Democratic presidential candidates debated Wednesday for the second night in a row in Detroit. Below is a transcript from it.
As moderators, we will attempt to guide the discussion. You will each receive one minute to answer questions, 30 seconds for responses and rebuttals, and 15 additional seconds if a moderator asks for a clarification. The timing lights will remind you of these limits. Please respect them, and please refrain from interrupting other candidates during their allotted time. A candidate infringing on another candidate's time will have his or her time reduced.
We, again, remind our audience inside the Fox Theatre to try to remain silent when candidates are actively debating. The candidates need to be able to properly hear the questions and each other.
BASH: Let's start with opening statements. You will each receive one minute. Mayor Bill de Blasio, please begin.
DE BLASIO: To the working people of America, tonight I bring you a message of hope. We can make change in this country. I know from personal experience it can be done.
When I became the mayor of the nation's largest city, I set us on a path of bold change. They said it couldn't be done, but we gave pre-K to every child for free. We got rid of stop-and-frisk and we lowered crime. We raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Yes, it can be done.
Now, tonight we have to get to the heart and soul of who we are as Democrats. There are good people on this stage, but there are real differences.
Joe Biden told wealthy donors that nothing fundamentally would change if he were president. Kamala Harris said she's not trying to restructure society. Well, I am.
For 40 years, working people have taken it on the chin in this country. For 40 years, the rich have gotten richer and they've paid less and less in taxes. It cannot go on this way. When I'm president, we will even up the score and we will tax the hell out of the wealthy to make this a fairer country and to make sure it's a country that puts working people first.
BASH: Thank you, Mayor de Blasio. Senator Michael Bennet?
BENNET: Thank you. Last week, I saw one of those Trump signs that says, “America, love it or leave it.” And it was on the outside of a church.
I love America. And I know we can make it better.
Before coming to the Senate I ran (inaudible) school district where most of the kids live in poverty. Those kids have exactly the same hopes that I had.
Their parents have exactly the same hopes for them that my parents had for me, and that Susan and I have for our three children. But for the last three years, we've been consumed by a president who frankly doesn't give a damn about your kids or mine. Mr. President; kids belong in classrooms, not cages.
And they deserve something better than a bully in the White House. Let's end this three ringed circus in Washington and make — and let's make this election about reclaiming our future for our kids and our democracy. Empty promises won't beat Donald Trump, I can.
BASH: Governor Jay Inslee.
INSLEE: Good evening. I'm Jay Inslee. I am running for president because the people in this room and the democrats watching tonight are the last best hope for humanity on this planet.
If — if we make defeating the climate crisis the top priority of the United States, we will have a fighting chance to save ourselves and our children's future. It has to be our top priority. My plan is one of national mobilization, quickly bringing 100 percent clean energy to Americans, creating 8 million good union jobs.
This is a big, bold, ambitious plan for clean energy for a big bold ambitious nation. Middle ground approaches are not enough. We must confront the fossil fuel industry. I've been working on this for 25 years.
And now we know this, we are at tipping point and whether we shrink from this challenge or rise to it is the vital question of our time. We democrats believe we can still do big things in this nation. We can defeat the climate crisis. Let's get to work.
BASH: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
GILLIBRAND: My grandmother taught me that nothing's impossible. She spent two generations organizing women in Upstate New York. My mother taught me nothing's impossible. She was one of only three women in her law school class and worked with gay couples for basic rights.
If you want to get something done, just tell me it's impossible. As a freshman senator I was told you couldn't repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Even members of my own party told me it wasn't convenient. When are civil rights ever convenient?
We stood up to the Pentagon and we got it done. Not impossible. 10 years ago I was told you couldn’t pass health care for our 9/11 first responders, those heroes who raced up the towers when others were coming down.
Even when Congress turned its back on them, we kept fighting. Just last week we made the 9/11 health bill permanent.
Beating Donald Trump definitely not impossible. We need a nominee who will take on the big fights and win. We need a nominee who doesn't know the meaning of impossible.
BASH: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
GABBARD: I love our country. It's why I enlisted after 9/11, why I've served as a soldier for over 16 years, deployed twice to the Middle East, and serve in Congress now for almost seven years.
I know what patriotism is and I've known many great patriots throughout my life. And let me tell you this, Donald Trump is not behaving like a patriot. As president I will bring this spirit of real patriotism to the White House, serving the interest of all Americans, not just the rich and powerful.
I’ll fight for our rights and freedoms of all Americans, upholding these principles in our constitution upon which our country was founded, fighting for justice and equality for all. Fighting for every single American regardless of race or religion as we strive towards that more perfect union.
And as president I'll bring this unifying spirit of love for country and the soldier's values of service above self to the White House, truly leading a government of by and for the people.
BASH: Secretary Julian Castro.
CASTRO: Thank you, Dana, and good evening.
You know, just a few days ago we were reminded and inspired by our fellow Americans in Puerto that public service is not fundamentally about any of us; it's about you and your family.
I want you to know that, if I'm elected president, that I will work hard every single day so that you and your family can have good health care when you need it, so that your children and grandchildren can get a good education so that they can reach their dreams and that you can have good job opportunities, whether you live here in a big city like Detroit or in a small town in our country.
I know we have a wonderful, special nation but that too many people are struggling. And I know what that's like, too. You know, I grew up with a single mom in a poor neighborhood. But like many of you, I don't want to make America anything again. I don't want us to go backward. We're not going back to the past. We're not going back where we came from. We're going to move forward. We're going to make America better than it's ever been in the years to come. Let's do that together.
BASH: Andrew Yang?
YANG: If you've heard anything about me and my campaign, you've heard that someone is running for president who wants to give every American $1,000 a month. I know this may sound like a gimmick, but this is a deeply American idea, from Thomas Paine to Martin Luther King to today.
Let me tell you why we need to do it and how we pay for it. Why do we need to do it? We already automated away millions of manufacturing jobs, and chances are your job can be next. If you don't believe me, just ask an auto worker here in Detroit.
How do we pay for it? Raise your hand in the crowd if you've seen stores closing where you live. It is not just you. Amazon is closing 30 percent of America's stores and malls and paying zero in taxes while doing it. We need to do the opposite of much of what we're doing right now, and the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.
So let me share the math. A thousand dollars a month for every adult would be $461 million every month, right here in Detroit alone. The automation of our jobs is the central challenge facing us today. It is why Donald Trump is our president, and any politician not addressing it is failing the American people.
BASH: Senator Cory Booker?
BOOKER: Thank you, Dana.
Last week the president of the United States attacked an American city, calling it "a disgusting, rat-infested rodent mess."
BOOKER: We need a nation that understands that this tired old language, the...
LEMON: Stand by, Senator.
BOOKER: I will stand by.
LEMON: Please stand by.
LEMON: Please, continue, Senator.
BOOKER: Thank you very much.
Donald Trump, from Charleston to Baltimore to even the border, is using the tired, old language of demagogues, of fear-mongers, of racists, to try to divide our country against itself. We know who Donald Trump is, but in this election, the question is who are we as a people?
We have serious problems in America. We have deep wounds and seriously deeply rooted challenges. We desperately need to heal as a nation and move forward. Because we know in this country that our fates are united, that we have a common destiny. The call of this election is the call to unite in common cause and common purpose. That's how we will beat Donald Trump. That's how I will beat Donald Trump. And as your president, that's how I will govern and move us forward together.
BASH: Senator Kamala Harris?
HARRIS: This is an inflection moment in the history of our country. I think we all know that. This is a moment in time that is requiring us each as individuals and collectively to look in a mirror and ask a question, that question being "Who are we?"
And I think most of us know that part of the answer to that question is we are better than this. So this then becomes a moment that we must fight for the best of who we are. And fight, of course, we will.
And this is not a new fight for us as Americans. We have always been prepared to fight for our ideals. We have always been a nation that fights for the best of who we are.
And I'll tell you, I come from fighters. My parents met when they were active in the civil rights movement. My sister, Maya, and I joke we grew up surrounded by a bunch of adults who spent full time marching and shouting about this thing called justice.
And I am prepared to march with you, to fight with you for the best of who we are and to successfully prosecute the case of four more years of Donald Trump, and against him.
BASH: Vice President Joe Biden.
BIDEN: Tonight, I think Democrats are expecting some engagement here. And I expect we'll get it.
I'm running for president to restore the soul of this country. You know, we have a president, as everybody has acknowledged here, every day is ripping at the social fabric of this country, but no one man has the capacity to rip that apart. It's too strong. We're too good.
Just look at this stage, made up of very diverse people from diverse backgrounds, went on to be mayors, senators, governors, congresswomen, members of the cabinet, and, yes, even a vice president.
Mr. President, this is America. And we are stronger and great because of this diversity, Mr. President, not in spite of it, Mr. President.
So, Mr. President, let's get something straight: We love it. We are not leaving it. We are here to stay. And we're certainly not going to leave it to you.
BASH: Thank you, Vice President Biden. I want to start the debate with one of the top priorities for Democratic voters, and that is health care.
Senator Harris, this week you released a new health care plan which would preserve private insurance and take 10 years to phase in. Vice President Biden’s campaign calls your plan, quote, “a have-it-every-which-way approach” and says it’s just part of a confusing pattern of equivocating about your health care stance. What do you say to that?
HARRIS: Well, they're probably confused because they've not read it. But the reality is that I have been spending time in this campaign listening to American families, listening to experts, listening to health care providers, and what I came away with is a very clear understanding that I needed to create a plan that was responsive to the needs of the American people, responsive to their needs understanding that insurance companies have been jacking up the prices for far too long, that American families have to be held down by deductibles and co-pays and premiums that can cause them bankruptcy.
I listened to the American families who said four years is just not enough to transition into this new plan, so I devised a plan where it's going to be 10 years of a transition.
I listened to American families who said I want an option that will be under your Medicare system that allows a private plan. So I designed a plan where, yes, responsive to the needs of American families, there will be a public plan, under my plan for Medicare, and a private plan, under my plan for Medicare.
Because the bottom line is this: We must agree that access to health care must be a right and not just a privilege of those who can afford it. And in America today, far too many people -- in fact, 30 million people -- are going without access to health care.
BASH: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Senator Harris. Vice President Biden, your response.
BIDEN: Well, my response is that the senator has had several plans so far. And any time someone tells you you're going to get something good in 10 years, you should wonder why it takes 10 years.
If you noticed, there is no talk about the fact that the plan in 10 years will cost $3 trillion. You will lose your employer-based insurance. And in fact, you know, this is the single most important issue facing the public. And to be very blunt and to be very straightforward, you can't beat President Trump with double-talk on this plan.
BASH: Your response, Senator Harris?
HARRIS: Absolutely. Unfortunately, Vice President Biden, you're just simply inaccurate in what you're describing. The reality is that our plan will bring health care to all Americans under a Medicare for All system.
Our plan will allow people to start signing up on the first day. Babies will be born into our plan, and right now, 4 million babies almost are born every day in America -- or every year in America. Under our plan, we will ensure that everyone has access to health care.
Your plan, by contrast, leaves out almost 10 million Americans. So I think that you should really think about what you're saying, but be reflective and understand that the people of America want access to health care and do not want cost to be their barrier to getting it.
BASH: Senator Harris, thank you. Vice President Biden, your response?
BIDEN: The plan, no matter how you cut it, costs $3 trillion when it is, in fact, employed, number one. Ten years from now, after two terms of the senator being president, after her time.
Secondly, it will require middle-class taxes to go up, not down. Thirdly, it will eliminate employer-based insurance. And fourthly, what happens in the meantime?
HARRIS: I'd like to respond. First of all, the cost of doing nothing is far too expensive. Second, we are now paying $3 trillion a year for health care in America. Over the next 10 years, it's probably going to be $6 trillion. We must act.
My plan is about immediately allowing people to sign up and get into coverage. Right now in America, we have seniors, who every day -- millions of seniors are going into the Medicare system and they are getting full coverage and the kind of coverage they need. All people should have access to health care. And costs should not be their barrier.
BASH: Thank you, Senator Harris.
Mayor de Blasio, let's bring you in here. What's your response?
DE BLASIO: Thank you. I don't know what the vice president and the senator are talking about. The folks I talk to about health insurance say that their health insurance isn't working for them.
There’s tens of millions of Americans who don’t even have health insurance, tens of millions more who have health insurance they can barely make work because of the co-pays, the deductibles, the premiums, the out-of-pocket expenses.
There's this mythology that somehow all of these folks are in love with their insurance in America. What I hear from union members and from hard-working, middle-class people is they wish they had better insurance and they're angry at private insurance companies that skim all the profits off the top and make it impossible for everyday people to get coverage like mental care...
BASH: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
DE BLASIO: ... dental care, the things that would be full coverage for all Americans.
BASH: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Vice President Biden, you just heard Mayor de Blasio. He said in the past that Democrats who wanted to keep the private insurance industry are defending a health care system that is not working. What's your response?
BIDEN: My response is, Obamacare is working. The way to build this and get to it immediately is to build on Obamacare. Go back and do -- take back all the things that Trump took away, provide a public option, meaning every single person in America would be able to buy into that option if they didn't like their employer plan, or if they're on Medicaid, they'd automatically be in the plan.
It would take place immediately. It would move quickly. And it would insure the vast, vast, vast majority of Americans.
In the meantime, what happens? Did anybody tell you how much their plans cost? My plan costs $750 billion. That’s what it costs. Not $30 trillion.
BASH: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Senator Gillibrand, you support Medicare for All. How do you feel about Senator Harris continuing to call her health proposal Medicare for All, when it includes a far more significant role for private insurance than the bill you co-sponsored?
GILLIBRAND: I think for the viewers in the audience right now, they're at risk of losing the forest through the trees, because the truth is, health care in America should be a right.
When I was a young mother and had Theo as an infant, he had an allergic reaction to eggs and his whole body turned red and puffy. I had to rush him to the emergency room. My heart is palpitating because I'm worried that his throat will close. I am not worried about not having an insurance card or a credit card in my wallet. I know whatever they're going to prescribe, whether it's an EpiPen or an inhaler, I can afford it.
