Democratic Candidates Debate in Charleston, South Carolina
Former Vice President Jospeh Biden;
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg (New York City);
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (South Bend, IN);
Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN);
Senator Bernie Sanders (VT);
Tom Steyer; and
Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA);
Margaret Brennan (CBS News);
Major Garrett (CBS News);
Gayle King (CBS News);
Norah O'Donnell (CBS News); and
Bill Whitaker (CBS News)
O'DONNELL: Tonight, the battle for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, where everything is on the line.
KING: Seven candidates face off in the final debate before the South Carolina and Super Tuesday primaries.
I'm Gayle King.
O'DONNELL: And I'm Norah O'Donnell.
Let's get started. [cheering and applause]
BUTTIGIEG: The time has come to turn the page and open up a new chapter in the American story.
SANDERS: Let us go forward. Let's win this thing. Let's transform America! [cheering and applause]
ANNOUNCER: America decides.
KLOBUCHAR: America deserves a president who is as resilient as her people. [cheering and applause]
WARREN: 2020 is our time to change who makes the rules. [cheering and applause]
ANNOUNCER: One stage.
BLOOMBERG: This election is just too important, and we cannot afford to get it wrong.
BIDEN: There's no limit to what we could get done in the next four years.
STEYER: Show up in November of 2020 and win. [cheering and applause]
ANNOUNCER: Seven Democratic candidates.
WARREN: Together, we have built a movement.
STEYER: We have a fantastically diverse and wonderful party.
BIDEN: We choose hope over fear.
SANDERS: We are going to unite together.
BLOOMBERG: And, together, we are going to get it done.
BUTTIGIEG: We will deliver a democracy worthy of the name.
KLOBUCHAR: We are here, and we are strong. [cheering and applause]
ANNOUNCER: Live from the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, this is the CBS News Democratic debate.
Here are the seven candidates for the presidential nomination. [cheering and applause]
O'DONNELL: Good evening, and welcome.
The Democratic presidential primary here in South Carolina, the first primary in the South, is just four days away.
KING: And Super Tuesday is just a week away. And this is the biggest primary day of the year, as voters in 14 states cast ballots, and many of them tell us they have not actually made up their mind.
So, this debate, when you think about it tonight, may be the last, best chance for the candidates to make their case to South Carolina and Super Tuesday voters.
O'DONNELL: And CBS News is proud too bring you this debate, along with our co-sponsors.
They are the Democratic National Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, a nonpartisan organization committed to educating voters and training political leaders.
KING: And we are partnering tonight also with Twitter.
So, you at home can participate in this debate. How do you do that? Send us your questions for the candidates using the Twitter hashtag #DemDebate.
O'DONNELL: Now, here are the rules for the next two hours.
When you are asked a question, you will have one minute and 15 seconds to answer, and 45 seconds for follow-ups.
So, let's begin.
Senator Sanders, we haven't had a national unemployment rate this low for this long in 50 years. Here in South Carolina, the unemployment rate is even lower.
How will you convince voters that a Democratic socialist can do better than President Trump with the economy?
SANDERS: Well, you're right. The economy is doing really great for people like Mr. Bloomberg and other billionaires. [applause] In the last three years, last three years, billionaires in this country saw an $850 billion increase in their wealth.
But you know what? For the ordinary American, things are not so good. Last year, real wage increases for the average worker were less than 1 percent. Half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck; 87 million Americans have no health insurance or are underinsured; 45 million people are struggling with student debt; 500,000 people tonight are sleeping out on the street, including 30,000 veterans.
That is not an economy that's working for the American people. That's an economy working for the 1 percent.
We're going to create an economy for all, not just wealthy campaign contributors.
O'DONNELL: Mayor Bloomberg...
BLOOMBERG: Senator...[cheering and applause]Senator...
O'DONNELL: Mayor Bloomberg, I'll let you respond to that.
Do you think Senator Sanders' economy would be better for America than President Trump's?
BLOOMBERG: I -- I think that Donald Trump thinks it would be better if he's president. I do not think so.
Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States.
And that's why Russia is helping you get elected, so you will lose to him.
SANDERS: Oh, Mr. Bloomberg.
Let me tell Mr. Putin, OK, I'm not a good friend of President Xi of China. I think President Xi is an authoritarian leader.
And let me tell Mr. Putin, who interfered in the 2016 election, try to bring Americans against Americans, hey, Mr. Putin, if I'm president of the United States, trust me, you're not going to interfere in any more American elections. [cheering and applause]
O'DONNELL: Senator Warren?
BUTTIGIEG: Look, we know what the president -- what Russia wants. It's chaos.
WARREN: So, look, the way I see this is that Bernie is winning right now because the Democratic Party is a progressive party, and progressive ideas are popular ideas, even if there are a lot of people on this stage who don't want to say so. [applause]
You know, but Bernie and I agree on a lot of things, but I think I would make a better president than Bernie.
And the reason for that is that getting a progressive agenda enacted is going to be really hard, and it's going to take someone who digs into the details to make it happen.
Bernie and I both wanted to help rein in Wall Street. In 2008, we both got our chance. But I dug in. I fought the big banks. I built the coalitions, and I won.
Bernie and I both want to see universal health care, but Bernie's plan doesn't explain how to get there, doesn't show how we're going to get enough allies into it, and doesn't show enough about how we're going to pay for it.
WARREN: I dug in. I did the work. And then Bernie's team trashed me for it.
We need a president who is going to dig in, do the hard work, and actually get it done. Progressives have got one shot. And we need to spend it with a leader who will get something done.
KING: Mayor Buttigieg, we want to bring you in this conversation. [cheering and applause]
KING: Why would the Russians want to be working on behalf of Bernie Sanders?
BUTTIGIEG: I will tell you what the Russians want. They don't have a political party. They want chaos.
And chaos is what is coming our way. I mean, look, if you think the last four years has been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump. [laughter]
Think about what that will be like for this country. [applause]
And, meanwhile, folks at home, from South Carolina to South Bend, are trying to figure out what any of this means for us, because it's right that there is a progressive majority, an American majority that wants to see real change, wants to see wages go up, and go up faster than the cost of health and saving for retirement.
But, also, there's a majority of the American people who I think right now just want to be able to turn on the TV, see their president, and actually feel their blood pressure go down a little bit, instead of up through the roof. [cheering and applause]
BUTTIGIEG: We have an opportunity to set a different tone.
O'DONNELL: Mr. Steyer.
KING: Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: Bernie Sanders' analysis is right.
The difference is, I don't like his solutions. I don't believe that a government takeover of large parts of the economy makes any sense for working people or for families.
I think that what we need to do is to present an alternative that includes a vibrant, competitive private sector.
But we all know, unchecked capitalism has failed. The answer is not for the government to take over the private sector, though. The answer is for us to break the corporate stranglehold on our government and have the government work for the people again.
KING: Vice President Biden? [applause]
STEYER: We need to -- well, let me just finish, because we need to have an alternative to Donald Trump.
I'm talking about doubling the minimum wage, cutting taxes by 10 percent for everybody who makes less than $250,000 and creating over 4.5 million good-paying union jobs. [applause]
Donald Trump thinks -- he's incompetent as a steward of the American economy. We have to show that we can create a growing, prosperous economy that works for American working people.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
KING: Mr. Steyer, thank you. Your time is up. [cheering and applause]
KING: Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: You know, when we talk about progressive, let's talk about being progressive.
Walking distance of here is Mother Emanuel Church, nine people shot dead by a white supremacist.
Bernie voted five times against the Brady Bill and wanted a waiting period...[cheering and applause]
No, let me finish.
A waiting period of 12 hours. I'm not saying he's responsible for the nine deaths, but that man would not have been able to get that weapon with the waiting period had been what I suggest until you are cleared.
In addition to that, being progressive, he thought Barack Obama -- he wanted a primary-- he said we should primary Barack Obama, someone should, and, in fact, the president was weak and our administration was in fact not up to it. Look, folks, this is -- let's talk about progressive. Progressive is getting things done, and that's what we got done. We got a lot done [applause]
KING: Senator Sanders -- Senator Sanders, your response.
SANDERS: You know, Pete mentioned -- I'm hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight. [laughter]
I wonder why. And maybe, you know, Pete mentions what the American people want. I will tell you, Pete, what the American people want, and, Joe, what the American people want. They don't want candidates to be running to billionaires for huge amounts of funding.
BUTTIGIEG: All right, let's clear this up once and for all.
SANDERS: Pete has gotten funding from over 50 billionaires.
BUTTIGIEG: You've got people believing something that is false. This needs to be cleared up.
SANDERS: Joe, I think, has gotten a little bit more. What the American people want, by the way, and a lot of the issues we'll be discussing tonight are issues I raised four years ago: raising the minimum wage to a living wage, 15 bucks an hour. Making public colleges and universities tuition-free. And finally, doing what every other major country on Earth does, guaranteeing health care to all people as a human right through a Medicare for All, single-payer system.
BUTTIGIEG: I can't allow -- I can't allow this to stand because it's just not true. Senator Sanders...
KING: We're going to allow everyone an opportunity opportunity to respond.
BUTTIGIEG: ... has got people believing something that is untrue about my campaign. The idea that most of my campaign is funded by billionaires...
SANDERS: I didn't say that, Pete.
BUTTIGIEG: Fifty people, all right. In Charleston alone, just in Charleston, over 2,000 people have contributed to my campaign. That means the dollars that have come to my campaign, just from Charleston, is more than the dollars that have come from the 50 people that you mentioned. Grassroots contributions are the life blood of my campaign.
In fact, I shouldn't miss the opportunity, if you're watching right now and you support my campaign, go to peteforamerica.com, and chip in. And if you are watching right now, and you're a billionaire, I will raise your taxes. But if you'd like to defeat Donald Trump, please go to peteforamerica.com and donate legal maximum of $2,800, if you're a billionaire.
KING: All right, all right, Mayor Buttigieg.
Vice President Biden, I want to make -- I want to bring us to another topic. We're in South Carolina. It's the first primary with a significant black voting population. Your numbers appear to be slipping with black voters. And I'm wondering if you could respond about why that is happening to you at this particular time.
BIDEN: Well, first of all, the latest poll I saw, my numbers -- I'm still 15 points ahead, the latest poll.
KING: Yes, yes, you're correct. You're correct. [applause]
BIDEN: But look, look...
KING: But Senator Sanders is in striking distance of you. You are within the margin of error in this state.
BIDEN: Well, it depends which -- look, I've earned the vote, I've worked like the devil to earn the vote of the African-American community, not just here but across the country. I've been coming here for years and years, creating jobs here, making sure that the port, for example, that employs one in 11 people, we put $500 million, in our administration, just into this county. We've created jobs for people.
The people know me. My entire career has been wrapped up in dealing with civil rights and civil liberties. I don't expect anything. I plan to earn the vote. I'm here to ask. I'm here to earn it. But, folks, I intend to win in South Carolina, and I will win the African-American vote here in South Carolina. [applause]
KING: Mr. Biden, will you continue if you do not win South Carolina? You have said that South Carolina will determine the outcome of this presidential race. If you don't win South Carolina, will you continue in this race?
BIDEN: I will win South Carolina. [applause]
KING: All right, sir.
Mayor Bloomberg, I'd like to bring you into this conversation. I want to ask you about a question that impacts the black and brown community. You've apologized for stop and frisk repeatedly. What exactly are you apologizing for?
