Democratic Candidates Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada
Former Governor Lincoln Chafee (RI);
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton;
Former Governor Martin O'Malley (MD);
Senator Bernie Sanders (VT); and
Former Senator Jim Webb (VA);
Anderson Cooper (CNN);
Dana Bash (CNN);
Don Lemon (CNN); and
Juan Carlos Lopez (CNN en Espanol)
COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us. We've already welcomed the candidates on stage. They are in place at their podiums. Before we dive into the issues, I want to quickly explain some of the groundrules tonight.
As the moderator, I'll ask questions, followups and guide the discussion. I'll be joined in the questioning by CNN's Juan Carlos Lopez and Dana Bash, a well as Don Lemon who will share questions from Democrats around the country. Each candidate will get one minute to answer questions, and 30 seconds for followups and rebuttals. I'll give candidates time to respond if they have been singled out for criticism.
Our viewers should know that we have lights that are visible to the candidates to warn them when their time is up.
I want the candidates to be able to introduce themselves to our audience. Each candidate will have two minutes to introduce themselves.
Let's begin with Governor Chafee.
CHAFEE: Thank you, Anderson.
Thank you, CNN, and thank you Facebook for organizing this debate.
Not only will Americans be electing a new president next year, we also will be electing a world leader. Voters should assess the candidate's experience, character and vision for the future as they make this important decision.
I'm the only one running for president that has been a mayor, a United States senator, and a governor. As mayor, I brought labor peace to my city and kept taxes down. I was reelected three times. As a senator, I earned a reputation for courageous votes against the Bush-Cheney tax cuts the favored the wealthy, against the tragedy of the Iraq war, for environmental stewardship, for protection of our civil liberties. I served on the Foreign Relations Committee and I chaired the Middle East Subcommittee for four years.
As governor, I came in at the depths of the recession and we turned my state around. Rhode Island had the biggest drop of the unemployment rate over my four budgets of all but one state. It happens to be Nevada, where we're having this debate. I'm very proud that over my almost 30 years of public service, I have had no scandals. I've always been honest. I have the courage to take the long-term view, and I've shown good judgment. I have high ethical standards.
As we look to the future, I want to address the income inequality, close the gap between the haves and the have-nots. I want to address climate change, a real threat to our planet. And I believe in prosperity through peace. I want to end these wars.
I look forward to the discussion ahead.
Thank you [applause]
COOPER: Thank you very much, Governor. [applause]
Senator Webb, you have two minutes.
WEBB: Thank you.
You know, people are disgusted with the way that money has corrupted our political process, intimidating incumbents and empowering Wall Street every day, the turnstile government that we see, and also the power of the financial sector in both parties.
They're looking for a leader who understands how the system works, who has not been coopted by it, and also has a proven record of accomplishing different things. I have a record of working across the political aisle. I've also spent more than half of my professional life away from politics in the independent world of being an author, a journalist, and a sole proprietor.
In government service, I've fought and bled for our country in Vietnam as a Marine. I spent years as Assistant Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Navy — in the Reagan administration.
In the senate, I spoke about economic fairness and social justice from day one. I also wrote and passed the best piece of veterans education legislation in history, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. I brought criminal justice reform out of the political shadows and into the national discussion. I led what later became called the Strategic Pivot to Asia two years before President Obama was elected.
I know where my loyalties are.
My mother grew up in the poverty of east Arkansas chopping cotton, picking strawberries. Three of her seven siblings died in childhood. My wife, Hong, came to this country as a refugee from war torn Vietnam — learned English, a language that was not spoken at home, and earned her way into Cornell Law School. I have five daughters. Amy works with disabled veterans, Sarah is an emergency room nurse, Julia is a massage therapist, Emily and Georgia are still in school. My son Jim fought as an infantry Marine on the bloody streets of Ramadi.
You may be sure that in a Webb administration, the highest priority will be the working people who every day go out and make this country stronger at home, and who give us the right reputation and security overseas under a common sense foreign policy. [cheering and applause]
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, you have two minutes.
O'MALLEY: My name is Martin O'Malley, former Mayor of Baltimore, former governor of Maryland, a life long democrat, and most importantly, a husband, and a father.
My wife Katie and I have four great kids, Grace, and Tara, and William and Jack. And, like you, there is nothing we wouldn't do to give them healthier and better lives. There are some things that I have learned to do better in life than others. And, after 15 years of executive experience, I have learned how to be an effective leader.
Whether it was raising the minimum wage, making our public schools the best in America, passing marriage equality, the DREAM Act, and comprehensive gun safety legislation, I have learned how to get things done because I am very clear about my principals.
Thanks to President Obama, our country has come a long way since the Wall Street crash of 2008. Our country's doing better, we are creating jobs again. But we elected a president, not a magician, and there is urgent work that needs to be done right now. For there is a — deep injustice, an economic injustice that threatens to tear our country apart, and it will not solve itself. Injustice does not solve itself.
What I'm talking about is this, our middle class is shrinking. Our poor families are becoming poorer, and 70 percent of us are earning the same, or less than we were 12 years ago. We need new leadership, and we need action. The sort of action that will actually make wages go up again for all American families.
Our economy isn't money, it's people. It's all of our people, and so we must invest in our country, and the potential of our kids to make college a debt free option for all of our families, instead of settling our kids with a lifetime of crushing debt.
And, we must square our shoulders to the great challenge of climate change and make this threat our opportunity. The future is what we make of it. We are all in this together. And, the question in this election is whether you and I still have the ability to give our kids a better future. I believe we do, that is why I am running for president, and I need your help.
Thank you. [applause]
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, thank you very much. Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: Anderson, thank you very much. I think most Americans understand that our country today faces a series of unprecedented crises. The middle class of this country for the last 40 years has been disappearing. Millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, and yet almost all of the new income and wealth being created is going to the top one percent.
As a result of this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, our campaign finance system is corrupt and is undermining American democracy. Millionaires and billionaires are pouring unbelievable sums of money into the political process in order to fund super PACs and to elect candidates who represent their interests, not the interests of working people.
Today, the scientific community is virtually unanimous: climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and we have a moral responsibility to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy and leave this planet a habitable planet for our children and our grandchildren.
Today in America, we have more people in jail than any other country on Earth. African-American youth unemployment is 51 percent. Hispanic youth unemployment is 36 percent. It seems to me that instead of building more jails and providing more incarceration, maybe — just maybe — we should be putting money into education and jobs for our kids. [applause]
What this campaign is about is whether we can mobilize our people to take back our government from a handful of billionaires and create the vibrant democracy we know we can and should have. Thank you. [applause]
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, thank you, and thanks to everyone for hosting this first of the Democratic debates.
I'm Hillary Clinton. I have been proud and privileged to serve as first lady, as a senator from New York, and as secretary of state. I'm the granddaughter of a factory worker and the grandmother of a wonderful one-year-old child. And every day, I think about what we need to do to make sure that opportunity is available not just for her, but for all of our children. I have spent a very long time — my entire adult life — looking for ways to even the odds to help people have a chance to get ahead, and, in particular, to find the ways for each child to live up to his or her God-given potential.
I've traveled across our country over the last months listening and learning, and I've put forward specific plans about how we're going to create more good-paying jobs: by investing in infrastructure and clean energy, by making it possible once again to invest in science and research, and taking the opportunity posed by climate change to grow our economy.
At the center of my campaign is how we're going to raise wages. Yes, of course, raise the minimum wage, but we have to do so much more, including finding ways so that companies share profits with the workers who helped to make them.
And then we have to figure out how we're going to make the tax system a fairer one. Right now, the wealthy pay too little and the middle class pays too much. So I have specific recommendations about how we're going to close those loopholes, make it clear that the wealthy will have to pay their fair share, and have a series of tax cuts for middle-class families.
And I want to do more to help us balance family and work. I believe in equal pay for equal work for women, but I also believe it's about time we had paid family leave for American families and join the rest of the world. [applause]
During the course of the evening tonight, I'll have a chance to lay out all of my plans and the work that I've done behind them. But for me, this is about bringing our country together again. And I will do everything I can to heal the divides — the divides economically, because there's too much inequality; the racial divides; the continuing discrimination against the LGBT community — so that we work together and, yes, finally, fathers will be able to say to their daughters, you, too, can grow up to be president. [applause]
COOPER: Thank you, all. It is time to start the debate.
Are you all ready? [applause]
All right. Let's begin. We're going to be discussing a lot of the issues, many of the issues, important issues that you have brought up. But I want to begin with concerns that voters have about each of the candidates here on this stage that they have about each of you.
Secretary Clinton, I want to start with you. Plenty of politicians evolve on issues, but even some Democrats believe you change your positions based on political expediency.
You were against same-sex marriage. Now you're for it. You defended President Obama's immigration policies. Now you say they're too harsh. You supported his trade deal dozen of times. You even called it the "gold standard". Now, suddenly, last week, you're against it.
Will you say anything to get elected?
CLINTON: Well, actually, I have been very consistent. Over the course of my entire life, I have always fought for the same values and principles, but, like most human beings — including those of us who run for office — I do absorb new information. I do look at what's happening in the world.
You know, take the trade deal. I did say, when I was secretary of state, three years ago, that I hoped it would be the gold standard. It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn't meet my standards. My standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans.
And I want to make sure that I can look into the eyes of any middle-class American and say, "this will help raise your wages." And I concluded I could not.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, though, with all due respect, the question is really about political expediency. Just in July, New Hampshire, you told the crowd you'd, quote, "take a back seat to no one when it comes to progressive values."
Last month in Ohio, you said you plead guilty to, quote, "being kind of moderate and center." Do you change your political identity based on who you're talking to?
CLINTON: No. I think that, like most people that I know, I have a range of views, but they are rooted in my values and my experience. And I don't take a back seat to anyone when it comes to progressive experience and progressive commitment.
You know, when I left law school, my first job was with the Children's Defense Fund, and for all the years since, I have been focused on how we're going to un-stack the deck, and how we're gonna make it possible for more people to have the experience I had.
You know, to be able to come from a grandfather who was a factory worker, a father who was a small business person, and now asking the people of America to elect me president.
COOPER: Just for the record, are you a progressive, or are you a moderate?
CLINTON: I'm a progressive. But I'm a progressive who likes to get things done. And I know... [applause] ...how to find common ground, and I know how to stand my ground, and I have proved that in every position that I've had, even dealing with Republicans who never had a good word to say about me, honestly. But we found ways to work together on everything from...
CLINTON: ...reforming foster care and adoption to the Children's Health Insurance Program, which insures...
COOPER: ...thank you...
CLINTON: ...8 million kids. So I have a long history of getting things done, rooted in the same values...
CLINTON: ...I've always had.
COOPER: Senator Sanders. A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?
SANDERS: Well, we're gonna win because first, we're gonna explain what democratic socialism is.
And what democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent — almost — own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent.
That when you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States. You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we're not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have — we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth.
Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people. [applause]
COOPER: Denmark is a country that has a population — Denmark is a country that has a population of 5.6 million people. The question is really about electability here, and that's what I'm trying to get at.
You — the — the Republican attack ad against you in a general election — it writes itself. You supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. You honeymooned in the Soviet Union. And just this weekend, you said you're not a capitalist.
Doesn't — doesn't that ad write itself?
SANDERS: Well, first of all, let's look at the facts. The facts that are very simple. Republicans win when there is a low voter turnout, and that is what happened last November.
Sixty-three percent of the American people didn't vote, Anderson. Eighty percent of young people didn't vote. We are bringing out huge turnouts, and creating excitement all over this country.
Democrats at the White House on down will win, when there is excitement and a large voter turnout, and that is what this campaign is doing.
COOPER: You don't consider yourself a capitalist, though?
SANDERS: Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street's greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No, I don't.
