Democratic Candidates Debate in Los Angeles, California
Former Vice President Jospeh Biden;
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (South Bend, IN);
Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN);
Senator Bernie Sanders (VT);
Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA); and
Tim Alberta (Politico);
Yamiche Alcindor (PBS);
Amna Nawaz (PBS); and
Judy Woodruff (PBS)
WOODRUFF: Welcome back.
A quick reminder to have rules for this debate. Each candidate has one minute and 15 seconds to answer direct questions from the moderators, and 45 seconds to answer rebuttal and follow-up questions.
Tonight's podium order on the stage was determined by an average of recent polls.
And let's begin.
To the candidates -- last night, at this hour, the House of Representatives voted for only the third time in American history to impeach a president. Every one of you was in favor of this action. But unlike 1974 and President Nixon, congressional Democrats have, so far, not convinced a strong majority of Americans to support impeachment of President Trump.
Why do you think that is, and what can you say or do differently in the coming weeks to persuade more Americans that this is the right thing to do?
I want to ask all of you to respond, but to begin with Vice President Biden.
BIDEN: You know, Judy, it was a constitutional necessity for the House to act as it did. And, you know, Trump's response to suggest that only half of the American people want to see him thrown out of office now, I find, is dumbing down the presidency beyond what I even thought he would do. You know, is it any wonder that if you look at the international polling that's been done, that the Chinese leader is rated above American -- the American president or that Vladimir Putin congratulated him saying, stand fast and, in fact, it was a mistake to impeach him.
You know, we need to restore the integrity of the presidency, the office of the presidency, and it's about time we get that underway. My job and I think the job of all of us up here is to, in fact -- well, that's not true, some are going to actually be voting in the Senate -- but my job is just to go out and make the case why he doesn't deserve to be president of the United States for another four years.
WOODRUFF: Senator Sanders, why do you think more people are not in support of impeachment and what else can you do?
SANDERS: Well, Judy, what I would say is that we have a president who is a pathological liar. We have a president who is running the most corrupt administration in the modern history of this country, and we have a president who is a fraud, because during his campaign, he told working people one thing, and he ended up doing something else.
I believe, and I will personally be doing this in the coming weeks and months, is making the case that we have a president ho has sold out the working families of this country, who wants to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid after he promised he would not do that, and who has documentedly lied thousands of times since he is president.
And the case is to be made is -- yes, certainly, I disagree with Trump on virtually all of his policies, but what conservatives, I think, understand is that we cannot have a president with that temperament who is dishonoring the presidency of the United States.
WOODRUFF: Senator Warren, why do you think -- [applause] -- why do you think more Americans don't agree that this is the right thing to do? And what more can you say?
WARREN: So, I see this as a constitutional moment. Last night, the president was impeached, and everyone now in the Senate who has taken a constitutional oath to uphold our Constitution -- and that doesn't mean loyalty to an individual, it doesn't mean loyalty to a political party, it means loyalty to our country -- and that vote will play out over the next several weeks.
But the way I see this is we've now seen the impact of corruption, and that's what's clearly on the stage in 2020, is how we are going to run against the most corrupt president in living history.
You know, this president has made corruption originally his argument that he would drain the swamp, and, yet, he came to Washington, broke that promise, and has done everything he can for the wealthy and the well-connected, from tax breaks to ambassadorships.
We have to prosecute the case against him, and that means we need a candidate for president who can draw the sharpest distinction between the corruption of the Trump administration and a Democrat who is willing to get out and fight not for the wealthy and well-connected but to fight for everyone else. That's why I'm in this race. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Senator Klobuchar -- Senator Klobuchar, what argument can you make to persuade more Americans this is the right thing?
KLOBUCHAR: Let me make the case to the American people. As a wise judge said, the president is not king in America, the law is king. And what James Madison once said when he was speaking out at the Constitutional Convention -- and, by the way, I think he's a pretty good size for a president, he was five-foot-four. [laughter]
And what he said, he said the reason that we have these impeachment articles in the Constitution, that the provisions are in there, is because he feared that a president would betray the trust of the American people for a foreign power. That is what happened here.
Watergate -- this is a global Watergate. In the case of Watergate, a paranoid president facing election looked for dirt on a political opponent. He did it by getting people to break in. This president did it by calling a foreign leader to look for dirt on a political opponent.
And I would make this case: as we face this trial in the Senate, if the president claims that he is so innocent, then why doesn't he have all the presidents men testify? Richard Nixon had his top people testify. [applause]
We should be hearing from Mulvaney, who is the one under oath. Witnesses have said that Mulvaney is the one that said, OK, we're going to withhold this aid to a fledgling democracy to get dirt on a political opponent.
We should hear from Bolton who told his own staff to go see a lawyer after they met with the president. That is the case.
If President Trump thinks he should not be impeached, he should not be scared to put forward his own witnesses.
WOODRUFF: Mayor Buttigieg -- [applause] -- Mayor Buttigieg, what additional argument can you make to the American people?
BUTTIGIEG: At the end of the day, this is beyond public opinions. This is beyond polls. This is beyond politics.
The president left the House with no choice, and I think a lot of us are watching this process, watching Washington go through the motions, and not expecting much but a foregone conclusion when it gets to the Senate.
We cannot give in to that sense of helplessness, because that's what they want. They want us to be taken in by that cynicism to where we give up on the process altogether. Meanwhile, their allies are laughing all the way to the bank, as we see policies that let giant corporations -- some of which made billions in profits, pay not just zero, but as we've recently learned negative taxes -- all the while they block policies that would actually boost wages for working Americans.
Here's the good news: it's up to us. No matter what happens in the Senate, it is up to us in 2020. This is our chance to refuse to be taken in by the helplessness, to refuse and reject the cynicism.
That is what this presidential election is about. It is what my campaign is about: our opportunity in 2020, no matter what happens in Washington, as a country, to change the course of this nation for the better. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Mr. Yang, what more -- [applause]
YANG: I'm over here.
WOODRUFF:: Mr. Yang, what more can you say to the American people?
YANG: Judy --
WOODRUFF: I'm sorry, Mr. Steyer. I'm sorry.
STEYER: Well, let me remind everyone that I'm the person who started the Need to Impeach Movement over two years ago because I -- [applause] -- because I believe what counts here is actually the American people's opinion. Over eight and a half million signed that petition and dragged Washington into the idea that, actually, the most corrupt president in American history -- it's not a question of political expediency, it's not a question of political tactics, it's a question of right and wrong.
So, now, when we look at what's going on, I actually agree with Senator Klobuchar. The question here is, if we want the American people to understand what's going on, we need to have the administration officials testify on TV so we can judge.
The court that counts here is the court of public opinion. The American people deserve to see the truth of these administration officials testifying under oath so we can make up our mind. If we want Republican senators to do the right thing, we need their constituents to see the truth on TV and tell them, get rid of this guy or we'll get rid of you.
That's what I believe in. I'm a believer in the grassroots as an outsider, getting the American people's voice to count. That's who I trust and that's who I trust now.
WOODRUFF: Mr. Yang? [applause]
YANG: It's clear why Americans can't agree on impeachment, we're getting news from different sources, and it's making it hard for us even to agree on basic facts. Congressional approval rating, last I checked, was something like 17 percent, and Americans don't trust the media networks to tell them the truth.
The media networks didn't do us any favors by missing a reason why Donald Trump became our president in the first place. If your turn on cable network news today, you would think he's our president because of some combination of Russia, racism, Facebook, Hillary Clinton, and emails all mixed together.
But Americans around the country know different. We blasted away 4 million manufacturing jobs that were primarily based in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri. I just left Iowa -- we blasted 40,000 manufacturing jobs there.
The more we act like Donald Trump is the cause of all our problems, the more Americans lose trust that we can actually see what's going on in our communities and solve those problems.
What we have to do is we have to stop being obsessed over impeachment, which, unfortunately, strikes many Americans like a ball game where you know what the score is going to be, and actually start digging in and solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place. We have to take every opportunity to present a new positive vision for the country, a new way forward to help beat him in 2020 because, make no mistake, he'll be there at the ballot box for us to defeat.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Mr. Yang. [applause]
Let's turn now to an issue that is on the minds of all Americans, and that is the economy.
Senator Sanders, today, the House of Representatives voted for a new bipartisan trade agreement among the United States, Canada and Mexico. It was supported by union-friendly leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and big labor groups like the AFL-CIO. They say it is going to be a big job creator.
Senator, my question is, will you support this deal? And, if not, why not?
SANDERS: Judy, you're talking to somebody who, unlike some of my colleagues here, voted against NAFTA, voted against PNTR with China -- two agreements that cost us over 4 million decent-paying jobs.
Now, I don't agree with the -- your statement that people think this is going to be a great job creator. This is a modest improvement over what we have right now. It would allow, hopefully, Mexican workers to organize into unions, independent unions and be able to negotiate decent contracts.
But at the end of the day, in my view, it is not going to stop outsourcing. It is not going to stop corporations from moving to Mexico, where manufacturing workers make less than $2 an hour.
What we need is a trade policy that stands up for workers, stands up for farmers. And, by the way, the word "climate change," to the best of my knowledge, is not discussed in this new NAFTA agreement at all, which is an outrage. So, no, I will not be voting for this agreement, although it makes some modest improvements.
WOODRUFF: Senator Klobuchar?
KLOBUCHAR: I have a different view. I'll go with my friend, Sherrod Brown, who has voted against every trade agreement that's come in front of him, and he's voting for this, and I am, too.
And the reason I am voting for it is that I believe that we have a change with this agreement. I would not have voted for the agreement that President Trump put forward, but we've got better labor standards, better environmental standards, and a better deal when it comes to the pharmaceutical provision, which I also opposed.
Ninety-five percent of our customers are outside of our borders. And we have to make sure that we have trade agreements that are more fair, because if we can encourage work made in America, every time you hold something in your hand that says "Made in America," it is the ingenuity of our workers, it is the quality of a product, it is equality of our workers, and it is the hopes and dreams of the American people.
I think this agreement -- while Senator Sanders is correct, there are some issues with it -- is much better than the one originally proposed. And for those farmers in the Midwest and for those people that have been hurt by the fact that we will not have a trade segment with Mexico and with Canada and the United States, I think that this is a much better deal.
WOODRUFF: All right, we can pull some of your -- I see some other hands up. I want to move to the next question, and you can bring in, I think, your points with this.
This one I'm going to initially address to Vice President Biden, and that is the overall U.S. economy right now looks strong. The unemployment rate is at historic lows. Unemployment among African-Americans is down. The markets are booming. Wages, while not growing as much as many would like, they're still doing about as well as they were in the Obama-Biden era.
My question to you, Mr. Vice President, is what is your argument to the voter watching this debate tonight who may not like everything President Trump does but they really like this economy and they don't know why they should make a change.
BIDEN: Well, I don't think they really do like the economy. Go back and talk to the old neighborhoods and middle-class neighborhoods you grew up in. The middle class is getting killed. The middle class is getting crushed. And the working class has no way up as a consequence of that.
You have, for example, farmers in the Midwest, 40 percent of them couldn't pay their bills last year. You have most Americans, if they received a bill for $400 or more, they'd have to sell something or borrow the money.
The middle class is not as behind the eight ball. We have to make sure that they have an even shot. We have to eliminate a significant number of these god-awful tax cuts that were given to the very wealthy. We have to invest in education. We have to invest in health care. We have to invest in those things that make a difference in the lives of middle-class people so they can maintain their standard of living.
That's not being done. And the idea that we're growing -- we're not growing. The wealthy, very wealthy are growing. Ordinary people are not growing. They are not happy with where they are. And that's why we must change this presidency now. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Mayor Buttigieg, is that your -- is that your assessment?
BUTTIGIEG: Yes. Where I live, folks aren't measuring the economy by how the Dow Jones is looking. They're measuring the economy by how they're doing. When you're doing the bills at the end of the month at your kitchen table, and you find that even if your wages have gone up, it's not nearly going as fast as the cost of health and housing.
This economy is not working for most of us, for the middle class, and -- I know you're only ever supposed to say middle class and not poor in politics, but we've got to talk about poverty in this country. There is not one county in the United States of America where someone working full-time at the minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment. In most places, not even a one-bedroom apartment.
The biggest problem in our economy is simple: People are not getting paid enough. That is not the result of some mysterious cosmic force. It's the result of bad policy. And we've got to change it by raising wages and empowering workers. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Mr. Yang? Mr. Yang?
YANG: GDP and corporate profits are at record highs in America today. Also at record highs? Depression, financial insecurity, student loan debt. [applause]
Even suicides and drug overdoses. It has gotten so bad that our life expectancy as a country has declined for the last three years because suicides and drug overdoses have overtaken vehicle deaths for the first time in American history.