The truth about health care in America today is people can't afford it. They cannot afford -- and the insurance companies for these plans that rely on insurance companies, I'm sorry, they're for-profit companies. They have an obligation to their shareholders. They pay their CEO millions of dollars. They have to have quarterly profits.
They have fat in the system that's real and it should be going to health care. So let's not lose the forest for the trees.
And last, let's not forget what the Republicans are doing, because the truth is, the Republicans and Trump, their whole goal is to take away your health care.
BASH: Thank you.
GILLIBRAND: To make it harder for you to afford it, even if you have pre-existing conditions.
BASH: Thank you, Senator Gillibrand. Senator Harris, your response?
HARRIS: In response to Senator Biden about the Affordable Care Act, it is important that you understand that our Medicare for All plan has actually by the architect of the Obama Affordable Care Act been described as one of the most effective ways to bring health care to all. Kathleen Sebelius has endorsed our plan as being something that will get us to where we need to go.
In terms of the point that Senator Gillibrand is raising, I couldn't agree more. Senator Biden, your plan will keep and allow insurance companies to remain with status quo, doing business as usual, and that's going to be about jacking up co-pays, jacking up deductibles...
BASH: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: It will still be the situation that people going to an emergency room...
BASH: Thank you, Senator Harris. Vice President Biden, your response?
HARRIS: ... have to come out $5,000.
BIDEN: My plan makes a limit of co-pay to be $1,000, because we further support the -- the ability to buy into the Obamacare plan.
Secondly, the idea that this is somehow a bad idea, no one has to keep their private insurance, but they - if they like their insurance, they should be able to keep it. Nothing is demanded in my plan that there be private insurance.
It says, if the 160 million who have it say they like their employer insurance, they should have a right to have it. If they don't, they can buy into the Biden plan, which is Obamacare with -
BASH: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Thank you. Senator Booker, let me bring you in here. You say you support Medicare for All. You also say you are not going to pull private health insurance from more than 150 million Americans in exchange for a government plan, but that's what Medicare for All would do.
So how do you square that?
BOOKER: Well, first of all, let me just say, that the person that's enjoying this debate most right now is Donald Trump, as we pit Democrats against each other, while he is working right now to take away Americans' healthcare. There is a court case working through the system that's going to gut the Affordable Care Act and actually gut protections on preexisting conditions.
And so, I was raised by two civil rights parents who told me, always keep your eyes on the prize. And that is that in the United States of America, every Democrat should stand with the belief that everyone should have access to healthcare, that it's a human right. And how we get there, it has to be to end this broken system, because we are on our way, just a handful of years of literally spending 20 percent of our economy, one out of every $5 spent on healthcare.
And we spend more than every other nation, on everything from MRIs to insulin drugs, multiple mores than other countries - multiple more than other countries. And so, do you want to know what I'm going to do? I'm going to work to get us to a point where Medicare for All - where everyone is covered.
But this pitting against progressives against moderates, saying one is unrealistic and the other doesn't care enough, that to me is dividing our party and demoralizing us in face of the real enemy here. And I'm -
BASH: Thank you, Senator.
BOOKER: - going to keep fighting for that.
BASH: Congressman Gabbard, what's your response?
GABBARD: The reality is right now, we don’t have a healthcare system. We have a sick care system, and there are far too many people in this country who are sick and unable to get the care that they need because they cannot afford it. So the core of this problem is the fact that big insurance companies and big pharmaceutical companies who’ve been profiting off the backs of sick people have had a seat at the table, writing this legislation.
Now, Kamala Harris just talked about Kathleen Sebelius who helped write her bill. This just pointed to the fatal flaw in her proposal. Sebelius works for Medicare Advantage, a private insurance company who will stand to profit under her plan. If we’re seeking to really reform our healthcare system, we’ve got to shut out big insurance and big pharma out of the drafting process so they cannot continue to profit off the backs of the sick people in this country who are searching and in desperate need of care.
BASH: Senior Harris, your response?
HARRIS: Well, unfortunately, Representative Gabbard got it wrong. Kathleen Sebelius did not write my plan; she endorsed it as being one of the plans that is the best to get us to a place where everyone is going to have access to healthcare in America. And when we talk about this again, I'm going to back to Vice President Biden, because your plan does not cover everyone in America.
By your staffs and your own definition, 10 million people - as many as 10 million people will not have access to healthcare. And in 2019 in America, for a Democrat to be running for president with a plan that does not cover everyone, I think is without excuse. Our plan covers everyone -
BASH: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: - and gives people choice
BASH: Thank you, Senator. Vice President Biden, your response?
BIDEN: My plan does - will cover everyone, number one. Number two, the fact is that my plan also calls for controlling drug prices. The biopharma is now where things are going to go. It’s no longer chemicals. It’s about all these breakthroughs that we have, with the whole - excuse me, immune system.
And what we have to do now is we have to have a form that sits in HHS and says, as you develop a drug, you got to come to us and decide what you can sell it for. We will set the price. And secondly, it says that you cannot raise that price beyond the cost of inflation from this point on.
TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. I want to bring in Senator Bennet. Last night, on this stage, one of your democratic rivals suggested that running on Medicare for All would get Donald Trump reelected.
BENNET: I agree that it makes it much more likely. Unlike others on this stage, I've been crystal clear of where I've been for a decade, through two tough races in Colorado. I believe we should finish the job we started with the Affordable Care Act with a public option that gives everybody in this audience the chance to pick for their family, whether they want private insurance or public insurance.
It requires the drug companies to be negotiated with by Medicare and it provides competition. That is totally different from the plan that Senator Warren and Senator Sanders and Senator Harris have proposed, which would make illegal employer based health insurance in this country and massively raise taxes on the middle class to the tune of $30 trillion.
As Joe Biden said, we don't need to do that. It doesn't make sense for us to take away insurance from half the people in this room and -- and put huge taxes on almost everybody in this room when we pass a public option, trust the American people to make the right decision, and have universal healthcare in this country in two years, not 10 years.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. Secretary Castro, I want to bring you in ...
HARRIS: I -- I need to respond.
TAPPER: Your response. I'll come to you right after Secretary Castro. Secretary Castro.
CASTRO: Well, I know that this is something very personal for all Americans. You know I grew up with a grandmother that had diabetes and I watched as her condition got worse and worse. That whole time she had Medicare.
I want to strengthen Medicare for the people who are on it and then expand it to anybody who wants it. I also believe thought that if somebody has a private health insurance plan that is strong that they want to hold on to that they should be able to do that.
What I don’t believe is that the profit motive of big pharma or big insurance companies should ever determine, in our great nation, whether somebody gets healthcare or not.
TAPPER: Thank you, Secretary Castro. Senator Harris, Senator Bennet had suggested that you support banning employer based health insurance. Is that true?
HARRIS: Well first of all, with all due respect to my friend, Michael Bennet, my plan does not offer anything that is illegal. What it does is it separates the employer from healthcare, meaning that where you work will not be a -- where -- the kind of healthcare you get will not be a function of where you work.
I have me met so many Americans who stick to a job that they do not like, where they are not prospering simply because they need the healthcare that that employer provides. It’s time that we separate employers from the kind of healthcare people get and under my plan; we do that as it relates to the insurance and the pharmaceutical companies ....
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: Who will not be called in and who will not be taken to task by Senator Biden or Senator Bennet's plan ...
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: We will do that.
TAPPER: Senator Bennet, I want to bring you back.
BENNET: Senator Harris is my friend as well, but I have to say if we can't admit -- if we can't admit tonight what's in the plan, which is banning employer based insurance, we're not going to be able to admit that when Donald Trump is accusing democrats of doing that as well.
We need to be honest about what's in this plan. It bans employer based insurance and taxes the middle class to the tune of $30 trillion. Do you know how much that is? That is 70 percent of what the government will collect in taxes over the next 10 years.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
BENNET: We don't need to do that.
We can have a public option to have universal healthcare in this country.
TAPPER: I do want to bring in Senator Harris because he just suggested you were not being honest.
HARRIS: He -- we cannot keep with the republican talking points on this. You got to stop. The reality is that - what -- under my Medicare for All plan, yes, employers are not going to be able to dictate the kind of healthcare that their employees get. They will be able to make that decision.
Private insurance companies and private carriers, if they comply by our rules and play by our rules, will be able to offer those employees healthcare coverage under a private Medicare plan or they can have the option of a public Medicare plan. But it is misleading to suggest that employees want what their employer is offering only. They want choice and my plan gives that to them.
TAPPER: Thank. Thank you, Senator. Governor Inslee, I want to bring you in. You recently signed a public option into law, which allows Washington State residents to purchase a state backed plan if they want to.
But this may only save families in Washington State as little as 5 percent off premiums. Is 5 percent really the kind of relief that the American people need?
INSLEE: No, we need universal coverage. And I'm proud of our state that has done less squabbling and actually getting things done. And I am proud that we are the first state to offer a publically sanctioned offer of healthcare to our citizens.
I'm also proud that we didn't stop there. We're also the first state that has taken care of our elders, our seniors. We have a looming retirement wave coming up. I'm proud that our state -- our state has made them eligible to retire in dignity.
I'm also proud of this and I think we need to talk more about this as democrats, it is time to give people adequate mental healthcare in this country. And we are -- we are ...
We are having -- we’ve had some success in integrating mental health with physical health. There’s no reason we should distinguish between your physiological and your mental health.
And the last thing we’re doing, I think it’s very instructive for the nation. We know we’re being eaten alive by pharmaceutical cost. We have had one of, if not the most, innovative way to drive down pharmaceuticals for life saving medications in the United States.
We have had one of, if not the most innovative way to drive down pharmaceuticals for life-saving medications in the United States. That’s a record of Washington state I’d like to take to Washington, D.C.
TAPPER: Thank you. Thank you, Governor Inslee.
Mr. Yang, I want to bring you in. You support a Medicare for All system. How do you respond to Governor Inslee?
YANG: Well, I just want to share a story. When I told my wife I was running for president, you know the first question she asked me? What are we going to do about our health care?
That's a true story, and it's not just us. Democrats are talking about health care in the wrong way. As someone who's run a business, I can tell you flat out our current health care system makes it harder to hire, it makes it harder to treat people well and give them benefits and treat them as full-time employees, it makes it harder to switch jobs, as Senator Harris just said, and it's certainly a lot harder to start a business.
If we say, look, we're going to get health care off the backs of businesses and families, then watch American entrepreneurship recover and bloom. That's the argument we should be making to the American people.
TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Yang.
Mayor de Blasio?
DE BLASIO: Yeah, I don’t understand why Democrats on this stage are fearmongering about universal health care. It makes no sense. Ask the American people, they are sick of what the pharmaceutical companies are doing to them. Ask them what they feel about the health insurance companies. They feel it’s holding back their families because they can’t get the coverage they need. They get a lot of noes. They don’t get a lot of help from health insurance companies.
Why are we not going to be the party that does something bold, that says we don't need to be dependent on private insurance? We can have a system that actually covers everyone. You know what? Donald Trump won this state of Michigan by saying he was going to disrupt the status quo. How about we be the party that's going to disrupt the status quo for working people?
TAPPER: Thank you. Mr. Mayor, just a 15-second point of clarification. Who are you talking about? Who's fearmongering?
DE BLASIO: Certainly, with all due respect to Senator Bennet, what he's saying is absolutely inaccurate about taxes. Americans right now are paying so much money for their health care, ask people about the reality of premiums, deductibles, co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses.
TAPPER: Thank you.
DE BLASIO: That's worse than any tax, and people are paying that right now.
TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
BENNET: This -- this is -- this has nothing to do with Republican talking points or the pharmaceutical industry. This has to do with having faith in the American people that they can make the right decisions for their families and they can choose a public option.
Bernie Sanders, who said last night he wrote the damn bill, and he did, just like I wrote the damn public option bill, is the guy who says it will cost $32 trillion and that we're going to have to raise those taxes to pay for it. He says that. Republicans don't say it. Don't try to district from the truth.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Bennet.
BENNET: You can't hide from the truth.
TAPPER: I want to let Mayor de Blasio -- and then I'm going to come to you, Vice President Biden.
BENNET: We need to be for universal health care.
DE BLASIO: Senator, if we as Democrats say we're done with private insurance, has only hurt the American people in so many ways, we're going to give them something that works for their family's full coverage that they can depend on. If we say that, then there's an election. The American people get to decide.
The ultimate choice, Senator, is an election, and this should be the party that stands for universal health care and says we're not going to accept anything less. Right now, in America, so many people don't have the health care they need. That is a fact. Tens of millions of people, including middle class people.
TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
DE BLASIO: Give them a chance to make that decision through an election.
TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Vice President Biden, your response, sir?
BIDEN: This is not a Republican talking point. The Republicans are trying to kill Obamacare. Obamacare took care of 20 million people right off the bat, 100 million people with pre-existing conditions. And in fact, what we got is a public option that, in fact, would allow anybody to buy in.
No one has to keep their private insurance. They can buy into this plan. And they can buy into it with $1,000 deductible and never have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income when they do it. And if they don't have any money, they'll get in free. So this idea is a bunch of malarkey, what we're talking about here.
The fact of the matter is -- the fact of the matter is that there will be a deductible. It will be a deductible on their paycheck. Bernie acknowledges it. Bernie acknowledges it. Thirty trillion dollars has to ultimately be paid. And I don’t know what math you do in New York, I don’t know what math you do in California, but I tell ya, that’s a lot of money, and there will be a deductible. The deductible will be out of your paycheck, because that’s what will be required.
TAPPER: Senator Harris, I want to bring you in here. Your response?
HARRIS: Yeah, let’s talk about math. Let’s talk about math. Let’s talk about the fact that the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies last year alone profited $72 billion, and that is on the backs of American families.
And under your plan, status quo, you do nothing to hold the insurance companies to task for what they have been doing to American families. In America today, diabetes patients, one in four cannot afford their insulin. In America today...
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: ... for those people who have overdosed from an opioid, there is a syringe that costs $4,000 that will save their life.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: It is immoral. It is untenable.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: And it must change with Medicare for All.