I believe in a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires. [applause]
COOPER: Just let me just be clear. Is there anybody else on the stage who is not a capitalist?
CLINTON: Well, let me just follow-up on that, Anderson, because when I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.
And I don't think we should confuse what we have to do every so often in America, which is save capitalism from itself. And I think what Senator Sanders is saying certainly makes sense in the terms of the inequality that we have.
But we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America. And it's our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn't run amok and doesn't cause the kind of inequities we're seeing in our economic system.
But we would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history...
COOPER: Senator Sanders?
CLINTON: ... of the world. [applause]
SANDERS: I think everybody is in agreement that we are a great entrepreneurial nation. We have got to encourage that. Of course, we have to support small and medium-sized businesses.
But you can have all of the growth that you want and it doesn't mean anything if all of the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. So what we need to do is support small and medium-sized businesses, the backbone of our economy, but we have to make sure that every family in this country gets a fair shake...
COOPER: We're going to get...
SANDERS: ... not just for billionaires.
COOPER: We're going to have a lot more on these issues. But I do want to just quickly get everybody in on the question of electability.
Governor Chafee, you've been everything but a socialist. When you were senator from Rhode Island, you were a Republican. When you were elected governor, you were an independent. You've only been a Democrat for little more than two years. Why should Democratic voters trust you won't change again?
CHAFEE: Anderson, you're looking at a block of granite when it comes to the issues. Whether it's...
COOPER: It seems like pretty soft granite. I mean, you've been a Republican, you've been an independent.
CHAFEE: Did you hear what I said? On the issues. I have not changed on the issues. I was a liberal Republican, then I was an independent, and now I'm a proud Democrat. But I have not changed on the issues.
And I open my record to scrutiny. Whether it's on the environment, a woman's right to choose, gay marriage, fiscal responsibility, aversion to foreign entanglements, using the tools of government to help the less fortunate.
Time and time again, I have never changed. You're looking at a block of granite when it comes to the issues. So I have not changed.
COOPER: Then why change labels?
CHAFEE: The party left me. There's no doubt about that. There was no room for a liberal moderate Republican in that party. I even had a primary for my reelection in 2006. I won it. But the money poured in to defeat me in Rhode Island as a Republican. That's what we were up against.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, the concern of voters about you is that you tout our record as Baltimore's mayor. As we all know, we all saw it. That city exploded in riots and violence in April.
The current top prosecutor in Baltimore, also a Democrat, blames your zero tolerance policies for sowing the seeds of unrest. Why should Americans trust you with the country when they see what's going on in the city that you ran for more than seven years?
O'MALLEY: Yes, actually, I believe what she said was that there's a lot of policies that have led to this unrest.
But, Anderson, when I ran for mayor of Baltimore in 1999...
COOPER: She actually — just for the record, when she was asked which policies, to name two, she said zero tolerance. I mean, there's a number of old policies that we're seeing the results of. That distress of communities, where communities don't want to step forward and say who killed a 3-year-old, it's a direct result of these failed policies.
O'MALLEY: Well, let's talk about this a little bit. One of the things that was not reported during that heartbreaking night of unrest in Baltimore was that arrests had actually fallen to a 38-year low in the year prior to the Freddie Gray's tragic death.
Anderson, when I ran for mayor of Baltimore back in 1999, it was not because our city was doing well. It was because we allowed ourselves to become the most violent, addicted, and abandoned city in America.
And I ran and promised people that together we could turn that around. And we put our city on a path to reduce violent crime, or part one (ph) crime by more than any other major city in America over the next 10 years.
I did not make our city immune to setbacks. But I attended a lot of funerals, including one for a family of seven who were firebombed in their sleep for picking up the phone in a poor African-American neighborhood and calling the police because of drug dealers on their corner.
We've saved over a thousand lives in Baltimore in the last 15 years of people working together. And the vast majority of them were young and poor and black. It wasn't easy on any day. But we saved lives and we gave our city a better future, improving police and community relations every single day that I was in office.
COOPER: In one year alone, though, 100,000 arrests were made in your city, a city of 640,000 people. The ACLU, the NAACP sued you, sued the city, and the city actually settled, saying a lot of those arrests were without probable cause.
O'MALLEY: Well, I think the key word in your followup there was the word "settle." That's true. It was settled. Arrests peaked in 2003, Anderson, but they declined every year after that as we restored peace in our poorer neighborhoods so that people could actually walk and not have to worry about their kids or their loved ones of being victims of violent crime.
Look, none of this is easy. None of us has all the answers. But together as a city, we saved a lot of lives. It was about leadership. It was about principle. And it was about bringing people together.
COOPER: Thank you, Governor.
O'MALLEY: Thank you.
COOPER: Senator Webb, in 2006, you called affirmative action "state-sponsored racism." In 2010, you wrote an op/ed saying it discriminates against whites. Given that nearly half the Democratic Party is non-white, aren't you out of step with where the Democratic Party is now?
WEBB: No, actually I believe that I am where the Democratic Party traditionally has been. The Democratic Party, and the reason I've decided to run as a Democrat, has been the party that gives people who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power a voice. And that is not determined by race.
And as a clarification, I have always supported affirmative action for African Americans. That's the way the program was originally designed because of their unique history in this country, with slavery and the Jim Crow laws that followed. What I have discussed a number of times is the idea that when we create diversity programs that include everyone, quote, "of color," other than whites, struggling whites like the families in the Appalachian mountains, we're not being true to the Democratic Party principle of elevating the level of consciousness among our people about the hardships that a lot of people who happen to be have — by culture, by the way.
COOPER: Senator Webb, thank you very much.
Let's move on to some of the most pressing issues facing our country right now, some of the biggest issues right now in the headlines today. We're going to start with guns. The shooting in Oregon earlier this month, once again it brought the issue of guns into the national conversation. Over the last week, guns have been the most discussed political topic on Facebook by two to one.
Senator Sanders, you voted against the Brady bill that mandated background checks and a waiting period. You also supported allowing riders to bring guns in checked bags on Amtrak trains. For a decade, you said that holding gun manufacturers legally responsible for mass shootings is a bad idea. Now, you say you're reconsidering that. Which is it: shield the gun companies from lawsuits or not?
SANDERS: Let's begin, Anderson, by understanding that Bernie Sanders has a D-minus voting rating (ph) from the NRA. Let's also understand that back in 1988 when I first ran for the United States Congress, way back then, I told the gun owners of the state of Vermont and I told the people of the state of Vermont, a state which has virtually no gun control, that I supported a ban on assault weapons. And over the years, I have strongly avoided instant background checks, doing away with this terrible gun show loophole. And I think we've got to move aggressively at the federal level in dealing with the straw man purchasers.
Also I believe, and I've fought for, to understand that there are thousands of people in this country today who are suicidal, who are homicidal, but can't get the healthcare that they need, the mental healthcare, because they don't have insurance or they're too poor. I believe that everybody in this country who has a mental crisis has got to get mental health counseling immediately.
COOPER: Do you want to shield gun companies from lawsuits?
SANDERS: Of course not. This was a large and complicated bill. There were provisions in it that I think made sense. For example, do I think that a gun shop in the state of Vermont that sells legally a gun to somebody, and that somebody goes out and does something crazy, that that gun shop owner should be held responsible? I don't.
On the other hand, where you have manufacturers and where you have gun shops knowingly giving guns to criminals or aiding and abetting that, of course we should take action.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, is Bernie Sanders tough enough on guns?
CLINTON: No, not at all. I think that we have to look at the fact that we lose 90 people a day from gun violence. This has gone on too long and it's time the entire country stood up against the NRA. The majority of our country... [applause] ... supports background checks, and even the majority of gun owners do.
Senator Sanders did vote five times against the Brady bill. Since it was passed, more than 2 million prohibited purchases have been prevented. He also did vote, as he said, for this immunity provision. I voted against it. I was in the Senate at the same time. It wasn't that complicated to me. It was pretty straightforward to me that he was going to give immunity to the only industry in America. Everybody else has to be accountable, but not the gun manufacturers. And we need to stand up and say: Enough of that. We're not going to let it continue. [applause]
COOPER: We're going to bring you all in on this. But, Senator Sanders, you have to give a response.
SANDERS: As a senator from a rural state, what I can tell Secretary Clinton, that all the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns and end this horrible violence that we are seeing.
I believe that there is a consensus in this country. A consensus has said we need to strengthen and expand instant background checks, do away with this gun show loophole, that we have to address the issue of mental health, that we have to deal with the strawman purchasing issue, and that when we develop that consensus, we can finally, finally do something to address this issue.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, you passed gun legislation as governor of Maryland, but you had a Democratic-controlled legislature. President Obama couldn't convince Congress to pass gun legislation after the massacres in Aurora, in Newtown, and Charleston. How can you?
O'MALLEY: And, Anderson, I also had to overcome a lot of opposition in the leadership of my own party to get this done. Look, it's fine to talk about all of these things — and I'm glad we're talking about these things — but I've actually done them.
We passed comprehensive gun safety legislation, not by looking at the pollings or looking at what the polls said. We actually did it. And, Anderson, here tonight in our audience are two people that make this issue very, very real. Sandy and Lonnie Phillips are here from Colorado. And their daughter, Jessie, was one of those who lost their lives in that awful mass shooting in Aurora.
Now, to try to transform their grief, they went to court, where sometimes progress does happen when you file in court, but in this case, you want to talk about a — a rigged game, Senator? The game was rigged. A man had sold 4,000 rounds of military ammunition to this — this person that killed their daughter, riddled her body with five bullets, and he didn't even ask where it was going.
And not only did their case get thrown out of court, they were slapped with $200,000 in court fees because of the way that the NRA gets its way in our Congress and we take a backseat. It's time to stand up and pass comprehensive gun safety legislation as a nation. [applause]
COOPER: Senator Sanders, I want you to be able to respond, 30 seconds.
SANDERS: I think the governor gave a very good example about the weaknesses in that law and I think we have to take another look at it. But here is the point, Governor. We can raise our voices, but I come from a rural state, and the views on gun control in rural states are different than in urban states, whether we like it or not.
Our job is to bring people together around strong, commonsense gun legislation. I think there is a vast majority in this country who want to do the right thing, and I intend to lead the country in bringing our people together.
O'MALLEY: Senator — Senator, excuse me.
O'MALLEY: Senator, it is not about rural — Senator, it was not about rural and urban.
SANDERS: It's exactly about rural.
O'MALLEY: Have you ever been to the Eastern Shore? Have you ever been to Western Maryland? We were able to pass this and still respect the hunting traditions of people who live in our rural areas.
O'MALLEY: And we did it by leading with principle, not by pandering to the NRA and backing down to the NRA.
SANDERS: Well, as somebody who has a D-minus voting record...
O'MALLEY: And I have an F from the NRA, Senator.
SANDERS: I don't think I am pandering. But you have not been in the United States Congress.
O'MALLEY: Well, maybe that's a healthy thing. [laughter]
SANDERS: And when you want to, check it out. And if you think — if you think that we can simply go forward and pass something tomorrow without bringing people together, you are sorely mistaken.
COOPER: Let me bring in somebody who has a different viewpoint. Senator Webb, your rating from the NRA, you once had an A rating from the NRA. You've said gun violence goes down when more people are allowed to carry guns. Would encouraging more people to be armed be part of your response to a mass shooting?
WEBB: Look, there are two fundamental issues that are involved in this discussion. We need to pay respect to both of them. The first is the issue of who should be kept from having guns and using firearms. And we have done not a good job on that.
A lot of them are criminals. And a lot of the people are getting killed are members of gangs inside our urban areas. And a lot of them are mentally incapacitated. And the shooting in Virginia Tech in '07, this individual had received medical care for mental illness from three different professionals who were not allowed to share the information.
