a gun store and buy it, a gun, if you have psychiatric problems, you're a criminal or a minor. And, in fact, what my organization has done is, we sent undercover people into these stores to see whether or not they would insist on a background check.

And when they didn't, we sued them. And you can measure the fact that they have really done something.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: But to get back to you, out of the 40,000 people that are going to get killed, a majority of them are suicides.

And one thing about suicides, the psychiatrists will say, generally, if you want to commit suicide, and you can't do it right away, you forget about it. And so they would say, the first thing to save lives with suicides is just to stop people from doing it for 24 hours.

And that's what the background check does. And if they can't get a gun, they don't change and go to another kind of ways to kill themselves. They just don't.

And in the 20 states where we have background checks, the suicide rate with guns has come down dramatically, and it has not gone up with other ways of killing yourself.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Yes.

BLOOMBERG: So, an answer to your question is, have the background checks apply to gun show sales and Internet sales.

The reason they're not covered by the law is, when the law was written, the Internet didn't exist and gun shows didn't exist. Those were creations to go around the background check law for stores.

And we would be much better off if we could do that on a national level. So, I think you should ban AK-47s, automatic weapons...

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: ... and insist on background checks for anybody, no matter how they buy it, whether it's on the Internet or in a gun show or in gun stores.

And then the other thing you have got to do is have some education and have something called red flag laws. Red flag laws are laws where you can go to a judge and say, look, my friend or my family member is acting strangely. And there is a gun in the house. I would like you to take away the gun while we get psychiatric help for this person.

And it's just a preventive thing. And it actually does save some lives.

None of these things are panaceas for the gun problem, but they certainly make an enormous difference in how we address it. And thanks to the Moms Demand Action, who go and picket and try to get states to pass gun laws, background check laws, and Everytown that funds a lot -- it's -- and there's a lot of donors to this.

[19:10:04]

It's a very interesting thing.

COOPER: Another question gun violence. This is Allen Davis. He's a city planner for the city of Charleston. He's currently supporting Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Allen, welcome.

QUESTION: Thank you.

BLOOMBERG: Hi.

DAVIS: Mayor, you may have answered this question. But Republicans and Second Amendment rights advocates are afraid, obviously, that you will take away their guns, claiming that mental health is the real issue.

What more can be done to address mental health?

BLOOMBERG: Well, we have a mental health problem in the country, in that an awful lot of insurance plans don't cover mental health. And they should.

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: And I can just tell you -- I can't speak for everybody.

In my company, we have 20,000 employees, and there's different health care plans around the world. But, in America, we certainly provide mental health assistance.

Yes, it's true that, if you take a gun and shoot somebody, you probably needed mental health counseling or something. It's not a normal thing to do.

But the real answer is to just get the guns off the streets. What has happened in America in the last decade or so, the gun manufacturers have been working 24/7 making guns and selling them.

If you take a look at the number of houses that have guns in them, it's gone from about 35 percent down to 25 percent. So, where do the guns go, if they keep manufacturing guns, and if the houses don't have them?

The answer is, people that have guns, a lot of them tend to have lots of guns. They say they're collectors or something like that. But they can have 10 or 20 guns. And if you have a gun in your house, and you have a child, you really should think very seriously about fixing that.

We all know, when we were kids, you went and you looked up and see in your parents' closet. And we were all inquisitive. And if you have a gun in the house, the likelihood of a young kid taking that gun and playing with it is really pretty high.

And so just -- you don't want to have guns. If you have a gun in your house, you are something like 22 times as likely to get killed with a gun. There's domestic violence. There's children playing. There's accidents.

COOPER: I want to follow up.

I want to ask you about something about -- you recently tweeted about Senator Sanders. You said he's beholden to the gun lobby.

I know he voted against the Brady Bill five times. He voted to block some lawsuits against gun manufacturers. BLOOMBERG: If that isn't being in the NRA's pocket, I don't know what is.

COOPER: He says, the gun -- the gun manufacturer vote was wrong, and he wants to expand background checks and end to the gun show loophole.

BLOOMBERG: Well, I hope he has changed his mind. I don't wish him ill. If he changes his mind to do the right thing, that's good.

