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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN Democratic Town Hall. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired February 3, 2016 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening, everyone.
What a night here in the nation's first presidential primary state, one town hall (INAUDIBLE) on the two remaining Democrats and the questions voters want answered before making their choice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, the presidential race is more competitive than ever. And the Democrats are here, in New Hampshire, to face the voters again.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am so thrilled that I'm coming to New Hampshire after winning Iowa.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe we have a path toward victory.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's down to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders -- just two candidates on one stage, taking questions from the people of this battleground state on issues that hit close to home.
CLINTON: I am excited about really getting into the debate with Senator Sanders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their differences are real and the stakes are soaring just days before the second crucial contest of 2016.
SANDERS: Millions of people come together and say loudly and clearly, enough is enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a CNN Democratic town hall event, a chance for voters to try to debate with decision day around the corner.
SANDERS: Democracy is not a spectator sport.
CLINTON: New Hampshire, the eyes of the world are going to be on you again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Hampshire is choosing. The Democrats are in the spotlight. And they're making their pitches to voters right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: And good evening from the historic Derry Opera House in downtown Derry, New Hampshire.
We are here tonight with just six days to go until primary day. Just six days left to decide, yet many voters remain undecided.
So tonight, Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders are here with the people of the state and the country for a conversation.
I want to welcome our viewers in the United States, in New Hampshire, around the world. We're being seen on CNN, CNN En Espanol, CNN International.
I also want to extend a warm welcome to our service men and women who are watching on the American Forces network and to those who are listening on the Westwood One Radio Network and on CNN Channel 116 on Sirius XM.
In the audience here in Derry, New Hampshire, people who tell us they will be participating in Tuesday's Democratic primary, which means registered Democrats or Independents. Some have already made up their minds. Others still trying to decide whom to vote for.
The clock is ticking, guys.
We asked audience members to come up with their own questions, which we -- we've reviewed to make sure they don't overlap. I'll ask some questions, as well. But tonight is really about the voters getting to know the candidates.
So, let's get started.
Up first tonight, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
COOPER: Thanks for joining us.
SANDERS: Good to see you.
SANDERS: Good to be with you.
COOPER: -- you have had, obviously, quite a few days. It's been quite a -- quite a whirlwind for you. I understand your campaigned -- the campaign says you've raised at least $3 million since -- since Iowa.
I'm wondering out there, in New Hampshire today, what are you feeling?
What sort of momentum?
Are you feeling the Bern?
SANDERS: We're feeling great.
SANDERS: Yes, I am, now that you ask. We're feeling really great. I think the message that we are bringing forth is resonating with the American people. And you talked about money. One of the things that has happened in our campaign, Anderson, which has blown me away, it really has, is we have received three and a half million individual contributions. That is more than any candidate in the history of the United States up until this point.
And you know what the average contribution is?
COOPER: Twenty-seven dollars.
SANDERS: Hey, you heard.
COOPER: Ah, good.
SANDERS: And that's pretty -- and in a day of super PACs, where people are raising huge amounts of money from Wall Street and the drug companies, the fact that millions of individual contributions from working people and the middle class, who want us to go forward and to transform this country in very significant ways is very moving to me.
COOPER: I'm just going to ask a couple of questions then we're really going to get it over to -- to the audience.
There is an expectations game being played. And we've been seeing this from both campaigns in New Hampshire.
Hillary Clinton keeps -- campaign keeps pointing to the fact that you're from a neighboring state...
COOPER: -- that you're way up in the polls.
Are you still an underdog?
SANDERS: Of course we're an underdog. We are taking on the most powerful political organization in the country. And that's, you know, the Clinton organization. Secretary Clinton obviously ran here in 2008 and she won. Her husband ran here several times before that.
So this is her fourth campaign in that family here in New Hampshire. It is clear that many people in New Hampshire do know me because I come from a neighboring state. And I think we have support because people over the years have seen the work that I am doing in standing up for working families and the middle class.
But in general, we started this campaign nationally, as you well know, 40-50 points behind Sec. Clinton. We had no money. We had no organization. And we had relatively little name recognition. I think it's fair to say we have come a pretty long way in the last nine months.
COOPER: You are -- I mean according to the latest I think CNN poll you're up some 23 points some people say or believe here in New Hampshire. Obviously we know polls can get it wrong. How do you not underperform here? Because there is an expectation...
SANDERS: That's the media game. That's what media talks about. Who cares?
The point is underperform -- the point is we are going to work as hard as we can to win. And after we do hopefully well here we're going to go onto Nevada and then South Carolina and do as well as we can all over this country.
I got to say, all due respect, that's media stuff. Over -- you know I think some of these polls...
COOPER: You don't look at polls, your campaign?
SANDERS: Sure we do. But some of these polls are off the charts. We're not -- I mean I think this is going to be a very close election here in New Hampshire.
