Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
CNN Green Party Townall. Aired 9-10:20p ET
Aired August 17, 2016 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:17] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, and welcome to the CNN Green Party Town Hall. This is your chance to get to know the candidates behind the party that promises our real alternative in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For voters tired of this ...
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Friends don't let friends vote for Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Has anybody lied as much as Hillary Clinton?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're promising something truly different.
DR. JILL STEIN, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we stand up together, we are unstoppable. We say no to the lesser evil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For voters who wonder why them, they say why not?
STEIN: We got a future that we got to take back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To skeptics who say they got to hand the election to Trump or to Clinton, they answer ...
STEIN: We are what democracy looks like.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Green Party nominee, Jill Stein, running mate Ajamu Baraka aiming to retiate the race to join the debate and more.
STEIN: Turn the White House into a dream house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can their message get traction? Can their difference really make a difference?
STEIN: We are the ones we've been waiting for.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your questions for the ticket promising better answers, tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: All right. Welcome to all of you who are joining us here in New York across the country and around the world. We're being simulcast tonight on CNN International, CNN en Espanol, CNN Go and SiriusXM satellite Channel 116. This is our first Green Party Town Hall. We're bringing it to you, no small part, because voters, many of you, keep expressing a desire for third party alternatives.
And with us here tonight, some of those voters, most of them undecided, and guess what? They've got questions. As always, the questions come mainly from the audience in these town halls. We've looked them over, of course, to make sure they don't overlap. I'm going to be asking a few myself as well. So what do you say? Let's get to it.
Joining us right now is Green Party presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, she's a trained physician, ran for president in 2012 on a Green Party ticket, vice presidential candidate, Ajamu Baraka, is a long time human right activist, a grassroots organizer as well. Welcome to you both.
AJAMU BARAKA, GREEN PARTY VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much.
CUOMO: All right, Doctor. Let's start with the basics. The Green Party, tell the audience tonight what matters about this party. What does it offer that is better than everything else out there.
STEIN: So, the unique thing about the Green Party is that we are the one national party that is not corrupted by corporate money, by lobbyist money, or by super PACs. So we have the unique ability to actually stand up for what it is that the American people want. What everyday people want that is. We have a jobs emergency and we call for an emergency jobs program that will actually solve the emergency of climate change that we are seeing in the floods and the fires and the heat waves across this country that are so painful to watch right now. This is what the future looks like if we don't stand up and start doing something about it.
We're the one party that's actually calling for canceling student debt and bailing out a generation of young people like we bailed out the bankers on Wall Street. We can do that for this generation and unleash them to be the stimulus package of our dreams and make higher education free and health care is a human right and create a welcoming path to citizenship, end police violence, and a foreign policy that's based on international law, human rights and economic justice, not on military and economic domination, which is blowing back at us so catastrophically.
So, in short, we're standing up for everyday people and an America and a future that works for all of us.
CUOMO: Now, Doctor, speak to yourself, individually, as a candidate. Why do you believe you represent a better choice than the other candidates?
STEIN: You know, I'm a mother and a medical doctor. I'm in this really because I know there is no future for my kids unless there's a future for all kids. I'm not a professional politician.
[21:05:00] I don't need a job as a politician. I've never had a job as a politician. I've been a part of the social movements really struggling for our health, for jobs, for an environment that's healthy for us instead of these epidemics of asthma that we have, the epidemic of diabetes tied into our food supply. I got into this, really, excuse me. As a medical doctor looking at this tied of illnesses that we didn't used to have and feeling like it wasn't enough to just give people pills and push them back out to the things that are making us sick.
So, I got involved with our communities to help correct these problems at their basics. So now, I'm practicing not clinical medicine, but political medicine so we can heal our political system and start to actually fix these problems that are threatening not only life and limb, but our very existence on this planet.
CUOMO: Plenty of obvious symptoms. So, let's talk about the man to your right, your choice of running mate, Ajamu Baraka. Why was he your choice?
STEIN: Because he is an inspirational and passionate advocate for justice and for human rights. And we are at a crisis moment in this country and even globally. A crisis of injustice, of racial injustice, and economic injustice. We need a national conversation right now so that we can get past this moment, this moment of police violence and this economic violence. This mass incarceration system that has so devastated our communities. And Ajamu's background is all about these struggles for justice, and for to us bring this conversation from our different perspectives, and our different back grounds. This is exactly the conversation that America needs to have right now so we can heal and become one community and move forward based on our human rights and our human values.
CUOMO: So Mr. Baraka, what is it that is motivating your interest in this election? What is your message to the voters?
BARAKA: My motivation is that this is a critical moment that we have an opportunity to do something really different. I mean, I joined this ticket because I believe in Jill Stein, I believe in this party. The Green Party is the only vehicle we have right now that can offer a real alternative. You know, people are not ready to accept the notion that we have to be held hostage to these two elite parties. People are willing to gamble with the possibility that we can build something new and different. So I think in 2016, we have this kind of historic opportunity.
As Dr. Stein said, my whole life has been about building alternative power. It's about speaking truth to power. It's about understanding that it is the people themselves that have the possibility to transform their conditions and transform themselves. So that's my motivation, too. After all these years, to step into this electoral process, to be subjected to the kinds of dirty politics involved in this, because I really believe that at this moment, we have a real possibility of moving forward collectively in a new way. CUOMO: All right. So the question then becomes, well, how do you do
it? All right. This is a process. You get exposure. You do a lot of it online. We're giving you an opportunity here at CNN. We believe it's part of our duty to the process to represent all the different parties that are options, but that's not enough. The debate stage has a requirement, 15 percent. The media doesn't design it. As you well know, there's a committee that does it. They've come up with 15 percent of five national polls that they pick. You're nowhere near that. The libertarian candidate is nowhere near that. Together, you're not even near it. So, you sued, it didn't work. What do you do to get the exposure you will need to be competitive?