The fact is, this unemployment rate and GDP have very little relationship with people's lived experience on the ground. If you're a recent college graduate, you have a 40 percent chance of doing a job that doesn't require a college degree. That doesn't show up in the headline unemployment rate, nor does all of the families that are working two or three jobs to get by. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Senator Warren, you have your hand up.
WARREN: I do.
WOODRUFF: And I have a question for you.
WARREN: Well, I want to answer this question.
WOODRUFF: Go ahead. Go ahead.
WARREN: Because here's the problem. I'm proud to stand on a stage with Democrats who understand that a rise in GDP, rise in corporate profits is not being felt by millions of families across this country. I'm proud to stand on a stage with people who see that America's middle class is being hollowed out and that working families and poor people are being left behind.
What we need to talk about, though, is why that has happened. And the answer is we've got a government that works great for those with money and doesn't work for much of anyone else. We have a government that works great for giant drug companies, just not for someone trying to fill a prescription. Works great for people who want to make money on private prisons and private detention centers at our border, just not for the people whose lives are torn apart.
Works great for giant oil companies that want to drill everywhere, but not for the rest of us who see climate change bearing down upon us. [applause]
And when you see a government that works great for the wealthy and the well-connected and for no one else, that is corruption, pure and simple. And we need to call it out for what it is. [applause]
WOODRUFF: I want -- I want, Senator Sanders, if you would, a brief response, and then I have another question.
SANDERS: Look, here's the response. Trump goes around saying the economy is doing great. Do you know what real inflation accounted for wages went up last year? 1.1 percent. That ain't great.
Tonight, while three people own more wealth than the bottom half of America, 500,000 Americans, including 30,000 veterans, are sleeping out on the streets. Today in America, we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth, more income and wealth inequality than since the 1920s. We need an economy that works for working families, not just the 1 percent. That is what our campaign is about. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Senator Warren, I have a question for you. Every candidate on the stage has proposed tax increases on the wealthy. But you have especially ambitious plans that, apart from health care, would hike taxes an additional $8 trillion over the decade, the biggest tax increase since World War II. How do you answer top economists who say taxes of this magnitude would stifle growth and investment?
WARREN: Oh, they're just wrong. [applause]
Let's start with a wealth tax. The idea of a two-cent tax on the great fortunes in this country, $50 million and above. For two cents, what can we do? We can invest in the rest of America. We can provide universal childcare, early childhood education for every baby in this country, age 0 to 5, universal pre-K for every 3-year-old and 4-year-old, and raise the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher.
We can do even more for our public schools, for college graduates. We can cancel student loan debt. But think about the economic impact of that. You leave two cents with the billionaires, they're not eating more pizzas, they're not buying more cars. We invest that 2 percent in early childhood education and childcare, that means those babies get top-notch care. It means their mamas can finish their education. It means their mamas and their daddies can take on real jobs, harder jobs, longer hours.
WARREN: We can increase productivity in this country. And we can start building this economy from the ground up. That's how we build it in small towns. That's how we build it in rural America. And that's how we built it in urban America. An economy that works, not for Wall Street, but that works for Main Street.
WOODRUFF: Brief answers -- brief responses from Mr. Steyer and Mr. Buttigieg. [applause]
STEYER: So let me say that I agree with Senator Warren in much of what she says. I've been for a wealth tax for over a year. I'm in favor of undoing all the tax breaks for rich people and big corporations that this administration has put through. [applause]
And in addition, I've talked about equilibrating the taxes on passive investment income, which would allow us to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans by 10 percent.
But there's something else going on here that I think is really important, and that's this. We know Mr. Trump is going to run on the economy. I built a business over 30 years from scratch. We're going to have to take him on, on the economy in terms of growth, as well as economic justice. We're going to have to be able to talk about growth, prosperity across the board for everyone in America.
My experience building a business, understanding how to make that happen, means I can go toe-to-toe with Mr. Trump and take him down on the economy and expose him as a fraud and a failure. And I think that's different from the other people on this stage. I think we need a different, unconventional way of attacking a different, unconventional president who actually went after the best-prepared candidate in American history and beat her.
WOODRUFF: Mayor Buttigieg?
BUTTIGIEG: We're also being -- right now, I think we're being offered a false choice that you either have to go all the way to the extreme or it's business as usual. Yes, we must deliver big ideas and, yes, taxes on wealthy individuals and on corporations are going to have to go up.
We can also be smart about the promises we're making, make sure they're promises that we can keep without the kind of taxation that economists tell us could hurt the economy.
It's why, for example, I've proposed that we make college free for 80 percent of Americans. But it doesn't have to be free for the top. If you're in that top 10 percent, how about you pay your own tuition and we save those dollars for something else that we could spend them on that would make a big difference, whether it's infrastructure, childcare, housing, health?
On issue after issue, we've got to break out of the Washington mindset that measures the bigness of an idea by how many trillions of dollars it adds to the budget or the boldness of an idea by how many fellow Americans it can antagonize.
WOODRUFF: We're going to take a short break and we'll be right back in two minutes with questions from my fellow moderators.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back to the PBS NewsHour/Politico Democratic presidential debate. The next question is from Tim Alberta of Politico.
ALBERTA: Thanks, Judy. Candidates, good evening. We're going to talk about climate now. Senator Klobuchar, many scientists say that even if the U.S. reduced its carbon footprint to zero by the year 2050, the damage will have been done, that climate change will have made certain places in the U.S. unlivable.
So knowing this, would you support a new federal program to subsidize the relocation of American families and businesses away from places like Miami or Paradise, California, perhaps, Davenport, Iowa, because we know these places are going to be hit time and time again?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I don't -- I very much hope we're not going to have to relocate entire cities, but we will probably have to relocate some individual residents.
And the problem right now is that this climate change is an existential crisis. And you are seeing it here in California with the fires that you just had. You saw it in Northern California, as was mentioned with Paradise. And the most moving video from that to me was the 30-second video of that dad driving his little girl through the lapping fires with his neighborhood burning behind him and singing to her to calm her down.
We cannot wait to act. There is an Ojibway saying that great leaders make decisions not for this generation, but seven generations from now. This president doesn't keep his decisions for seven minutes. [applause]
So what I think we need to do, get back into the international climate change agreement. I will do that on day one. On day two, bring back the clean power rules. On day three, the gas mileage standards. I see the governor of California, who's been working so hard to get those done, defied every step of the way by the Trump administration. And then introduce sweeping legislation to put a price on carbon and build a fridge to the next century, which means we must upgrade our buildings and our building standards.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.
Mr. Steyer, would you support such a new federal program, again, to help subsidize the relocation of these families?
STEYER: Look, I am hoping that we, in fact, will do what I'm suggesting, which is declare a state of emergency on day one of my presidency. I have made this -- I believe I'm the only person here who will say unequivocally this is my number-one priority.
I know that we have to deal with this crisis. I know that we have to deal with it from the standpoint of environmental justice. I've been working on this for more than a decade. I've taken on oil companies and beaten them on environmental laws. I've pushed clean energy across this country. I've prevented pipelines and I've prevented fossil fuel plants.
But what I know is this: Not only can we clear up the air and water in the black and brown communities where our pollution is concentrated, this is also the opportunity to create literally millions of middle-class union jobs, well-paid, across the United States of America.
Our biggest crisis is our biggest opportunity. And if we don't declare a state of emergency on day one, I don't understand how we go to the people around the world to lead the coalition that has to happen and that only America can lead.
Look, this is a generational question. I have a lot of respect for the people on this stage. I know everybody is worried about this. But, for instance, I would call on Mayor Buttigieg to prioritize this higher because the people in his generation understand that this is a crisis that we have to go on right now, but it's also...
ALBERTA: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: ... the greatest opportunity to rebuild and reinvent America.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Mr. Steyer. Mr. Buttigieg, 45 seconds to respond. [applause]
BUTTIGIEG: Well, I've made clear that this will be a topic of day one action. And this is not theoretical for me. I live in one of those river cities that you're talking about. Not only that, I live right by the river. My neighborhood flooded in the second of two once in a millennium floods that we had in two years. Do the math on that. So I know what's at stake.
And it's why I insist that we act with a carbon tax and dividend with massive increases in renewable research, on renewable energy, energy storage, and carbon storage. But bigger than that, we have to summon the energies of the entire country to deal with this.
I've seen politicians in Washington saying the right thing about climate change as long as I've been alive, all these plans we have to get carbon neutral by 2050. And I think most or all of us have one. Their impact is multiplied by zero unless something actually gets done.
ALBERTA: We'd like to switch...
BUTTIGIEG: And that is why I want to make sure that our vision for climate includes people from the autoworker down the block from me in South Bend to a farmer a few minutes away so that they understand that we are asking, recruiting them to be part of the solution, not beating them over the head and telling them they're part of the problem.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. We'd like to switch gears slightly.
Vice President Biden, I'd like to ask you. Three consecutive American presidents have enjoyed stints of explosive economic growth due to a boom in oil and natural gas production. As president, would you be willing to sacrifice some of that growth, even knowing potentially that it could displace thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of blue-collar workers in the interest of transitioning to that greener economy?
BIDEN: The answer is yes. The answer is yes, because the opportunity -- the opportunity for those workers to transition to high-paying jobs, as Tom said, is real. We're the only country in the world that's ever taken great, great crises and turned them into enormous opportunities.
I've met with the union leaders. For example, we should, in fact, be making that -- making sure right now that every new building built is energy contained, that it doesn't leak energy, that, in fact -- we should be providing tax credits for people to be able to make their homes turn to solar power, where -- there's all kinds of folks out here, right here in California, who are now on the verge of having batteries that are about the size of the top of this podium that you can store energy when, in fact, the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining.
We have enormous opportunities. For example, you talk about, would we relocate people who, in fact, were in a position where they lost their home? We have to not rebuild to the standard that existed before when we talk about when we come in and help people. We have to rebuild with the standard that exists today.
For example, we shouldn't build another new highway in America that doesn't have charging stations on it. We have an opportunity to put 550,000 charging stations so that we own the electrical vehicle market, creating millions of jobs for people installing them, as well as making sure that we own the electric vehicle market. There are so many things we can do, and we have to make sure we explain it to those people who are displaced, that their skills are going to be needed for the new opportunities.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Vice President Biden. [applause]
SANDERS: Tim, in all due respect, your question misses the mark. It is not an issue of relocating people in towns. The issue now is whether we save the planet for our children and our grandchildren. [applause]
The issue, as you should know, what the scientists are telling us is they have underestimated the threat and severity of climate change. You're talking about the Paris agreement, that's fine. Ain't enough. We have got to -- and I've introduced legislation to do this -- declare a national emergency.
The United States has got to lead the world. And maybe, just maybe, instead of spending $1.8 trillion a year globally on weapons of destruction, maybe an American president, i.e. Bernie Sanders, can lead the world, instead of spending money to kill each other, maybe we pool our resources and fight our common enemy, which is climate change.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Sanders. Thank you, Senator Sanders. [applause]
Senator Warren, a new question to you, Senator Warren. Many of our Western allies rely heavily on nuclear energy because it's efficient, affordable, and virtually carbon-free. And many climate experts believe that it's impossible to realize your goal of net zero emissions by the year 2050 without utilizing nuclear energy. So can you have it both ways on this issue?
WARREN: So I see right now is we've got to get the carbon -- we've got to stop putting more carbon into the air. We've got to get the carbon out of the air and out of the water. And that means that we need to keep some of our nuclear in place.
I will not build more nuclear. I want to put the energy, literally, and the money and the resources behind clean energy and by increasing by tenfold what we put into science, what we put into research and development. We need to do what we do best, and that is innovate our way out of this problem and be a world leader.
But understand, the biggest climate problem we face is the politicians in Washington who keep saying the right thing but continue to take money from the oil industry, continue to bow down to the lobbyists, to the lawyers, to the think-tanks, to the bought-and-paid-for experts.
America understands that we've got to make change and we're running out of time, that climate change threatens every living thing on this planet. But getting Congress to act, you know, they just don't want to hear it. And if we don't attack the corruption first, if we don't attack the corruption head-on, then we're not going to be able to make the changes we need to make on climate, on gun safety, on drug pricing, on all of the big problems that face us.
ALBERTA: Thank you.
WARREN: We need a Washington that doesn't just work for the rich and the powerful. We need one that works for our families. [applause]
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator.
Senator Klobuchar, and then I would like to bring in Mr. Yang and Mr. Steyer for follow-ups.
KLOBUCHAR: Yeah, I want to add to what Elizabeth said. So the way we tackle corruption is by winning big in this election. And the way we take on climate change in a big way is by, yes, talking about what's happening on the coasts, as I just did, but also talking about what's happening in the Midwest, where I'm from. It's not flyover country to me. I live there.
And what we are seeing there is unprecedented flooding. We're seeing an increase, 50 percent increase in homeowners insurance over the last few years. And when we make these changes, we have to make clear to people that when we put a price on carbon, that that money is going to come back to those areas where people are going to be hurt, where jobs are going to change, and to make them whole with their energy bills.