TAPPER: Your time is up, Senator. Vice President Biden, your response?
BIDEN: Real quick. I have the only plan that limits the ability of insurance companies to charge unreasonable prices, flat out, number one.
Number two, we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail for of the $9 billion opioids they sell out there.
They are misrepresenting to the American people what needs to be done.
And, lastly, here's the deal. The deal is, let's figure out how this works. We immediately are able to cover everybody who wants to get off of their insurance plan they don't like, no matter what one it is, and buy into a Medicare option. And they can buy the gold plan, and they're not going to have to pay -- anyway...
LEMON: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Thank you.
Let's move now to immigration, please. Secretary Castro, you think it should no longer be a crime to cross the U.S. border illegally. President Obama's homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, whom you served with, says that is a public declaration that the border is, quote, "effectively open to all." How is he wrong?
CASTRO: Thank you for that question. You know, if you elect me president, you're not electing me to follow. You're electing me to lead. And open borders is a right-wing talking point, and frankly I'm disappointed that some folks, including some folks on this stage, have taken the bait.
The only way that we’re going to guarantee that we don’t have family separations in this country again is to repeal Section 1325 of the Immigration Nationality Act. That is the law that this president, this administration is using to incarcerate migrant parents and then physically separate them from their children.
My immigration plan would also make sure that we put undocumented immigrants who haven't committed a serious crime on a pathway to citizenship, that we do a 21st century Marshall Plan with Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, so that we can get to the root of this challenge so people can find safety and opportunity at home instead of having to come to the United States. That's how we can be smarter, more effective, and more humane when it comes to immigration policy.
LEMON: Thank you, Secretary Castro.
Senator Bennet, what's your response?
BENNET: I disagree that we should decriminalize our border. This is personal for me. My mom is an immigrant, and she was separated from her parents during the Holocaust in Poland.
And for those reasons, I was part of the Gang of Eight that wrote -- I wrote the immigration bill in 2013 with John McCain that passed the Senate with 68 votes, that gave a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people that are here, that would pass the most progressive DREAM Act that had ever been conceived, much less passed on the floor of the Senate, and had $46 billion of border security. Every single Democrat voted for that bill...
BENNET: ... and a lot of Republicans. That should be our position.
LEMON: Thank you. Thank you, Senator.
BENNET: That is our position as Democrats.
LEMON: Senator Harris, you have indicated that you don't think it should be a criminal offense punishable by jail to cross the U.S. border illegally. How do you respond to Senator Bennet?
HARRIS: Well, again, with all due respect, you know, I -- after the last debate, for example, I went to a place in Florida called Homestead, and there is a private detention facility being paid for by your taxpayer dollars, a private detention facility that currently houses 2,700 children.
And by the way, there were members of us -- Julian was there, members of Congress, they would not let us enter the place, members of the United States Congress. So I walked down the road, I climbed a ladder, and I looked over the fence. And I'm going to tell you what I saw. I saw children lined up single file based on gender being walked into barracks. The policies of this administration have been facilitated by laws on the books...
LEMON: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: ... that allow them to be incarcerated as though they've committed crimes.
LEMON: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: These children have not committed crimes...
LEMON: Thank you, Senator Harris.
HARRIS: ... and should be not treated like criminals.
LEMON: Senator Bennet, what's your response?
BENNET: I think this is one in the end that we agree with. There’s not a single person on this stage if we were president would ever separate a child from their parents at the border. And that is what this...
That is what this administration has done in the American people's name. They have turned our border into a symbol of nativist hostility. The symbol of this country before Donald Trump was president was the Statue of Liberty. That should be the symbol of the United States of America, not Donald Trump's words.
LEMON: Thank you, Senator Bennet.
Senator Gillibrand, I want to bring you in. What's your response?
GILLIBRAND: So I think when you talk about whether this should be a crime, you have to remember who we're talking about. When I was at the Texas border, I visited with women who had fled violence. A woman from El Salvador owned a small business, gangs came to her and said if you don't give us all your money, we're going to kill your family. That's why she fled.
Another woman was raped.
That's why she fled.
So this is who we're talking about -- and they're not criminals. So I believe that we should have a civil violation. No president before President Trump enforced the law in the way he has enforced it. Because he's using it as the crutch to lock up women and children, to separate mothers and babies, to put them behind bars.
So I don't think we should have a law on the books that can be so misused. It should be a civil violation and we should make sure that we treat people humanely.
LEMON: Thank you, Senator.
Vice President Biden, in the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly 800,000 immigrants were deported, far more than during President Trump's first two years. Would the higher deportation rates resume if you were president?
BIDEN: Absolutely not, number one. Number two, everything landed on the president's desk but locusts. I found that Julian -- excuse me -- the secretary, we sat together in many meetings. I never heard him talk about any of this when he was the secretary.
(UNKNOWN): Three million (inaudible)
LEMON: Please be respectful. Please be respectful in the crowd.
(UNKNOWN): Three million (inaudible)
LEMON: Please continue, Mr. Vice President.
(UNKNOWN): Three million (inaudible)
BIDEN: The fact is -- the fact is...
(UNKNOWN): Three million (inaudible)
BIDEN: I don't know if you can hear. I can hear. But anyway...
LEMON: We can hear fine, Mr. Vice President.
LEMON: Please continue, if you will.
BIDEN: The fact is what the senator from New York talked about is seeking asylum. That woman, the women she spoke to are entitled to asylum. That is not crossing the border illegally. What we should do is flood the zone to make sure we have people to make those decisions quickly.
With regard to -- with regard to the secretary's point, I already proposed and passed...
... $750 million for Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, to be able to change the circumstance why people fled in the first place.
In addition to that, we're in a circumstance where if in fact you say you can just cross the border, what do you say to all those people around the world who in fact want the same thing to come to the United States and make their case, that they don't -- that they have to wait in line. The fact of the matter is, you should be able to -- if you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back. It's a crime. It's a crime, and it's not one that in fact...
LEMON: Thank -- thank you, Mr. Vice President. Secretary Castro, please, your response?
CASTRO: Yeah, first of all, Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn't.
Let me begin by telling you -- let me just start out by answering that question. My immigration plan would also fix the broken legal immigration system, because we do have a problem with that.
BIDEN: I agree.
CASTRO: Secondly, the only way that we're going to guarantee that these kinds of family separations don't happen in the future is that we need to repeal this law. There's still going to be consequences if somebody crosses the border. It's a civil action. Also, we have 654 miles of fencing. We have thousands of personnel at the border. We have planes; we have boats; we have helicopters; we have security cameras...
LEMON: Secretary Castro, thank you.
CASTRO: What we need are politicians that actually...
LEMON: Your time is up.
CASTRO: ... have some guts on this issue.
LEMON: Thank you, Secretary.
Mr. Vice President, please, your response?
BIDEN: I have guts enough to say his plan doesn't make sense. Here's the deal. The fact of the matter is that, in fact, when people cross the border illegally, it is illegal to do it unless they're seeking asylum. People should have to get in line. That's the problem. And the only reason this particular part of the law is being abused is because of Donald Trump. We should defeat Donald Trump and end this practice.
LEMON: Thank you. Congresswoman Gabbard, what's your response?
GABBARD: Our hearts break when we see those children at these detention facilities who've been separated from their parents, when we see human beings crowded into cages in abhorrent, inhumane conditions. This is about leadership and understanding that we can and should have both secure borders as well as humane immigration policies.
We will have to stop separating children from their parents, make it so that it’s easier for people to seek asylum in this country, make sure that we are securing our borders and making it so that people are able to use our legal immigration system by reforming those laws.
LEMON: Mr. Yang, your response?
YANG: I'm the son of immigrants myself. My father immigrated here as a graduate student and generated over 65 U.S. patents for G.E. and IBM. I think that's a pretty good deal for the United States. That's the immigration story we need to be telling.
We can’t always be focusing on some of the -- the -- the distressed stories. And if you go to a factory here in Michigan, you will not find wall-to-wall immigrants; you will find wall-to-wall robots and machines. Immigrants are being scapegoated for issues they have nothing to do with in our economy.
LEMON: Thank you, Mr. Yang. Senator Booker you have a plan that would, quote, "virtually eliminate immigration detention." Does that mean that the roughly 55,000 migrants currently in detention would be released into the United States?
BOOKER: Well, first of all, I just want to say, again, tonight, we are playing into Republican hands who have a very different view, and they're trying to divide us against each other. I'm listening to the language of my colleagues. No, Mr. Vice President, we are not going to just let people cross the border. An unlawful crossing is an unlawful crossing, if you do it in the civil courts, or if you do in the criminal courts.
But the criminal courts is what is giving Donald Trump the ability to truly violate the human rights of people coming to our country, who no one surrenders their human rights. And so, doing it through the civil courts means that you won't need these awful detention facilities that I have been to; seeing children sleeping on pavement, people being put in cages, nursing mothers, small children.
This is not necessary. We have seen, using the civil system, piloted programs that have 100 percent compliance with the civil courts, where people are evaluated. If they have no justifiable reason to be here, they are returned. If they are, like the people I met in Juarez, who were survivors of sexual assault, who we wouldn't even let come and present for asylum. We are butchering our values -
LEMON: Senator -
BOOKER: - and making ourselves less safe.
LEMON: Senator Booker, thank you very much. Mr. Vice President, your response?
BIDEN: I agree with the Senator. The asylum process is a real process, and this president is ruining it. It has nothing to do with that section of law. That's what he's doing, number one. Number two, we should in fact - and we had proposed and we tried to get passed in our administration, I proposed, significantly increasing the number of legal immigrants who are able to come.
This country can tolerate a heck of a lot more people. And the reason we're the country we are is we've been able to cherry pick from the best of every culture. Immigrants built this country. That's why we're so special. It took courage. It took resilience. It took absolutely confidence for them to come. And we should be encouraging these people.
LEMON: Thank you.
BIDEN: And by the way, anybody that crosses the stage with a - with a - with a PhD, you should get a green card for seven years. We should keep them here.
LEMON: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President. Governor Inslee, what's your response?
INSLEE: I think we're missing two central statements we need to make. Number one, we can no longer allow a white nationalist to be in the White House, number one.
And number two - number two, we have to make America what it's always been, a place of refuge. We got to boost the number of people we accept. I'm proud of being the first governor saying send us your Syrian refugees. I'm proud to have been the first governor to stand up against Donald Trump's Muslim ban. I'm proud to have sued him 21 times and beat him 21 times in a row. I'm ready for November 2020.
LEMON: Go ahead. Mayor de Blasio, please your response?
DE BLASIO: Two points. One, it's all kind of charade because there's 11 million people here, and everyone, in theory, has broken the law, but they're part of our communities now. They're part of our economy. They're our neighbors. Why are we even discussing on one level whether it's a civil penalty or a criminal penalty, when it's an American reality?
And what we need is comprehensive immigration, once and for all, to fix it. Second, Vice President Biden, I didn't hear your response when the issue came up of all those deportations. You were vice president of the United States. I didn't hear whether you tried to stop them or not, using your power, your influence in the White House. Do you think it was a good idea, or do you think it was something that needed to be stopped?
LEMON: Mr. Vice President -
BIDEN: The president came along, and he's the guy that came up with the idea the first time ever, dealing with the dreamers. He put that in the law. He had talked about a comprehensive plan which he put on the - laid before the Congress, saying that we should find a pathway to citizenship for people. He said we should up the number of people that we're able to bring in to this country.
Lastly, he also pointed out that we should go to the source of the problem and fix it where people were leaving in the first place. So he did - to compare him to Donald Trump, I think is absolutely bizarre.
LEMON: Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President. Congresswoman Gabbard, you are a co-sponsor of the College for All Act which would make public colleges and universities free for all Americans. One of the authors of that plan, Senator Sanders, believes college should be tuition-free for undocumented immigrants as well. Do you?
GABBARD: I don't. I think it's important for us to fix our legal immigration system and look at the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country who have been suffering as they've been living in the shadows.
And instead of putting a band-aid on this problem, fix our legal immigration system to provide them with that pathway to legal residency or citizenships, that they are no longer treated as second-class citizens in this country. We've got to look at the challenge that people all across the country are facing, under crushing student debt.
This is something that is impacting my generation in a huge way and I believe that it is our generation that has the bold, creative solutions to be able to solve it. This is about promise for our future and we've got to make those kinds of investments.
LEMON: Thank you, Congresswoman. Mayor de Blasio, what's your response?
DE BLASIO: Yes, I -- I agree with the congress member but I don't hear an answer from the vice president. I'm confused. I asked the vice president point blank, did he use his power to stop those deportations. He went right around the question.
Mr. Vice President, you want to be president of the United States, you need to be able to answer the tough questions. I guarantee you if you're debating Donald Trump he's not going to let you off the hook. So did you say those deportations were a good idea or did you go to the president and say this is a mistake, we shouldn't do it. Which one?
BIDEN: I was vice president. I am not the president. I keep my recommendation to him in private. Unlike you I can expect you would go ahead and say whatever was said privately with him. That is not what I do.
What I do say to you is he moved to fundamentally change the system. That's what he did. That's who did. But much more has to be done. Much more has to be done.
DE BLASIO: I still don't hear an answer.
LEMON: Senator Booker, please respond.
BOOKER: Well, a couple of things. First of all, Mr. Vice President, you can't have it both ways. You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign. You can't do it when it's convenient and then dodge it when it's not.
And the second thing that this really irks me because I heard the vice president say that if you got a PhD., you can come right into this country. Well that’s playing into what the republicans want, to pit some immigrants against other immigrants.
From are from shithole countries and some are from worthy countries. We need to reform this whole immigration system and begin to be the country that says everyone has worth and dignity and this should be a country that honors for everyone.
Don't let the republicans divide this party against itself.
LEMON: Senator, thank you. Mr. Vice President, your response.
BIDEN: The fact is that's what I said about this country. We are a country of immigrants. All of us. All of us. Some here came against their will; others came because they in fact thought they could fundamentally change their lives. And they did.
(Inaudible) that’s what we’re talking about. That’s what made us great. And the fact of the matter is, I think the president of the United States, Barack Obama, went out of his way to try to change the system and he got pushed back significantly.