So we do need background checks. We need to keep the people who should not have guns away from them. But we have to respect the tradition in this country of people who want to defend themselves and their family from violence.
WEBB: May I? People are going back and forth here for 10 minutes here. There are people at high levels in this government who have bodyguards 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The average American does not have that, and deserves the right to be able to protect their family.
COOPER: Senator — Governor Chafee, you have an F rating from the NRA, what do you think about what Senator Webb just said?
CHAFEE: Yes, I have a good record of voting for gun commonsense safety legislation, but the reality is, despite these tragedies that happen time and time again, when legislators step up to pass commonsense gun safety legislation, the gun lobby moves in and tells the people they're coming to take away your guns.
And, they're successful at it, in Colorado and others states, the legislators that vote for commonsense gun safety measures then get defeated. I even saw in Rhode Island. So, I would bring the gun lobby in and say we've got to change this. Where can we find common ground? Wayne Lapierre from the NRA, whoever it is, the leaders. Come one, we've go to change this. We're not coming to take away your guns, we believe in the Second Amendment, but let's find common ground here.
COOPER: I want to...
O'MALLEY: ...Anderson, when the NRA wrote to everyone in our state — when the NRA wrote to members in our state and told people with hunting traditions lies about what our comprehensive gun safety legislation is, I wrote right back to them and laid out what it actually did. And that's why, not only did we pass it, but the NRA didn't...
SANDERS: ...Excuse me...
O'MALLEY: ...dare to petition a referendum...
SANDERS: ...I want to make...
O'MALLEY: ...Because we built a public consensus...
COOPER: ...I want to move on to another issue, which is in the headlines right now, another crisis making headlines.
Secretary Clinton, Russia, they're challenging the U.S. in Syria. According to U.S. intelligence, they've lied about who they're bombing. You spearheaded the reset with Russia. Did you underestimate the Russians, and as president, what would your response to Vladimir Putin be right now in Syria?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, we got a lot of business done with the Russians when Medvedev was the president, and not Putin. We got a nuclear arms deal, we got the Iranian sanctions, we got an ability to bring important material and equipment to our soldiers in Afghanistan.
There's no doubt that when Putin came back in and said he was going to be President, that did change the relationship. We have to stand up to his bullying, and specifically in Syria, it is important — and I applaud the administration because they are engaged in talks right now with the Russians to make it clear that they've got to be part of the solution to try to end that bloody conflict.
And, to — provide safe zones so that people are not going to have to be flooding out of Syria at the rate they are. And, I think it's important too that the United States make it very clear to Putin that it's not acceptable for him to be in Syria creating more chaos, bombing people on behalf of Assad, and we can't do that if we don't take more of a leadership position, which is what I'm advocating.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, what would you do differently.
SANDERS: Well, let's understand that when we talk about Syria, you're talking about a quagmire in a quagmire. You're talking about groups of people trying to overthrow Assad, other groups of people fighting ISIS. You're talking about people who are fighting ISIS using their guns to overthrow Assad, and vice versa.
I'm the former chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, and in that capacity I learned a very powerful lesson about the cost of war, and I will do everything that I can to make sure that the United States does not get involved in another quagmire like we did in Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country. We should be putting together a coalition of Arab countries who should be leading the effort. We should be supportive, but I do not support American ground troops in Syria.
COOPER: On this issue of foreign policy, I want to go to...
CLINTON: ...Well, nobody does. Nobody does, Senator Sanders.
COOPER: I want to go to Dana Bash. Dana?
BASH: Governor Chafee, you were the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq war. You say Secretary Clinton should be disqualified from the presidency because she voted in favor of using force in Iraq. She has since said that her vote was a mistake. Why isn't that good enough?
CHAFEE: Well, we just heard Senator Sanders say that it's the worst decision in American history. That's very significant, the worst decision in American history, I just heard from Senator Sanders.
So, as we look ahead, if you're going to make those poor judgment calls, a critical time in our history, we just finished with the Vietnam era, getting back into another quagmire — if you're looking ahead, and you're looking at someone who made that poor decision in 2002 to go into Iraq when there was no real evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — I know because I did my homework, and, so, that's an indication of how someone will perform in the future. And that's what's important. [applause]
BASH: Secretary Clinton, he's questioning your judgment.
CLINTON: Well, I recall very well being on a debate stage, I think, about 25 times with then Senator Obama, debating this very issue. After the election, he asked me to become Secretary of State.
He valued my judgment, and I spent a lot of time with him... [applause] ...in the Situation Room, going over some very difficult issues.
You know, I — I agree completely. We don't want American troops on the ground in Syria. I never said that. What I said was we had to put together a coalition — in fact, something that I worked on before I left the State Department — to do, and yes, that it should include Arabs, people in the region.
Because what I worry about is what will happen with ISIS gaining more territory, having more reach, and, frankly, posing a threat to our friends and neighbors in the region and far beyond.
So I think while you're talking about the tough decision that President Obama had to make about Osama bin Laden, where I was one of his few advisers, or putting together that coalition to impose sanctions on Iran — I think I have a lot of evidence...
BASH: Senator Sanders — Senator Sanders, I want to bring you in here. My question for you is, as a congressman, you voted against the Iraq War. You voted against the Gulf War. You're just talking about Syria, but under what circumstances would a President Sanders actually use force?
SANDERS: Let me just respond to something the secretary said. First of all, she is talking about, as I understand it, a no-fly zone in Syria, which I think is a very dangerous situation. Could lead to real problems.
Second of all, I heard the same evidence from President Bush and Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld about why we should overthrow Saddam Hussein and get involved in the — I would urge people to go to berniesanders.com, hear what I said in 2002. And I say, without any joy in my heart, that much of what I thought would happen about the destabilization, in fact, did happen.
So I think...
BASH: All right. [applause]
SANDERS: I think the president is trying very hard to thread a tough needle here, and that is to support those people who are against Assad, against ISIS, without getting us on the ground there, and that's the direction I believe we should have (inaudible).
COOPER: But, Senator Sanders, you didn't answer the question. Under what — under what circumstances would you actually use force?
SANDERS: Well, obviously, I voted, when President Clinton said, "let's stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo," I voted for that. I voted to make sure that Osama bin Laden was held accountable in Afghanistan.
When our country is threatened, or when our allies are threatened, I believe that we need coalitions to come together to address the major crises of this country. I do not support the United States getting involved in unilateral action.
(UNKNOWN): You're at work with our allies.
COOPER: I'm gonna bring you all in on this. Governor — Governor O'Malley, Secretary Clinton...
SANDERS: I don't believe that any...
COOPER: Secretary Clinton voted to authorize military force in Iraq, supported more troops in Afghanistan. As Secretary of State, she wanted to arm Syrian rebels and push for the bombing of Libya. Is she too quick to use military force?
O'MALLEY: Anderson, no president — no commander in chief — should take the military option off the table, even if most of us would agree that it should be the last option.
What disturbed people so much about — and I would agree with Senator Sanders on this — leading us into Iraq under false pretenses and telling us, as a people, that there were weapons of mass destruction there was — was one of the worst blunders in modern American history.
But the reason why people remain angry about it is because people feel like a lot of our legislators got railroaded in a war fever and by polls. And I remember being at a dinner shortly before that invasion. People were talking at — and saying, "it'll take us just a couple years to rebuild democracy," and I thought, "has this world gone mad?"
Whenever we go — and contrary to John Quincy Adams' advice — "searching the world for monsters to destroy," and when we use political might to take a — at the expense of democratic principle, we hurt ourselves, and we hurt our [inaudible].
COOPER: Does she — does she want to use military force too rapidly?
O'MALLEY: I believe that, as president, I would not be so quick to pull for a military tool. I believe that a no-fly zone in Syria, at this time, actually, Secretary, would be a mistake.
You have to enforce no-fly zones, and I believe, especially with the Russian air force in the air, it could lead to an escalation because of an accident that we would deeply regret.
I support President Obama. I think we have to play a long game, and I think, ultimately — you want to talk about blunders? I think Assad's invasion of Syria will be seen as a blunder.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, just for the record, on the campaign trail, you've been saying that Secretary Clinton is always quick for the — for the military intervention. Senator — Secretary Clinton, you can respond.
CLINTON: Well, first of all, I...
WEBB: Anderson, can I come into this discussion at some point?
COOPER: Well — yes, you'll be coming in next, but she was directly quoted, Senator.
WEBB: Thank you. I've been standing over here for about ten minutes, trying.
WEBB: It's just — it's gone back and forth over there.
CLINTON: Well, I am in the middle, here, and... [laughter]
Lots of things coming from all directions.
WEBB: You got the lucky [inaudible].
CLINTON: You know, I have to say, I was very pleased when Governor O'Malley endorsed me for president in 2008, and I enjoyed his strong support in that campaign. And I consider him, obviously, a friend.
Let me say — because there's a lot of loose talk going on here — we are already flying in Syria just as we are flying in Iraq. The president has made a very tough decision. What I believe and why I have advocated that the no-fly zone — which of course would be in a coalition — be put on the table is because I'm trying to figure out what leverage we have to get Russia to the table. You know, diplomacy is not about getting to the perfect solution. It's about how you balance the risks.
COOPER: Thank you.
CLINTON: And I think we have an opportunity here — and I know that inside the administration this is being hotly debated — to get that leverage to try to get the Russians to have to deal with everybody in the region and begin to move toward a political, diplomatic solution in Syria.
COOPER: Thank you, Secretary.
COOPER: Senator Webb, you said as president you would never have used military force in Libya and that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was, in your words, "inevitable." Should Secretary Clinton have seen that attack coming?
WEBB: Look, let's start — I've been trying to get in this conversation for about 10 minutes — let's start with why Russia is in Syria right now. There are three strategic failings that have allowed this to occur. The first was the invasion of Iraq, which destabilized ethnic elements in Iraq and empowered Iran. The second was the Arab Spring, which created huge vacuums in Libya and in Syria that allowed terrorist movements to move in there. And the third was the recent deal allowing Iran to move forward and eventually acquire a nuclear weapon, which sent bad signals, bad body language into the region about whether we are acquiescing in Iran becoming a stronger piece of the formula in that part of the world.
Now, I say this as someone who spent five years in the Pentagon and who opposed the war in Iraq, whose son fought in Iraq, I've fought in Vietnam. But if you want a place where we need to be in terms of our national strategy, a focus, the greatest strategic threat that we have right now is resolving our relationship with China. And we need to do this because of their aggression in the region. We need to do it because of the way they treat their own people.
WEBB: And I would say this. I've been waiting for 10 minutes. I will say this.
COOPER: You're over your time as of now.
WEBB: I will — well, you've let a lot of people go over their time. I would say this...
COOPER: You agreed to these debate rules.
WEBB: ... to the unelected, authoritarian government of China: You do not own the South China Sea. You do not have the right to conduct cyber warfare against tens of millions of American citizens. And in a Webb administration, we will do something about that.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, I want you to be able to respond.
SANDERS: Pardon me?
COOPER: I'd like you to be able to respond and get in on this.
SANDERS: Well, I think Mr. Putin is going to regret what he is doing. I think that when he gets into that...
COOPER: He doesn't seem to be the type of guy to regret a lot.
SANDERS: Well, I think he's already regretting what he did in Crimea and what he is doing in the Ukraine. I think he is really regretting the decline of his economy. And I think what he is trying to do now is save some face. But I think when Russians get killed in Syria and when he gets bogged down, I think the Russian people are going to give him a message that maybe they should come home, maybe they should start working with the United States to rectify the situation now.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, on the campaign trail, Governor Webb has said that he would never have used military force in Libya and that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was inevitable. Should you have seen that attack coming?
