empty podium for debate

Democratic Candidates Debate in Miami, Florida: Group 1

June 26, 2019

Senator Cory Booker (NJ);
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro;
Mayor Bill de Blasio (New York City);
Former Representative John Delaney (MD-6);
Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2);
Governor Jay Inslee (WA);
Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN);
Former Representative Beto O'Rourke (TX-16);
Representative Tim Ryan (OH-17); and
Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA);

José Díaz-Balart (Telemundo);
Savannah Guthrie (NBC News);
Lester Holt (NBC News);
Rachel Maddow (MSNBC); and
Chuck Todd (NBC News)

HOLT: Good evening everyone, I am Lester Holt and welcome to the first democratic debate in the 2020 race for president.

GUTHRIE: Hi, I'm Savannah Guthrie and tonight it's our first chance to see these candidates go head to head onstage together. We will be joined in our questioning tonight by our colleagues, Jose Diaz-Balart, Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow.

HOLT: Voters are trying to nail down where the candidates and on the issues, what sets them apart, and which of these presidential hopefuls has what it takes.

GUTHRIE: Well, now it's time to find out.

UNKNOWN: Tonight round one. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. From NBC News Decision 2020 the Democratic candidates debate live from the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center in Miami, Florida.

HOLT: Good evening again everyone. Welcome to the candidates and to our audience here in Miami here in the Arsht Center and all across the country. Tonight we are going to take on many of the most pressing issues of the moment including immigration, the situation unfolding at our border, and the treatment of migrant children.

GUTHRIE: And we are going to talk about the tensions with Iran, climate change, and of course we will talk about the economy, those kitchen table issues so many Americans face every day.

TODD: And some quick rules of the road before we begin. Twenty candidates qualified for this first debate. We will hear from 10 tonight and 10 more tomorrow. The breakdown for each was selected at random. The candidates will have 60 seconds to answer and 30 seconds for any follow-ups.

HOLT: Because of this large field not every person will be able to comment on every of topic but over the course of the next two hours we will hear from everyone. We would also like to ask the audience to keep their reactions to a minimum. We are not going to be shy about making sure the candidates stick to time tonight.

GUTHRIE: All right. So with a business out of the we want to get to it we will start this evening with Senator Elizabeth Warren. Senator, good evening to you.

WARREN: Thank you. It's good to be here.

GUTHRIE: You have many plans free college, free childcare, government healthcare, cancellation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations but this comes at a time when 71 percent of Americans say the economy is doing well including 60 percent of Democrats. What do you say to those who worry this kind of significant change could be risky to the economy?

WARREN: So I think of it this way, who is this economy really working for? It's doing great for a thinner and thinner slice at the top. It's doing great for giant drug companies. This is not doing great for people are trying to get a prescription filled. It's doing great for people who want to invest in private prisons just not for the African-Americans and Latinx whose families are torn apart whose lives are destroyed and whose communities are ruined. It's doing great for giant oil companies that want to drill everywhere just not for the rest of us who are watching climate change bear down upon us. When you've got a government—when you've got an economy that does great for those with money and isn't doing great for everyone else that is corruption, pure and simple. We need to call it out. We need to attack it had on and we need to make structural change in our government, in our economy, and in our country.

GUTHRIE: Senator Klobuchar you have called programs like free college something you might do if you were quote a magic genie. To be blunt are the government programs and benefits that some of your rivals are offering giving your voters—people a false sense of what is actually achievable?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, first, the economy. We know that not everyone is sharing in this prosperity and Donald Trump just sits in the White House and gloats about what is going on when you have so many people that are having trouble affording college and having trouble affording their premiums. So I do get concerned about paying for college for rich kids; I do. But I think my plan is a good one and my plan would be to first of all make community college free and make sure that everyone else besides that top percentile gets help with their education. My own dad and my sister got their first agrees with community college. There's many paths to success as well as certifications. Secondly I would use programs. I would double them from $6000 to $12,000 a year and expand it to the number of families that get covered up to families that make up to $100,000. And then the third thing I would do is make it easier for students to pay off their student loans because I can tell you this, if billionaires...

GUTHRIE: Senator Klobuchar, [inaudible].

KLOBUCHAR: can pay off their yachts, students should be able to pay off their student loans.

GUTHRIE: That's time, thank you. Congressman O'Rourke, what we have just been discussing and talking about is how much fundamental change to the economy is desirable and how much is actually doable. In that vein some Democrats want a marginal individual tax rate of 70 percent on the very highest earners, those making more than $10 million a year. Would you support that? And if not, what would your top individual rate be?

O'ROURKE: This economy has got to work for everyone and right now we know that it isn't and it's going to take all of us coming together to make sure that it does. [untranslated) Right now we have a system that favors those that can pay for access and outcomes, that is how you explain an economy that is rigged to corporations and to the very wealthiest. A $2 trillion tax cut that favored corporations while they were sitting on record piles of cash and the very wealthiest in this country at a time of historic wealth inequality. A new democracy that is revised because we have returned power to the people, no pacts, no gerrymandering, automatic and same-day voter registration to bring in more voters and a new voting rights act to get rid of the barriers that are in place now.

GUTHRIE: Congressman O'Rourke.

O'ROURKE: That's how we each have a voice in our democracy and make this economy work for everybody.

GUTHRIE: Congressman, that—that's time, sir.

I'll give you ten seconds to answer if you want to answer the direct question would you support a 70 percent individual marginal tax rate, yes, no or pass?

O'ROURKE: I would support a—a tax rate and a tax code that is fair to everyone. Tax capital at the same rate...

GUTHRIE: Seventy percent?

O'ROURKE: ...that you—you tax ordinary income. Take the corporate tax rate up to 28 percent. You would generate the revenues...

GUTHRIE: Okay. That's time.

O'ROURKE: ...you need to pay for the programs we are talking about.

GUTHRIE: That is time. Thank you. Senator Booker there is a debate on this party right now about the role of corporations as you know. Senator Warren in particular put out a plan to break up tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google. You have said we should not go be running around pointing at companies and breaking them up without any kind of process. Why do you disagree?

BOOKER: I don't think I disagree. I think we have a serious problem in our country with corporate consolidation. You see the evidence of that in how dignity is being strip from labor and we a people who work full-time jobs and still can't make a living wage. We see that because consumer prices are being raised by pharmaceutical companies that often have monopolistic holds on drugs and use see that by just the fact that this is actually an economy that is hurting small businesses and not allowing them to compete. One of the most aggressive bills in the Senate to deal with corporate consolidation is mine about corporate consolidation in the ag sector. So I feel very strongly about the need to check the corporate consolidation and let the free market work. And I will tell you this I live in a low-income black and brown community. I see every single day that this economy is not working for average Americans. The indicators that are being used from GDP to Wall Street's rankings is not helping people in my community. It is about time that we have an economy that works for everybody, not just the wealthiest in our nation.

GUTHRIE: But quickly Senator Booker you did say that you didn't think it was right to name names, to name companies and single them out as Senator Warren has. Briefly, why is that?

BOOKER: Well, again I will single out companies like Halliburton or Amazon that pay nothing in taxes and our need to change that. And when it comes to antitrust law what I would do is number one appoint judges that will enforce it; number two, have a DOJ and a Federal Trade Commission that will go through the processes necessary to check this kind of corporate concentration. At the end of the day we have too much of a problem with corporate power growing. We see that with everything from Citizens United in the way they are trying to influence Washington. It's about time that we have a president that fights for the people in this country.

GUTHRIE: That's time, sir.

BOOKER: We need to have someone that's champion for them.

GUTHRIE: Thank you, Senator. Senator. Warren, I mentioned you. Are you picking winners and losers?

WARREN: So the way I understand this is there is way too much consolidation now in giant industries in this country. That hurts workers, it hurts small businesses, it hurts independent farmers, it hurts our economy overall. And it helps constrict real innovation and growth in this economy. Now look, we've had the laws out there for a long time to be able to fight back. What's been missing his courage. Courage in Washington to take on the giants. That's part of the corruption in the system. It has been far too long that the monopolies have been making the campaign contributions, have been funding those super PACs, have been out there making sure that their influence is heard and felt in every single decision that gets made in Washington. Where I want to start this is I want to return to government to the people, and that means calling out the names of the monopolists and saying I have the courage to go after them.

GUTHRIE: Thank you.

HOLT: Secretary Castro, my—the next question is for you. Immigrants have been talking about the pay gap for decades. What would you do to ensure that women are paid fairly in this country?

CASTRO: Thank you very much for that question, Lester. You know, I grew up with a mother who raised her brother Joaquin and me as a single parent, and I know what it's like to struggle. I know what it's like to rent a home and to worry about whether you're going to be able to pay the rent at the first of the month and to see a mom worked very, very hard and know that moms across this country are getting paid less simply because they're women. I would do several things starting with something we should have done a long time ago, which is to pass the equal rights amendment finally in this country. And also pursue legislation so that women are paid equal pay for equal work in this country. It's past time that we did that And you know, we have to do this. If we want to be the most prosperous nation in the 21st century, we need to make sure that women are paid what they deserve.

HOLT: All right, thank you. I want to put the same question to Congresswoman Gabbard. Your thoughts on equal pay.

GABBARD: Yeah, well first of all, let's recognize the—the situation we're that the American people deserve a president who will put your interests ahead of the rich and powerful. That's not what we have right now. I enlisted in the Army National Guard after the Al Qaeda terror attacks on 9/11 so I could go after those who had attacked us on that day. I still serve as a Major. I served over 16 years, deployed twice in the Middle East, and in Congress, served on the foreign affairs and armed services committees for over six years. I know the importance of our national security as well as the terribly high cost of war. And for too long, our leaders have failed us taking us from one regime change war to the next leading us into a new Cold War an arms race, tossing us trillions of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars and countless lives. This insanity must end. As president, I will take your hard-earned taxpayer dollars and instead invest those dollars into serving your needs, things like healthcare, a green economy, good paying jobs, protecting our environment, and so much more.

DIAZ-BALART: Mayor de Blasio, good evening. You're the mayor of the biggest city in the United States, but it's also one of the cities in the country with the greatest gap between the wealthy and the poor. How would you address income inequality?

DE BLASIO: Well, we've been addressing incoming inequality in New York City by raising wages, by raising benefits, by putting money back in the hands of working people, $15 minimum wage, paid sick days, Pre-K for all, things that are making a huge difference in working people's lives. But let me tell you what we are hearing here already in the first round of questions is that battle for the heart and soul of our party. I want to make it clear, this is supposed to be the party of working people. Yes, we're supposed to be for 70 perecent tax rate on the wealthy. Yes, we are supposed to be for free college, free public college for our young people, we are supposed to break up big corporations when they're not serving our democracy. This Democratic Party has to be strong and bold and progressive. And in New York, we've proven that we can do something very different. We can put money back in the hands of working people. And let me tell you, every time you talk about investing in people and their communities, you hear folks say there's not enough money. What I say to them every single time is there's plenty of money in this world. There's plenty of money in this country. It's just in the wrong hands.

DIAZ-BALART: Thank you. Congressman...

DE BLASIO: We Democrats have to fix that.

DIAZ-BALART: ...Congressman Delaney, do you agree?

