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CNN Live Event/Special

Town Hall with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Presidential Candidate. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 18, 2020 - 20:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome. This is a CNN town hall event, live from the theater at Sahara, Las Vegas. I'm Anderson Cooper. Voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have already shaken up the race for the Democratic nomination. Here in Nevada, Democrats are getting ready to have their say in Saturday's caucuses.

Our audience, many of whom are still undecided, will have a chance to pose questions to candidates vying for their vote. We're going to hear from three of the top contenders tonight, including Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, but first, please welcome Senator Bernie Sanders.


COOPER: Nice to see you, welcome.

So we're going to get to the audience in a second. Tomorrow night, for the first time, you're going to be on a debate stage with the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, perhaps you've heard this.



COOPER: Yes. Two polls out today show that he's your closest competition. Right now, do you see him as the biggest threat to you to getting the nomination?

SANDERS: Anderson, I'm not much into political speculation. I don't know what's going to happen here in Nevada. I don't know what's going to happen on Super Tuesday. I don't know, you know, who's going to win, who's going to lose. But this is what I do know. And this I feel very strongly about.

You know, Mr. Bloomberg has ever right in the world to run for president of the United States. He's an American citizen. But I don't think he has the right to buy this election. (APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: You know, we pride ourselves on being the longest-standing democracy in the world. And we're proud of that. To me, what that means, one person, one vote. If you want to run for president, you run for president. You've got good ideas, maybe you win, maybe you don't win.

But I do think it's a bit obscene that we have somebody who, by the way, chose not to contest in Iowa, in Nevada, in South Carolina, in New Hampshire where all of the candidates, we did town meetings, we were talking to thousands and thousands of people, working hard. He said, I don't have to do that. I'm worth $60 billion. I have more wealth than the bottom 125 million Americans. I'll buy the presidency. That offends me very much.

And tomorrow night...


SANDERS: You know, and what also offends me is, you know, I think we're going to take a look at his record. And there are a number of things about his record that I think the American people may not know. As the mayor of the New York City, he was very aggressive in pushing so-called stop and frisk.

And what that meant, and it was very clear, no hiding this, that if you were black, if you are a Latino man, and you walk down the street, the police have the right to grab you for no reason, throw you up against the wall, search you, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of African-Americans and Latinos in New York City underwent that.

And then, finally, after he left and Bill de Blasio became mayor, they did away with stop and frisk, and you know what? Crime rate continued to go down. So his policies humiliated and offended hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people. And I think that is something that is worthy of discussion.

COOPER: Let's get to our audience. I'm sorry, over here. This is Anna Leichter. She's a former teacher from Henderson. She's currently undecided. Anna?

QUESTION: Good evening, Senator Sanders. We're going to continue with the Bloomberg theme. Recently, you accused candidate Mayor Bloomberg of attempting to buy the 2020 election, and have rejected money from corporate donors. However, Bloomberg has stated he will use his wealth to support any candidate who gets the nomination in order to beat Donald Trump.

If nominated, would you accept help from billionaires like Bloomberg? And if not, why throw away something that can make a huge difference in winning 2020?

SANDERS: Well, thank you very much for the question. And let me differentiate how we raise money from how M. Bloomberg does and I'll answer your question. I am enormously proud and our supporters are proud that we have received more campaign contributions,


7 million, from more Americans, 1.5 million Americans, than any candidate in the history of the United States of America, OK?


SANDERS: Now, I don't go to rich people's homes to raise money. We don't have a super PAC. But our contribution is -- average contribution is all of $18.50.

We're going to win this election because we are putting together the strongest grassroots movement in the modern history of this country. We have millions of people that are going to be out there knocking on doors, doing everything that they can to defeat Donald Trump, who in my view, is the most dangerous president in the United States.

So let me just say this, let me just say this, I think I can speak for all of the other Democratic candidates, many of whom are longtime friends of mine, and that is on day one when I announced my candidacy, I said that, obviously, we were going to do everything we can to win, but if I did not win the nomination, I would support vigorously the candidate who would won, because Donald Trump must be defeated.