COOPER: Do you really believe he's beholden to the gun lobby?

BLOOMBERG: Well, I do know that he voted against background checks, which we've been for, five times in a row.

He also voted for a bill that gives the gun manufacturers protection against you suing them for misuse of their product. It's the only industry in America that is protected, the only one. And he was the sponsor of that piece of legislation. So, I don't know...

COOPER: He says it was a bad vote now.

BLOOMBERG: OK. That's fine.

Look, people make mistakes. And if you fix them, that's better than if you don't fix them, although it would be better off if you hadn't made them at the beginning.

COOPER: This is Tracy Hughes, a retired U.S. Army combat veteran. She's owner of a travel agency. She's a supporter of former Vice President Biden.

Tracy, welcome.

QUESTION: Hello, Mayor Bloomberg.

BLOOMBERG: Hi.

QUESTION: How are you?

BLOOMBERG: Good.

QUESTION: Yes.

My question is, in lieu of your apology to your constituents, after supporting and implementing stop and frisk, what have you done to help reverse the negative and life-changing effects that stop and frisk has had in your communities?

BLOOMBERG: Let -- let me...

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: Look, let me start by saying, it's a little bit difficult to talk about it, because I'm looking back on 12 years. I'm not so sure that isn't something I think about a lot.

And I think I made a mistake.

But let me tell you about stop and frisk. It is a procedure that all big cities use. It was done in New York before I got there, and they still do it now.

What happened here is, the police got very aggressive, and it got out of control. And then you start stopping people. There's less evidence that they might have a gun.

And the number of guns you get goes down. And you want -- you don't want to find guns. So, that was what happened.

I stopped the process, cut 95 percent of them out.

And then what I have done in the last 20 years since then, really, is tried to improve the schools, tried -- because, if the kids don't have an education, they tend more to get in trouble. Tried to get them after-school programs, so they have something to do. We can give them some counseling.

Athletics is an obvious one, but there's a number of those kinds of things. Building -- getting jobs for people. If the kids don't have a job, then they all stand around, and they get in trouble.

[19:15:00]

So I'm trying to do those kinds of things. We built 175,000 units of affordable housing, created 500,000 jobs. But trying to do some things to take away the incentive for kids to have guns, so we don't have to ever bring backstop and frisk.

But I think it's still done by all -- all cities. And I will say that, you know, I apologized to those kids we stopped and shouldn't have. I can't rewrite history. I look back and if I had something -- if I could do it elsewhere -- again, I would do it differently. But I've apologized. I've met way number of leaders of the African-American community to try to get their perspective on it, and what I should have done and how I can rephrase it.

But, you know, I made a mistake. And one of the things about me, when I make a mistake, and I'm going to make more in life, I'm sure, I just -- I don't sit around and -- I think about it, I try to apologize, and I try to fix it and not make that mistake again.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Let me just follow up on that. You said just here and also last night at the debate, you said we let it get out of control when I realized that, I cut it back 95 percent. You continued to defend this policy though for years. Just 18 months ago, which is five years after you were mayor, you told 'The New York Times," quote, "It was a technique that was appropriate at the time," to a lot of people -- and I think some people in the audience tonight, it seems like you only had a change of heart when you decided to run for president.

(APPLAUSE) BLOOMBERG: No, the process -- that's not true. Look, if there is an incident, a shooting or something, the police show up. And they would check to make sure that nobody there has a gun. They're still -- all cops are going to do that. They want to make sure we're safe and that there's nobody that's a shooter that's going to do other things.

Here what happened is, we did it too much, and we did it so much that we lost some sense of how many people we should stop and who was likely --

COOPER: A judge said it was unconstitutional.

BLOOMBERG: No, she said we applied it in the wrong ways but not that the practice was unconstitutional. Because look, I don't want to get down in the weeds and talk about it. We made a mistake, we did too much of it, and I cut back to almost zero and we're not doing it again.

Our current police department does the same thing. I read an article the other day in New York City, it had gone up, but only a little in all fairness.