DELANEY: I think we need to do real things to help American workers and the American people, right? This is the issue that all of us hear on the campaign trail. We need to make sure everyone has a living wage, and I've called for a doubling of the earned income tax credit, raising the minimum wage, and creating paid family leave. That will create a situation where people actually have a living wage. That gets right to workers. Then we've got to fix our public education system. It's not delivering the results our kid's needs, nor is college and post high school career and technical training programs doing that. You know, I'm very different than everyone else here on the stage. Prior to being in Congress, I was an entrepreneur. I started two businesses. I created thousands of jobs. I spent my whole career helping small to midsize businesses all over the country. 5000—5000 of them I supported. The Obama administration gave me an award for lending to disadvantaged communities. I know how to create jobs. We need a short-term strategy, which is to put money in the pockets of workers with the in earned income tax credit, raising the minimum wage and creating paid family leave, and then we need to have a long-term strategy to make sure this country is competitive, and we are creating jobs everywhere in this country.

DIAZ-BALART: Governor Inslee, how would you address income inequality?

INSLEE: Well, I'm a little bit surprised. I think plans are great, but I am a governor and we got to realize that the people who brought us the weekend, unions, need—are going to bring us a long overdue race in America. And I'm proud of standing up for unions. I've got a plan to reinvigorate collective bargaining so we can increase wages finally. I marched with the SCIU folks. It is not right that the CEO of McDonald's makes 2100 times more than the people slinging hash at McDonald's. And the next thing I'll do is put people to work in the jobs of the president present in the future. Look it, Donald Trump is simply wrong. He says wind turbines cause cancer. We know they cause jobs. And we know that we can put millions of people to work in the clean energy jobs of the future. Carpenters, IBW's members, machinists, we're doing it in my state today. And then we can do what America always does, lead the world and invent the future and put people to Burke. That's what we're going to do. [inaudible]

DIAZ-BALART: So Congressman Ryan, President Trump, and you just refer to him, promised that manufacturing jobs were all coming back to places like your home state of Ohio. Can—can you make that same promise?

RYAN: Yes, I believe you can. But the first, let's say the president came, he said don't sell your house, the people in Youngstown Ohio. And—and his administration just in the last two years, we lost $4000—4000 jobs out of General Motors facility. That rippled throughout our community. General Motors got a tax cut, General Motors got a bailout. And then they have the audacity to move a new car that they're going to produce to Mexico.

I've had family members that have to unbolt a machine from the factory floor, put it in a box, and ship it to China. My area where I come from in Northeast Ohio, this issue we're talking about here, it's been going on 40 years. This is not a new phenomenon in the United States of America. The bottom 60 percent haven't seen a raise since 1980. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent controlled 90 percent of the wealth. We need an industrial policy saying were going to dominate building electric vehicles, there's going to be 30 million navy made in the next 10 years. I want half of them made in the United States. I want to dominate the solar industry...

DIAZ-BALART: Thank you

RYAN: ...and manufacture those here in the United States.

DIAZ-BALART: Senator Warren. Are they coming back? Are these jobs coming back?

WARREN: So we had an industrial policy in the United States for decades now and it's basically been let giant corporations do whatever they want to do. Giant corporations have exactly one loyalty, and that is to profits. And if they can save a nickel by moving a job to Mexico or to Asia or to Canada, they're going to do it. So here's what I propose for an industrial policy, start with a place where there's a real need. There's going to be a worldwide need for green technology, ways to clean up the air, ways to clean up the water, and we can be the ones to provide that. We need to go tenfold in our research and development on green energy going forward. And then we need to say —Any corporation can come and use that research. They can make all kinds of product from it, but they have to be manufactured right here in the United States of America. And then we have to double down and sell it around the world. There is a $23 trillion market coming for green products. We should be the leaders and the owners, and we should have that 1.2 million manufacturing jobs here in America.

DIAZ-BALART: Thank you.

WARREN: We can do this.

HOLT: All right. We're going to turn to the issue of healthcare right now. And really try to understand where there may or may not the daylight between you. Many people watching at home have health insurance coverage through their employer. Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government run plan? Just a show of hands to start off with. All right, well Senator Klobuchar, let me put the question to you. You are one of the Democrats who wants to keep private insurance in addition to a government healthcare plan. Why is it an incremental approach in your view better than a sweeping overall?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think it's a bold approach. It's something that Barack Obama wanted to do when we were working on the Affordable Care Act, and that is a public option. I am just simply concerned about kicking half of America off of their health insurance in a four years, which is exactly what this bill says. So, let me go on beyond that. There is a much bigger issue in addition to that, and that is pharmaceuticals. The president literally went on TV on Fox and said that people's heads would spend when they see how much he would bring down pharmaceutical prices. Instead, 2,500 drugs have gone up in double digits since he came into office. Instead, he gave $100 billion in giveaways to the pharma companies. For the rest of us, for the rest of America, that's what we call at home all foam and no beer. We got nothing out of it. And so, my proposal is to do something about pharma, to take them on, to allow negotiation under Medicare, to bring in less expensive drugs from other countries. And pharma thinks they own Washington. Well, they don't own me.

HOLT: Your time is up. Thank you. Senator—Senator Warren, you signed on to Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All plan. It would put essentially everybody on the Medicare and then eliminate private plans that offer similar coverage. Is that the plan or path that you would pursue as president?

WARREN: So, yes, I'm with Bernie on Medicare for All, and let me tell you why. I've spent a big chunk of my life studying why families go broke, and one of the number one reasons is the cost of healthcare, medical bills. And that's not just for people who don't have insurance. It's for people who have insurance. Look at the business model of an insurance company. It's to bring in as many dollars as they can in premiums and to pay out as few dollars as possible for your healthcare. That leaves families with rising premiums, rising co-pays, and fighting with insurance companies to try to get the healthcare that their doctors say that they and their children need. Medicare for All solves that problem. And I understand there are a lot of politicians who say, oh, it's just not possible. We just can't do it. It's—have a lot of political reasons for this. What they're really telling you is they just won't fight for it. Well, healthcare is a basic human right, and I will fight for basic human rights.

HOLT: Senator, thank you.

WARREN: That means Medicare for All.

HOLT: Congressman—Congressman O'Rourke, when you ran for Senate, you also praised a bill that would replace private insurance. This year, you're saying you're no longer sure. Can you explain why?

O'ROURKE: My goal is to ensure that every American is well enough to live to their full potential because they have healthcare. In Laredo, Texas, I met a young man, 27 years old, told me that he'd been to a doctor once in his life. And on that visit, he was told he had diabetes, was told he had glaucoma, and he was told untreated, because he doesn't have healthcare, he'll be dead before the age of 40. So, getting to guaranteed, high quality, universal healthcare as quickly and surely as possible has to be our goal; the ability to afford your prescriptions and go to a primary care provider, the—the ability to see a mental health care provider. In Texas, the single largest provider of mental health care services is the county jail system today. And healthcare also has to mean that every woman can make our own decisions about her own body and has access to the care that makes that possible. Our plan says that if you're uninsured, we enroll you in Medicare. If you're insufficiently in short, you can afford your premiums, we enroll you in Medicare. But if you're a member of a union that negotiated for a healthcare plan that you like because it works for you.

HOLT: Your time is up.

O'ROURKE: And your family, your able to keep it. We preserve choice by making sure...

HOLT: Your time...

O'ROURKE: ...everybody has health care

HOLT: Your time is up, Congressman. But I do want to ask a follow up on this one just to be—just to be very clear. I'll give you 10 seconds. Would you replace private insurance?

O'ROURKE: No. I—I think that choice is—is fundamental to our ability...

DE BLASIO: Hey, wait, wait

O'ROURKE: ...to get everybody cared for

DE BLASIO: Congressman O'Rourke, about private insurance is not working for tens of millions of Americans. When you talk about the co-pays, the deductibles, the premiums, the out-of-pocket expenses, it's not working.

O'ROURKE: That's right. So—so, for those...

DE BLASIO: How can you defend a system that's...

O'ROURKE: ...or whom it is...

DE BLASIO: ...not working...

O'ROURKE: ...not working, they can choose Medicare. For the culinary workers...

DE BLASIO: ...Congressman

O'ROURKE: In Nevada who I listened to...

DE BLASIO: You got to start by acknowledging the system is not working...

O'ROURKE: ...who negotiated for those plans.

DE BLASIO: ...for people.

O'ROURKE: They're able to keep 'em.

DE BLASIO: Why are you defending private insurance to begin with?

DELANEY: A hundred million Americans say they like their private health insurance, by the way? It should be noted that a hundred million Americans—I mean, I think we should be the party that keeps what's working and fixes what's broken. I mean, doesn't that make sense? I mean, we should give everyone in this country healthcare as a basic human right or free, full stop. But we should also give them the option to buy private insurance. Why do we have to stand up for taking away something from the people? And also, it's bad policy. If you go to every hospital in this country and you ask them one question, which is how would it have been for you last year if every one of your bills were paid at the Medicare rate? Every single hospital administrator said they would close. And the Medicare for All bill requires payments to stay at current Medicare rates. So, to some extent, were basically supporting a bill that will have every hospital close. I mean, my dad was a union electrician, right? I actually grew up in a working-class family. He loved the healthcare that the IBEW have him. And I'd just always think about my dad in anything I wouldn't do from a policy perspective. He'd look at me and—and he'd say good job, John, for getting healthcare for every American.

HOLT: I—I've let—I've let this...

DELANEY: But why are you taking my healthcare way?

HOLT: I've let this play out a little bit because it's—I'm fascinated to hear the daylight between you. Congresswoman Gabbard...


HOLT: ...weigh—weigh in here.

GABBARD: I think we're talking about this in the wrong way. You're talking about one bill over another bill. Really, what we're talking about is our objective, making sure that every single American in this country is able to get the health care that they need. I believe Medicare for All is the way to do that. I also think that employers recognize how much money will be saved by supporting a Medicare for All program, a program that will reduce the administrative costs, reduce the bureaucratic costs, and make sure that everyone gets that quality healthcare that they need.

HOLT: Senator.

GABBARD: I also think if you—if you look at other countries in the world who have universal healthcare, every one of them has some form of a role of—of private insurance. I think that's what we've got to look at, taking the best of these ideas, but making sure unequivocally that no sick American goes without getting the care that they need regardless

HOLT: Congresswoman...

GABBARD: Of how much or little money they have in their pocket.

HOLT: Congresswoman, thanks.

UNKNOWN: Lester? Lester?

HOLT: Let me turn to Senator Booker on this. Senator Booker, explain to me where you are. This is hugely important to people, so tell us where you are.

BOOKER: I absolutely will. First of all, we're talking about this as a healthcare issue. But in communities like mine, low income communities, it's an education issue because kids who don't have healthcare are not going to succeed in school. It is an issue for jobs —And employment because people that do not have good health care do not succeed at work. It's even a retirement issue because, in my community, African-Americans have a lower life expectancy because of the poorer health care. And so, where I stand is very clear. Healthcare is not just a human right, it should be an American right. And I believe the best way to get there is Medicare for All. But I have an urgency about this. When I am president of the United States, I'm not going to wait. We have to do the things immediately that are going to provide better care. And on this debate, I'm sorry. There are too many people profiteering off of the pain of people in America from the—from pharmaceutical companies to insurers. Literally, the overhead for insurers that they charge is 15 percent, while Medicare's overhead is only at 2 percent. We can do this better, and every single day I will be fighting to give people more access and more affordable cost until we get to my goal.

HOLT: Your time is up, Senator.

