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CNN Live Event/Special
CNN's Town Hall with Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 05, 2020 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEMON: And welcome back everyone to the CNN town hall event live from Saint Anselm College right here in Manchester, New Hampshire. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.
A monumental week for the 2020 race, right? An acquitted president, chaotic caucuses in Iowa, and the New Hampshire primary just six days away. The leading Democratic candidates in this race are here tonight. They're taking questions from Democratic and independent voters who will help decide who goes head to head against President Donald Trump come November.
And you just heard from Senator Elizabeth Warren. Later on, you're going to hear from Tom Steyer. But please welcome to the stage right now businessman Andrew Yang.
I knew you were going to bring it. How are you? Welcome. Good to see you.
YANG: I'm doing great.
LEMON: Good to see you.
YANG: Hello, New Hampshire! It's great to be back.
LEMON: Let's start -- I want to talk to you about something that just happened just a couple hours ago. The president was acquitted by the U.S. Senate. And you tweeted last June about the impeachment. I want to get this right. You said we fail, we rally the GOP base, and we play into Trump's hands. Do you think this acquittal make President Trump harder to beat in November?
YANG: I think the ongoing polarization of our country is making Donald Trump harder to beat in November. The fact is many Americans have regarded this impeachment process like a football game or a baseball game, when you know what the score is going to be at the end. And that's the way it played out, unfortunately.
I just want to congratulate Senator Mitt Romney for voting his conscience and character.
But he was the lone Republican to do so, which was disappointing, but not wholly surprising. We have to bring the country together, solve the problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place. That's how we're going to defeat him in the fall.
LEMON: So I see you're wearing your MATH pin.
LEMON: Did you offer some help with math to the Democrats in Iowa this past week?
YANG: Oh, my gosh. One reason I am pumped to be here in New Hampshire is you are all are going to vote February 11th. And you know when we're going to find out the results? February 11th.
LEMON: So I guess that's a no?
YANG: You know, I mean, it's very -- I feel for the Democrats and the people of Iowa. But the fact is, this was really an avoidable error that shot the party in the foot. And it's going to be harder to convince Americans that we can entrust massive systems with government if we can't count votes on the same night in a way that's clear, transparent, and reliable.
LEMON: Yeah. So listen, I know not 100 percent of the count is in. But let me ask you, since we're talking about Iowa, you got 5 percent of the vote in Iowa during the first round. But you weren't viable in many precincts, which means you earned about 1 percent of the state delegates equivalent. What happened? What do you think?
YANG: Well, 5 percent was about where we were polling when we went in. But Bill Clinton got less than 3 percent in Iowa in 1992. He went on to do great here in New Hampshire and became president for two terms. We're hoping we can follow in his footsteps.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, sir. Let's move over a little bit this way, so -- there we go, thank you very much.
YANG: Sorry, Don.
LEMON: I just want to make sure you're in your light and that you're looking...
YANG: Well, thank you.
LEMON: Let's go to the audience. I want to bring in Hannah Robinson. She's from Bow, New Hampshire. She works in philanthropy and is still undecided in this primary. Hannah, what's your question?
QUESTION: Hi, welcome to New Hampshire. There's a shortage of skilled workers, but few ways to obtain a credential without incurring debt. Both traditional aged and adult students must find a career path t that provides a good salary and advancement opportunities. Many are given false promises due to unfair recruitment practices at for-profit institutions, resulting in significant student debt and no credential. How do you address this problem and help grow the workforce?
YANG: Thank you for this question, Hannah. This is something I'm very, very passionate about, because we have millions of unfilled jobs in this country that are left wanting for workers with the right technical skills and training to fill these jobs. And many of these jobs are very solid, stable, lucrative middle-class jobs. On the flip side, you have workers who are trying to gain access to those jobs but they don't have access to the training from the get-go.
One thing I would do as president is I would invest in technical, vocational, and apprenticeship training at the high school levels in New Hampshire and around the country. The fact is only 6 percent of American high school students
are in technical or trade programs right now here in the U.S. In Germany, that's 59 percent.
So think of that gulf and think about how many unfilled jobs would go filled if we had the right people with the right skills, and all of the young people that really now are getting steered towards college that would be better served by heading into the trades and technical and apprenticeship programs.
So this is a nationwide problem that we need to invest billions, tens of billions of dollars in on the federal level, and say to communities, if you want to build a vocational or a trade or apprenticeship program, we will help you do so.
LEMON: Owen Culberson is here. He's right there to your left. He's a high school student who works part-time at a local grocery store. First time voter. Says he's undecided. So, there you go.
YANG: I'm going to work on you.
LEMON: Owen, go ahead.
YANG: You can only vote for a candidate who has answered a question personally.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Yang. So your policy of an American universal basic income, or "freedom dividend," has come under criticism for those who claim it may undercut key federal assistance programs, such as Social Security and Medicaid. How would you reassure voters who depend on these programs that their needs will be met? Will their needs be met?
YANG: Well, thank you for the question. As most of you know, my flagship proposal is a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month for every American adult starting at age 18. So how old are you now?
QUESTION: I am 17, going on 18.