BLOOMBERG: We let it get out of control and when I realized that, I cut it back by 95 percent. And I've apologized and asked for forgiveness. I've met with black leaders to try to get an understanding of how I can better position myself and what I should have done and what I should do next time.
But let me tell you, I have been working very hard. We've improved the school system for black and brown students in New York City. We've increased the jobs that are available to them. We've increased the housing that's available to them. We have programs like the...
KING: But what more can you do about this issue, Mr. Mayor, to put people's fears and skepticism to rest? It continues to follow you.
BLOOMBERG: No -- well, that's because it's in their interest to promote that. But if you talk to the people in New York City, I have over 100 black elected officials that have endorsed me. A lot of them are in the audience tonight. And I've earned the respect of people in New York City.
I was the mayor of the largest, most populous city in the United States for 12 years, and people will tell you it's a lot better city today. It is safer for everybody. The school system is better. The budget is under control. We've done the things that people need in New York City for all ethnicities. [applause]
KING: Mayor Buttigieg, mayor to mayor, mayor to mayor, you've certainly had your issues with the black community as well. Do you think the New York City's implementation of stop and frisk was racist?
BUTTIGIEG: Yes, in effect, it was. Because it was about profiling people based on their race. And the mayor even said that they disproportionately stopped white people too often and minorities too little. And I'm not here to score points. I come at this with a great deal of humility, because we have had a lot of issues, especially when it comes to racial justice and policing in my own community.
And I come to this with some humility because I'm conscious of the fact that there are seven white people on this stage talking about racial justice. None of us -- none of us have the experience, the lived experience of, for example, walking down the street, or in a mall, and feeling feeling eyes on us, regarding us as dangerous, without knowing the first thing about us just because the color of our skin.
None of us had the experience that black women have had that drives that maternal mortality gap that we are all rightly horrified by, of going into a doctor, and being less likely to have your description of being in pain believed because of your race. Since we don't have the experience, the next best thing we can do...
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Mayor.
BUTTIGIEG: ... is actually listen to those who do.
BLOOMBERG: I know -- wait a second. I know that if I were black, my success would have been a lot harder to achieve. And I know a lot of black people that if they were white it would have been a lot easier for them. That's just a fact, and we've got to do something about it than rather just demagogue about it.
O'DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar, was the way that the mayor implemented stop and frisk racist?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, and I think that what we need to do instead of just reviewing everything from the past is talk about where we're going to go forward. Martin Luther King once said that we are all tied in a single garment of destiny, and that what affects one of us directly affects all of us indirectly. So when there is racism in the criminal justice system, then we need to fix it.
And to me that means sentencing reform, like the First Step Act, and extending that to the states with the Second Step Act. It means equal opportunity. Because if we don't pass Representative Clyburn's bill out of South Carolina here to invest in impoverished communities, we're never going to get to that single garment of destiny.
And we also need to do something about child care, about making sure we increase the minimum wage. And then, finally, voting. While we are all sitting here debating, Wisconsin has kicked hundreds of thousands of people off of their voting rolls. Georgia kicked 100,000 off. As president, I will get voting rights to be a reality for everyone. [applause]
KING: Senator Warren, I'm coming to you. I want to direct this question to you because you -- because Mayor Bloomberg has said he got in this race late because he doesn't believe that any of you on stage can beat Donald Trump. You said Mayor Bloomberg is not the safest candidate, he is the riskiest candidate. What did you mean by that?
WARREN: I mean that Mayor Bloomberg -- let's think of it this way. We're here in Charleston, and you know who is going to be in Charleston later this week is Donald Trump. He's going to be here to raise money for his buddy Senator Lindsey Graham, who funded Lindsey Graham's campaign for re-election last time? It was Mayor Bloomberg.
And that's not the only right-wing senator that Mayor Bloomberg has funded. In 2016, he dumped $12 million into the Pennsylvania Senate race to help re-elect an anti-choice, right-wing Republican senator. And I just want to say, the woman challenger was terrific. She lost by a single point.
In 2012, he scooped in to try to defend another Republican senator against a woman challenger. That was me. It didn't work, but he tried hard. [applause]
I don't care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has. The core of the Democratic Party will never trust him. He has not earned their trust. I will. And the fact that he cannot earn the trust of core of the Democratic Party means he is the riskiest candidate standing on this stage. [applause]
KING: All right, Senator Warren, thank you.
Mayor Bloomberg, would you like to respond? Mayor Bloomberg?
BLOOMBERG: I have been training for this job since I stepped on the pile that was still smoldering on 9/11. I know what to do. I've shown I know how to run a country. I've run the city which is almost the same size -- bigger than most countries in the world.
I am not the -- I'm the one choice that makes some sense. I have the experience. I have the resources. And I have the record. And all those sideshows that the senator wants to bring up have nothing to do with that. When people hired me to run New York City three times, in an overwhelmingly Democratic, progressive city, they elected me again and again.
O'DONNELL: Mr. Vice President?
WARREN: I was mentioned in this.
WARREN: I'd like to respond.
O'DONNELL: Go ahead, Senator.
WARREN: He called me out by name.
BIDEN: There was a -- I thought...
WARREN: ... and referred to what I talk about as a "sideshow." You know, this is personal for me. When I was 21 years old, I got my first job as a special education teacher. I loved that job. And by the end of the first year, I was visibly pregnant.
The principal wished me luck and gave my job to someone else. Pregnancy discrimination, you bet. But I was 21 years old. I didn't have a union to protect me. And I didn't have any federal law on my side. So I packed up my stuff, and I went home. At least I didn't have a boss who said to me, "Kill it," the way that Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said...
BLOOMBERG: I never said that. Oh, come on.
WARREN: ... to one of his pregnant employees. People want a chance to hear...[audience booing]...People want a chance to hear from the women who have worked for...
BLOOMBERG: I never said that. And for the record, if she was a teacher in New York City, she would never have had that problem. We treated our teachers the right way, and the unions will tell you exactly that. [applause]
O'DONNELL: Well, Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Warren has raised...
WARREN: Then let us -- let us have -- the women have an opportunity to speak. The Bloomberg corporations and Mayor Bloomberg himself have been accused of discrimination. They are bound by nondisclosures so that they cannot speak. If he says there is nothing to hide here, then sign a blanket release and let those women speak out... [applause]
WARREN: ... so that they can tell their stories the way I can tell my story without having the fear they're going to be sued by a billionaire.
O'DONNELL: Thank you. Thank you. We have a number of issues to discuss tonight, but I want to give the mayor an opportunity to respond, because she has raised concerns about women in your workplace. At the last debate, you said some of your female employees might not have liked some of your jokes. Did these women take your jokes wrong? Or were you wrong to make the jokes?
BLOOMBERG: Probably wrong to make the jokes. I don't remember what they were. So I assume -- if it bothered them, I was wrong, and I apologize. I'm sorry for that.
But what happened here is we went back 40 years and we could only find three cases where women said they were uncomfortable. Nobody accused me of doing anything other than just making a comment or two. And what the senator did suggest was that we release these women from the nondisclosure agreement. I did that two days later, and my company has said we will not use nondisclosure agreements ever again. The senator has got it. And I don't know what else she wants us to do.
WARREN: Oh, I'll be clear.
BLOOMBERG: We're following exactly what she asked to do.
WARREN: I'll tell you exactly what I want you to do.
BLOOMBERG: And the trouble is with this senator, enough is never enough for what this -- I'm going to start focusing on some of these other things. We just cannot continue to re-litigate this every time. We did what she asked. And, thank you, we've probably made the world better because of it. And by my company renouncing using these, we probably changed, hopefully, the corporate landscape all across America.
BUTTIGIEG: If you get nominated, we'll be re-litigating this all year.
WARREN: Sorry, Mayor, you did not do what I asked.
KING: Senator Warren, that is a very serious charge that you leveled at the mayor.
KING: He told a woman to get an abortion. What evidence do you have of that?
WARREN: Her own words.
KING: And, Mayor Bloomberg, could you respond to this?
BLOOMBERG: I never said it, period, end of story. Categorically never said it. When it was accused -- when I was accused of doing it, we couldn't figure out what she was talking about. But right now, I'm sorry if she heard what she thought she heard, or whatever happened. I didn't take any pleasure in that. And we've just got to go on. But I never said it. Come on.
WARREN: What I asked the mayor to do is to do a release of all people who have discrimination claims...
BLOOMBERG: We are doing that, Senator.
O'DONNELL: We want to get to the -- we want to get to the issue -- we want to get to the issue of electability and the ideological difference within the Democratic Party.
O'DONNELL: Senator Sanders, the cost of your agenda. Yesterday, you released information about how you will pay for your major proposals, but not all of your details are clear. You've proposed more than $50 trillion in new spending.
SANDERS: Over a 10-year period.
O'DONNELL: You've said Medicare for all will cost $30 trillion.
SANDERS: Over a 10-year period.
O'DONNELL: But you can only explain how you'll pay for just about half of that. Can you do the math for the rest of us?
SANDERS: How many hours do you have?
BIDEN: That's the problem.
SANDERS: No, it's not the problem. All right, let's talk about Medicare for all. I'm sure you're familiar with the new study that just came out of Yale University, published in Lancet magazine, one of the prestigious medical journals in the world. You know what it said? Medicare for all will lower health care costs in this country by $450 billion a year and save 68,000 lives of people who otherwise would have died.
What we need to do is to do what every other major country on Earth does: guarantee health care to all people, not have thousands of separate insurance plans, which are costing us some $500 billion a year to administer.
Our plan -- we have laid out options all over the place. One of the options is a 7.5 percent payroll tax on employers, which will save them substantial sums of money. Another...
KLOBUCHAR: Bernie, let me -- let me respond to this.
SANDERS: You asked me a question.
O'DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar, does the math add up?
KLOBUCHAR: No, the math does not add up. In fact, just on "60 Minutes" this weekend, he said he wasn't going to rattle through the nickels and the dimes. Well, let me tell you how many nickels and dimes we're talking about: nearly $60 trillion. Do you know how much that is, for all of his programs?
SANDERS: Not true.
KLOBUCHAR: That is three times the American economy -- not the federal government -- the entire American economy. The Medicare for all plan alone on page eight clearly says that it will kick 149 million Americans off their current health insurance in four years. That is true.
As one prominent Democrat once said, we should pay attention to where the voters of this country are, Bernie. That prominent Democrat was Barack Obama a few months ago. And I think that's what we should do. They are not with you on spending nearly $60 trillion.
SANDERS: First of all...
KLOBUCHAR: What I think we should do is make things more affordable, nonprofit public option, make sure we're paying for long-term care better, take on the pharmaceuticals, like you and I have done together...
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: ... and do something for the people of America.
KING: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: Instead of a bunch of broken promises that sound good on bumper stickers.
KING: Mr. Steyer -- Mr. Steyer...
BUTTIGIEG: I think we're talking about math.
KING: We'll get to you, Mr. Sanders.
BUTTIGIEG: Let's talk about it.
STEYER: Can I say something?
SANDERS: First of all...
STEYER: No, let me go.
SANDERS: No, I think -- Tom, I think she was talking about my plan, not yours.
BUTTIGIEG: I think we were talking about math, and it doesn't take two hours to do the math.
SANDERS: No, no, well, let's talk about math.
BUTTIGIEG: Because let's talk about what it adds up to.
SANDERS: Let's talk about math.