When you make the case like that, you bring in the Midwestern votes. You win big. And I think the best way to do it is by putting someone at the top of the ticket who is from the Midwest. [applause]
ALBERTA: Mr. Yang, Mr. Yang, 45 seconds, on the issue of nuclear energy.
YANG: Well, first, we should obviously be paying to relocate Americans away from places that are hit by climate change. We're already doing it. We relocated a town in Louisiana that became uninhabitable because the sea levels rose. And we know that town is not alone. That's playing out in coastal areas around the country.
The question is, do you leave that town on its own to fend for itself? Or do you come together as a country and say, we need to protect our people from climate change?
Part of my plan is literally called "move people to higher ground," because that's what we need to do. And that's literal and figurative. Here in California, it's forest fires and forest management.
On nuclear power, I agree with the research. We need to have everything on the table in a crisis situation, which this is. Other countries have had success with nuclear power. And the next generation thorium reactors have a wealth of potential. Thorium is not radioactive the way uranium is. It doesn't last as long. And you can't make a weapon out of it. If we're going to innovate our way out of this, as...
ALBERTA: Thank you, Mr. Yang.
YANG: ... Elizabeth is saying, then we have to have nuclear on the table.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Mr. Yang. The last word climate to you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: Look, the point about nuclear power is, it's not at the stage in the United States where it's competitive on price. It has a lot of risks to it in terms of disasters. And we have no ability to store the toxins that come out of it and last 100,000 years.
We actually have the technology that we need. It's called wind and solar and batteries. So, in fact, what we need to do, we can do. We've got to stop taking a look at this as something that we can't do, because we can do this, and we can do it in a way that creates, rebuilds this country on an accelerated basis, creates millions of union jobs, and we come at it from the standpoint of environmental justice.
This is our greatest opportunity to reinvent this country, to actually take on the biggest challenge in history and succeed together. You want to pull the country together with all this partisanship? Let's take on the biggest challenge in history and succeed together as a nation. That's what pulls people together.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Mr. Steyer. Amna? [applause]
NAWAZ: Thanks, Tim.
Vice President Biden, you've been reassuring voters that things will return to normal once President Trump leaves office, that Republicans will have what you call an epiphany and come to the table to work with a Biden administration. But given everything that you have seen from current Republicans, what evidence is there that things will change?
BIDEN: Look, I didn't say return to normal. Normal's not enough. Normal -- in fact, we have to move beyond normal, whether it's health care, the environment, whatever it is. We have to build on what we had started in our administration, and that's been interrupted very badly, number one.
Number two, with Trump out of the way, it's not going to change things in a fundamental way. But what it will do is it will mean that we're in a position where he's not going to be able to intimidate the base, his base is not going to be able to intimidate those half a dozen Republicans we may need in other things.
I refuse to accept the notion, as some on this stage do, that we can never, never get to a place where we have cooperation again. If that's the case, we're dead as a country. We need to be able to reach a consensus. And if anyone has reason to be angry with the Republicans and not want to cooperate it's me, the way they've attacked me, my son, and my family. I have no -- no -- no love. [applause]
But the fact is, we have to -- we have to be able to get things done. And when we can't convince them, we go out and beat them like we did in the 2018 election in red states and in purple states. [applause]
NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. Biden.
Mr. Yang, I want to switch topics to you, Mr. Yang, a new question. The Democratic Party relies on black, Hispanic, and Asian voters, but you are the only candidate of color on the stage tonight, and the entire field remains overwhelmingly white. What message do you think this sends to voters of color?
YANG: It's both an honor and disappointment to be the lone candidate of color on the stage tonight. I miss Kamala, I miss Cory, though I think Cory will be back. [applause]
I grew up the son of immigrants, and I had many racial epithets used against me as a kid. But black and Latinos have something much more powerful working against them than words. They have numbers. The average net worth of a black household is only 10 percent that of a white household. For Latinos, it's 12 percent. If you're a black woman, you're 320 percent more likely to die from complications in childbirth.
These are the numbers that define race in our country. And the question is, why am I the lone candidate of color on this stage? Fewer than 5 percent of Americans donate to political campaigns. You know what you need to donate to political campaigns? Disposable income. [applause]
The way that we fix it -- the way we fix this is we take Martin Luther King's message of a guaranteed minimum income, a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month for all Americans. I guarantee, if we had a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month, I would not be the only candidate of color on this stage tonight. [applause]
NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. Yang.
Senator Sanders, I do want to put the same question to you, Senator Sanders. What message do you think...
SANDERS: I will answer that question, but I wanted to get back to the issue of climate change for a moment, because I do believe this is the existential issue.
NAWAZ: Senator, with all respect, this question is about race. Can you answer the question as it was asked? [applause]
SANDERS: I certainly can. Because people of color, in fact, are going to be the people suffering most if we do not deal with climate change. [applause]
And by the way, we have an obligation up here, if there are not any of our African-American brothers and sisters up here, to speak about an economy in which African-Americans are exploited, where black women die three times at higher rates than white women, where we have a criminal justice system which is racist and broken, disproportionately made up of African-Americans and Latinos and Native Americans who are in jail.
So we need an economy that focuses on the needs of oppressed, exploited people, and that is the African-American community.
NAWAZ: Thank you, Senator.
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Amna.
Senator Klobuchar, here in California, people who identify as Hispanic, black, Asian, or multiracial represent a majority of the population, outnumbering white residents. The United States is expected to be majority nonwhite within a generation. What do you say to white Americans who are uncomfortable with the idea of becoming a racial minority, even if you don't share their concerns?
KLOBUCHAR: I say this is America. You're looking at it. And we are not going to be able to succeed in the world if we do not invite everyone to be part of our economy.
Our Constitution says that we strive for a more perfect union. Well, that's what we are doing right now. And to me, that means, one, that everyone can vote, and that includes our communities of color. This action that's been taken by this president and his people and his governors all over the country is wrong. They have made it harder for African-Americans to vote, as one court said, discriminated with surgical precision.
What would I do? As one of the leaders on voting in the U.S. Senate, one, stop the purging. As Stacey Abrams said, you know, you do not stop having your right to assemble if you don't go to a meeting for a year. Because you don't go to a church or a synagogue or a mosque for three months, you don't lose your right to worship. You shouldn't lose your right to vote. [applause]
I would pass as president my bill to register every kid in this country when they turn 18 to vote. That would make all of these discriminatory actions in these states go away. And I would stop the gerrymandering, in addition to the agenda of economic opportunity, because as Martin Luther King said, what good is it to integrate a lunch counter if you can't afford a hamburger? [applause]
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Senator. Let's now turn to the issue of foreign policy and the Middle East. Senator Sanders, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently declared that the United States believes Israeli settlements in the West Bank do not violate international law. That broke decades-long U.S. precedent. How would you respond to Israeli expansion of settlements? Would you link that to foreign aid to Israel?
SANDERS: Israel has -- and I say this as somebody who lived in Israel as a kid, proudly Jewish -- Israel has the right not only to exist, but to exist in peace and security.
But what -- but what U.S. foreign policy must be about is not just being pro-Israel. We must be pro-Palestinian, as well. [applause]
And whether, in my view -- we must understand that right now in Israel we have leadership under Netanyahu, who has recently, as you know, been indicted for bribery, who, in my view, is a racist -- what we need is a level playing field in terms of the Middle East, which addresses the terrible crisis in Gaza, where 60 percent or 70 percent of the young people are unemployed.
So what my foreign policy will be about is human rights, is democracy, is bringing people together in a peaceful way, trying to negotiate agreements, not endless wars with trillions of dollars of expenses.
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Senator.
BUTTIGIEG: What we are seeing in the Middle East and around the world are the consequences of this president's failure, this president's refusal to lead. It's particularly disturbing in the case of Israel because he has infused domestic politics, making U.S. foreign policy choices in order to effectively interfere in Israeli domestic politics, acting as though that somehow makes him pro-Israel and pro-Jewish, while welcoming white nationalists into the White House.
But it's not only in the Middle East that we see the consequences of the disappearance of U.S. leadership. We see among our allies and among our adversaries case after case where the world is making plans on what to do, ignoring the United States, because we're no longer considered reliable.
It's not just the mockery at a cocktail party on the sidelines of a conference. It's the looks on the faces of the leaders at the U.N. as they looked at the United States president with a mixture of contempt and pity.
As an American, I never again want to see the American president looked at that way by the leaders of the world. The world needs America right now. But it can't be just any America. It has to be one that is actually living up to the values that make us who we are: supporting peace, supporting democracy, supporting human rights, and supporting stability around the world. [applause]
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Mayor Buttigieg.
Senator Warren, President Obama pledged to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay but could not. Forty prisoners remain there. Last year, U.S. taxpayers paid $540 million to keep Guantanamo open. Would you pledge to finally close the detention facility? And if elected, how will you do it?
WARREN: Yes. It is time to close this detention facility. It not only costs us money, it is an international embarrassment.
We have to be an America that lives our values every single day. We can't be an America that stands up and asks people to fight alongside us, as we did with the Kurds in fighting ISIS, and then turn around in the blink of a tweet and say that we're turning our backs on the people who stood beside us. After that, who wants to be an ally of the United States?
We have to be an America that understands the difference and recognizes the difference between our allies, the people who will work alongside us, and the dictators who would do us harm.
And we need to treat our allies better than we treat the dictators. That needs to be our job as an America. [applause]
We have -- we have the finest military on Earth. All three of my brothers served. And we have people on this stage who have served, and I am deeply grateful for that. Our military is strong and important, but we need to be an America that relies on our State Department, that relies on diplomacy, that relies on our economic power and that relies on working together with the rest of the world to build a world that is sustainable environmentally and economically for everyone.
ALCINDOR: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Warren.
Vice President Biden, why couldn't you close Guantanamo Bay? Why couldn't the Obama administration close Guantanamo Bay?
BIDEN: We attempted to close Guantanamo Bay, but you have to have congressional authority to do it. They've kept it open. And the fact is that we, in fact, think it's greatest -- it is an advertisement for creating terror.
Look, what we have done around the world in terms of keeping Guantanamo open or what Trump has done by no longer being an honest broker in Israel, there's no solution for Israel other than a two-state solution. It does not exist. It's not possible to have a Jewish state in the Middle East without there being a two-state solution.
And he has played to all the same fears and all the prejudices that exist in this country and in Israel. Bibi Netanyahu and I know one another well. He knows that I think what he's doing is outrageous.
What we do is, we have to put pressure constantly on the Israelis to move to a two-state solution, not withdraw physical aid from them in terms of their security.
And lastly, I think that...
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Vice President Biden.
BIDEN: ... Senator Warren is correct. We have led by not the example of our power, but the power of our example. And the example we're demonstrating now is horrible. It's hurting us badly.
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Vice President Biden. Judy? [applause]
WOODRUFF: I want to turn to another part of the world, and that's China. Mayor Buttigieg, you have said that you think China presents more of a challenge than do your fellow candidates believe. The U.S. clearly wants China's cooperation on human rights, on climate change, on North Korea, on terrorism. And yet Americans are appalled by China's record on human rights, including the detention of over a million Muslim Uighurs. Should the U.S., is my question, do more than protest and issue sanctions? Should the U.S., for example, boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics?
BUTTIGIEG: I think that any tool ought to be on the table, especially diplomatic, economic, and social tools, like what you're describing.
Look, for the president to let it be known that his silence, whether it's on the rounding up of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, putting them into camps, or the aspirations of the people of Hong Kong for democracy, for him to let China know that his silence can be purchased is trashing American values.
The reality is that there's a lot more to the relationship with China than who's selling more dishwashers. Yes, we need a much smarter trade policy. We also have to acknowledge what's going on over there: the use of technology for the perfection of dictatorship.
That is going to require a stronger than ever response from the U.S. in defense of democracy. But when folks out there standing up for democracy hear not a peep from the president of the United States, what message is that sending to the Chinese Communist Party?
The message I will send is that if they perpetrate a repeat of anything like Tiananmen Square, when it comes to Hong Kong, they will be isolated from the free world, and we will lead that isolation diplomatically and economically. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Mr. Steyer, many Americans have been moved in the last months by the protests of the people of Hong Kong. It is Chinese territory, but what could you, would you do as president if the Chinese government moved in militarily?
STEYER: Look, there is a temptation, particularly for this president, to try and answer that on a bilateral -- in a bilateral way. The way the United States should be reacting in Hong Kong is by gathering our coalition of democracy- and freedom-loving partners and allies to push back.
In fact, when we're making moral statements around the world, it should not be us threatening and trying to be the world's policeman. It should be us leading on a value-driven basis with the other people who share our values and want to change the world.