LEMON: Senator Gillibrand, what's your response?
GILLIBRAND: Again, President Trump, under his administration seven children died in his custody. In -- under his administration families have been torn apart. This party is talking about real ideas for the future. We’re talking about what we will do to change America.
But we must not forget about our values. We used to believe in this country you should treat others the way you want to be treated. We used to believe in this country we should care about the least among us. Let's remind the American people who we are, why we are democrats, and why we're running for president.
LEMON: Senator Gillibrand, thank you very much. The debate will be right back right after this short break.
TAPPER: Welcome back to the CNN Democratic presidential debate. We are live from Detroit.
I want to turn now to criminal justice. Mr. Vice President, Senator Booker called your new criminal justice reform plan, quote, "an inadequate solution to what is a raging crisis in our country," unquote. Why is Senator Booker wrong?
BIDEN: Well, I don't -- I think he is wrong. I think we should work together. He has a similar plan. I think that we should change the way we look at prisons.
Right now, we're in a situation where, when someone is convicted of a drug crime, they end up going to jail and to prison. They should be going to rehabilitation. They shouldn't be going to prison. When in prison, they should be learning to read and write and not just sit in there and learn how to be better criminals.
And when they get out of prison, they should be in a situation where they have access to everything they would have had before, including Pell grants for education, including making sure that they're able to have housing, public housing, including they have all the opportunities that were available to them because we want them to become better citizens.
That's the essence of what my plan, in detail, lays out. I'm happy to discuss it more in detail if the senator would want to. And so I -- you know, I look -- anyway, that's what I think my plan -- I know what my plan does, and I think it's not dissimilar to what the senator said we should be working together on getting things done.
TAPPER: Senator Booker, your response?
BOOKER: Well, my response is that this is a crisis in our country because we have treated issues of race and poverty, mental health and addiction with locking people up and not lifting them up.
... Mr. Vice President has said that, since the 1970s, every major crime bill -- every crime bill, major and minor, has had his name on it. And, Sir, those are your words, not -- not mine. And this is one of those instances where the house was set on fire and you claimed responsibility for those laws. And you can't just now come out with a plan to put out that fire. We have got to have far more bold action on criminal justice reform, like having true...
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
BOOKER: ... marijuana justice, which means that we legalize it on a federal level...
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Booker.
BOOKER: ... and reinvest the profits in communities that have been...
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Booker.
BOOKER: ... disproportionately targeted by marijuana enforcement.
TAPPER: Vice President Biden, I want to give you a chance to respond.
BIDEN: The fact is that the bills that the president -- that, excuse me, the future president here -- that...
... that the senator is talking about are bills that were passed years ago and they were passed overwhelming. Since 2007, I, for example, tried to get the crack-powder-cocaine totally -- disparity totally eliminated.
In 2007 you became mayor and you had a police department that was -- you went out and you hired Rudy Giuliani's guy; you -- and engaged in stop-and-frisk. You had 75 percent of those stops reviewed as illegal. You found yourself in a situation where three times as many African-American kids were caught in that chain and caught up. The Justice Department came after you for saying you were -- you were engaging in behavior that was inappropriate, and then in fact nothing happened, the entire time you were mayor.
TAPPER: Thank you. Senator Booker, you want to respond?
BOOKER: Well, first of all, I’m grateful that he endorsed my presidency already. But I’ll tell you this, it’s no secret that I inherited a criminal -- a police department with massive problems and decades-long challenges. But the head of the ACLU has already said -- the head of the New Jersey ACLU -- that I put forth national standard-setting accountability.
BOOKER: Mr. Vice President -- Mr. Vice President, I didn't interrupt you. Please show me that respect, sir.
BIDEN: I'm sorry (inaudible)
BOOKER: We have a system right now that's broken. And if you want to compare records -- and, frankly, I'm shocked that you do...
... I am happy to do that. Because all the problems that he is talking about, that he created, I actually led the bill that got passed into law that reverses the damage that your bills that you were, frankly -- to correct you, Mr. Vice President -- you were bragging, calling it the Biden crime bill, up until 2015.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: Number one, the bill he talks about is a bill that in my -- our administration, we passed. We passed that bill that you added onto. That's the bill, in fact, you passed.
And the fact of the matter is, secondly, there was nothing done for the entire eight years he was mayor, there was nothing done to deal with the police department that was corrupt. Why did you announce on the first day a zero tolerance policy of stop and frisk and hire Rudy Giuliani's guy in 2007, when I was trying to get rid of the crack cocaine disparity?
BOOKER: Mr. Vice President, there's a saying in my community, you're dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don't even know the flavor. You need to come to the city of Newark and see the reforms that we put in place. The New Jersey head of the ACLU has said that I embraced reforms not just in action, but in deeds.
Sir, you are trying to shift the view from what you created. There are people right now in prison for life for drug offenses because you stood up and used that “tough on crime” phony rhetoric that got a lot of people elected but destroyed communities like mine. This isn’t about the past, sir. This is about the present right now. I believe in redemption.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
BOOKER: I'm happy you evolved.
TAPPER: I want to bring in Secretary...
BOOKER: But you've offered no redemption to the people in prison right now for life.
TAPPER: I want to bring in Secretary Castro. Your response, sir?
CASTRO: Yeah, I agree with Senator Booker -- I agree with Senator Booker that a lot of what Vice President helped author in '94 was a mistake. And he has flip-flopped on these things. And that's clear.
But let me say, when we talk about criminal justice reform, there are a lot of things that we can talk about -- sentencing reform, cash bail reform, investing in public defenders, diversion programs. I'm proud that I'm the only candidate that has put forward a police reform plan, because we have a police system that is broken and we need to fix it.
And whether it's the case of someone like Tamir Rice or Michael Brown or Eric Garner, where the Trump Justice Department just decided not to pursue challenges...
... we need to ensure we have a national use of force standard and that we end qualified immunity for police officers so that we can hold them accountable for using excessive force.
TAPPER: Thank you, Secretary Castro.
TAPPER: I want to bring in -- I want to bring in Governor Inslee. Governor Inslee, your response?
INSLEE: Let me suggest that people come out to the state of Washington and see what criminal justice reform looks like, our effort to reduce racial disparity.
I'm proud that I was the first governor to offer pardons to thousands of people with drug crimes. Now we're vacating more, tens of thousands. We've eliminated the death penalty.
And importantly, we've done this: When people come out of the legal system and they've done their responsibility to the citizens, we need to make sure they can get a job. We have banned the box so that people can actually get a job when they come out.
And I've got to argue with my friend, Secretary Castro. We haven't just put forward a plan. We have adopted probably one of the best police accountability measures and trainer police officers and de-escalation techniques so we have less violence...
TAPPER: Secretary -- Secretary Castro, your response to Governor Inslee?
CASTRO: Well, that it's much more than that, because what we see -- and this was a good example, the other day, of the Department of Justice not going after Officer Pantaleo that -- Officer Pantaleo used a chokehold that was prohibited by NYPD. He did that for seven seconds. Eleven different times Eric Garner said that he couldn't breathe. He knew what he was doing, that he was killing Eric Garner, and yet he has not been brought to justice. That police officer should be off the street.
TAPPER: Mayor de Blasio? Mayor de Blasio, why is that police officer still on the force, the one who killed Eric Garner? Please respond.
DE BLASIO: Well, let me tell you. I know the Garner family. They've gone through extraordinary pain. They are waiting for justice and are going to get justice. There's finally going to be justice. I have confidence in that, in the next 30 days, in New York.
You know why? Because for the first time, we are not waiting on the federal Justice Department, which told the city of New York that we could not proceed because the Justice Department was pursuing their prosecution. And years went by, and a lot of the pain accrued.
And in the meantime, what I'm working on is making sure -- and I have for five years -- there will never be another tragedy, there will never be another Eric Garner, because we're changing fundamentally how we police.
TAPPER: Thank you, Mayor.
DE BLASIO: But there's one last point I have to say about the Justice Department. The vice president for two-and-a-half of those years, Mr. Vice President, tell us, what did you do to try and spur on the Justice Department to act in the Garner case?
TAPPER: Thank you. Thank you, Mayor. Thank you, Mayor de Blasio.
Vice President Biden, you can respond to that.
BIDEN: We did a lot. Number one, we made sure we reduced the federal prison population by 38,000 people, number one.
Number two, we, in fact, insisted that we change the rules that police engage in. They had to have -- we provided for body cameras. We made sure -- there were a lot of things that were changed in the process, but 38,000 people in the federal system were released under the system.
And so the fact is that there's a lot we've done. But here's the deal. The fact is that we're talking about things that occurred a long, long time ago. And now, all of a sudden, you know -- I find it fascinating. Everybody is talking about how terrible I am on these issues. Barack Obama knew exactly who I was. He had 10 lawyers do a background check on everything about me on civil rights and civil liberties, and he chose me, and he said it was the best decision he made. I'll take his judgment.
TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
YANG: May I, please?
TAPPER: Mr. Yang, your response?
YANG: I speak for just about everyone watching when I say I would trust anyone on this stage much more than I would trust our current president on matters of criminal justice.
We cannot tear each other down. We have to focus on beating Donald Trump in 2020.
I want to share a story that a prison guard, a corrections officer in New Hampshire said to me. He said, we should pay people to stay out of jail, because we spend so much when they're behind bars. Right now, we think we're saving money, we just end up spending the money in much more dark and punitive ways. We should put money directly into people's hands, certainly when they come out of prison, but before they go into prison.
TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Yang.
I want to bring in Senator Gillibrand. You heard earlier Mayor de Blasio respond to Secretary Castro on the question of why the police officer who killed Eric Garner is still on the NYPD. Was that response adequate? Please respond.
GILLIBRAND: No. He should be fired. He should be fired now.
I sat -- I sat down with Eric Garner's mother. And I can tell you, when you've lost your son, when he begged for breath, when you know because you have a video, when you know he said "I can't breathe" so many times, over and over again, when you know he used an illegal chokehold, that person should be fired. And as -- if I was -- if I was the mayor, I would fire him.
But as president, I would make sure that we had a full investigation, that the report would be made public. And if I wasn't satisfied, we would have a consent decree.
TAPPER: I want to bring in Senator Harris now.
Senator Harris, you have also been quite critical of Vice President Biden's policies on race, specifically on the issues of busing in the 1970s, having benefitted from busing when you were a young child. Vice President Biden says that your current position on busing, you're opposed to federally mandated busing, that that position is the same as his position. Is he right?
HARRIS: That is simply false. And let's be very clear about this. When Vice President Biden was in the United States Senate, working with segregationists to oppose busing, which was the vehicle by which we would integrate America's public schools, had I been in the United States Senate at that time, I would have been completely on the other side of the aisle.
And let's be clear about this. Had those segregationists their way, I would not be a member of the United States Senate, Cory Booker would not be a member of the United States Senate, and Barack Obama would not have been in the position to nominate him to the title he now holds.
And so, on that issue, we could not be more apart, which is that the vice president has still failed to acknowledge that it was wrong to take the position that he took at that time.
Now, I would like to also talk about this conversation about Eric Garner, because I, too, met with his mother. And one of the things that we've got to be clear about is that this president of the United States, Donald Trump, while he has been in office, has quietly been allowing the United States Department of Justice to shut down consent decrees, to stop pattern and practice investigations.
On that case, we also know that the...
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: ... Civil Rights Division -- this is important. The Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice said charges should have been filed, but this United States Department of Justice usurped -- and I believe it is because that president did not want those charges to go forward. And they overrode a decision by the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: Under my administration, the Civil Rights Division...
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: ... will rein and there will be independent investigations.
TAPPER: Vice President Biden, Vice President Biden, I want to give you a chance to respond to what Senator Harris just said.
BIDEN: When Senator Harris was attorney general for eight years in the state of California, there were two of the most segregated school districts in the country, in Los Angeles and in San Francisco.
And she did not -- I didn't see a single solitary time she brought a case against them to desegregate them. Secondly, she also was in a situation where she had a police department when she was there that in fact was abusing people's right.
And the fact was that she in fact was told by her own people that her own staff that she should do something about and disclose to defense attorney's like me that you in fact have been -- the police officer did something that did not give you information of what (inaudible) your -- your client. She didn't do that. She never did it. And so what happened.
Along came a federal judge and said enough, enough. And he freed 1,000 of these people. If you doubt me, google 1,000 prisoners freed, Kamala Harris.
TAPPER: Thank you, Vice President Biden. Senator Harris, your response.
HARRIS: That is -- is simply not true. And as attorney general of California where I ran the second largest Department of Justice in the United States, second only to the United States Department of Justice, I am proud of the work we did.
Work that has received national recognition for what has been the important work of reforming a criminal justice system and cleaning up the consequences of the bills that you passed when you were in the United States Senate for decades.
It was the work of creating the -- one of the first in the nation initiatives around reentering former offenders and getting them jobs and counseling.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: I did the work as attorney general of putting body cameras on special agents in the state of California.
TAPPER: I want to bring in Congresswoman ....
HARRIS: And I'm proud of that work.
TAPPER: I want to bring in Congresswoman Gabbard. Congresswoman Gabbard, you took issue with Senator Harris confronting Vice President Biden at the last debate. You called it a quote, false accusation that Joe Biden is a racist. What's your response?
GABBARD: I want to bring the conversation back to the broken criminal justice system that is disproportionately negatively impacting black and brown people all across this country today. Now Senator Harris says she's proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she'll be a prosecutor president.
But I'm deeply concerned about this record. There are too many examples to cite but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.
She blocked evidence -- she blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California.
And she fought to keep ...
TAPPER: Thank you, Congresswoman.
GABBARD: Bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.
TAPPER: Thank you, Congresswoman. Senator Harris, your response?
HARRIS: As the elected attorney general of California, I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done.
And I am proud of that work. And I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches or be in a legislative body and give speeches on the floor, but actually doing the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform.
That is why we created initiatives that were about reentering former offenders and getting them counseling.
TAPPER: Thank you.
HARRIS: It is why and because I know that criminal justice system is so broken ...