BUTTIGIEG: Let's talk about math, indeed. OK, so here's the math...
SANDERS: If we do nothing is what...
BUTTIGIEG: No, here's the math.
SANDERS: Excuse me, can I respond to the attack?
BUTTIGIEG: To do nothing is what will happen...
O'DONNELL: Senator Sanders, you are allowed a quick response and then we would like to allow the other candidates...
SANDERS: Listen to the moderator, guys.
O'DONNELL: Senator Sanders. Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: The moderator -- is it my turn?
BIDEN: This helps a lot, doesn't?
O'DONNELL: Senator Sanders, you have been name checked. You are allowed to respond.
SANDERS: OK. What the Health and Human Services have said in analyzing health care costs, what Yale -- recent Yale study has said is that your program would cost some $50 trillion over a 10-year period. We would continue to pay in some cases 10 times more for the same exact prescription drugs. What every study out there -- conservative or progressive -- says, Medicare for all will save money. Ours will cost about $45 billion, not $60 trillion.
KLOBUCHAR: Bernie, I was talking about -- I was talking about...
KING: We would like -- Senator Sanders, we would like to bring Mr. Steyer in on this conversation.
STEYER: Mr. Steyer, please.
KLOBUCHAR: I was talking about all your programs.
STEYER: Excuse me, Amy. This conversation shows a huge risk for the Democratic Party. We are looking at a party that has decided that we're either going to support someone who is a democratic socialist or somebody who has a long history of being a Republican.
And let me say that I got into this race because I wanted to fight for economic justice, for racial justice, and to make sure we had climate justice for the American people. And I am scared. [applause]
If we cannot pull this party together, if we go to one of those extremes, we take a terrible risk of re-electing Donald Trump.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: And that is something -- I still have some time. And let me say this.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: That is a risk that will hurt the American people in a way that none of us on this stage should be willing to risk.
O'DONNELL: Thank you. Let's keep this topic going. Mayor Pete?
BUTTIGIEG: So let's do this math. Senator Sanders at one point said it was going to be $40 trillion, then it was $30 trillion, then it was $17 trillion. That's an incredible shrinking price tag. At some point, has said it is unknowable to even see what the price tag would be. Now there are new numbers.
I'll tell you exactly what it adds up to.
It adds to four more years of Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House, and the inability to get the Senate into Democratic hands.
The time has come for us to stop acting like the presidency is the only office that matters. Not only is this a way to get Donald Trump reelected. [cheering and applause]
BUTTIGIEG: We got a House to worry about. We got a Senate to worry about. And this is -- this is really important.
BUTTIGIEG: ... if you want to keep the House in Democratic hands, you might want to check with the people who actually turned the House blue, 40 Democrats, who are not running on your platform.
BUTTIGIEG: They are running away from your platform as fast as they possibly can. [cheering and applause]
I want to send those Democrats back to the United States House.
KING: Vice President Biden. [cheering and applause]
BUTTIGIEG: Let's listen to them...
KING: Vice President Biden.
BUTTIGIEG: ... when they say that they don't want to be out there defending Senator Sanders...
KING: Thank you, Mayor Buttigieg. Thank you, Mayor Buttigieg.
Vice President Biden, please.
BIDEN: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.
I guess the only way you do this is jump in and speak twice as long as you should. [laughter]
Here's the deal. Here's the deal.
Look, a guy who's a friend of mine down here named Fritz Hollings -- he passed away -- he said, you want to know what a woman will do, look what they have done. Look what they have done.
You talk about -- concerned about race. Well, my good friend on the end of this platform, he, in fact, bought a system that was a private prison system, after, after he knew that, in fact, what happened was, they hog-tied young men in prison here in this state.
They, in fact, made sure that, in Georgia, they did not have health care for the people who were being held. They, in fact, went on, and he said, after he knew that, he bought it. And then he said he was proud of his accomplishment.
You talk about what we're talking about with Bernie. Bernie, in fact, hasn't passed much of anything. The fact of the matter is...
STEYER: OK. But I get to answer. [cheering and applause]
BIDEN: No, no, no.
STEYER: I get to answer that.
BIDEN: The -- look -- look...
STEYER: No, that...
BIDEN: ... fact is...
STEYER: You're out of time.
I get to answer...
BIDEN: Here's the deal.
I'm not out of time. You spoke over time, and I'm going to talk.
Here's the deal. [cheering and applause]
BIDEN: Here's the deal.
The fact of the matter is, look at what's happening here. Look at what's happening here. We have to win the Senate back.
And, by the way, I went into all of those races that got 41 new Democrats. The majority of them are supporting me for president and endorsing me. [cheering and applause]
O'DONNELL: And, Mr. Vice President, I have to allow -- yes, Mr. Mayor.
O'DONNELL: Mr. Mayor, you're allowed to respond.
STEYER: I bought stock in a prison company thinking they would do a better job. And I investigated. And I sold it.
BIDEN: But you knew -- you knew when you bought it they'd done that.
STEYER: I get to answer this question.
And, in fact, since then, I have worked to end the use of private prisons in my home state, and we have ended it. I have started a bank to support black ownership of businesses, women ownership of businesses, and Latino owners of businesses, because this financial service industry is prejudiced.
I have worked tirelessly on this. And you know I'm right. You wrote the crime bill that you called...
BIDEN: Where we come from, that's called Tommy come lately.
BLOOMBERG: There are other people here.
STEYER: ... crime bill that put hundreds of thousands of young black and Latino men in prison.
BIDEN: Not true.
BLOOMBERG: OK. Let me say something.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: There's something going on here. I have worked for racial justice...
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
KING: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: ... completely. And that is an absolute unfair statement.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
KLOBUCHAR: All I know...
BIDEN: Tommy come lately.
KING: Mayor Bloomberg. Mayor Bloomberg.
KLOBUCHAR: ... if we spend the next four months tearing our party apart, we're going to watch Donald Trump spend the next four years tearing our country apart.
KLOBUCHAR: So, my argument here is that we need to get back to what's happening right now.
We have a clear choice of who's going to lead this party. And I am the only one in the New Hampshire debate, when asked, if we had a problem with a socialist leading the ticket, that raised my hand.
I like Bernie. We came in together to the Senate. But I do not think that this is the best person to lead the ticket. [applause]
KLOBUCHAR: And if you want to talk about getting things done and make a comparison, according to Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, last Congress, I was the most effective Democrat in the U.S. Senate on 15 metrics.
Bernie and Elizabeth were in the bottom half. It matters -- it matters if you can actually get things done.
BLOOMBERG: OK. Gayle...
KLOBUCHAR: It is not just who talks the best, who actually gets things done.
And especially with the African-American community, there have been a lot of broken promises.. And I think having someone that keeps their promises and follows through and is going to get things done for these people matters. And that's why I ask for your support.
KING: Mayor Bloomberg, please.
BLOOMBERG: Let's just go on the record.
They talk about 40 Democrats; 21 of those were people that I spent $100 million to help elect. All of the new Democrats that came in and put Nancy Pelosi in charge and gave the Congress the ability to control this president...[cheering and applause]...I -- I got them.
Number two, when you talk about money, let's put this in perspective. The federal budget is $4.5 trillion a year. We get $3.5 trillion in revenue. We lose $1 trillion a year.
That's why the federal budget -- deficit is -- right now, the debt is $20 trillion, going up to 21.
We just cannot afford some of this stuff people talk about. But if you...
BLOOMBERG: Let me finish.
If you keep on going, we will elect Bernie. Bernie will lose to Donald Trump. And Donald Trump and the House and the Senate and some of the statehouses will all go red.
And then, between gerrymandering and appointing judges, for the next 20 or 30 years, we're going to live with this catastrophe.
O'DONNELL: Mayor Bloomberg, thank you. [cheering and applause.] I will allow Senator Sanders a quick response, and then Senator Warren.
SANDERS: Thank you very much, Norah.
O'DONNELL: Senator Sanders, a quick response, and then Senator Warren.
SANDERS: Thank you very much.
Mayor Bloomberg has a solid and strong and enthusiastic base of support. The problem is, they're all billionaires. [booing]
Now, if you look -- oh.
On the other hand, of the last 50 polls that have been done nationally, Mr. Bloomberg, I beat Trump 47 of those 50 times.
If you look at battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, polling just done this Sunday...
BLOOMBERG: The polls aren't the election.
SANDERS: ... I beat Trump.
And if you want to beat Trump, what you're going to need is an unprecedented... [applause]
SANDERS: ... grassroots movement of black and white and Latino, Native American and Asian, people who are standing up and fighting for justice.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
SANDERS: That's what our movement is about.
BLOOMBERG: Can anybody -- can anybody in this room imagine moderate Republicans going over and voting for him?
BLOOMBERG: And you have to do that, or you can't win.
WARREN: You know, that is...
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
WARREN: That is the problem.
And that is that a progressive agenda is popular, Mayor Bloomberg.
And, for everyone on this stage, we talk about how to build a future. That's what matters.
I talk to people in selfie lines every day who tell me about the importance of getting real help on health care. It's why I also have a way to pay for health care that doesn't raise taxes on middle-class families.
But it's so much more than that. As Democrats, we need to speak to the future we can build together. We need to speak of the prosperity we can build together.
How about a wealth tax in America? Because with a 2 cent tax on just the top one-tenth of 1 percent, we have a chance to invest in universal child care for every one of our babies, to really level the playing field.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
WARREN: Put $50 billion into historically black colleges and universities.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Senator. [applause]
WARREN: And start closing the racial wealth gap by canceling student loan debt for 43 million Americans.
WARREN: We need to talk about our aspirations, our hopes.
This is a moment...
WARREN: ... to choose hope over fear.
O'DONNELL: Senator, thank you.
WARREN: This is our moment.
O'DONNELL: Senator, thank you. [cheering and applause]
We have to take a quick break.
When we come back, the Democratic presidential debate continues right after this, only on CBS.
[cheering and applause]
KING: I'm Gayle King with Norah O'Donnell. Joining us now on the question here in Charleston, South Carolina are CBS News colleagues, the A team, Bill Whitaker of "60 MINUTES," chief Washington correspondent, that's Major Garrett, and Margaret Brennan, moderator of "FACE THE NATION."
We're going to begin with you, Vice President Biden, for this part. Just across the street, as you mentioned at the top of the debate, is the theater [sic] where nine people were shot and killed inside the Mother Emanuel Church. We all remember that day back in 2015.
And every day in our country, over 100 people die from gun violence. You all have plans, I know, on this stage, to address the gun crisis. But Congress has not been able to pass a major gun legislation in a quarter of a century. And just think about this, in those 25 years we've had Columbine, Newtown, Parkland, Las Vegas. We could go on and on.
Vice President Biden, I want to start with you, why should anyone have faith that you're the one who can get this done now?
BIDEN: Because I'm the only one that ever got it done nationally. I beat the NRA twice. I got assault weapons banned. I got magazines that could not hold more than 10 rounds in them. I got them eliminated. Except we had a thing called an election with hanging chads in Florida and it was not reauthorized.
In addition to, that I passed the Brady Bill with waiting periods. I led that fight. But my friend to my right and others have in fact also gave into the gone manufacturers, absolute immunity. Imagine if I stood here and said we'd give immunity to drug companies. We would give immunity to tobacco companies. That has caused carnage on our streets, 150 million people have been killed since 2007 when Bernie voted to exempt the gun manufacturers from liability. More than all the wars, including Vietnam, from that point on.