We actually can't isolate ourselves from China. In fact, we have to work with them as a frenemy. People who disturb us, who we disagree with, but who, in effect, we are linked to in a world that is ever getting closer. And, in fact, if we are going to treat climate as the threat that it is, we are going to have to partner with the Chinese. They are going to have to come along with us. They're going to have to trust us. And together we're going to have to solve this problem.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: So the ability to say what's off the table -- we need a good relationship with them and we're going to have to work with them going forward under all circumstances.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
Vice President Biden, on China, we now know that China is engaged in an unprecedented military build-up. They have just launched a new aircraft carrier. There are new signs of their disturbing espionage campaign here inside the United States. There are a number of disturbing signs from the Chinese.
National security scholars have long warned about the historical precedent that when there's a ruling power and a rising power, there's likely to be a war. Is the U.S. on a collision course with China?
BIDEN: It's not...
WOODRUFF: What steps could you take as president?
BIDEN: It's on a collision course with China, but not for war. What we have to make clear is that we, in fact, are not going to abide by what they've done. A million Uighurs, as you pointed out, Muslims, are in concentration camps. That's where they are right now. They're being abused. They're in concentration camps.
And what we started in our administration that Trump stopped, we should be moving 60 percent of our sea power to that area of the world to let, in fact, the Chinese understand that they're not going to go any further. We are going to be there to protect other folks.
Secondly, we, in fact, should make sure that we begin to rebuild our alliances, which Trump has demolished, with Japan and South Korea, Australia and all -- and Indonesia. We, in fact, need to have allies who understand that we're going to stop the Chinese from their actions.
We should be going to the U.N. immediately and sought sanctions against them in the United Nations for what they did. We have to be firm. We don't have to go to war. But we have to make it clear, this is as far as you go, China.
And in terms of their military build-up, it's real. But it would take them about 17 years to build up to where we are. We're not looking for a war. But we've got to make clear, we are a Pacific power and we are not going to back away.
WOODRUFF: Mr. Yang and then Senator Klobuchar. [applause]
YANG: I have family in Hong Kong. I spent four months there and seeing what's happening on the streets. It's shocking. They banned face masks in Hong Kong. Why? Because they have AI technology that now is using facial recognition to identify protesters if they so much as do anything on the street so they can follow up with them and detain them later.
This is the rivalry that we have to win where China is concerned. They're in the process of leapfrogging us in AI because they have more data than we do and their government is subsidizing it to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.
I have sat with our leading technologists and they say they cannot match the Chinese resources. China just produced its first major smartphone that does not have Google apps and it is now trying to export its technology to the rest of the world.
What we have to do is build an international coalition to set technology standards, and then you can bring the Chinese to the table in a very real way, because this is their top priority, and this is where we need to outcompete them and win.
WOODRUFF: Senator Klobuchar? [applause]
KLOBUCHAR: When it comes to foreign policy, I think we need to keep our promises and keep our threats. And this president has done neither. In a country like China, their leaders, they watch that and they know. He has stood with dictators over innocents. He has stood with tyrants over free leaders. He does it all the time.
And I have a little different take than some of my colleagues when it comes to what happened at that conference with NATO. Yeah, they were making fun of them, some of the foreign leaders. I've heard senators make more fun of other senators than that.
The point of it was that he couldn't even tolerate it. He is so thin-skinned that he walked. He quit.
America doesn't quit. So if we want to send a message to the Chinese, we stand with our allies. We stand with them firmly. We have a very clear and coherent foreign policy when it comes to human rights.
Check out my website, amyklobuchar.com. I have the five R's of our foreign policy, about reasserting our values, rejoining international agreements, like the Iranian nuclear agreement. But it all comes down to one R: returning to sanity. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Mayor Buttigieg, and then we're going to take a break.
BUTTIGIEG: I'm actually not worried about the president's bad sense of humor when it comes to being made fun of. I'm worried about the fact that he is echoing the vocabulary of dictators around the world.
When the American president refers to unfavorable press coverage as the product of the "enemy of the people," democracy around the world gets weaker. Freedom of the press not just here at home but around the world gets weaker. It's one more reminder of what is at stake, not just here at home, but for world history in the imperative that we win this election.
KLOBUCHAR: Could I respond?
BUTTIGIEG: This is our chance.
WOODRUFF: Very brief. Very brief.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. I just want to make very clear, Mayor, that the freedom of the press is deep in my heart. My dad was a newspaperman. And I am the one that asked every attorney general candidate we've had under Donald Trump, both of whom I opposed, about their respect for the First Amendment. And they have refused, they have refused to follow the rules that Attorney General Holder put in place when it came to protecting our journalists.
They would not commit that they wouldn't put a journalist in jail for doing their job. So this is not just talking points to me. This is the real world. And I think that experience that I will bring to the White House, with protecting the First Amendment, is worth more than any talking points. [applause]
WOODRUFF: We are going to take a short break, and we will be -- we'll be right back with more questions.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back to the PBS NewsHour-Politico Democratic presidential debate. I'm Judy Woodruff, joined by my PBS NewsHour colleagues, Amna Nawaz and Yamiche Alcindor, by Tim Alberta of Politico.
Now let's turn to the next question from Tim.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Judy. Candidates, let's make things interesting. Former President Obama said this week when asked who should be running countries that if women were in charge, you'd see a significant improvement on just about everything. [applause]
He also said, quote, "If you look at the world and look at the problems, it's usually old people, usually old men, not getting out of the way." [applause]
Senator Sanders, you are the oldest candidate on stage this evening.
SANDERS: And I'm white, as well. Yes.
ALBERTA: How do you respond to what the former president had to say?
SANDERS: Well, I got a lot of respect for Barack Obama. I think I disagree with him on this one. Maybe a little self-serving, but I do disagree.
Here is the issue. The issue is where power resides in America, and it's not white or black or male or female. We are living in a nation increasingly becoming an oligarchy, where you have a handful of billionaires who spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying elections and politicians.
You have more income and wealth inequality today than at any time since the 1920s. We are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care for all people, which is why we need Medicare for all.
We are facing an existential crisis of climate change. The issue is not old or young, male or female. The issue is working people standing up, taking on the billionaire class, and creating a government and economy that works for all, not just the 1 percent.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Sanders.
Vice President Biden, I'm going to guess that President Obama did not clear that remark through your campaign ahead of time.
BIDEN: And I'm going to guess...
ALBERTA: What do you say to it?
BIDEN: And I'm going to guess he wasn't talking about me, either.
BIDEN: Number one. Look, I'm running -- I'm running because I've been around, on my experience. With experience hopefully comes judgment and a little bit of wisdom. The fact is that we're in a position now, the next president of the United States is going to inherit two things, an economy that is out of kilter and a domestic policy that needs to be -- where we have to unite America. And a foreign policy that requires somebody to be able to on day one stand up, look out, the entire world know who that person is, know what they stand for, and know they know them.
And that's what -- that's the reason I'm running. I have more experience in doing that than anybody on this stage.
ALBERTA: Just to follow up, Vice President Biden, if elected, if elected you would turn 82 at the end of your first term. You'd be the oldest president in American history.
BIDEN: More like Winston Churchill.
ALBERTA: Are you willing -- are you willing to commit -- American history.
BIDEN: Oh, American history.
ALBERTA: Yes. Are you...
BIDEN: I was joking. That was a joke.
ALBERTA: OK. [laughter]
BIDEN: Politico doesn't have much of a sense of humor.
ALBERTA: Oh, we've got a great sense of humor. They wouldn't have put me on stage otherwise. Are you willing to commit tonight to running for a second term if you're elected next November?
BIDEN: No, I'm not willing to commit one way or another. Here's the deal. I'm not even elected one term yet, and let's see where we are. Let's see what happens. [applause]
But it's a nice thought.
ALBERTA: Senator Klobuchar, you had your hand raised.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you for asking a woman this question. I think... [applause]
First of all, we have not had enough women in our government. When I was on Trevor Noah's show once, I explained how in the history of the Senate, there was something like 2,000 men and only 50 women in the whole history. And he said if a nightclub had numbers that bad, they would shut it down. [laughter]
However, it is not just about numbers. It's about what you get done. And that is my argument. If you look at the poll -- the state that knows me best, and that is the state of Minnesota, it showed in the state that Hillary had her lowest margin of victory, it showed that I'd beat Donald Trump by 18 points. I beat him with men more than anyone on this stage.
So I think what matters in this election is, can you bring in those rural and suburban areas, particularly in the Midwest? And number two, what will you do when you get there? And I am someone that has passed over 100 bills, with men and women, with Republicans and with Democrats, including changing the sexual harassment laws for the United States Congress, a bill I led so taxpayers are no longer going to have to pay for people that harass other people.
ALBERTA: Senator Warren...
KLOBUCHAR: I have passed a law for drug shortages. I have done work in our rural areas. I think that's what most matters to people. I would be so proud to be the first woman president. But mostly I want to be a president that gets things done and improves people's lives.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar. [applause]
Senator Warren, you would be the oldest president ever inaugurated. I'd like you to weigh in, as well.
WARREN: I'd also be the youngest woman ever inaugurated. [laughter and applause]
I believe that President Obama was talking about who has power in America, whose voices get heard. I believe he's talking about women and people of color and trans people and people whose voices just so often get shoved out.
And for me, the best way to understand that is to look at how people are running their campaigns in 2020. You know, I made the decision when I decided to run not to do business as usual. And now I'm proud to have been in 100,000 selfies. That's 100,000 hugs and handshakes and stories, stories from people who are struggling with student loan debt, stories from people who can't pay their medical bills, stories from people who can't find childcare.
Now, most of the people on this stage run a traditional campaign. And that means going back and forth from coast to coast to rich people and people who can put up $5,000 bucks or more in order to have a picture taken, in order to have a conversation, and in order maybe to be considered to be an ambassador.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Warren.
WARREN: Those selfies -- no, I want to finish this. Those selfies cost nobody anything. And I get it. In a democracy, we all have a lot of different points of view. And everybody gets one vote.
But here's the thing. People who can put down $5,000 to have a picture taken don't have the same priorities as people who are struggling with student loan debt or who are struggling to pay off medical debt.
I want -- I'm running a campaign where people whose voices get heard. We can't have...
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Warren. We're...
WARREN: We can't have people who can put down $5,000 for a check drown out the voices of everyone else.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Warren.
WARREN: They don't in my campaign, and they won't in my White House.
ALBERTA: Mayor Buttigieg -- Mayor Buttigieg, you had your hand raised. [applause]
BUTTIGIEG: Well, can't help but feel that might have been directed at me. And here is the thing. We're in the fight of our lives right now. Donald Trump and his allies have made it abundantly clear that they will stop at nothing, not even foreign interference to hold onto power. They've already put together more than $300 million.
This is our chance. This is our only chance to defeat Donald Trump. And we shouldn't try to do it with one hand tied behind our back.
The way we're going to win is to bring everybody to our side in this fight. If that means that you're a grad student digging deep to go online to peteforamerica.com and chip in $10 bucks, that's great. And if you can drop $1,000 without blinking, that's great, too. We need everybody's help in this fight. I'm not going to turn away anyone who wants to help us defeat Donald Trump.
We need Democrats who've been with us all along, yes, but we also need independents worried about the direction of the country. If you're a Republican disgusted with what's going on in your own party, we're not going to agree on everything, but we need you in this fight, and I will welcome you to our side.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. [applause]
Senator Warren, 45 seconds to respond.
WARREN: So the mayor just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine. Think about who comes to that. He had promised that every fundraiser he would do would be open door, but this one was closed door. We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States. [applause]
Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.
ALBERTA: Mr. Mayor, your response?
BUTTIGIEG: You know, according to Forbes magazine, I am literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire. [applause]
So if -- this is important. This is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass. [applause]
If I pledge -- if I pledge never to be in the company of a progressive Democratic donor, I couldn't be up here. Senator, your net worth is 100 times mine. Now, supposing that you went home feeling the holiday spirit -- I know this isn't likely, but stay with me -- and decided to go onto peteforamerica.com and gave the maximum allowable by law, $2,800, would that pollute my campaign because it came from a wealthy person? No, I would be glad to have that support. We need the support from everybody who is committed to helping us defeat Donald Trump. [applause]
ALBERTA: We would like to bring everyone, but obviously, Senator Warren, would like to give you a chance to respond.
WARREN: I do not sell access to my time. I don't do call time with millionaires and billionaires.
BUTTIGIEG: Hold on a second. Sorry, as of when, Senator?
WARREN: I don't meet -- I don't meet behind closed doors with big dollar donors. And, look, I have taken one that ought to be an easy step for everyone here. I've said to anyone who wants to donate to me, if you want to donate to me, that's fine, but don't come around later expecting to be named ambassador, because that's what goes on in these high-dollar fundraisers.
I said no, and I asked everybody on this stage to join me. This ought to be an easy step. And here's the problem. If you can't stand up and take the steps that are relatively easy, can't stand up to the wealthy and well connected when it's relatively easy when you're a candidate, then how can the American people believe you're going to stand up to the wealthy and well-connected when you're president and it's really hard? [applause]
KLOBUCHAR: Judy -- Judy...