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: That I am an advocate for what we need to do to not only decriminalize, but legalize marijuana in the United States.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. Your time is up. I want to -- I want to bring Congresswoman Gabbard back in. Your response, please.
GABBARD: The bottom line is, Senator Harris, when you were in a position to make a difference and an impact in these people's lives, you did not. And worse yet, in the case of those who were on death row, innocent people, you actually blocked evidence from being revealed that would have freed them until you were forced to do so.
There is no excuse for that and the people who suffered under your reign as prosecutor owe -- you owe them an apology.
TAPPER: Senator Harris?
HARRIS: My entire career I have been opposed -- personally opposed to the death penalty and that has never changed. And I dare anybody who is in a position to make that decision, to face the people I have faced to say I will not seek the death penalty. That is my background, that is my work.
I am proud of it. I think you can judge people by when they are under fire and it's not about some fancy opinion on a stage but when they're in the position to actually make a decision, what do they do.
When I was in the position of having to decide whether or not to seek a death penalty on cases I prosecuted, I made a very difficult decision that was not popular to not seek the death penalty. History shows that and I am proud of those decisions.
LEMON: Senator Harris, thank you very much. Senator Bennet, a question for you. Why are you the best candidate to heal the racial divide that exists in this country today, which has been stoked by the president's racist rhetoric?
BENNET: Yes. First of all, the president’s racist rhetoric should be enough grounds for everybody in this country to vote him out of office.
That one thing alone should be enough.
Second, Don, I want to answer your question by tagging on the conversation we were just having. This is the fourth debate that we have had and the second time that we have been debating what people did 50 years ago with busing...
... when our schools are as segregated today as they were 50 years ago.
We need a conversation about what's happening now. And when there's a group of kids in this country that don't get preschool through no fault of their own and another group does, equal is not equal. And we've got a group of K-12 schools that are good because families can spend a million bucks, and you've got the Detroit public schools that are as segregated as they were. Equal is not equal.
And let me tell you something else, Don. I believe you can draw a straight line from slavery through Jim Crow through the banking and the redlining to the mass incarceration that we were talking about on this stage a few minutes ago. But you know what other line I can draw? Eighty-eight percent of the people in our prisons dropped out of high school. Let's fix our school system and maybe we can fix the prison pipeline that we have.
LEMON: Thank you, Senator Bennet.
Governor Inslee, what's your response?
Governor Inslee, please respond.
INSLEE: You know, I approach this question with humility because I have not experienced what many Americans have. I've never been a black teenager pulled over in a white neighborhood. I've never been a woman talked over in a meeting. I've never been an LGBTQ member subject to a slur. And so I have believed I have an added responsibility, a double responsibility, to deal with racial disparity. And we've talked on the way we do it, including ending -- ending the school to prison pipeline in my state.
But I want to say this. And this is a common error that every single senator on this stage, as much as I respect them all -- they all have an enormous error which is going to prevent our party from making any progressive progress in the United States, and it is this. We are all going to work like the dickens to get more Democrats elected to the Senate, right? We are going to do that.
And I hope we're going to succeed. But if we get a majority in the U.S. Senate, because of the position of these senators, not a damn thing is going to get done. And I'll tell you why. With all their good intentions -- and I know they're very sincere and passionate and I respect them enormously -- but because they embraced this antediluvinal (sic) super-majority thing called the filibuster, Mitch McConnell is going to run the U.S. Senate even if we take a majority.
LEMON: Thank you.
INSLEE: We've got to get rid of the filibuster so we can govern the United States.
LEMON: Mr. Yang, why are you the best candidate to heal the racial divide in America -- your response?
YANG: I spent seven years running a non-profit that helped create thousands of jobs, including hundreds right here in Detroit, as well as Baltimore, Cleveland, New Orleans. And I saw that the racial disparities are much, much worse than I had ever imagined.
They're even worse still. A study just came out that projected the average African-American median net worth will be zero by 2053. So you have to ask yourself, how is that possible? It's possible because we're in the midst of the greatest economic transformation in our history. Artificial intelligence is coming. It's going to displace hundreds of thousands of call center workers, truck drivers -- the most common job in 29 states, including this one.
And you know who suffers most in a natural disaster? It's people of color, people who have lower levels of capital and education and resources. So what are we going to do about it? We should just go back to the writings of Martin Luther King, who in 1967, his book "Chaos or Community", said "We need a guaranteed minimum income in the United States of America." That is the most effective way for us to address racial inequality in a genuine way and give every American a chance in the 21st Century economy.
LEMON: Mr. Yang, thank you very much.
Secretary Castro, after the president's racist tweets attacking Baltimore and Congressman Elijah Cummings, the mayor of Baltimore slammed the tweets and said to the president -- and I quote here -- "Help us. Send the resources that we need to rebuild America."
So what would you do for Baltimore and other cities that need help?
CASTRO: First of all, the president is a racist, and that was just one more example of it.
We know that, whether it's Baltimore or cities like Detroit, they have -- they're tremendously rich in history and culture and also in possibility. Here's what I would do if I'm president. Number one, I would invest in tremendous educational opportunity; invest in universal pre-K for three and four-year-olds; invest in improving K-12 education and also making higher education available to everyone through tuition-free public state universities, community colleges and job training and certification programs. I would follow-up on the work that I did at HUD. We passed the most sweeping rule to further desegregate our communities in the United States.
This Trump administration set that back. I would put that back in order. I would also invest in housing that is affordable, because folks know that the rent is going through the roof. And we need to make sure that you don't have to get out of West Baltimore, or Inner City Detroit, or the west side of San Antonio, or anywhere, if you want to reach your American dream. I want you to be able to accomplish it in your great neighborhood where you are.
LEMON: Thank you, Secretary Castro. Senator Gillibrand, what's your response?
GILLIBRAND: So I don't believe that it's the responsibility of Cory and Kamala to be the only voice that takes on these issues of institutional racism, systemic racism in our country. I think as a white woman of privilege, who is a U.S. senator, running for president of the United States, it is also my responsibility to lift up those voices that aren't being listened to.
And I can talk to those white women in the suburbs that voted for Trump and explain to them what white privilege actually is, that when their son is walking down a street with a bag of M&Ms in his pocket, wearing a hoodie, his whiteness is what protects him from not being shot.
When his - when her - when their child has a car that breaks down, and he knocks on someone's door for help, and the door opens, and the help is given, it's his whiteness that protects him from being shot. That is what white privilege in America is today. And so, my responsibility's to only lift up those stories, but explain to communities across America, like I did in Youngstown, Ohio, to a young mother, that this is all of our responsibilities, and that together we can make our community stronger.
BASH: Thank you, Senator Gillibrand.
Let's now turn to the issue of the climate crisis. The United Nations says the world needs to cut all carbon emissions by 2050 or risk facing disastrous consequences. Governor Inslee, many of your fellow democratic candidates say that climate change is the biggest existential threat facing the country. You, though, are calling it the number one priority in your campaign. What do you know that the others don't?
INSLEE: Well, I know the firsthand terrific impact of climate change on Americans across the country already. The family who I saw, with their aluminum home now, just a pile of molten aluminum, they lost everything in the paradise of fires; the non-profit in Davenport that was washed away in the floods. We have to act now.
Look, climate change is not a singular issue, it is all the issue that we Democrats care about. It is health. It is national security. It is our economy. And we know this; middle ground solutions, like the vice president has proposed, or sort of middling average-sized things, are not going to save us.
Too little, too late is too dangerous. And we have to have a bold plan, and mine has been called the "gold standard." Now, we also need to embed environmental justice. I was in zip code 48217 in the Detroit neighborhood the other day, right next to an oil refinery, where the kids have asthma and they have cancer clusters. And after talking to these folks, I believe this -
BASH: Thank you -
INSLEE: I believe this; it doesn't matter what your zip code is -
BASH: Thank you, Governor.
INSLEE: - it doesn't matter what your color is, you ought to have clear -
BASH: Thank you, Governor.
INSLEE: - air and clear water in America. That's what I believe.
BASH: Vice President Biden, I'd like to get you to respond.
Governor Inslee just said that your plan is middling.
BIDEN: There is no middle ground about my plan. The fact of the matter is I call for the immediate action to be taken. First of all, one of the things that - we're responsible for 15 percent of all the pollution in the country. He's right about how it affects people and it affects neighborhoods, particularly poor neighborhoods
But h’s the deal; in area, there’s also another piece. Eighty-five percent of it is something I helped negotiate; and that is the Paris Climate Accord. I would immediately rejoin that Paris Accord. I would make sure that we up the ante which it calls for. I would be able to bring those leaders together who I know I - I convene them in the White House, like we did in nuclear summit, and I would raise the standard.
BASH: Thank you, Mr. Vice President
BIDEN: I also invested $400 billion -
BASH: Thank you, sir.
BIDEN: - in research for new alternatives to deal with climate change.
BASH: Mr. Yang, your response?
BIDEN: And that's bigger than any other person.
YANG: The important number in Vice President Biden's remarks just now is that he United States was only 15 percent of global emissions. We like to act as if we're 100 percent, but the truth is even if we were to curb our emissions dramatically, the earth is still going to get warmer.
And we can see it around it us this summer. The last four years have been the four warmest years in recorded history. This is going to be a tough truth, but we are too late. We are 10 years too late. We need to do everything we can to start moving the climate in the right direction, but we also need to start moving our people to higher ground.
And the best way to do that is to put economic resources into your hands so you can protect yourself and your families.
INSLEE: I was challenged by the vice president.
BASH: Thank you, Senator.
INSLEE: May I be heard on this for a moment?
BASH: Go ahead, Governor.
INSLEE: Thank you very much. Look, we have -- these deadlines are set by science. Mr. Vice President, your argument is not with me, it's with science. And unfortunately, your plan is just too late. The science tells us we have to get off coal in 10 years. Your plan does not do that. We have to have off of fossil fuels in our electrical grid in 15. Your plan simply does not do that.
I've heard you say that we need a realistic plan. Here's what I believe...
BIDEN: No, I didn't say that.
INSLEE: Here's what I believe. I believe that survival is realistic, and that's the kind of plan we need. And that's the kind I have.
BIDEN: My plan calls for 500,000 charging stations around the country so by 2030 we're all electric vehicles. My plan calls for making sure that we have $400 billion invested in technologies to learn how to contain what we're doing, creating 10 million new jobs.
We will double offshore wind. We will end any subsidies for coal or any other fossil fuel. But we have to also engage the world while we're doing it. We have to walk and chew gum at the same time.
BASH: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Just to clarify, would there be any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration?
BIDEN: No, we would -- we would work it out. We would make sure it's eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those, either -- any fossil fuel.
INSLEE: We can't...
BASH: Thank you, sir.
INSLEE: We cannot work it out. We cannot work this out. The time is up. Our house is on fire. We have to stop using coal in 10 years, and we need a president to do it or it won't get done. Get off coal. Save this country and the planet. That's what I'm for.
BASH: Senator Harris, your response?
HARRIS: I mean, I have to agree with Governor Inslee. And I'm going to just paraphrase one of your great sayings, Governor, which is we currently have a president in the White House who obviously does not understand the science. He's been pushing science fiction instead of science fact. The guy thinks that wind turbines cause cancer, but what in fact they cause is jobs.
And the reality is that I would take any Democrat on this stage over the current president of the United States, who is rolling it back to our collective peril. We must have and adopt a Green New Deal. On day one as president...
BASH: Thank you.
HARRIS: ... I would re-enter us in the Paris agreement.
BASH: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: And put in place so we would be carbon neutral by 2030.
BASH: Thank you, Senator. I want to talk about that with Senator Gillibrand. You're a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, which includes the guarantee of a job with medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security for everyone in America. Explain how that's realistic.
GILLIBRAND: So the first thing that I'm going to do when I'm president is I'm going to Clorox the Oval Office.
The second thing I'm going to do is I will reengage on global climate change. And I will not only sign the Paris global climate accords, but I will lead a worldwide conversation about the urgency of this crisis.
The greatest threat to humanity is global climate change. I visited a family in Iowa who -- water spewed into her home, Fran Parr, it tossed her refrigerator upend, all the furniture was broken, all the dishes were broken, and mud was everywhere. That is the impact of severe weather right now on families' lives.
And so the truth is, we need a robust solution. When John F. Kennedy said I want to put a man on the moon in the next 10 years, not because it's easy, but because it's hard, he knew it was going to be a measure of our innovation, our success, our ability to galvanize worldwide competition.
He wanted to have a space race with Russia. Why not have a green energy race with China? Why not have clean air and clean water for all Americans?
Why not rebuild our infrastructure? Why not actually invest in the green jobs? That's what the Green New Deal is about.
BASH: Thank you.
GILLIBRAND: Not only will I pass it, but I will put a price on carbon to make market forces help us.
BASH: Thank you, Senator. Congresswoman Gabbard, you are not a cosponsor of the Green New Deal. Please respond.
GABBARD: Well, first of all, this is personal. If you can imagine, I grew up in Hawaii, which is the most remote island chain in the world. So for us growing up there, protecting our environment was not a political issue, it's a way of life. It's part of our culture. It's part of who we are.
This is why, as a member of Congress, long before there was ever a Green New Deal, I introduced the most ambitious climate change legislation ever in Congress called the Off Fossil Fuels Act. That actually laid out an actionable plan to take us from where we are today to transition off of fossil fuels and invest in green renewable energy, invest in workforce training, invest in the kinds of infrastructure that we need to deal with the problems and the challenges that climate is posing to us today.
BASH: Thank you, Congresswoman.
Senator Booker, what's your response? Is the job guarantee in the Green New Deal realistic?
BOOKER: I just want to take, first of all, a step back and say that I agree wholeheartedly with Governor Inslee. It's one of the reasons why Greenpeace ranks me and him at the top of this entire field of the candidates on climate.
INSLEE: Second, Cory. Second, but close. You're just close.
BOOKER: I'm -- hey, hey. I want to say very clearly -- thank you, man. Thank you. I'll try harder.
Look, the reason why is because, first of all, this problem didn't start yesterday. Science didn't become a reality yesterday. This has been going on for years. There was another president that would not join an international accord. Then it was the Kyoto accords. I was mayor then.