Carnage on our streets. And I want to tell you, if I'm elected, NRA, I'm coming for you, and gun manufacturers, I'm going to take you on and I'm going to beat you. I'm the only one who has done it. [applause]
BUTTIGIEG: That's why we have got to change what Washington can deliver.
WARREN: So this is about being able to dig in and talk about what really it's going to take to get something done. I've been in the Senate. What I've seen is gun safety legislation introduced, get a majority, and then doesn't pass because of the filibuster. Understand this, the filibuster is giving a veto to the gun industry.
It gives a veto to the oil industry. It's going to give a veto on immigration. Until we're willing to dig in and say that if Mitch McConnell is going to do to the next Democratic president what he did to President Obama, and that is try to block every single thing he does, that we are willing to roll back the filibuster, go with the majority vote, and do what needs to be done for the American people.
KING: We're going to stay on this top and allow Senator...
BIDEN: ... and I can beat Mitch McConnell.
WARREN: Understand this, many people on this stage do not support rolling back the filibuster. Until we're ready to do that, we can't have real change.
O'DONNELL: I want to allow Senator Sanders to respond because you've gone after the insurance industry. You've taken on pharmaceutical companies. And you've taken on big tech. Why did you vote repeatedly to give gun manufacturers a pass?
SANDERS: Well, you know, Joe has voted for terrible trade agreements. [booing]
No, no, no, no, no. Joe voted for the war in Iraq. My point was, not to be -- I have cast thousands of votes, including bad votes. That was a bad vote. I have today a D-minus voting record from the NRA. Thirty years ago, I likely lost a race for the one seat for Congress in Vermont because 30 years ago, I opposed -- I supported a ban on assault weapons. Thirty years ago.
Right now, my view is we need to expand background checks, end the gun show loophole, and do what the American people want, not what the NRA wants.
BIDEN: OK, but wait a second...
BUTTIGIEG: ... the opposition to the filibuster is not a discretion from a long time ago.
BLOOMBERG: I think she recognized me, thank you. I have a 6 million-person organization around this country. Moms Demand Action and Everytown. [applause]
We have put background checks -- we have got background checks in 20 states. So you can do it. It's Congress that can't seem to do it. And I don't know why we think they're going to do it. The vice president voted for a death bill, and supported the NRA. And certainly Senator Sanders has supported the NRA.
But we can do this. We have just got to stop talking about it.
KLOBUCHAR: But the way we do it -- the way we do it is having someone leading the ticket from a part of the country that we actually needs the votes. So I have long supported the assault weapon ban. I am the author of the bill to close the boyfriend loophole that says that domestic abusers can't go out and get an AK-47.
BIDEN: I wrote that law.
KLOBUCHAR: That bill, along with -- you didn't write that bill. I wrote that bill.
BIDEN: I wrote the bill, the Violence Against Women Act...
KLOBUCHAR: OK. You did you that.
BIDEN: ... that took out of the hands of people who abused their...
KLOBUCHAR: OK. We'll have a fact check look at this.
BIDEN: Let's look at the fact check...
KLOBUCHAR: Oh my goodness.
BIDEN: The only thing that the boyfriend loophole is was not covered. I couldn't get that covered. You, in fact, when you were -- as a senator tried to get it covered and Mitch McConnell is holding it up on his desk right now, and we're going to lose the Violence Against Women Act across the board.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. So, if I could finish. I have the bill. Anyone can check it out, to close the boyfriend loophole. Also to close the Charleston loophole is another bill that is out there. Universal background checks.
But let me say how we win this. We have got to win in the middle of the country. And while everyone talks about winning rural areas, suburban areas, I'm the only one up here with a receipts that has actually repeatedly, while being for the assault weapon ban, won in Republican congressional districts over and over again, including Michele Bachmann's district.
So having someone that can lead the ticket, that can bring people with her, is the way you get gun safety legislation. I look at these proposals and say, do they hit my uncle Dick in the deer stand? They do not. So coming from a proud hunting state and still being able to pass this legislation is going to be the key.
O'DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar, thank you.
We want to allow many people to get in on this topic. Mayor Buttigieg.
BUTTIGIEG: I'm definitely on board with the part about sending up somebody from the middle of the country. But I want to come back to this question about the filibuster because this is not some long-ago bad vote that Bernie Sanders took, this is a current bad position that Bernie Sanders holds. [applause]
And we're in South Carolina. How are we going to deliver a revolution if you won't even support a rule change? We are in this state...[booing]. We are in the state where Strom Thurmond used the filibuster to block civil rights legislation repeatedly. No less a Senate traditional figure than Harry Reid has called for it to go. It has got to go, because otherwise Washington will not deliver. I was in high school when the Columbine shooting happened. And I remember everybody in Washington saying, never again, we'll never let this happen again.
And then a second school shooting generation has now been produced. Shame on us if we allow there to be a third. And also...
BUTTIGIEG: ... in terms of making the case, I think it wouldn't be a bad idea for somebody to illustrate, from the perspective of the a veteran, why the kinds of weaponry, anything remotely like what I trained on in order to go serve in a war zone has no business being sold anywhere near an American school or church or neighbor. [applause]
KING: All right, Senator Sanders, please.
SANDERS: Thirty years ago, I supported a ban on assault weapons. Mike Bloomberg has started a very good organization, Moms Demand Actions. Congratulations.
BLOOMBERG: Thank you.
SANDERS: They have credited me with gun sense, as you know.
BLOOMBERG: Yes, we did.
SANDERS: Furthermore, furthermore, it is my view, the time is now, and Joe made this point, look, at the end of the day we need to rally the American people. Here is the good news. Because of all these disgusting and horrific mass shootings, the American people now understand that we must be aggressive on gun safety, not be dictated to by the NRA.
And I am proud that I have a D-minus voting record from the NRA. If elected president, it will get worse than that. [applause]
KING: All right, Mr. Steyer, please? Mr. Steyer?
STEYER: Look, it isn't a question of the American people deciding that we have too much gun violence. Everyone in America knows we have too much gun violence. The problem we have is that corporations have bought Washington, D.C.
The gun manufacturers own the Senate of the United States. So even though more than 90 percent of Americans want mandatory background checks on every gun purchase, we can't get it through the Senate.
So the question you have to ask yourself is, how do we change the Senate of the United States in a material way? And there are two things. That's why I am for term limits of 12 years for every congressperson and senator, to change who's in charge, to get rid of Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz. [applause]
But I am also -- Senator Sanders is right. We need to win a huge victory across the board.
KING: All right, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: Democrats need to go to the grassroots. I built one of the biggest grassroots organizations in the United States.
KING: Your time's up, sir.
STEYER: The way to win at the grassroots is, tell the truth and organize.
KING: Your time's up, sir. Bill Whitaker?
STEYER: That's what it's going to take in 2020.
KING: Your time's up, sir. Bill Whitaker?
WHITAKER: Let's talk about education. South Carolina's schools score in the bottom half of the national assessment. Black students here consistently score worse than white students. Mayor Bloomberg, a key element of your response to failing schools in New York City was a dramatic increase in public charter schools. As president, would you pursue that same strategy and seek to expand charter schools nationwide?
BLOOMBERG: I'm not sure they're appropriate every place. I can only tell you, in New York, they provided parents with an alternative to send students to them. We had -- the charter schools are mixed in with the non-charter public schools, because our charter schools are public schools, as well. They've helped each other.
I saw a statistic the other day, when I came into office, zero New York City schools were in the top 25 of the state. When I left, 23 out of 25 were from New York City. We've cut the gap between the rich and the poor. We've made an enormous difference in all of the options that parents have.
I raised teacher salaries by 43 percent. I put an extra $5 billion into our school system. I value education. It is the only way to solve the poverty problem is to get people a good education. And rather than just talk about it in New York, we actually did it. [applause]
WHITAKER: Senator Warren?
WARREN: So this is one thing where a president can make a big difference all by herself. And I'm going to start with my secretary of education. My secretary of education will be someone who has taught in public school. [applause]
My secretary of education will be someone who believes in public education. And my secretary of education will believe that public dollars should stay in public schools. [applause]
One more thing. My secretary of education will believe that it is time to get rid of high-stakes testing. We need to support our children. But, look, we want to build a future in this country? We build a future by investing in our children. I've got a plan to put $800 billion new federal dollars into our public schools.
WHITAKER: Thank you. Thank you, Senator.
WARREN: Education is not free. We must invest in the future of our children. [applause]
WHITAKER: Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: This campaign, our campaign, our campaign is about changing American priorities. Instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we're going to have high-quality, universal childcare for every family in this country.
Because the psychologists tell us 0 to 4 are the most important years of human development. We are going to triple funding for low-income Title I schools, because kids' education should not depend upon the ZIP Code in which they live. We're going to make public colleges and universities tuition-free through a tax on Wall Street speculation. And we're going to move to make certain that no teacher in America earns less than $60,000 a year.
WHITAKER: Thank you, Senator.
SANDERS: We want great teachers.
KLOBUCHAR: Can I...
WHITAKER: Mayor Buttigieg?
BUTTIGIEG: Look, the best thing that we can do to support public education is to support public educators. I'm a little biased, because I'm married to one. And I get an education about education every day I come home.
I have seen how teachers are expected to dip into their own pockets to furnish their classrooms. Teachers are being expected to handle the mental health challenges that their students are facing because we don't have an adequate mental health system to support kids.
And now some politicians, because they aren't willing to face the need for commonsense gun law, are expecting teachers to somehow transform themselves into highly trained armed guards when there's a threat to a classroom.
We have to show not only with compensation, but with support for the profession overall our regard for those who are educating our kids. And, yes, that means a secretary of education who will support teachers. It also means investing.
WHITAKER: Thank you...
BUTTIGIEG: I'm proposing an education access...
WARREN: One way we -- one way we can support our teachers is to cancel student loan debt.
WHITAKER: We're going to pass this on to Major.
GARRETT: Candidates, good evening. Candidates, good evening.
WARREN: People across this country are being crushed by student loan debt. This is an issue we need to talk about.
BUTTIGIEG: And that's what my plan would do, through the education...
GARRETT: As we all know, as we all know, the political conversation in our country is interactive, and because of our partner, Twitter, this debate is no different. So I want to put a question from Twitter to you, Senator Klobuchar. This is from Casey Pennington. How will your policies address and ensure affordable housing and education equity for minimum wage workers?
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. This is one of the first times we've talked about housing. And I put forward an extensive policy.
I think -- when I've looked at this both in my job in local government and in the Senate, one sure way we can make sure that kids get a good start is if they have a roof over their head and a stable place to live.
So the way you do that is, first of all, taking care of the Section 8 backlog of applicants. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people waiting. And I have found a way to pay for this and a way to make sure that people get off that list and get into housing.
Secondly, you create incentives for affordable housing to be built and, third, to help people pay for it.
And I want to make clear, given South Carolina and the rural population, as well as urban, that this isn't just an urban problem. It's a big urban problem, but it's also a rural problem, where we have housing deserts and people want to have their businesses located there, but they're not able to get housing.
So for me, it's building a coalition. And I actually like to get these things done and to -- the way you do it is by building a coalition between urban and rural so you can pass affordable housing and finally get it done.
WARREN: This is a point...
GARRETT: Senator Warren, hold on one second, because I want to -- I want to...
WARREN: This is a point where we need to talk about race, though.
GARRETT: I understand.