BOOKER: Which is every American having healthcare.

UNKNOWN: Lester? Lester?

HOLT: Your time is up, Senator. I want to—I want to move back...

WARREN: Can I just add to Senator

HOLT: ...if I can, to...

WARREN: I just want to add to...

HOLT: ...Congressman Gabbard

WARREN: ...Senator Booker's

UNKNOWN: Lester.

WARREN: Point though. And that is that the insurance companies last year alone sucked $23 billion in profits out of the healthcare system, $23 billion, and that doesn't count the money that was paid to executives, the money that was spent lobbying Washington. We have a giant industry that wants our healthcare system to stay the way it is, because it's not working for families but it's sure as heck working for them.

HOLT: Governor—Governor Inslee?

INSLEE: It's not good enough.

WARREN: It's time for us...

HOLT: Governor Inslee

WARREN: ...to make families come first.

INSLEE: It should not be an option in the United States of America for any insurance company to deny woman coverage for their exercise of their right of choice. And I am the only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman's right of reproductive health and health insurance, and on the only candidate who has passed a public option. And I respect everybody's goals and plans here, but we do have one candidate that's actually advance the ball. And we got to have access for everyone. I've done it as a public option.

HOLT: Your time—time is up, governor.


HOLT: Senator—Senator Klobuchar, I want to give you...

UNKNOWN: That's a false claim. That's a false claim.

UNKNOWN: Lester?

HOLT: I'm fascinated by this. Senator—Senator...

KLOBUCHAR: I think—I think we're

HOLT: ...Klobuchar?

KLOBUCHAR: I just want to say there's three women appear that have fought pretty hard for a woman's right to choose, so I'll start with that. And then I just want to make very clear, I think we share the goal of universal healthcare. And the idea I put out there, the public option, which the governor was just talking about, this idea is that you use Medicare or Medicaid without any insurance companies involved. You could do it either way. At its—the estimates are 13 million people would see a reduction in their premiums, 12 more million people would get covered. So, I think it is a beginning and the way you start and the way you moved to universal healthcare. [crosstalk]

HOLT: Secretary Castro, this one is for you. All of you onstage support a woman's right to an abortion. You all support some version of a government healthcare option. Would your plan cover abortion, Mr. Secretary?

CASTRO: Yes, it would. I don't believe only in reproductive freedom. I believe in reproductive justice. And, you know what that means is just because a woman or let's also not forget someone in the trans community—a trans female —is poor doesn't mean they shouldn't have the right to exercise that right to choose. So, I absolutely would cover the right to have an abortion. More than that everybody in this crowd and watching at home knows that in our country today a person's right to choose is under assault in places like Missouri and Alabama, in Georgia. I would appoint judges to the federal bench that understand the precedent of Roe v Wade and will respect. And in addition to that make sure that we fight hard as we transition our healthcare system to one where everybody can get and exercise that right.

GUTHRIE: Senator Warren, would you put limits—any limits on abortion?

WARREN: I would make certain that every woman has access to the full range of reproductive healthcare services and that includes birth control, it includes abortion, it includes everything for a woman. And, I want to add on that—it's not enough for us to expect the courts to protect us. Forty-seven years ago Roe versus Wade was decided and we've all looked to the courts all that time. As state after state has undermined Roe, has put in exceptions has come right up to the age of taking away protection.

GUTHRIE: Your time is up, Senator.

WARREN: We now have an America where most people support Roe versus Wade. We need to make that federal law.

DIAZ-BALART: Senator, thank you.

Senator Booker, I want to kind of come back on a discussion we were having about health and the opioid crisis. You represent a state where 14 of the 28 largest pharmaceutical companies are based. Should pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these drugs be held criminally liable for what they do?

BOOKER: They should absolutely be held criminally liable because they are liable and responsible. This is one of the reasons why [inaudible] I was running for president I said I would not take contributions from former companies, not take contributions —I will not take contributions from corporate tax or pharma executives because they are part of this problem. And this opioid addiction in our country we in cities like mine have been seeing how we have been trying to arrest our way out of addiction for too long. It is time that we have a national urgency to deal with this problem and make the solutions that are working to actually be the law of our land and make the pharmaceutical that are responsible help to—help to pay for that.

DIAZ-BALART: Congressman O'Rourke, how would you deal with it?

O'ROURKE: Tonight in this country you have 2.3 million or fellow Americans behind bars. It's the largest prison population on the face of the planet. Many are there for non-violent drug crimes including possession of marijuana at a time that more than half the states have legalized it or decriminalized. And despite what Purdue Pharma has done—their connection to the opioid crisis and the overdose deaths that we're seeing throughout this country they've been able to act with complete impunity and pay no consequences not a single night in jail. Unless there's accountability and justice this crisis will continue. In my administration we will hold them to account. We will make sure that they pay a price and we will help those that have been a victim of these malfeasance in this country get them treatment and long-term care.

HOLT: I know immigration is on a lot of your minds here and I want to talk about it. I am going to talk about it in a moment. We need to take a break. We'll be back with more from Miami after this.

DIAZ-BALART: We want to turn to an issue that has been in the news especially this week. There are undocumented children being held alone in detention. Even as close as Homestead, Florida, right here less than 30 miles from where we are tonight. Fathers and mothers and children are dying while trying to enter the United States of America. We saw that image today that broke our hearts and they had names. Oscar Martinez and his 23 month old daughter Valeria died trying to cross the river to ask for asylum in this country. Last month, more than 130,000 migrants were apprehended at the Southern Border. Secretary Castro, if you were president today what would you specifically do?

CASTRO: Thank you very much, Jose. I'm very proud that in April I became the first candidate to put forward a comprehensive immigration plan and we saw those images —watching that image of Oscar and his daughter Valeria is heartbreaking. It should also piss us all off. If I were president—and it should spur us to action. If I were president I would sign an executive order that would get rid of Trump's zero tolerance policy, the remain in Mexico policy and the metering policy. This metering policy is basically what prompted Oscar and Valeria to make that risky swim across the river—river. They have been playing games with people who are coming and trying to seek asylum at the ports of entry. Oscar and Valeria went to a port of entry and then they were denied the ability to make an asylum claim. So, they got frustrated and they tried to cross the river and they died because of that.

DIAZ-BALART: On day one, sorry. I [inaudible].

CASTRO: On day one I would sign an executive order that would address metering and the in would follow that up in my first 100 days with immigration reform that would honor asylum claims. That would put undocumented immig—undocumented immigrants as long as they haven't committed a serious crime on a pathway to citizenship and we get to the root cause of the issue which is—we need a marshal plan for Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador. So that people can find safety and opportunity at home instead of coming to the United States to seek it.

DIAZ-BALART: Senator Booker, what would you do on day one? And this is a situation that the next president will inherit.

BOOKER: Yes. [untranslated] On day one I will make sure that number one, we end the ICE policies and the customs and border policies are violating the human rights. When people come to their—this country they do not leave their human rights at the border. Number two, I will make sure that we reinstate DACA, that we reinstate pathways to citizenship for DACA recipients and to make sure that people who are here on temporary protected status can stay and remain here. And then finally, we need to make sure that we address the issues that made Oscar and Valeria come in the first place by making major investments in the Northern Triangle. Not like this president is doing by ripping away the resources we need to actually solve this problem. We cannot surrender our values and think that we are going to get border security. We actually will lose security and our values. We must fight for both.

CASTRO: If I might very briefly—and this is an important point. My plan and I'm glad to see that Senator Booker, Senator Warren and Governor Inslee agree with me on this—my plan also includes getting red—getting rid of Section 1325 of Immigration Nationality Act. To go back to the way we used to treat this—when somebody comes across the border not to criminalize desperation. To treat that as a civil violation. And—and here is why it's important—we see all of this horrendous family separation they use that law Section 1325 to justify under the law separating little children from their families.

BOOKER: Jose you were not asked.

CASTRO: So I challenge every single candidate on this stage to support the repeal of Section 1325.

BOOKER: I already have.

DIAZ-BALART: 30 seconds.

BOOKER: As my friend here said I agree with him on that issue but folks should understand that the separation of children from families doesn't just go on at our border. It happens in our communities. ICE are ripping away parents from their American children, spouses and the like. And are creating fear in cities all across this country where parents are afraid to even drop their kids off to school or go to work. We must end those policies as well.

DE BLASIO: [inaudible]— about immigration this country—because look at the bottom line here. Those tragic—that tragic photo of those that parent that child and I'm saying this as a father—every American should feel that in their heart. Every American should say those are not our values but we have to get under the skin of why we have this crisis in our system because we are not being honest about the division that has been fomented in this country. The way that American citizens have been told that immigrants somehow created their misery and their pain and their challenges. For all of the American citizens out there who feel you are falling behind or feel the American dream is not working for you the immigrants didn't do that to you. The big corporations did that to you. The one person did that to you. We need to be a party of working people and that includes a party of immigrants but first we have to tell working people in America who are hurting that we are going to be on their side every single time against those big corporations who created this mess to begin with and remind people we are all in this together. If we don't change that debate, that politics that is holding us back we won't get all of these reforms that people are talking about. That is what we need to do as Democrats.

DIAZ-BALART: If I could I'm sorry [untranslated]

O'ROURKE: [untranslated]. What would you do congressman day one at the White House? [untranslated]. We would not turn back Valeria and her father Oscar. We would accept them into this country and follow our own asylum laws. We would not build walls. We would not put kids in cages. In fact, we would spare no expense to reunite...

CASTRO: Criminalize a lot of these families [crosstalk]

O'ROURKE: And we would not criminally prosecute any family who was fleeing violence and persecution.

CASTRO: Section 1325.

O'ROURKE: we would make sure [inaudible]

DIAZ-BALART: Secretary, let him finish. I will give you—[inaudible]. Let him finish. Let him finish please. Yes?

O'ROURKE: we would not attain any family fleeing violence. In fact, fleeing the deadliest countries on the face of the planet today. We would implement a family case management program so they could be cared for in the community at a fraction of the cost and then we would rewrite our immigration laws in our own image. Free dreamers forever from in the fear of deportation by making them U.S. citizens here in this country. Invest in solutions in Central America, work with regional stakeholders so there is no reason to make that two thousand mile journey to this country. [crosstalk]

DIAZ-BALART: I will give you thirty seconds.

CASTRO: Let's be very clear. The reason that they are separating these little children from their families is that they are using section 1325 of that Act which criminalizes coming across the border to incarcerate the pr—the parents and then separate them. Some of us on this stage have called to in that section, to terminate it. Some, like Congressman O'Rourke have not and I want to challenge all of the candidates to do that. I—I just think it's a mistake, Beto. I think it's a mistake and I think that—that if you truly want to change the system that we have got to repeal that section. If not...

DIAZ-BALART: Thank you.

CASTRO: Then it might as well be the same policy.

O'ROURKE: Let—let me respond to this very briefly. As a member of Congress I help to introduce legislation that would ensure that we don't criminalize those who are seeking asylum and refuge in this country.

CASTRO: I'm not talking...

O'ROURKE: if—if you are fleeing desperation...

CASTRO: ...asylum

O'ROURKE: ...then I want to make sure that you are treated with respect. [crosstalk]

CASTRO: I am still talking about everybody else.

O'ROURKE: but you are looking at just one small part of this. I am talking about a comprehensive rewrite of our immigration laws...

CASTRO: That's not true.