YANG: Oh, my gosh. So imagine your 18th birthday, President Yang says freedom dividend time and you're getting a thousand bucks a month, everyone in your class getting a thousand bucks a month. And your senior year in high school, you have a financial literacy class to help you decide how you're going to make use of this income when it starts coming in.
This would be a game-changer and actually make it so our economy works for young people, because right now, we have to face facts. We are stacking the deck against our young people much, much more seriously than has ever been the case in this country. If you were born in the United States in the 1990s, you're down to a 50/50 shot of doing better than your parents, and it's declining fast.
So we need to turn that around for you and your generation. The last thing I would do is want to take resources away from Americans who are relying upon existing programs. I want to do more for Americans. I want to build a foundation that we can all be confident in and then continue to build a structure on top of that.
So the last thing I would do is reduce existing benefits. I want to add to them to make sure we can live the kind of lives that we deserve here in this country.
LEMON: All right. Chris Potter is here. He's a community organizer. He's for rights and democracy. He's from Manchester, and he says he's currently undecided, as well. Hi, Chris.
QUESTION: Hey, Mr. Yang. Welcome back to New Hampshire. Thanks for being here.
YANG: Thanks, Chris.
QUESTION: I absolutely love New Hampshire. This is my home. It is under threat from climate change, though. We already have regularly sunny day flooding on the seacoast. Our winter sports industry is under threat. I'm worried that our whole ecosystem will be de- stabilized within my lifetime. So given that fossil fuel use is the primary driver of climate change, what will you do to phase out fossil fuels as quickly as possible?
YANG: Well, thank you for the question, Chris. I actually went to high school here in this state. I graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1992. And my first time skiing was here in the state. So when you talk about how transforming climate is actually going to gut some of the tourism industries here in the state, those are actually some of my finest childhood memories.
Climate change is devastating regional economies right here in New Hampshire. When I was in Portsmouth, I saw buildings that were flooding regularly. I saw a shrimping business that was shrinking fast because the warming waters are killing the shrimp. So we have to acknowledge that we're already on the curve of climate change.
When politicians talk about preventing climate change, I get frustrated, because you can't prevent something that is already here and having disastrous effects around the country. So I would zero out the billions and billions of dollars of subsidies that are going to these fossil fuel companies that are way, way past their sell-by date. I would take those subsidies, move them to wind and solar. And then I would put a price on carbon immediately so that polluters actually have to pay into a system that will help reduce emissions.
The toughest part of this, Chris, is that the United States of America is only 15 percent of global emissions, so even if we were to aggressively get our emissions down, you're still going to face a warming planet over time, because 85 percent of emissions are coming from outside our borders.
And what's happening in Africa right now is that China is showing up with coal-burning power plants and saying, "What do you think?" And then what is the African government saying in response? "Yes, I'll take it." Because they don't care about emissions. They just want energy as cheaply as possible.
So if we're going to get our arms around this problem in a realistic way, we have to be at that table with the African government saying do not take that coal-burning power plant. Take these solar panels instead and we will subsidize them to the level where it will be a no- brainer for you. That's the direction we need to go, and that's where I would lead as president.
LEMON: You have -- you've got two young sons, right? How old are they?
YANG: Yes, I have two young boys, Christopher and Damien. They're seven and four.
LEMON: OK, so they're going to be dealing with the climate crisis more than our generation. Do you talk to them about it? And if so, how do you do that?
YANG: I have not talked to them about climate change yet. My kids are kind of oblivious, honestly. I tell them that daddy has a very big deadline on Tuesday and will be traveling.
So, right now, they don't even know that I'm running for president or have a real understanding of what that means. They just...
LEMON: But are you going to talk to them? Because this is something that you'll have to talk to them -- like, you know, you got to talk about the birds and the bees. You're probably going to have to talk to them about climate change. Have you decided? Have you thought about that?
YANG: Don, where do you get these parenting (inaudible) it's like birds and bees. My kids are seven and four. What are you talking about?
I mean, I think at this point, many children will be exposed to lessons about climate change during their school in elementary school, grade school. But if they don't know by the time they get to a certain age, of course I'll sit down with them and let them know that we have left them a total mess and we are sorry. And Daddy is going to do his best to clean it up for them and every other family in this country.
LEMON: All right. Sophia Menke is here. She is a -- you're a student -- let's see. Student here -- I'm not sure if she's a -- what year you are, but she's a student here at Saint Anselm. And she's undecided, by the way, so there you.
QUESTION: Welcome to New Hampshire. Welcome back to New Hampshire.
YANG: Thank you, Sophia.
QUESTION: If you had to choose between economic reform and social reform, which one would you pursue?
YANG: I love this question. So to me, both of these things reinforce each other in various ways. So let's say you wanted to improve educational outcomes in the United States of America, which all of us want to do. One thing you could do is invest in schools, which we should obviously do. We should pay teachers more. A good teacher is worth their weight in gold.
But then when you look at the data, you find that two-thirds of our kids' educational outcomes are based on non-school factors, like parental income, parental time spent with them at home before they show up to school, stress levels in the household. So if you were to put money into that family and household, you would actually be enhancing that child's ability to learn when they show up to school.