WARREN: It is not enough to talk about housing neutrally...
BIDEN: Can we just speak up when we want to? Is that the idea?
WARREN: ... and just be race-blind. It is important to recognize the role that the federal government played for decades and decades in discriminating against African-Americans having an opportunity to buy homes. [applause]
WARREN: And while Mayor Bloomberg was blaming the housing crash of 2008 on African-Americans and on Latinos, in fact, I was out there fighting for a consumer agency to make sure people never get cheated again on their mortgages. We have a -- I have a housing plan, and what it has in it specifically...
GARRETT: Senator Warren, thank you.
WARREN: ... is a piece...
GARRETT: Senator Warren, thank you.
WARREN: ... to deal with the effects of red-lining. We can no longer pretend that everything is race-neutral. We have got to address race consciously, what's happening in this country. [applause]
GARRETT: OK. Mayor Bloomberg, please, we were going to ask you about this. I want to give you a chance to respond, because in addition to what Senator Warren just said on Twitter, she called you a liar and a borderline racist because of what you said about red-lining.
BLOOMBERG: Yes, she's -- I'm sorry, but, unfortunately, she's misinformed on red-lighting. You can go back and look at the record. I fought against it before '08, the crisis, during '08, and after that. Red-lining is not the problem with the mortgage market, but it was a problem for the communities where it was done, and we stopped that.
Let me also say, because just -- since I have the floor for a second, that I really am surprised that all of these -- my fellow contestants up here, I guess, would be the right word for it...[laughter]... given nobody pays attention to the clock -- I'm surprised they show up, because I would have thought after I did such a good job in beating them last week, that they'd be a little bit afraid to do that. [audience booing]
But let me just say, when you're talking about affordable housing, we created 175,000 units of affordable housing in New York City. And I listened to them. They're in Congress and they say they can't get it done, can't get it done. But if you change something like the president, they would. No, you have to learn how to work with both sides of the aisle and then you can get stuff done.
I did it in New York City. I got the Republican State Senate to vote for gay marriage virtually before anybody else in this country. You can work across the aisle. You just have to know how to deal with people.
GARRETT: Mayor Bloomberg, thank you very much. Back to you, Bill.
WHITAKER: Vice President Biden, black men earn 73 cents for every dollar earned by white men, are about twice as likely to be unemployed, five times more likely to be incarcerated, conditions that ripple across black families and have endured during both Democratic and Republican administrations. How do you convince black voters that you can change years of inequities?
BIDEN: Two ways. Number one, my entire life I've been involved with the black community. I was a public defender.
I worked in the projects, I came along, and the first thing I did as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, extended the Voting Rights Act eventually for 25 years. And I have been deeply involved. And my first effort I had as a councilman was doing away with red-lining in the county.
The way we do this, we've got to help them create wealth, and that's why we double the amount of money that is available for young entrepreneurs and black entrepreneurs, are as successful as any other group of people in the country. We go from 1.5 billion to $3 billion, taking $30 billion off the sidelines. That's how you create wealth.
Secondly, I provide for the opportunity for first-time home buyers to be able to have a $15,000 tax credit so they can get the mortgage at the front end and be able to keep it. Thirdly, I go after those people who are involved gentrification, because what's happening is we're moving people out of their neighborhoods in ways that in fact make no sense. They're being bought out. You cannot find a place to live.
And thirdly, I make sure that with regard to housing, we allow people -- look, right now if you live in a black neighborhood and you have the same exact house as the guy across the street in a white neighborhood has, your house is valued significantly less than the white, the same exact house. We've got to deal with the institutional racism.
WHITAKER: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
BIDEN: I note how you cut me off all the time but I'm not going to be quiet anymore, OK?
WHITAKER: Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: Every single policy area in the United States has a gigantic subtext of race. We're talking about education. We're talking about criminal justice. We're talking about housing. We're talking about loans. I started a bank to basically correct the injustice in the financial services industry. Basically, to make loans to black-owned, Latino-owned, and women-owned businesses. We've supported over 8,000 affordable housing units.
But more than that, I believe I'm the only person on this stage who believes in reparations for slavery. [applause]
STEYER: Something happened. We should have a formal commission on race to retell the story of the last 400-plus years in America of African-Americans, of systematic legal injustice, discrimination, and cruelty, but also of 400-plus years of contribution in terms of building the United States of America and leading the United States of America from a moral standpoint.
WHITAKER: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
BRENNAN: Senator Klobuchar, next question, new topic, new topic. Senator Klobuchar...
BUTTIGIEG: ... for this whole campaign, I don't know where you got the impression...
BRENNAN: If you could honor the rules of the debate, thank you.
Senator Klobuchar, I'd like to change topics and ask you, rural areas have populations who are older, sicker, and poorer than non-rural communities. And they have to travel farther to get medical help when they need it. Expanding coverage is going to be useless if there are no providers to go to. So how would you ensure that there is available health care in rural areas?
KLOBUCHAR: People aren't always aware, I know you are in South Carolina, about how much poverty there is, particularly child poverty in rural areas. So the answer is one size doesn't fit all. And one of the ways you do this, right now we have something called critical access hospitals so they're designated for rural areas. And actually, I am leading -- the lead Democrat on a bill to extend that, to have other types of hospitals, like emergency rooms in rural areas be covered.
The other issue is we don't have enough personnel. And so that's where we get to this education plan.. And I don't want agree with some of my colleagues here about putting hard-earned taxpayer money into rich kids going to college. What I think we need to do instead is look at what our needs are in our economy.
We're going to have a million openings for home health care workers, particularly in rural areas, that we don't know how to fill. We're going to have over 100,000 openings for nursing assistants. We're not going to have a shortage of sports marketing degrees. We're going to have a shortage of plumbers and nurses.
So putting incentives in place with how we do loan payback, making one- and two-year degrees free, and then of course creating loan payback programs if people will go, especially medical students, into rural areas.
Final thing is comprehensive immigration reform. I have passed...
BRENNAN: Senator, time.
KLOBUCHAR: I have passed the bill that allows doctors from other countries that study in our medical schools to stay and serve in rural areas. We need to expand that.
BRENNAN: Mayor Buttigieg, the floor is yours, would you like -- same question.
BUTTIGIEG: Yes, so, when I was born, there was no difference in your life expectancy, if you were born in a rural area or a city. Now the gap is the biggest it has been in a generation, and that is particularly affecting black rural families in places like South Carolina. We're seeing hospital closures right and left. And we're seeing them, in particular, in states where Medicaid was not expanded, something that is hurting black and poor white families and is largely the result of racial voters suppression.
See, all of these things are connected, housing, wages, the ability to get anything meaningful done on criminal justice reform. All of these things are going to be harder to deal with as long as black voices are systematically excluded from political participation, which is happening on everything from the purging of voter rolls to the closing of voting locations. And that harms everyone.
BRENNAN: You're out of time, sir.
BUTTIGIEG: It's why in my Frederick Douglass plan for comprehensively dealing with these issues, part of the core of it is a 21st Century Voting Rights Act. [applause]
BRENNAN: Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: Yes, I'm very proud working with Congressman Jim Clyburn, South Carolina, that we increased funding for the Community Health Center Program by $11 billion as part of the Affordable Care Act, which now provides for 9 million Americans access to primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling, and low-cost prescription drugs, in that bill.
We also put $2 billion into a program which would provide debt forgiveness for doctors, nurses, dentists, we have a major dental affordable crisis in this country, to make sure that they are practicing in underserved areas.
The advantage of a Medicare for All health care program, because it's not driven by profits for the drug companies and the insurance companies, we will have health care for all people in all parts of this country.
BUTTIGIEG: But in order for any of that to happen it has to pass. And we're talking about a plan that...
BRENNAN: Thank you. Next topic. Gayle?
BUTTIGIEG: ... even goes beyond even what they do...
KING: I'm sorry, we're going to go to Mayor Bloomberg. We're going to change topics.
Mayor Bloomberg, as mayor of New York, you declared war on obesity, you banned trans-fats from restaurants and you tried to do the same thing with large surgary drinks. So if you become president, will you push those policies on the national level as well?
BLOOMBERG: Well, I think what's right for New York City isn't necessarily right for all the other cities, otherwise you would have a naked cowboy in every city. So let's get serious here.
But I do think it's the government's job to have good science and to explain to people what science says or how to take care of themselves and extend their lives. The -- we are a country where there are too many people that are obese. We should do something about that. But just a look what happened with smoking.
We did ban smoking in New York City in public places, restaurants, offices, and that sort of thing. And it has spread across America, across Europe, across Latin America, even into places in the Middle East and into the Far East. It has saved an enormous number of lives.
So it just goes to show, if you have good public health, then you can do things. And one of the great problems today, you read about the virus, what's really happening here is the president fired the pandemic specialist in this country two years ago. So there's nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing. [applause]
BLOOMBERG: And he has defunded -- he had defunded Centers for Disease Control, CDC, so we don't have the organization we need. This is a very serious thing. As you see, the stock market is falling apart because people are really worried and they should be.
KING: We're going to talk about that.
BLOOMBERG: We don't have anybody to respond. I'm sorry.
KING: We're going to talk about that in our next segment. Before I leave you, are New Yorkers living longer because of your policies?
BLOOMBERG: There's no question about that.
KING: All right.
BLOOMBERG: Before I left, life expectancy in New York City had grown by three years during our 12 years in office such that, when I left, it was three years greater than the national average. [applause]
KING: All right. Vice President Biden, please. Vice President Biden.
BIDEN: Look, one of the things we have to do, we have a thing in the Defense Department called DARPA, a special operation thing to find out all the things we have to deal to make us safer. They came up with the internet, I mean, they came up with the internet, they came up with the whole idea of stealth technology.
I'm going to do the same thing at the National Institute of Health. We're going to focus at least $50 billion over the first five years on -- focusing on obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and cancer. And we're going to make that investment because no one else is willing to make that investment.
We can, in fact, find cures if we make the investment, and we can get that done. The American people support it. Even Republicans will support it. We have to focus on extending life, saving life, and making people -- put them in a position to be able to live longer and more securely. [applause]
KING: All right, Senator Biden, thank you.
O'DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar, Senator Sanders wants to legalize marijuana on day one of his presidency...[applause]... and is promising to expunge the record of anyone who has been arrested for possession. As a former prosecutor, is that a a realistic promise?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, it is realistic to want to legalize marijuana, I want to do that, too. And I also think you need to look back and -- at people's records and you maybe can't do it on day one, as he said. I think you want to have a process that you go through, because there's too many people that have things on their records that have stopped them from getting jobs.
I think a lot of what we also need to do is to make sure that when we do this that we have money for treatment. And it's not necessarily because of marijuana. It is because of things like opioids and the like. And that's why one of the first plans I put out was for treatment, because if you want to make the criminal justice system work, you don't want to have repeat customers, and you want to help people to get off of drugs.
And the way you do that is with drug courts. The way you do that, by the way, is with my proposal for a clemency board in the White House so that you don't have a president that pell-mell gives pardons to his buddies and to white-collar offenders, but that, instead, you have a set process that you use that's fair and is outside of the Justice Department, and while getting their advice.
KING: All right, thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
SANDERS: Norah, can I respond?
KING: Mayor Bloomberg...
BIDEN: Can I respond to that, as well?
SANDERS: Can I respond? I was mentioned...
KING: I'd like to get your thoughts on this, because you have called marijuana another addictive drug that we've never done research on.