BUTTIGIEG: Senator, Senator, I've got to respond.
ALBERTA: Mr. Mayor, we're going to give you one more chance to respond.
BUTTIGIEG: First of all, if you can't say no to a donor, then you have no business running for office in the first place. But also, Senator, your presidential campaign right now as we speak is funded in part by money you transferred, having raised it at those exact same big-ticket fundraisers you now denounce. Did it corrupt you, Senator? Of course not.
So to denounce the same kind of fundraising guidelines that President Obama went by, that Speaker Pelosi goes by, that you yourself went by until not long ago, in order to build the Democratic Party and build a campaign ready for the fight of our lives, these purity tests shrink the stakes of the most important election...
ALBERTA: We'd like to bring everyone in. We'd like to bring everyone in.
ALBERTA: But, Senator Klobuchar, had your hand up first. We'd like to call on you.
KLOBUCHAR: I did not come here to listen to this argument. I came here to make a case for progress. And I have never even been to a wine cave. I've been to the wind cave in South Dakota, which I suggest you go to.
So what is making a case for progress about? That is what unites us up here instead of what divides us, which is campaign finance reform. That means passing a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. It means making the first bill we pass when I am president will be H.R. 1, which is the ethics reform passed in the House, which is currently sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk, along with 400 bills. And if you don't think we can get this done, well, we can, but only if we win this election big.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: Not by arguing with each other, but by finding what unites us and getting this done. [applause]
I came to make a case for progress.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar. Senator Sanders?
SANDERS: I am -- I am rather proud, maybe, I don't know, the only candidate up here that doesn't have any billionaire contributions. But you know what I do have? We have received more contributions from more individuals than any candidate in the history of the United States of America at this point in an election, averaging $18 a piece.
Now, there's a real competition going on up here. My good friend, Joe, and he is a good friend, he's received contributions from 44 billionaires. Pete, on the other hand, he's trailing, Pete. You only got 39 billionaires contributing. So, Pete, we look forward to you. I know you're an energetic guy and a competitive guy to see if you can take on Joe on that issue.
But what is not -- what is not a laughing matter, my friends, this is why three people own more wealth than the bottom half. This is why Amazon and other major corporations pay zero in federal taxes. We need to get money out of politics. We should run our campaigns on that basis.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator. [applause]
Vice President Biden, 45 seconds to respond.
BIDEN: My average contributions is $43, number one. That's number one.
Number two, the idea that the senator suggested, that I am in the pocket of billionaires, when, in fact, they oppose everything that I have ever done and continue to do, I have made sure from the very beginning every one of my fundraisers is open to the press, every single solitary one. Not one single time, period.
And I have made sure that you know exactly where all the -- and the largest contribution I have accepted is $2,800, which is allowed under law. And I'm the first person to introduce the constitutional amendment to make sure that there is no -- all public funding of elections. End all private funding.
And we all should take a commitment, make a commitment to that right now on this stage. In the meantime, you got to fund a campaign, and we, in fact, have funded a campaign, average contribution $43.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Vice President. Mr. Steyer, I would like to bring you in.
STEYER: Listen, I am running because this government is broken, because it's purchased by corporations. And I've spent 10 years fighting those corporations and beating them and building grassroots organizations to push power down to the people. That's what I've been doing for a decade.
But let me say this. There's someone who is loving this conversation, and his name is Donald Trump.
BIDEN: That's right.
STEYER: We know how he's going to run. He's told us last week he looked at a group of Americans and said, "I don't like you. You don't like me. It doesn't matter. You're going to support me because the Democrats will destroy the economy in 15 minutes."
We need to go after this guy. He's a different breed of cat, and we need to beat him. And we need to talk about prosperity. And I spent 25 years building a business. We're going to have to take him on, on the economy, not have these kinds of conversations and tear each other down, but actually go after...
ALBERTA: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: ... this corrupt president and beat him on the economy where he thinks he's king and where, in fact, he's a fraud and a failure.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Mr. Steyer. We're going to end it there. [applause]
NAWAZ: Thanks, Tim. I want to turn now to an issue that's been in the headlines quite a bit, and that is immigration. Mr. Yang, we have a question here from a professor right here at Loyola, Marymount. There are nearly 200,000 DACA recipients, so-called Dreamers, in the state of California, more than any other state, including several students right here at LMU. If you win and you reinstate DACA through executive action, another president could just overturn it again. So will you move on a permanent legislative fix for Dreamers in your first 100 days, if elected?
YANG: Of course I would. I'm the son of immigrants myself, and I know that Dreamers are essentially Americans in everything but this legal classification. [applause]
I just want to return to this conversation, because I think it's core. Our country is deeply misogynist, and most all of us know that. Money and men are tied together. That's where I thought Elizabeth was taking the conversation.
The fact is, strong societies would elect more female leaders. Strong men treat women well for the same reasons. [applause]
I'm on the record saying that you need both strong men and female leaders in government, because the fact is, if you get too many men alone and leave us alone for a while, we kind of become morons. [laughter and applause]
So it's related to our campaign finance rules, because right now the fact is we operate in a fundamentally anti-woman marketplace. And that includes the marketplace for politicians. If we were to put 100 democracy dollars into the hands of every American voter, instead of 5 percent contributing, you'd see that rate skyrocket to 50 percent or 60 percent, and you'd have many, many more women who would run for office because they don't have to go shake the money tree in the wine cave. [laughter]
NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. Yang. I do...
KLOBUCHAR: Could I address...
NAWAZ: I'd like to follow up. The question, again, Mr. Yang, was about Dreamers.
KLOBUCHAR: Could I address immigration reform?
NAWAZ: You pledged to move -- you pledged to move on a permanent legislative fix in your first 100 days. Dreamers say that they are frustrated by Democrats' failure to prioritize their status in deal after deal. So why should Dreamers trust Democrats now?
YANG: I believe everyone on this stage would do the right thing by Dreamers in the first 100 days. I would make it a top priority. I'm the son of immigrants myself. The fact is, almost half of Fortune 500 companies were started by an immigrant or children of immigrants. Immigrants make our country stronger and more dynamic. [applause]
And immigrants are being scapegoated for issues they have absolutely nothing to do with. If you go to the factory in Michigan, it's not wall-to-wall immigrants. It's wall-to-wall robot arms and machines. We have to send the opposite message of this administration.
And as your president, I think I could send a very clear message, where if you are considering immigrating to this country and I am the president, you would realize my son or daughter can become president of the United States. That's the opposite of the current administration, and that's the message I would love to send to the world.
NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. Yang. [applause]
Senator Sanders, a related question to you.
SANDERS: Donald Trump...
NAWAZ: Actually, Senator Sanders -- Senator Sanders, I have a new question for you. You can respond to Mr. Yang's comments, as well.
SANDERS: I can't respond to the immigration question?
NAWAZ: This is related, sir. But there are estimated to be as many as 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., more than 2 million right here in California. If you have a chance to forge a bipartisan immigration reform plan, would you insist on a path to citizenship for all 12 million or just a segment of that population?
SANDERS: This is what I would do. Day one, executive order, restore the legal status of 1.8 million young people in the DACA program. [applause]
Day one, we change border policy so that federal agents will never snatch babies from the arms of their mothers. [applause]
Day one, day one, we introduce bipartisan legislation, which will, in fact, be comprehensive, which will result in a path toward citizenship for all of the 11 million who are undocumented. That is what the people of our country want. [applause]
Trump thinks mistakenly that he is going to win re-election by dividing us up. We are going to win this election by bringing our people together -- black and white and Latino, Native American, Asian American. That's what this campaign is about. That's what America must be about. [applause]
NAWAZ: Senator Klobuchar, you had your hand up.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. I started my day-to-day with a group of immigrants who were there talking to me about housing. And I thought about this president and what he's done. He has used our immigrants as political pawns. Every single day, he tries to draw a wedge. I will be a different president.
My view on this comes from experience. When I got to the Senate, Senator Kennedy asked me to be one of the two new senators that was in the group to work on the immigration reform package. We got so close to passing that. I voted for it. Not everyone did. But most of the Democrats did.
Then I was on the Judiciary Committee when President Obama was president. And we worked very hard on that immigration reform. We actually passed that with Republican votes.
Then I was in the small group that worked on the compromise on the Dreamers that would have solved that problem. We didn't get that done because this president gut-punched us.
NAWAZ: Thank you, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: I will take my views. I will take this experience. I will get this done because immigrants don't diminish America. They are America.
NAWAZ: Thank you, Senator. Mr. Steyer, briefly, your response?
STEYER: Listen, I think it's important to note that this president is not against immigration. He's against immigration by nonwhite people.
WARREN: Yes. [applause]
STEYER: This is his attempt to divide us, as Senator Sanders said, on race. And that's what he's been doing since the very first day he started running for president. He's been vilifying non-white people. He's been trying to inflame his base and scare them that if, in fact, white people lose control of this country, that they're going to lose control of their lives.
And as somebody who lives in a majority-minority state, which is California, what he's doing is so wrong on so many different levels.
I agree with Senator Sanders. We have to reframe this argument completely. We have to go back to the idea that every American is worth being a full human being on every right. This is a racial argument by a racist president who's trying to divide us and who's vilifying people. It's absolutely wrong. And it's led him to break the laws of humanity in our name.
NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. Steyer. [applause]
Mayor Buttigieg, a new question to you, Mr. Mayor. You said last month that the U.S. owes compensation to children separated from their families at the southern border. The consensus among child welfare experts is that those thousands of children will likely suffer lifelong trauma as a result of that separation. Are you committing as president to financial compensation for those thousands of children?
BUTTIGIEG: Yes, and they should have a fast track to citizenship, because what the United States did under this president to them was wrong. We have a moral obligation to make right what was broken.
And on the larger issue of immigration, my understanding of this issue isn't theoretical. It's not something I formed in committee rooms in Washington. It begins with the fact that my household, my family, came from abroad. My father immigrated to this country and became a U.S. citizen.
It comes from the fact that I'm the mayor of a city where neighborhoods that were left for dying are now coming back to life, largely because of the contributions mainly of Latino immigrants. And I've seen those same neighborhoods shut down, families huddling in church, panicking just because of the rumor of an ICE raid. That did not make our country safer.
KLOBUCHAR: Could I respond?
BUTTIGIEG: I had to look into the eyes of an 8-year-old boy whose father was deported, even though he had nothing so much as a traffic ticket against his name, and try to think of something to tell that boy because I couldn't tell him what he most wanted to hear, which is just that he was going to have his dad back. How could harming that young man possibly make America safer?
NAWAZ: Mr. Mayor, just...
BUTTIGIEG: When I am president, based on those experiences, I will make sure that this is a country of laws and of values. And that means not only ending these unspeakable, cruel practices at the border, but finally and truly fixing the immigration system that has needed a full overhaul since the 1980s.
NAWAZ: Mr. Mayor...
BUTTIGIEG: We cannot wait 4 years, 10 years. We cannot wait anymore to do something about this.
NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Just to follow up...[applause]...since you do support compensation for those families, should the U.S. also compensate descendants of enslaved people? Do you support reparations for African-Americans?
BUTTIGIEG: I support H.R. 40, which is the bill that has been proposed in Congress to establish a commission to look at reparations. But we shouldn't wait for that commission to do its work to do things that are reparative.
Remember, we're not talking about a gift to anybody. We're talking about mending what was broken. We're talking about the generational theft of the wealth of generations of African-Americans. And just crossing out a racist policy and replacing it with a neutral one is not enough to deliver equality.
Harms compound, just like a dollar saved in its value compounds over time. So does the value of a dollars stolen. And that is why the United States must act immediately with investments in minority-owned businesses, with investments in health equity, with investments in HBCUs, and on the longer term look at reparations so that we can mend what has been broken.
NAWAZ: Vice President Biden, do you support reparations? [applause]
BIDEN: Look, let me -- since I haven't spoken on this, I've got a chance. Number one, the reason we're the country we are is because of immigration. We've been able to cherry pick the best from every single continent.
The people who come here have determination, resilience. They are ready to stand up and work like the devil. We have 24 out of every 100 children in our schools today is Hispanic. The idea that we are going to walk away and not provide every opportunity for them is not only stupid and immoral, but it's bad for America.
They are the future of America and we should invest in them. Everybody will benefit from it, every single American. And you should get used to it. This is a nation of immigrants. That's who we are. That's why we're who we are. That's what makes us different. And we should invest in them. [applause]
NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. Biden. Senator Klobuchar, you had your hand up.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I was -- I was harkening back. I made my case on immigration to what the mayor said about Washington.