COOPER: So let me just follow up on that, because Anna was specifically asking, would you accept -- if Michael Bloomberg doesn't get it, you get the nomination, would you accept -- if he says, look, I've got $500 million left over that I'm going to give to you, would you accept that?

SANDERS: Well, we're going to -- what I did say is that if Mr. Bloomberg wins, and I certainly hope he does not, I will support the Democratic nominee. As of right now, we have not taken -- we don't have a super PAC, we're not asking for a super PAC. That is my position right now.

COOPER: So you're not sure if you would take the money or not?

OK, I'll leave it there.


SANDERS: I mean, let me just answer in this -- I don't think we're going to need that money, because, interestingly enough, I think when you have an agenda as we have that speaks to the needs of working families, you're going to have millions and millions and millions of people chipping in 10 bucks apiece, 50 bucks apiece, and that's how you're going to raise the money you need to defeat Trump.

Now, Trump may end up, because he has billionaire friends all over the place who are pouring huge amounts of money into his campaign, he may end up having more money, but, you know, there is a point in which money ceases to be significant. We will have enough money to run a strong campaign. We will have enough money to defeat Donald Trump.


COOPER: This is Jonas Shumpert, he's an entertainment manager who's currently undecided. Jonas?

QUESTION: Hi, Senator Sanders. Thank you so much for joining us here in Las Vegas. As a former member of Actors' Equity Association, many have worked to become a part of a union. Universal health care for all is a major campaign issue for you. This is a good idea for those that do not have health care, however, for the individuals that have honed a craft, not only in AEA, but other unions, would lose their protective insurance.

What would you say to those that have worked so hard to achieve a goal and then to have it stripped away?

SANDERS: Well, it's not a question of being stripped away. The question is that we are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to every man, woman, and child as a human right. We have a cruel and dysfunctional system. We are now spending twice as much as the people of any other country, $11,000 for every man, woman, and child.

And as a union man, you understand, that when unions negotiate, what is the major issue that's up for negotiation? Whether or not they're going to take back some of their health care benefits. You want a 3 percent raise? OK, we're going to cut your health care.

What we have got to do is what every other major country on Earth does, guarantee health care to all people. Despite now spending more than any other country, we've got 87 million who are uninsured and under-insured, that means very large premiums that people are paying, co-payments that people are paying, outrageous deductibles that people have, out-of-pocket expenses.

And by the way, we are paying the highest prices in the world by far for prescription drugs. In some cases, we are paying 10 times more than the Canadians or people in Europe for the same exact prescription drugs because of the greed and the corruption of the pharmaceutical industry.

What Medicare for All means is that your union is not going to have to sit down and negotiate health care benefits every time you come to the table. What it will mean is you will have quality care by expanding Medicare.

Let me tell you what I mean by expanding Medicare. Right now, Medicare is the most


popular health insurance program in America. Far more -- far more popular than private insurance. But it is far from perfect. What we are going to do with Medicare for All is expand health care benefits to include dental care, to include hearing aids, to include eyeglasses.

And you know what else? We're going to cover home health care, so that people will not be forced out of their homes unnecessarily into a nursing home.


SANDERS: There was a study -- let me just say this. There was a study that came out the other day. I don't know if you saw it, Anderson. It was in Lancet, which is the medical publication in England, which is one of the more prestigious medical publications in the world.

The study was done by some Yale scholars and what it showed is that if we move to a Medicare for All system, we will save $450 billion a year, because we're going to end the profiteering of the insurance companies and the drug companies. And we're going to save hundreds of billions of dollars on administrative costs, because right now, we have to administer thousands of separate plans.

So I am a strong advocate for Medicare for All, and I think after a hundred years of talk about guaranteeing health care for all, maybe the time is now to take on the drug companies, take on the insurance companies, and finally do what the American people want.


COOPER: I want to follow up. One of your supporters, one of your surrogates, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently expressed concerns about getting Medicare for All through Congress, said it might be -- as a compromise, it might be necessary to pass a public option or focus on passing a public option instead. Are you open to compromise?

SANDERS: Well, I love Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has done more in her first year in Congress to transform politics, to get young people involved than any freshman member of Congress that I can remember. But my view is that Medicare for All, the bill that we wrote, is in a sense already a compromise.