COOPER: The federal judge granted a class action status to the lawsuit challenging the department stop and frisk tactics saying she was disturbed by the cities, quote, "Deeply troubling apathy towards New Yorker's most fundamental constitutional rights."

BLOOMBERG: She did say that. Look, one of the rights -- the first right is the right to live, and so you've got to make sure that we're safe and stop the guns. But I keep coming back to this. We just did it much too much and an awful lot of innocent people got stopped who didn't have guns.

And it was my mistake, and I apologized for it. I've asked for forgiveness. But I can't rewrite history and I've got to make sure we don't do it in the future. And hopefully my successor has learned the lesson from my mistake.

COOPER: Finally, Senator Sanders called it a racist policy, intentionally or not. Looking back on it, do you think it's a racist policy?

BLOOMBERG: No, if you -- one of the things I did to answer the question back there of what we did after that, is I made sure that our police department is a majority minority -- of minorities as is the city.

COOPER: You want the police department to reflect the city.

BLOOMBERG: That's exactly right, reflect is the exact right word; because you want people to think that the cops understand them, their culture, and whatever. That doesn't mean you're going to find somebody that you have a lot in common with every time you meet a police officer. But you'll know that someplace in the police department, if 1/10 of 1 percent of the police department -- of the citizens of New York come from Egypt, I can tell you 1/10 of 1 percent of our police department would come from Egypt, and the only place we don't mirror the population exactly is men and women because the city is 50/50 roughly and only about 35 percent of the police department are female.

It's a lot more I think than most other police departments and we're recruiting and trying to get there.

COOPER: I want you to meet Shamara White. She's from Ladson (ph), she's a customer service agent, currently undecided. Shamara, welcome.

BLOOMBERG: Hi.

QUESTION: H, happy to be here. Hi, Mayor Bloomberg, my question to you is, do you have any reparation plans for the descendants of the transatlantic slave trade? I myself am a descendent of those enslaved people, and the affects of slavery and the poverty disparity has carried over for generations.

Reparations is a small way that America can say we're sorry for the trauma and pain that your ancestors went through and that still impacts black people to this day.

[19:20:00]

BLOOMBERG: Do you know --

(APPLAUSE)

Do you know where Greenwood, Oklahoma is? It's a town right by Tulsa. And I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma maybe three months ago and heard about this and then went over to see it, and then gave an economic plan in Greenwood.

Greenwood, for those of you that don't know was called black wall street. It had nothing to do with finance, so I don't know where that name came from, but it was a wealthy African American community just outside of Tulsa.

In 1921 there was a group of white thugs who came through in the middle of the night, burnt the town to the ground and killed 200 people. That's what happened there. I mean there's been terrible things going on in this country.

In -- I think its Jackson, Mississippi, there is a memorial to the 4,000 African Americans who were lynched in this country. We've done some terrible things. Hopefully those will never happen again.

But for -- in the case reparations, I've agreed to a study -- I was asked to sign on to that. I said fine and we'll see -- my personal opinion is the first thing we have to do is focus on education, because you are never going to fix poverty unless you do something.

And if you take a look, the average -- I think this number is just staggering -- the average black family in America has only 1/10 the wealth of the average white family. Just think about that number, 90 percent less. We have to do something about that. And so I've focused on creating jobs and improving education. I have a plan coming out of the Greenwood -- called the Greenwood initiative to -- our objective is to have a million more homes in black hands over next 10 years to -- yes, so it's a good idea. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

To -- to increase wealth by -- by 1/3 and to create two times the number of black owned businesses that are here right now.

The other thing I'm working on a lot is to try to get banks to put branches in minority neighborhoods. Because if you don't have a branch bank you can't really have a checking account. If you don't have a checking account you can't get a mortgage. If you don't have a mortgage you can't own a house. And most Americans wealth is tied up in their houses.

So -- unfortunately the percentage of African Americans that own a house is almost zero compared to whites. And that's one of the reasons they don't build any wealth. And so you've got to -- but it starts with little things like not having branch banking in all of these neighborhoods.