COOPER: There's been some back and forth on the campaign trail today about is Hillary Clinton a progressive. We're going to get to that later on because we've got some questions from the audience about that, and some other questions.
But Sen. Barbara Boxer, a supporter of Clinton, came back, fired back basically at your campaign today, at you, saying of course Hillary Clinton is progressive and asked you know -- said that Bernie Sanders is a Democrat on some days. You had said that Hillary Clinton is a progressive on some days. Is that fair? Because there are some Democrats who -- I mean in your heart are you a Democrat?
SANDERS: Sure. I have made a decision to run for the Democratic nomination to be president of the United States. I was for 16 years in the House Democratic Caucus, for nine years in the Senate Democratic Caucus.
Right now I am the ranking member of the Budget Committee, appointed by the Democratic leadership and membership. A couple of years ago I was very proudly the chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee. So of course I am a Democrat and running for the Democratic nomination.
In terms of Sec. Clinton, I know the media is kind of making a big deal about this. All that I said, which is simply true, is I think it was in November in Ohio. You may recall this.
SANDERS: I don't know the context of it, but Sec. Clinton said some people call me a -- paraphrasing, some people call me a moderate. And I proudly say that I am a moderate. That's what she said.
So all I said you can't go and say you're a moderate on one day and be a progressive on the other day. Some of my best friends are moderates. I love moderates. But you can't be a moderate and a progressive. They are different.
COOPER: We'll talk a little bit more about that. But I want to go to our audience. Our first guest Chris Brunel (ph), he's an office administrator in Nashua. He said he's leading toward supporting you, but he's got some questions about your tax policies.
QUESTION: Sen. Sanders, the first thing I hear about you is that you're going to raise taxes on the middle class. I support my family on a salary of $41,000 a year. I'm wondering if you raise my taxes, how does that help me?
SANDERS: Could I stand up?
COOPER: You can do whatever you want.
Chris, thanks very much for that good question. This is what we are going to do.
The United States is the only major country on earth that doesn't guarantee health care to all people. And we end up spending far, far more per capita on health care as do the people of any other country: Canada, U.K., France, whatever.
What we are going to fight for is a Medicare for All single payer program, which would provide comprehensive health care to your family and every family in America.
So let me tell you what we do. We raise your taxes if you're somewhere in the middle of the economy about $500. But you know what we're going to do for health care? We're going to reduce your health care costs by $5,000.
So you're going to pay a little bit more in taxes. But you're no longer going to have to pay private health insurance premiums.
Now, I've been criticized for this. But I believe that health care is a right of all people, that we should not have these deductibles and copayments. We should not be paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. And our Medicare for All program will guarantee comprehensive care to all people, and save middle class families some thousands of dollars a year. COOPER: Chris, let me just ask you. Does that math work for you?
QUESTION: I mean if it saves me on health insurance premiums I will gladly pay more taxes.
SANDERS: See. And, Chris, what happens in politics -- I don't want to shock anybody in the office. Sometimes people distort things. I mean I've had 30-second ads run against me. "Bernie is going to raise your taxes." But they forget to say we're going to do away with your private health insurance premiums.
Bottom line here is we spend almost three times more per person than the British, 50 percent more than the French. We can save substantial sums of money, and my Medicare for all system is funded in a very progressive way. Yes, you'll pay a little bit more, but your health premiums will disappear.
ANDERSON COOPER: That's assuming you can get that through, though.
SANDERS: Well, that's -- you know, that's true. But all of what I am trying to do assumes something. When I talk about making public colleges and universities tuition free, and doing that and paying for that through a tax on Wall Street speculation. When I talk about rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, which as you know is in disrepair all over this country, and talk about doing away with huge loopholes that major corporations now enjoy -- so that in a given year you have these large corporations making billions, not paying a nickel in taxes because they're putting their money in the Cayman Islands. Now how do we get these things through? What this campaign is about is, not just electing a President, it is creating a political revolution where millions of people, many of whom have not been involved in the political process, stand up and demand a government which represents all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors. That's how we make change.
COOPER: Let me ask you... When you, when you use the term revolution, makes some people nervous. What's wrong with evolution?
SANDERS: Well, I think what we -- you know, we had the, remember the Reagan revolution, and the Gingrich revolution, well, my revolution's a little bit different. But it is a process. Look, let's be clear. We have one of the lowest voter turnouts of any major country on earth. In the last election where Republicans won a huge victory, 63 percent of the American people didn't vote, 80 percent of young people didn't vote. Now, when people don't vote, there's a political vacuum that's created. And I will tell you how it's filled. It's filled by lobbyists and campaign contributors who could care less about the middle class, who are there to protect the wealthiest people in this country. So what we are trying to do -- and I would tell you, Anderson, with some success -- is bring working people and young people and lower income people into the political process. And when that happens, you know what, we will raise the minimum raise, we will have health care for all people, we will make public colleges and universities tuition free.
