Democratic Presidential Candidates Answer Students' Questions at CNN Town Hall: Live Updates
MANCHESTER, N.H. — The 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary has already attracted more than 19 candidates, and Monday evening five of them are being featured in back-to-back town halls co-hosted by CNN and Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Starting at 7 p.m., CNN anchors Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and Chris Cuomo will moderate a discussion between audience members and Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg '04. Each will answer questions from the audience for an hour.
The town hall is youth-focused, with approximately 500 young voters in attendance; Harvard’s IOP rented four buses to transport 200 students from various Harvard schools about 50 miles north of campus to Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. The youth vote is expected to be particularly critical in this presidential election, as an IOP poll released earlier today predicted that Millenial and Gen Z voters will comprise more than a third of voters in the 2020 election.
Follow along with live updates from The Crimson below.
April 23, 2019: 12:00 a.m.:
Buttigieg, the final of the five presidential candidates who spoke at this joint town hall, fields the last questions of the night. Cooper asks Buttigieg if Trump should be impeached (one of the only questions that was asked of all five candidates this evening). He responds: “I think he’s made it pretty clear that he deserves impeachment. But I’m going to leave it to House and Senate to figure that out.” The final question that Buttigieg addresses goes back to his age — how he sets himself apart as the youngest candidate. An appropriate finish to the night with 500 youth in the audience. Buttigieg says he hopes to get more young people involved in politics and to make politics more inclusive so young people don’t have to ask “does my voice really matter?”
April 22, 2019: 11:50 p.m.:
A student from the New England College in Vermont asks Buttigieg how he views countries that see homosexuality as a sin and a crime punishable by death. He replies by saying simply: “I think it’s wrong to harm or punish people because they are a part of the LGBTQ+ community.” Cooper follows up by asking how Buttigieg’s life would have been different if he had come out sooner (he came out four years ago, when he was 33 years old). Buttigieg quips back that if dating had been available to him when he was in his 20s, he wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much done.
April 22, 2019: 11:40 p.m.:
Cooper asks Buttigieg about his comparisons of Sanders to Trump in comments about voters who are stuck economically. Buttigieg clarifies, saying that Sanders and Trump are “stupendously different.” However, he does say that there was similar “anti-establishment energy.” Continuing the Sanders thread, Cooper asks whether Buttigieg supports felons being able to vote even while serving their prison sentence. Earlier in the evening, Sanders had said that he does believe that those felons -- including those who performed bombings at the Boston Marathon, for example -- should have the right to vote. Buttigieg emphatically says that they should not while incarcerated. He does believe that after the sentence has been served, felons’ right to vote should be “restored.”
April 22, 2019: 11:30 p.m.:
Cooper asks Buttigieg whether he would support Warren’s higher education proposal announced earlier today. Buttigieg says that he still wants to “do some math around it” but that, upon first look, he finds it “pretty appealing.” He noted, however, that he does not feel completely comfortable with students who come from higher income backgrounds participating in the proposal. “The theory of it makes a lot of sense,” Buttigieg concluded.
April 22, 2019: 11:20 p.m.:
A Harvard sophomore asks Buttigieg whether he has a comprehensive immigration plan. Buttigieg says that he thinks “the dreamer story reflects the story of true Americans.” He adds: “We can’t have comprehensive immigration reform that works unless it addresses the status of those 11 million undocumented people.” This response garners the applause of the audience, including the student who asked the question.
April 22, 2019: 11:12 p.m.:
Buttigieg is the last of the five Democratic presidential candidates in tonight’s town hall with Cooper returning to the stage to moderate the discussion. Before questions begin, Cooper notes that though Buttegieg served as the IOP president during undergraduate career at Harvard, Buttegieg had no contribution in hosting this evening’s event. Buttegieg answers a question about his age and the fact that he has the least government experience of all the candidates this evening. Buttegieg says he has more government experience than Trump, more executive experience than Pence, and more military experience than any president since George H.W. Bush.