And I stood up in national leadership joining with other mayors to say climate change is not a separate issue. It must be the issue and the lens with which we view every issue. Nobody should get applause for rejoining the Paris climate accords. That is kindergarten. We have to go to far advances and make sure that everything from our trade deals, everything from the billions of dollars we spend to foreign aid, everything must be sublimated to the challenge and the crisis that is existential, which is dealing with the climate threat.
And, yes, the majority of this problem is outside the United States, but the only way we're going to deal with this is if the United States leads.
BASH: Thank you. Thank you, Senator.
Mayor de Blasio, your administration has come under fire after hundreds of children living in New York City public housing tested positive for elevated levels of lead. As you know, we're not far from Flint, Michigan, where residents are still dealing with the consequences of having lead in their drinking water.
How can you assure the people of Flint and across the nation that you are the right person to handle such a problem?
DE BLASIO: We have a huge problem, and it's decades old in New York. But here's what we've done about it. We've declared the eradication of all lead, literally ending the notion of lead poisoning once and all as the goal of our administration, and we're doing something about it.
Lead poisoning has gone down 90 percent since 2005, and we're going to literally bring it down to zero, because we're going to go into every place, buildings, schools, public housing, and take out that lead, remediate that lead once and for all, and that needs to be done all over this country.
Now, the federal government used to not take any responsibility for our public housing. For decades they've been disinvesting in the public housing that was supposed to be a federal responsibility. That's part of why we have this lead crisis to begin with.
But I'll tell you what you do when you're actually in charge of something. I'm in charge of the largest city in this nation. You do not accept the status quo. You fix it. And so we are going into every one of those apartments to make sure those children and those families are safe, and then we are going to eradicate that lead once and for all. And there should be a federal mandate to do the same for Flint, for Detroit, for every place in this country.
BASH: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
DE BLASIO: It can be done.
BASH: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Secretary Castro, why are you the right candidate to solve this problem? Please respond.
CASTRO: Well, because people don't have to wonder what I would do; I've actually done it. I was secretary of housing and urban development when Flint had its water crisis. I went to Flint. We did what we could to help folks get water filters.
And then we didn't stop there. We improved the standard of how we deal with elevated blood lead levels in children. A lot of Americans don't know that this is still a major problem out there. I was back in Flint about six weeks ago, and I released a plan to invest $50 billion so that we remove lead as a major public health threat. We need to do it. We can do it. And I will do it if I'm president.
TAPPER: Thank you, Secretary Castro.
(UNKNOWN): May I get in on this?
TAPPER: Donald Trump won independents here in Michigan by 16 percentage points, which was critical to Donald Trump winning the state's 16 electoral votes. Now there is a big debate within the Democratic Party here and around the country about the best way the Democrats can win back Michigan.
Vice President Biden, last night on this stage, Senator Elizabeth Warren said, quote, "We're not going to solve the urgent problems that we face with small ideas and spinelessness. We're going to solve them by being the Democratic Party of big, structural change."
What do you say to progressives who worry that your proposals are not ambitious enough to energize the progressive wing of your party, which you will need to beat Donald Trump?
BIDEN: Because we did it. I was asked to manage an $87 billion plan that would be spent in a total of 18 months that revived this state and many others, because -- and it kept us out of a depression, with 0.2% of waste or fraud.
Secondly, I was part of the organization -- and within our administration -- that pushed bailing General Motors out, saving tens of thousands of jobs here in this state.
Number three, number three, I also was asked, as the mayor of Detroit can tell you, by the president of the United States to help Detroit get out of bankruptcy and get back on its feet. I spent better part of two years out here working to make sure that it did exactly that.
We invested significantly in this city when transportation, only -- anyway, the point is we've made significant investment in this state. I expect in this city -- I suspect that's why the mayor endorsed me.
TAPPER: Thank you, Vice President Biden. Senator Gillibrand, what's your response?
GILLIBRAND: To the people of Michigan, I know exactly how I'd beat President Trump. I've already done it. I took a bus tour to talk about Trump's broken promises here in Michigan. He promised no bad trade deals.
Not only did he not have bad trade deals, he started a trade war with China and he just signed on to another bad trade agreement with NAFTA 2.0, give away to drug companies in Mexico.
I took the bus to Michigan, to Ohio, and to Pennsylvania telling people that he has broken his promises to them. I lifted up their voices, I listened to their concerns and I offered real solutions. And I've done this before. My first House district I ran in was a two to one republican district. I won it twice and I haven't lost an election since.
TAPPER: Thank you.
GILLIBRAND: And I haven't lost an election since. So I can bring people together in red, purple, and blue areas. But more than that, I can get things done.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Gillibrand. Mr. Yang, in poll after poll democratic voters are saying that having a nominee who can beat President Trump is more important to them than having a nominee who agrees with them on major issues. And right now, according to polls, they say the candidate who has the best chance of doing that, of beating President Trump is Vice President Biden. Why are they wrong?
YANG: Well, I'm building a coalition of disaffected Trump voters, independents, libertarians, and conservatives, as well as democrats and progressives. I believe I'm the candidate best suited to beat Donald Trump and as for how to win in Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania, the problem is that so many people feel like the economy has left them behind.
What we have to do is we have to say look, there's record high GDP in stock market prices, you know what else they're at record high is? Suicides, drug overdoses, depression, anxiety. It's gotten so bad that American life expectancy had declined for the last three years.
And I like to talk about my wife who is at home with our two boys right now, one of whom is autistic. What is her work count at in today's economy. Zero and we know that's the opposite of the truth. We know that her work is amongst the most challenging and vital.
The way we win this election as we redefine economic progress to include all the things that matter to the people in Michigan and all of us like our own heath, our well being, our mental health, our clean air and clean water, how are kids are doing.
If we change the measurements for the 21st century economy to revolve around our own well being then we will win this election.
TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Yang. Congresswoman Gabbard, your response?
GABBARD: Donald Trump won this election because far too many people in this country felt like they'd been left behind by both political parties, by self serving politicians on both sides who are more interested in partisan politics than they are in actually fighting for the people.
I'm speaking the truth to people all across this country about the fact that people in Flint, Michigan are still being left behind, still being poisoned by the water in their system because every single month we are spending $4 billion on a continuing war in Afghanistan, $4 billion every single month rather than ending that war, bringing our troops home, and using those precious resources into serving the needs of the people here in this country. People, communities ...
TAPPER: Thank you, Congresswoman.
GABBARD: That's the kind of leadership that I'll bring.
TAPPER: Thank you, Congresswoman. Senator Booker, your response.
BOOKER: I -- I'm grateful -- I'm grateful. Jake look, this is one of those times where we're not staring at the truth and calling it out. And -- and this is a case for the Democratic Party, the truth will set us free.
We lost the state of Michigan because everybody from republicans to Russians were targeting the suppression of African American voters.
We need to say that. If the African American vote in this state had been like it was four years earlier, we would have won the state of Michigan. We need to have a campaign that is ready for what's coming. And all out of salt especially on the most valuable voter group in our -- in fact, the highest performing voter group in our coalition, which is black women.
And so I will be a person that tries to fight against voter suppression and to activate and engage the kind of voters and coalitions who are going to win states like Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
TAPPER: Thank you. Senator Harris?
HARRIS: First of all, Donald Trump came in making a whole lot of promises to working people that he did not keep. He said he was going to help farmers. He said he was going to help auto workers.
Farmers are now looking at bankruptcy, soy beans rotting in bills. Auto workers we expect perhaps hundreds of thousands will be out of jobs by the end of the year. Jerome Powell just dropped the interest rates and he admitted why.
Because of this so called trade policy that this president has that has been nothing more than the Trump trade tax that has resulted in American families spending as much as $1.4 billion more on everything from shampoo to washing machines. He betrayed the American people, he betrayed American families, and he will lose this election because folks are clear ...
TAPPER: Thank you.
HARRIS: -- that he has done nothing except try to beat people down instead of lift people up. And that's what we want in the next president of the United States.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator Harris.
The debate is back, right after this short break.
We're back with the CNN Democratic presidential debate. We want to turn now to the economy.
Secretary Castro, this is for you. Wage growth is up. Stocks are rising. Unemployment is near historic lows, including for Latinos and African-Americans. You have all outlined plans, but you in particular, that could end up raising taxes. How can you guarantee that won't hurt the economy?
CASTRO: Well, first of all, there are a lot of Americans right now that are hurting. Just go and ask the folks that just received notice that they're getting laid off by General Motors, or ask the many folks who are sleeping on the streets in big cities and small towns across the United States, or ask fast food workers that I joined a couple of weeks ago that are working for minimum wage and can't provide for their families or pay the rent.
So the idea that America is doing just fine is wrong. Not only that, this president always likes to take credit, like he did this. We have now had about 105 straight months of positive job growth, the longest streak in American history.
Over 80 months of that was due to President Barack Obama. Thank you, Barack Obama. Thank you, Barack Obama.
So, you know, I believe that we need to invest in what will ensure that Americans can prosper in the years to come, making sure they have the knowledge and skills to compete in the 21st century economy, ensuring that they can afford the rent where they live and that they have health care so that they don't have to worry about going homeless because they can't afford a medical procedure.
BASH: Thank you, Secretary Castro.
I want to turn now to a question about trade and for Congresswoman Gabbard. Many saw the Trans-Pacific Partnership issue as something that would be a critical tool to deal with the rise of China. You were against it. How would you ensure that the United States is able to remain competitive against China on the world stage?
GABBARD: By pushing for fair trade, not trade deals that give away the sovereignty of the American people and our country, that give away American jobs, and that threaten our environment. These are the three main issues with that massive trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
I think the central one was the fact that it gave away our sovereignty to a panel of international corporations whose rulings would supersede any domestic law that we would pass, either a federal law or a state or a local law. This is extremely dangerous and goes against the very values that we have as a country.
What to speak of the fact that it would have a negative impact on domestic jobs and that it lacked clear protections for our environment. These are the things that we have to keep at the forefront as we look to enact fair trade deals with other countries to make sure that we continue to be a thriving part of our global economy.
BASH: So to be clear, Congresswoman, would you keep President Trump's tariffs on China in place?
GABBARD: I would not, because the approach that President Trump has taken has been extremely volatile without any clear strategic plan, and it has a ravaging and devastating effect on our domestic manufacturers, on our farmers, who are already struggling and now failing to see the light of day because of the plan that Trump has taken.
BASH: Vice President Biden, would you rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which, of course, President Trump withdrew from? Please respond.
BIDEN: I'd renegotiate. We make up 25 percent of the world's economy. In order -- either China is going to write the rules of the road for the 21st century on trade or we are. We have to join with the 40 percent of the world that we had with us, and this time make sure that there's no one sitting at that table doing the deal unless environmentalists are there and labor is there.
And to make sure we equip our workers first to compete by investing in them now, in the things that make them more competitive. That's what we have to do. Otherwise, they are going to write the rules of the road. We must have the rest of the world join us to keep them in check from abusing.
BASH: Thank you. Thank you. Vice President Biden, just to be clear, would you or would you not rejoin the TPP, yes or no?
BIDEN: I would not rejoin the TPP as it was initially put forward. I would insist that we renegotiate pieces of that with the Pacific nations that we had in South America and North America, so that we could bring them together to hold China accountable for the rules of us setting the rules of the road as to how trade should be conducted. Otherwise, they're going to do exactly what they're doing, fill the vacuum and run the -- and run the table.
BASH: Thank you, sir. Mayor de Blasio, you also oppose the deal. Please respond.
DE BLASIO: Yeah, and I just want to ask this question of all the candidates, but particularly of Vice President Biden. President Trump is trying to sell NAFTA 2.0. He's got a new name for it. It's just as dangerous as the old NAFTA. It's going to take away American jobs like the old NAFTA, like it did to Michigan. And we cannot have Democrats be party to a new NAFTA.
So, Vice President, I believe you're the only person on the stage who voted for the original NAFTA. Are you ready to say here and now that you will oppose a new NAFTA and that what you will believe in, which is a lot of us hope for, is trade treaties that empower organized labor across the boundaries of the world and give working people power again, not just multinational corporations.
BASH: Mr. Vice President?
BASH: Your response? Your response, sir?
BASH: That's it?
BIDEN: No, he said, would I insist that labor be engaged?
The answer is yes.
DE BLASIO: I consider that a victory.
BIDEN: Well, I love your affection for me. You spend a lot of time with me.
DE BLASIO: You know what? We believe in redemption, Joe. We believe in redemption in this party.
BIDEN: Well, I tell you what, I hope you're part of it.
BASH: OK, I'm going to ask a question of Senator Bennet now. Senator, CNN reached out to Michigan Democratic primary voters for their most pressing question. Farris from Flint, Michigan, has this question: "Here in Detroit, our economy has seen firsthand how technology and automation can displace workers and create uncertainty around human job security. How would you balance these disruptions created by technology with the beneficial impact of technology on our economy?
BENNET: Dana, this goes to the last question you asked, as well, which is, how are we going to remain competitive? It's not just about trade, which we were talking about earlier. It's about whether we're going to invest in this country anymore.
Since 2001, we have cut $5 trillion worth of taxes. Almost all of that has gone to the wealthiest people in America. We have made the income inequality worse, not better, through the policies of the federal government. We've spent $5.6 trillion in the Middle East. That's $12 trillion or $13 trillion that from the point of view of driving the economy in Michigan, or anywhere else in America, we might as well just have lit that money on fire. We've got to stop doing that.
And we need to invest in America again. For the money that we've spent that I just described, we could have fixed every road and bridge in this country. We could have fixed every airport that needs to be fixed. We could have fixed not just Flint, but every water system in this country.
BASH: Thank you.
BENNET: We could have made Social Security solvent for my children.
BASH: Thank you, Senator.
BENNET: But we did none of it because of self-serving politicians in Washington, D.C., who voted for deals that were good for them but not for Michigan or the American people.
BASH: Senator Bennet, thank you very much. Your time is up, sir.
BENNET: Thank you.