COOPER: I just want to follow up on -- on Shamara's question. Tom Steyer said he'd support reparations -

BLOOMBERG: Yes he did (ph) -

COOPER: -- to the descendants of enslaved people in the form of direct cash payments. What do you think of that?

BLOOMBERG: Well, I think it's -- it's very complex if you look at the logistics of how you would do it and who you would do it, and that's why I think we do need a study. But I don't want to wait for a study, I want to do some things now. And that's what I'm focusing on, doing these things.

And when I say we're going to do it, I will do that even if I'm not president, my foundation, these are the kind of things that we'd want to work on, and I think we can work on it myself.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: This is Michael Sweet -- this is Michael Sweet. He's on the faculty of the Charleston School of Law. He's currently undecided. Michael, welcome.

QUESTION: Mayor Bloomberg, for Democrats to win in November there must be unity within the party. Yet, throughout the campaign and particularly the last two debates, you have all taken shots at one another, some quite personal.

There's also a vast divide between some of your policies and world views and those of the other candidates. If you become the Democratic nominee, how do you plan to bridge the gap within the party and earn the votes of the most fervent supporters of some of your Democratic competitors?

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: I guess I'm a believer that we can all say whatever we want to say, and we can all say it when it's politically expedient to do it and tell everybody that we're going to give them a chicken in every pot and everybody is going to be happy.

What I look for is what have you done in your past, show me that you actually believe these things and have done it. And so I take a look at what we did in New York City. I got elected three times in New York City in an overwhelmingly Democratic populous city, the biggest city in the country.

And I can tell you what we did in terms of pulling people together. For example, I went up to Albany, which is the state capital in New York. The Senate was in Republican hands and the assembly was in Democratic hands. I wanted to get the ability to permit gay marriages in New York City.

[19:25:00]

I'm a believer that it's none of the business who you love, who you want to marry or whatever. We should -- you should be free to do that.

(APPLAUSE)

So I went up to Albany and I went to the Republicans and I sat down with a bunch of them and I convinced the Republicans, even though I was very liberal New York City mayor.

I convinced them to vote for gay marriage. And the way I did it was talking to each one of them and explaining look, if it was somebody in your family that came to your kid, and said, look daddy, I want to marry somebody and you're not going to like who it is but this who I'm in love with.

What would you say? You wouldn't want to say no, it's your child. I mean you might not be thrilled about it but you -- in the end you want to give your child what you want -- what that child wants. And so I convinced them on that basis to actually go and pass a gay marriage bill.

Same thing with taking control of the school system. We had a school system that was dysfunctional. When I left -- when I got to New York City in January 1st of 2002, there was zero New York City schools on the states list of the top 25 schools in the state.

When I left I think it was 23 out of 25 were from New York City. You can improve schools. And we cut the gap between the wealthy kids and the poor kids and how they tested. We actually cut it dramatically.

You can do those things if you try to work together and get people to cooperate. And you do it by reaching out and I've always done that. My company's 20,000 people, and we deal all over the world. And I -- I -- when I walk down the street everybody says hello. I'm very popular in New York. It's really (ph) a good thing, like it. And I always walk -- if I walk into a building and there's a doorman, I shake the doorman's hand first. Why?

Because that doorman cares that Mike Bloomberg said hello to him or to her, though it's mostly male there, and that they go home and they say yes, I'm personal friends with Mike. My friend Mike. And it's just a ways of giving people recognition and respect.

And in the end rich or poor, no matter your ethnicity, orientation, gender, whatever; we all want to have recognition and respect and that's exactly what I know how to do.

I'm a manager. And I had 300,000 people that I supervised. And I think people would say -- and if you have any friends in New York City, it was certainly 12 very good years, and it was because our workforce cooperated and the public understood and the public cooperated.

Pulling people together, making them feel that they're part of the solution is what management is all about. That's what I do.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Mike Bloomberg will be right back with more from former Mayor Bloomberg. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:32:02]

COOPER: And welcome back to our live presidential town hall from Charleston, South Carolina, with former Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

We're going to go back to the audience in just a second.

I want to just ask you. We -- right before the break, we were talking about -- the question was about bringing the party together if elected.

BLOOMBERG: Yes.