It is a four-year transition period. All of you know that right now to be eligible for Medicare you've got to be 65. What we do is in the first year, we go from 65 down to 55. Next year, 45. Next year, 35. And then we cover everybody. And let me be very clear, if I could for a second, Anderson, just explain what this means.

No more premiums. No more co-payments. No more deductibles. No more out-of-pocket expenses. And we're going to fund it publicly and for the average American, it will be a significant, significant reduction in his or her health care costs.


COOPER: This is Vincent Nava, a program coordinator at Nevada State College. He's a supporter of yours.

SANDERS: Hey, Vincent.

QUESTION: Senator Sanders, as a proud son of immigrants and as higher education professional working with DACA (ph) and undocumented scholars, immigration is the most important issue for me in this presidential election. How highly do you prioritize immigration and a pathway for citizenship for the millions that are waiting here in the United States?

SANDERS: Vincent, thank you very much for that important question. It is very much at the top of our list. And let me tell you what we're going to do. For a start, Vincent, I don't know if you know this, I am the son of an immigrant. All right, my dad came to this country at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket, couldn't speak a word of English, had very limited education.

He was -- came to this country to escape terrible poverty and anti- Semitism. So I have a sense, a little bit of a sense of the immigrant experience. So here's my promise to you. Day one, we will rescind all of President Trump's hateful and racist immigration executive orders.


SANDERS: We are going to stop -- you know, I don't want to spend too much time on Trump, it's not worth it, but one of the ugly things that he does, as you know, is he tries to divide our people up based on the color of our skin or where we were born or our religion or our sexual orientation or whatever, that's what he does.

We're trying to bring people together, not divide them up. On day one, we will restore the legal status of the 1.8 million young people and their parents who are eligible for the DACA program.


SANDERS: And that can be done by executive order. Under our administration, my promise to you is that federal agents will never be grabbing little babies from the arms of their mothers nor


throwing children into cages. And I believe that we can accomplish what should have been done years ago.

And that is that the American people want comprehensive immigration reform. And I believe, I believe that this is an issue that we can bring Republicans and Democrats together to finally pass immigration reform and a path towards citizenship for all of the 11 million undocumented.


COOPER: This is Nicole Holland. She works in sales for a film distribution company. She's still undecided. Nicole?

QUESTION: Good evening, Senator Sanders. Nevada is in an affordable rental and housing crisis. I just had to move because the owner of my unit sold it. The unit I'm in is exactly the same, but it's $800 more per month for rent. How do you plan on implementing national rent control and ensuring fair housing for all?

SANDERS: Well, Nicole, thank you for raising what is an enormously important issue, not just for Nevada, not just for California, but for Burlington, Vermont, my hometown, and communities all over this country.

We have introduced a sweeping housing proposal, which will deal, I think, in a very significant way with the housing crisis. What is the crisis? Right now, unbelievably, in the richest country in the history of the world, tonight, Nicole, there are going to be half a million Americans sleeping out on the streets or in emergency shelters, including 30,000 veterans who have put their lives on the line to defend me.

Now, what you are saying is that in communities all over this country, often as a result of a housing shortage or gentrification, where real estate developers say, why do I want to build affordable housing when can I build housing for wealthy people? Rents are soaring. We've got 18 million families in America spending half of their incomes for housing. That is totally crazy.

So to answer your question, we're going to do a couple of things. Number one, we have a plan to build 10 million units of affordable and low-income housing, which should open the market and lower rents.


SANDERS: Second of all, I grew up in a family that did not have a lot of money. I spent my entire childhood in a rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn, New York. And that meant that my family, at least, we didn't have a lot of money, but we didn't have to worry about rents, you know, going up by 10, 15 percent, which many Americans do.

We believe that rent control is an appropriate tool nationally to tell landlords that they cannot simply jack up their rents to any rate that they want.


COOPER: Senator, this is Maria Carrillo. She's an independent caretaker from Las Vegas. She supports you and Senator Warren. Maria?

SANDERS: Hey, Maria.