CLINTON: Well, let's remember what was going on. We had a murderous dictator, Gadhafi, who had American blood on his hands, as I'm sure you remember, threatening to massacre large numbers of the Libyan people. We had our closest allies in Europe burning up the phone lines begging us to help them try to prevent what they saw as a mass genocide, in their words. And we had the Arabs standing by our side saying, "We want you to help us deal with Gadhafi."
Our response, which I think was smart power at its best, is that the United States will not lead this. We will provide essential, unique capabilities that we have, but the Europeans and the Arabs had to be first over the line. We did not put one single American soldier on the ground in Libya. And I'll say this for the Libyan people...
COOPER: But American citizens did lose their lives in Benghazi.
CLINTON: But let — I'll get to that. But I think it's important, since I understand Senator Webb's very strong feelings about this, to explain where we were then and to point out that I think President Obama made the right decision at the time.
And the Libyan people had a free election the first time since 1951. And you know what, they voted for moderates, they voted with the hope of democracy. Because of the Arab Spring, because of a lot of other things, there was turmoil to be followed.
But unless you believe the United States should not send diplomats to any place that is dangerous, which I do not, then when we send them forth, there is always the potential for danger and risk.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley?
WEBB: Can I...
O'MALLEY: Anderson, I think we are learning...
O'MALLEY: Anderson, I think there's lessons to be learned from Benghazi. And those lessons are that we need to do a much better job as a nation of having human intelligence on the ground so that we know who the emerging next generation leaders are that are coming up to replace a dictator when his time on this planet ends.
And I believe that's what Chris Stevens was trying to do. But he did not have the tools. We have failed as a country to invest in the human intelligence that would allow us to make not only better decisions in Libya, but better decisions in Syria today.
And it's a huge national security failing.
COOPER: Senator Webb, I want you to be able to respond.
WEBB: Thank you.
COOPER: Senator Webb?
WEBB: This is not about Benghazi per se. To me it is the inevitability of something like Benghazi occurring in the way that we intervened in Libya. We had no treaties at risk. We had no Americans at risk. There was no threat of attack or imminent attack.
There is plenty of time for a president to come to the Congress and request authority to use military force in that situation. I called for it on the Senate floor again and again. I called for it in Senate hearings.
It is not a wise thing to do. And if people think it was a wise thing to do, try to get to the Tripoli airport today. You can't do it.
COOPER: Secretary (sic) Webb, you served in Vietnam. You're a marine. Once a marine, always a marine. You served as a marine in Vietnam. You're a decorated war hero. You eventually became secretary of the navy.
During the Vietnam War, the man standing next to you, Senator Sanders, applied for status as a conscientious objector. Given his history, can he serve as a credible commander-in-chief?
WEBB: Everybody makes their decisions when the time there is conscription. And as long as they go through the legal process that our country requires, I respect that. And it would be for the voters to decide whether Senator Sanders or anyone else should be president.
I will say this, coming from the position that I've come from, from a military family, with my brother a marine, my son was a marine in Iraq, I served as a marine, spending five years in the Pentagon, I am comfortable that I am the most qualified person standing up here today to be your commander-in-chief.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, tell an American soldier who is watching right now tonight in Afghanistan why you can be commander-in- chief given that you applied for conscientious objector status.
SANDERS: Well, first of all, let me applaud my good friend Jim Webb for his service to this country in so many ways. [applause]
Jim and I, under Jim's leadership, as he indicated, passed the most significant veterans education bill in recent history. We followed suit with a few years later passing, under my leadership, the most significant veterans' health care legislation in the modern history of this country. [applause]
When I was a young man — I'm not a young man today. When I was a young man, I strongly opposed the war in Vietnam. Not the brave men like Jim who fought in that war, but the policy which got us involved in that war. That was my view then. [cheering and applause]
I am not a pacifist, Anderson. I supported the war in Afghanistan. I supported President Clinton's effort to deal with ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. I support air strikes in Syria and what the president is trying to do.
Yes, I happen to believe from the bottom of my heart that war should be the last resort that we have got to exercise diplomacy. But yes, I am prepared to take this country into war if that is necessary.
COOPER: Very quickly, 30 seconds for each of you. Governor Chafee, who or what is the greatest national security threat to the United States? I want to go down the line.
CHAFEE: OK. I just have to answer one thing that Senator Webb said about the Iran deal, because I'm a strong proponent of what President Obama — and he said that because of that the Iran deal that enabled Russia to come in.
No, that's not true, Senator Webb. I respect your foreign policy chops. But Russia is aligned with Iran and with Assad and the Alawite Shias in Syria. So that Iran deal did not allow Russia to come in.
COOPER: OK. Senator, I can give you 30 seconds to respond.
WEBB: I believe that the signal that we sent to the region when the Iran nuclear deal was concluded was that we are accepting Iran's greater position on this very important balance of power, among our greatest ally Israel, and the Sunnis represented by the Saudi regime, and Iran. It was a position of weakness and I think it encouraged the acts that we've seen in the past several weeks.
COOPER: Thirty seconds for each of you. Governor Chafee, what is the greatest national security threat to the United States?
CHAFEE: It's certainly the chaos in the Middle East. There's no doubt about it.
CHAFEE: And it all started with the Iraq invasion.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley?
O'MALLEY: I believe that nuclear Iran remains the biggest threat, along with the threat of ISIL; climate change, of course, makes cascading threats even more (inaudible).
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, the greatest national security threat?
CLINTON: I — I think it has to be continued threat from the spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear material that can fall into the wrong hands. I know the terrorists are constantly seeking it, and that's why we have to stay vigilant, but also united around the world to prevent that.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, greatest national security threat?
SANDERS: The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we're going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable. That is a major crisis.
COOPER: Senator Webb?
WEBB: Our greatest long-term strategic challenge is our relation with China. Our greatest day-to-day threat is cyber warfare against this country. Our greatest military-operational threat is resolving the situations in the Middle East.
COOPER: All right. We're going to take a short break. Do these candidates see eye to eye on an issue that is driving a big wedge between Republicans? That is next.
We'll be right back. [applause]
COOPER: And welcome back. We are live in Nevada, in Las Vegas, at the Wynn Resort for the first Democratic presidential debate. The questions continue.
We begin with Secretary Clinton. Secretary Clinton, you are going to be testifying before Congress next week about your e-mails. For the last eight months, you haven't been able to put this issue behind you. You dismissed it; you joked about it; you called it a mistake. What does that say about your ability to handle far more challenging crises as president?
CLINTON: Well, I've taken responsibility for it. I did say it was a mistake. What I did was allowed by the State Department, but it wasn't the best choice.
And I have been as transparent as I know to be, turning over 55,000 pages of my e-mails, asking that they be made public. And you're right. I am going to be testifying. I've been asking to testify for some time and to do it in public, which was not originally agreed to.
But let's just take a minute here and point out that this committee is basically an arm of the Republican National Committee. [applause]
It is a partisan vehicle, as admitted by the House Republican majority leader, Mr. McCarthy, to drive down my poll numbers. Big surprise. And that's what they have attempted to do.
I am still standing. I am happy to be part of this debate. [applause]
And I intend to keep talking about the issues that matter to the American people. You know, I believe strongly that we need to be talking about what people talk to me about, like how are we going to make college affordable? How are we going to pay down student debt?
CLINTON: How are we going to get health care for everybody...
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, Secretary Clinton, with all due respect, it's a little hard — I mean, isn't it a little bit hard to call this just a partisan issue? There's an FBI investigation, and President Obama himself just two days ago said this is a legitimate issue.
CLINTON: Well, I never said it wasn't legitimate. I said that I have answered all the questions and I will certainly be doing so again before this committee.
But I think it would be really unfair not to look at the entire picture. This committee has spent $4.5 million of taxpayer money, and they said that they were trying to figure out what we could do better to protect our diplomats so that something like Benghazi wouldn't happen again. There were already seven committee reports about what to do. So I think it's pretty clear what their obvious goal is.
COOPER: Thank you.
CLINTON: But I'll be there. I'll answer their questions. But tonight, I want to talk not about my e-mails, but about what the American people want from the next president of the United States. [applause]
COOPER: Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: Let me say this. [applause]
Let me say — let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails. [applause]
CLINTON: Thank you. Me, too. Me, too.
SANDERS: You know? The middle class — Anderson, and let me say something about the media, as well. I go around the country, talk to a whole lot of people. Middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we're going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens Union. Enough of the e-mails. Let's talk about the real issues facing America. [applause]
CLINTON: Thank you, Bernie. Thank you. [applause]
COOPER: It's obviously very popular in this crowd, and it's — hold on. [applause]
I know that plays well in this room. But I got to be honest, Governor Chafee, for the record, on the campaign trail, you've said a different thing. You said this is a huge issue. Standing here in front of Secretary Clinton, are you willing to say that to her face?
CHAFEE: Absolutely. We have to repair American credibility after we told the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which he didn't. So there's an issue of American credibility out there. So any time someone is running to be our leader, and a world leader, which the American president is, credibility is an issue out there with the world. And we have repair work to be done. I think we need someone that has the best in ethical standards as our next president. That's how I feel.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, do you want to respond?
COOPER: Governor — Governor... [applause]
Governor O'Malley... [applause]
Governor, it's popular in the room, but a lot of people do want to know these answers.
Governor O'Malley, you expressed concern on the campaign trail that the Democratic Party is, and I quote, "being defined by Hillary Clinton's email scandal."
You heard her answer, do you still feel that way tonight?
O'MALLEY: I believe that now that we're finally having debates, Anderson, that we don't have to be defined by the email scandal, and how long — what the FBI's asking about. Instead, we can talk about affordable college, making college debt free, and all the issues. Which is why — and I see the chair of the DNC here, look how glad we are actually to be talking about the issues that matter the most to people around the kitchen table.
We need to get wages to go up, college more affordable...
COOPER: ...Thank you, governor.
O'MALLEY: ...we need to make American 100 percent clean electric by 2050.
COOPER: I want to talk about issues of race in America, for that I want to start of with Don Lemon.
LEMON: Alright, Anderson, thank you very much. I'm not sure how to follow that, but this question is about something that has tripped some of the candidates up out on the campaign trail. Can you hear me?
Can't hear me in the room. OK, here we go again, as I said...
WILKINS: ...law school. My question for the candidates is, do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?
COOPER: The question from Arthur...
LEMON: ...There we go...
COOPER: ...Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter? Let's put that question to Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: Black lives matter. [cheering] And the reason — the reason those words matter is the African American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and then three days later she's going to end up dead in jail, or their kids... [applause] ...are going to get shot. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system... [applause] ...In which we have more people in jail than China. And, I intended to tackle that issue. To make sure that our people have education and jobs rather than jail cells. [applause]
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, the question from Arthur was do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?
O'MALLEY: Anderson, the point that the Black Lives Matter movement is making is a very, very legitimate and serious point, and that is that as a nation we have undervalued the lives of black lives, people of color.
When I ran for Mayor of Baltimore — and we we burying over 350 young men ever single year, mostly young, and poor, and black, and I said to our legislature, at the time when I appeared in front of them as a mayor, that if we were burying white, young, poor men in these number we would be marching in the streets and there would be a different reaction.
Black lives matter, and we have a lot of work to do to reform our criminal justice system, and to address race relations in our country. [applause]
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, what would you do for African Americans in this country that President Obama couldn't?
CLINTON: Well, I think that President Obama has been a great moral leader on these issues, and has laid out an agenda that has been obstructed by the Republicans at every turn, so... [applause] ...So, what we need to be doing is not only reforming criminal justice — I have talked about that at some length, including things like body cameras, but we also need to be following the recommendations of the commissioner that President Obama empanelled on policing. There is an agenda there that we need to be following up on.
Similarly, we need to tackle mass incarceration, and this may be the only bi-partisan issue in the congress this year. We actually have people on both sides of the aisle who have reached the same conclusion, that we can not keep imprisoning more people than anybody else in the world.