STEIN: So, you know, this is not going to get decided in a court of law. Excuse me. I think it will get decided in the court of public opinion. This is about we the people standing up. As Americans we not only have a right to vote. We have a right to know who we can vote for. And the Commission on Presidential Debates is not just an ordinary public interest commission. It's a private corporation that is run, excuse me, of, by, and for the Democratic and Republican parties. The League of Women Voters quit the debates when the commission came forward and they quit saying, "This is a fraud being committed on the American voters."
[21:10:07] Because it allows these two parties to set a standard for admission that silences political opposition. We have a right to know who our choices are. There are four candidates who will be on the ballot, that is four candidates for president, who will be on the ballot for just about every voter in the country that have the numerical possibility to actually win the election that represents a much greater diversity of choices than just Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Where one of them is a member of the billionaire club, but the other one has actually been quite an ally and an advocate for the billionaire club.
So, the American people deserve to hear from people who are not part of that economic elite and the political system that serves it. So, I want to encourage people to go to jill2016.com and sign up on our campaign to open up the debates and hold on to your hat and stay tuned. Because I don't think the American people are going to take this sitting down. There is too much at stake. We need real democracy.
CUOMO: Question about your opponents. One of the big markers in this process is when the main candidates wind up getting their first intel briefing. Donald Trump got his today. Hillary Clinton's going to get one very soon. Critics of Clinton have said because of what happened with the-mail server, and I'm bringing it up because it's been a very -- you've been very robust on this issue. They say she has shown an inability to deal with classified material. She should not get the briefing. Do you agree with that?
STEIN: You know, I'm not -- I have not been informed yet on exactly the nature of this briefing. But I will say she's under a lot of pressure right now, you know, and she's being very carefully scrutinized. Part of the problem, you know, with Hillary's abuse of the rules, she was sort of too big, you know, too big to jail on the rules. And she violated those rules with a sense of impunity and she violated them for a purpose which she stated herself that she wanted her private information private. Now, it turns out half of her e-mails, she deleted as private. If someone is working for you and half of their e-mails on the job are for their private personal foundation, it really raises questions.
So, I do have serious questions about Hillary Clinton's judgment, her safeguarding of national security information, and above all, her trustworthiness in the job where she will have her finger on the button, given how she handled major decisions, both around the war in Iraq but then especially around the war in Libya where she led the charge.
So yes, I have serious concerns about Hillary. That's why I'm in this race to provide an alternative to people who don't like Donald Trump, you know, you have more alternatives out there than just Hillary Clinton.
CUOMO: Speaking of Mr. Trump. Mr. Baraka, he's shaking up his campaign. Why? Well, with the outward signs are that he's getting ready to double down on what he believes got him here in the first place. He's going to go right back at Hillary Clinton. Forget the teleprompter. Forget about messages and all the speeches. I'm going get after her and that's what I do best. Now, many people are concerned that that's going to make what seems very negative already like a scorched earth environment. Now, you're no stranger to heated rhetoric, but do you have a concern about what may -- what this election may descend into, which means not talking about any of these people, but really devolving into a conversation about who's the worst person?
BARAKA: Well, I am because it has really harmed this -- the possibility of real democracy here in this country. When you have someone like Donald Trump and what he represents, the kind of dark forces he has been appealing to, it's only going to result in a continued deterioration of the Democratic practice and process here in this country.
You know, we're going to have to deal with Donald Trump even after the election. Win or lose. Because he is appealing to a social base that is prepared to continue to embrace some of the darker side of humanity, his appeal to folks who embrace xenophobia, racism, his bigotry around religion.
The unfortunate reality is that it has resonated with some elements of this society. So, you know, if he is committed to doing that, that's fine.
[21:15:02] We are going to have an alternative message. We're going to talk about what is best in this country and this society. We're going to talk about our possibilities. We're going to talk about why we need to build a new kind of social justice movement here in this country and new kind of democracy. So we confront Donald Trump with a positive message of hope and our positive message of real change here in this country.
CUOMO: Now, a follow-up on that is -- please. People will say, well, you know what, when Donald Trump is speaking in what some would call negatively, it's actually what he's doing is he's speaking the truth. Now, that is a criticism that's been leveled against you as well. When you've talked about the president of the United States, Barack Obama, you've referred to him in very ugly ways that are very negative. You're talking about being hopeful and aspirational. How do you reconcile that with what you've called the president of the United States?
BARAKA: Well, as you say, you have to basically call it as you see it and be prepared to speak truth to power. And my concern, my critique of Barack Obama was that Barack Obama had an historic opportunity to transform this country. He appeared not to be prepared for the moment. He allowed his commitment to neoliberal policies and a neoliberal world view to undermine his -- the possibility of greatness for this man.
So, you know, I know that people had a tremendous amount of hopes and dreams for Barack Obama, but he did not live up to that possibility. He in fact has provided cover for the continuation of policies that have had a detrimental impact on working people in this country and even minorities. So, my responsibility is to call it as I see it.
CUOMO: There are legitimate arguments to be made. Obviously, you're receiving applause for them, but he's called them an Uncle Tom. Now, that's a little bit different, they're making legitimate arguments, right? Do you see what I'm saying here?
BARAKA: Well, you know, in that conversation, it was to a specialized audience that understood the context and the reason why I framed that in that way.
CUOMO: Is there any good context?
BARAKA: Well, it's not good to be at (ph) the time, either. No. There's no good time, none of that. What I wanted to do was basically to tell people who had this hope in Barack Obama, that if we were concerned and serious about how we could displace white power, we had to demystify the policies and the positions of this individual. So that was how it got framed to sort of shock people into a more critical look at this individual. And that's how I did it. And I stand by that even though it sounds very inflammatory, provocative and probably very strange to this massive audience here tonight.