So the reason I point this out is that social goals often are related to economic goals, where if you put more money into family's hands, you can actually do things, like improve graduation rates, improve mental health, decrease domestic violence, things that we would feel very strongly about.
And one thing I am confident of, New Hampshire, is that it's easier to amend and modify our capital flows in this country than it is to get into people's minds, bodies, souls, and somehow to change their attitudes about each other.
Like, if we get the economics right, then I believe many of the social problems that we care so deeply about will actually change along with our balancing out an economy that's become the most extreme winner- take-all economy in the history of the world. And it's going to get more extreme as we go on, unless we change it right now. And that's why I'm running for president.
LEMON: Let's talk a little bit more about the economy, but there's a new poll that was out yesterday from Gallup: 63 percent of Americans approve of how this president, President Trump, is handling the economy. That is a high for him. How do Democrats -- how do you run against that?
YANG: Well, when I talk to families here in New Hampshire, they know that we have record high corporate profits right now in the United States. What else are at record highs in the United States right now? Suicides, stress, anxiety, mental illness, student loan debt, for those of you who are in school here, medical bankruptcies.
Record lows in the United States right now? Starting a business for a young person. Getting married. Having a child. The fact is, 78 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and almost half can't afford an unexpected $500 bill in the good times. The vast majority of the new jobs we're creating in this economy are temp, gig, or contract jobs that do not have meaningful benefits and often don't have a path forward.
If you're a college graduate and you recently came out of school, there's a 40 percent to 44 percent chance you're going to do a job that does not require a college degree. And does the school come back and say, hey, we'll forgive your loans in that case? No, of course not.
So this economy, again, is the most extreme winner-take-all economy in the history of the world. And many, many Americans do not feel like they're being included in the gains. And when you ask Americans what else are at record highs in this country, we all know that all of these terrible social ills are at record highs right now because even as the companies do better, we do not feel those gains in our own families and our own communities.
LEMON: Debra Konopka is here. She is a network operations technician from Amherst. She says she is supporting Senator Sanders. Debra?
QUESTION: Hello, Mr. Yang. Do you feel that you are the best equipped candidate to beat President Trump on the debate stage and why?
YANG: Thank you for this question. I love it so much, because the number-one criteria that Democratic primary voters have for the nominee is what?
AUDIENCE: Beat Donald Trump.
YANG: Beat Donald Trump. That's right. And here's why I am the best person to beat
Donald Trump in the general election. So I'm a numbers guy, New Hampshire, and people who are betting their hard-earned money on these head-to-head match-ups have me as the heaviest betting favorite against Donald Trump in the general election, I'm the 3 to 2 favorite. Everyone else, including Bernie, is, at best, even money.
So why is it that people think I'm the best toughest match up? Because 18 percent of college Republicans said they would choose me over Donald Trump in the general election. Because 10 percent of New Hampshire Trump voters in one poll said that they would choose me over Trump in the general election. You know who has already figured out that I'm his toughest match up? Donald Trump.
I am the only candidate in the field he has not tweeted a word about. And he has not tweeted a word about me for two reasons. Number one, he knows I'm better at the internet than he is.
YANG: And, number two, his most potent attacks are that you're a corrupt D.C. politician, and none of this stuff works on me. One of his advisers was quoted in a meeting that was caught on film saying the candidate they're most worried about is Andrew Yang. And as more Democrats realize that I am the candidate that is best situated to defeat Donald Trump soundly in the general election, the stronger this campaign will grow and the more likely I become the nominee.
LEMON: All right. So let's talk about, the only -- Mr. Yang, the only Democrat who has debated President Trump is Secretary Clinton, right? And she said that he stood behind her -- she wrote that he stood behind her during a debate, and this is a quote, "literally breathing down my neck, my skin crawled." She said that, right? I'm quoting.
What do you do if he tries to intimidate you on stage?
YANG: Well, I think I make an incredible foil for Donald Trump because, like, I can make him seem ridiculous. Certainly if he breathes down my neck I would look around and I would just like laugh at him. And my energy, I think, contrasts very, very nicely with him. Where he's all bluster and braggadocio, I'm like Spock and ice to his fire.
YANG: But the main reason why Trump voters are coming my way is that I'm laser-focused on solving the problems that got him into the White House to begin with. The fact that many Americans feel left behind, the fact that we blasted away 4 million manufacturing jobs in the swing states that Trump needed to win. And that we need to actually rewrite the rules of this economy so that everyone feels included. Because the fact is technology is getting stronger, faster, more
capable all the time. And we are not. Aside from the young people in the room, most of the adults feel fortunate just to not get dumber on any given day. If we can find our keys that was a good day.
But the technology is ramping up faster and faster. It has already eliminated 4 million manufacturing jobs in the Midwest and is in the process of transforming economies right here in New Hampshire and around the country, as Amazon alone closes 30 percent of your stores and malls. Retail clerks, the most common job in the economy, and 30 percent of those jobs are disappearing as we speak.
LEMON: You want to stick around for a little bit?
YANG: Of course.
LEMON: All right. Well, we're going to be right back with more from presidential candidate Andrew Yang right after this.