But, I believe that the debate, and the discussion has to go further, Anderson, because we've got to do more about the lives of these children. That's why I started off by saying we need to be committed to making it possible for every child to live up to his or her god given potential. That is...
COOPER: ...Thank you, Senator...
CLINTON: ...really hard to do if you don't have early childhood education...
CLINTON: ...if you don't have schools that are able to meet the needs of the people, or good housing, there's a long list... [applause] ...We need a new New Deal for communities of color...
COOPER: Senator Webb?
WEBB: I hope I can get that kind of time here. As a President of the United States, every life in this country matters. At the same time, I believe I can say to you, I have had a long history of working with the situation of African Americans.
We're talking about criminal justice reform, I risked my political life raising the issue of criminal justice reform when I ran for the Senate in Virginia in 2006. I had democratic party political consultants telling me I was committing political suicide.
We led that issue in the congress. We started a national debate on it. And it wasn't until then that the Republican Party started joining in.
I also represented a so-called war criminal, an African American Marine who was wounded — who was convicted of murder in Vietnam, for six years. He took his life three years into this. I cleared his name after — after three years.
COOPER: Thanks, sir.
WEBB: And I put the African American soldier on the Mall. I made that recommendation and fought for it. So, if you want someone who is — can stand up in front of you right now and say I have done the hard job, I have taken the risks, I am your person.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, let's talk about income inequality. Wages and incomes are flat. You've argued that the gap between rich and poor is wider than at any time since the 1920s. We've had a Democratic president for seven years. What are you going to be able to do that President Obama didn't?
SANDERS: Well, first of all, let's remember where we were when Bush left office. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. And I know my Republican friends seem to have some amnesia on this issue, but the world's financial crisis was on — the world's financial markets system was on the verge of collapse. That's where we were.
Are we better off today than we were then? Absolutely. But the truth is that for the 40 years, the great middle class of this country has been disappearing. And in my view what we need to do is create millions of jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; pay equity for women workers; and our disastrous trade policies, which have cost us millions of jobs; and make every public college and university in this country tuition free. [applause]
COOPER: Secretary Clinton...
COOPER: I'll let you jump in a moment. Everybody will get in on this in a moment.
Secretary Clinton, how would you address this issue? In all candor, you and your husband are part of the one percent. How can you credibly represent the views of the middle class?
CLINTON: Well, you know, both Bill and I have been very blessed. Neither of us came from wealthy families and we've worked really hard our entire lives. And I want to make sure every single person in this country has the same opportunities that he and I have had, to make the most of their God-given potential and to have the chances that they should have in America for a good education, good job training, and then good jobs.
I have a five point economic plan, because this inequality challenge we face, we have faced it at other points. It's absolutely right. It hasn't been this bad since the 1920s. But if you look at the Republicans versus the Democrats when it comes to economic policy, there is no comparison. The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House and that's why we need to have a Democrat in the White House in January 2017.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, (inaudible).
O'MALLEY: Yes. Anderson, I want to associate myself with many of the items that the senator from Vermont mentioned, and I actually did them in our state. We raised the minimum wage, passed the living wage, invested more in infrastructure, went four years in a row without a penny's increase in college tuition.
But there's another piece that Senator Sanders left out tonight, but he's been excellent about underscoring that. And that is that we need to separate the casino, speculative, mega-bank gambling that we have to insure with our money, from the commercial banking — namely, reinstating Glass-Steagall.
Secretary Clinton mentioned my support eight years ago. And Secretary, I was proud to support you eight years ago, but something happened in between, and that is, Anderson, a Wall Street crash that wiped out millions of jobs and millions of savings for families. And we are still just as vulnerable Paul Volcker says today.
We need to reinstate Glass-Steagall and that's a huge difference on this stage among us as candidates.
COOPER: Just for viewers at home who may not be reading up on this, Glass-Steagall is the Depression-era banking law repealed in 1999 that prevented commercial banks from engaging in investment banking and insurance activities.
Secretary Clinton, he raises a fundamental difference on this stage. Senator Sanders wants to break up the big Wall Street banks. You don't. You say charge the banks more, continue to monitor them. Why is your plan better?
CLINTON: Well, my plan is more comprehensive. And frankly, it's tougher because of course we have to deal with the problem that the banks are still too big to fail. We can never let the American taxpayer and middle class families ever have to bail out the kind of speculative behavior that we saw.
But we also have to worry about some of the other players — AIG, a big insurance company; Lehman Brothers, an investment bank. There's this whole area called "shadow banking." That's where the experts tell me the next potential problem could come from.
CLINTON: So I'm with both Senator Sanders and Governor O'Malley in putting a lot of attention onto the banks. And the plan that I have put forward would actually empower regulators to break up big banks if we thought they posed a risk. But I want to make sure we're going to cover everybody, not what caused the problem last time, but what could cause it next time.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, Secretary Clinton just said that her policy is tougher than yours.
SANDERS: Well, that's not true.
SANDERS: Let us be clear that the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street, where fraud is a business model, helped to destroy this economy and the lives of millions of people. [applause]
Check the record. In the 1990s — and all due respect — in the 1990s, when I had the Republican leadership and Wall Street spending billions of dollars in lobbying, when the Clinton administration, when Alan Greenspan said, "what a great idea it would be to allow these huge banks to merge," Bernie Sanders fought them, and helped lead the opposition to deregulation. [applause]
Today, it is my view that when you have the three...
SANDERS: ...largest banks in America — are much bigger than they were when we bailed them out for being too big to fail, we have got to break them up. [applause]
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, you have to be able to respond. He brought you up.
You know, I — I respect the passion an intensity. I represented Wall Street, as a senator from New York, and I went to Wall Street in December of 2007 — before the big crash that we had — and I basically said, "cut it out! Quit foreclosing on homes! Quit engaging in these kinds of speculative behaviors."
I took on the Bush administration for the same thing. So I have thought deeply and long about what we're gonna do to do exactly what I think both the senator and the governor want, which is to rein in and stop this risk.
And my plan would have the potential of actually sending the executives to jail. Nobody went to jail after $100 billion in fines were paid... [applause]
CLINTON: ...and would give regulators the authority to go after the big banks.
COOPER: Thank you. Thank you. Senator Sanders...
CLINTON: But I'm telling you — I will say it tonight. If only you look at the big banks, you may be missing the forest for the trees.
WEBB: Bernie, say my name so I can get into this.
SANDERS: I will, just a second.
WEBB: OK. Thank you. [laughter]
SANDERS: I'll tell him.
In my view, Secretary Clinton, you do not — Congress does not regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress. [applause]
And we have gotta break off these banks. Going to them...
SANDERS: ...and saying, "please, do the right thing"...
CLINTON: ...no, that's not what...
SANDERS: ...is kind of naive.
CLINTON: ...that — I think Dodd-Frank was a very...
WEBB: Anderson, I need to jump in (inaudible).
CLINTON: ...good start, and I think that we have to implement it. We have to prevent the Republicans from ripping it apart. We have to save the Consumer Financial Protection board, which is finally beginning to act to protect consumers. [applause]
We have work to do. You've got no argument from me. But I know, if we don't come in with a very tough and comprehensive approach, like the plan I'm recommending, we're gonna be behind instead of ahead...
COOPER: Governor O'Malley? Where do you stand?
CLINTON: ...on what the next crisis could be.
O'MALLEY: Anderson, look, this is — the big banks — I mean, once we repealed Glass-Steagall back in the late 1999s (ph), the big banks, the six of them, went from controlling, what, the equivalent of 15 percent of our GDP to now 65 percent of our GDP.
And — (inaudible) right before this debate, Secretary Clinton's campaign put out a lot of reversals on positions on Keystone and many other things. But one of them that we still have a great difference on, Madam Secretary, is that you are not for Glass-Steagall.
You are not for putting a firewall between this speculative, risky shadow banking behavior. I am, and the people of our country need a president who's on their side, willing to protect the Main Street economy from recklessness on Wall Street.
We have to fulfill...
COOPER: Secretary Clinton...
O'MALLEY: ...our promise.
COOPER: I have to let you respond. [applause]
CLINTON: Well, you know, everybody on this stage has changed a position or two. We've been around a cumulative quite some period of time. [laughter]
You know, we know that if you are learning, you're gonna change your position. I never took a position on Keystone until I took a position on Keystone.
But I have been on the forefront of dealing with climate change, starting in 2009, when President Obama and I crashed (ph) a meeting with the Chinese and got them to sign up to the first international agreement to combat climate change that they'd ever joined.
COOPER: Thank you.
CLINTON: ...not taking a back seat to anybody on my values...
CLINTON: ...my principles and the results that I get.
COOPER: Senator Sanders... [applause]
Senator Sanders, in 2008, congressional leaders were told, without the 2008 bailout, the U.S. was possibly days away from a complete meltdown. Despite that, you still voted against it.
As president, would you stand by your principles if it risked the country's financial stability?
SANDERS: Well, I remember that meeting very well. I remember it like it was yesterday. Hank Paulson, Bernanke came in, and they say, "guys, the economy is going to collapse because Wall Street is going under. It's gonna take the economy with them."
And you know what I said to Hank Paulson? I said, "Hank, your guys — you come from Goldman Sachs. Your millionaire and billionaire friends caused this problem. How about your millionaire and billionaire friends paying for the bailout, not working families in this country?"
So to answer your question, no, I would not have let the economy collapse. But it was wrong to ask the middle class to bail out Wall Street. And by the way, I want Wall Street now to help kids in this country go to college, public colleges and universities, free with a Wall Street speculation tax. [applause]
COOPER: We're going to talk about that in a minute.
But, Senator Webb, I want to get you in. You have said neither party has the guts to take on Wall Street. Is the system rigged?
WEBB: There is a reality that I think we all need to recognize with respect to the power of the financial sector.
And let me just go back a minute and say that on this TARP program, I introduced a piece of legislation calling for a windfall profits tax on the executives of any of these companies that got more than $5 billion, that it was time for them, once they got their compensation and their bonus, to split the rest of the money they made with the nurses and the truck drivers and the soldiers who bailed them out. With respect to the financial sector, I mean, I know that my time has run out but in speaking of changing positions and the position on how this debate has occurred is kind of frustrating because unless somebody mentions my name I can't get into the discussion.
COOPER: You agreed to these rules and you're wasting time. So if you would finish your answer, we'll move on.
WEBB: All right. Well, I'm trying to set a mark here so maybe we can get into a little more later on. This hasn't been equal time.
But if you want to look at what has happened, if we look at the facts in terms of how we're going to deal with this, since that crash, in the last 10 years, the amount of the world's capital economy that Wall Street manages has gone from 44 percent to 55 percent.
That means the Wall Street money managers are not risking themselves as the same way the American people are when they're going to get their compensation. They're managing money from all over the world.
We have to take that into consideration when we're looking at ways to regulate it.
COOPER: Governor Chafee, you have attacked Secretary Clinton for being too close to Wall Street banks. In 1999 you voted for the very bill that made banks bigger.
CHAFEE: The Glass-Steagall was my very first vote, I'd just arrived, my dad had died in office, I was appointed to the office, it was my very first vote.
COOPER: Are you saying you didn't know what you were voting for?
CHAFEE: I'd just arrived at the Senate. I think we'd get some takeovers, and that was one. It was my very first vote, and it was 92-5. It was the...
COOPER: Well, with all due respect, Governor...
CHAFEE: But let me just say...
COOPER: ... what does that say about you that you're casting a vote for something you weren't really sure about?
CHAFEE: I think you're being a little rough. I'd just arrived at the United States Senate. I'd been mayor of my city. My dad had died. I'd been appointed by the governor. It was the first vote and it was 90-5, because it was a conference report.