COOPER: I want to -- want you meet Jason Telerski, he's in IT management, he's in IT management. He says you are his dream candidate, but he does have some...
SANDERS: Oh. Buts always make me nervous. All right, Jason, fire away.
JASON TELERSKI: So you are my dream candidate in a lot of ways. The message of your campaign really speaks to me and on some issues I feel that you actually speak for me. But I also know that most people don't have the same class-based view of the world that, that I do and that I think you do as well. I've seen all of your debates, and I just don't see you connecting with the people that view, view the world through a religious or racial lens, people that see those as the powerful forces in our society. I'm wondering what you can do to better engage with the broader electorate to understand, and understand their points of view, demonstrate that you can be an effective leader for them.
SANDERS: Very good question and I thank you for it. We are reaching out, as strongly as we can, for example to the African-American community, and to the Latino community. And I think we are gaining more and more support in those communities, for a couple of reasons. Number one, within the African-American community, it's not only an economic issue, raising the minimum wage and providing jobs. Youth unemployment for African-American kids now is 51 percent.
So those are important issues, but I'll tell you what else is an important issue, and that is the criminal justice issue. The fact that we have more people in jail in American than any other country, disproportionately African-American and Latino. The fact that blacks and whites do marijuana at about an equal level, and yet four times more blacks get arrests. The fact that blacks are more likely to be stopped by police in a, in a vehicle and get arrested than whites. Those are huge issues. And what I have said and repeat through a virtually all-white state, but I'll say this all over the country.
There will be no President who will fight harder to end institutional racism than I will, and we have got to reform a very, very broken criminal justice system. It breaks my heart, and I know that it breaks the hearts of millions of people in this country to see videos on television of unarmed people, often African-American, shot by police. That has got to end, and these are issues that I take very seriously, Jason.
COOPER: You know, I want to follow up, because Jason also mentioned faith, which is something you've spoken a little bit about. You're Jewish, but you've said that you're not actively involved with organized religion.
What do you say to a voter out there who says -- and that who sees faith as a guiding principle in their lives, and wants it to be a guiding principle for this country?
SANDERS: It's a guiding principle in my life, absolutely, it is. You know, everybody practices religion in a different way. To me, I would not be here tonight, I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings. I believe that, as a human being, the pain that one person feels, if
we have children who are hungry in America, if we have elderly people who can't afford their prescription drugs, you know what, that impacts you, that impacts me.
And I worry very much about a society where some people spiritually say, it doesn't matter to me, I got it, I don't care about other people.
So my spirituality is that we are all in this together and that when children go hungry, when veterans sleep out on the street, it impacts me. That's my very strong spiritual feeling.
COOPER: Senator, I want you to meet Denise Spenard. She was wounded in the Boston Marathon bombing. She says she's undecided. She has got a question about terrorism.
DENISE SPENARD, BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING SURVIVOR: Yes, I am a fortunate survivor from the Boston bombing. And it has changed my life. And one of the biggest things is participating in events, large events. And I'm running the marathon again...
SANDERS: Good for you.
SPENARD: ... this year with my husband. But my kids are going...
SPENARD: Thank you. Thank you.
So, my kids are going to be out there spectating. And I can only think about their safety while they're out there. So my question to you is, what are your plans for keeping us safe from terrorism?
SANDERS: OK. For a start, in my view, we have got to crush ISIS, all right, for a start. And as somebody who voted against the war in Iraq, what I believe is we've got to learn the lessons of that war.
So we have to destroy ISIS, but we have to be not just tough, we have to be smart. And that means we work with a large coalition, led by on-the-ground Muslim troops. King Abdullah of Jordan made the point, it will be Muslim troops who destroy ISIS, because ISIS has hijacked their religion.
The United States, the U.K., France, Germany, Russia provide support, in my view, to the troops on the ground. So we've got to crush them.
Internally, what we have got to do is significantly improve intelligence. And I think we are not as strong as we can be in communicating with intelligence agencies all over this country.
If people come into this country, say, I've got to be screened although I happen to believe that we should accept refugees from the Middle East, from Syria and Afghanistan. (APPLAUSE)
SANDERS: But I also appreciate the concern that others have, that we have got to screen those people, absolutely, thoroughly. There needs to be better coordination between federal, state, and local police.
We have to work, which is very hard, making sure that we are tracking Internet transmission of information, where ISIS has been successful in getting information out and recruiting people.
But your concerns -- and again, thank you, you're a symbol of courage, that you went through that horror in Boston and you're going back and you're running again. Thank you for your courage.