O'ROURKE: ...and if we do that...

CASTRO: That's actually not true.

O'ROURKE: ...people to follow our laws when they come to this country.

CASTRO: I am talking about millions of folks, a lot of folks that are coming are not seeking asylum. A lot of them are undocumented immigrants and you said recently that the reason you didn't want to repeal section 1325 was because you were concerned about human trafficking and—and drug trafficking but let me tell you what, section 18...

DIAZ-BALART: Secretary.

CASTRO: ...Title eighteen of the U.S. code, title twenty-one and title 22 already cover human trafficking [inaudible]

O'ROURKE: if we apprehend a known smuggler or drug traffic are we are going to make sure that they deported [inaudible] criminal prosecution. [crosstalk]

CASTRO: If you did your homework instead of talking about...

DIAZ-BALART: This is an issue that we should and could been talking about for a long time and we will for a long time.

DELANEY: Can we talk about the conditions to why people are coming here?

DIAZ-BALART: Let's—let's let Lester—Savannah, sorry. Savannah, I know. It's just we could go on.

DELANEY: But rather than talk about specific renditions we really have to talk about why these people are coming to our country...

GUTHRIE: You will get your chance.

DELANEY: ...and what we are going to do to actually make a difference in these countries.

GUTHRIE: Congressman, you will get your chance. Let's continue the discussion. Senator Klobuchar let's talk about what Secretary Castro just said.


GUTHRIE: He wants to no longer have it be a crime to illegally cross the border. Do you support that? Do you think it should be a civil offense only? And if so, do you worry about potentially incentivizing people to come here?

KLOBUCHAR: Immigrants, they do not diminish America. They are in America and I am happy to look at his proposal but I do think you want to make sure that you have provisions in place that allow you to go after traffickers and allow you to go after people who are violating the law. What I really think we need to step back and talk about is the economic imperative here and that is that seventy of our Fortune five hundred companies are headed up by people that came from other countries, twenty-five percent of our U.S. Nobel Laureates were born in other countries. We have a situation right now where we need workers in our fields and in our factories, we need them to start small businesses. We need their ideas and this president has literally gone backwards at a time where our economy needs immigrants. And so my proposal is to look at that twenty thirteen bill that passed the Senate with Republican support to upgrade that bill to make it as good as possible and get it done. It brings the debt down by $158 billion dollars.

GUTHRIE: Senator?

KLOBUCHAR: It gives a path to citizenship for citizen—for people who can become citizens and it would be so much better

GUTHRIE: Senator...

KLOBUCHAR: And it would be so much better for our economy in America.

GUTHRIE: That's time, thank you. Congressman Ryan, same question. Should it be a crime to illegally cross the border or should it be a civil offense only?

RYAN: Well I—I agree with Secretary Castro. I think there are other provisions in the law that will allow you to prosecute people for coming over here if they are dealing in drugs and other things. That is already established in the law. So there is no need to repeat it and I think it's a bore it we are talking about this father who got killed with his daughter and the issues here, the way these kids are being treated, if you go to Guantanamo Bay there are terrorists that are held that get better healthcare than those kids that have tried to cross the border in the United States. That needs to stop and I think the president should immediately ask doctors and nurses to go immediately down to the border and start taking care of these kids. What kind of country are we running here where we have a president of the United States who is so focused on hate and fear and division and what has happened now they end result is now we've got kids literally laying in their own's not with three-week gold diapers that haven't been changed? We have got to tell this president that is not a sign up straight, Mister president.

GUTHRIE: Congressman—Congressman.

RYAN: That is a sign of weakness.

GUTHRIE: Senator Booker [inaudible] I will go to you. But note—a lot of people [inaudible] the question if you are president on day one what will you do with the fact that you will have families here? There's been a lot of talk about what you will do in the first one hundred days about legislation. What will you actually do with these families? How will you care for them? Will they be detained or will they not be?

BOOKER: Well, this is a related and brief point because what we are talking about—what Secretary Castro and I are talking about is that we have the power to better deal with this problem through the civil process than the criminal process. I have been to some of the largest private persons which are repugnant to me that people are profiting off incarceration and they are immigration lockups. Our country has made so many mistakes by criminalizing things whether it's immigration, whether it's mental illness, whether it's addiction. We know that this is not the way to deal with problems. There is a humane way that affirms human rights and human dignity and actually solve this problem. Donald Trump is in solving this problem. We've seen under his leadership a surge at our border. We solve this problem by making investments in the northern triangle to stop the reasons why people are being driven here in the first place and we make sure we use our resources to provide healthcare, to affirm the values of human dignity that people that come here because we cannot sacrifice our values, our ideals as a nation for border security. We can have both by doing this the right way.

GUTHRIE: All right, senator, thank you. Let me go to governor Inslee on this. What would you do on day one? Same question I just ask Cory Booker. I have yet to hear an answer from anyone on this stage. What will you do with the families that will be here?

INSLEE: There is no reason for the detention and separation of these children. They should be released pending their hearings and they should have a hearing and the law should be followed. That is what should happen and we should do what we are doing in Washington state. I am proud that we have passed a law that prevents local law enforcement from being turned into mini ICE agents. I am proud to have been the first governor to stand up against Donald Trump's heinous Muslim band. I am proud to be a person who has not only talk to about dreamers but being one of the first to make sure that they get a college education so that they can realize their dreams. These are some of the most inspirational people in our state and I will leave you with this thought if you want to know what I think. Donald Trump the other day tried to threaten me, he thought it was a threat to tell me that he would send refugees in Washington state if we passed the law that I passed. And I told him, that's on a threat at all. We welcome refugees into our state. We recognize diversity is a strength. This is how we built America. That tradition is going to continue if I'm president.

DELANEY: [inaudible]

HOLT: We're going to switch to...

DELANEY: [inaudible]

HOLT: We're going to switch to another topic now.

DELANEY: Just—just one more.

HOLT: We've got a lot to get through. Let's—let's

DELANEY: On this. My grandfather was actually separated from his family when he came to this country.

HOLT: We need—we're going to—were going to talk about Iran right now because we're working against the clock. Takers have been attacked. A U.S. drone has been shut down. There have been disturbing threats issued by both the U.S. and Iranian leadership. I'd like you if you can just for a moment to put aside how you think we may have gotten here. But what I want to know is how do you dial it back? So a show of hands who as president would sign on to the 2015 nuclear deal as it was originally negotiated. That's a—that's—well, Cory—Senator Booker, why not?

BOOKER: May I address that? First and foremost, it was a mistake to pull out of that deal. And one of the reasons why we are seeing this hostility now is because Donald Trump is marching us to a far more dangerous situation. Literally, he took us out of the deal that gave us transparency into their nuclear program and push back a nuclear breakout 10—20 years. And now we see Iran threatening to go further and who are pulled—being pulled in further and further into this crisis. We need to greet renegotiate and get back into a deal, but I'm not going to have a primary platform to say unilaterally I'm going to rejoin that deal because when I am president of the United States, I'm going to do the best I can to secure this country and that region and make sure that if I have an opportunity to leverage a better deal, I'm going to do it.

HOLT: All right. Senator Klobuchar, I'd like you to answer... [crosstalk]

HOLT: That question because you've said - [crosstalk]

HOLT: You would—you would negotiate yourself back into the Iranian agreement. Can you argue that that nuclear—nuclear pact as it was ratified was a good deal?

KLOBUCHAR: It was imperfect, but it was a good deal for that moment. I would have worked to get longer sunset periods, and that's something we could negotiate to get back in the deal. But the point is, Donald Trump told us when he got out of it that he was going to give us a better deal. Those were his words. And now we are a month away from the Iranians who claim now that they're going to blow the caps on enriching uranium and the Iranians have told us this. And so that's where we are right now. He has made us less safe than we were when he became president. So what I would do is negotiate us back into that agreement, is stand with our allies give unlimited leverage to China and Russia, which was what he is done. And then finally, I would make sure that if there's any possibility of a conflict, and we're having this debate in Congress right now, that he comes to Congress for an authorization of military force. I would do that. And this president is literally every single day 10 minutes away from going to war, one tweet away from going to war, and I don't think we should conduct foreign policy.

HOLT: All right, your time is up.

KLOBUCHAR: In our bathrobes at 5:00 in the morning.

HOLT: Congresswoman...

KLOBUCHAR: Which is what he does.

HOLT: Congresswoman Gabbard You've said—you said you would—you would sign back on to the 2015 deal. Would you—would you insist though that it address Iran's support for Hezbollah?

GABBARD: Let's deal with the situation where we are, where this president and his chicken hawk cabinet have led us to the brink of war with Iran. I served in the war in Iraq at the height of the war in 2005, a war that took over 4000 of my brothers and sisters in uniforms' lives. The American people need to understand that this war with Iran would be far more devastating, far more costly than anything that we ever saw in Iraq. It would take many more lives, it would exacerbate the refugee crisis, and it wouldn't be just contained within Iran. This would turn into a regional war. This is why it's so important that everyone of us, every single American stand up and say no war with Iran. We need to get back into the Iran nuclear agreement And we need to negotiate how we can improve it. It was an imperfect deal. There are issues like their missile—their missile development that needs to be addressed. We can do both simultaneously to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and preventing us from going to war.

HOLT: Your time is up. But I have just a very quick follow-up. What would your redline be that would—that—for military action against Iran?

GABBARD: Look, obviously if there was an attack against the American—our troops, then there would have to be a response. But my point is, and it's important for us to recognize this, is Donald Trump and his cabinet, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and others are creating a situation that just a spark would light up a war with Iran, which is incredibly dangerous. That's why we need to disk de-escalate tensions. Trump needs to get back into the Iran nuclear deal and swallow his pride, put the American people first.

DE BLASIO: Okay, but wait a minute...

GUTHRIE: We are out of time and were up against a hard break.

DE BLASIO: Neither Democrats nor Republicans...

GUTHRIE: But we will have much more.

DE BLASIO: ...have been serious about the war

GUTHRIE: Mayor de Blasio, we'll have more. The commercial is coming. We'll continue our questioning next with Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow. Stick around. We'll have a lot more with some very anxious candidates just ahead.

[commercial break]

HOLT: And welcome back, everyone, to the first democratic presidential break in the Art Center in Miami.

GUTHRIE: And as we continue the questioning, time to get more members of our team in the mix.

DIAZ-BALART: So, right now, let's turn it over to Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow. Take it away.

MADDOW: All right. We're going to start by recapping the rules. Twenty candidates qualify for this first democratic debate. We're going to hear from 10 tonight, 10 more tomorrow. The breakdown for each night was selected at random. Now, the candidates will have 60 seconds to answer, 30 seconds for a follow up, if necessary. And we will be ruthless, if necessary.

TODD: Yeah, we can do that.

MADDOW: Mm-hmm.

TODD: By the way, hi, Rachel.

MADDOW: Hi, Chuck.

TODD: How you doing?


TODD: We're going to be talking about guns and climate here up top, a whole lot more in this hour. Obviously, because of the size of the field, not every person will be able to weigh in on everything. But over the course of this next hour, we will hear from everyone. I promise, everybody. And to begin with, we're going to go with guns. And Senator Warren, I want to start with you. We are less than 50 mile from Parkland, Florida where 17 people were killed in a school shooting last year, and where there has been significant activism on gun violence ever since. Many of you are calling for a restoration of an assault weapons ban. But even if implemented, there will still be hundreds of millions of guns in this country. Should there be a role for the federal government?