But let me just say about income inequality. We've had a lot of talk over the last few minutes, hours, or tens of minutes, but no one is saying how we're going to fix it. And it all started with the Bush tax cuts that favored the wealthy.
So let's go back to the tax code. And 0.6 percent of Americans are at the top echelon, over 464,000, 0.6 Americans. That's less than 1 percent. But they generate 30 percent of the revenue. And they're doing fine.
COOPER: Thank you, Governor.
CHAFEE: So there's still a lot more money to be had from this top echelon. I'm saying let's have another tier and put that back into the tax bracket. And that will generate $42 billion.
COOPER: I want to bring in Dana Bash.
CHAFEE: And then we can help the middle class and hard-earning Americans — hard-working Americans.
BASH: Thank you.
CNN visited college campuses, along with Facebook. And not surprisingly college affordability was among the most pressing issue.
Senator Sanders, you've mentioned a couple of times you do have a plan to make public colleges free for everyone. Secretary Clinton has criticized that in saying she's not in favor of making a college free for Donald Trump's kids.
Do you think taxpayers should pick up the tab for wealthy children?
SANDERS: Well, let me tell you, Donald Trump and his billionaire friends under my policies are going to pay a hell of a lot more in taxes today — taxes in the future than they're paying today. [applause]
But in terms of education, this is what I think. This is the year 2015. A college degree today, Dana, is the equivalent of what a high school degree was 50 years ago.
And what we said 50 years ago and a hundred years ago is that every kid in this country should be able to get a high school education regardless of the income of their family. I think we have to say that is true for everybody going to college.
I think we don't need a complicated system, which the secretary is talking about, the income goes down, the income goes down, if you're poor you have to work, and so forth and so on.
I pay for my program, by the way, through a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will not only make public colleges and universities tuition-free, it will substantially lower interest rates on college debt, a major crisis in this country. [applause]
BASH: And, Secretary Clinton, it's not just college tuition that Senator Sanders is talking about, expanding Social Security and giving all Americans Medicare. What's wrong with that?
CLINTON: Well, let me address college affordability, because I have a plan that I think will really zero in on what the problems are. First, all the 40 million Americans who currently have student debt will be able to refinance their debt to a low interest rate. That will save thousands of dollars for people who are now struggling under this cumbersome, burdensome college debt.
As a young student in Nevada said to me, the hardest thing about going to college should not be paying for it. So then we have to make it more affordable. How do we make it more affordable? My plan would enable anyone to go to a public college or university tuition free. You would not have to borrow money for tuition.
But I do believe — and maybe it's because I worked when I went through college; I worked when I went through law school — I think it's important for everybody to have some part of getting this accomplished. That's why I call it a compact.
BASH: Secretary Clinton...
CLINTON: But, yes, I would like students to work 10 hours a week...
BASH: Can you answer the...
SANDERS: ... in order to make it possible for them to afford their education. And I want colleges to get their costs down. They are outrageously high in what they're charging.
BASH: Secretary Clinton, the question was not just about tuition, though. It was about Senator Sanders' plan to expand Social Security, to make Medicare available to all Americans. Is that something that you would support? And if not, why not?
CLINTON: Well, I fully support Social Security. And the most important fight we're going to have is defending it against continuing Republican efforts to privatize it.
BASH: Do you want to expand it?
CLINTON: I want to enhance the benefits for the poorest recipients of Social Security. We have a lot of women on Social Security, particularly widowed and single women who didn't make a lot of money during their careers, and they are impoverished, and they need more help from the Social Security system.
And I will focus — I will focus on helping those people who need it the most. And of course I'm going to defend Social Security. I'm going to look for ways to try to make sure it's solvent into the future. And we also need to talk about health care at some time, because we agree on the goals, we just disagree on the means.
SANDERS: When the Republicans — when the Republicans in the Congress and some Democrats were talking about cutting Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans, for the so-called chained CPI, I founded a caucus called the Defending Social Security Caucus.
My view is that when you have millions of seniors in this country trying to get by — and I don't know how they do on $11,000, $12,000, $13,000 a year — you don't cut Social Security, you expand it. And the way you expand it is by lifting the cap on taxable incomes so that you do away with the absurdity of a millionaire paying the same amount into the system as somebody making $118,000. You do that, Social Security is solvent until 2061 and you can expand benefits.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, I want to bring it over to Juan Carlos Lopez from CNN en Espanol. We're obviously in Nevada. It's had the highest percentage of undocumented immigrants of any state in the country as of last year. Juan Carlos?
LOPEZ: Gracias, Anderson. Senator Sanders, in 2013, you voted for immigration reform. But in 2007, when Democrats controlled Congress and the Bush White House was onboard, you voted against it. Why should Latino voters trust you now when you left them at the altar at the moment when reform was very close?
SANDERS: I didn't leave anybody at the altar. I voted against that piece of legislation because it had guest-worker provisions in it which the Southern Poverty Law Center talked about being semi-slavery. Guest workers are coming in, they're working under terrible conditions, but if they stand up for their rights, they're thrown out of the country. I was not the only progressive to vote against that legislation for that reason. Tom Harkin, a very good friend of Hillary Clinton's and mine, one of the leading labor advocates, also voted against that.
LOPEZ: Tom Harkin isn't running for president. You are.
SANDERS: I know that. But point being is that progressives did vote against that for that reason. My view right now — and always has been — is that when you have 11 million undocumented people in this country, we need comprehensive immigration reform, we need a path toward citizenship, we need to take people out of the shadows.
O'MALLEY: And Juan Carlos — Juan Carlos...
LOPEZ: Secretary Clinton — Secretary Clinton, Governor O'Malley wants to open up Obamacare to millions of undocumented immigrants and their children, including almost 90,000 people right here in Nevada. Do you?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, I want to make sure every child gets health care. That's why I helped to create the Children's Health Insurance Program, and I want to support states that are expanding health care and including undocumented children and others.
I want to open up the opportunity for immigrants to be able to buy in to the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. I think to go beyond that, as I understand what Governor O'Malley has recommended, so that they would get the same subsidies.
I think that is — it raises so many issues. It would be very difficult to administer, it needs to be part of a comprehensive immigration reform, when we finally do get to it.
LOPEZ: Governor O'Malley?
O'MALLEY: Juan Carlos, I think what you've heard up here is some of the old thinking on immigration reform, and that's why it's gridlocked. We need to understand that our country is stronger in every generation by the arrival of new American immigrants. That is why I have put out a policy for comprehensive immigration reform, that is why I would go further than President Obama has on DACA, and DAPA.
I mean, we are a nation of immigrants, we are made stronger by immigrants. Do you think for a second that simply because somebody's standing in a broken que on naturalization they're not going to go to the hospital, and that care isn't going to fall on to our insurance rates? I am for a generous, compassionate America that says we're all in this together. We need comprehensive
COOPER: Senator Webb...
O'MALLEY: ...immigration reform. It'll make wages go up in America $250 for every year...
LOPEZ: Senator Webb, do you support the undocumented immigrants getting Obamacare?
WEBB: I wouldn't have a problem with that. Let me start by saying my wife is an immigrant. She was a refugee, her family escaped from Vietnam on a boat-- her entire extended family, after the communists took over, when hundreds of thousands of people were out there and thousands of them were dying. Went to two refugee camps, she never spoke English in her home, and she ended, as I said, graduating from Cornell Law School. That's not only American dream, that's a value that we have with a good immigration system in place. No country has — is a country without defining its borders. We need to resolve this issue. I actually introduced an amendment in the 2007 immigration bill...
LOPEZ: ...Thank you, Senator.
WEBB: ...Giving a pathway to citizenship to those people who had come here, and put down their roots, and met as a series of standards...
COOPER: ...Thank you, Senator.
WEBB: ...lost (ph) — I introduced that in 2007 — We need a comprehensive reform, and we need to be able to define our borders.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: I want to follow up because I think underneath Juan Carlos' important questions, there is such a difference between everything you're hearing here on this stage, and what we hear from the Republicans. [applause]
O'MALLEY: Here. Here.
CLINTON: Demonize hard-working immigrants who have insulted them. You know, I came to Las Vegas in, I think, May. Early may. Met with a group of DREAMers, I wish everybody in America could meet with this young people, to hear their stories, to know their incredible talent, their determination, and that's why I would go further...
CLINTON: ...than even the executive orders that President Obama has signed when I'm president.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, let me ask you. Two of your rivals from your left, Governor O'Malley, and Senator Sanders, want to provide instate college tuition to undocumented immigrants. Where do you stand on that?
CLINTON: My plan would support any state that takes that position, and would work with those states and encourage more states to do the same thing.
COOPER: So, on the record, you believe that undocumented immigrants should get instate college tuition.
CLINTON: If their states agree, then we want more states to do the same thing.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley?
O'MALLEY: Anderson, we actually did this in my state of Maryland. We passed... [applause]
O'MALLEY: We passed a state version of the DREAM Act...
O'MALLEY: ...And a lot of the xenophobes, the immigrant haters like some that we've heard like, Donald Trump, that carnival barker in the Republican party...
O'MALLEY: Tried to mischaracterize it as free tuition for illegal immigrants. But, we took our case to the people when it was petitioned to referendum, and we won with 58 percent of the vote. The more our children learn, the more they will earn, and that's true of children who have yet to be naturalized...
O'MALLEY: ...but will become American citizens...
COOPER: Senator Sanders, you talked about your record on the Veteran affairs committee. You served on that committee for the last eight years, including two years as its chairman while veterans died waiting for health care. You and Senator McCain ultimately addressed the issue with bi-partisan legislation. Why did it take 18 Inspector General reports, and a CNN investigation, and others, before you and your colleagues took action?
SANDERS: Well, I was chairman for two years, and when I was chairman we did take action. What we did is pass a $15 billion dollar piece of legislation which brought in many, many new doctors, and nurses into the V.A. so that veterans in this country could get the health care when they needed it, and not be on long waiting lines.
And, the other part of that legislation said that if a veteran is living more than 40 miles away from a V.A. facility, that veteran could get health care from the community health center, or the private sector. As a result of that legislation, we went further in than any time in recent history in improving health care for the men and women of this country who put their lives on the line to defend them.
COOPER: Governor Chafee, you and Hillary Clinton both voted for the Patriot Act which created the NSA surveillance program. You've emphasized civil liberties, privacy during your campaign. Aren't these two things in conflict?
CHAFEE: No, that was another 99 to one vote for the Patriot Act, and it was seen as at the time modernizing our ability to do what we've always done to tap phones which always required a warrant. And I voted for that.
COOPER: Do you regret that vote?
CHAFEE: No, no. As long as you're getting a warrant, I believe that under the Fourth Amendment, you should be able to do surveillance, but you need a warrant. That's what the Fourth Amendment says. And in the Patriot Act, section 215 started to get broadened too far. So I would be in favor of addressing and reforming section 215 of the Patriot Act.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, do you regret your vote on the Patriot Act?
CLINTON: No, I don't. I think that it was necessary to make sure that we were able after 9/11 to put in place the security that we needed. And it is true that it did require that there be a process. What happened, however, is that the Bush administration began to chip away at that process. And I began to speak out about their use of warrantless surveillance and the other behavior that they engaged in.
We always have to keep the balance of civil liberties, privacy and security. It's not easy in a democracy, but we have to keep it in mind.
COOPER: Senator — Senator Sanders, you're the only one on this stage who voted against the Patriot Act in 2001... [applause]
SANDERS: It was 99 to one and I was maybe the one. I don't know.
COOPER: ... and the reauthorization votes. Let me ask you, if elected, would you shut down the NSA surveillance program?
SANDERS: I'm sorry?
COOPER: Would you shut down the NSA surveillance program?
SANDERS: Absolutely. Of course.