QUESTION: Hello, Senator Sanders. So I'm a big supporter, but for those who still need to hear it, will you condemn the "Bernie bro" behavior?

SANDERS: I will condemn, absolutely, anybody, including my campaign or any other campaign, that makes vicious personal attacks against people. What our people are involved in, we are a campaign which believes in compassion, which believes in justice. So I don't tolerate ugly attacks against anybody.

But let me just say this. Talk to the people in my campaign, often the African-American women in this campaign, talk to my wife about the kind of ugly attacks that have come in to us. So right now, which is a very serious national problem, we have an internet which is essentially the wild West.

Somebody could say, hey, I'm Anderson Cooper and zippo, say some ugly things, and right now that cannot be stopped. All right? So, yes, I want to have this campaign focus on the important issues facing the American people. I have just said a moment ago, as I've said many times, I'm going to support -- if I don't win this thing, I'm going to support somebody else who wins it. All right? And I don't want to see terrible personal attacks. We can disagree on the issues, not personal attacks.

But that is not just my campaign. We've got millions of supporters out there.


SANDERS: We've got millions and millions of supporters and I dare say, 99.9 percent are people who would never, ever do that. And I urge other candidates also to be mindful of these ugly personal attacks that have come into my campaign.


COOPER: I just want to follow up on that. Because some of your -- some of the other candidates have raised this issue and I want you to be able to respond to what they said. It has been raised by Bloomberg. Also, former Vice President Biden said that you have some accountability.


The Culinary Union, Nevada's largest labor union, said some of its members faced online harassment after they announced concerned about Medicare for all.

SANDERS: Well, you know, as I said, I am -- two things. Number one, I'm totally again online bullying and harassment. And I condemn anybody who claims to speak for me. You know, I have a hard time understanding, given my views, which everybody knows, how anybody who thinks they are supporting me would do some ugly and terrible thing.

But also, let me just say this. And I don't -- you know, want to be overly paranoid here -- is that, you know, we live in a crazy time. And there are a lot of folks out there who do bots and all this other thing. I saw some of those things. And there are people out there who want to divide the progressive movement.

I am the strongest, perhaps, lifetime supporter of unions in the United States Congress. The idea that anybody who works with me would make a vicious attack against a union leader just because we disagree on an issue is incomprehensible to me. And you know what? I'm just not sure that that's true.

And anybody out there -- anybody out there who claims to be a Bernie Sanders supporter, we work with the unions. This is a union-led campaign. We believe in unions. We will never attack union leadership, and we will not attack people on a personal basis. We can have a debate about the issues, but I do not believe in online bullying, end of discussion.


COOPER: All right. We're going to have more with Senator Bernie Sanders in a moment. Stay with us. We'll be right back.




COOPER: And welcome back. We're live with Senator Bernie Sanders from the Sahara, Las Vegas.

We're going to get back to audience questions in a moment. I just want to bring up, again, not your favorite topic, but President Trump. He seems to tweet about you a lot. I think this year he's tweeted about you some 20 times. He tweeted about you today. Why do you think he seems to want to run against you so badly?

SANDERS: Oh, really?


That's not how I would interrupt it. I think Trump understands that we have something that other candidates don't, and that we have an unprecedented grassroots movement.

The reason we won the popular vote in Iowa, why we won New Hampshire, and why I think we have a good chance to win here in Nevada, is because we have had tens and tens of thousands of people in the cold, knocking on doors, making the phone calls, and that is the kind of grassroots movement that we need to defeat Trump.

And what Trump understand is that the way he's going to lose is when we have the largest voter turnout in the history of this country.


And what that means is -- and I think he knows that we are the candidate -- you know, Trump is big into rallies and all that. He saw that last night in Tacoma, Washington, we had 17,000 people out, OK? We had 26,000 out in Queens, New York.

We are, I believe, the campaign of energy and excitement. What does that mean? It means that we are reaching out to working-class people who have given up on the political process. They're looking at the establishment parties, establishment leadership, and they're saying, who cares about me? I can't afford health care, I can't afford to send my kid to college, can't afford child care. Anybody worried about me? Well, yeah, this campaign is speaking to those people.