WARREN: Can we hear?

BOOKER: Yeah, their mics are on.

TODD: Everybody's mics are on. I—I think we had a—I heard that too. That's okay. I think we had a little mic issue in the back.

MADDOW: Control room, we're got contrary audio.

TODD: We have the—I think we heard—yeah, we have the audience audio. All right. So, the question is simply this.

WARREN: Sorry.

TODD: We're—we're—I apologize. You guys didn't get to hear this, the first part of the question. Obviously, where not far from Parkland, Florida. Gun activism has become a big part of high school life...


TODD: ...up there in Broward County. Many of you are calling for tighter gun restrictions. Some of you are calling for the restoration of the assault weapons ban. But even if it's put in place, there's still going to be perhaps hundreds of millions of guns on the streets. Is there a role for the federal government in order—to play in order to get these guns off the streets?

UNKNOWN: Someone's got my binder [inaudible].

TODD: We are...

MADDOW: What's happening?

TODD: We are hearing our colleagues' audio. I—if the control room could turn...

UNKNOWN: There's voices behind us.

TODD: ...off the mics.

UNKNOWN: There are voices behind...

UNKNOWN: [inaudible] trying to be the news, right?

TODD: Yeah, if the—if the control room can turn off the mics of our previous moderators, we will...

UNKNOWN: I think that's the prior moderators.

MADDOW: You know, we prepared


MADDOW: For everything.

TODD: Guess what, guys?

MADDOW: We did not prepare for this.

TODD: We are going to take a quick break. We're going to get this technical situation fixed. We will be right back.

[commercial break]

TODD: We believe we have the technical difficulties fixed.

MADDOW: Never say that.

TODD: Never say never. But we will—we will march forward here and I will lean forward here a little bit. Senator Warren, we're going to get to the gun question here. Parkland, Florida. It's just north of here in Broward County. As you know it has created a lot of teenage activism on—on the gun issue. It has inspired a lot of you to come out with more robust plans to deal with guns including assault weapons ban. But even if you're able to implement that what do you do about the hundreds of millions of guns already out there and does the federal government have to play a role in dealing with it?

WARREN: So, in this period of time that I've been running for president I've had more than 100 town halls. I've taken more than 2000 unfiltered questions and the single hardest question I've gotten—I got one from a little boy and I got one from a little girl—and that is to say, when you're President how are you going to keep us safe? That's our responsibility as adults. Seven children will die today from gun violence—children and teenagers. And they won't just die in mass shootings. They'll die on sidewalks. They'll die in playgrounds. They'll die in people's backyards. Gun violence is a national health emergency in this country and we need to treat it like that. So what can we do? We can do the things that are sensible. We can do the universal background checks. We can ban the weapons of war. But we can also double down on the research and find out what really works. Where it is that we can make the differences at the margins that will keep our children safe.


WARREN: We need to treat this like a virus that's killing our children.

TODD: OK you didn't address do you think the federal government needs to go and figure out a way to get the guns that are already out there?

WARREN: What I think we need to do is we need to treat it like a serious research problem which we have not done.


WARREN: You know, guns in the hands of a collector who has had them for decades who has never fired them...

TODD: Right

WARREN: ...who takes safety seriously that's very different from guns that are sold and turned over quickly. We can't treat this as an across the board problem. We have to treat it like a public health emergency that means bring data to bare and it means make real change in this country.

TODD: Thank you, Senator.

WARREN: Whether it's politically popular or not.

TODD: Senator Booker, you have a program.

WARREN: Fight for our children.

TODD: Senator Booker, you have a federal government buy back program in your plan. How is that going to work?

BOOKER: First of all, I want to say my colleague and I both have been hearing this on the campaign trail. But what's even worse is that I hear gunshots in my neighborhood. I think I'm the only one I hope I'm the only one on this panel here that had seven people shot in their neighborhood just last week. Someone I knew Shahad Smith was killed with an assault rifle at the top of my block last year. For millions of Americans this is not a policy issue this is an urgency. And for those who have not been directly affected they're tired of living in a country where their kids go to school to learn about reading, writing and arithmetic and how to deal with an active shooter in their school. This is something that I'm tired of and I'm tired of hearing people all they have to offer is thoughts and prayers. In my faith, people say faith without worse is dead so we will find a way. But the reason we have a problem right now is we've let the—the corporate gun lobby frame this debate. It is time that we have bold actions and a bold agenda. I will get that done as president of the United States because this is not about policy. This is personal.

TODD: Thank you, Senator Booker.

MADDOW: Sir, I'd like to talk to you about something that Sen—Senator Booker just mentioned, the idea of active shooter drills in schools. As school shootings seem like an almost every day or every week occurrence now, they don't make a complete news cycle anymore, no matter the death toll. As parents are so afraid as their kids go off to school that their kids will be caught up in something like this, next to nothing has changed in federal law that might affect the prevalence of school shootings. Is this a problem that is going to continue to get worse over our lifetimes? Or, is there something that you would do as president that you really think about turn it around?

CASTRO: You know, Rachel, I—I'm the dad of a 10 year old girl, Carina, who's here tonight and the worst thing is knowing that your child might be worried about what could happen at school, a place that's supposed to be safe. The answer to your question is no, we don't have to accept that. And I believe that on January 20, 2021, at 12:01 p.m., we're going to have a Democratic president, a Democratic House, and a Democratic Senate. And —the activist of Parkland folks, from Moms to men who have risen up—risen up across the United States —and inspired so many people, you know, we may not have seen yet legislative action, but we're getting closer. The House took a vote, in the Senate. The question often is if it's—if a decision is between 60 votes, a filibuster, or passing common sense gun reform, I'm going to choose common sense gun reform. So, I believe that we're going to be able to get that done in 2021.

RYAN: Rachel...

MADDOW: Secretary Castro...

RYAN: Rachel...

MADDOW: Thank you.

RYAN: Ra—Rachel, I have something—I have something to add to this briefly because you're...

MADDOW: We'll give you...

RYAN: What you're ta...

MADDOW: We'll give you 30 seconds for a follow up on that question—on that answer from Secretary Castro. Congressman Ryan.

RYAN: You're talking about in the schools. These kids are traumatized. I support all the gun re—reforms here. We need to start dealing with the trauma that our kids have. We need trauma based care in—in every school. We need social and emotional learning in every school. Ninety percent of the shooters who do school shootings come from the school they're in and 73 percent of them feel shamed, traumatized, or bullied. We need to make sure that these kids feel connected to the school. That means a mental health counselor in every...


RYAN: ...single school in the United States. We need to start playing offense. If our kids are so traumatized that they're getting a gun and going into our schools, we're doing something wrong, too

MADDOW: Congressman

RYAN: And we need reform around...

MADDOW: Thank you...

RYAN: ...trauma based care

MADDOW: Congressman Ryan.

TODD: Congressman O'Rourke, you're a Texan who's campaigned—you can't campaign all over the state in 2018 in the most conservative parts there. What do you tell a gun owner who's—may agree with you on everything else, okay, but says, you know what? The Democrats, if I vote for them in there, they're going to take my gun away. And even though I agree with you on all these other issues, I got—how do you have that conversation?

O'ROURKE: Here's how we had that conversation in Texas. I shared with them what I learned from those students who survived the Santa Fe High School shooting. A young student named Bree, her friend Marcell, who survived another shooting, the mother of a victim who lost her life, Rhonda Heart. They talked about universal background checks where you close every loophole. We know that they save lives. Talked about ending the sales of assault weapons into our communities. Those weapons of war were designed to kill people as effectively and as efficiently as possible. They should belong on the battlefield and not in our communities. Red flag laws. So, if someone poses a danger to themselves or to someone else, they're stopped before it's too late. And what I found in each one of those 254 counties is that Democrats and independents and Republicans, gun owners and non-gun owners alike agreed, but this effort must be led by the young people that you referenced at the beginning of this issue. Those students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas led the charge here in Florida and they've been able to change those laws. They're making our democracy work, ensuring that our values and our interests...

TODD: Okay

O'ROURKE: ...and our priorities are reflected in the laws that we pass.

DELANEY: Chuck, may I—I...

TODD: Thank you—thank you, Congressman O'Rourke.

DELANEY: Chuck, I...

TODD: Hang on. Let me—let me give 30 seconds, Senator Klobuchar, the iron range. I'm curious, gun confiscation, right? If the government is buying back, how do you—how do you not have that conversation?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, that's not confiscation.

TODD: Right.

KLOBUCHAR: You would give them the offer to buy back their gun, but I'll say this. I look at these proposals and I say, does this hurt my Uncle Dick and his deer stand coming from a proud hunting and fishing state? These proposals don't do that. When I was a prosecutor, I supported the assault weapon ban. When I was in the Senate, I saw those moms from Sandy Hook come and try to advocate for change and we all failed. And then now, these Parkland kids from Florida, they started a literally a national shift. You know why? It's just like with gay marriage. When kids talk to their parents...

TODD: Yeah

KLOBUCHAR: ...and their grandparents, they say I don't understand why we can't put these sensible things in place, they listen.

TODD: Right.

KLOBUCHAR: And if we bested by...

TODD: Senator, thank you.

KLOBUCHAR: ...a bunch of 17 year olds...

TODD: Well...

KLOBUCHAR: ...it's the best thing that...

TODD: Senator, thank you.

KLOBUCHAR: ...could ever happen.


MADDOW: Senator

TODD: Senator, thank you.

MADDOW: Senator Booker, let me go to you on—on another matter, actually.

TODD: We got another issue.

MADDOW: Senator Mitch McConnell says that his most consequential achievement as Senate majority leader was preventing President Obama from filling a Supreme Court seat. Having served with Republicans on the Judiciary Committee do you believe they would confirm your court nominees?

BOOKER: I'm going to use 20 of my seconds just to say there's one thing we don't all agree with when it comes to guns and it's common sense and over 70 percent of Americans agree with me. If you need a license to drive a car you should need a license to buy and own a firearm. And not everybody in this field agrees with that but in states like Connecticut that did that they saw 40 percent drops in gun violence and 15 percent drops in suicides. We need to start having old agendas on guns. When it comes to the Supreme Court very clearly we—I agree with my friend, Secretary Castro, we are going to get to 50 votes in the Senate. This is 18 [inaudible] whoever is our nominee needs to campaign in places like South Carolina because we can elect Jamie Harrison. They need to campaign in places like Iowa because we—we can win a Senate seat there. This is about getting us back to having 50 votes in the Senate and more so that we can not only balance the Supreme Court but start to pass an aggressive agenda that, frankly, isn't so aggressive because most of America agrees with the policy objectives of our party.

TODD: Mayor DeBlasio [inaudible].

MADDOW: Congressman Delaney, you'll have some time in a moment on this issue.

DELANEY: [inaudible]

MADDOW: Congressman Delaney, I'll give you some time in a moment. Mayor DeBlasio is an executive in the largest city in this country. You are used to saying what you want to have happen and having it happen. If you nominate a Supreme Court nominee as president of the United States and Mitch McConnell is still Senate majority leader what makes you believe that he would allow you to make a nominee?