LEMON: And welcome back, everyone, to Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. We're here with Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang for a live town hall. So back to the questions of which I get the first one.
You and Dave Chappelle, buddies, right? Comedian Dave Chappelle recently endorsed you. He is now performing comedy shows for you in South Carolina. You recently posted a video introducing yourselves as Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker's "Rush Hour," right?
LEMON: Why did you think he -- you guys made a connection?
YANG: Well, Dave sees what's going on in our country and knows that we need to do better for our families and our communities. He actually texted me right before I came on stage. He's excited about trying to pull the country together and I'm thrilled that he's part of the Yang Gang. He may be one of the coolest members of the Yang Gang, which is very high praise, because there are a lot of cool members, including my wife.
LEMON: You just name dropped, I just texted Dave Chappelle.
YANG: You know. He has been, like, one of my favorite entertainers for years. So getting to know some of these people and realizing they're even better in person as human beings than they are entertainers is a real privilege.
LEMON: Yes. And you think it helps, someone like him?
YANG: Well, you have thousands of people show up and then have him sing your praises, I mean, that can only help, right?
LEMON: Yes. They say people often learn through comedy, right? The truth is often spoken in jest. People learn things through comedy. It's more palatable. It goes down easier, right? When someone's not preaching to you.
YANG: I mean, if you look at people like Trevor Noah and Jon Stewart and John Oliver, I think that comedians are some of our foremost thinkers and educators at this point. And that may or may not be the best thing for the country. But here we are, it's 2020. You have to -- you know, you have to use what you have out there in terms of reason and humanity.
LEMON: All right. Cool. Let's bring in -- the audience back in. Emma Goulet is here. She's a student at Saint Anselm College. And she is still undecided as well.
QUESTION: Thank you, and welcome to Saint Anselm.
YANG: One of you should just pretend to be for me.
QUESTION: So sorry.
YANG: Kidding! Kidding! Totally fine. That's my job is to take you from undecided to actually supporting me, so I'm just kidding.
QUESTION: Well, maybe. So voters today are faced with difficult challenge of the discerning truth in political spin. And making matters worse, social media has brought opportunities to target individuals with carefully crafted messages designed by social scientists to sway their opinion.
So what actions would your administration take to ensure that the citizens have access to accurate information about their government in order to make informed decisions?
YANG: Thank you for this question, Emma. It's crucial. One thing I would do immediately is hold Facebook to the same standard as cable news networks where they have to actually verify the truth of a political ad on their network.
YANG: And to me it's unfathomable that they don't realize that they are the largest
[22:25:00] disseminator of information to the American people and they have many times the resources of any other media organization. The fact that they don't take responsibility for the truth of political ads on their network is beyond me. That would be a very, very big step forward.
Another thing I would invest in right now, and this is really important for rural communities and places in New Hampshire, is we need to rebuild local journalism in this country. Because right now almost 2,000 local papers have gone out of business over the last number of years because all of their advertising revenue went up to the cloud and you can't run a newspaper on that.
Two hundred counties in this country don't have any local news source as all. It's very, very hard to have a functioning democracy if you don't have any local news. So we have to rebuild local news and it turns out Americans actually trust local news more than they trust the big national media organizations.
No offense, Don. No offense, CNN. But that's -- you know, that's just the numbers.
LEMON: But I want to know how you're going to do that, especially when it comes to social media. We have a very robust First Amendment. And often the companies will say, we're -- we believe in the First Amendment, people on our platform should be able to say whatever they want. And they, for lack of a better term, hide behind the First Amendment or they use the First Amendment as the defense to allow people to say whatever they want on their platform.
YANG: To me it's such a cop out, Don. And CNN, which is a network with much lower levels of resource than Facebook, has taken the responsibility and said, you can't have a false political ad on our network. So Facebook can solve this problem. And I'm just going to tell it like it is. Do we think that they would be taking this stance if they would make more money by actually double-checking the truth of these ads as opposed to right now just accepting them?
I mean, right now they're saying, can't do it, in part because it serves their financial interest to take these ads. You know if they were making more money by actually vetting these ads they would say, yes, we can do it tomorrow. So we need to make Facebook own up to its responsibility as a mature company and get away from this total cop out that they're like, we're not a publisher, we're a platform.
Are you kidding me? You're the bigger publisher in the world today and you need to start acting like it. You need to start acting like a grown-up company.
LEMON: Does that go for Facebook and Twitter, for all social media, yes?
YANG: Yes, it does. And Twitter actually already said they weren't going to do it. LEMON: So if Mark Zuckerberg or someone or whoever runs Twitter,
Dorsey, if they're watching, especially Mark Zuckerberg, what do you say to him right now?
YANG: I'd say, Mark, your company is contributing to the disintegration of our democracy. If you're an American and a patriot and you care about the country your kids will inherit, then you need to have Facebook step up and say there will not be untrue political ads on your platform.
LEMON: You said you're going to make them.
LEMON: You said you're going to make them. What do you mean by make, Mr. Yang?
YANG: Well, my first preference is to sit down with a major organization like Facebook and say, hey, do the right thing. But if they don't want to do the right thing, then we have a legislature for a reason. We should just pass a law saying Facebook should not have verifiably false political advertisements on their platform. And if they do, then they should pay a penalty accordingly.