CUOMO: And for you, Dr. Stein, when you're making the decision to pick Mr. Baraka, obviously, he was your choice. That didn't bother you. You saw past that explain to the audience, once they start getting deeper into seeing you both with your backgrounds, this is going to come up. What do you want them to know?
STEIN: Yeah. I am so grateful that we have an opportunity to go beyond sound bites and I understand Ajamu's passion, his frustration and his struggle and I also understand his transcendence and the way in which this is a challenge to us all right now. To both feel the passion of our struggle, but also to be capable of transcending it and connecting with each other, healing our wounds and forging a bigger vision and a bigger community that we have to be if we are going to survive in this country and in this world.
So you know, I think we have all, you know, been guilty of using some language that doesn't play well as a sound bite. And I look forward to having the longer conversation that allows us to actually see, you know, and I worked with Ajamu for years. So I know that I have never heard him use derogatory language, to tell you the truth. And I only know his kind of steady, you know, inspired visionary kind of discussion that I find very inspiring. And I see him inspiring lots of people from many different backgrounds and bringing us together, and I think that is the challenge of our moment.
CUOMO: Well, there is a big conversation to be had. You are right, and guess what? We're going to have it tonight. There are a lot of questions for you on a range of issues and we'll going to be get to them.
Let's take a quick break. When we come back, we'll going to give the floor to the audience. It is time for their questions.
You are watching the CNN Green Party Town Hall.
[21:20:01] Stay with us.
CUOMO: We're back for the Green Party Town Hall. Time now for questions from the audience. Our first is from Gloria Tso. She's a student at Columbia University. She did support Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. But now she's undecided. She said she is leaning in favor of Hillary Clinton. So Doctor, Mr. Baraka here is your shot to win her over. Go ahead.
GLORIA TSO, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Hi, Dr. Stein. My question today is, what would like to say to win over Sanders supporters like me who are absolutely not voting for Trump but feeling somewhat disillusioned by Clinton?
STEIN: Great. So, first what I would say is thank you so much for having changed the political landscape forever. So, big thank you to all of the Sanders supporters. And the political system will never be the same. And what I have to say is that you've learned really in real-time why it is that you can't have a revolutionary campaign in a counter revolutionary party.
[21:25:07] Bernie did everything right and his supporters did everything right. But the playing field was really steeply and unfairly tilted against you from superdelegates to Super Tuesdays to voting irregularities, to the e-mails that showed how the DNC, the Democratic National Committee was colluding behind close doors with Hillary Clinton's campaign to smear Bernie Sanders in the press. And this was extremely unfair. And then Hillary now, you know, has really moved to court Republicans. Has sort of an official committee to bring Republicans over. She's appointed a centrist vice presidential candidate. They did not allow some of the Sanders' spokespeople to have a role in the -- at the convention. Bernie himself was relegated to a very low profile role.
So, what I would say is all the work you did and the incredible passion, and vision, and blood sweat, and tears that you put into that campaign that lives on. And Bernie himself said, it's a movement, it's not a man. And it's clear. Hillary does not represent what you were working for. Our campaign has been here from the start. Many people have looked to us from Bernie's campaign as plan B. So that if they ran into trouble, they could continue building this revolutionary campaign but now all the stronger for being inside of a revolutionary party that supports the work that you're doing and will continue to build it until we prevail.
CUOMO: Now, Mr. Baraka the polls show about seven in 10 Sanders supporters say they're going to go with Hillary Clinton, but they're vary degrees of strength, so they're going to do their research. They're going to see that on party platforms, the Green Party does lined up with a lot of the things that Senator Sanders was fighting for. But when they do their research, I want to give you an opportunity to clear up some of the things you've said about Senator Sanders, because not all of it was flattering.
The main idea you had was that Bernie Sanders should be seen as an ideological prop, and that there was an idea of nativism to his campaign. An idea of complementing white supremacy to his campaign, what did you mean by those statements from when the Sanders supporters come look in your way?
BARAKA: What we had to do was to raise some issues that seem to be as one point very troubling.
You know, Chris, I wanted to feel the burn. I really did. And so as Dr. Stein said, I saw from the very beginning, the real possibility for this campaign to really expand the scope of conversation here in this country, to introduce to the American people a term like Democratic socialism. To really tap into this desire that people had for real change. But I was troubled by some other tendencies. And that is that we can't build a progressive or revolutionary process by just looking at the United States of America. That, you know, you can't disconnect U.S. foreign policy from domestic policy. And so, I was concerned by some of the comments around, you know, allowing the Saudis to get their hands dirty. You know, because many of us who follow geopolitical events understand that not only were the Saudis' hands dirty, they were dripping with blood.
And so my point was that Bernie needed to understand that the America people were ready for a real progressive candidate. You don't have to play into the hands of the Democrats. You don't have to embrace Barack Obama's drone program. You don't have to suggest that, you know, be silent about other foreign policy issues. So I wanted to see a real comprehensive, progressive campaign and the people were ready for this ...
CUOMO: So why did you say that instead of hitting him over the head with being a tool of white supremacy's difficult contradictions of reinforces, race synthetism? Why did you have to hit them over the head with that, Senator Sanders if you want to feel the burn? That's not trying to feel the burn.
BARAKA: Yeah. Yeah. Because I want him to deal -- I want his supporters to deal with those contradictions like Dr. Stein I said, this wasn't about the man. It was about the movement. We've got to disconnect personalities from movement building. You know, and we've got to -- we see contradictions. We have to engage in those conversations with our friends. This was a conversation among those of us on the left, progressive people.
The Sanders supporters were pushing back, you know, when people were raising questions with the Sanders focus. Now you all are purists, you're dogmatists.
[21:29:59] And my comment in that article was look, there are some serious questions being raised. I never wrote an entire article on the Sanders campaign, but I was pushing back saying, look, you can't just dismiss the critique. If we want to be serious about really building progressive power in this country, I'm talking about our conversations among ourselves, we've got to deal with these contradictions.