BLOOMBERG: Look, the first thing you do is we should not make this a criminal thing if you have a small amount. For dealers, yes, but for the average person, no, and you should expunge the records of those that got caught up in this before. [applause]
Number two, we're not going to take it away from states that have already done it.
But, number three, you should listen to the scientists and the doctors. They say go very slowly. They haven't done enough research. And the evidence so far is worrisome, before we get all our kids, particularly kids in their late teens, boys even more than girls, where this may be damaging their brains.
Until we know the science, it's just nonsensical to push ahead. But the cat's out of the bag. So some states have it, you're not going to take it away. Get rid of the -- decriminalize the possession.
KING: All right, thank you, Mr. Mayor.
O'DONNELL: Senator Sanders, you were name checked.
SANDERS: Thank you. All right, look, you're right. We have a criminal justice system today that is not only broken, it is racist, got more people in jail than any other country on Earth, including China. And one of the reasons for that is a horrific war on drugs.
So I do believe that, on day one, we will change the Federal Controlled Substance Act, which, if you can believe it, now equates heroin with marijuana. That's insane. We're going to take marijuana out of that and effectively legalize marijuana in every state in the country.
What we are also going to do is move to expunge the records of those people who were arrested for possession of marijuana. [applause]
And I'll tell you what else we're going to do. We're going to provide help to the African-American, Latino, Native American community to start businesses to sell legal marijuana, rather than let a few corporations control the legalized marijuana market.
KING: All right, Senator Sanders, thank you...
BIDEN: I wrote the drug court bill.
KING: We passed the halfway mark.
BIDEN: Can I respond to this? I wrote the -- I wrote the bill that set up drug courts.
KING: All right. Thank you, Vice President Biden. We will get back to you.
The CBS News Democratic presidential debate will continue right after the break.
O'DONNELL: Welcome back, the CBS News Democratic debate. Each of you is campaigning for the role as commander-in-chief, where you will command 1.3 million U.S. troops and be responsible for protecting America's national security. There are also 53,000 here in South Carolina.
You said, Senator Warren, you said you wanted to bring home all troops from the Middle East and then you walked that back to say you want to bring home combat troops.
WARREN: I do.
O'DONNELL: How does that protect America's national security?
WARREN: Look, a president's job, first job, is to keep America safe, and an important part of that is to have a strong military. All three of my brothers served in the military, and I understand how much the military sacrifices, how much their families sacrifice, and how much they are willing to put on the line.
That means that we have a sacred responsibility to them, and that is not to use our military to solve problems that cannot be solved militarily. We are not winning in Afghanistan. We are not winning in the Middle East.
What we need to do is we need to use all of the tools in our toolbox. We need a strong military. We also need a strong State Department. Those are our eyes and ears on the ground. They are our frontlines in diplomacy.
We need a strong economy and to work worldwide on that economy, and we need strong alliances. We need to know the difference between our friends and between dictators who would do us harm. And we need to be nicer to our friends than to dictators. We need not to cut and run on our allies.
And we need to be nicer to our friends than to dictators.
We need not to cut and run on our allies. We need an approach that keeps us safe by using all of the tools in a measured way.
O'DONNELL: Mayor Bloomberg, voters have not heard much about your foreign policy views. Would you pull all combat troops out of the Middle East?
BLOOMBERG: No. You want to cut it back as much as you can, but I think, if we learned something from 9/11, people plan things overseas and execute them here. We have to be able to stop terrorism. And there's no guarantees that you're going to be able to do it, but we have to have some troops in places where terrorists congregate, and to not do so is just irresponsible.
We shouldn't be fighting wars that we can't win. We should go to war only as a last resort. Nobody argues with that.
But this is a dangerous world. And if we haven't learnt that after 9/11, I don't know what's going to teach us what to. This -- we have to do something, and I think the budget that we -- the things that I've seen recently convinced me that the military today is better prepared than they have been in an awful long time, and that the monies they are spending on the war of weapons we need for the next war and not for the last, a common mistake that they're not making now.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
BLOOMBERG: They're doing a good job.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg.
KING: Mayor Buttigieg, I'd like to go to you as the only veteran on stage. Can you weigh in on this?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, the first time I ever set foot in South Carolina, it was stepping off the bus that brought me to combat training near Fort Jackson. And that was to get ready to go to Afghanistan, where I saw that one of the things that kept me safe, just as sure as my body armor, was the fact that the flag on my shoulder represented a country that was known to keep its word. Our allies and our adversaries knew it.
The president has torn that to shreds. And so the first thing we've got to do is restore the credibility of the United States. [applause]
The second thing we've got to do is make sure that we not only have the intelligence capabilities -- and I guess I disagree with the mayor; I don't think we need to have ground troops anywhere terrorists can gather, because terrorists can gather anywhere in the world. But we do need intelligence capabilities and specialists on the ground.
But what good is that if you have a president who won't listen to them?
Right now, some of the biggest threats that we face are not only things like counter-terrorism but issues like global health security and the Coronavirus, that rely on the ability to listen to scientists...
KING: Time, Mr. Mayor.
BUTTIGIEG: ... listen to your own intelligence and coordinate with an international community that this president has alienated because his idea of a security strategy is a big wall.
KING: I know it goes fast...[applause]...but a minute-fifteen is really a long time. [laughter]
So we'd ask respectfully if you would all please try to keep to the time.
BIDEN: Good idea.
KING: Senator Klobuchar -- good idea, right, Mr. Vice President?
Senator Klobuchar, today -- as we were coming over here today...[laughter]
I promise, Mr. Vice President, we are going to get to you today. I promise.
BIDEN: You keep promising me that, but you haven't done it yet.
KING: I've never broken a promise.
BIDEN: Well, let's get to it.
KING: Senator Klobuchar...
KLOBUCHAR: Why don't you let me answer, OK?
KING: There was breaking news from the CDC about the Coronavirus. And so far there have been 2,700 deaths globally, and so far in this country there have been no deaths. But the CDC says this. "It's not a matter of if the virus will spread here but when."
The question to you is this, would you close the borders to Americans who have been exposed to the Coronavirus in order to prevent an outbreak here in this country?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, what we have to do is make sure that we have treatment for those Americans and that they are in a quarantine situation. We don't want to expose people, but we want to give them help.
And I would agree, when Mayor Bloomberg said that this president has not invested like he should have in his budget -- he tried to cut back on the CDC; he tried to cut back on the international organization that would coordinate with the rest of the world; he hasn't yet really addressed the nation on this topic, I would do all of that.
But I want to take this out of politics right now and talk to the American people because this is so serious. I'm not going to give my website right now. I'm going to give the CDC's website, which is cdc.gov, so that people keep checking in and they follow the rules and they realize what they have to do if they feel sick and they call their health care provider. Because many doctors are saying it's just a matter of time before we're going to start seeing this here.
And I think the answers, as president, what would I do, I would better coordinate throughout my presidency to be ready for the next pandemic and to prepare for this one.
KING: Thank you, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: I would have better relations with our allies and I would support, because I know the vaccine is out there in the head of some kid right now in school, in Columbia, South Carolina, or Houston, Texas, and it's investing in education, so we are ready to lead, again, in the world.
O'DONNELL: Senator, thank you. [applause]
Mr. Vice President, we reached a turning point today with the CDC, warning schools that they must prepare that they might have to close, members of the Trump administration saying we don't have enough medical masks if necessary.
What would you do?
BIDEN: What we did with Ebola -- I was part of making sure that pandemic did not get to the United States, saved millions of lives. And what we did, we set up, I helped set up that office in the presidency, in the president's office, on -- on diseases that are pandemic diseases.
We increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget. We should -- and our president today -- and he's wiped all that out. We did it. We stopped it.
And the second thing I'd point out to you is that what I would do immediately is restore the funding. He cut the funding for CDC. He tried to cut the funding for NIH. He cut the funding for the entire effort.
And here's the deal. I would be on the phone with China and making it clear, we are going to need to be in your country; you have to be open; you have to be clear; we have to know what's going on; we have to be there with you, and insist on it and insist, insist, insist.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
BIDEN: I could get that done. No one up here has ever dealt internationally with any of these world leaders. I'm the only one that has.
O'DONNELL: Senator Sanders? [applause]
SANDERS: In the White House today -- in the White House today, we have a self-described "great genius" -- self-described -- and this "great genius" has told us that this Coronavirus is going to end in two months. April is the magical day that this great scientist we have in the White House has determined -- I wish I was kidding; that is what he said.
What do we have to do? Whether or not the issue is climate change, which is clearly a global crisis requiring international cooperation, or infectious diseases like Coronavirus, requiring international cooperation, we have to work and expand the World Health Organization. Obviously, we have to make sure the CDC, the NIH, our infectious departments, are fully funded.
This is a global problem.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
SANDERS: We've got to work with countries all the over the world to solve it.
O'DONNELL: Senator, we're going to stay on the topic of foreign affairs. Margaret Brennan?
BRENNAN: Thank you, Norah.
Mayor Bloomberg, you've said that President Xi Jinping of China is not a dictator and that he is responsive to his constituents, and that the U.S. must cooperate with Beijing.
How far does that go? Would you allow Chinese firms to build critical U.S. infrastructure?
BLOOMBERG: No, I would not. And I think the Chinese government has not been open. Their press -- the freedom of press does not exist there. They -- their human rights record is abominable, and we should make a fuss, which we have been doing, I suppose.
But we -- make no mistake about it, we have to deal with China, if we're ever going to solve the climate crisis. We have to deal with them because our economies are inextricably linked. We would be -- not be able to sell or buy the products that we need.
And, in terms of whether he's a dictator, he does serve at the behest of the Politboro, of their group of people, but there's no question he has an enormous amount of power. And he -- but he does play to his constituency. You can negotiate with him. That's exactly what we have to do, make it seem that it's in his interest and in his people's interest to do what we want to do, follow the rules, particularly no stealing of intellectual property; follow the rules in terms of the trade agreements that we have are reciprocal and go equally in both directions.
BRENNAN: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Vice President Biden?
Vice President Biden, same question to you. Would you allow Chinese firms to build critical U.S. infrastructure?
BIDEN: No, I would not. And I spent more time with Xi Jinping than any world leader had by the time we left office. This is a guy who is -- doesn't have a democratic, with a small D, bone in his body.
This is a guy who is a thug, who in fact has a million Uighurs in "reconstruction camps," meaning concentration camps. This is a guy who you see what's happening right now in -- in Hong Kong, and this is a guy who I was able to convince should join the international agreement at the Paris agreement because, guess what, they need to be involved.
You can cooperate and you can also dictate exactly what they are, when in fact they said "We're going to set up a no-fly zone, that you can't fly through our zone.
He said, "What do you expect me to do," when I was over there.
I said, "We're going to fly right through it. We flew B-1 bombers through it. We've got to make it clear. They must play by the rules...
BRENNAN: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.
BIDEN: ... period, period, period.
BRENNAN: Senator Warren, same question. Would you allow Chinese firms to build infrastructure?
WARREN: We -- we have to be able to trust our president, because there are a lot of decisions a president makes that you just can't follow every part of that. And that's one of the reasons that we need to see any candidate's taxes.
We know that Mayor Bloomberg has been doing business with China for a long time, and he is the only one on this stage who has not released his taxes.
He plans to release them after Super Tuesday. It is not enough to be able to say, just trust me on this. We have a president who said he was going to release his taxes after the election and has refused to do this.