BASH: Mr. Yang, Mr. Yang, women on average earn 80 cents, about 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. Senator Harris wants to fine companies that don't close their gender pay gaps. As an entrepreneur, do you think a stiff fine will change how companies pay their female employees?
YANG: I have seen firsthand the inequities in the business world where women are concerned, particularly in start-ups and entrepreneurship. We have to do more at every step. And if you're a woman entrepreneur, the obstacles start not just at home, but then when you seek a mentor or an investor, often they don't look like you and they might not think your idea is the right one.
In order to give women a leg up, what we have to do is we have to think about women in every situation, including the ones who are in exploitive and abusive jobs and relationships around the country. I'm talking about the waitress who's getting harassed by her boss at the diner who might have a business idea, but right now is stuck where she is.
What we have to do is we have to give women the economic freedom to be able to improve their own situations and start businesses, and the best way to do this is by putting a dividend of $1,000 a month into their hands.
It would be a game-changer for women around the country, because we know that women do more of the unrecognized and uncompensated work in our society. It will not change unless we change it. And I say that's just what we do.
BASH: Senator Harris, your response?
HARRIS: I think that's support of my proposal, which is this. Since 1963, when we passed the Equal Pay Act, we have been talking about the fact women are not paid equally for equal work. Fast forward to the year of our lord 2019, and women are paid 80 cents on the dollar, black women 61 cents, Native American woman 58 cents, Latinas 53 cents.
I'm done with the conversation. So, yes, I am proposing in order to deal with this, one, I'm going to require corporations to post on their website whether they are paying women equally for equal work. Two, they will be fined for every 1 percent differential between what they're paying men and women, they will be fined 1 percent of their previous year's profit. That will get everybody's attention.
BASH: Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: Time for action.
BASH: Senator Gillibrand, what's your response? Will fining companies help solve the problem?
GILLIBRAND: I think we have to have a broader conversation about whether we value women and whether we want to make sure women have every opportunity in the workplace.
And I want to address Vice President Biden directly. When the Senate was debating middle-class affordability for childcare, he wrote an op-ed. He voted against it, the only vote, but what he wrote in an op-ed was that he believed that women working outside the home would, quote, "create the deterioration of family." He also said that women who were working outside the home were, quote, "avoiding responsibility."
And I just need to understand as a woman who's worked my entire career as the primary wage earner, as the primary caregiver, in fact, the second -- my second son, Henry, is here, and I had him when I was a member of Congress.
So under Vice President Biden's analysis, am I serving in Congress resulting in the deterioration of the family, because I had access to quality affordable day care? I just want to know what he meant when he said that.
BIDEN: That was a long time ago, and here’s what it was about. It would have given people making today $100,000 a year a tax break for childcare. I did not want that. I wanted the childcare to go to people making less than $100,000. And that’s what it was about.
As a single father who in fact raised three children for five years by myself, I have some idea what it cost.
I support making sure that every single solitary person needing childcare get an $8,000 tax credit now. That would put 700,000 women back to work, increase the GDP by almost 8/10 of 1 percent. It's the right thing to do if we can give tax breaks to corporations for these things, why can't we do it this way?
GILLIBRAND: But Mr. Vice President, you didn't answer my question. What did you mean when you said when a woman works outside the home it's resulting in quote, the deterioration of family ...
BIDEN: No, what I ...
GILLIBRAND: And that we are voiding -- these are quotes. It was the title of the op-ed and that just causes concern for me because we know America's women are working. 4 out of 10 moms have to work. They're the primary or sole wagers. They actually have to put food on the table.
8 out of 10 moms are working today. Most women have to work to provide for their kids. Many women want to be working to provide for their communities and to help people.
BASH: Thank you, Senator. Let the vice president respond now, thank you.
GILLIBRAND: So either you don't believe it today or what did you mean when you said it then?
BIDEN: The very beginning my deceased wife worked when we had children. My present wife has worked all the way through raising our children. The fact of the matter is the situation is one that I don't know what's happened.
I wrote the Violence against Women Act. Lilly Ledbetter. I was deeply involved in making sure the equal pay amendments. I was deeply involved on all these things. I came up with the it's on us proposal to see to it that women were treated more decently on college campuses.
You came to Syracuse University with me and said it was wonderful. I'm passionate about the concern making sure women are treated equally. I don't know what's happened except that you're now running for president.
GILLIBRAND: So I understand -- Mr. Vice President -- Mr. Vice President, I respect you deeply. I respect you deeply but those words are very specific. You said women working outside the home would lead to the deterioration of family.
My grandmother worked outside the home. My -- my mother worked outside the home. And -- and ....
BASH: Thank you, Senator GILLIBRAND.
I want to bring Senator Harris into this conversation.
GILLIBRAND: Either he no longer believes it -- I mean I just think he needs to ...
BIDEN: I never believed it.
BASH: Thank you. Senator Harris, please respond.
HARRIS: Well, I just -- listen, I mean talk about now running for president, you change your position on the Hyde Amendment, Vice President, where you mad a decision for years to withhold resources to poor women to have access to reproductive healthcare and including women who were the victims of rape and incest.
Do you now say that you have evolved and you regret that? Because you have only, since you've been running for president this time, said that you had -- you in some way would take that back or you didn't agree with the decision that you made over many, many years.
And this directly impacted so many women in our country and I personally prosecuted rape cases and child molestation cases; and the experience that those women have, those children have and that they would then be denied the resources ...
BASH: Thank you, Senator. Let the Vice President ...
HARRIS: I think is -- is unacceptable.
BIDEN: The fact is that the senator knows that that's not position. Everybody on this stage has been in the Congress and the Senate or House has voted for the Hyde Amendment at some point.
The Hyde Amendment in the past was available because there was other access for those kinds of services provided privately. But once I wrote the legislation, making sure that every single woman would in fact be have an opportunity to have healthcare paid for by the federal government, everyone that -- that could no longer stand.
I support a woman's right to choose. I support it's a constitutional right. I've supported it and I will continue to support it and I will, in fact, move as president to see to it that the Congress legislates that that is the laws as well.
BASH: Thank you -- thank you, Mr. Vice President. Governor Inslee, your response.
HARRIS: Well why did it take you so long to change your position in the Hyde Amendment. Why did it take so long until you were running for president to change your position on the Hyde?
BIDEN: Because there was not full federal funding for all reproductive services prior to this point.
BASH: OK. Thank you. Governor Inslee, your response?
INSLEE: I -- I would suggest we need to broaden our discussion. I would suggest we need to think about a bigger scandal in America, which is that in professions and careers where women have been more than the majority, they have been almost always under paid.
And that is why this year I'm proud to be the governor who won the largest pay increase for our educators in the United States. And I believe that that is long, long overdue. I think it is true for nursing staff as well. And I'm glad that we've now passed in measures. And I'm glad that we've increased our union membership 10 percent ...
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.
INSLEE: So unions can stand up for women as well.
TAPPER: Thank you, Governor Inslee. I want to turn to foreign policy, if we can. Senator Booker, there are about 14,000 U.S. services members in Afghanistan right now. If elected, will they still be in Afghanistan by the end of your first year in office?
BOOKER: Well, first of all, I want to say very clearly that I will not do foreign policy by tweet as Donald Trump seems to do all the time. A guy that literally tweets out that we're pulling our troops out before his generals even know about it is creating a dangerous situation for our troops in places like Afghanistan.
And so I will bring our troops home and I will bring them home as quickly as possible, but I will not set during a campaign an artificial deadline. I will make sure we do it, we do it expeditiously, we do it safely, to not create a vacuum that's ultimately going to destabilize the Middle East and perhaps create the environment for terrorism and for extremism to threaten our nation.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Gabbard, you're the only veteran on this stage. Please respond.
GABBARD: This is real in a way that's very difficult to convey in words. I was deployed to Iraq in 2005 during the height of the war where I served in a field medical unit where every single day I saw the high cost of war. Just this past week, two more of our soldiers were killed in Afghanistan.
My cousin is deployed to Afghanistan right now. Nearly 300 of our Hawaii National Guard soldiers are deployed to Afghanistan, 14,000 servicemembers are deployed there. This is not about arbitrary deadlines. This is about leadership, the leadership I will bring to do the right thing to bring our troops home, within the first year in office, because they shouldn't have been there this long.
For too long, we've had leaders who have been arbitrating foreign policy from ivory towers in Washington without any idea about the cost and the consequence, the toll that it takes on our servicemembers, on their families. We have to do the right thing, end these wasteful regime change wars, and bring our troops home.
TAPPER: Thank you. Thank you, Congresswoman.
Mr. Yang, Iran has now breached the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal, and that puts Iran closer to building a nuclear weapon, the ability to do so, at the very least. You've said if Iran violates the agreement, the U.S. would need to respond, quote, "very strongly." So how would a President Yang respond right now?
YANG: I would move to de-escalate tensions in Iran, because they're responding to the fact that we pulled out of this agreement. And it wasn't just us and Iran. There were many other world powers that were part of that multinational agreement. We'd have to try and reenter that agreement, renegotiate the timelines, because the timelines now don't make as much sense.
But I've signed a pledge to end the forever wars. Right now, our strength abroad reflects our strength at home. What's happened, really? We've fallen apart at home, so we elected Donald Trump, and now we have this erratic and unpredictable relationship with even our longstanding partners and allies.
What we have to do is we have to start investing those resources to solve the problems right here at home. We've spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of American lives in conflicts that have had unclear benefits. We've been in a constant state of war for 18 years. This is not what the American people want. I would bring the troops home, I would de-escalate tensions with Iran, and I would start investing our resources in our own communities.
TAPPER: Governor Inslee, your response?
INSLEE: Well, I think that these are matters of great and often difficult judgment. And there is no sort of primer for presidents to read. We have to determine whether a potential president has adequate judgment in these decisions.
I was only one of two members on this panel today who were called to make a judgment about the Iraq war. I was a relatively new member of Congress, and I made the right judgment, because it was obvious to me that George Bush was fanning the flames of war.
Now we face similar situations where we recognize we have a president who would be willing to beat the drums of war. We need a president who can stand up against the drums of war and make rational decisions. That was the right vote, and I believe it.
TAPPER: Thank you. Thank you, Governor. Vice President Biden, he was obviously suggesting that you made the wrong decision and had bad judgment when you voted to go to war in Iraq as a U.S. senator.
BIDEN: I did make a bad judgment, trusting the president saying he was only doing this to get inspectors in and get the U.N. to agree to put inspectors in. From the moment "shock and awe" started, from that moment, I was opposed to the effort, and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress and the administration.
Secondly, I was asked by the president in the first meeting we had on Iraq, he turned and said, Joe, get our combat troops out, in front of the entire national security team. One of the proudest moment of my life was to stand there in Al-Faw Palace and tell everyone that we're coming -- all our combat troops are coming home.
TAPPER: Thank you.
BIDEN: I opposed the surge in Afghanistan, this long overdue -- we should have not, in fact, gone into Afghanistan the way...
TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. I want to bring in...
INSLEE: Mr. Vice President -- I'd like to comment.
TAPPER: I would like to bring in the person on the stage who served in Iraq, Governor -- I'm sorry, Congresswoman Gabbard. Your response to what Vice President Biden just said.
GABBARD: We were all lied to. This is the betrayal. This is the betrayal to the American people, to me, to my fellow servicemembers. We were all lied to, told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, was working with Al Qaida, and that this posed a threat to the American people.
So I enlisted after 9/11 to protect our country, to go after those who attacked us on that fateful day, who took the lives of thousands of Americans.
The problem is that this current president is continuing to betray us. We were supposed to be going after Al Qaida. But over years now, not only have we not gone after Al Qaida, who is stronger today than they were in 9/11, our president is supporting Al Qaida.
LEMON: Thank you, Congresswoman.
DE BLASIO: We didn't talk about Iran.
LEMON: Let's talk about -- thank you, please.
DE BLASIO: We didn't talk about Iran.
DE BLASIO: We're on the march to war in Iran right now, and we blew by it.
LEMON: Please, Mayor. The rules -- please follow the rules.
DE BLASIO: I respect the rules, but we have to stop this march to war in Iran.
LEMON: Mayor, thank you very much. We're going on...
DE BLASIO: And the Democratic Party has to stand up for it.
LEMON: ... and we're going to talk about another subject. Mayor, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
Let's talk about now the former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's appearance in front of Congress last week. When asked whether or not the president could be charged with a crime after leaving office, his answer was yes.
Senator Harris, you have criticized President Trump for interfering with the Justice Department, and just last month you said if you were elected president, your Justice Department would, quote, "have no choice and should go forward with obstruction of justice charges against former President Trump." Why is it OK for you to advocate for the Justice Department to prosecute somebody, but President Trump, not him?
HARRIS: Well, I would never direct the Department of Justice to do whatever it believes it should do. But, listen, look, we all watched his testimony. I've read the report. There are 10 clear incidents of obstruction of justice by this president, and he needs to be held accountable. I have seen people go to prison for far less.
And the reality of it is that we have a person in the White House right now who has been shielded by a memo in the United States Department of Justice that says a sitting president cannot be indicted. I believe the American people are right to say there should be consequence and accountability for everyone and no one is above the law, including the president of the United States.
LEMON: Senator Booker, your response?
BOOKER: My response is exactly that. I've read the report. I've read the redacted versions of the report. We have something that is astonishing going on in the United States of the America. We have a president that is not acting like the leader of the free world. He's acting like an authoritarian against the actual Constitution that he swore an oath to uphold.
And so this is a difference with a lot of us on this debate stage. I believe that we in the United States Congress should start impeachment proceedings immediately. And I'll tell you this...
Debbie Stabenow now has joined my call for starting impeachment proceedings, because he is now stonewalling Congress, not allowing -- subjecting himself to the checks and balances. We swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. The politics of this be dammed. When we look back in history at what happened when a president of the United States started acting more like an authoritarian leader than the leader of the free world, the question is, is what will we have done? And I believe the Congress should do its job.
LEMON: Senator Booker, thank you very much. Secretary Castro, what's your response?