So, you know, if you only look at the U.S., if you only prop up life in the U.S., you are privileging life in the U.S., you are privileging white life when the Saudis and others are involved in killing black and brown people around the world.
CUOMO: We have a question that goes to America's reach around the world. Now, let's bring in Alexander McCoy. He's a former Marine Force Sergeant. He's from Rhode Island, and he served in Saudi Arabia, Germany and Honduras. He's now a student at Columbia University. He says he's leaning toward supporting Secretary Clinton. Interestingly for you, Alexander, Mr. Baraka, I believe, is the only person who served active duty in the Armed Forces in the race right now.
So, what's your question, sir?
ALEXANDER MCCOY, U.S. MARINE CORPS VETERAN: Dr. Stein, you said that you oppose the use of U.S. Forces overseas. U.S. Forces are currently engaged in air strikes against ISIS and other military operations. My question is, do you consider ISIS to be a threat to the U.S. or to U.S. allies and partners in the Middle East? And if so, what would you do to defeat ISIS that the Obama Administration is not currently doing?
STEIN: So, you know, there are rules of engagement, international rules that if you're going to attack another country, you need to be at imminent threat of being actually attacked by them. Clearly, that threshold has not been met. ISIS is not about to launch a major attack against our country.
And we have a track record now of fighting terrorism, not only ISIS but al-Qaeda before, the Taliban before that. And this track record is not looking so good. We have spent $6 trillion, according to a recent Harvard study when you include the costs, the ongoing costs of health care for our wounded veterans who deserve the highest care possible. $6 trillion which -- since 2001, we have killed a million people in Iraq alone which is not winning us the hearts and minds in the Middle East. We have lost tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers that have been killed or severely wounded.
And what do we have to show for this? Failed states, mass refugee migrations, and repeated terrorist threats that get worse with each cycle. So ISIS grew out of the catastrophe of Iraq. Al-Qaeda in turn grew out of Afghanistan. And in fact, in Afghanistan, it was the CIA and the Saudis together who created the first so called Jihadi movement with the Mujahideen in order to make trouble against the Soviet Union.
So this has been a very ill conceived plan that has been back firing madly against us. So what we say is that we need a new kind of offensive in the Middle East. Because bombing terrorism and shooting terrorism is not quelling terrorism. It's only fanning the flames of terrorism, the misery and the poverty that drive terrorism. We are calling for a new kind of offensive, a peace offensive in the Middle East that begins with a weapons embargo. And since we are supplying, we, the U.S., is supplying the majority of the weapons to actually all combatants, we and our allies, are arming most of the fighting forces in the Middle East. We can initiate that weapons embargo. And we also call for a freeze on the funding of those countries who continue to support Jihadi terrorist enterprises.
Hillary Clinton herself said in a leaked State Department memo that in fact the Saudis are still the major funder of terrorist Sunni enterprises. So, if we started it, we and our allies have the capacity to shut it down.
CUOMO: So ...
STEIN: ... that's how we need to move forward.
CUOMO: So Doctor, just to be clear, you said you call for military spending cut of 50 percent. You want all foreign bases closed. There's no question if this is a complex problem, it's not just a military solution, but the military is almost always involved in different reckonings of a solution. Are you saying that there'd be no U.S. military presence anywhere else in the world and that that would keep America safe?
STEIN: So we now have somewhere between 700 or 800 or even more military bases around the world.
[21:35:02] Do you know how many military bases all other countries combined have? About 30. There's something really wrong with this picture. Do you know how much of our budget actually goes to maintaining this bloated and dangerous military budget? 54 percent of our discretionary budget ...
CUOMO: So you would close all of them?
STEIN: ... which is about half of your income tax is going to this failed catastrophic policy of regime change.
CUOMO: But I'm just trying to be clear. Would you close all of them?
STEIN: That would be our presumption. There may be certain bases for certain circumstances that need to remain open. But our presumption is to close the bases and our presumption is also to shut down the weapon systems like the F-35 that will cost us almost $1.5 trillion before we're done. Or to shut down the new generation of nuclear weapons which has no role whatsoever in military or on the planet. We need to be backing off and phasing out all nuclear weapons now not moving forward. There's a new trillion dollar programs ...
CUOMO: Mr. Baraka.
BARAKA: Chris, there's an assumption in your question that we have to take a look at and that is that the -- that we are going to be able to respond in a military fashion to all of these various threats. One of the reasons why we have the ISIS threat today is because of the enormous incompetency of U.S. policy in the so-called Middle East over the last 16 years.
You can't, you know, talk about the ISIS threat and then not look at the kinds of policies that help to facilitate the growth of ISIS. You can't talk about your concern about the possibility of imminent attacks in the U.S. and support policies that created a territory in Syria where people were able to train, they equip themselves and be prepared to launch attacks all over the world.
So I would invite the American people to look critically at the policies pursued by both the Bush and the Obama administrations that helped to create the problem that we now have. Look, the security issue is real. There's no question about that. OK. And people are concerned about that, and we understand that. But this sort of knee jerk response in terms of military action, we've got to be very, very critical of it, you know, and because this notion of militarism has been sold to the American population. And people, you know, just think that the first reaction is a military one. Well, what we're looking at is a political and an ideological challenge also that the U.S. foreign policy has played right into.
CUOMO: Let's get to another question. Jasmine Rebadavia she is a second grade teacher from New York City. How badly did I mangle your name though? Let me hear it the right way.
JASMINE REBADAVIA, NEW YORK CITY TEACHER: Rebadavia.
CUOMO: Oh, so close, I said it that way in (inaudible). You're currently undecided. What's your question in.
REBADAVIA: Hi, Dr. Stein, first of all, thank so much for your time this evening.
STEIN: Thank you.
REBADAVIA: I'm interested to hear more about your personal faith or your personal beliefs. I understand you grew up in a reformed Jewish household. Do you currently believe in God and could you tell us more about your personal journey in this area.