COOPER: I want to just follow up, just briefly on that. There is a disconnect. Democrats in Iowa who said that terrorism was the most important issue for them, they back Secretary Clinton over you by 37 points.
Why do you think that is? Why do you think they see her as more ready to handle that?
SANDERS: Well, I think because she has a great deal of experience. She was secretary of state of our country for four years.
But I would say, Anderson, that the key foreign policy vote in modern American history was whether or not we should go into Iraq. And Secretary Clinton was in the Senate then, I was in the House then.
We both listened to the same evidence. I made the decision, which I think history will conclude was the right decision, not to go to war. And if people want to go to my Web site, berniesanders.com, check out what I said in 2002.
And it gives me no joy at all to say that much of what I feared would happen did, in fact, happen in terms of the destabilization of the region.
So I think in terms of foreign policy, I have the judgment. We've been all over this world, met with foreign leaders. And I am confident that we can assemble a team that would do a great job.
COOPER: I want you to meet Gabriel Grave (ph).
She's a student here in New Hampshire. She's an Independent voter, but she's supporting you.
GABRIEL GRAVE: Hi.
So I'm from Brooklyn, New York, like you are. And my question is that I've experienced and I've witnessed a lot of police brutality and racial unjustice.
And I want to know like I think and I do believe that it is neighborhoods primarily of people of color or lower income neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected by unjust policing.
And I want to know if you are to be elected as president of the United States, what would you do to enact change and combat this racial injustice?
GRAVE: Thank you.
SANDERS: Gabriel, you have asked a -- an important question that is on the minds of millions of people, not just African-Americans, but -- but all people.
Here's what I would do.
For a start -- and I speak as a former mayor. I was the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, as many know, who worked very closely with our police department and believe that the vast majority of police officers in this country are hardworking, honest and are trying to do their best, doing very, very difficult work.
But if a police officer breaks the law like any other public official, that police officer must be held accountable. That's number one.
SANDERS: Number two, you have seen on television, as I have, local police departments that look like occupying armies. We have got to demilitarize local police departments, make them part of the community, not invading armies.
SANDERS: -- third, and very importantly, we have got to make police departments look like the communities that they serve. So if there's a diverse community, the police department should reflect that diversity.
Fourthly, in terms of police action, the federal -- you know, police departments are run by local governments. But the federal government can play an important role in helping to fund model type programs.
For example, I think we have to rethink the use of lethal force. I think too often, lethal force goes first rather than last. Obviously, there are times when policemen must use their guns and use them as quickly as possible.
But I think what we need to do is figure out ways to train police departments so that police officers -- so that lethal force is the last resort, not the first resort.
So that's some of the things that I would do.
COOPER: I want to ask you -- because I think a lot of people don't know much about your background on this subject. And it's interesting, 54 years ago, you were in the front lines of trying to desegregate school housing at the University of Chicago. You were even arrested.
SANDERS: Don't tell anybody that.
COOPER: What was it that motivated a 20-year-old white kid from Brooklyn to do that?
SANDERS: You know, it's hard to say what motivates anybody. I think as a kid, I did -- my parents weren't political. My brother was a little bit. My parents were not.
But, you know, it -- you know, like in any school you see big kids picking on little kids, you know. And I resented that. I always did.
And, you know, injustice bothered me very, very much. And when I went to the University of Chicago, I had the opportunity to -- I wasn't a great student, I have to -- I have to admit it. In fact, I learned more off campus -- I shouldn't say this to other students, though.
SANDERS: Do your homework, study, but...
COOPER: You've got a lot of teachers in this room.
SANDERS: But I learned a lot off -- off of campus and I got involved in a group some may know, some not, called the Congress on Racial Equality. And it was a great group and we got involved in trying to desegregate the housing owned by the University of Chicago, segregated housing. And we also got involved in efforts to desegregate the school system there and I got arrested.
But I think, you know, as far back as I can remember -- and, Anderson, I can't tell you why, but injustice is something that I have always fought throughout my life.
COOPER: I want you to meet Keith Howard.
He's a veteran. He was harmless after serving in the Army. He's now the executive director of Liberty House, which is a transitional facility for former homeless vets. He says he's undecided.
KEITH HOWARD: Yes. Senator Sanders, throughout this election cycle, we've been contacted -- we at Liberty House have been contacted by a number of Republican presidential candidates. To date, we've not heard from any Democrats.
Have you ceded the support of veterans to the Republicans?
And if your answer is no, what is your evidence?
SANDERS: What is my evidence? My evidence is that I'm the former chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, that I introduced, along with the support of the American Legion, the VFW, the DAV, the Vietnam vets of virtually every major veterans organization, the most comprehensive veterans health care legislation in the modern history of the United States of America.
And sadly enough, you know it's one thing, Paul, Republicans talk about how much they love veterans. I got two Republican votes on a comprehensive bill supported by virtually the entire Veterans Committee.