LEMON: All right. Back to the audience. James Beaudry, he is on the board of Saint Anselm College Democrats, and he says, currently he is supporting Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
YANG: This will be an ongoing joke for the rest...
QUESTION: Sorry about that.
YANG: ... of the show.
QUESTION: So my question is, teen suicide is on the rise in the United States. What would you do make sure that teens and young adults get the mental health care that they need to prevent these tragedies?
YANG: Thank you for this question. I am so passionate about addressing the mental health crisis in our country. My brother is a clinical psychology professor. So I know that we can do much, much more for people who are struggling. We need to invest in counseling and therapists at the high school level, at a minimum. Make it so that if you do have struggles, you have a resource you can go to.
I'm going to tie back in technology to this phenomenon, because the mental health crisis we're seeing among young people right now, anxiety, depression, antisocial impulses, spiked when we got smart phones and social media apps into teenagers' hands. And I was a very awkward, introverted 12 year-old kid. Not that you can tell now, but I don't know.
(LAUGHTER) YANG: But when I was 12 years old, if I went home and closed the door, I felt like I was alone. Today, if you're 12, you close the door, you feel like your classmates are still in the room with you because you can take out your phone and see what they're talking about and seeing it every moment.
You know who doesn't let their kids use these social media apps and smart phones? The folks in Silicon Valley who made millions of dollars off of them. If you ever want to go to a screen-free environment, go to Silicon Valley. You will find there are no screens in sight for kids below a certain age.
So if we want to address the mental health crisis in our young people, then we need to get therapists in place and counselors. We need to destigmatize these struggles at the highest level. I would have a psychologist in the White House. I thought that was a good idea even before the current administration.
YANG: But it just sends a very clear message that we all struggle and that it will
encourage people to step forward. We also do need to get into the guts of these social media apps and let these companies know that the mental health of our kids are more important than their profits.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, another issue that -- affecting mental health for many Americans, substance abuse. You not only want to legalize marijuana, but you also want to decriminalize small amounts of struggle, and that will encourage people to step forward.
YANG: We also do need to get into the guts of these social media apps and let these companies know that the mental health of our kids are more important than their profits.
LEMON: Listen, another issue that -- affecting mental health for many Americans, substance abuse. You not only want to legalize marijuana but you also want to decriminalize small amounts of opioids like heroin and fentanyl.
I mean, even Senator Bernie Sanders has made it clear -- and I quote here -- he says, "Marijuana is not the same as heroin."
What do you say to voters who think that this is a bridge too far?
YANG: Well, it was a high school student who told me that his classmates have fentanyl patches on their shoulder and they're already addicted. They'll never seek help because it's a criminal -- it's an illegal substance. So he said, "What are we going to do for them?"
And the fact is this epidemic, this opiate plague that has been tearing apart your communities here in New Hampshire for years is a plague that our government facilitated, essentially. Purdue Pharma dispensed millions of OxyContin prescriptions, marketing
as a non-addictive wonder drug, to the point where there were more opiate prescriptions in the state of Ohio than there were human beings in the state of Ohio, at one point.
And our government signed off on that and said that's okay. And we're still struggling with the impact to this day.
So the question is, how are you going to help your people actually get better and stronger and get off of these drugs?
First you have to get back all the blood money from Purdue Pharma and the other drug companies. Take all the billions of dollars away and say "This is going to be a downpayment on treatment for our people to help them get stronger and better."
But the second thing you have to do is you have to say to our people, "Look, this is not an individual failing; this is a plague that our government essentially helped happen. It's a plague of hyper- capitalism run amuck. And if we catch you struggling with drugs, we are going to refer you to counseling and treatment and not to a prison cell."
This is what other countries have done. It has reduced substance abuse rates and overdose rates. And this is what we should do in the United States of America. I think Bernie is wrong on this.
LEMON: So here's the -- when people hear "decriminalize," they think -- I would think that they think "legalize." That's not what you mean. There's a difference between decriminalizing and -- and legalizing a substance. You don't want to legalize...
LEMON: ... heroin. You don't want to legalizing fentanyl, right?
LEMON: So explain the difference. What do you mean?
YANG: What you do is you say to your police departments, essentially, "We should stop prosecuting this crime if someone's an addict and has drugs below a certain level."
If they're a dealer; if they're profiting, they go straight to jail. But if they are struggling with addiction, they should not be heading to jail. They should be heading to counseling and treatment. And we should have safe injection sites so that, if someone actually is trying to recover, they have some place they can go.
It was here in New Hampshire where an EMT told me that he saved someone from overdosing one week, and then what's he doing the following week? Saving the same person in the same place -- over and over again.
And then one time he gets there and it's too late. And that person's dead. And it was literally the fourth or fifth time that he had to save that individual in that apartment. And he said to me, in an impassioned way, "We need some place for that person to go after I save them, so I don't have to try and save them again the following week."
LEMON: Buy, you know, it affects -- it doesn't just affect that individual. It infects the -- it infects the entire family.
So what do you do for families who are suffering from addiction -- not just them personally but maybe it's a family member who's doing it?