STEIN: Great. So I grew up a very religious person. I was probably the most religious person in my family. And I actually brought traditional Jewish ritual into my family because I was so excited about what was going on in my reform temple where I sang in the choir. And certainly, my view of the world, I have to say just grew out of the morality and the tales that I was learning from the Old Testament.
You know, now I'm actually in a mixed family. And I am not actively practicing any religion. But I certainly have a very strong sense of our moral and human, what shall we say fiber? Something that is spiritual, that is kind of beyond our actual grasp that inspires me and gives me great faith in other people and our capacity to be more than the sum of our parts. So, I don't fall into any particular religious box or conventional view, but I certainly carry on that spirit that inspired me way back when.
[21:40:01] CUOMO: Jasmine Rebadavia.
CUOMO: Thank you very much for being with us. Another question. I want you to meet Dr. Dyan Hes, she's a pediatrician here in New York City. She's an independent and says she still deciding whom to vote for.
DR. DYAN HES, PEDIATRICIAN: Hi, good evening.
STEIN: Good evening.
HES: So, my question is as a pediatrician, I do not allow non- vaccinated patients, nor patient whose parents want to delay vaccine schedule into my practice. I care for many children who are immunocompromised or too young to get some vaccines such as measles or whooping cough which is an epidemic now and they are very susceptible to these diseases. So when I was reading your statements, you seem to support vaccines, yet you're evasive about your schedule or the support of the schedule, so I just wanted you clarify that for me.
STEIN: So that statement about the schedule was taken out of context. So when I was practicing and following issues around immunization, which I'm not now, there were concerns at the time about the mercury dose and vaccines and how kids might be loaded up in a way related to that schedule and the presence of thiomersal in the vaccines.
And that's what I was referring to. That there were legitimate questions at that time but I understand those, you know, the thiomersal has been taken out of the vaccines, anything that would be given to a child and it's no longer an issue.
I think there is kind of an effort to divert the conversation from our actual agenda because the idea that I oppose vaccines is completely ridiculous, or that I'm anti-science. And I would encourage anybody to go look up the books that I co-authored with other physicians and public health experts at Physicians For Social Responsibility. One is called "Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging", "Toxic Threats to Child Development", those are two books actually. They're both available for free on the web. You can read them on the web or download it. They both review science and they review scientific studies to have a better understanding of what is the conditions that maybe driving the developmental disabilities, what may be contributing to these issues that we're seeing and likewise what are some of the contributors to chronic disease in adults. There are clearly, you know, environmental factors here that are playing a role.
So just for policy wonks, for geeks, for science geeks, you can show yourself if you have any doubt that I, too, am a science geek. I am certainly not hostile to science. I'm not anti-science. I believe that asking questions is part of our responsibility as scientists and as physicians. We always need to be asking those questions.
CUOMO: Dr. Dyan Hes, thanks for the question. Let's take a quick break. When we come back, we have more audience questions here at the CNN Green Party Town Hall.
[21:47:03] CUOMO: All right. You're watching the CNN Green Party Town Hall. Let's continue with questions from the audience. We have Marcela Aburdene, she's a market research analyst from Washington, D.C. She's a registered Democrat but she is currently leaning toward supporting you, Dr. Stein, in November. What's your question?
MARCELLA ABURDENE, MARKET RESEARCH ANALYST: Hi, thanks. You tweeted during a Democratic town hall at Hillary Clinton, a statement that I agreed with as a feminist. And it read "In order for women to achieve equality around the world, a feminist cannot be an imperialist and a warmonger." Can you talk a little bit more about the statement? Specifically, can you talk about the way in which do you think your feminism is different from Hillary Clinton's and the implication that would have on foreign policy?
STEIN: Thank you. Thank you so much. Really important question. In my view, you know, it takes a village to raise a child. In my view, being a feminist has a lot to do with nurturing our children. It's about equal rights for women but it's also about kind of a special vision for women that we are the care takers of children, of our parents, of our communities. There's something about us that just wants to take care of people.
And, to me, that's the height of feminism and that that is not compatible with just, you know, taking care of your own private family, and, you know, as important as that is, you know, we must care for our own kids. There are special, you know, treasure and legacy. But that we have a responsibility to be that community, so that all mothers everywhere have the ability to care for their kids and to deliver a just future for them.
And Hillary's -- many of Hillary's positions, whether it was helping to destroy the social safety net, aid the families with dependent children, welfare as we knew it, was basically destroyed by the Clintons who wanted to replace it with something else that put millions more kids into poverty. Whether it was the Wall Street deregulation, again, cheered on by both Bill and Hillary that led to the meltdown and the loss of nine million jobs and the theft of five million homes largely from communities of color and lower income families.
And then the war effort that Hillary has, especially been, you know, the engine behind whether Iraq or Libya. She wants to go into Syria and create a so-called no-fly zone which risks going to war with Russia that's already in that air space which would be a very scary thing to do.
So to my mind, that's just not compatible with what my view of feminism is that has a responsibility, not just to your own family, but to all families and to the human family.
[21:50:09] CUOMO: Another question is from Andrew Fader, he's a software engineer from the Bronx. He supported Bernie Sanders in the democratic primary. He's now leaning toward supporting Hillary Clinton. But this is your chance. Go ahead.
ANDREW FADER, SOFTWARE ENGINEER: Thanks, Chris.
Dr. Stein, given the way our political system works, effectively, you could help Donald Trump like Ralph Nader helps George Bush in 2000. How can you sleep at night?
STEIN: I will have trouble sleeping at night if Donald Trump is elected. I will also have trouble sleeping at night if Hillary Clinton is elected. And as despicable as Donald Trump's words are, I find Hillary Clinton's actions and track record is very troubling. So Donald Trump, you know, is -- bashes immigrants and is a xenophobic and racist loud mouth, but Hillary Clinton, you know, has been promoting these wars that have killed a million black and brown people in Iraq, for example.