And I'll tell you who else we're talking to. We are talking to the young people of this country, all right? And I'm very proud, as I think you know, Anderson, in poll after poll, we're doing really well with young people. In Iowa, the voter turnout increase among young people was 33 percent higher than in the last election. I think you're going to see that in Nevada, as well.

So we're trying to bring large numbers of people into the political process, bring unity to the Democratic Party, and all of the candidates, that's how we beat Trump. That's why he's afraid.


COOPER: I want to bring in Clarence Dortch, a middle school teacher, former juvenile correction officer from Henderson. He's currently undecided. Clarence?

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Senator Sanders. Clark County school district disproportionately disciplines black boys and girls at a rate higher than any other group, in some cases five times higher. This often pushes students out of the classroom and into the school-to- prison pipeline. Many school districts all over this country are dealing with the same problem. As president, what is your day one plan for dealing with the racist bias in our American school system?

SANDERS: Thanks very much for that important question.


Let me just start off by saying, we're very proud to have the support in this campaign of the Clark County Educational Association.

The school-to-prison pipeline is a horror show in many communities around this country. And what we have got to do -- and what my campaign is talking about and what we'll do as president -- is triple funding for low-income Title I schools.

Now, you know what that means? That means, instead of having police officers in the school, we're going to have mentors in the school. It means we're going to have counselors in the school. It means -- it means, because we got more people in jail today than any other country on Earth, disproportionately, as you know, African-American, Latino, and Native Americans, what we're going to do is invest in job training, invest in high-quality schools, not invest in more jails and incarceration, all right?

And we're going to invest in public education. We're going to make sure that we have the teachers. Here's -- this is the wealthiest country on Earth. There are teachers who are entering the profession today who make less than $30,000 a year. What does that say about our respect for the children, all right?

[20:30:00] And that is why, among many other reforms that we have in education, we're going to move toward the day sooner than later where no teacher in America earns less than $60,000 a year, all right?


I want the young people -- I want the young people who are in college right now to say with pride to their classmates, you know what? I'm so excited, I am going to do one of the most important jobs that can be done in America. Man, I'm going to become a teacher. I'm going to influence thousands of young people.


So instead of -- to answer that important question, instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we invest in education, we invest in our children, and we create the best public school and childcare system in the entire world. That's our goal.


COOPER: This is Richard Kastenbaum, he's a veterinary nurse from Henderson. He's currently undecided. Richard?

QUESTION: Thank you for being here, Senator. We all agree that climate change is here and the solution is by stopping the use of fossil fuels and increasing the use of renewable energy. How do we get countries like China, India, and Russia to do the same?

SANDERS: Excellent question, Richard. It's something I talk about in almost every speech that I give. You say that we all know that climate change is real. Maybe make that statement a little louder so the president of the United States can hear it.


You know, we got a president -- we got a president who literally believes that climate change is a hoax. But the American people are seeing the damage of climate change with their own eyes. And more and more people understand the severity of the crisis. And if I may say so, we will be an administration that listens to scientists, not right-wing extremists.


So what I am proud to tell you is that, in this campaign, we have introduced the most comprehensive and sweeping climate change proposal ever introduced by a candidate for federal office. And basically, what it says is what Richard indicated, that we have got to tell the fossil fuel industry that their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet.

This is a moral issue, all right? If we love our children -- and I got four -- and our grandchildren -- I've got seven -- and future generations, we are going to have to save this planet or else it will become increasingly unhealthy and uninhabitable for future generations.

My job as president, then, is not just to take on the fossil fuel industry in this country, because as you indicated, this is a global issue. We have got to talk to and communicate to the people of China and Russia and India and Brazil and Latin America and Africa, and all over this world, that we are in this fight together, all right?


And maybe, you know, maybe I'm dreaming here a little bit and asking, you know, a little too much, but as president, this is my message to the world, that instead of spending $1.8 trillion a year on weapons of destruction designed to kill each other, let's pool our resources and fight our common enemy, which is climate change. That's my message.


COOPER: I want to follow up. You said you -- in your plan, by 2030, you said you had transitioned to renewable energy for all electricity and transportation.