YANG: And that's exactly right, Don, because these are not isolated problems. They're destroying families; they're destroying communities.
There's nothing we can do to give people their children, their loved ones, back. But we can give them a real path forward where, if they your loved one is struggling with addiction, imagine a world where you can refer them to treatment and there's not a fear that they were going to get thrown in jail, that there was an actual place they could go physically that has treatment resources available to them, that they don't have to come home or go home alone, where you're worried about them; what are they going to do when they're alone?"
You can say, "Look, don't be alone. Go to this place where someone will actually look after you and make sure that you don't overdose.
LEMON: But if I can just follow up quickly, because what I'm trying to get at is, if you want to take the stigma away, you have to involve the family. Because many times in the family, the family is embarrassed by it.
LEMON: Or they even think that there's a stigma to it. So I'm asking you what do you do for the family of the -- of an individual to try to help with that?
YANG: Don, when I talk to family members of people who have been struggling with opiate addiction, their first and foremost concern is not the stigma. Their first and foremost concern is whether their loved one's actually going to get well, get treatment and not overdose.
So if your relative, your brother or your son is struggling, you would be thrilled just to have some place to go with them. You're more concerned about their life and safety than you are what the neighbors might think.
LEMON: Thank you for answering that.
LEMON: Jane Vance is standing right there. She's a retired teacher from New London, New Hampshire. And she says she is undecided. Jane?
YANG: This will be an ongoing fun thing.
QUESTION: Gun gun violence has reached epidemic proportions. Each time another
horrific shooting occurs, politicians offer their prayers and thoughts but do absolutely nothing concrete to stop another tragic shooting from occurring.
If Republicans retain control of the Senate, how do you plan on getting common-sense gun legislation passed?
YANG: Well, thank you for all you've done for our children over the years, Jane.
QUESTION: You're welcome.
YANG: I've got two kids, one in public school; the other one is autistic and in a special needs school. So I appreciate everything you've done.
QUESTION: Thank you.
YANG: My younger son's school had active shooter drills a number of weeks ago. And he's four years old. And I looked at the studies I could find and tried to find studies that said that active shooter drills make our kids safer, and I could not find any evidence that they do.
I then tried to find evidence that the shooter drills make our kids anxious, concerned, stressed out and confused, and I found a whole stack.
So we should be making these active shooter drills optional for
families and communities and not requiring them at the government level. If the parents want them, great. But if parents don't want to send our kids the message that they have to be in fear of their classmates and that their life could be in danger at any moment, then I think that should be the parents' and the community's choice.
That said, how do we actually get the common-sense gun safety laws that the vast majority of Americans agree on passed?
And, right now, the problem is that the NRA has a stranglehold on a certain number of legislators who feel like their seat will be in jeopardy if they decide to go against that lobby.
And this is not just the NRA, unfortunately. This is the drug companies; this is the tech companies; this is the fossil fuel companies.
So if we're going to pass common-sense gun safety laws in this country, we need to actually break the lobbyists' stranglehold in our government.
And my proposal to do that is to put 100 democracy dollars in the hands of every American around the country that you can give to any candidate or campaign you want each year, use it or lose it.
If we were to do this, we would wash out the lobbyist cash that has over-run our government by a factor of four to one. And then legislators would actually feel free to vote their conscience and what their constituents want. I believe that would help us pass common- sense gun safety laws in this country.
I also think there's a lot we can do even as we're trying to get those laws passed. Because there's a whole string of causes that contribute to gun violence in our communities. We have to face facts that 98 percent of the shooters we're talking about in the school environments are boys.
We have a real boy to men problem in this country. And as the father of an autistic son, I know, if you have the wrong boy in the wrong school, very bad things can happen, generally just to that boy and his family, but sometimes something that's external in the community.
And too many of our schools don't -- don't have appropriate resources for kids who are neurologically atypical or struggling, and they get pushed to the side, particularly boys who are in this position.
Right now, the United States Congress funds 15 percent of special needs education resources for our kids. I want to take that to 100 percent and get this burden off of communities. I want to invest in a mental health infrastructure. I want to try and decrease the supply of guns in our country through a perpetual evergreen buyback that is in effect. so any time a gun owner wants to sell a gun, they can just sell it back to the government, to try and get the supply down.
And then I want to offer every gun owner in the country a complimentary personalization upgrade, where only they can fire the gun based upon their palm print and the size of their hand.
This way, if the gun gets, let's say, taken by their kid, then it's useless, because they can't fire it. And if you are a gun owner, you actually, kind of, like this personalization upgrade because it makes your gun cooler. It's like a James Bond personalization. You can, like, show your friends and be like, "Only I can fire this." But it also makes us all safer.
So there are things we need to do, to try and attack the gun violence problem at every level, from our families, our schools, our mental health infrastructure, the supply of guns. But you're 100 percent right it needs to start at the top. We need to break the stranglehold of the NRA on our legislators and get them to vote along with the will of the American people.
Can we talk about...
As I'm standing here listening to you, you've been very -- you're being very open about your son with autism. As a parent of a child with autism, how does -- how will that inform you as president, in term of policy, in terms of how you conduct yourself, the message that you send to parents and for people who are dealing with autism?