The Democratic Party has become the party of deportation and detentions and night raids with, you know, millions of people deported under Barrack Obama. Some of them include the refugees from Honduras, where Hillary Clinton gave the thumbs up to a coup from which thousands of people have been fleeing who have not been welcomed into this country. And Hillary, in fact, has supported many of the White House policies of deportation and detentions.
On, you know, the issue of nuclear war, I am very concerned about trouble breaking out in Syria in this air war that Hillary is threatening to have. So, you know, as disturbing as Donald Trump's talk is I find Hillary Clinton's track record as actually very much of concern, too.
This politics of fear that tells you you've got to vote against the person you most dislike or the person you are most afraid of. That politics of fear has a track record because a lot of people have been, you know, that's been like the prevailing mythology. You got to vote your fears, not your values.
And what has that delivered? You know, all the reasons you're told to vote for the lesser evil because you didn't want the expanding wars, you didn't want the meltdown of the climate or the Wall Street bailouts or the deportation of immigrants, that's exactly what we've gotten by allowing ourselves to be silenced.
So in my view, we need to reject the lesser evil and fight for the greater good like our lives depend on it, because, in fact, they do.
FADER: But can you actually win in this system?
STEIN: Great question. Yes.
CUOMO: What did you say, Andrew? I didn't hear you.
FADER: Can you actually win in this -- the corrupt, rigged political system that we have? Is it actually possible for you to even come close?
STEIN: So, let me say, first, it's definitely not possible for to us win with two corporate political parties that are funded both by big banks, by fossil fuel giants, by war profiteers and by insurance companies. We are not winning. There may be differences between the two parties but not enough to save your jobs, to save your life or to save the planet.
Here's how we can win. There are 43 million young people and not so young people who are trapped in predatory student loan debt. That is a winning plurality of the vote. Ours is the only campaign that will cancel that debt and bail out young people like the establishment bailed out Wall Street. When that word gets out to 43 million people that they can actually come out and take over this election and cancel that debt, we could see something happen not splitting the vote but potentially flipping the vote, so that we, who are the underdog, deserve to be the top dog and actually could be the top dog if we stand up with the courage of our convictions.
It's not only 43 million young people locked in to student debt with no future. The birth rate is plummeting in this country, which is a real sign of a human rights catastrophe going on before our very eyes. So we don't really have a future right now to offer our younger generation. For them, there's nothing to lose and there's everything to gain by standing up, excuse me, knowing that we could actually win this if we stand up with the courage of our convictions.
[21:55:05] CUOMO: We'll talk about how you can erase student debt and a lot of other big issues when we come back. Let's take quick break. More questions on the other side. Stay with us for the Green Party Town Hall.
CUOMO: Welcome back to the Green Party Town Hall here on CNN.
Dr. Stein, you're talking about a very provocative and intriguing concept. You said there are 43 million people out there carrying student loan debt, right? And I know that number and some estimate that number could be twice that if you look at all the people who will continue to carry it up well into adulthood. Many people say it is the new mortgage of this generation.
So, the question becomes something as enticing as erasing all student debt, begs the question, "How, how, how could you every to that?" How?
STEIN: So, let me say, first, we found a way to bail out Wall Street.
[22:00:00] And when we needed the money, we found it, including about $17 trillion worth of practically zero interest loans, which was made available, you know, as needed.
We found a way to bail out Wall Street, the guys that crashed the economy with their waste, fraud and abuse. So, my point is as responsible adults, we need to bail out a younger generation that is held hostage in this unpayable student debt.
It's terrible for them, it's terrible for our whole society. Because it's always the younger generation that leads us forward to create the economy of the future and to lead the social changes that we urgently need right now.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN TOWN HALL MODERATOR: But the concept itself, as enticing as it is, there's one apples to oranges thing here, quantitative easing what you've talked about, TARP, TALP, whatever acronym you want you want to throw it and how we dealt with the banks in 2008 right or wrong.
Those loans, zero interest in some cases, some are not, were repaid.
STEIN: That's right.
CUOMO: So, that would not erase student debt, right?
STEIN: Right... Yes.
CUOMO: Because no matter interest rate is you still got the principal.
CUOMO: So, how do you do this because it's not going to be the same mechanism as you have with the banks because they repay the loans?
STEIN: That's right.
CUOMO: And how would you ever get a Congress that wants to do nothing like this to do anything like this.
STEIN: So, you know, it was easy for the banks to repay the loan. Because they're an extremely advantaged and privileged group. They get the money at zero interest, they loan it out at 7 percent so it's really easy for them to pay back those loans.
Young people are not in that situation. They don't have the jobs that we need. We don't have an economy that can employ them. So here's what I'm suggesting. That debt is largely owned now by the
federal government, the vast bulk of it. I'm suggesting that the Federal Reserve actually buy that debt like it did for Wall Street, but in this case, that it buy that debt and it basically declare that debt null and void.
Which essentially means that the Federal Reserve would be expanding the money supply into the hands of young people so that they can spend it into the economy instead of having to pay back the loans with their hard earned dollars, they now own their hard earned dollars. So, what I'm saying...
CUOMO: So, hold on, let me make sure that we understand it. So, the Federal Reserve would buy the debt.
CUOMO: So, they would expire the debt, whatever the...
STEIN: That's right.
CUOMO: ... whatever the accounting equivalent is.
CUOMO: We're talking about $1.3 or so trillion dollars.
STEIN: Trillion, that's right.
CUOMO: And then you're saying they would also take that amount of money in new currency and give it to the people who held the loans?
STEIN: No, no. What I'm saying is that they basically cancel the loans which is like giving -- it's almost like giving students money. They don't actually give them money. This means that instead of student paying the bank, the student gets the whole...