So I look at this a different way. When we were in the last debate, Mayor, you basically mocked the hundred years of experience on the stage. And what do I see on this stage? I see Elizabeth's work starting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and helping 29 million people. [applause]
I see the vice president's work in getting $2 billion for his cancer moon shot. I see Senator Sanders' work -- working to get the veterans bill passed across the aisle. And I see what I've done, which is to negotiate three farm bills and be someone that actually had major provisions put in those bills.
So while you can dismiss committee hearings, I think this experience works. And I have not denigrated your experience as a local official. I have been one.
BUTTIGIEG: You know -- I'm sorry.
KLOBUCHAR: I just think you should respect our experience when you look at how you evaluate someone who can get things done.
NAWAZ: Thank you, Senator.
Mr. Mayor, I'll give you a chance to respond. [applause]
BUTTIGIEG: You actually did denigrate my experience, Senator, and it was before the break, and I was going to let it go, because we got bigger fish to fry here. But you implied that my...
KLOBUCHAR: Oh, I don't think we have bigger fish to fry than picking a president of the United States.
BUTTIGIEG: You're right. And before the break, you seemed to imply that my relationship to the First Amendment was a talking point, as if anyone up here has any more or less commitment to the Constitution than anybody else up here.
Let me tell you about my relationship to the First Amendment. It is part of the Constitution that I raised my right hand and swore to defend with my life. That is my experience. And it may not be the same as yours, but it counts, Senator. It counts.
NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Senator Klobuchar, you have 45 seconds to respond.
KLOBUCHAR: I have been -- I certainly respect your military experience. That's not what this is about. This is about choosing a president.
And I know my view of this is I know you ran to be chair of the Democratic National Committee. That's not something that I wanted to do. I want to be president of the United States. And the point is, we should have someone heading up this ticket that has actually won and been able to show that they can gather the support that you talk about of moderate Republicans and independents, as well as a fired-up Democratic base, and not just done it once, I have done it three times.
I think winning matters. I think a track record of getting things done matters. And I also think showing our party that we can actually bring people with us, have a wider tent, have a bigger coalition, and, yes, longer coattails, that matters.
NAWAZ: Thank you, Senator. Yamiche? [applause]
SANDERS: Excuse me.
BUTTIGIEG: I got to respond to that. I got to respond to that. Senator, I know that, if you just go by vote totals, maybe what goes on in my city seems small to you. If you want to talk about the capacity to win, try putting together a coalition to bring you back to office with 80 percent of the vote as a gay dude in Mike Pence's Indiana. [applause]
KLOBUCHAR: Again, I would -- Mayor, if you -- if you had won in Indiana, that would be one thing. You tried and you lost by 20 points. I'm sorry. That's just the math.
SANDERS: Let's talk about how we -- excuse me. Let's talk about how we win an election, which is something everybody here wants to do, in terms of defeating the most dangerous president in American history. So let me tell you how you win it: You have the largest voter turnout in the history of America. [applause]
And you don't have -- you don't have the largest voter turnout unless you create energy and excitement. And you don't create energy and excitement unless you are prepared to take on the people who own America and are prepared to speak to the people who are working in America.
We need a progressive agenda -- Medicare for all, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, leading the world in combatting climate change, making public colleges and universities available to all...
ALCINDOR: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: ... because we have free tuition, and canceling all student debt in this country.
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Senator Sanders. [applause]
I'd like to turn to a new subject, and that is, of course, education. Senator Warren, you've proposed free public college tuition and student loan forgiveness for most families. Why should wealthy families be able to send their kids to public college for free? Why not concentrate that government help on those most in need?
WARREN: So, as I've talked about before, I have a two cent wealth tax proposed for millionaires and billionaires, and that gives us enough money to invest in all of our babies, age 0 to 5, to put an historic $800 billion investment in public schools K through 12, and that will permit us to offer technical school, two-year college, four-year college for every single person who wants an education, cancel student loan debt for 50 -- put a $50 billion investment in our historically black colleges and universities, and cancel student loan debt for 43 million Americans.
Look, this is about money, but this is also about values. We need to make an investment in our future, and the best way to do that is let's invest in the public education of our children. That starts when you're babies and it goes long after high school.
We want to have families. I meet families every day in the selfie lines who talk about what it means to be crushed by student loan debt. That's why I have a proposal popular among Democrats, popular among Republicans, popular among independents, to ask those at the top to pay a little more so somebody can get rid of that student loan debt so they can make an investment in themselves, start a small business, buy a car, create a future for themselves and for this country.
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Senator. I see some hands, but I want to go to Mayor Buttigieg.
BUTTIGIEG: Can I respond?
ALCINDOR: Mayor Buttigieg, your plan offers free or discounted public college only to families making up to $150,000 a year. Do you think Senator Warren's plan offers free college to too many families?
BUTTIGIEG: I do think that if you're in that lucky top 10 percent -- I still wish you well, don't get me wrong. I just want you to go ahead and pay your own tuition.
Now, we can still have public service loan forgiveness for those who go into lower income fields to deal with that. But if you're in that top 10 percent, I think you're going to be for the most part OK.
And there is a very real choice on where every one of these tax dollars goes. So I very much agree with Senator Warren on raising more tax revenue from millionaires and billionaires. I just don't agree on the part about spending it on millionaires and billionaires when it comes to their college tuition.
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Mayor. Thank you, Mayor Buttigieg.
WARREN: So -- no, wait, wait, wait.
ALCINDOR: I want to...
WARREN: No. He mentioned me by name.
ALCINDOR: I'm going to let -- I'm going to let you respond, Senator Warren. Go ahead.
WARREN: He mentioned me by name. Look, the mayor wants billionaires to pay one tuition for their own kids. I want a billionaire to pay enough to cover tuition for all of our kids, because that's how we build a future.
The other part is we've got to deal with student loan debt. And right now, most of the people on this stage are nibbling around the edges of a huge student loan debt burden that disproportionally affects people of color. African-Americans are more likely to have to borrow money to go to school, more likely to borrow more money while they're in school, and have a harder time paying it off.
We want to make an investment in the future? Then open up education for all of our kids. That's how we build a future.
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Senator. Senator Sanders?
KLOBUCHAR: Could I respond after Bernie?
SANDERS: We believe -- I believe in the concept of universality. And one of the crises in America today is people are sick and tired of filling out forms. So you're not eligible for the program today because you're at $150,000, but you lost your job, are you eligible? You get a better job, you're eligible.
I think what we have to do is what we do with Social Security, what we do with public education. Donald Trump's kids can go to a public school. They should be able to go to a public school.
What we need right now is a revolution in education. We have got to end this dysfunctional childcare system and make sure that every working-class person in this country can find high-quality, affordable childcare. We need to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. And by taxing billionaires and by taxing Wall Street, we will cancel all student debt in this country.
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Senator Sanders.
ALBERTA: Switching gears here, Mr. Steyer, earlier this year in Iowa, I met a father, Bill Stumpf, and his son, Kyle, in Dubuque. Kyle is a remarkable young adult with significant disabilities. And though he's been employed for about five years at a local pizza parlor, the future is very uncertain for his family.
Bill worries that there aren't enough jobs, living facilities, social programs designed to meet the needs of his son. So I'm wonderful, as president, are there specific steps that you would take to help people like Kyle become more integrated into the workforce and into their local communities?
STEYER: Look, the United States has made a commitment to treat everybody equally. And that means supporting people with disabilities, both in terms of education and later when they're part of the workforce. That means bringing the resources to bear to make sure that we're treating them fairly, in school and after school, to try and integrate them fully and to make them have as full a life as possible.
The question we've got here across the board is, can we afford to do the kinds of things that Senator Sanders and Senator Warren are pushing? And the answer is yes, that, in fact, what we need to do is to undo the tax breaks that have been given for two generations to rich Americans and big corporations.
Last year, the top 400 corporations paid an 11 percent tax. That is absolutely ludicrous.
KLOBUCHAR: Could I answer the question?
STEYER: So the answer on disabilities is a question of focus and money, as so many of these questions are. We have a country where the government is broken because corporations have bought it, they're getting their way, and for us to get back to government of, by, and for the people that serves Americans, including Americans with disabilities, we're going to have to take that back.
ALBERTA: Mr. Yang, I didn't hear a specific answer from Mr. Steyer. Can you outline specific steps that the government should take to help integrate these young people into the workforce and into their local communities?
YANG: I would love it. I have a son with special needs. And to me, special needs is the new normal in this country. How many of you all have a family member or a friend or a neighbor with special needs or autism? [applause]
As you look around, most hands went up. The fact is right now, we have to do more for Kyle. Special needs children are going to become special needs adults in many cases. And here's the challenge. We go to employers and say, hey, this special needs person can be a contributor in your workplace, which may be correct, but that's not the point.
We have to stop confusing economic value and human value. We have to be able to say to our kids and Kyle that you have intrinsic value because you're an American and you're a human being.
We're going to put a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month in everyone's hands, which is going to help families around the country adapt. And then we're going to take this burden off of the communities and off of the schools who do not have the resources to support kids like my son and make it a federal priority, not a local one, so we're not robbing Peter to pay Paul.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Mr. Yang. We have to move on. Judy? [applause]
WARREN: No, no, no. No, no, no. Come on.
ALBERTA: Senator Warren, 45 seconds to you, please.
WARREN: So I was a special education teacher. And I loved that work, because it gave me a chance to work straight out with people to recognize the worth of every human being. I had 4- to 6-year-olds who were in special ed.
And what do we need to do? That's why I have a plan, as a special ed teacher, to fully fund IDEA, so every child with disabilities will get the full education they need.
My housing plan is about investing in more housing across this country, in rural America, in urban America, in small town America, but it's also about making sure that people who want to live independently, people who have disabilities, will have housing available to them.
I make a part of my jobs bill that we are going to make sure -- as president, I will make sure that the people who want to bid on federal contracts are treating people with disabilities fairly and paying them fairly.
You've got to go at it at every part of what we do, because as a nation, this is truly a measure of who we are. We believe in treating these, the least of thy brethren, as people of value. And that is how we make a better America. [applause]
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Warren. Thank you, Senator Warren.
WOODRUFF: I know we have a lot of hands up. We have so many important topics to discuss.
I want to come to you, Senator Klobuchar, on a question of the judges. President Trump has appointed, as we know, two Supreme Court justices. But he's also had confirmed nearly 200 federal judges, most of whom are young and can shape American law for decades to come.
Some of them you voted for in the Senate, including one who just yesterday joined a ruling to strike down a key part of the Affordable Care Act. Would President Trump's appointees -- my question is -- make it harder for you as president, for any of you on this stage to enact your agenda?
KLOBUCHAR: Of course. And I want to make it clear that I have opposed many, many judges. And I think everyone will remember what happened at the Kavanaugh hearing when that nominee went after me. I stood my ground and he had to apologize. [applause]
So I have been very strong on these judges. As for the judge you just referred to, there was actually -- the judge that wrote the opinion was a judge that went through the Senate unanimously, with support by Senator Sanders, with support by President Obama, with support by then-Senator Kennedy.
So I think it is very important, when we look at these judges, to acknowledge that there are some of these judges that you think are going to be OK and they aren't.
But what would I do as president? I would appoint judges that are in the vein of people like Elena Kagan and Justice Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, and let's not forget the notorious RBG. That's what I would do. [applause]
And if you look at my record as a lawyer and a member of the Judiciary Committee, look at the judges that I recommended to President Obama, people like Mimi Wright, who is a superstar, and Susan Richard Nelson. Look who I've put in as the first openly gay marshal in the history of the United States. I did that because I knew they were qualified people to take those jobs.
And you need to do it not only with the right judges and have that know-how, but you also have to do it right away. That is one thing that we all learned from when President Obama was in, and that was that he was dealing with an economic crisis and it was hard to do it right away, but we have to immediately start putting judges on the bench to fill vacancies so that we can reverse the horrific nature of these Trump judges.
WOODRUFF: A follow-up to Mayor Buttigieg. Beyond a pledge not to overturn Roe v. Wade, which I believe all of you have said would be part of your decision-making in choosing a nominee to the court, are there other litmus tests that you would apply in choosing federal judges?
BUTTIGIEG: The Supreme Court is very personal for me, because my household, my marriage exists by the grace of a single vote on that body. And, yes, it is critical that we have justices who understand that American freedom includes reproductive rights and reproductive freedom.
But that's not all. I expect an understanding that voting rights are human rights. I expect an understanding that equality is required of us all. And I expect a level of respect for the rule of law that prevents this body from coming to be viewed as just one more partisan battlefield, which is why I will not only appoint judges and justices who reflect this worldview, but also begin moving to reform the body itself, as our country has done at least half a dozen times in its history, so that it is not one more political battlefield every single time a vacancy comes up. [applause]
ALCINDOR: Senator Sanders, at least 22 transgender people were killed in the United States this year, move of them transgender women of color. Each of you has said you would push for the passage of the Equality Act, a comprehensive LGBTQ civil rights bill. But if elected, what more would you do to stop violence against transgender people?