COOPER: How do you do that? You're not supporting nuclear power plants. You don't support fracking. That's the way -- they've been using those to reduce -- to reduce our reliance, to reduce the emissions so far over the last decade. So how do you do it without that?

SANDERS: Well, we're not calling for -- I don't support the creation of more nuclear power plants. That's true. But we're not calling for the shutdown tomorrow. They're going to be phased out.

But here is the bottom line. The bottom line is that if we take the climate crisis seriously, and if we listen to the scientists, what that means is that there will be a massive investment in energy efficiency, so that our homes and our buildings do not waste an enormous amount of energy, as is currently the case.

It means that we transform our energy system, we move aggressively in agriculture, and we invest heavily in sustainable energies like wind, solar, geothermal, and other sustainable energies.

An example, right here, I was in Nevada in the summer. It was 113 degrees. I don't know how you guys deal with that.


All right, sun is boiling down. And this state, I know you're making some progress, this state should be leading the country in solar energy.


(APPLAUSE) And we will help you do it. Same story in Florida. Same story in Puerto Rico, all right? We have the potential to produce an enormous amount of electrical energy. We've got to modernize our grid. But the future rests with sustainable energy, which, by the way, Anderson, is a lot cheaper than building new nuclear power plants.

COOPER: What critics say is that there's not the capabilities, the technological capabilities right now to store that energy that's done through wind.

SANDERS: Well, we're going to invest heavily. I'm not sure that that's accurate. And we're going to invest heavily in research and development to make that happen.

But look, on this issue -- I know people may disagree with me, but I've got to lay it on the line -- I don't think you have a choice on this issue. All right? You know, people have criticized me. They say, Bernie, you're proposing a very large expenditure in terms of moving to sustainable energy, transforming the energy system. And I say to them: You tell me how much is too much if we're talking about saving this planet for future generations.


So we don't have an alternative. And I want to remind everybody, you know, I want to remind everybody -- and I often make this analogy -- during -- at the beginning of World War II, when Pearl Harbor took place in 1941, this country was in no way prepared to fight a war in Asia and to fight a war in Europe. That's the truth.

And yet within two years, two-and-a-half years, because of the industrialization of this country and the focus on producing planes and tanks and weapons, in two-and-a-half years, the war was basically won and Nazism was on the defense. That's what we've got to do now.

We have got to start investing using our scientists, using our engineers, using our young people. We can do it. And when we do it, by the way, under the principles of the Green New Deal, which I support, we can create up to 20 million good-paying union jobs transforming our energy system.


COOPER: I want to bring in Chapman Noam. He's a law student at UNLV.

SANDERS: Sorry, your first name?

QUESTION: Chapman.

COOPER: Chapman. He's currently undecided. Chapman?

QUESTION: Thank you for joining us, Senator. My father came to the U.S. from Israel in the '80s after finishing his military service. Most of my biological family still lives over there, and I find myself very regularly concerned for their safety. So my question to you is, how do U.S.-Israel relations look under your administration? SANDERS: OK. I should tell you that I spent some six months of my

life as a young man in Israel. I've got a cousin who lives in Israel. And I will do everything I can to protect the independence and the security of the people of Israel. Israelis have the right to live in a safe and secure nation.

But I must tell you this, also, that to be for the Israeli people and to be for peace in the Middle East does not mean that we have to support right-wing, racist governments that currently exist in Israel.


And let me tell you this, also. And I feel strongly about it, as somebody who is Jewish, and knowing how much our people have suffered over the years. Take a look at what's going on in Gaza right now. You've got youth unemployment, 70 percent. You have people who can't even leave the area.

What American foreign policy has got to be about is in the Middle East bringing the Israelis, bringing the Palestinians together under the banner of justice, all right? And that means -- and we can do it. We have the wealth to do it. It cannot just simply be a one that we're just pro-Israel and we ignore the needs of the Palestinian people. We've got to pay attention to both.

And by the way, it's not a dissimilar situation with regard to Iran and Saudi Arabia. For years, we have loved Saudi Arabia, our wonderful ally. Only problem is, the people who run that country are murderous thugs, all right?