COOPER: You have promised to -- or you -- I saw your campaign manager on February 24 said in an interview that you have promised to support any of the Democratic candidates.

He -- your campaign manager said you would use your money to support Senator Sanders if he wins the Democratic nomination.

Last night, a Sanders -- a top Sanders adviser, Weaver, said, it's hard -- it's a hard no on accepting your help.

In response, one of your aides last night said, it wouldn't be prudent to spend on behalf of someone who didn't want it.

So, just to be clear, if Senator Sanders win -- wins the nomination, would you support his campaign?

BLOOMBERG: OK, look, I have always thought it's ridiculous to say, I will support the candidate no matter who it is, because you might not agree with him. And that's how we got Donald Trump.

The party supported him, no matter how bad he was. And they shouldn't have. We wouldn't have had Trump if they didn't do that.

Having said that, it's easy for me to make the commitment that I will support any of the Democratic candidates if they get the nomination, because...

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: But it's easy to do it, because the alternative is Donald Trump. And that, we don't want. So...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: And let me also say, I made a commitment that we have these campaign offices all over the country, and we will keep the main ones open through November 3, so, whoever is the nominee can use those.

COOPER: Wow.

BLOOMBERG: Yes.

COOPER: How much do you -- do you know...

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: You probably haven't made thought about not winning, but if it's not you, do you know how much you would spend for the nominee?

BLOOMBERG: No, I don't know. I haven't thought about that, because I plan to be the nominee, obviously.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: That's what I thought.

All right.

Our next comes from Alex Kreitman, a vice president for a digital marketing agency -- digital marketing agency -- excuse me. He's still undecided.

Alex, welcome.

QUESTION: Good evening, Mayor Bloomberg.

BLOOMBERG: Good evening.

QUESTION: Living in a coastal city like Charleston, we love and respect nature and our climate, since it surrounds us. But our city is prone to extensive flooding. If elected, what steps would you take to ensure that coastal cities like Charleston are not underwater in 10, 20 or 30 years from now?

BLOOMBERG: Well...

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: Well, Bloomberg Philanthropies, working with the Sierra Club, is trying to close all of the coal-fired power plants in this country.

That's one of the first steps. Coal is a very polluting kind of fuel, although natural gas is not all that much better, but somewhat better.

So far, we have closed or in the process of closing I think it's 304 out of the 530 coal-powered power plants in this country. So we're like 60 percent there already, and we have a plan. And I think we will get it done in the next five years of getting almost all of the coal- fired power plants.

[19:35:00]

If you can do, that's the biggest thing you can do to reduce greenhouse gases. And in the United States, we have brought greenhouse gases down I think it's like 14 percent already, just based on that.

But we also do a lot of work trying to encourage people to behave responsibly. If you want to do something for the climate, turn off your air conditioning when you leave in the morning, if there's nobody home. You will save a lot of energy. And that's -- you're going to save the greenhouse gases that come from producing that energy.

Paint your roof white. We had this program in New York City. Al Gore and I got up on these flat roof buildings, and we had these rollers, and we were painting. And people laughed at us, but the white paint reflects off the sun, reduces the need for energy to cool your house.

And if you fly over New York City now, every -- and if I'm wrong, it's by one or two every five blocks -- almost every single building has been painted white, because, for two cans of paint, you save 25 percent on your electric bill.

We have tried to push people to buy complex fluorescent light bulbs and ICDs, rather than incandescent light bulbs. Drive fuel-efficient cars. Electric cars make a good deal of difference, as long as you don't generate the electricity from coal.

And that's unfortunately what's happening in India. They're going to all electric cars. That's their objective, except, they grow -- they make the electricity with coal. So it's worse than if they just left them the old ways.

But if you can get over that -- in America, we don't have that problem. We're doing the kinds of things do reuse greenhouse gases.

And then there's education. And we have a president that just does not understand and doesn't believe this is happening.

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: Well, you can measure -- well, just turn on your television and look at the floods. Look at the fires. Look at the storms.

I mean, this is not something that is going to happen 2050, which some people talk about, or even 2040. The numbers are coming in so much worse than all of the scientists had predicted.