SANDERS: We need moral leadership in the White House. We need a president who will do everything humanly possible to end all forms of discrimination against the transgender community, against the African-American community, against the Latino community, and against all minorities in this country.
But above and beyond providing the moral leadership of trying to bring our people together, what we also need for the transgender community is to make sure that health care is available to every person in this country, regardless of their sexual orientation or their needs.
And that is why I strongly support and have helped lead the effort for a Medicare for all single-payer program, which will provide comprehensive health care to all people, including certainly the transgender community.
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Senator Sanders. Senator Warren?
WARREN: The transgender community has been marginalized in every way possible. And one thing that the president of the United States can do is lift up attention, lift up their voices, lift up their lives.
Here's a promise I make. I will go to the Rose Garden once every year to read the names of transgender women, of people of color, who have been killed in the past year. I will make sure that we read their names so that as a nation we are forced to address the particular vulnerability on homelessness. I will change the rules now that put people in prison based on their birth sex identification rather than their current identification. I will do everything I can to make sure that we are an America that leaves no one behind.
ALCINDOR: Thank you, Senator Warren. Amna?
NAWAZ: Vice President Biden, let's turn now to Afghanistan. Confidential documents published last week by the Washington Post revealed that for years senior U.S. officials misled the public about the war in Afghanistan. As vice president...
BIDEN: Afghanistan, you said?
NAWAZ: Yes, sir, Afghanistan. As vice president, what did you know about the state of the war? And do you believe that you were honest with the American people about it?
BIDEN: The reason I can speak to this -- it's well-known, if any of you followed it, my view on Afghanistan -- I was sent by the president before we got sworn in to Afghanistan to come back with a report. I said there was no comprehensive policy available. And then I got in a big fight for a long time with the Pentagon because I strongly opposed the nation-building notion we set about.
Rebuilding that country as a whole nation is beyond our capacity. I argued from the very beginning that we should have a policy that was based on an antiterrorism policy with a very small footprint that, in fact, only had special forces to deal with potential threats from that territory to the United States of America.
The first thing I would do as president of the United States of America is to make sure that we brought all combat troops home, entered into a negotiation with the Taliban. But I would leave behind special forces in small numbers to be able to deal with the potential threat unless we got a real good negotiation accomplished to deal with terrorism.
That's been my position from the beginning. That's why I think Secretary Gates and some members of the Pentagon weren't happy with me.
NAWAZ: Mr. Biden, the question was about your time in the White House, though.
BIDEN: I'm talking about the White House.
NAWAZ: In that Washington Post report, there's a senior national security official who said that there was constant pressure from the Obama White House to produce figures showing the troop surge was working, and I'm quoting from the report here, "despite hard evidence to the contrary." What do you say to that?
BIDEN: Since 2009, go back and look. I was on the opposite side of that with the Pentagon. The only reason I can speak to it now is because it's been published. It's been published thoroughly. I'm the guy from the beginning who argued that it was a big, big mistake to surge forces to Afghanistan, period. We should not have done it. And I argued against it constantly.
NAWAZ: Senator Sanders, you had your hand up. [applause]
SANDERS: Well, in all due respect to my -- Joe, Joe, you're also the guy who helped lead us into the disastrous war in Iraq. What we need to do is, I think, rethink -- and the Washington Post piece was very educational -- what we need to rethink is the entire war on terror.
We have lost thousands of our own men and women, brave soldiers. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people have been killed abroad or forced to leave their countries. It is time right now that we bring this world together to try to end these endless wars and address the root causes which are causing these wars.
NAWAZ: Senator Sanders, you do often point to your vote against the war in Iraq as evidence of your judgment on foreign policy, but you did vote for the war in Afghanistan. And as recently as 2015, you said you supported a continued U.S. troop presence there. Was that support a mistake?
SANDERS: Well, only one person, my good friend, Barbara Lee, was right on that issue. She was the only person in the House to vote against the war in Afghanistan. She was right. I was wrong. So was everybody else in the House.
But to answer your question, I don't think you do what Trump does and make foreign policy decisions based on a tweet at 3 a.m. in the morning or desert your long-time allies like the Kurds. I think you work with the international community. You remove all troops over a period of time, a short period of time, within one year.
NAWAZ: Thank you, Senator. Mayor Buttigieg, you served in this war, but I want to ask about your decision-making if you were elected commander-in-chief. You have pledged to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan within your first year as president, but the Taliban today control or contest more than half the country.
So should you as president still withdraw all those U.S. troops if the country could once again become a haven for terrorists?
BUTTIGIEG: We're going to leave one way or the other. The question is to make sure we do it well and not poorly. And of course, that has to respond to the conditions on the ground and the need for a political settlement.
But, you know, the other day, I was reunited with somebody that I'd served with over there. And the thing we were marveling at is how long it's been since we left. I thought I was one of the last troops turning out the lights when I left years ago, and we're still there.
There may need to be some kind of limited special operations and intelligence capacity, the exact same kind of thing, by the way, that we actually had in Syria holding the line before the president yanked it out, leading to the road to chaos.
But what we know is that we cannot go on with these endless wars. And I'm glad that the name of Barbara Lee was mentioned, not only because of what she's talked about years ago. I believe that we had no choice but to go to Afghanistan after 9/11. But right now, she is one of the leaders of the effort to repeal and replace the authorization for the use of military force and the folks that I served with deserve that. They deserve the clarity of members of Congress being able to summon the courage to take an up-or-down vote on whether they ought to be there in the first place.
And when I am president, any time, if I am forced to deploy troops into war, any time we seek an authorization, it will have a three-year sunset, so that if there really does have to be a conversation about extending it, it has to be brought to Congress, brought to the American people, and those members of Congress have to take that tough up-or-down vote.
NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
ALBERTA: Thanks, Amna.
Moving to health care, an issue that voters tell us every day is still the number-one priority for them, Senator Sanders, you've spent plenty of time discussing and defending the merits of your Medicare for all plan. But the reality is that if Republicans retain control of the U.S. Senate or even if Democrats win back a narrow Senate majority, your plan as constituted probably would not have the votes to pass Congress.
So the question, Senator, is, if Congress rejects your plan and the American people are looking to you for leadership on this issue, are there smaller specific measures that you would take immediately to expand coverage and decrease costs as president?
SANDERS: Well, Tim, at a time when we're spending twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation, when 87 million people are uninsured or underinsured, when 30,000 people are dying each year because they don't get to a doctor when they should, and when a half a million people are going bankrupt because of the dysfunctional and cruel system that we currently have, you know what? I think we will pass a Medicare for all single-payer system, and I will introduce that legislation in my first week in office.
Now, to answer your question, I think when we go out to the American people and tell them that right now we have got to take on the greed and corruption of the pharmaceutical industry, for example, which in some cases charges us 10 times more for the same exact drug as is charged in this country, when the American people understand that Medicare for all expands Medicare to cover home health care, dental care, eyeglasses, and hearing aids, and does it at a cost far, far lower than what some of my opponents are talking about, you know what? We're going to have the American people behind us. We will have Congress behind us.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Sanders.
Vice President Biden, I'd like to bring you in. You spent an awful lot of time 10 years ago trying to pass a bill far less ambitious than what Senator Sanders is talking about here. Is he being realistic?
BIDEN: I don't think it is realistic, but let me explain why. I introduced a plan to build on Obamacare. Remind everybody, 20 million people got insurance who didn't have it before. All people with pre-existing conditions were able to be covered. I could go on. We didn't get all that we wanted.
But now that it's been exposed, that taking it away has such dire consequences, I've added to the Obamacare plan the Biden initiative, which is a public option, Medicare if you want to have Medicare, reducing significantly the price of drugs, deductibles, et cetera, by -- made by underwriting the plan to a tune of about $750 billion, and making sure that we're able to cover everyone who is, in fact, able to be covered. Put your hand down for a second, Bernie, OK? [applause]
SANDERS: Just waving to you, Joe.
BIDEN: I know. I know.
SANDERS: Saying hello.
BIDEN: I know. So, look, it covers everybody. It's realistic. And most importantly, it lets you choose what you want. Here you have 160 million people who negotiated their health care plans with their employer, like many of you have. You may or may not like it. If you don't like it, you can move into the public option that I propose in my plan. But if you like it, you shouldn't have -- you shouldn't have Washington dictating to you, you cannot keep the plan you have.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Vice President Biden.
BIDEN: That's a... [applause]
ALBERTA: Senator Sanders, 45 seconds to respond.
SANDERS: Under Joe's plan, essentially we retain the status quo.
BIDEN: That's not true.
SANDERS: It is exactly true.
KLOBUCHAR: No, that's not right.
SANDERS: And but -- thank you. And, by the way, Joe, under your plan, you know, you asked me how are we going to pay for it? Under your plan, I'll tell you how we're paying for it right now. The average worker in America, their family makes $60,000 a year. That family is now paying $12,000 a year for health care, 20 percent of their income. Under Medicare for all, that family will be paying $1,200 a year, because we're eliminating the profiteering of the drug companies and the insurance companies and ending this byzantine and complex administration of thousands of separate health care plans.
ALBERTA: Senator Klobuchar, I'm going to come to you...
BIDEN: My name was mentioned.
ALBERTA: I'm going to come to you, but 45 seconds...
BIDEN: I'm the only guy that's not interrupted.
ALBERTA: Forty-five seconds for Vice President Biden.
BIDEN: I'm the only guy that's not interrupted here, all right? And I'm going to interrupt now. It costs $30 trillion. Let's get that straight, $30 trillion over 10 years. Some say it costs $20 trillion. Some say it costs $40 trillion.
The idea that you're going to be able to save that person making $60,000 a year on Medicare for all is absolutely preposterous. Sixteen percent of the American public is on Medicare now and everybody has a tax taken out of their paycheck now. Tell me, you're going to add 84 percent more and there's not going to be higher taxes? At least before he was honest about it.
BIDEN: It's going to increase personal taxes. There are going to be...
SANDERS: That's right, we are going to increase personal taxes. But we're eliminating premiums, we're eliminating co-payments, we're eliminating deductibles, we're eliminating all out-of-pocket expenses, and no family in America will spend more than $200 a year on prescription drugs.
ALBERTA: Senator Klobuchar...
SANDERS: ... our plan will save the average worker...
ALBERTA: Senator Klobuchar, we'd like to hear from -- we'd like to hear from you...
KLOBUCHAR: Whoa, guys, hey.
BIDEN: It's the first time I did this.
KLOBUCHAR: OK, that's true. I'll say this. First of all, Bernie, I promise, when I am your president, I will get our pharmaceutical bills done. And we have worked together on this time and time again. And I agree with you on that.
But where I disagree is, I just don't think anyone has a monopoly on bold ideas. I think you can be progressive and practical at the same time. That is why I favor a public option, which is a nonprofit option, to bring the cost down. And, yes, it does bring the costs down immediately for 13 million people, and then we'll expand coverage to 12 million people.
But here's the political problem. This fight that you guys are having isn't real. Your fight, Bernie, is not with me or with Vice President Biden. It is with all those -- bunch of those new House members, not every one by any means, that got elected in that last election in the Democratic Party. It is with the new governor, Democratic governor of Kentucky, that wants to build on Obamacare.
And the way I look at it, if you want to bridge -- build -- if you want cross a river over some troubled waters, you build a bridge, you don't blow one up. And I think that we should build on the Affordable Care Act. [applause]
SANDERS: She mentioned my name...
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar. Senator Warren, we would like to bring you in.
SANDERS: Excuse me. She mentioned -- she took my name in vain.
KLOBUCHAR: Oh. [laughter]
SANDERS: She hurt my feelings. I am crushed. Can I respond?
KLOBUCHAR: I would never do that to you. I would never, never, never.
SANDERS: My fight, Amy...
ALBERTA: All right. Forty-five seconds, Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: All right. My fight, Amy, is not with the governor of Kentucky. My fight and all of our fights must be with the greed and corruption of the pharmaceutical industry, with the greed and corruption of the insurance industry. These guys last year made $100 billion in profit and tens of millions of Americans cannot afford to go to a doctor tonight.
The day has got to come -- and Joe is not talking about it, Amy is not talking about it -- the day has got to come, and I will bring that day about, when we finally say to the drug companies and the insurance companies, the function of health care is to provide it for all of our people in a cost-effective way, not to make massive profits for the drug companies and the insurance companies.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Sanders. Senator Warren...
ALBERTA: We'd like -- we'd like to bring you into this discussion. The same question to you that I posed to Senator Sanders, if Congress rejects a Medicare for all proposal and you're the president, are there smaller specific measures that you could pursue with bipartisan support to decrease costs and expand coverage?
WARREN: So this is about costs. It's about costs on middle-class families. Last year, 36 million Americans didn't have a prescription filled because they couldn't afford it. And those are people with health insurance, as well. People who can't do the co-pays, people who can't do the deductibles, people who find out that the drug is not covered.