BRENNAN: Was that a yes or no?
WARREN: No, I would not.
BRENNAN: OK. Mayor Bloomberg, would you like to respond?
BLOOMBERG: I got into this race only 10 or 12 weeks ago, we have been working on our tax returns, I've said they will be out. We probably have another couple of weeks left to go. We're doing it as fast we can. We've complied with every single requirement for disclosure. And when I was mayor of New York, we had our tax returns out twelve years in a row and we will do that in the White House.
WARREN: No, actually...
BUTTIGIEG: My tax return is online light now.
BRENNAN: Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: I released my tax returns.
STEYER: That was easy to do. But I want to say something about foreign policy...
BIDEN: How many years?
STEYER: Ten years.
I want to say something about foreign policy, which is this, we keep acting as if we're in the 20th Century or the 19th Century. If you look at the biggest threats to the United States, we're talking right now about coronavirus that cannot be solved within the borders of the United States. We're talking about climate change which is a global problem where we need U.S. leadership for countries around the world.
In fact, Mr. Trump's policy of us going it alone, of "America first," of having no values, no allies, and no strategy is disastrous for us. The biggest threat to America right now in terms of our safety of our citizens is climate. And it's time for us to deal with it that way. Every single foreign policy issue is about American leadership and coalition.
BRENNAN: New topic. Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: Can I say one word on...
BRENNAN: You praised -- it's in the same theme, sir. You've praised the Chinese Communist Party for lifting more people out of extreme poverty than any other country. You also have a track record of expressing sympathy for socialist governments in Cuba and in Nicaragua. Can Americans trust that a democratic socialist president will not give authoritarians a free pass?
SANDERS: I have opposed authoritarianism all over the world and I was really amazed at what Mayor Bloomberg just said a moment ago. He said that the Chinese government is responsive to the politburo, but who the hell is the politburo responsive to? Who elects the politburo? You have got a real dictatorship there. Of course you have a dictatorship in Cuba.
What I said is what Barack Obama said in terms of Cuba, that Cuba made progress on education. Yes, I think...[booing]
Really? Really? Literacy programs are bad?
BUTTIGIEG: Yes, because there's no comparing those two commentaries.
SANDERS: What Barack Obama said is they made great progress on education and health care. That was Barack Obama. Occasionally...
BIDEN: I talked to Barack Obama...
SANDERS: Excuse me, occasionally it might be a good idea to be honest about American foreign policy, and that includes the fact that America has overthrown governments all over the world in Chile, in Guatemala, in Iran. And when dictatorships, whether it is the Chinese or the Cubans do something good, you acknowledge that. But you don't have to trade love letters with them.
BRENNAN: Mr. Vice President.
BIDEN: Barack Obama was abroad, he was in a town meeting, he did not in any way suggest that there was anything positive about the Cuban government. He acknowledged that they did increase life expectancy. But he went on and condemned the dictatorship. He went on and condemned the people who, in fact, had run that committee.
He also made sure to make it clear -- and by the way, I called to make sure that I was prepared to -- I never say [inaudible] my private conversations with him, but the fact of the matter is he, in fact, does not, did not, has never embraced an authoritarian regime and does not now. [applause]
BIDEN: This man said that, in fact, he thought it was -- he did not condemn what they did.
SANDERS: That is untrue, categorically untrue.
BIDEN: What did you tell them?
SANDERS: I have condemned authoritarianism, whether it is the people in Saudi Arabia that the United States government...
BIDEN: How about Cuba or Nicaragua?
SANDERS: ... has loved for years. Cuba, Nicaragua, authoritarianism of any stripe is bad.
SANDERS: But that is different than saying that governments occasionally do things that are good. That's what Barack Obama said.
KLOBUCHAR: Margaret, Margaret, could I...
BUTTIGIEG: The only way we're going to restore...
BRENNAN: Mayor Buttigieg.
BUTTIGIEG: ... American credibility, the only way you can do this is to actually win the presidency. And I am not looking forward to a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump, with his nostalgia for the social order of the 1950s, and Bernie Sanders with a nostalgia for the revolutionary politics of the 1960s. [applause] [booing]
This is not about what coups were happening in the 1970s or '80s, this is about the future. This is about 2020. We are not going to survive or succeed, and we're certainly not going to win by reliving the Cold War. And we're not going to win these critical, critical House and Senate races if people in those races have to explain why the nominee of the Democratic Party is telling people to look at the bright side of the Castro regime. We've got to be a lot smarter about this and look to the future. [applause] [booing]
BRENNAN: Senator Sanders, your response.
SANDERS: Let us be clear, do we think health care for all, Pete, is some kind of radical communist idea?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, you brought this up, let's talk about that.
SANDERS: Do we think raising the minimum wage to a living wage...
BUTTIGIEG: I'm happy to respond to the question because this is really important...
SANDERS: ... do we think building the millions of units of affordable housing that we need...
BUTTIGIEG: If you're going to ask that rhetorical question, let's...
SANDERS: ... do we think raising taxes on billionaires is a radical idea?
BUTTIGIEG: Let's talk about this. Let's talk about what's radical about that plan.
SANDERS: Do you think criminal justice reform is a radical idea?
BUTTIGIEG: The things you just named are things...
SANDERS: Do you think immigration reform? The truth is, Pete...
BRENNAN: One at a time.
SANDERS: ... the American people support my agenda.
BUTTIGIEG: The way you're talking about doing it is radical by...
SANDERS: That is why I am beating Trump in virtually every poll that is done, and why I will defeat him.
BUTTIGIEG: We've got to open this up. Universal health care, for example...
BRENNAN: Senator Klobuchar.
KLOBUCHAR: Donald Trump's worst nightmare is having someone that the people in the middle who are tired of the insults and the extremes in our politics have someone to vote for. And I was going to comment on Cuba policy because I actually lead the bill to lift the embargo. I went with Barack Obama when he went to Cuba. And I've seen firsthand how the Cuban are way in front of our -- their leaders.
They like America. They want to be entrepreneurs. And the way that we embrace them, and not the socialist regime, is by opening up Cuba and starting to do business with them.
But to get at what we were just talking about, I just think we have a huge choice. Super Tuesday states, one-third of America will vote. Do you want to have someone...
BRENNAN: Thank you, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: ... in charge of this ticket -- could I finish, Margaret?
BRENNAN: Well, you're out of time. Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: You want to have someone in charge of this ticket who wants to put forward $60 trillion in spending, three times the American economy.
BRENNAN: Bill Whitaker?
KLOBUCHAR: I don't think we do. I think that we can get all those bold progressive things done without having someone that is so alienating that we're going to turn off the voters that we need to bring with us.
BRENNAN: You have to allow the senator to respond. Senator Sanders.
BUTTIGIEG: I want to respond to the question that Senator Sanders...
SANDERS: Can I respond? Amy used the word alienating. Hey, Amy, my favorability nationally I believe are the highest up here, as a matter of fact. [applause]
All right. But the point is -- the point is the way we are going to beat Trump, which is what everybody up here wants, is we need a campaign of energy and excitement. We need to have the largest voter turnout in the history of the United States. We need to bring working people back in to the Democratic Party. We need to get young people voting in a way they have never done before. That is what our campaign is about. [applause]
BRENNAN: Bill Whitaker has the floor.
WHITAKER: Vice President Biden.
WHITAKER: The bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report concluded Russia interfered in our last presidential election, and the Obama administration failed to respond forcefully. U.S. intelligence says Russia is at it again. If it is proven that Russia has interfered in the 2020 elections, would you, as president, launch a retaliatory cyber attack?
BIDEN: I would make them pay for it, and I would make them pay for it economically. They are engaged now, as I speak, in interfering in our elections. They were engaged, and when we -- when, in fact, we were -- the last election in 2016 against Hillary, they were. There's no question.
This man stood before the whole world, turned to the Russian leader and said, why in God's name would this man ever interfere in our elections? Give me a break. Seventeen intelligence agencies said he did. When we got the information, we went to the committee in the Senate that's responsible for knowing these issues and dealing with them.
We went to Mitch McConnell and said join us and point out what is happening here. He said, no, we want no part of it. And if we had moved -- we didn't have all the information at that time until after the election was over. And, so, the idea the bipartisan committee said we could have done more, theoretically that's true, but the fact of the matter is we didn't have the information until the end. And so, look, we, in fact, should be imposing sanctions on Russia now for their interference. [applause]
WHITAKER: Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: Look, 21st Century warfare is cyber warfare. What we're having is an attack by a hostile foreign power on our democracy right now. The question you have to ask is, where is the commander-in-chief? And let me say this...
BIDEN: We don't have one.
STEYER: ... this isn't news, what Vice President Biden said is true, he did stand next to Vladimir Putin. There was a hostile, foreign attack on our election last time and the president sided with the hostile foreign power. That's why I started Need to Impeach.
That's what we have to do. We have to oppose a president who sides with a hostile foreign power that commits cyber warfare against the United States of America. That's where we are. Where are all these patriotic Republicans who wave the flag, but when we're actually under attack, they side with our enemies? It's outrageous. [applause]
That's why he should have been impeached. They covered it up. And I was years before these people. There's something wrong here. We're under attack, and they're not doing a darn thing about it.
GARRETT: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
BUTTIGIEG: Look, the way to deter a cyber attack...
GARRETT: Senator Sanders -- no, Senator Sanders, I have a question for you, sir. You're the frontrunner in this race. You're on the ballot in South Carolina. Mayor Bloomberg, you'll understand that preamble in just a second.
If elected, Senator Sanders, you would be America's first Jewish president. You recently called a very prominent, well-known American Israel lobby a platform for, quote, "bigotry." What would you say to American Jews who might be concerned you're not, from their perspective, supportive enough of Israel? And specifically, sir, would you move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv?
SANDERS: Let me just -- the answer is, it's something that we would take into consideration.
GARRETT: Which would...
SANDERS: But here -- excuse me. But here is the point. I am very proud of being Jewish. I actually lived in Israel for some months. But what I happen to believe is that, right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country. [applause]
And I happen to believe -- I happen to believe that what our foreign policy in the Mideast should be about is absolutely protecting the independence and security of Israel, but you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people. [applause]
We have got to have a policy that reaches out to the Palestinians and the Americans. And in answer to your question, that will come within the context of bringing nations together in the Mideast.
GARRETT: Mayor Bloomberg, would you like to weigh in on that, please?
BLOOMBERG: Well, the battle has been going on for a long time in the Middle East, whether it's the Arabs versus the Persians, the Shias versus the Sunnis, the Jews in Israel and the Palestinians, it's only gone on for 40 or 50 years.
Number one, you can't move the embassy back. We should not have done it without getting something from the Israeli government. But it was done, and you're going to have to leave it there.
Number two, only solution here is a two-state solution. The Palestinians have to be accommodated. The real problem here is you have two groups of people, both who think God gave them the same piece of land. And the answer is to obviously split it up, leave the Israeli borders where they are, try to push them to pull back some of those extra over the -- on the other side of the wall, where they've built these new communities, which they should not have done that, pull it back.
GARRETT: Mayor Bloomberg, thank you very much.
WARREN: Look, the way we have to think about this is I think we have to start with the values and what has to be protected here. Israelis have a right to security and the Palestinians have a right to be treated with dignity and to have self-determination. That is a two-state solution.