DE BLASIO: Rachel, I am chief executive of the nation's largest city and I also want to just say something quick on the gun issue and come to your question. Look, I run the largest the police force in America too and if we are going to stop these shootings and get these guns off the street we have to have a very different relationship between our police and our community. And I also want to say there is something that sets me apart from all of my colleagues running in this race and that is for the last 21 years I have been raising a black son in America. And I have had to have very, very serious talks with my son Dante, about how to protect himself in the streets of our city and all over our country including how to deal with the fact that he has to take special caution because there has been too many tragedies between our young men and our police too—as we saw recently in Indiana. So, we need to have a different conversation in this country about guns but also a different conversation about policing that brings police and community together. We've done that in New York City and we have driven down crime while we've done it. To your question about Mitch McConnell, there's a political solution that we have to come to grips with—if a Democratic Party would stop acting like the party of the elite and be the party of the working people again and go into states including red states to convince people we are on their side we can put pressure on their senators to actually have to vote for the nominees that are put forward [inaudible].

MADDOW: Mayor DeBlasio [inaudible].

TODD: Senator Warren [inaudible] I'm going to get you. I will get you 30 seconds. I promise. Let me get this question. We're trying. I know you guys—we got other issues we're trying to get to including a big one coming up in a minute but Senator Warren, I want to continue on the Mitch McConnell thing because you have a lot of ambitious plans. You have a plan for that, ok. We talked about the supreme court. Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell if you don't beat him in the Senate, if he's still sitting there as the Senate majority leader it's very plausible you get elected president with a Republican Senate? Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnell?

WARREN: I do. We are a democracy and the way a democracy is supposed to work is the will of the people matters. Now, we for far too long have had a congress in Washington that is just completely dismissed what people care about across this country. They have made this country work much better for those who can make giant contributions, made it work better for those who hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers and not made it work for the people. Well, here is how I see this happening—number one, sure I want to see us get a Democratic majority in the Senate. But short of the Democratic majority in the Senate you better understand the fight still goes on. It starts in the White House and it means everybody we energize in 2020 stays on the frontlines come January 2021. We have to push funding outside, have leadership from the inside.


WARREN: And make this the will of the people.

TODD: I'm going to—I'm going to get a couple of you in here.

KLOBUCHAR: [inaudible] the heart of the question.

TODD: I'm going to get — a couple in here. Thirty seconds, Congressman Delaney you—you seem to believe you can do everything in a bipartisan manner. Mitch McConnell doesn't operate that way. He operates differently. Why do you think he is going to conform to your style?

DELANEY: I think we—we need to get things done. That is why I believe we need to operate in a bipartisan manner. Listen, I will sign into law bills that come to the White House that are passed on a party line basis absolutely but all of the big transformative things we have ever done in this country's history have happened when huge majorities of the American people get behind them which is why we need real solutions not impossible promises. We need to put forth ideas that work whether it's on healthcare, creating universal healthcare so that every American gets healthcare but not running on making private insurance a legal. The gun issue is related, the gun safety issue is related because I can't tell you how many times I have been with folks in Western Maryland and they have said to me you know Democrats don't do anything for us, Republicans don't do anything for us. You fight all of the time so they vote on that single issue.

TODD: Okay, thank you Congressman.

DELANEY: We have become the party of getting things done for the American...

TODD: I understand.

DELANEY: ...people [inaudible] real solutions not impossible promises.

TODD: Senator Booker hang on.

RYAN: Chuck.

TODD: I promised thirty—I promised to thirty is here. I am going to say Senator Booker thirty seconds you—how do you deal with Mitch—you have been in the Senate you can't get bills on the floor right now with Mitch McConnell, presidents can't do it. Is President Booker going to get his bills on the floor with Senator McConnell?

BOOKER: You know when I got to the United States Senate going back to what De Blasio said as an African-American man in an African-American dominated community I knew one of the biggest issues was criminal justice reform from police accountability to dealing with the fact that we have a nation that has more African Americans under criminal supervision then all of the slaves in eighteen fifty and when I got to the Senate people told me we could not get a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill done. As my colleagues in the Senate know I fought on that bill from the day I got to the Senate, built coalitions across the aisle and today we passed the first step fact. Is not as far as I want to go but thousands of people will be liberated.

TODD: Thank you.

BOOKER: I have gotten—I have taken on tough problems people said we cannot achieve and I have been able to get things accomplished.

TODD: Thank you, Senator Booker. Rachel has got the next question.

MADDOW: We are going to make—hold on, Governor. You are going to be happy with where we go. Governor Inslee this next question is to you. You got me? You got me? You have staked your candidacy on the issue of climate change. It is first, second and third priority for you. You have said it is all of the issues. Let's get specific. We are here in Miami which is already experiencing serious flooding on sunny days as a result of sea level rise. Parts of Miami Beach and the keys could be underwater in our lifetimes. Does your plan save Miami?

INSLEE: Yes, first by taking away the filibuster from Mitch McConnell to start with. We have to do that. Look it—look it, we are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change and we are the last that can do something about it. Our towns are burning, our fields are flooding, Miami is in the dated and we have to understand this is a climate crisis, and emergency and it is our last chance in the administration next one to do something about it and we need to do what I have done in my state. We of passed a one hundred percent clean electrical grid bill. We now have a vision statement and my plan has been called the gold standard of putting people to work. But the most important thing on this and the biggest decision for the American public is who is going to make this the first priority and I am the candidate and the only one who is saying this has to be the top priority of the United States, the organizing principle to mobilize the United States so that we can do what we have always done, lead the world and invent the future and put eight million people to work. That's what we're going to do.

MADDOW: Governor—Governor Inslee.

TODD: Congressman O'Rourke you have also put out a big climate change plan from your campaign. You want some big changes in a pretty short period of time including switching to renewable energy, pushing to replace gas powered cars in favor of electric ones. What is your message to a voter who supports the overall goal of what you are trying to do but suddenly feels as if government is telling them how to live and ordering them how to live? What is that balance like?

O'ROURKE: I think you have got to bring everybody into the decisions and the solutions, to the challenges that we face. That is why we are traveling everywhere listening to everyone. We were in Pacific Junction, a town that had never meaningfully flooded be for just a bit against the Missouri River in Iowa and every home in that community had flooded. There were farms just outside of Pacific Junction that were effectively lakes. Those farmers already underwater in debt. There markets closed to them by trademark under this administration and now they don't know what to do. We and our administration are going to fund resiliency in those communities, in Miami, in Houston, Texas, those places that are on the front lines of climate change today. We, in our administration, are going to fund resiliency in those communities, in Miami, in Houston, Texas, those places that are on the front lines of climate change today. We're going to mobilize $5 trillion in this economy over the next 10 years. We're going to free ourselves from a dependence on fossil fuels. And we're going to put farmers and ranchers in the drivers seat, renewable and—and sustainable agriculture, to make sure that we capture more carbon out of the air and keep more of it in the soil, paying farmers for the environmental services that they want to provide. If all of us does all that we can, then we're going to be able to keep this planet from warming another two degrees Celsius and in sure that we match what this country can do and live up to our promise that are potential.

TODD: Thirty seconds, Secretary Castro. Does—who pays for the mitigation to climate, whether it's building seawalls, for people that are perhaps living in places that they shouldn't be living? Is this a federal government issue that needs to do that. Do they have to move these people? What do you do about that, where—where maybe they're—they're building a house someplace that is it safe? Who pays to build that house, and how much should the government be bailing them out?

CASTRO: Well, I don't think that that represents the vast majority of the issue. In fact, you know, my first visit after I announced my candidacy wasn't to Iowa or New Hampshire. It was to send one, Puerto Rico —Because people should know that if I'm elected president, everybody will count. And, you know, I'm one of the few candidates in this race with executive experience, with a track record of getting things done. When I was mayor of San Antonio, we moved our local public utility. We began to shift it from coal-fired plants to solar and other renewables, and also created more than 800 jobs doing that. And when I was HUD secretary, we worked on the National Disaster Resilience Competition...

TODD: Um-hmm

CASTRO: ...to invest in communities that were trying to rebuild from natural disasters in a sustainable way.

TODD: Okay.

CASTRO: That's the way that we're going to help to make sure that we're all safer in the years to come and that we combat climate change.

TODD: Thank

CASTRO: And I'm elected president...

TODD: Okay

CASTRO: ...the first thing that I would do...

TODD: Right

CASTRO: ...like Senator Klobuchar also has said...

TODD: Thank you

CASTRO: ...is sign an executive order recommitting us to the Paris Climate Accord.

TODD: Right

CASTRO: So that we meet again.

TODD: Thank you, Secretary. Congressman Ryan, I got a full question for you here, which is simply this. Your—there are—a lot of the climate plans include pricing carbon, taxing carbon in some way. This type of proposal has been tried in a few places, whether it's Washington state where voters voted it down. You have the yellow vest movement. We had an Australia—one party get rejected out of fear of the cost of climate change sort of being put on the back of the consumer. If pricing carbon is just politically impossible, how do we pay for climate mitigation?

RYAN: Well, there—there's a variety of different ways to pay. We talk about different ways of—of raising revenue. And I think we've got to build our way out of this and grow our way out of this. But let me just talk real quick to the previous question about real politics. We could talk about climate. We could talk about guns. We could talk about all of these issues that we all care about. We have a perception problem with the Democratic Party. We are not connecting to the working class people in the very state that I represent in Ohio, in the industrial Midwest. We've lost all connection that—we have got to change the center of gravity of the Democratic Party from being coastal and elital—elitist and Ivy League, which is the perception, to somebody from the forgotten communities that have been left behind for the last 30 years, to get those workers back on our side so we can say we're going to build electric vehicles, were going to build solar panels. But if you want to beat Mitch McConnell, this better be a working class party. If you want to go into Kentucky and take his rear end out. And if you want to take Lindsay Graham out, you gotta have a blue-collar party that can go into the textile communities.

TODD: Okay.

RYAN: In South Carolina.

TODD: Thank you.

RYAN: So, all I'm—all I'm saying here...

TODD: Thank you, Congressman Ryan.

RYAN: All I'm saying here is...

TODD: Thank you, Congressman Ryan.

RYAN: So, all I'm saying is—here, if we don't address that fundamental problem...

TODD: I understand

RYAN: ...with our connection to workers, white, black, brown, gay, straight working-class people.

TODD: Thank you, Congressman

RYAN: None of this is going to get done, Chuck.

CASTRO: Chuck, your question's about...

TODD: Thank you very much.

Thank you, Congressman Ryan.

RYAN: none of this is going to get done, Chuck. Chuck.

TODD: We're going to get to...

DELANEY: I introduced the only bipartisan carbon tax bill.

TODD: All right. 30 seconds. Go.

DELANEY: All the economist agree that a carbon pricing mechanism works. You just have to do it right. You can't put a price on carbon raise energy prices and not give the money back to the American people. My proposal which is put a price on carbon, give a dividend back to the American people, it goes out one pocket back in the other...

TODD: Thank you

DELANEY: I can get that past my first year as president, with a coalition of every Democrat in the Congress and the Republicans who live in coastal states.

TODD: Thanks.

DELANEY: Republicans in Florida, they actually care about this issue. This is gonna be our way forward if we're actually serious about this issue.

TODD: Congresswoman Gabbard - move on here. One of the first things you did after launching your campaign was to issue an apology to the LGBT community about your past stances and statements on gay rights. After the Trump administration's rollbacks of civil rights protections for many in that community. Why should voters in that community or voters who care about this issue in general, trust you now?