CUOMO: OK. So, they retire the entire debt. So, you have to go to Congress and say here's why I think we should expand the debt by $1.3 trillion.
AJAMU BARAKA, GREEN PARTY VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But, no. But, Chris, and I think we need to make a corrective. Quantitative easing was the creation of money. They created money and handed that money to the banks at the tune of $85 billion a month.
Let me say that one more time, $85 billion a month. So, if there's mechanisms that can be found to basically prop up the banks, why can't the American people get propped up once in a while?
(APPLAUSE) CUOMO: It's a legitimate question. It's a legitimate question. Believe me, I take no pleasure in being the person who has to check the idea of not having any student debt. But that unfortunately is the job.
I don't know that that's the best analogy. It is the right political imperative. You find the way to do this, you can find the way to do that. I don't know that it's the same mechanisms involved though, that's why I'm asking the question.
STEIN: And I think the point here is that there are many potential mechanisms. Congress could also be asked to come up with the money. But there's another way to do this. And that is the Federal Reserve doesn't need the permission of Congress.
This is an act that the Federal Reserve can take on its own. Yes, we would sort of owe that money to ourselves, we owe that money to ourselves. But as a nation, we have the capacity to do that.
We can decide to spend money on ourselves and in particular, we can decide to spend money on our younger generation who currently does not have a future. Who is more worth spending money on than our younger generation?
CUOMO: All right. Let's get another question from the audience. This is Maria Christina Garcia, a U.S. army veteran. She now works as a veteran outreach coordinator. She does not know who she's voting for yet. What's your question?
MARIA CHRISTINA GARCIA, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: Hello. Good evening.
GARCIA: Thank you for being here.
STEIN: Thank you.
[22:05:02] GARCIA: Dr. Stein, I have a little bit of a concern. I know you're advocating for boycotting Israel. And I just want to know why do you single out Israel being that they're a democratic ally to us. Where, why don't you do the same for other Middle Eastern states, and many of which are committing horrific crimes and abuse of people.
STEIN: So, let me reassure you, Maria, that's exactly what we are doing. And I've been very careful to avoid that pitfall of targeting Israel. And what we say is that we are turning over a new chapter because we ourselves have been as guilty of this as any of our allies.
But what we would say under a Green administration if we turn the White House into a green house, what we're saying is that our foreign policy will be based on international law and human rights.
So, when we say to Israel that we will not continue to give you $8 million a day when the Israeli army is occupying territory in Palestine...
... conducting home demolitions and assassinations and things of that sort that are recognized by the U.N., we're not going to do it for the Saudis either.
They don't get a pass whatsoever, nor for that matter does Egypt get a pass with their incredible human rights violations. And we're giving them not as much but we're giving them billions of dollars.
GARCIA: Have you advocated to boycott Saudi Arabia?
STEIN: Yes, absolutely. That's right.
CUOMO: Another (Inaudible) that Israel is not Saudi Arabia or Egypt. It certainly occupies as special alliance with the United States and supporters would argue faces an existential threat that others do not.
STEIN: That's right.
CUOMO: So, do you see Israel as being a special ally and in a unique defensive position in that part of the world?
STEIN: Well, you know, I happen to be of Jewish origin so, yes, I have a special connection to Israel and I have family members who are living there part time, but, you know, I don't think we are doing Israel a favor by condoning a policy that makes Israel very insecure, that makes Israel the target of hostility from its neighbors.
And, in fact, the current, you know, government of Israel, the Netanyahu government, has a sponsor from someone, a casino magnate living here in the U.S. who is funding and supporting a very aggressive and hostile policy, he's not even living there.
I don't think that's good for someone to be influencing Israel's policy when they don't have to live with the consequences.
CUOMO: Well, from a starting position, I know, I understand you have family relations there but do you believe that as a state that Israel has a preference as an ally that Saudi Arabia and Egypt joining one else does not? Do you believe they're a special ally? Yes or no?
STEIN: I believe all of our allies are special allies; Israel and all of them. These are -- we are all members of the human family. You know, I think we have responsibilities to everyone to create a world that works for all of us.
And by sponsoring a very hostile military policy that violates international law, that doesn't do us any favors. There are people in Israel who are really working for human rights, who are actually building community with the Palestinians. There are human rights groups that are building trust, that are
building community and that are building confidence. These are the groups that we need to be lifting up to create a Middle East that's going to work for everyone.
CUOMO: Let me get another question in here. Lacey Dickinson, she's a project manager from Philadelphia, she co-founded a social media company called Feminist News. She says she's voting for you in November. What's your question?
LACEY DICKINSON, PROJECT MANAGER: Good evening.
STEIN: Good evening.
DICKINSON: As everyone knows, the Black Lives Matter movement has raised a lot of awareness around violence that's been committed against people of color. And it's also exposed a great incompetence in many local police forces.
What do you think the role of the federal government should be in kind of structuring and working with local forces and how would you work to ensure that officers are brought to justice who kill citizens?
STEIN: Great. Thank you. Really critical question. Very much the question of the hour. When we're seeing a new tragedy unfold almost on a daily basis. So, this a crisis and it's very much related, I think, to an ongoing crisis of racial injustice that really has been kind of a continuing legacy from the criminal institution of slavery on which this country was founded.
[22:10:10] From slavery from Lynching's to Jim Crow to segregation, mass incarceration, the war on drugs and now police violence. So we have a deep problem here.
And I want to suggest a couple of things we need to do. Some of them are focused and some of them are very big. So, number one, we need to ensure that every community has a civilian review board so that communities are in charge of their police instead of having police in charge of their communities for starters.
We need to ensure that every community has access to an independent investigator, so it doesn't require an act of God in Washington, D.C. in the Department of Justice to find out what happened. I think any death at the hands of police needs to be investigated.