And I believe -- I believe that instead of being really cozy with Mohammad bin Salman there, the billionaire dictator of Saudi Arabia, I believe, you know, President Obama made good progress in this way, and we've got to build on that, that we can bring the Saudis and the Iranians together, tell them that we're sick and tired as a nation spending trillions of dollars on endless wars. They're going to have to get their act together. And we have the resources to help bring that about.

COOPER: This is Gina Lucariello. She's a high school science teacher and a supporter of yours. Gina?


QUESTION: Hello, thank you.

I've been a longtime supporter of Senator Sanders, and I share the vision that Senator Sanders has for this great nation of ours.

My question is this. If you win the nomination, Senator Sanders, how will you convince our fellow citizens on the right with more conservative views that they should support you for president and your vision for the future?

SANDERS: Thank you very much for that important question.

Let me start off by saying, if my memory is correct, in my own state of Vermont in the last election, which we won pretty comfortably, we won about 25 percent of Republican voters.

And here's the issue. I know the media tells us that we are a very, very divided country. And there's obviously truth to that. But I don't think we are as divided as the media often tells us, because I get around the country and I talk to a whole lot of people.

And if you ask people, "You're a conservative Republican, what do you think? Should we raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour?"

"Yeah, I think we should."

"Should we make sure that all of our kids, regardless of their income, get a good education and can go to college?"

"Should we make public colleges and universities tuition-free?"

You'll find -- not all -- a whole lot of Republicans believe that. You know, Republicans get sick, too. And Republicans pay premiums. They are sick and tired of the outrageous costs of health care in America. They are as anxious to get into Medicare when they're 65 as anybody else.

And I'm not going to tell you every Republican supports Medicare For All. That's not true. But a lot of them do. And more and more Republicans understand what we just talked about a moment ago, that climate change is real and that we've got to transform our energy system.

On criminal justice, I have worked and Congress has worked, brought people together. You've got some really right-wing people who are asking the right question. They're saying, "How come we are spending $80 billion a year locking up over 2 million Americans?"

Now, I think it's -- it's an issue of humanity. It's an issue of dignity. And they do, too, but they also look at the money. We're spending $80 billion a year locking up fellow Americans. And that tells me that we need criminal justice reform...


... and that we invest in our children, in jobs and education, not more jails and incarceration. And that is not just my view. You'll find some conservative Republicans who understand that as well.

And there are conservative Republicans out there who do not think it is appropriate to demonize undocumented people. They want immigration for all.

So to answer your question, I'm not going to tell you that every Republican in America is going to be jumping up and down and supporting me -- probably not.


But I think there is more commonality of views than is sometimes believed. The issue here, really, is will Congress finally pay attention to the needs of working people in this country who have been ignored and neglected for such a long time?

Today the average American worker, in real dollars, is not making a nickel more than he or she did 45 years ago, while the billionaires are getting incredibly richer.

So the question is, can we create a scenario in which the Congress listens to ordinary Americans and not just wealthy campaign contributors? And that is what my administration intends to bring about.


COOPER: In September, just last September, you said that you would release your medical records by -- before the primaries. You haven't done that. You have released three letters from doctors, two of them cardiologists. One is your -- your physician.

Is releasing full medical records -- is that no longer something...

SANDERS: Now, we have released, I think, Anderson, quite as much as any other candidate has. We received -- released two, rather, detailed letters from cardiologists and we received -- released a letter that came from the head of the U.S. Congress medical group, the physicians there.

So I think we have released a detailed report. And I'm comfortable with what we have done.

And by the way...


... you think I'm not in good health, come on out with me on the campaign trail...


... and I'll let you introduce me to the three or four rallies a day that we do. How's that?


COOPER: But just to be clear, you don't plan to release any more records?

SANDERS: I don't. I don't think we will, no.

COOPER: All right. We're going to take a break. We'll have more with Senator Bernie Sanders right after this.




COOPER: And welcome back to the CNN Presidential Town Hall with Senator Bernie Sanders. We're live at Sahara, Las Vegas.


We've got time for about three more questions. Christine Gonzalez is a grant specialist at Nevada State College, a supporter for yours, Senator.


QUESTION: Senator Sanders, thank you for being here tonight.