But I didn't give up. What I did then is work with people like John McCain, Jeff Miller over in the House. And we passed -- wasn't my ideal bill, I compromised. But it was the most significant piece of veterans health care legislation passed in modern history. We put some $16 billion in to veterans' health care, as well as in taking care of veterans in a number of areas.
So it's easy for politicians to give speeches. But what my work in the Senate has been involved is to making sure that veterans in this country get the best quality health care possible, get their benefits when they need them, not wait years and years. And we've made some progress on that.
Do our best to end veterans' homelessness. President Obama put a lot of money into that. And we have had some success. Still have a way to go.
So I think if you check my record it will tell you that I received the award, the highest award from the American Legion and the VFW for my work on veterans' issues. So I'm proud of that.
COOPER: Let me follow up on that. You were on the Veterans Affairs Committee for eight years. You headed it for two years.
COOPER: There were 18 inspector general reports talking about problems plaguing the VA. Why did it take so long? And did it take you too long to act?
SANDERS: Well, a fair question. And I think you know the answer is that we have worked on many, many issues, Anderson. And your point is fair that we should've acted sooner. We should've known what was going on in Phoenix, those long waiting lines and the lies that some administrators were telling us.
On the other hand, what we also did, though, is make significant progress in terms of dealing with homelessness. We passed a post 9/11 GI bill, which provides college education for the men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We passed a Caregivers Act, which for the first time will provide support for those folks, mostly women, who are staying home with disabled vets. So I think in recent years we have made some progress. Your point is
a good one. We should have done better.
COOPER: All right. I want you to meet Marjorie Smith. She served nine terms in the state house here. She says she's currently undecided. Welcome.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
Senator, you and I have a lot in common. I was born in Brooklyn in 1941.
SANDERS: There we go.
SANDERS: You look younger than I do. Why is that?
QUESTION: That's very kind of you to say. But I'm not running for president.
Senator, many of us see how deeply held your philosophy, and that matters a lot to us. We share those goals.
At the same time, you have worked for many years to say it's my way or the highway. You talked tonight about wanting to have a revolution in the House and Senate in order to get people there who share your views.
There might be some new members of the House and Senate. But they're not going to be all that many. How are you going to be able to work with a Congress that might not share our deeply held goals in order to achieve a more perfect union?
SANDERS: Well, Marjorie, thank you for your question. It is just not accurate to say -- you know sometimes people may portray me in this respect. It is not accurate to say that it's my way or the highway. Let me give you some examples.
I just mentioned that I compromised significantly with people like John McCain and Republicans in the House to pass what is regarded as the most significant piece of veterans' legislation passed in many, many years.
Second of all, when I was in the House of Representatives, there were years, Marjorie, where I received more votes. I won more amendments than any other member of the House of Representatives because I reached out where there was common ground with Republicans. So I think I have a history of being able to work with Republicans when there is common ground.
But here is the major point that I want to make. And I will continue to do that. But here is the truth, and it's an unpleasant truth, and I know that not everybody here will agree with me.
In my view, we have a Congress today that is much more interested in doing the bidding of the wealthy and the powerful, Wall Street and the drug companies and the fossil fuel industries, rather than the needs of the American people.
And I believe we're not going to make the real changes that we need, dealing with the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, reforming a corrupt campaign finance system which allows billionaires to buy elections, dealing with climate change, making sure we don't continue to pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs when last year the three major drug companies made $45 billion in profit.
Now, how do we change all of that? Well, where we can, we work with our Republican friends. But change, in my view, and what history tells us, has always come from the bottom on up.
That's what the Civil Rights movement was about. That's what the women's movement was about. That's what the gay movement was about. That's what the environmental movement is about.
And what we need right now is a very profound and deep movement this country, where millions of people, in fact, get involved and say, I'm sorry, my kid is not going to have to graduate college $100,000 in debt. That's wrong.
My mom is entitled to decent health care and prescription drugs that she can afford. Those are the kinds of movements that we need, and that's how we will bring about real change in this country.
COOPER: I want you to meet Mark Viens. He's a graphic artist. He's a Boy Scout master. He says he decided to support you in the primary.
MARK VIENS, GRAPHIC ARTIST: Good evening, Senator.
SANDERS: That's because I was a Boy Scout too.
VIENS: Good evening, Senator. Four of our last five presidents were elected and served two terms. Do you see any limitations for yourself in the ability to serve two terms to enact these sweeping changes that you envision for our country?
SANDERS: I don't, Mark. You know, we'll take one term at a time.
SANDERS: Got to get to the first term first.
COOPER: You would be 83 at the end of your second term. SANDERS: Well, you know, thank goodness.
SANDERS: Let's not be ageist, Anderson.
COOPER: I'm not, I'm not.