April 22, 2019: 11:04 p.m.:
Harris’ final questions center around issues concerning minorities and women. An audience member asks what specific rights she would provide for BGLTQ people in the United States. She responds, saying that she has been an ally for BGLTQ rights throughout her entire life, would give BGLTQ Americans rights under the law, and that this is a “civil rights and human issue.” Harris takes a question from a Harvard sophomore who asks about her stance on if Americans should be able to vote at 16 years of age. Harris answers: “I’m really interested in having that conversation” before speaking about the value of American democracy. Next up is South Bend Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg ’04.
April 22, 2019: 10:54 p.m.:
After another commercial break, a Harvard sophomore asks Harris how her background as a person of black and Indian descent would serve her if elected, noting that he comes from the same mixed-race background as she does. Harris responds: “The vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us… I know that to be true because I have been exposed to many cultures.”
April 22, 2019: 10:44 p.m.:
Lemon asks Harris if she supports financial reparations for descendants of slaves. She says: “I support we study them and see.” An audience member turns the conversation to the possibility of cyber warfare, to which Harris responds: “This will be a war without blood, but we are not prepared, but we must be.” Harris — the former attorney general of California — answered questions about background in criminal justice by defending her stance on child truancy. Another audience member asks if Harris agrees with Sanders' earlier statement that even "terrible people" should be able to vote. Harris says: "I think we should have that conversation."
April 22, 2019: 10:35 p.m.:
An audience member asks Harris why she supports the Green New Deal, saying that it “has no chance of passing through Congress.” Harris responds by affirming her support for the proposed program: “It puts timelines in effect. The clock is ticking on this issue.” After a brief commercial break, a Harvard freshman asks Harris about her stance on reparations for descendants of slaves. In her question, the student references a recent vote by undergraduates at Georgetown University in favor of issuing reparations to descendants of the slaves who built the school's campus. Harris responded that to ignore these issues would be to overlook “facts of history.”
April 22, 2019: 10:22 p.m.:
Harris fields a question about her view on the cost of higher education and student loans — a recurring topic tonight in light of Warren’s higher education proposal for free public college announced earlier today. Harris says that it is “absolutely unconscionable” that there are students in America who are in “absolute fear” about student loan debt. When asked whether she supports Warren’s plan, however, Harris doesn’t answer directly. She says she supports “any attempt” to lower student-debt.
April 22, 2019: 10:10 p.m.:
Harris enters the theater to applause from an audience of the crowd of about 500 audience members with CNN’s Don Lemon as the moderator. The topic of impeachment arises again, as an audience member asks whether Congress should pursue the impeachment of Trump. Harris answers in the affirmative: “It is very clear that there is a lot of good evidence point to obstruction and obstruction of justice. Simply, I believe Congress should take the steps towards impeachment.”
April 22, 2019: 10:03 p.m.:
Sanders answers his final question of the night from a Harvard senior, who asks whether he thinks that his age will hinder his ability to gain the support of young voters. Sanders, 77, would be the oldest U.S. president if elected. Sanders replies by saying he is best suited to address the issues young people will face in the future, citing financial burdens. He says: “My campaign speaks to the idealism of young people who understand that we are not where we should be.” Next up is Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
April 22, 2019: 9:55 p.m.:
Cuomo asks Sanders about Warren’s higher education proposal announced earlier today. Sanders says though he has not yet studied her plan, he and Warren “end up agreeing on a lot of issues.”
April 22, 2019: 9:49 p.m.:
A Harvard junior shifts the conversation to foreign policy, asking Sanders how he will maintain the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Sanders says that he is “not anti-Israel” and that he thinks Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “treating Palestinian people extremely unfairly.” The following question circles back to the topic of criminal justice; Sanders says that that the United States’ incarcerated population is disproportionately Latinx and African American. Sanders adds that he wants to invest the $80 billion a year used for criminal justice in education and jobs for young people instead.
April 22, 2019: 9:38 p.m.:
Trump impeachment comes up for the third time this evening. Sanders says that he intends for Trump to not be re-elected, but that he is worried about conversations related to Trump impeachment and the Mueller report occupying valuable space that could otherwise be directed toward climate change, sexism, and racism. He says that this rhetoric works in Trump’s favor. Sanders does say he wants to see another House investigation, despite the fact that two investigations have already occurred.