You should be talking about 2030, which is only 10 years from now, nine years from now, for an awful lot of those things, at the rate the glaciers are melting, at the rate the oceans are warming up, which gives you bigger storms, at the rate the oceans are getting -- going up.

And I saw today the president took away money from a flood control system that they wanted to build in New York. Now, I don't know whether it was the right one or not. I have been out of there -- office for a few years.

But we really dealt with Hurricane Sandy when the tides came up and did an awful lot of damage. And we need something like that. And you need it in a lot of places.

You have to understand, in this city and in cities around the world, you are going to have higher oceans, and so you have to start getting prepared for it. But now is the time to do it.

And just holding your head or burying it in the sand, if you pardon the pun, is not a good strategy. You will have to deal with bigger storms that move slower, so they will do more damage when they hit you, and ones that will have tidal surges and bring a lot of water into the cities. And most cities are not prepared.

And keep in mind, most people live very close to the ocean.

COOPER: There's obviously societal changes that -- involved with a lot of that.

BLOOMBERG: Yes.

COOPER: For coal workers, what happens?

BLOOMBERG: You have -- I'm a believer that we have to find programs, training programs, for people who get displaced by technology and changing patterns and changing tastes.

And so it's not just coal miners. The number of coal miners in the country is dramatically less than it used to be. If I remember the number, it's like, 1980, there were 200,000 or 300,000 coal miners. In the '20s, there were a million coal miners. Today, it's about 50,000 people work in the industry.

And as the coal mines get phased out, you can use them to bring some of the land back, because coal -- people that own coal mines have an obligation to repair the land after they take the coal out, which they tend not to do. And they tend to walk away from their obligations for health care for the miners and all of the pensions they promised.

And so it's really -- the coal miners just get a double-barrelled bad luck here. But we have to do something about it. And so you have programs to try to train them.

It is difficult, because you're not going to get somebody in West Virginia to move to California, instead of working on a coal -- in a coal mine to make solar panels. That's not realistic.

You're going to have to find jobs in West Virginia, where they live, because they -- it's very difficult to move, and a lot of these families have been there for generations. And I think we have a societal obligation.

But there's people that work in retail and lots of other stores that are being pushed out of work.

I can just tell you, in New York City, we have a couple of empty stores in almost every block in Manhattan. And they were all clothes companies that no -- clothes stores and retail stores that no longer have customers, or customers are buying the product online, or customers are renting.

Real people sell their clothes. Rent the Runway. People rent clothes, instead of buying them. And the stores that used to sell clothing go out of business, and all the people that work there are unemployed.

[19:40:10]

You can't walk away. And that's one of the great challenges. And A.I. is going to make this so much worse, because A.I....

COOPER: Artificial intelligence.

BLOOMBERG: Yes, artificial intelligence can do a lot of the things that white-collar workers do.

A lot of the white-collar work is moving papers around. A.I. can do that much better. And so the problem of how you create jobs is a very serious one.

And that's one of the things that I have some experience. We created an awful lot of jobs in New York City to address this.

And I don't want to tell you that New York has done everything right. But we've -- New York is a microcosm of the country, and we have gone through a lot of this stuff already.

COOPER: This is Ashley Falls. She's an employment attorney from Charleston. She's currently undecided.

Ashley, welcome.

QUESTION: Good evening, Mayor Bloomberg.

BLOOMBERG: I can help you with the decision.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Mandatory forced arbitration of employment disputes, including workplace sexual harassment, discrimination, and wage and hour disputes is an important topic, particularly now, in the MeToo era.

If you are elected, would you support a bill seeking to end forced arbitration of all employment disputes in the workplace?

BLOOMBERG: Well, yes, but it's...

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: I can just tell you, in my company, we do not force arbitration, period. We have never done it, certainly not going to start it.

And I think that should be the standard for the entire country. I think you're 100 percent right.

COOPER: Let me follow up on that.

Elizabeth Warren, as you know, is calling for a blanket release from NDAs for women...

BLOOMBERG: Right.

COOPER: ... who file complaints within your company.

You said you went back 40 years, could find only three cases where women...