YANG: Well, what I say is that special needs and autism are the new normal in our country. How many of you have someone in your family or community with special needs or autism or is neurologically atypical?
Look, just about every hand went up.
And so we have to stop pretending that there's normal and then there are people in this category of special needs and autistic because it's the new normal. And I love my son to death. I'm very, very proud of him. I'm not the first presidential candidate to have autism in my family, Don. But for whatever reason, I'm the only one to talk about it openly. And I think that's very, very positive in terms of moving our country in the right direction and being able to support families and communities to a much higher level.
Because, if you intervene with the right resources at the right stage of development of many of these children, you can actually make a world of difference. And this is the kind of thing where this investment can yield dividends for decades. We should making those investments in our kids here in this country, right now.
LEMON: Thank you for your candor on that.
(inaudible). But you're not going anywhere. We're going to be right back. We're going to take a quick break. More with Andrew Yang, right after this.
LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. We are live from New Hampshire with Andrew Yang.
Thank you, sir. Let's start with this: sports.
You've gotten a lot of heat on your sports predictions online because you didn't have a great track record. However, you were right with the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl. Do you feel vindicated now?
YANG: Yes, I do.
If you want to make a lot of money, just follow Andrew Yang on Twitter. I will pick the right sports team 51 percent of the time.
LEMON: That's it? You feel vindicated.
YANG: That's about it.
LEMON: Were you worried? I was worried because I thought, you know, they came back, but I was worried about the Chiefs in the beginning. But they're the comeback team like my (inaudible).
YANG: You know what's great, Don, it's I've gotten my bad sports picks out of the way, so now I don't feel much pressure.
LEMON: You've got several unconventional issues on your website, regulating online poker, empowering MMA fighters, and eliminating the penny. Are those issues that you wish you were getting more attention in this race?
YANG: I mean, they're relatively minor in the scheme of American life, but I'm going to use the penny as an example. Did you know it costs more than one cent to produce each penny? It's bad for the environment. We're spending $25 million on producing pennies more than they're worth. And who wants to get stuck behind that person in line? I don't.
So getting rid of the pennies would actually help speed up our economy and save our environment.
LEMON: So how do you say cents? Like, you know, if you have like 16 cents? What do you...
YANG: I don't know. Other countries have done the same thing. It's just -- things get priced in fives and zeros. It'd be like 15 cents, 20 cents.
LEMON: All right, back to the audience now. James Firsick is here. He's a student at the University of New Hampshire. He says he is leaning towards Senator Bernie Sanders. James?
YANG: This is funny. You've got a nice running joke here.
QUESTION: Hello, Mr. Yang. My question is, as seen throughout the last decade, the internet has exploded in all facets, imaginable and not. In today's online world, the most sought after information is personal data, where you shop, what you buy, where you live, watch you watch, all of this information being recorded by companies such as Google. How will you as president protect American citizens' privacy in the digital age? And specifically, how will this be applied within your National Security Agency?
YANG: I love this question so much, because this is one of the foremost issues of our time that we are not properly even thinking about addressing. So what do you do when you sign up with a technology company and you get that big agreement, and it says, "I agree," and then submit? How many of you read that agreement? None of us reads that agreement. We just click "I agree" and we just hope for the best.
And then that company ends up selling and reselling our data to the tune of billions and billions of dollars a year. Our data is now worth more than oil. Think about that for a second. Our data is getting sold and resold over and over again. And we're none the wiser, and we're not seeing a dime of it.
So to me, New Hampshire, this is a crucial issue. We have to say that our data is ours. And if we choose to share it with a technology company, that is fine, but it is still ours, and we should a bill of rights around our data.
Number one, you have to tell us every time you do something with it. There needs to be an audit trail. You need to say, look, I sold it to them, I resold it to them.
Number two, we need to share in any value you're receiving for our data. If you're going to get money from our data, then we deserve a cut.
Number three, we can change our preferences and turn this off whenever we want, because, again, it's our information, and just because we decided to share it on your platform for a certain period of time should not be some kind of lifelong commitment that we can't undo. Our information should still be ours.
If we do not make this kind of move, then we're going to continue to be, frankly, in position where these tech companies can know us better than our best friends and family know us, and can help lead us to make decisions that we think we're making, but we could be led there by literally dozens or hundreds of images and messages and digital bread crumbs.
So, as president, I would champion a privacy set of rights that Americans must enjoy, because right now, we are getting completely outgunned by these technology companies. We have no negotiating power. Again, we just hit "I agree" and just hope for the best. And, America, New Hampshire, the best is not happening.
We have to make it so that our government is actually a counterweight to these technology companies and looking out for us and our data rights. And right now, our government is completely behind the curve on these technology issues.
We are 25 years behind. How can I say that with such precision? We got rid of the Office of Technology Assessment in 1995. So Congress has had no independent guidance on technology issues for two and a half decades. Think about everything that has happened in the last 25 years. As president, I will speed up our government, get it fighting for us, and that includes our data rights and our data dignity.
LEMON: Noelle Honan is a student here at Saint Anselm, and she is currently undecided. Noelle?