SANDERS: You know, I am, thank God, in good health. And one can't predict the future, one never knows what happens tomorrow. But, thank God, I have -- when I was a kid, I was a long-distance runner. I was not quite the marathon runner, but I was a cross-country runner.
And I've had good endurance and good strength my whole life. So, you know, if I am fortunate enough to win the general election, and we do well, yes, I would like to run for re-election.
COOPER: You've got a lot more energy than I do, certainly.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We're going to be right back with more audience questions for Senator Sanders. You're watching the CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall, live from New Hampshire.
COOPER: And welcome back to CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall in the Derry Opera House in New Hampshire.
We're here with Senator Bernie Sanders.
We continue the questions.
I want to play for Senator Sanders a clip from Hillary Clinton's speech Monday night after the Iowa Caucuses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Here's what I want you to know.
CLINTON: It is rare...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).
CLINTON: -- it is rare that we have the opportunity we do now...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CLINTON: -- to have a real contest of ideas.
CLINTON: To really think hard about what the Democratic Party stands for and what we want the future of our country to look like if we do our part to build it.
I am a progressive who gets things done for people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: There were a lot of your supporters who, when they heard that, didn't think or expressed their belief that she's not a progressive. We talked about this a little bit at the beginning.
But just so we're clear, do you believe Hillary Clinton is a progressive?
SANDERS: Let me just say this. I have, um, enormous respect for Hillary Clinton. I've known her for 25 years. And it's unfortunate, you know, in politics -- and everybody should know this. What media often wants you to do and you're asked this question, I'm sure it's the same for Secretary Clinton, beat her up. Tell me something terrible about her. Attack her, because that will make the news.
I have tried my best not to do that. You're looking at a guy who has been in politics a long time.
SANDERS: And I have never run a negative ad in my life and I look forward to never running a negative ad in my life, OK. I don't think people deserve that. We have to -- as Secretary Clinton just said, that's what politics is about. It's a debate on the issues.
Secretary Clinton has a long and distinguished public career. She has worked with children when she began, and God only knows that we need a lot of work, given the fact that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on Earth.
So I respect it. I thought she did a good job as secretary of State. I served with her in the Senate. We worked together on some issues.
But there are other issues, Anderson, where I think she is just not progressive. I do not know any progressive who has a super PAC and takes $15 million from Wall Street. That's just not progressive.
SANDERS: As I mentioned earlier, the key foreign policy vote of modern American history was the war in Iraq. The progressive community was pretty united in saying don't listen to Bush. Don't go to war.
Secretary Clinton voted to go to war.
Virtually all of the trade unions and millions of working people understand that our trade policies -- NAFTA, CAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China, etc. -- have been written by corporate America. And the goal of it is to be able to throw American workers out on the street, move to China and other low-wage countries, and bring their products back into this country. And that's one of the reasons why the middle class of this country and the working class is struggling so hard.
Secretary Clinton has been a supporter in the past of various trade policies, NAFTA and PNTR with China. Reluctantly, and after a lot of pressure on her, she came out against the TPP, and I'm glad that she did.
Every sensible person understands that climate change is real. It is caused by human activity. And we have got to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel.
For a long time, Secretary Clinton was talking about the benefits of the Keystone pipeline. Well, there are no benefits to excavating and transporting some of the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world.
I was in the lead in opposition to the Keystone pipeline. I'm in opposition to the pipeline right here in New Hampshire and the pipeline in Vermont. I think we have got to move aggressively away from fossil fuel if we're going to leave this planet in a way that's healthy and habitable for our kids.
So those are just some of the areas...
COOPER: Just one quick follow-up to that. There's a new book called "Buyer's Remorse: How Obama Led Progressives Down," you gave it a ringing endorsement...
SANDERS: No, I didn't give it a ringing endorsement.
COOPER: But you blurbed it.
SANDERS: No, not true.
COOPER: OK. You tell me what you did.
SANDERS: I wrote a blurb for it. You may have the blurb there. And what the blurb said is that I think the next president should be very aggressive in bringing people into the political process.
And that, I believe, from the bottom of my heart. And if elected president, that will be a top priority of mine.
COOPER: Did President Obama let progressives down? SANDERS: I think in some areas, progressive -- for example, in the
trade area. Right now, I think they signed today the TPP in New Zealand. I think it is a continuation of bad trade policies. The president supports it, I strongly disagree with it.
On the other hand, let's be very clear. And I got a little bit upset that our Republicans friends suffer from a very serious illness called amnesia.
SANDERS: They forgot what the economy of this country was like seven years ago when we were losing 800,000 jobs a month, when we were running up a $1.4 trillion deficit, and by the way, the world's financial system was on the verge of collapse.
President Obama and Vice President Biden have taken us a very, very long way from those dismal days. Are we where we want to be today? No. But we have come a long way and President Obama deserves an enormous amount of credit for that.