So here's how I approach this. I want to do the most good I can for the most people as quickly as possible. On day one, I'm going to attack the prices on commonly used drugs, like EpiPens and insulin, and bring down those prices. The president can do that -- I love saying this -- all by herself. And I will do it. That's going to save families hundreds of millions of dollars.
And then in the first 100 days, because I found a way to pay for full health care coverage for everyone without raising taxes on middle-class families...
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator.
WARREN: ... I'm going to make available to people for a full health care coverage for 135 million people. It will be at no cost at all. And they can opt into that system.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator Warren.
WARREN: For others, it will be at a low cost. We have got to start moving and move fast.
ALBERTA: We do have to move on.
WARREN: We can do that -- we can do that on 50 votes.
ALBERTA: Thank you, Senator. Judy?
WOODRUFF: We are coming to the end of our time. A lot of hands up, we apologize for that.
But in the spirit of the season, I'd like to ask each one of you, is there someone else among these candidates that you would -- you have two options, one, a candidate from whom you would ask forgiveness for something maybe that was said tonight or another time, or -- or a candidate to whom you would like to give a gift. And I'm going to start with you, Mr. Yang.
YANG: Wow. [laughter]
WARREN: We can do a labor action and just all go on strike on this one, Andrew. [laughter]
YANG: I don't think I have much to ask forgiveness for. You all can correct me on this. In terms of a gift, Elizabeth has done me the honor of starting to read my book.
YANG: I would love to give each of you a copy of my book. [laughter and applause]
It's about how we're going through the greatest economic transformation in our country's history, the fourth industrial revolution. It is grinding up our communities. And D.C. is out to lunch on this. Our media organizations are not covering it adequately. I wrote a book on it, and if you like data, this book is for you. This goes for the people at home, too, if you like data and books. [laughter]
WOODRUFF: Mayor Buttigieg. Mayor Buttigieg, ask forgiveness or give a gift?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, first of all, I love data and books, so I think we should all be excited about this. And come to think of it, I should probably send my book around more, too. Look...
YANG: Your publisher will thank you.
BUTTIGIEG: I think all of us will want the same thing at the end of the day. We know what a gift it would be to the future and to the country for literally anybody up here to become president of the United States compared to what we've got. [applause]
And we've got to remember, there are I don't know how many now -- we're up to 25 something have run for president in the Democratic president. The moment we've got a nominee, the 24 who aren't that nominee are going to have to rally around the one who does. Let's make sure there's not too much to ask forgiveness for by the time that day comes. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Senator Warren?
WARREN: I will ask for forgiveness. I know that sometimes I get really worked up, and sometimes I get a little hot. I don't really mean to.
What happens is, when you do 100,000 selfies with people...[laughter]...you hear enough stories about people who are really down to their last moments. You know, I met someone just last week in Nevada who said that he has diabetes and that he has access to a prescription because he's a veteran. But his sister has diabetes and his daughter has diabetes, and they simply can't afford insulin. So the three of them spend all of their time figuring out how to stretch one insulin prescription among three people.
When I think about what we could do if we get a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and get back the White House, we could make this country work for people like that man. And that's why I'm in this fight. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Vice President Biden?
BIDEN: I think everyone up here on this stage, and those who are not on this stage who've run, we owe them, because they're all pushing for the exact same thing. You're not the only one that does selfies, Senator. I've done thousands of them, thousands of them. And the crew that follows me can tell you, there's not one line I go through that I don't have at least a half a dozen people come up and hug me and say, can you help me? I just lost my daughter 10 days ago. Can you help me? Tell me I'm going to be OK. Can you help me? I just lost -- and they go and lay out their problems.
My wife and I have a call list of somewhere between 20 and 100 people that we call at least every week or every month to tell them, I'm here. I give them my private phone number. They keep in touch with me.
The little kid who says, I can't talk, what do I do? I have scores of these young women and men who I keep in contact with. And the reason I would give everyone here a gift is because they want to do something like I do of making their lives better, because there's a lot of people who are hurting very, very, very badly. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Senator Sanders, forgiveness or a gift?
SANDERS: Well, I can give out any one of four books that I wrote. [laughter]
But I think the gift that all of us need to give to the American people is a very, very different vision of the reality of the Trump administration. And the vision that we need to bring forth is to create a government and a nation based on love and compassion, not greed and hatred. [applause]
We need a vision which says that in our great country, all of our people should be able to earn a decent standard of living, have health care, have the ability to send their kids to college, regardless of their income. So we need a new vision which brings our people together around an agenda that works for all, not the Trump vision of dividing us up to benefit the billionaire class. That's my vision.
WOODRUFF: Senator Klobuchar?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I would ask for forgiveness any time any of you get mad at me. I can be blunt. But I am doing this because I think it is so important to pick the right candidate here. I do.
I think when you see what's going on around the country, yes, it's the economic check that Elizabeth and Bernie have so well pointed out on this stage, but there's something else going on here, and it is a decency check. It is a values check. It is a patriotism check.
When you see people -- and we've all had this happen -- that come to our meetings and say, you know, yeah, I voted for Donald Trump, but I don't want to do it again, because I want my kids to be able to watch the president on TV and not mute the TV.
We have to remember as Democrats, and if I get worked up about this, it's because I believe it so much in my heart, that we have to bring people with us and not shut them out. That is the gift we can give America in this election. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Mr. Steyer?
STEYER: So, look, this is the holiday season. And what I'm hearing from every single one of these candidates is that they've gone around the United States and what they've seen from this administration and what they've seen from the Republican Party is cruelty towards the people of the United States for money.
So when I think about the gift that I'd like to give -- and I've seen that, too. I mean, I think it starts with cruelty when children are born and it goes right through life into pre-K, education, health care, a living wage. There is cruelty to working people, there is cruelty to seniors.
And so the gift that I would like to give everyone on this stage, which was the original question, is the gift of teamwork. Because the question up here is, how are we together going to change this framework? How are we together going to beat this corrupt and criminal president? How are we going to stand up for the people of the United States together, not by tearing each other down, but by supporting each other and by realizing that what we stand for is the true value of America? And as a team, that's how we're going to do it. And as Americans, we're going to come together to stand up for the original values -- freedom, equality, justice, teamwork. [applause]
WOODRUFF: That -- we are going to take a very short break. That does conclude our questions tonight here at Loyola Marymount University. We'll be back in just two minutes to hear the candidates' closing statements.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back to the PBS NewsHour Democratic debate with Politico. And now it's time for closing statements. Each have 60 seconds, beginning with Mr. Steyer.
STEYER: I'm different from everybody else on this stage, and here's why. I'm running because corporations have bought our government and we need to return power to the people. And for the last 10 years, that's exactly what I've been doing, taking on unchecked corporate power.
That's why I'm for term limits, because if we're going to have bold change, then we need new people in charge and new ideas. I'm the only person on this stage who's built a large, multibillion-dollar international business. I know how to grow prosperity. I can take on Mr. Trump on the economy and beat him.
I'm the only one on this stage who said climate is my number-one priority. It's a crisis we have to deal with, but it's also our greatest opportunity to create millions of good-paying union jobs across the country and clean up the air and water in the black and brown communities where it's so essential.
So if you want to break the corporate stranglehold, beat Mr. Trump on the economy, and solve our climate crisis, I can deliver. And I'm asking for your vote.
WOODRUFF: Mr. Yang. I'm sorry. My apology for interrupting. [applause]
YANG: I know what you're thinking, America. How am I still on this stage with them? [applause]
Our campaign is growing all the time because we are laser-focused on solving the real problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place. I spent seven years helping create thousands of jobs in Detroit, Baltimore, New Orleans, and other cities, serving as an ambassador of entrepreneurship under President Obama, and I saw firsthand what many of you already know. Our country is falling apart.
Our senior citizens are working until the day they die. Our kids are addicted to smartphones or drugs. We're seeing record high levels of depression and suicides, overdoses. Our companies are recording record profits while our people are literally dying younger.
Our way of life is changing faster than ever, and the simple fact is this. Our politicians in D.C. succeed whether we the people succeed or fail. Washington, D.C., today is the richest city in our country. What do they produce? Bad decisions? [laughter]
We need to get the money out of D.C. and into your hands, the hands of the American people. Join us at yang2020.com and help us rewrite the rules of the 21st century economy to work for us. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Thank you. Senator Klobuchar?
KLOBUCHAR: We have had quite a debate tonight, but I want to debate Donald Trump. This primary comes down to some simple questions. Who has the best ideas, the best experience? Mostly, who can beat Donald Trump, and how will she do it?
So Donald Trump built his fortune on, over time, over $413 million that he got from his dad. My grandpa, he was an iron ore miner, a union member, who worked 1,500 feet underground, and he saved money in a coffee can in the basement to send my dad to a community college. That's my family trust.
And I figure if you are given opportunity, you don't go into the world with a sense of entitlement. You go into it with a sense of obligation, an obligation to lift people up instead of hoarding what you have for yourself.
Our politics right now, because of Donald Trump, are toxic. We need a leader who can bring people together and who can win that way. So if you are tired of the extremes in our politics and the noise and the nonsense, you have a home with me. If you want a bigger tent and a wider coalition and longer coattails, join me. We will win at amyklobuchar.com.
WOODRUFF: Thank you. [applause]
BUTTIGIEG: So the nominee is going to have to do two things: defeat Donald Trump and unite the country as president. It's a tall order. And in order to do it, we're going to need a nominee and a president who can respond to the crisis of belonging that is gripping our nation today. That means building up a politics that is defined not by who we exclude, not by who we reject, but by how many people we can call to this side.
I have seen so many people capable of forming that multiracial, multigenerational coalition. And I am seeing more and more people who maybe have not felt welcome in the Democratic Party before but belong here now because they're definitely not on board with what's going on in the Trump White House.
I am asking you to join me, to vote for me, to caucus for me, and to help us build that future defined not by exclusion, but by belonging. [applause]
WOODRUFF: Senator Warren?
WARREN: Did you call my name?
This is a dark moment in America, and yet I come here tonight with a heart filled with hope. All three of my brothers served in the military. They're all retired. They're all back in Oklahoma. One is a Democrat. Two are Republicans. But you know what unites my three brothers? Amazon. They are furious that Amazon reported $10 billion in profits and paid zero in taxes.
My brothers are part of why America is ready to root out corruption and fight back. And that gives us a base to work from. America is ready for a two cent wealth tax. It's supported by Republicans, Democrats, and independents. And it lets us invest in all of our children.
America is ready to expand Social Security payments and disability payments by $200 a month. And we can do it. You know, someone asked what this would mean. You just give somebody $200 a month, they asked me this in a town hall. And a lady who wanted it said, you know what it will mean to me? It will mean I can get a prescription filled and I can still buy toilet paper the same week. That's where Americans are right now.
I am not working for millionaires and billionaires. I'm here to work for the tens of millions of people across this country who are ready to build an America that won't just work for those at the top, but that will work for everyone.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Senator. [applause]
SANDERS: For 45 years, Americans have been listening to great speeches. And at the end of the day, the average American worker is not making a nickel more than he or she did in real wages over those 45 years.
The truth is that real change always takes place -- real change -- always takes place from the bottom on up, never from the top on down. And that is why in this campaign I am so proud that we have over a million volunteers. We have some of the strongest grassroots organizations. We have raised more individual contributions than any candidate in American history.
Please join the political revolution at berniesanders.com. Let's defeat Trump. Let's transform this country. Thank you. [applause]
WOODRUFF: And finally, Vice President Biden.
BIDEN: I want to thank everyone listening seven days out from Christmas. Thank you very much.
Look, we all have big progressive plans. And the question is, who can deliver on those plans? And it seems to me, we have to ask ourselves three questions straight up and honestly. Who has the best chance, the most likely chance of defeating Donald Trump? Who is the one who's most likely to do that?
Number two, who can help elect Democrats to the United States Senate in states like North Carolina and Georgia and Arizona and other states?
And thirdly, who can deliver legislatively? That requires you to look at our records. I have a significant record of getting significant things done, from Violence Against Women Act to the chemical weapons treaty, in foreign and domestic policy alike.
And so I think asking those questions, I believe, as you would expect, that I'm the most qualified to answer those three questions. But most of all, we've got to level with the American people. Don't play games with them. Tell them the truth and be authentic.
God bless you all, and may you have a great, great holiday season. And thank you guys for doing this, as well.
WOODRUFF: Thank you. [applause]
Thank you very much. And that concludes the PBS NewsHour-Politico debate. I do want to thank my colleagues here at the moderator table, Tim Alberta of Politico, Amna Nawaz and Yamiche Alcindor of the PBS NewsHour.
Thank you all for joining us. Please stick around and watch PBS for some analysis. Thank you to the candidates.
Presidential Candidate Debates, Democratic Candidates Debate in Los Angeles, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/342208