GABBARD: Let me say that there is no one in our government at any level, who has the right to tell any American who they should be allowed to love or they should be allowed to marry my record in Congress for over six years shows my commitment to fighting for LGBTQ equality. I serve on the equality Caucus and recently voted for passage of the equality act. Maybe many people in this country can relate to the fact that I grew up in a socially conservative home, held views when I was very young that I no longer hold today. I've served with LGBTQ service members both in training and deployed downrange. I know that they would give their life for me and I would give my life for them. It is this commitment that I'll carry through as president of the United States, recognizing that there are still people who are facing discrimination in the workplace, still people who were unable to find a home for their families. It is this kind of discrimination that we need to address.

BOOKER: But it's not enough.

TODD: Thank you.

BOOKER: It's not enough.

TODD: Thank you, Congresswoman.

BOOKER: If I can add to this, it's very important.

TODD: 30 seconds, Senator.

BOOKER: Because this is not enough. Look, civil rights is the place to begin. But in the African African-American civil rights community, another place to focus on was to stop the lynching of African-Americans. We did not talk enough about trans Americans, especially African-American trans Americans And the incredibly high rates of murder right now. We don't talk enough about how many children, about 30 percent of LGBTQ kids who do not go to school because of fear. It's not enough just to be on the equality act. I'm an original cosponsor. We need to have a president that will fight to protect LGBTQ Americans.

TODD: Thank you.

BOOKER: Every single day from violence in our country.

TODD: Thank you, Senator Booker.

MADDOW: Senator Klobuchar, let me put this to you. On the issue of civil rights, for decades,—on the issue of civil rights and demographics, honestly and politics, for decades the Democratic Party has counted on African-American voter turnout as a step one to winning elections on a national level. Democrats are counting on the Latino community now and in the future in the same way. What have you done for black and Latino voters that showed should enthuse them about going to the poles for you if you are your parties nominee?

KLOBUCHAR: My life and my career and my work and the Senate has been about economic opportunity. And to me, this means better childcare for everyone in this country. And when you want to have an economy that works, you need to have retirement that works. You need to have public schools that work, and you also need to make sure that that—those communities are able to get those jobs of the future, the stem jobs. In fact, Donald Trump, one of the first bills that he signed of the 34 he signed where I was the lead Democrat, okay, that's a first up here, was one that was about that, making sure minority community members could share in those jobs. So to me, this is about a few things. It's about an African-American woman that goes to a hospital in New Orleans, says her hands are swelling, and then doctor ignores her and her baby dies. It's about the fact that African-American women make $0.61 for every dollar a white man makes. So in short, we need to one, and I will do this in my first 100 days as president, we will work to make sure everyone can vote at this table. Everyone can vote in this country.

MADDOW: That's...

KLOBUCHAR: And we will also go to the next step of criminal justice reform. Senator Booker and I worked on that first step action, but we should go to the second step act, which is to help all our communities across the country.

MADDOW: Senator, thank you very much. Thirty second follow-up to you, Secretary Castro. This is a 70 percent Latino city here in Miami. You are the only Latino Democrat who is running this year in the presidential race. Is that enough of an answer? What Senator Klobuchar is describing there, an economic justice agenda, is that enough to mobilize Latino voters to stand with the Democratic Party in a big way?

CASTRO: Well, I also think that we have to recognize racial and social justice. And you know, I was in Charleston not too long ago and I remembered that Dylan Roof went to the Mother Emmanuel AME church and he murdered nine people who were worshiping and then he was apprehended by police without incident. Well, what but what about Eric Garner and Tamir Rice and Laquan McDonald and Sandra Bland and Pamela Turner and Antonio Arset? I'm proud that I'm the only candidate so far that has put forward legislation that would reform our policing system in America and make sure that no matter the color of your skin is, that you are treated the same, including Latinos who are mistreated too often times by police.

MADDOW: Secretary Castro, thank you.

TODD: Let me go over to Lester Holt who's got a question, I believe a viewer question.

HOLT: And I'm over here, Chuck. Thanks.

TODD: Where are you here? All right.

HOLT: We asked voters across the country to submit their questions to the candidates. Let me read one. This comes from John in New York who submitted this question. He asks does United States have a responsibility to protect in the case of genocide or crimes against humanity? Do we have a responsibility to intervene, to protect people threatened by their governments even when atrocities do not affect American core interests? I'd like to direct that question to Congressman O'Rourke.

O'ROURKE: John, I appreciate the—the question. The answer is yes, but that action should always be undertaken with allies and partners and friends. When the United States presents a united front, we have a much better chance of achieving our foreign policy aims and preventing the kind of genocide to which you refer, the kind of genocide that we saw in Rwanda, the kind of genocide we want to stop doing forward. But unfortunately, under this administration, President Trump has alienated our allies and our friends and our alliances. He's diminished our standing in the world and he's made us weaker as a country, less able to confront challenges whether it's Iran or North Korea or Vladimir Putin in Russia who attacked and invaded our democracy in 2016 and who President Trump has offered another invitation to do the same. He's embraced strong men and dictators at the expense of the great democracies. As president, I will make sure that we live our values and our foreign policy. I will ensure that we strengthen those alliances and partnerships and friendships and meet any challenge that we face together. That makes America stronger.

DE BLASIO: But what about the war Powers act?

MADDOW: Thank you, Congressman O'Rourke.

DE BLASIO: What about the war powers act being a part of that equation with deep respect to the congressman? Look, we've learned painful lessons as Americans that we have gone to war without congressional authorization. Look this is very personal for me. I know the cost of war. My add served in the Pacific in World War II in the US Army, battle of Okinawa, had half his leg blown off and he came home with scars both physical and emotional and he did not recover. He spiraled downward and he ultimately took his own life. And that battle didn't kill him but that war did. And look, even in the humanitarian crisis and I think we should be ready, congressman to intervene. God forbid there is a genocide. But not without congressional approval. Democrats and republicans both in the congress have not challenged presidents and have let them get away with running the military without the congressional approval. We learned a lesson in Vietnam. We seemed to have forgotten. The decision have to be made by the United States.

MADDOW: [inaudible] I want to pick up this point and I want to give this to Congressman Ryan. Today the Taliban claimed responsibility for killing two American service members in Afghanistan. Leaders as disparate as President Obama and President Trump have both said they want to end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan but it isn't over for America. Why isn't it over? Why can't presidents of very different parties and very different temperaments get us out of there? And how could you?

RYAN: I appreciate that question. So I—I've been in Congress 17 years and 12 of those years I've sat on the Armed Services Committee either the Defense Appropriations Committee or the Armed Services Committee. And the lesson that I've learned over the years is that you have to stay engaged in these situations. Nobody likes it. It's long. It's tedious. But right now we have so I would say we must be engaged in this. We must have our state department engaged. We must have our military engaged to the extent—to the extent they need to be but the reality of it is this president doesn't even have people appointed in the State Department to deal with these things. Whether we're talking about central America, whether we're talking about Iran, whether we're talking about Afghanistan we have got to be completely engaged. And here is why—because these flare ups distract us from the real problems in the country. If we're getting drones shot down for $130 million because the President is distracted that's $130 million we could be spending in Youngstown, Ohio or Flint Michigan.

MADDOW: Congressman Ryan

RYAN: [inaudible] we are building or rebuilding.

MADDOW: Congresswoman Gabbard, I'm going to give you 30 seconds actually to jump off what he said. He described [inaudible].

GABBARD: Is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan? Well, we just have to be engaged? As a soldier, I will tell you that answer is unacceptable. We have to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. We are in a place in Afghanistan where we have lost so many lives. We have spent so much money. Money that's coming out of every one of our pockets. Money that should be going into communities here at home. Meeting the needs of the people here at home. We are no better off in Afghanistan today than we were when this war began. This is why it is so important to have a president — commander in chief who knows the cost of war and is ready to do the job on day one. I am ready to do that job when I walk into the Oval Office.

TODD: I am going to go down the line.

RYAN: [inaudible]

TODD: I am going to go down the line. I am going to go down the line here. You know what? You felt—you felt like she was replying to you—you get 30 seconds. Go.

RYAN: You're a very good man. I appreciate that.

TODD: Fair enough. I hear what you're saying. [inaudible]

RYAN: I don't want—I don't want to be engaged. I wish we were spending all this money in places I have represented that have been completely forgotten that we were rebuilding. But the reality is if the United States isn't engage the Taliban will grow and they will have bigger, bolder terrorist acts. We have got to have some presence there [inaudible].

GABBARD: The Taliban was there long before we came in. They'll be there long before we leave.

RYAN: Well...

GABBARD: We can't keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we're going to somehow squash this Taliban that has been there and every other country that's tried it failed.

RYAN: [inaudible] squash them when we weren't in there they started flying planes into our buildings. So, I'm just saying right now.

GABBARD: The Taliban didn't attack us on 9/11. Al Qaeda did. Al Qaeda attacked us on 9/11.

RYAN: I understand that. I understand that.

GABBARD: That is why I and so many other people joined the military to go after Al Qaeda not the Taliban.

RYAN: The Taliban was protecting those people who were plotting against us.

TODD: You have 10 seconds.

RYAN: All I'm saying is if we want to go into elections and we want to say that we got to withdraw from the world that's what President is saying.


RYAN: We can't. I would love for us to.

GABBARD: You know who's protecting Al Qaida right now is Saudi Arabia.

TODD: I'm going to go down the line here right now and finish up on foreign policy. It is a simple question what is our—what is the biggest threat to—what is—who is the geopolitical threat to the United States just give me a one word answer Congressman Delaney?

DELANEY: Could you repeat the question?

TODD: Greatest geopolitical threat to the United States right now. Congressman Delaney?

DELANEY: Well the biggest geopolitical challenge is China but the biggest geopolitical threat remains nuclear weapons.


DELANEY: So there's a different question.

TODD: Totally get it. Go ahead, Governor Inslee.

INSLEE: The biggest threat to the security of the United States is Donald Trump. There is no question about it.

TODD: Congresswoman Gabbard.

GABBARD: The greatest...

TODD: Greatest geopolitical threat.

GABBARD: ...the greatest threat that we face is the fact we are at a greater risk of nuclear war today than ever before in history.

TODD: Congre—congress Senator Klobuchar.

KLOBUCHAR: Two threats—economic threat, China. Our—our major threat right now is what's going on in the middle east with Iran if we don't get our act together [inaudible].

TODD: Slimmer than—slimmer than what we've been going here. One or two words.

O'ROURKE: Our existential threat is climate change. We have to confront it before it's too late. Senator Warren?

WARREN: Climate change.

TODD: Senator Booker.

BOOKER: Nuclear proliferation and climate change.

TODD: Secretary Castro.

CASTRO: China and climate change.

TODD: Congressman Ryan.

RYAN: China without a question. They're wiping us around the world economically.

TODD: And Mr. Mayor.

DE BLASIO: Russia because they're trying to undermine our democracy and they've been doing a pretty damn good job of it and we need to stop them.

TODD: Alright, well

And I mean that. No, I mean that in a that is what this debate is about. This is the best part of—of a debate like this. Congressman over, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report outlines multiple instances of potential criminal behavior by President Trump, House Speaker Pelosi has publicly and privately resisted in the move toward impeachment in the House. If the House chooses not to impeach as president would you do anything to address the potential crimes that were outlined in Mister Mueller's report?