BLOOMBERG: Correct.

COOPER: ... said they were uncomfortable...

BLOOMBERG: Yes.

COOPER: ... with comments that you made.

How many complaints of that nature did you find that were filed in your company overall?

BLOOMBERG: Most of the nondisclosure agreements every company has have to do with severance.

When you -- when somebody leaves, people -- different people typically get different severance settlements. And there's an agreement, just standard, to not talk about it.

But Elizabeth did say she wanted me to release the people who were covered by the nondisclosure agreements that applied to me. And I'm the one running for president, not the company. And so I thought about it.

And I said, yes, we would do that. And we have called the three people, or their lawyers, I assume. And what we have said is, you're released if you want to go and say something. I don't know whether anybody will.

But I can tell you that what I really did was, I changed the policy in the company, which I still own. I will put into a blind trust and sell it, if I become president, because I don't want the conflicts that Donald Trump has. But...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: But I have released -- we have made a -- changed our policy, so we no longer use nondisclosure agreements any place in the company, even around the world, going forward.

COOPER: You...

BLOOMBERG: And I think, if we did it, have done it, maybe some other big companies will do it, and maybe we can start a national trend, because I think the conduct that the MeToo movement has exposed is really outrageous.

I think nobody thought about it in the past. MeToo movement has been a good thing, and it's brought this to everybody's attention, put it on the front page. And maybe that's what it takes to fix some of these things.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: The implication by Elizabeth -- the implication by Senator Warren, in asking you, I guess, to release anybody who signed any kind of an NDA, even if it doesn't involve you, per se, but against the company, is that there was a culture -- or I guess her implication is, there was a culture of harassment or kind of all boys network.

BLOOMBERG: Well, all I can tell you is, I think we have one of the most friendly environment. We have an enormous percentage of women.

Women have the -- get the same pay as men. Women have the same promotion path that men do, and we make sure the same number move up with time.

And we just were awarded a designation as the second most friendly company to work for in America. If we weren't doing the right thing, that wouldn't have happened.

COOPER: All right, I want you to meet -- over here, this is Morgan Eppley. She's a student at the College of Charleston. She's still undecided.

Morgan?

QUESTION: Hi, Mayor Bloomberg.

BLOOMBERG: Hi.

QUESTION: As president, how would you enforce human rights policies, such as China's persecution of Muslims, despite potential economic pressures that may arise?

At the end of the day, would you put human rights first or the American economy?

BLOOMBERG: Well, I don't know that it's...

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: Number one, it's a disgrace, their human rights policies.

And it's not just against the Uyghurs. It's other ethnic groups in China, typically all in the north-northwest part of China. And we should try to pressure them to stop it.

I think it's also unrealistic to say that we are going to stop doing business with China, for a few reasons. Number one, the biggest problem facing the world is climate change, because it can kill us all.

[19:45:00]

And China is a very big part of that solution so you have to have relations with them and try to convince them, and they've got to be part of the solution, otherwise we can cut all of the greenhouse gases out of America, but China and India are so big that you really still have almost as big a problem as if we didn't do it.

And also the American economy and the Chinese economy are linked -- you don't realize how many products that you buy are either made there or how much and many (ph) products we manufacture here are sold there.

So it's just unrealistic to think that we're going to stop doing business with China, but it is not unrealistic to try to pressure them into doing things on human rights -- but it's not just human rights, they steal intellectual property, I don't think there's any question about that.

They are very unfair in treaties, in the way we do business. We can't own something there, they can own it in our country. A lot of the students who come here to study and get degrees -- we are letting them go back to China, we should try to keep them here.

One of the things in immigration is you've got to do some things quickly in immigration, get rid -- stop this craziness with 11 million people who are living in the shadows, you've got to give them a clear path to citizenship.

(APPLAUSE)

You've got to staple a green card on every degree when they get out of college, particularly if they're studying STEM, I mean, there are a whole bunch of these things, and we need more immigrants, not less immigrants -- and a lot of them come from China.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Just to follow-up, last night you were criticized by some (ph) on the stage --

BLOOMBERG: I'm shocked, I was criticized?