CASTRO: Well, I agree. I was the first of the candidates to call on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings. There are 10 different incidents that Robert Mueller has pointed out where this president either obstructed justice or attempted to obstruct justice. And I believe that they should go forward with impeachment proceedings.
As to the question of what my Department of Justice would do, I agree with those who say that a president should not direct an attorney general specifically to prosecute or not prosecute. However, I believe that the evidence is plain and clear and that if it gets that far, that you're likely to see a prosecution of Donald Trump.
LEMON: Thank you, Secretary.
Mayor de Blasio, I'm going to bring you in. What's your response?
DE BLASIO: I think it's obvious at this point in our history that the president has committed the crimes worthy of impeachment. But I want to caution my fellow Democrats. While we move in every way we can for impeachment, we have to remember at the same time the American people are out there looking for us to do something for them in their lives. And what they see when they turn on the TV or go online is just talk about impeachment.
We need more talk about working people and their lives. For example, are we really ready -- and I ask people on this stage this question -- are we ready to make sure that the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes? That's something every American wants to know about. That's something they want answers to right now.
So, yeah, move for impeachment, but don't forget to do the people's business and to stand up for working people, because that's how we're actually going to beat Donald Trump. The best impeachment is beating him in the election of 2020.
LEMON: Mayor, thank you very much. Senator Bennet, how do you respond to this conversation?
BENNET: I think, look, as we go forward here, we need to recognize a very practical reality, which is that we are four months -- we've got the August recess. Then we are four months away from the Iowa Caucuses. And I just want to make sure whatever we do doesn't end up with an acquittal by Mitch McConnell in the Senate, which it surely would. And then President Trump would be running saying that he had been acquitted by the United States Congress.
I believe we have a moral obligation to beat Donald Trump.
He has to be a single-term president. And we can't do anything that plays into our -- his hands. We were talking earlier about -- about climate up here. It's so important. Donald Trump should be the last climate denier that's ever in the White House.
LEMON: Senator Bennet, thank you very much. Secretary Castro, please respond.
BENNET: But we need to be smart about how we're running or we're going to give him a second term. We can't do it.
LEMON: Secretary, please, your turn.
CASTRO: Well, let me first say that I really do believe that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. All of us have a vision for the future of the country that we're articulating to the American people. We're going to continue to do that. We have an election coming up.
At the same time, Senator, you know, I think that too many folks in the Senate and in the Congress have been spooked by 1998. I believe that the times are different. And in fact, I think that folks are making a mistake by not pursuing impeachment. The Mueller Report clearly details that he deserves it.
And what's going to happen in the fall of next year, of 2020, if they don't impeach him, is he's going to say, "You see? You see? The Democrats didn't go after me on impeachment, and you know why? Because I didn't do anything wrong."
These folks that always investigate me, they're always trying to go after me. When it came down to it, they didn't go after me there because I didn't do anything wrong."
Conversely, if Mitch McConnell is the one that lets him off the hook, we're going to be able to say...
CASTRO: "Well, sure, they impeached him in the House, but his friend, Mitch McConnell, Moscow Mitch, let him off the hook."
LEMON: Senator Bennet, please respond.
BENNET: I -- I don't disagree with that. You just said it better than I did. We have to walk and chew gum at the same time. It is incredibly unusual for members of Congress to be able to do that. And I'm glad that Secretary Castro has the ambition...
CASTRO: Well, my brother can. He's here tonight.
BENNET: Ah, that's what I was going to say. It's your brother that's given you that good feeling about the Congress.
That's what we should do.
LEMON: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, gentlemen.
The debate continues, right after this.
TAPPER: Welcome back to the CNN Democratic presidential debate. It is time now for closing statements. You will each receive one minute. Mayor de Blasio, let's begin with you.
DE BLASIO: Thank you. For the last three years, we’ve watched Donald Trump pit working people against each other, black versus white, citizen versus immigrant. And why? So that the wealthy and the powerful he represents can hold the American dream hostage from everyone else.
We can't let them get away with it. If we're going to beat Donald Trump, this has to be a party that stands for something. This has to be the party of labor unions. This has to be the party of universal healthcare. This has to be the party that's not afraid to say out loud we're going to tax the hell out of the wealthy.
And when we do that, Donald Trump right on cue will call us socialists. Well, here's what I'll say to him. Donald, you're the real socialist. The problem is, it's socialism for the rich. We, here in this country, we don't have to take that anymore. We can fight back.
If you agree that we can stand up to Donald Trump and we can stand up to the wealthy, then go to taxthehell.com and join us, so we can build a country that puts working people first.
TAPPER: Senator Bennet?
BENNET: Thank you. Thank you very much.
What I want to say to all of you tonight is, we have been here before as a country. We have faced challenges that we've -- we actually even forget some of us tonight how hard the people fought, how hard they worked, how hard they organized, the votes they had to take, the people they had to get to the polls to make this country more democratic, more fair, and more free.
And now we have a person in the White House who has no appreciation of that history, who doesn't believe in the rule of law, who doesn't believe in the independence of the judiciary, who doesn't believe that climate change is real.
I think that we have an incredible opportunity in front of us, all of us, to come together just as our parents and grandparents did before them, and face challenges even harder than the ones that we face, but the only way we're going to be able to do it is to put the divisive politics of Donald Trump behind us and the divisive politics of the last 10 years behind us.
We need to come together united against a broken Washington, make Donald Trump a one-term president, and begin to govern this country again for our kids and our grandkids who cannot do it for themselves. We have to do it for them.
Please join me at michaelbennet.com. Thanks for being here tonight.
TAPPER: Governor Inslee?
INSLEE: For decades, we have kicked the can down the road on climate change. And now under Donald Trump, we face a looming catastrophe. But it is not too late. We have one last chance. And when you have one chance in life, you take it.
Think about this: Literally the survival of humanity on this planet and civilization as we know it is in the hands of the next president. And we have to have a leader who will do what is necessary to save us. And that includes making this the top priority of the next presidency.
And I alone on this panel am making a commitment that this will be the organizing principle of my administration not the first day, but every day. And if you share my view of the urgency of this matter, I hope you'll join me, because we are up against powerful special fossil fuel interests. And it is time to stand up on our legs and confront the fossil fuel special interests. Because that is our salvation, what it depends upon.
So I hope you will consider going to jayinslee.com and joining this effort. And I will close with this: I am confident and optimistic tonight, even in the face of this difficulty, because I know we can build a clean energy economy, I know we can save our children and our grandchildren. I know that we can defeat climate change and we will defeat Donald Trump.
This is our moral responsibility. And we will fulfill it. Thank you very much.
TAPPER: Senator Gillibrand?
GILLIBRAND: Donald trump has really torn apart the moral fabric of this country, dividing us on every racial line, every religious line, every socioeconomic line he can find.
I'm running for president because I want to help people, and I actually have the experience and the ability to do that. I've brought Congress together and actually made a difference in people's lives.
I also know how to beat Donald Trump. He has broken his promises to the American people. I've taken this fight directly to his backyard in Michigan and Ohio and in Pennsylvania, and I'll go to all the places in this country. I will fight for your family. It doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter where you live, it doesn't matter who you love. Because that's my responsibility.
And I've done this before. I started out in a 2-to-1 Republican district. I won it twice. I've never lost an election since. And I not only bring people together electorally, but also legislatively. I get things done.
So we need a president who's not afraid of the big challenges, of the big fights. There is no false choice. We don't need a liberal or progressive with big ideas or we don't need a moderate who can win back Trump-Obama voters. You need someone who can do both. And that's who I am.
Please go to kirstengillibrand.com so I can make the next debate stage.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Gabbard?
GABBARD: Thank you.
Now, Donald Trump and warmongering politicians in Washington have failed us. They continue to escalate tensions with other nuclear-armed countries like Russia and China and North Korea, starting a new Cold War, pushing us closer and closer to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.
Now, as we stand here tonight, there are thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at us. And if we were to get an attack right here tonight, we would have 30 minutes, 30 minutes before we were hit. And you would receive an alert like the one we received in Hawaii last year that would say, "Incoming missile. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."
And you would see as we did, as my loved ones in Hawaii did, there is no shelter. This is the warmonger's hoax. There is no shelter. It's all a lie.
As president, I will end this insanity, because it doesn't have to be this way. I will end these wasteful regime change wars, work to end this new Cold War through the use of diplomacy to de-escalate these tensions and take the trillions of dollars that we've been wasting on these wars and on these weapons and redirect those resources into serving the needs of our people right here at home, things like health care for all, making sure everyone in this country has clean water to drink and clean air to breathe, investing in education, investing in our infrastructure.
The needs are great. As your president, I will put your interests above all else.
TAPPER: Secretary Castro?
CASTRO: Well, first of all, let me say thank you to you, Jake, Dana, and to Don, and to everybody here and to those watching.
You know, this election is all about what kind of nation we're going to become. You and I, we stand on the shoulders of folks who have made beds and made sacrifices, people that fought in wars and fought discrimination, folks that picked crops and stood in picket lines, and they helped build the wonderful nation that we live in today.
Donald Trump has not been bashful in his cruelty. And I’m not going to be bashful in my common sense and compassion. I believe that we need leadership that understands that we need to move forward as one nation, with one destiny.
Our destiny in the years to come is to be the smartest, the healthiest, the fairest and the most prosperous nation on Earth.
CASTRO: If you want to help me build that America for the future, I hope you’ll go to juliancastro.com. And on January 20th, 2021, we’ll say together, “Adios to Donald Trump.”
TAPPER: Mr. Yang?
YANG: You know what the talking heads couldn't stop talking about after the last debate? It's not the fact that I'm somehow number four on the stage in national polling. It was the fact that I wasn't wearing a tie. Instead of talking about automation and our future, including the fact that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs, hundreds of thousands right here in Michigan, we're up here with makeup on our faces and our rehearsed attack lines, playing roles in this reality TV show.
It's one reason why we elected a reality TV star as our president.
We need to be laser-focused on solving the real challenges of today, like the fact that the most common jobs in America may not exist in a decade, or that most Americans cannot pay their bills. My flagship proposal, the freedom dividend, would put $1,000 a month into the hands of every American adult. It would be a game-changer for millions of American families.
If you care more about your family and your kids than my neckwear, enter your zip code at yang2020.com and see what $1,000 a month would mean to your community. I have done the math. It’s not left; it’s not right. It’s forward. And that is how we’re going to beat Donald Trump in 2020.
TAPPER: Senator Booker?
BOOKER: Thank you. First, I just want to give a lot of thanks to the city of Detroit. They're hosting us today, and one of the reasons I respect this city is because it has the kind of defiant love that I find in many American cities, including the city of Newark. And Detroit is turning around and Newark is turning around because we let no one divide us, no one demean or degrade us or underestimate or worth. We pulled together and fought for common purpose and common cause.
That's the history of this city. My mom is sitting there who was born in the city of Detroit, born to a guy...
... that was a UAW worker, my grandfather, who pulled his family out of poverty in the Depression. My grandmother joined him. She was really entrepreneurial, opened a pool hall and a laundromat right here in this city.
That is the American dream. And so many of us have stories like that. But the dream of this country is under threat right now. While, my mom's generation, 80 -- 95% of baby boomers did better than their parents. It's now just a coin toss for millennials. We have a real crisis in our country, and the crisis is Donald Trump, but not only Donald Trump.
I have a frustration that sometimes people are saying the only thing they want is to beat Donald Trump. Well, that is the floor and not the ceiling. The way we beat Donald Trump is not just focusing on him. He wants to take all the oxygen out of the room. It's when we start focusing on each other and understanding that our common bonds and our common purpose to address our common pain is what has saved us before. It's what's going to save us now. That is the kind of leader that I am going to be as president of the United States, not just uniting the Democratic Party but making sure that we put more "indivisible" back into this one nation under God.
And if you believe like I do, please go to corybooker.com and join the mission.
TAPPER: Senator Harris?
HARRIS: So in my background as attorney general of California, I took on the big banks who preyed on the homeowners, many of whom lost their homes and will never be able to buy another. I've taken on the for-profit colleges who preyed on students, put them out of business. I've preyed on transnational criminal organizations that have preyed on women and children.
And I will tell you, we have a predator living in the White House.
And I'm going to tell you something. Donald Trump has predatory nature and predatory instincts. And the thing about predators is this. By their very nature, they prey on people they perceive to be weak. They prey on people they perceive to be vulnerable. They prey on people who are in need of help, often desperate for help. And predators are cowards.
What we need is someone who is going to be on that debate stage with Donald Trump and defeat him by being able to prosecute the case against four more years. And let me tell you, we’ve got a long rap sheet. We’re looking at someone who passed a tax bill benefiting the top 1 percent and the biggest corporations in this country when he said he would help working families. We’ve got a person who has put babies in cages and separated children from their parents. We have someone who passed a so-called trade policy that was trade policy by tweet and has resulted in a tax on American families.
So we must defeat him and then, in turning the page, write the next chapter for our country. And that has to be written in a way that recognizes what wakes people up at 3:00 in the morning. And that is my agenda, the 3:00 a.m. agenda that is focused on giving folks the jobs they need, getting their children the education they need, making sure they have the health care they need and the future they deserve.
So please join me at kamalaharris.org. And I thank you for your time.
TAPPER: Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you very much. And thank you, Mr. Mayor, for Detroit hosting this.
Look, I've said it many times, and I think everyone agrees with this. We're in a battle for the soul of America. This is the most consequential election anyone of you, no matter how old or young you are, has ever, ever participated in. Four more years of Donald Trump will go down as an aberration -- hard to overcome the damage he's done, but we can overcome it. Eight more years of Donald Trump will change America in a fundamental way. The America we know will no longer exist.
Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. We have to let him know who we are. We choose science over fiction. We choose hope over fear. We choose unity over division. And we choose -- we choose the idea that we can as Americans, when we act together, do anything. This is the United States of America. When we've acted together, we have never, never, never been unable to overcome whatever the problem was.
If you agree with me, go to joe30330 and help me in this fight. Thank you very much.
BASH: Candidates, thank you so much. We appreciate it. And stay with CNN for special coverage of tonight’s debate. Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo are coming up. That begins right now.