COOPER: You would, point blank.
SANDERS: Well, I would shut down — make — I'd shut down what exists right now is that virtually every telephone call in this country ends up in a file at the NSA. That is unacceptable to me. But it's not just government surveillance. I think the government is involved in our e-mails; is involved in our websites. Corporate America is doing it as well.
If we are a free country, we have the right to be free. Yes, we have to defend ourselves against terrorism, but there are ways to do that without impinging on our constitutional rights and our privacy rights.
O'MALLEY (?): Anderson, the NSA...
COOPER: Governor Chafee, Edward Snowden, is he a traitor or a hero?
CHAFEE: No, I would bring him home. The courts have ruled that what he did — what he did was say the American...
COOPER: Bring him home, no jail time?
CHAFEE: ... the American government was acting illegally. That's what the federal courts have said; what Snowden did showed that the American government was acting illegally for the Fourth Amendment. So I would bring him home.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, hero or traitor?
CLINTON: He broke the laws of the United States. He could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.
COOPER: Should he do jail time?
ClINTON: In addition — in addition, he stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands. So I don't think he should be brought home without facing the music.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, Snowden? [applause]
O'MALLEY: Anderson, Snowden put a lot of Americans' lives at risk. Snowden broke the law. Whistleblowers do not run to Russia and try to get protection from Putin. If he really believes that, he should be back here.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, Edward Snowden?
SANDERS: I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people to the degree in which our civil liberties and our constitutional rights are being undermined.
COOPER: Is he a hero?
SANDERS: He did — he did break the law, and I think there should be a penalty to that. But I think what he did in educating us should be taken into consideration before he is (inaudible).
COOPER: Senator Webb, Edward Snowden?
WEBB: I — well, I — I would leave his ultimate judgment to the legal system. Here's what I do believe. We have a serious problem in terms of the collection of personal information in this country. And one of the things that I did during the FISA bill in 2007, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was introduce with Russ Feingold two amendments basically saying, "We understand the realities of how you have to collect this broad information in the Internet age, but after a certain period of time, you need to destroy the personal information that you have if people have not been brought — if criminal justice proceedings have not been brought against them."
We've got a vast data bank of information that is ripe for people with bad intentions to be able to use. And they need to be destroyed.
COOPER: Another — another question for each of you, starting with Governor Chafee.
Name the one thing — the one way that your administration would not be a third term of President Obama.
CHAFEE: Certainly, ending the wars. We've got to stop these wars. You have to have a new dynamic, a new paradigm. We just spent a half-billion dollars arming and training soldiers, the rebel soldiers in Syria. They quickly join the other side. We bombed the...
COOPER: President Obama's generals right now are suggesting keeping troops in Afghanistan after the time he wanted them pulled out. Would you keep them there?
CHAFEE: I'd like to finish my question — my answer.
And also we just bombed a hospital. We've had drone strikes that hit civilian weddings. So I would change how we — our approach to the Middle East. We need a new paradigm in the Middle East.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, how would you be different than President Obama's administration?
O'MALLEY: I would follow through on the promise that the American people thought we made as Democratic Party, to protect the Main Street economy from recklessness on Wall Street. I would push to separate out these too-big-to-jail, too-big-to-fail banks, and put in place Glass-Steagall, a modern Glass-Steagall that creates a firewall so that this wreckage of our economy can never happen again.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, how would you not be a third term of President Obama?
CLINTON: Well, I think that's pretty obvious. I think being the first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we've had up until this point, including President Obama.
COOPER: Is there a policy difference?
CLINTON: Well, there's a lot that I would like to do to build on the successes of President Obama, but also, as I'm laying out, to go beyond. And that's in my economic plans, how I would deal with the prescription drug companies, how I would deal with college, how I would deal with a full range of issues that I've been talking about throughout this campaign to go further.
COOPER: Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: I have a lot of respect for president Obama. I have worked with him time and time again on many, many issues. But here's where I do disagree. I believe that the power of corporate America, the power of Wall Street, the power of the drug companies, the power of the corporate media is so great that the only way we really transform America and do the things that the middle class and working class desperately need is through a political revolution when millions of people begin to come together and stand up and say: Our government is going to work for all of us, not just a handful of billionaires. [applause]
COOPER: Senator Webb, how would you not be a third term for Obama?
WEBB: I got a great deal of admiration and affection for Senator Sanders, but I — Bernie, I don't think the revolution's going to come. And I don't think the Congress is going to pay for a lot of this stuff. And if there would be a major difference between my administration and the Obama administration, it would be in the use of executive authority.
I came up as a committee counsel in the Congress, used to put dozens of bills through the House floor every year as a committee counsel on the Veterans Committee. I have a very strong feeling about how our federal system works and how we need to lead and energize the congressional process instead of allowing these divisions to continue to paralyze what we're doing. So I would lead — working with both parties in the Congress and working through them in the traditional way that our Constitution sets (ph).
COOPER: Senator Sanders, he cited you. You don't hear a lot of Democratic presidential candidates talking about revolution. What do you mean?
SANDERS: What I mean is that we need to have one of the larger voter turnouts in the world, not one of the lowest. We need to raise public consciousness. We need the American people to know what's going on in Washington in a way that today they do not know. [applause]
And when people come together in a way that does not exist now and are prepared to take on the big money interest, then we could bring the kind of change we need.
O'MALLEY: Anderson, I actually have talked about a revolution. What we need is a green energy revolution. We need to move America to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050 and create 5 million jobs along the way.
COOPER: And we want to — and we're going to talk more about climate change and environmental issues coming up. Some of the candidates have tried marijuana, as have pretty much — probably everybody in this room.
Others have not. Does that influence — does it influence their views on legalization? Find out that and others ahead.
COOPER: And welcome back to this CNN Democratic presidential debate. It has been quite a night so far. We are in the final block of this debate. All the candidates are back, which I'm very happy to see.
COOPER: It's a long story. Let's continue, shall we?
Secretary Clinton, welcome back.
CLINTON: Well, thank you.
CLINTON: You know, it does take me a little longer. That's all I can say.
COOPER: That's right. Secretary Clinton, Governor O'Malley says the presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth between two royal families. This year has been the year of the outsider in politics, just ask Bernie Sanders. Why should Democrats embrace an insider like yourself?
CLINTON: Well, I can't think of anything more of an outsider than electing the first woman president, but I'm not just running because I would be the first woman president. [applause]
CLINTON: I'm running because I have a lifetime of experience in getting results and fighting for people, fighting for kids, for women, for families, fighting to even the odds. And I know what it takes to get things done. I know how to find common ground and I know how to stand my ground. And I think we're going to need both of those in Washington to get anything that we're talking about up here accomplished.
So I'm very happy that I have both the commitment of a lifetime and the experience of a lifetime to bring together to offer the American people.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, do you want to tell Secretary Clinton why she shouldn't get the crown?
O'MALLEY: Well, actually, you know, we had this conversation. And I will share with you that I've traveled all around the country, Anderson, and there's two phrases I keep hearing again and again and again. And they're the phrases "new leadership" and "getting things done."
We cannot be this dissatisfied with our gridlocked national politics and an economy where 70 percent of us are earning the same or less than we were 12 years ago, and think that a resort to old names is going to move us forward.
I respect what Secretary Clinton and her husband have done for our country. But our country needs new leadership to move forward.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, you have to be able to respond, if you want.
CLINTON: Well, I would not ask anyone to vote for me based on my last name. I would ask them to listen to what I'm proposing, look at what I've accomplished in the Senate, as secretary of of state, and then draw your own conclusion.
I certainly am not campaigning to become president because my last name is Clinton. I'm campaigning because I think I have the right combination of what the country needs, at this point, and I think I can take the fight to the Republicans, because we cannot afford a Republican to succeed Barack Obama as president of the United States.
COOPER: (inaudible). [applause]
Senator Sanders, does she have the right stuff?
SANDERS: I think — I think that there is profound frustration all over this country with establishment politics. I am the only candidate running for president who is not a billionaire, who has raised substantial sums of money, and I do not have a super PAC. [applause]
I am not raising money from millionaires and billionaires, and in fact, tonight, in terms of what a political revolution is about, there are 4,000 house parties — 100,000 people in this country — watching this debate tonight who want real change in this country.
COOPER: we've got — we — a lot of questions we've got about climate change, and we're gonna go to Don Lemon. Don?
LEMON: All right. This one is for Martin O'Malley. Anderson, Governor O'Malley, this is from Anna Bettis from Tempe, Arizona. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: As a young person, I'm very concerned about climate change and how it will affect my future. As a presidential candidate, what will you do to address climate change?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Governor O'Malley, please tell Anna how you would protect the environment better than all the other candidates up on that stage.
Anna, I have put forward a plan — and I'm the only candidate, I believe, in either party to do this — to move America forward to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050.
We did not land a man on the moon with an all-of-the-above strategy. It was an intentional engineering challenge, and we solved it as a nation. And our nation must solve this one.
So I put forward the plan that would extend the investor tax credits for solar and for wind. If you go across Iowa, you see that 30 percent of their energy now comes from wind. We're here in Las Vegas, one of the most sustainable cities in America, doing important things in terms of green building, architecture and design.
We can get there as a nation, but it's going to require presidential leadership. And as president, I intend to sign as my very first order in office the — an order that moves us as a nation and dedicates our resources to solving this problem and moving us to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050.
O'MALLEY: We can do it.
COOPER: ...Governor O'Malley, thank you very much. [applause]
Senator Webb, you have a very different view than just about anybody else on this stage, and unlike a lot of Democrats. You're pro-coal, you're pro-offshore drilling, you're pro-Keystone pipeline. Are — again, are you — the question is, are you out of step with the Democratic party?
WEBB: Well, the — the question really is how are we going to solve energy problems here and in the global environment if you really want to address climate change?
And when I was in the Senate, I was an all-of-the-above energy voter. We introduced legislation to bring in alternate energy as well as nuclear power. I'm a strong proponent of nuclear power. It is safe, it is clean. And really, we are not going to solve climate change simply with the laws here.
We've done a good job in this country since 1970. If you look at China and India, they're the greatest polluters in the world. Fifteen out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in one of those two countries. We need to solve this in a global way. It's a global problem and I have been very strong on — on doing that. The — the agreements — the so-called agreements that we have had with China are illusory in terms of the immediate requirements of the — of the Chinese government itself.
So let's solve this problem in an international way, and then we really will have a — a way to address climate change.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, are you tougher on — on climate change than Secretary Clinton?
SANDERS: Well, I will tell you this. I believe — and Pope Francis made this point. This is a moral issue. The scientists are telling us that we need to move extremely boldly.
I am proud that, along with Senator Barbara Boxer, a few years ago, we introduced the first piece of climate change legislation which called for a tax on carbon.
And let me also tell you that nothing is gonna happen unless we are prepared to deal with campaign finance reform, because the fossil fuel industry is funding the Republican Party, which denies the reality of climate change... [applause]
...and certainly is not prepared to go forward aggressively.
This is a moral issue. We have got to be extremely aggressive in working with China, India, Russia.
COOPER: Senator — thank you, Senator.
SANDERS: The planet — the future of the planet is at stake.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, I want you to be able to respond, then I'm gonna go to (ph) (inaudible).
CLINTON: Well, that — that's exactly what I've been doing. When we met in Copenhagen in 2009 and, literally, President Obama and I were hunting for the Chinese, going throughout this huge convention center, because we knew we had to get them to agree to something. Because there will be no effective efforts against climate change unless China and India join with the rest of the world.
They told us they'd left for the airport; we found out they were having a secret meeting. We marched up, we broke in, we said, "We've been looking all over for you. Let's sit down and talk about what we need to do." And we did come up with the first international agreement that China has signed.