COOPER: Yeah, so it seemed that, you might have noticed. That, by -- because you had said that the Chinese leader is not a dictator, do you stand by that, that he's not a dictator?

BLOOMBERG: Well it's a question of what is a dictator. They don't have democratic -- a democracy in the sense that they have general elections, that is true. They do have a system where a small group of people appoint the head, and they churn over periodically.

If you go back and look at the last two or three decades there've been a number of people that had the same position that Xi Jinping has. I think the question is, if your definition is a democracy where people vote and pick their leaders, that is not what China's about and they don't seem to want it.

They like their system, and I think they're wrong. I think they'd be better off opening things up, having freedom of the press, which they don't have, having lots of different cultures come in -- that's the great strength of America, they don't seem to think that.

And I think we should work as hard as we can to change that, but you're not going to war and try to force them. It is the second biggest economic power, and we should get used to the fact that China is going to keep growing and become stronger, and we have to figure out a way to work with them while protecting our industries and protecting our country militarily.

COOPER: We're going to take another quick break, we'll be right back with Mayor Bloomberg after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:50:00]

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: And welcome back, we're here with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

BLOOMBERG: Thank you.

COOPER: I want to follow-up on something which you were criticized for last night, and have -- so you can explain --

BLOOMBERG: There were a lot of things I was criticized for last night.

COOPER: Yeah, I know, there was a lot to choose from. (LAUGHTER/BOOING)

COOPER: No -- no, I mean...

BLOOMBERG: That's OK.

COOPER: No, what I meant was there was a lot for me to choose from to ask him about, not for them - anyway --

(LAUGHTER)

BLOOMBERG: But what's interesting -- and I didn't realize it when I did the first debate last week, which didn't turn out so well, just in case you didn't notice. But it's not an attempt to find out the truth, it's an attempt to get your sound bite out there, and they talk over each other again, and again, and again -- and I found that difficult. I, this time, forced myself to do it a little bit, but I didn't grow up where you step on people, and that's what they do all the time.

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: We like these town hall formats, it gives you a chance to --

BLOOMBERG: Yes, yes.

COOPER: So you rejoined the Democratic party in 2018 after leaving the party for nearly 20 years, to the folks out there who look at you askance and say, why should Democratic voters trust you to lead their party, what do you say?

BLOOMBERG: Well look, I come from Massachusetts where there are no Republicans, so I was a Democrat there for sure. I moved to New York City where there are no Republicans, so I was a Democrat there.

It is true, I ran as a Republican twice, an Independent once because the Democratic Party wouldn't let me go out and get on the ballot, and I was an outsider -- OK, that's the way it is.

But if you want to know my Democratic credentials, I spoke for Hillary Clinton at the DNC Convention in Philadelphia in 2016, I certainly supported Barack Obama and Joe Biden -- he says no, but I was there both times for them, thank you very much.

I campaigned among the Conference of Mayors for the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. I've spent a lot of time working on Democratic causes, one of which was electing 21 -- or helping to elect 21 Congresspeople who were good on guns, good on climate -- those are my two issues.

And we helped 21 get elected this time, that swung the House from red to blue. Put Nancy Pelosi in charge, and gave her the ability to start the impeachment process, because I think that the Congress' job is to oversee the executive branch, you need that check and balance, and so we did that. I worked hard in Virginia, the state house and the governor's all went from red to blue.

So you know, you can do these things, and I go around the country working on Democratic causes. You know, nobody's bigger on guns and climate change and that sort of stuff -- and I don't just talk about it.

This year -- well, I gave away a lot of money this year because my alma mater Johns Hopkins, I gave them $2 billion so that all kids -- it's need blind (ph) now, everybody that goes to Johns Hopkins, if you don't have the money you can still go.

[19:55:00]

But in a normal year I give away all my company profits which is $800 million and to causes that you would think all Democrats -- basically all liberal Democratic policies.

COOPER: Mayor Bloomberg, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

(APPLAUSE)

BLOOMBERG: Thank you.

COOPER: I want to thank our live audience, coming up next we're going to hear from former Vice President Joe Biden. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:00:00]