QUESTION: In the wake of the assassination of General Soleimani, how would you have handled the situation differently than President Trump?
YANG: The quote that struck me the most in the wake of the killing of General Soleimani was a U.K. official who said the purpose of having allies is so we can surprise our enemies, not each other.
Seventy-five percent of Americans want nothing to do with war with Iran. Our killing
General Soleimani was a disproportionate step in a conflict between us and Iran that led us to the brink of war, again, a war that virtually no American wanted any part of.
So I would never have put us in that position in the first place. I would certainly never escalate conflicts based upon a provocative action that was not commensurate with what had happened before. I would tear up the AUMF and return the power to declare war back to Congress, where it belongs in our Constitution.
The Congress clearly has the ability to declare war in our Constitution, but Congress has given up that authority to the executive branch for the last 19 years and counting. We have to return to first principles and say that it should be an act of Congress to declare war, and then invest in diplomacy and alliances around the world so that our allies know that we're not going to act abruptly or unilaterally without being in partnership with them.
LEMON: Is this every -- so every strike, you're going to consult with Congress before you do it?
YANG: Well, I'm going to, again, tear up the AUMF and say, look, if we're going to declare war, it has to be an act of Congress. Clearly, if there is some event overseas that requires some small-scale retaliation that's not a full-fledged act of war, then that's within the scope of the executive branch. But if it's going to be a multi- year commitment or an act that is going to bring us towards a significant commitment, it should be an act of Congress and the American people.
LEMON: So that's where you draw the line, if it's a multi-year commitment, if it's a larger commitment?
YANG: Or if it is an effective declaration of war.
LEMON: OK. Let's bring in Rich Bruno now, a retired transportation services manager from Goffstown who is still undecided. Rich?
QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Yang, for taking my question. I am very concerned, just like many Americans are, about the amount of money that flows into national elections. And I'd like to get your position on campaign finance reform, position on Citizens United. How would you change things, if you would, as far as campaign financing?
YANG: We need to publicly finance elections. There are many, many things we should do to improve our democracy. Every Democrat believes we should overturn Citizens United that has allowed dark money into politics. The two tough truths around this, it requires a supermajority to overturn Citizens United, and corporate money ran our elections and our government before that ruling. It just became more extreme afterwards.
So, again, my proposal of 100 democracy dollars in the hands of every American would go an incredible distance in helping line up the American people and the money, because if you get 10,000 Americans behind you, who give you 100 democracy dollars each, that's a million dollars. And so you can listen to the American people instead of the big corporations and the lobbyists.
But we should have ranked choice voting in this country so that people can actually vote the way they want and not be worried about, quote, unquote, "wasting their vote." We should have Election Day be a national holiday. We should automatically register new voters to make it easier for people to register to vote, instead of having these obstacles.
It does begin and end with the money in politics, though. And again, the best way out is for us to publicly finance these elections through a democracy dollars program so that anyone who wants to give to a candidate has 100 free dollars to do so. If you did that, you would see elections transform overnight.
And one thing I want to comment on briefly, I think candidates who say we should abolish the Electoral College, one, it would require literally like a dozen states to shoot themselves in the foot and say they don't want that kind of power anymore, which is a nonstarter.
But, two, it would end up disadvantaging rural areas, because you would just campaign in major media markets, and that's not what the framers of the Constitution intended. Do you want presidential candidates just going to New York, L.A., you know, Boston, San Francisco, and just ignoring every place else? So we have to work with the system we have and reform it. The biggest
step we could take is have public financing of elections by putting money into your hands.
LEMON: Let's turn now to Christine O'Neil. Christine O'Neil is a mother of three from Deerfield who says she's supporting Senator Sanders. Christine?
QUESTION: Hi, Mr. Yang. If you become president, will you be actively tweeting in office? Will you be as active on Twitter as President Trump has been? Why or why not?
YANG: I think that President Trump tweeting has been very, very negative in so many respects, where he sends a tweet and then literally like doubles as government policy or government communication the next day. It's like, oh, I just notified you because I tweeted. And that's not the way government should operate. That's not the way government should run policy.
So I think that presidents can take advantage of new media opportunities to communicate to Americans the way that there was that radio fireside chat from Franklin Roosevelt. And so you can imagine like a digital version of that, where you have like a podcast or long- form interview from the White House and you disseminate information in that way.
But I think Twitter is the wrong vehicle to deliver these sentiments, particularly when
you can tell he's doing it late at night, he's just waking up, he's seeing something on cable news, and he's responding in real-time. It's not what you would want from a head of state or someone whose every word or deed can influence government policy for hundreds of thousands or millions of government officials.
So that is, to me, not the right use of social media. We need to use it in ways that will actually help us reach the American people and not, frankly, raise alarm bells in our country and around the world every time someone sends the wrong tweet.
LEMON: So I don't have to worry about you live-tweeting me during my show, like, you know, that happens sometimes. Thank you, Mr. Yang.
YANG: Thank you.
LEMON: I appreciate it. We appreciate it.
Coming up next, presidential candidate Tom Steyer joins my colleague, Dana Bash, on this stage. We will be right back.