Thanks to President Obama's leadership, it's now gone much further.
COOPER: Thank you.
CLINTON: And I do think that the bilateral agreement that President Obama made with the Chinese was significant. Now, it needs to go further, and there will be an international meeting at the end of this year, and we must get verifiable commitments to fight climate change from every country gathered there.
COOPER: Dana Bash?
BASH: Secretary Clinton, you now support mandated paid family leave.
BASH: Carly Fiorina, the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company, argues, if the government requires paid leave, it will force small businesses to, quote, "hire fewer people and create fewer jobs." What do you say not only to Carly Fiorina, but also a small-business owner out there who says, you know, I like this idea, but I just can't afford it?
CLINTON: Well, I'm surprised she says that, because California has had a paid leave program for a number of years. And it's...
BASH: It's on the federal level.
CLINTON: Well, but all — well, on a state level, a state as big as many countries in the world. And it has not had the ill effects that the Republicans are always saying it will have. And I think this is — this is typical Republican scare tactics. We can design a system and pay for it that does not put the burden on small businesses.
I remember as a young mother, you know, having a baby wake up who was sick and I'm supposed to be in court, because I was practicing law. I know what it's like. And I think we need to recognize the incredible challenges that so many parents face, particularly working moms.
I see my good friend, Senator Gillibrand, in the front row. She's been a champion of this. We need to get a consensus through this campaign, which is why I'm talking about it everywhere I go, and we need to join the rest of the advanced world in having it.
BASH: But Secretary — Secretary Clinton, even many people who agree with you might say, look, this is very hard to do, especially in today's day and age. There are so many people who say, "Really? Another government program? Is that what you're proposing? And at the expense of taxpayer money?"
CLINTON: Well, look, you know, when people say that — it's always the Republicans or their sympathizers who say, "You can't have paid leave, you can't provide health care." They don't mind having big government to interfere with a woman's right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood. They're fine with big government when it comes to that. I'm sick of it. [applause]
You know, we can do these things. [applause]
We should not be paralyzed — we should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain, "big government this, big government that," that except for what they want to impose on the American people. I know we can afford it, because we're going to make the wealthy pay for it. That is the way to get it done.
COOPER: Thank you. Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: Yeah, Dana, here's the point: Every other major country on Earth, every one, including some small countries, say that when a mother has a baby, she should stay home with that baby. We are the only major country. That is an international embarrassment that we do not provide family — paid family and medical leave. [applause]
Second of all, the secretary is right. Republicans tell us we can't do anything except give tax breaks to billionaires and cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That's not what the American people want.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley?
O'MALLEY: Anderson, in our state, we actually expanded family leave. And I have to agree with Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders. Look, the genius of our nation is that we find ways in every generation to include more of our people more fully in the economic life of our country, and we need to do that for our families, and especially so that women aren't penalized in having to drop out of the workforce. My wife, Katie, is here with our four kids. And, man, that was a juggle when we had little kids and — and keeping jobs and moving forwards. We would be a stronger nation economically if we had paid family leave.
COOPER: Governor, thank you. The issue now, particularly in this state, is recreational marijuana. I want to go to Juan Carlos Lopez.
LOPEZ: Thank you, Anderson.
Senator Sanders, right here in Nevada, there will be a measure to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2016 ballot. You've said you smoked marijuana twice; it didn't quite work for you. If you were a Nevada resident, how would you vote?
SANDERS: I suspect I would vote yes. [applause]
And I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana. I think we have to think through this war on drugs... [applause] ...which has done an enormous amount of damage. We need to rethink our criminal justice system, we we've got a lot of work to do in that area.
O'MALLEY: Juan Carlos? [applause]
LOPEZ: Secretary Clinton, you told Christiane Amanpour you didn't smoke pot when you were young, and you're not going to start now. [laughter]
When asked about legalizing recreational marijuana, you told her let's wait and see how it plays out in Colorado and Washington. It's been more than a year since you've said that. Are you ready to take a position tonight?
CLINTON: No. I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we're going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.
So, I think we're just at the beginning, but I agree completely with the idea that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana. Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don't have this terrible result that Senator Sanders was talking about where we have a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, thank you. I want to go to Don Lemon with another Facebook question.
LEMON: Alright, Anderson. This is for Senator Sanders, OK? This is from Carrie (ph) Kang (ph) from Manassas, Virginia, would like would like to ask the Senator, "President Obama has had a difficult time getting Republicans to compromise on just about every agenda. How will you approach this going forward, and will it be any different?"
SANDERS: The Republican party, since I've been in the Senate, and since President Obama has been in office, has played a terrible, terrible role of being total obstructionists. Every effort that he has made, that some of us have made, they have said no, no, no.
Now, in my view, the only way we can take on the right wing republicans who are, by the way, I hope will not continue to control the Senate and the House when one of us elected President... [applause] ...But the only way we can get things done is by having millions of people coming together. If we want free tuition at public colleges and universities, millions of young people are going to have to demand it, and give the Republicans an offer they can't refuse.
If we want to raise the minimum wage to $15 bucks an hour, workers are going to have to come together and look the Republicans in the eye, and say, "We know what's going on. You vote against us, you are out of your job." [applause]
COOPER: We're going to hear from all the candidates coming up. We're going to take a short break. More from the candidates in a moment. [applause]
COOPER: And welcome back to the final round of the CNN Democratic presidential debate.
This is a question to each of you. Each of you, by the way, are going to have closing statements to make. Each of you will have 90 seconds. But a final question to each of you. If you can, just try to — 15 seconds if you can.
Governor Chafee, Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, "I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made." You've all made a few people upset over your political careers. Which enemy are you most proud of? [laughter]
CHAFEE: I guess the coal lobby. I've worked hard for climate change and I want to work with the coal lobby. But in my time in the Senate, tried to bring them to the table so that we could address carbon dioxide. I'm proud to be at odds with the coal lobby.
COOPER: Governor O'Malley?
O'MALLEY: The National Rifle Association. [applause]
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians. [laughter]
Probably the Republicans. [laughter and applause]
COOPER: Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: As someone who has taken on probably every special interest that there is in Washington, I would lump Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry at the top of my life of people who do not like me. [applause]
COOPER: Senator Webb?
WEBB: I'd have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he's not around right now to talk to.
COOPER: All right. Time for closing statements. Each of you will have 90 seconds.
Governor Chafee, let's begin with you.
CHAFEE: Thank you, Anderson. Thank you, CNN. And thank you, Facebook, for sponsoring this debate.
America has many challenges confronting us — ending the perpetual wars, addressing climate change, addressing income inequality, funding education, funding infrastructure, funding healthcare, helping black Americans, helping Native Americans. We have many challenges. Who is best able to confront these challenges?
I've served in government at many levels. I know what it's like to solve problems at the local level because I did it as mayor. I know how to get legislation passed through Congress because I did it as a senator. I know how to turn around a state because I did as governor of Rhode Island.
But what I'm most proud of is that in 30 years of public service, I have had no scandals. I have high ethical standards. And what I'm most proud of is my judgment, particularly in the Iraq war vote. There was a lot of pressure — political pressure, public pressure. But I did my homework and I did not believe that the evidence was there that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And we live now with the consequences.
So that kind of judgment is what we want in a president going forward. And I'm running for president to end the wars. I want to be the peacemaker. I am a proven peacemaker. Please go to Chafee 2016 to learn more about me. Thank you. [applause]
COOPER: Governor Chafee, thank you very much. Senator Webb, your final statement for 90 seconds.
WEBB: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, it's been a pleasure to be with you tonight. You've heard a lot of promises up here; you've heard a lot of rhetoric. They all seem to happen during campaigns, and then once the election's over, people start from scratch again and try to get things done.
One of the things I can promise you, if you look at my record, in and out of government, is that I've always been willing to take on a complicated, something unpopular issues, and work them through, the complex issues, and work them through in order to have the solution.
We did it with criminal justice reform. We've had a lot of discussion here about criminal justice reform. We did it in other ways. We need a national political strategy for our economy, for our social policy, for social justice, and, by the way, for how you run and manage the most complex bureaucracy in the world, which is the federal government.
I know how to lead. I did it in Vietnam, I did it in the Pentagon, I did it in the Senate, and if you will help me overcome this cavalcade of — of financial irregularities and money that is poisoning our political process, I am ready to do that for you in the White House.
COOPER: Senator Webb, thank you very much.
Governor O'Malley, you have 90 seconds.
O'MALLEY: Anderson, thank you.
I am very, very grateful to have been able to be on this stage with this distinguished group of candidates tonight. And what you heard tonight, Anderson, was a very, very — and all of you watching at home — was a very, very different debate than from the sort of debate you heard from the two presidential Republican debates. [applause]
On this stage — on this stage, you didn't hear anyone denigrate women, you didn't hear anyone make racist comments about new American immigrants, you didn't hear anyone speak ill of another American because of their religious belief.
What you heard instead on this stage tonight was an honest search for the answers that will move our country forward, to move us to a 100 percent clean electric energy grid by 2050, to take the actions that we have always taken as Americans so that we can actually attack injustice in our country, employ more of our people, rebuild our cities and towns, educate our children at higher and better levels, and include more of our people in the economic, social, and political life of our country.
I truly believe that we are standing on the threshold of a new era of American progress. Unless you've become discouraged about our gridlock in Congress, talk to our young people under 30, because you'll never find among them people that want to bash immigrants or people that want to deny rights to gay couples. [applause]
That tells me we are moving to a more connected, generous, and compassionate place, and we need to speak to the goodness within our country. [applause]
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, thank you very much.
Senator Sanders, final, closing thoughts, 90 seconds.
SANDERS: This is a great country, but we have many, many serious problems. We should not be the country that has the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country and more wealth and income inequality than any other country.
We should not be the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee health care to all of our people as a right of citizenship and we should not be the only major country that does not provide medical and — and parental leave — family and parental leave to all of our families.
Now, at the end of our day, here is the truth that very few candidates will say, is that nobody up here, certainly no Republican, can address the major crises facing our country unless millions of people begin to stand up to the billionaire class that has so much power over our economy and our political life.
Jim Webb is right: Money is pouring in to this campaign through super PACs. We are doing it the old-fashioned way: 650,000 individual contributions. And if people want to help us out, BernieSanders.com. We are averaging $30 bucks apiece. We would appreciate your help. [applause]
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Thank you very much, Anderson. And thanks to all the viewers who tuned in tonight.
I think what you did see is that, in this debate, we tried to deal with some of the very tough issues facing our country. That's in stark contrast to the Republicans who are currently running for president.
What you have to ask yourself is: Who amongst us has the vision for actually making the changes that are going to improve the lives of the American people? Who has the tenacity and the ability and the proven track record of getting that done?
Now, I revere my late mother, and she gave me a lot of good advice. But one of the best pieces of advice she gave me was, you know, the issue is not whether or not you get knocked down. It's whether you get back up.
America's been knocked down. That Great Recession, 9 million people lost their jobs, 5 million lost their homes, $13 trillion in wealth disappeared. And although we've made progress, we're standing but not running the way America needs to.
My mission as president will be to raise incomes for hard-working middle-class families and to make sure that we get back to the basic bargain I was raised with: If you work hard and you do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead.
Please join me in this campaign. Please come and make it clear that America's best days are still ahead. Thank you very much. [applause]
COOPER: Well, that does it for this Democratic presidential debate. On behalf of everyone at CNN, we want to thank the candidates, our debate partners at Facebook, the Wynn Resort, and the Democratic National Committee. Thanks also to Dana Bash, Juan Carlos Lopez, and Don Lemon. We'll be back in Las Vegas December 15th, when CNN hosts our next Republican presidential debate. That will be moderated by my colleague, Wolf Blitzer.
Presidential Candidate Debates, Democratic Candidates Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/311256