But it's not up to us to determine what the terms of a two-state solution are. We want to be a good ally to everyone in the region. The best way to do that is to encourage the parties to get to the negotiating table themselves.
Donald Trump's big mistake is he keeps putting a thumb on the scale on just one side, and that moves the parties further away from working out their own solution here. We need to be an ally by supporting them to come to negotiate to find a lasting peace.
GARRETT: But, Senator Warren, just on the question of the embassy, what was your position on that?
WARREN: It is not ours to do.
GARRETT: Would you move it back?
WARREN: It is not ours to do. We should let the parties determine the capital.
GARRETT: Would you move it back or not, yes or no?
KLOBUCHAR: It's our embassy.
WARREN: We should let the parties determine the capitals themselves.
O'DONNELL: I want to turn now to the issue of North Korea, because President Trump has engaged in direct diplomacy, meeting directly with Kim Jong-un. Senator Klobuchar, if you were commander-in-chief, would you meet with the North Korean leader?
KLOBUCHAR: I would, but not in the way this president has done it. He literally thinks he can go over and bring a hot dish to the dictator next door and he thinks everything's going to be fine. He has not done it with our allies. He has literally just hastily called summits and run off. That is no way to do it.
And, as you can see, North Korea is emboldened. They're still launching missiles. They've promised a Christmas surprise that thankfully never happened. And he has not been able to advance the ball at all.
So what would I do? I would work with our allies. And as has been pointed out, this is what this president fails at all the time. We should be negotiating ourselves back into the Iran nuclear agreement. We should be working with Russia not only to stand up for the protection of our elections and call Vladimir Putin out for what he is, the ruthless dictator that takes down planes, that poisons dissidents, but that, also, at the same time, we have to acknowledge that we should be renegotiating the New START treaty and the other arms negotiations that must happen.
This president just likes to do tweets at 4:00 a.m. in his bathrobe, gets out there and doesn't achieve the results we need. I would meet with him, but I would do it with our allies. I would have clear deliverables and I would achieve those deliverables.
O'DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar, thank you. [applause]
Mr. Vice President, how would you deal with North Korea?
BIDEN: You don't negotiate with a dictator, give him legitimacy without any notion whether he is going to do anything at all. You don't do that. Look what happened. He gave this dictator -- he's a thug -- legitimacy. We've weakened the sanctions around the world against holding us -- committing people not to trade, if anything from oil to parts -- that can deal with providing missile technology. And what's happened? It's been weakened.
I would be in Beijing, I would be calling to -- I would be speaking with Xi Jinping. I would be reassigning the relationship between the Japan and South Korea, and I would make it clear, I would make it clear to China, we are going to continue to move closer to make sure that we can, in fact, prevent China -- prevent North Korea from launching missiles to take them down.
BIDEN: And if we don't -- why am I stopping? No one else stops. [applause]
O'DONNELL: OK. OK, sir.
BIDEN: It's my Catholic school training. [applause]
KING: Vice President Biden, you're a gentleman. Good home training. Thank you, sir.
BIDEN: Yeah, gentlemen don't get very well treated up here.
O'DONNELL: Margaret Brennan?
BRENNAN: Thank you very much, Norah. This is a question for Mayor Buttigieg. As you know, viewers and voters are participating in this through Twitter. The city of Idlib in Syria is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The Syrian regime and Russia are targeting schools, bakeries, and hospitals. What would you do as president to push back regime and Russian forces and stop the killing of innocent civilians?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, first of all, I stand with the people of Idlib, who are being targeted, as you said, in a brutal fashion by a dictatorship that has already been so brutal for so many years.
And this is one of the reasons we have got to change the balance of power in the region, because the president has basically vanished from the stage when it comes to even playing a role in the future there. Turkey, Russia, Iran all have so much more of a say than we do. We don't have to be invading countries to be making a difference, working with our international partners, in order to deliver peace and support those who are standing up for self-determination.
Now, I want to come back to something -- and I promise it relates to international affairs -- because Senator Sanders asked me a question earlier. He asked the question of whether health care for everybody is a radical idea, and it's not, which is why I'm for it, very much in a different way, though.
What is a radical idea is completely eliminating all private insurance. And part of how you know it is, is that no industrialized country has gone that far. He and I both like to talk about Denmark, for example. But even in Denmark, they have not abolished the possibility of private insurance.
So this is an idea that goes further than what is acceptable in Denmark the country, let alone imagining how that's going to fly in Denmark, South Carolina.
BRENNAN: Thank you, Mayor.
SANDERS: Can I respond?
BRENNAN: Senator Warren, would you like to respond? What would do -- what would Senator Warren do to stop the mass murder?
WARREN: I'm sorry?
BRENNAN: What would -- same question. What would you do to stop the mass murder in Idlib, Syria?
WARREN: Look, I think that what we've got to do is we have to provide humanitarian relief. We need to work with our allies on this. But this is not a moment for military intervention. We have got to use our military only when we see a military problem that can be solved militarily. We cannot send our military in unless we have a plan to get them out.
So, for me, this is about working with our allies. It is about standing with the people who are under enormous pressure right now. This is recognizing what Donald Trump has put us in, in a terrible box around the world.
But the solution is not to use our military. The solution is to use the other tools here.
BRENNAN: Thank you, Senator. Gayle?
KING: We've talked a lot about your policies during this debate. Now we'd like to get a little more personal. I know, Senator Sanders, how much you enjoy that.
We're going to ask you, when we come back from the break, about the words you live by. We're going to give you a couple of minutes to gather your thoughts, and we'll be right back. [applause]
O'DONNELL: Welcome back to Charleston, South Carolina. This is the final segment of the final debate before the first in the South primary this Saturday and Super Tuesday one week from today.
KING: All right, one final question, candidates, and it is a two-parter.
First, I'd like you each to tell us your -- the biggest misconception about you. That's number one.
Number two, the South Carolina motto is this. "While I breathe, I hope."
So outside of politics, in no more than 45 seconds or so, what is your personal motto, your personal belief, your favorite quote that represents you?
Mr. Steyer, the biggest misconception, and then your motto?
STEYER: The biggest misconception about me is that somehow I'm defined by business success and money.
KING: OK, and your motto?
STEYER: My motto: Every day, I write a cross on my hand to remind myself to tell the truth and do what's right, no matter what.
KING: All right. [applause]
Thank you, Mr. Steyer. Senator Klobuchar?
KLOBUCHAR: I'd say the biggest...
KLOBUCHAR: The biggest misconception is that I'm boring, because I'm not. [laughter]
Then, I would say that my motto is the words of one of my political mentors, Paul Wellstone, who sadly is no longer with us. And he said that "politics is about improving people's lives." And that's been my life, from when my grandpa was an iron ore miner in the unions. Politics made those mines safer. And when my dad needed treatment, it was there for him, and, in his words, he was "pursued by grace." And when my mom got divorced and she didn't have a job and she went back to teaching and that gift of public service got her through. And then when our daughter was born and she couldn't swallow...
KING: Senator Klobuchar, what was your motto? I'm sorry. Senator Klobuchar, what was your motto?
KLOBUCHAR: Oh, I thought we had a minute to answer the question.
KING: No, what was your motto? I'm sorry.
KLOBUCHAR: My motto was that politics is about improving people's lives.
KING: Got it. Got it.
KING: Vice President Biden, biggest misconception?
KLOBUCHAR: It was a pretty good one?
KING: It was a very good one -- very good one. [laughter]
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. Thank you.
BIDEN: When you get knocked down, get up. And everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity, no matter what, no matter who they are.
My -- also, that everyone should be represented. Everyone -- and no one's better than me and I'm no better than anyone else. The fact is, what we should be doing -- we talked about the Supreme Court. I'm looking forward to making sure there's a black woman on the Supreme Court, to make sure we in fact get every representation. [applause]
Not a joke -- not a joke. I pushed very hard for that.
KING: Vice President...
BIDEN: And my mother's motto was -- she said, "You know, you're defined by your courage; you're redeemed by your loyalty." I am loyal. I do what I say.
KING: What's the biggest misconception about you, sir?
BIDEN: I have more hair than I think I do. [laughter]
KING: There's a way to fix that.
SANDERS: Misconception -- and you're hearing it here tonight, is that the ideas I'm talking about are radical. They're not. In one form or another, they exist in countries all over the world. Health care is a human right. We have the necessity, the moral imperative, to address the existential threat of climate change. Other countries are doing that. We don't need more people in jail, disproportionately African-American, than any other country on earth -- not a radical idea.
The motto, the saying that -- that moves me the most is from Nelson Mandela. And Mandela said, "Everything is impossible until it happens." [applause]
And that means, if we have the guts to stand up to powerful special interests who are doing phenomenally well; if we can bring working people together, black and white and Latino, we can create a nation...
KING: All right, Senator...
SANDERS: ... where all people have a good standard of living.
KING: Senator, thanks you, sir.
Senator Warren? [applause]
WARREN: Well, I suppose one misconception is that I don't eat very much. In fact, I eat all the time. [laughter]
Because I get teased about this.
Look, I never was supposed to be on a stage like this. And the misconception is that I thought I should be president of the United States? No. I got into this because I am a fighter.
My motto ties in directly to this. It's Mathew 25, and that is, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of these, the least of thy brethren, ye have done it unto me."
For me this is about how we treat other people and how we lift them up. That is why I am in this fight. That is why I am running to be president, and it is why I will be an effective president. [applause]
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Senator.
BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think the biggest conception -- misconception is that I'm not passionate. I get that I'm kind of level, some say unflappable. I don't think you want a president who is flappable. But it's precisely because I'm so passionate about the things that are going on in this country. That I consider it important to approach all of that with discipline.
And my disciplines are guided by the mottoes I try to live by, many of which come from scripture. And just to be clear, I would never impose my interpretation of my religion to anybody. Just as sure as I'm wearing this ring I'll never let that happen to anybody.
But I seek to live by the teachings that say if you would be a leader, you must first be a servant. And, of course, the teaching, not unique to the Christian tradition, but a big part of it, that holds that we are to treat others as we would be treated. And when I think about everything at stake, from racial and economic justice to our stewardship of the climate, to the need to heal the sick and the need to heal this country, I seek for those teachings to order my steps as I go through this campaign and as I go through life. [applause]
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
BLOOMBERG: Misconception, that I'm six feet tall. [laughter]
BLOOMBERG: And quote, I've trained for this job for a long time and when I get it I'm going to do something rather than just talk about it. [applause]
KING: All right. Thank you, candidates, thank you very much.
O'DONNELL: Well, thank you. That concludes our debate.
KING: No, no, we have time for one more break, Norah, one more break. Time flies when you're having fun. You're watching the Democratic debate right here on CBS. [applause]
O'DONNELL: Thank you. That concludes our debate. We want to thank the candidates, the moderators, and to you watching at home tonight.
KING: And a reminder that the primary here in South Carolina is this Saturday. Then next Tuesday, of course, Super Tuesday. CBS News will have special coverage.
O'DONNELL: And our coverage of tonight's debate will continue in a moment from the spin room here on CBS and on our streaming news service CBSN. There will be more about the debate as well on your late local news on this CBS station and first thing tomorrow on "CBS THIS MORNING."
KING: I'm getting on a plane right now going to New York. I'll be there.
O'DONNELL: From all of us here at CBS News, I'm Norah O'Donnell. Good night.
KING: Good night.
Presidential Candidate Debates, Democratic Candidates Debate in Charleston, South Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/342200