And then on the big end, we're calling for a truth and reconciliation commission so that we can actually understand what is this living legacy of fear, of racism, of incredible racial bias that the police violence is just the tip of the iceberg. Because we have bias in our judicial system, in our prison system, you
know, which is mass incarceration largely for people of color, an economy where the average African-American family has 5 cents of wealth on the dollar that an average Caucasian family has just through the cumulative impact of economic bias and unfairness.
Incredible health disparities. Seven years off the average life span of someone just for living while black. You know, there are incredible just disparities and violence, economic violence, social violence that has to be dealt with.
We're calling for this truth and reconciliation commission so we can share our stories, we can share music, art, have a facilitated conversation that our campaign hopes to help engender so that we can come to terms with who we are as human beings and overcome this legacy that's dividing us.
CUOMO: Mr. Baraka, I want you to weigh in on this. I've read a lot of what you've had to say about this. And there is a preconception right now very often that this problem begins and ends with police because of high-profile cases.
But you know that when you look at policing, certain things become clear. One, there's certainly room for improvement. Nobody is going to argue on the other side of that and be reasonable. But this is not a big percentage of policing.
And it seems like the focus on bad policing winds up overshadowing all of these other issues that are going on in these communities where you do have very high crime rates and why you have high crime rates, and why you have such a high number of exchanges with police in those communities and what the opportunities and educations and family stability issues are.
Do you believe that that's doing a disservice that while the Black Lives Matter movement and others like it are well intentioned to a certain degree to want to bring attention to it, you don't talk about those issues and you just talk about police.
You're not exaggerating a problem but you're also refusing to discuss what the real root issues are.
BARAKA: Well, the real -- the real root issue is the issue of oppression, systematic oppression. And think that the courageous activity of our young folk bringing attention to the war being waged against black people and brown people and native people in this country is the kind of attention we have to have.
Basically we have the consequences of oppression but what we are dealing with now on the almost a daily basis is the consequences of individuals, departments with the power of being able to use legitimate violence using violence against their own citizens.
So, we have a situation where a war is being waged against black people in this country, and basically what we have to do is call an attention to that. So, the other issues are important. They aren't connected. Because when we're talking about, we're talking about a system of oppression with the police being the front line of that oppression.
So, we have to talk about that. We can't -- we can't evade it, we can't erase, we have to deal with it. Why do we have the kind of policing we have in these black communities? Because we have colonized territories where basically the police are acting like a military force and they're behaving like a military force.
[22:15:05] Because you are policing basically a population that at this point in history is almost superfluous. In the larger economy, now we have become the problem people that the voice talked about.
So, basically the way you deal with a problem people now, you police them, you incarcerate them, you kill them. So, that is the major contradiction right now that we have to deal with. And the American people have to deal with this because, you know, the people are not going to allow themselves to be oppressed like that in that way. They're going to struggle, struggle relentlessly.
CUOMO: Let's take a moment here because this is an introduction to a much larger audience than is used to getting exposure to the Green Party ticket. Let's get some personal information out there.
So, I'll start with you. We were talking before -- I'm not going to ask you to sing. But I will say that you used to -- you play instruments and you use to be the lead singer in a band called Somebody's Sister and you do have a beautiful voice.
So, tell us about that in your life. I'm not going to ask you to sing but tell us about singing in your life, what it meant to you.
STEIN: Singing and music, I have to say, just gave me incredible courage to do everything else in my life. It was really kind of a foundation for me that connected me to people and communities and just kind of our higher selves.
And it gave me a sense of the infinite potential that we have to, you know, to sort of choose our existence, you know, to make our existence something very special, powerful, mysterious, and for me, that energy carries on.
I don't get to play music very much these days and I'm so out of shape, I wouldn't inflict it on anybody, but, you know, for me it's just a constant source of inspiration.
STEIN: Have you heard Somebody's Sister?
BARAKA: Not yet but I'm going to check it out.
STEIN: You have a treat coming your way, my friend. Let me tell you that right now. Ajamu Baraka, you have achieved something that is very difficult in today's this age. It is very difficult to find any personal information about you on the internet. (APPLAUSE)
I'm able to find so much about what you've written about, where you've traveled, how you've been rewarded for your efforts in human rights, but I don't know much about you as a person. What do you want people to know?
BARAKA: I'm a father, and a grandfather, I have four wonderful children, all adults. I have 16 grandchildren and I'm a pretty boring person.
Basically, you know, that's why there's not that much out there. I like spending time with my family. I have a very special person in my life now, a significant other who is a revolutionary like myself and we -- our life basically is the struggle.
It's being with people with like mine. Being with people who believe in the possibility of a new world. So, you know, I read and hang out and just try to enjoy life and be with my family.
CUOMO: Let me ask one more question for each of you. A hero, a huge concept, takes on a lot of different applications in our culture. When you think about a personal hero to you, who comes to mind?
STEIN: Martin Luther King.
CUOMO: Kills you that I asked her first, Mr. Baraka, because now you can't go there, so who's your choice?
BARAKA: Well, I have someone from that same time. Fannie Lou Hamer.
CUOMO: Oh, tell people about why.
BARAKA: Fannie Lou Hamer -- Fannie Lou Hamer was a black woman from a plantation in Mississippi, who didn't have formal education but what she did have was a spirit of resistance. And she became a leader of the movement in Mississippi and really across the country.
And she was famous for going to the democratic convention in 1964, and demanding with other members of the Mississippi freedom Democratic Party to sit in place of the Mississippi Democratic Party because they said the party from Mississippi was illegal and that the real representatives were the black masters and other progressive whites in Mississippi.
And they were denied of course and Johnson tried to eliminate her in Florence, but she was a hero to millions of people around the world. She's my hero.
CUOMO: Dr. Jill Stein, Mr. Ajamu Baraka, thank you very much for taking the opportunity. Stanford, thanks for our audience here, and to you at home. [22:20:00] That is it for the CNN Green Party town hall. Time now for
CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.