COOPER: Senator, as you know, in a recent poll, I'm sure, 88 percent of adults in New Hampshire said heroin abuse is a very serious problem in the state. I want you to meet David Cote.
He's a recovery coach who's in long-term recovery himself. He says he's undecided, leaning towards you.
David, thanks for being here. What's your question?
DAVID COTE, RECOVERY COACH: Thank you.
Thank you, Senator, for hearing me. I come to you tonight as the father of a teenager. I have a young teenage daughter. And my biggest concern these days is the availability of opiates and other drugs, substances on the street, and the effects that they have on our youth and on our citizens.
My question to you is, we're losing 129 people a day in this country. In the city of Manchester, we're losing one person a week at -- you know...
COTE: ... minimally. And my question to you is, if -- what would you do in order to secure recovery services for those that have slipped through the cracks of prevention and moved on to treatment?
SANDERS: Thank you very much for your question. It is a crisis here in New Hampshire. And by the way, there's a crisis in Vermont. You may recall our governor gave his state of the union speech a year ago on this issue.
Because, you know, people think, well, New Hampshire and Vermont, these are rural states, not a problem. You're right, it is a terrible problem. What do we do?
For a start, we understand that substance abuse and addiction is a health issue, not a criminal issue.
SANDERS: And when I talk about moving toward universal health care, what I understand that to be, and it is absolutely imperative that it be, is understanding that mental health and addiction is part of health care.
And what that means is that when people need treatment, they shouldn't have to wait three months. When they need it, they should be able to get it. So that means we need a revolution in this country in mental health care to address the causes of addiction and provide treatment.
And I was to a treatment center in Manchester, which is kind of peer- oriented. Former people who had addiction work with other people. That's one approach. There are many other approaches.
But the bottom line is we have a very, very serious crisis in this country. And we have got to make sure that when people need the help, they get the help.
And the other question that we have to ask is, and it's a tough question. Nobody I know knows the answer. Why is it? Why is it?
One of the reasons, by the way, is I think that doctors are prescribing opiates in a way that they have got to cut back a little bit on. They're giving out a whole lot of pills. A friend of mine got a molar removed. They got 50 very strong painkilling drugs.
And these drugs are rampant. Kids are using them, getting addicted then getting into heroin. So I think we got to talk to the pharmaceutical industry about what they're producing, doctors what they're prescribing. And then we have to make treatment available to people when they need it.
COOPER: I want you to meet Raul Bernal (ph). He's a Democrat. He says he's undecided.
SANDERS: First name is?
QUESTION: Right. Sen. Sanders, thank you very much for a great campaign that you've run. Voters in Iowa, voters in New Hampshire have had an opportunity to get to know you, to understand the details of your platform in forums just like this. And while I'm inspired by your passion on the issues, one of the concerns I have is your electability in a general election when there's less opportunity to really connect with voters.
QUESTION: And you know, can you win...
QUESTION: ... in other parts of the country?
SANDERS: Excellent question.
Look, in the real world there are people -- I hesitate to say this in this room, but there are people who like Donald Trump. I know. Not in this room, but there are. And you know that's the world.
We are a diverse political nation. And there are people who like and respect Hillary Clinton and people who like me and so forth and so on. And I don't object. Somebody will stand up and say I support Hillary Clinton. That's fine you know.
But what I don't -- I object to is people say well Bernie, I really like you. I like your ideas. I like your record. But I'm not going to vote for you because you can't win. OK. So let me address that issue.
Number one, I'm not a great fan of polls, not even CNN polls.
But CNN had a poll, as I recall. And what that poll said is that Bernie Sanders ran significantly better against Donald Trump than did Hillary Clinton. OK. There was another poll said the same thing because among other things I do very well with Independents. And that's one of the reasons why we are doing well against Republicans.
So number one, some of these polls have me way, way ahead of Donald Trump, further so than Sec. Clinton.
Number two, look at battleground states like New Hampshire. The last poll that I saw in New Hampshire had me 19 points ahead of Trump, Sec. Clinton 1 point. OK. Similar results, not quite so strong, in Iowa and Wisconsin.
OK. Polls, forget polls. They go up and down. What else?
Democrats win elections when there is a large voter turnout. That's what Obama did in 2008. Republicans win elections when people are demoralized and give up on the political process.
I believe, and I think an objective assessment of my campaign and Sec. Clinton's campaign -- she's running a good campaign. But I think an objective assessment would say that there is more excitement and energy in our campaign. We are bringing out working class people who have previously given up on politics. We are bringing out large numbers of young people.
So if you want to win in November. And I want us to defeat Republicans. Sec. Clinton wants us to defeat Republicans.