April 22, 2019: 9:20 p.m.:
An audience member asks Sanders if his status as a millionaire undermines his authority to criticize “millionaires and billionaires.” Sanders says: “I plead guilty to have written a book that was an international bestseller,” referencing his book “Our Revolution” — a New York Times bestselling book in 2016. Sanders adds that he suspects his salary will drop in the future and that money will not influence his politics.
April 22, 2019: 9:10 p.m.:
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) takes the stage with CNN’s Cuomo as the moderator for the third session. Sanders fields the first question, which addresses his view on health care and eliminating private insurance companies: “Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege.”
April 22, 2019: 9 p.m.:
Warren spends the last ten minutes of her town hall segment addressing the issue of climate change and her philosophical approach to the presidency. She says that she is a strong supporter of the Green New Deal, a progressive proposal that includes broad goals for tackling climate change. She avoids directly comparing her philosophical approach to Obama’s but does state that she will “always be grateful” to him for his service.
April 22, 2019: 8:46 p.m.:
A Harvard sophomore asks Warren about Social Security reform. Warren first delivers a brief history of social security, and then says that there is not enough political will to make the necessary adjustments to fix the system. Warren says, however, that she is willing to take on the fight.
April 22, 2019: 8:36 p.m.:
Now, it is Warren's turn to be asked about impeachment proceedings. Warren says there is “no political inconvenience clause to the U.S. Constitution.” She attacks Trump’s presidency, saying that a “hostile foreign government” helped him get elected and that Trump has repeatedly tried to obstruct investigations into those claims.
April 22, 2019: 8:24 p.m.:
An audience member asks Warren how they can know that she will back legislation that keeps law enforcement safe. Warren responds by speaking to what she identifies as larger issues of racism within the criminal justice system. She then moves quickly into addressing gun safety: “One of the main ways we could help make our police safer it to get serious about gun safety in this country.”
April 22, 2019: 8:10 p.m.:
Warren's first question addresses her higher education proposal announced earlier today. Warren provides details of her plan, and quickly responds to Cooper’s follow-up question of how to pay for it: a wealth tax of two cents per dollar for incomes over $50 million dollars.
April 22, 2019: 8 p.m.:
Klobuchar’s hour is up. Next up is Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who announced earlier today that she would eliminate student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans and make all public college tuition free. Student loans have already been a topic of conversation this evening, with one of the first questions Klobuchar was asked centering on student debt. Anderson Cooper is now moderating.
April 22, 2019, 7:57 p.m.:
A Harvard Kennedy School student who served in Afghanistan asks how Klobuchar would address the epidemic of deaths by suicide among U.S. military veterans. Klobuchar says that she would make sure that the U.S. allocates the necessary resources to support veteran mental health, and that mental illness is as equally as important to treat as physical illness. She also references her work on the The Mental Health Parity bill.
April 22, 2019, 7:47 p.m.:
Klobuchar discusses what she calls Betsy D. DeVos’s failures as U.S. Secretary of Education. Klobuchar gives the Trump administration an F grade on how it has addressed questions of students with disabilities in higher education. She subsequently fields a question from a Harvard senior who grew up on a wolf sanctuary, who asks how she plans to include rural communities in the discussion about climate change. She says that she would get the U.S. back into international climate change agreements on the first day of her administration; bring back the Obama administration’s clean power regulations and gas mileage standards; and propose legislation for green buildings.
April 22, 2019, 7:30 p.m.:
Klobuchar addresses President Donald Trump, who made fun of her and criticized her stance on climate change when she first announced her candidacy during a blizzard in Minnesota. Klobuchar said that Democratic candidates need to have a sense of humor, and she joked that she would have liked to see President Trump try to deliver a speech in a snowstorm with his hair.
April 22, 2019, 7 p.m.:
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) opens the night with CNN’s Chris Cuomo moderating. Two Harvard undergrads immediately question Klobuchar about whether the House should move forward with impeachment proceedings of current President Trump and about crime policies that disproportionately affect people of color. Klobuchar responds by saying that as a senator, she does not have the ability to initiate the proceedings.