O'ROURKE: Yes, and I will tell you why.

TODD: How by the way if the answer is yes?

O'ROURKE: One of the most powerful pieces of art in the United States capital is the Trumbull painting of General George Washington resigning his commission to the Continental Congress at the height of his power submitting to the rule of law and the will of people. That has withstood the test of time for the last two hundred forty-three years. If we set another precedent now that a candidate who invited the participation of a foreign power, a president who sought to obstruct the investigation into the invasion of our democracy, if we allow him to get away with this with complete impunity then we will have set a new standard and that is that some people because of the position of power and public trust that they hold are above the law and we cannot allow that to stand. So we must begin impeachment now so that we have the facts and the truth and we followed them as far as they go and as high up as they reach and we save this democracy. And if we have not been able to do that in this year or the year that follows and under my administration our Department of Justice will pursue these facts and ensure that there are consequences, there is accountability and there is justice. It is the only way that we save this country.

TODD: Thank you Congressman O'Rourke.

MADDOW: Congressman Delaney, because of the accountability issues that Congressman O'Rourke was just describing their and the real political landscape in which Nancy Pelosi is saying that impeachment will not be pursued in the house it raises the prospect and the Mueller report raises the prospect that President Trump could be prosecuted for some of those potential crimes down the line. No U.S. president has ever been prosecuted for crimes after leaving office. Do you believe that President Trump could or should be the first?

DELANEY: I guess there's always a first.

MADDOW: Should he be the first?

DELANEY: I don't think anyone's above the law. I don't think anyone is above the law including a president. I support Speaker Pelosi's decisions that she is making in the House of Representatives right now as speaker. I think she knows more about the decision as to whether to impeach the president than any of the 2020 candidates combined.

MADDOW: Conceded on the issue of prosecution.

DELANEY: I do think no one is above the law and this president who is lawless should not be above the law. But I will tell you Rachel be one thing when you are out doing as much campaigning as I have done four hundred events, all 99 counties in Iowa this is not the number one issue the American people ask us about; it's not. They want to know what we're going to do for healthcare, how we are going to lower pharmaceutical prices, how we are going to build infrastructure, what we are going to do to create jobs in their communities. You know last year in our country eighty percent of the money for startup businesses went to fifty counties in this country. There is over three thousand counties in this country. That is what they care about. They care about what's going on in the public schools. They care about what's going on with jobs in their communities...

UNKNOWN: But Rachel...

DELANEY: ...with their healthcare, with infrastructure. These are the issues, these kind of kitchen table pocketbook issues are actually what most Americans care about. They—they never ask about the Mueller report.

MADDOW: Congressman, thank you. Your time is up.

DELANEY: They never ask about it. They want to know how we are going to solve these problems.

MADDOW: [inaudible] time, sir.

UNKNOWN: I still—Senator, I

KLOBUCHAR: But if we let the Republicans run our election and if we do not do something about Russian interference in the election and we let Mitch McConnell stop all of the backup paper ballots and we are not going to get what we [inaudible].

TODD: I—I have got to sneak in a—we blew through a break which is good news to give you more time. So I have got to sneak one end now. More of this debate it's picking up here. It continues right after this.

HOLT: We are back from Miami, and it's time now for closing statements. Each candidate has 45 seconds. We want to begin with former Congressman Delaney.

DELANEY: Closing now?

HOLT: Closing.


HOLT: Forty-five seconds. We could make—we could go on.

DELANEY: Together we are on a mission. We're on a mission to find the America that's been lost, lost through infighting, lost through an action. We're so much better than this. We're a country that used to do things. We saved the world. We created the American dream for millions of people like myself, the grandson of immigrants, the son of a union electrician who went on to become a successful business leader and create thousands of jobs. But we did these things with real solutions, not with impossible promises. And those are the roots that we have to get back to. I'm running for president to solve these problems, to build infrastructure, to fix our broken health care system, to invest in communities that have been left behind, to improve public education. I just don't want to be your president to be your president.

HOLT: Congressman, your 45 seconds is over.

DELANEY: I want to be your president to do the job.

HOLT: Thank you, sir.

DELANEY: This is not about me. This is about getting America working again.

HOLT: Thank you.

GUTHRIE: Mayor De Blasio? Mayor, your closing statement.

DE BLASIO: It matters, it matters in this fight for the heart and soul of our party, that we nominate a candidate who has seen the face of poverty and didn't just talk about it but gave people $15 minimum wage. It matters that we nominate a candidate who saw the destruction wrought by a broken health care system and gave people universal healthcare. It matters that we choose someone who saw the wasted potential of our children denied pre-K and gave it to every single one of them for free. These things really matter. And these are the things that I've done in New York, and I want to do the same for the whole country, because putting working people first, it matters. We need to be that party again. Let's work together. With your help, we can put working people first again in America.

GUTHRIE: Thank you, Mayor De Blasio, right on time.

DIAZ-BALART: Governor Inslee, 45 seconds.

INSLEE: Trudi and I have three grandchildren. We love them all. And when I was thinking about whether to run for president, I made a decision. I decided that on my last day on earth I wanted to look them in the eye and tell him I did everything humanly possible to protect them from the ravages of the climate crisis. And I know to a moral certainty, if we do not have the next president who commits to this as the top priority it won't get done. And I am the only candidate—frankly, I'm surprised. I am the only candidate who's made this commitment to make up a top priority. If you join me in that recognition of how important this is, we can have a unified national mission. We can save ourselves. We can save our children. We can save our grandchildren. And we can save literally the life on this planet. This is our moment.

DIAZ-BALART: Governor, thank you.

TODD: Congressman Ryan, your 45 seconds.

RYAN: There's—there's nothing worse than not being heard, nothing worse than not being seen. And I know that because I've represented for 17 years in Congress a forgotten community. They've tried to divide us, who's white, who's black, who's gay, who's straight, who's a man, who's a woman. And they ran away with all the gold because they divided the working class. It's time for us to come together. I don't know how you feel, but I'm ready to place an offense. I come from the middle of industrial America, but these problems are all over our country. There's a tent city in LA. Those homeless people and people around our country who can't afford a home. It's time for us to get back on track. The teacher in Texas, the nurse in New Hampshire, the waitress in Wisconsin, all of us coming together, playing offense with an agenda that lives everybody up.

TODD: Thank you, congressman.

RYAN: I will only promise you one thing. When I walk into that Oval Office every morning, you will not be forgotten.

TODD: Thank you, congressman.

RYAN: Your voice will be heard. Thank you.

MADDOW: Congresswoman Gabbard, you have 45 seconds for your closing.

GABBARD: You know, our nation was founded on the principles of service above self. People who fled kings who literally prospered on the backs and the sacrifices of people coming here to this country, instead of putting in place a government that is of, by, and for the people. But that's not what we have. Instead, we have a government that is of, by, and for the rich and powerful. This must end. As president, our White House, our White House will be a beacon of light, providing hope and opportunity, ushering in a new century where every single person will be able to get the healthcare they need, where we will have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, where we will have good paying jobs and a new green economy. Join me in ushering in this new century with peace, prosperity, opportunity, and justice for all.

MADDOW: Congresswoman, thank you.

HOLT: Secretary Castro, you have 45 seconds, sir.

CASTRO: Yes. [untranslated] The very fact that I can say that tonight shows the progress that we have made in this country.

Like many of you I know the promise of America. My grandmother came here when she was seven years old as an immigrant from Mexico and just two generations later one of her grandsons is serving the United States Congress and the other one is running for President of the United States. If I'm elected President I will work hard every single day so that you and your family can get good healthcare, your child can get a good education and you can have good job opportunities whether you live in a big city or a small town. And on January 20, 2021, we will say adios to Donald Trump.

GUTHRIE: Senator Klobuchar the floor is yours.

KLOBUCHAR: Three things to know about me. First, I listen to people and that's how I get things done. That is my focus. I have a track record of passing over a hundred bills where I am the lead Democrat and that is because I listened and I acted and I think that's important in a President; everything else just melts away. Secondly, I'm someone that can win and beat Donald Trump. I have won every place, every race and every time. I have won in the reddest of districts, ones that Donald Trump won by over 20 points. I can win in states like Wisconsin and Iowa and Michigan. And finally, yeah, I am not the establishment party candidate. I've got respect but I'm not that person. I am the one that doesn't have a political machine that doesn't come from money and I don't make all of the promises that everyone up here makes but I can promise you this, I am going to govern with integrity, I'm going to have your back and I'm going to govern for you.

GUTHRIE: Thank you, senator.

DIAZ-BALART: [untranslated]

BOOKER: Gracias. Fifty years ago this month my family moved into the town I grew up in because after being denied a house because of the color of their skin, it was activists, mostly white activists that stood up and fought for them. That's the best of who we are as America and why when I got out of law school I moved into the inner city of Newark to fight as a tenant lawyer for other people's rights. I have taken on bullies and beat them. I've taken on tough fights and we've won and we win those fights not by showing the worst of who we are but rising to whose best. Donald Trump wants us to fight him on his turf and his terms. We will beat him. I will beat him by calling this country to a sense of common purpose again. This is a referendum on him and getting rid of him but it's also a referendum on us, who we are and who we must be to each other. It's time we win this election and the way I'll govern is by showing the best of who we are because that's what this country needs and deserves.

DIAZ-BALART: Senator thank you. Congressman O'Rourke 45 seconds.

O'ROURKE: Our daughter Molly turned 11 this week. I'm on this stage for her, for children across this country including some her same age who have been separated from their parents and are sleeping on concrete floors under aluminum blankets tonight. We are going to be there for them. We are going to confront the challenges that we face. We can't return to the same old approach. We are going to need a new kind of politics, one directed by the urgency of the next generation. Those climate activists who are fighting not just for their future but for everyone's. Those students marching not just for their lives but for all of ours. We will need a movement like the one that we led in Texas. It renewed our democracy by bringing everyone in and writing nobody off. That's how we beat Donald Trump and that's how we bring this great country together again. Join us. This is our moment and the generations that follow are counting on us to meet it.

TODD: Thank you congressman.

MADDOW: Senator Warren you have 45 seconds for the final, final statement of the evening.

WARREN: Thank you. It's a great honor to be here. Never in a million years did I think I would stand on a stage like this. I was born and raised in Oklahoma. I have three older brother, they all joined the military. I had a dream growing up and my dream was to be a public school teacher. By the time I graduated from high school my family—my family didn't have the money for a college application much less the chance for me to go to college but I got my chance. It was a $50 a semester commuter college . That was a little slice of government that created some opportunity for a girl and it opened my life. I am in this fight because I believe that we can make our government, we can make our economy, we can make our country work not just for those at the top; we can make it work for everyone and I promise you this, I will fight for you as hard as I fight for my own family.

GUTHRIE: Senator We would like to thank all of the candidates who participated with us tonight and that will do it for night one of these two-night event and guess what, we've got ten more candidates tomorrow night.

HOLT: We certainly hope you will join us then but for now that concludes our coverage of this first Democratic debate from Miami. For Savannah, Jose, Chuck and Rachel I'm Lester Holt. Have a good night everyone.

NOTE: Because of the large number of candidates, the Democratic National Committee divided the field of twenty qualified candidates into two groups of ten. Group #1 debated on June 26, and Group #2 debated on June 27.

Presidential Candidate Debates, Democratic Candidates Debate in Miami, Florida: Group 1 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/342198

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