My question is, what steps would you take to ensure that corporations and CEOs are held accountable for their actions, especially concerning the role they play in our nation's income inequality and climate change?


SANDERS: Now, how much do we have, several hours to answer that question?


Christine, thank you for a question that is not asked often enough. Let me give you just two examples, OK?

Right now, as a result of the greed and corruption, price-fixing and collusion of the pharmaceutical industry, people die in America. People cannot afford the medicine that they desperately need.

The opioid manufacturers knew that the product they were selling was addictive and killing people.


And you know what they did when they learned about that? They hired more salesmen.

Yes, we will hold them criminally accountable for what they have done.


And then you've got another issue -- another issue. I want you all to think about this. Do you think that the CEOs of the fossil fuel industry today do not understand what their product is doing to this planet?

Do you think their scientists have not made it clear for decades? They know. And yet they continue to do it and they lie, and they

donate money to these groups to try to obfuscate the issue.

So we need corporate accountability. You know, so a corporation wants to go out and make money, God bless them, that's great. But we do not need corporations to be colluding. We do not need monopolization of industry after industry.

So to answer that question, yes. We will deal with the greed and corruption of the corporate elite and hold them accountable.


COOPER: This is -- this is Madina Elamki. She's a real estate agent in Las Vegas. She's a supporter of yours. Madina?

SANDERS: Hey, Madina.

QUESTION: Good evening, Senator.

Do you feel there should be a limit on how long people are on the welfare system?

And do you have a plan to educate the people on assistance so they can go out and begin to support themselves to eventually get off welfare and become independent, learning a skill or a trade?

SANDERS: OK, I don't believe there should be a limit because it depends on the individual's circumstance.


And we do have a plan. We have a plan that says that there is an enormous amount of work to be done in America. And we have got to educate and train people to do that work, whether it is in childcare, whether it's in teaching, whether it's in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, which -- whether it's in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel.

And that's why we believe in a federal guaranteed job program. You want a job, we'll find that job for you.


Because there's a ton of work that has to be done.

And, by the way, when we talk about welfare, I'll tell you what welfare programs I will end. People like Donald Trump before he was president got $800 million in subsidies and tax breaks to build luxury housing in New York. We're going to end that type of corporate welfare.


COOPER: This is Diana Numajiri. She's a casino dealer who's currently undecided. SANDERS: Hi, Diana.

QUESTION: Good evening, Senator. What was the last good book that you've read, and why?

SANDERS: The last book that I read -- I'm always terrible at remembering titles -- was a very scary book. I think it was called "The Uninhabitable Earth," or something like that.


And it talked about -- and it really -- I recommend it. There's another book out there by Bill McKibben, who's a good friend of mine from Vermont, also on climate change. And if you read the book, what they are saying is that, if -- I mean, there's some question about getting people too upset as to whether or not we even have the time to prevent the irreparable damage. But what the book says is we have got to move drastically to combat the growing threat to this planet of climate change. It was an excellent book.

And this is an issue we need to talk about and we need to work on. But again, to me, climate change is a moral issue. We cannot turn our backs on future generations and leave them a planet -- and a microphone here...


... which is increasingly unhealthy and uninhabitable.


COOPER: Now that our mics are dropping off, we're going to wrap this up. But...


... just in the few seconds we have left, I think it was right before the New Hampshire primary, I asked you, after Iowa, if you consider yourself the Democratic front-runner. Now, after New Hampshire, do you?

SANDERS: Who cares?


I mean, all I know is that...

COOPER: I think the number two and three care.


SANDERS: That's good. But all I know is that we take no votes for granted. We are a hardworking campaign. We're so appreciative of the hundreds of thousands of volunteers that we have.

So I can tell you, we're working right now in Nevada, trying to bring out the vote. We're working in South Carolina. We're working for Super Tuesday. We're going to work every single day as hard as we can to win the nomination, to defeat the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country, and to transform our economy and our government so finally we have in Washington a government that works for all of us and not just big money interests.


COOPER: Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.


Coming up next, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg joins Erin Burnett. Then I'll be back with Senator Amy Klobuchar. Stay right there.