Everybody in this room understands that we don't want some right-wing Republican in the Oval Office. But I believe, quite honestly that I am the strongest candidate to do that because I think I can drive a large voter turnout, bring in new energy into the Democratic Party.
COOPER: Let me ask you because...
... as you know...
As you know in this state an Independent, and there are a lot of Independents in this state, they can vote in the Republican primary. They can vote in the Democratic primary. So there are some voters out there, Independent voters, who are trying to decide between you or Donald Trump. What would you say to them?
SANDERS: This is what I would say. I would say that examine Trump's record carefully. And it is not only his bigoted remarks against Latinos, suggesting that Mexicans coming into this country are rapists, or criminals, or drug dealers, or his absurd remark that we should not allow Muslims into this country -- even above and beyond those outrageous bigoted statements, take a look at what he stand for economically. This country has millions of people struggling economically. I believe we should raise the minimum wage to $15 over the next couple of years. Trumps says, no, $7.25, we should not raise the minimum wage. Most workers don't agree with that.
Trump in a Republican debated said wages are too high in America. Really? Too high in America? That's what he said in a Republican debate. And here's the other one that kind of blows me away. Trump is, as you know, a well-know, a well-known scientist, brilliant scientist. And he has concluded, after years of studying the issue, that climate change is a hoax brought to us by the Chinese. Now that shocked me, Anderson, because I thought that he would have thought it was a hoax brought to us by the Mexicans or the Muslims. Chinese I didn't quite get. But the point is, if you examine his agenda, it is not an agenda for working Americans. He wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top two-tenths of one percent. So I think -- and I would love the opportunity, frankly I'm prejudiced, I want Trump to win the Republican nomination -- and I would love the opportunity to run against him. I think we would win by a (lot).
COOPER: I just have a few more. Actually it (looks like it seems)... So we just have time for a few more questions. We've covered a lot of, a lot of foreign policy issues. There's a lot of folks out who really don't know much about you, so I thought we'd just ask a couple of sort of lighter questions just to kind get to know you. I read one of daughters say that, if you had a car, or if they sold cars with manual locks on windows, that's the kind of car you would get. So what kind of car do you actually have.
SANDERS: I have a small Chevrolet. It is one of the smallest Chevys that they make.
COOPER: Do you know what year it's from?
SANDERS: Yeh, it's about five years old.
COOPER: OK, not bad.
SANDERS: A red car.
COOPER: Is it true you chop your own wood? It's a red car.
SANDERS: Pretty good on mileage, but yeh.
COOPER: Is it true you chop your own wood.
SANDERS: I wouldn't go that far. People in Vermont and New Hampshire would laugh at me. What I do do is, you know, we have a wood stove and I, you know.
COOPER: You also in 1987, when you were Mayor of Burlington, you recorded an album on folk classics. How are those pipes doing? We're in an opera house, how are they? Any more albums in your future?
SANDERS: Let me just say this. If you're looking at a President who can carry a tune, I'm not the guy. I hope I have other attributes, but singing is not one of them. It's the worst album. Actually it's selling very well because people are buying it. It's the worst album ever recorded. People can't believe how bad it is.
COOPER: Along, along those same lines, I understand Larry David is hosting SNL this weekend. He does a pretty good imitation of you. Do you do a Larry David imitation?
SANDERS: Anderson, I'm going to... I know you've been in journalism for a long time.
COOPER: Are you doing your Larry David right now?
SANDERS: It's true. I am Larry David. And you didn't get it.
COOPER: What's you, what's your proudest moment? Either professionally or personally.
SANDERS: I think my proudest general moment is being married for 27 years, having four great kids, some of whom are here tonight, and seven very beautiful grandchildren. That's my proudest (inaudible).
COOPER: If we ask... Your wife, Jane, is here. If we asked her to describe you in one word, what word do you think she'd use?
SANDERS: Tell 'em, Jane.
JANE SANDERS: (inaudible).
COOPER: Integrity, OK. I thought you said anti-greed. Integrity, all right. I want to give you, I want to, this final one, I want to give you 30 seconds to make a closing argument to the people in New Hampshire.
SANDERS: OK. Thank you very much, and thanks for hosting this (event). I've enjoyed it. This is called democracy and I love this. Our country faces enormous problems. And if I believe that establishment politics and establishment economics could solve the problems, I would not be running for President.
The sad truth is that we have a rigged economic system. People are working longer hours for lower wages. Almost all new wealth and income is going to the top 1 percent and we have a corrupt campaign finance system which is undermining democracy and allowing billionaires to buy elections.
If elected president, I will do my best, working with the American people, as we revitalize our democracy, to take those issues on, to rebuild the American middle class and become the country that all of us know that we have the potential to be.
Thank you all very much.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, thank you very much.
SANDERS: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: When we come back, Hillary Clinton takes the stage, taking questions from the audience.
We'll be right back.