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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN Presidential Town Hall with Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 22, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN MODERATOR: Welcome back to this very special night at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. I'm Anderson Cooper.
We are just getting started with our CNN presidential town hall event. In the last hour, you heard from Senator Amy Klobuchar. And later tonight, you'll see town halls with Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Right now, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Now, to pull this event off tonight, CNN has partnered with Harvard University's College of Politics, which has released its youth poll examining the political opinions of young Americans. And also with the New Hampshire Institute of Politics right here at Saint Anselm College.
Throughout, the night the candidates will take questions from these young college students and young adults who are in the auditorium who say they plan to vote in their state's Democratic primaries and caucuses.
So, please welcome to the stage, Senator Elizabeth Warren.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi. It's good to see you. Hi.
COOPER: Have a seat?
WARREN: Are we going to do students?
COOPER: Let's go right to it.
WARREN: In that case, I want closer. Have to keep an eye on the ones in the back. OK.
COOPER: I want to start with your big announcement today --
WARREN: Yes. COOPER: -- about college affordability. Obviously, it could impact a lot of students here.
For that, I want to bring in Dena Miller from Massachusetts. She's a junior at St. Anselm College studying history -- Dena.
WARREN: Hi, Dena.
DENA MILLER, STUDENT, ST. ANSELM COLLEGE: Hi, Senator.
I like so many other students had to take out loans to pay for my education that I will be paying for years. What is your plan to deal with student debt and the rising cost of education?
WARREN: OK, thanks for the question, Dena.
You know, this is the America we live in now. Basically to get a shot at a middle class life, you've got to have some post high school technical training, two-year college, four-year college, maybe graduate school, depending on who you are and what you're ending up doing.
The position of the federal government has been, good luck to you, you're on your own. The one thing they've done is they've lent tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, billions of dollars to our students. And it is now crushing them. So, my proposal is to say, this my proposal is to say, this isn't right.
What we have to do as a country is roll back that debt. And so, I have two parts to the proposal. Part one is that we say that we're going to roll back student loan debt for about 95 percent of students who have debt. That's part one.
And part two is to make sure that we never get in this mess again on student loan debt and that is to make college universally available with free tuition and fees, and to put more money into Pell grants so that students of color, so that our poorest students have real access to college and that we put real money into our historically black colleges and universities.
This is about opportunity for everyone.
WARREN: And can we talk about how to pay for it?
COOPER: I was just about to ask for it.
WARREN: Just for a minute, you want to ask?
COOPER: Well, that is the criticism obviously from Republicans who say how you're going to pay for it, and even from centrist Democrats who say doesn't this feed the narrative that Democrats want to give everything away for free.
WARREN: So, let's remember where this all started. I started several months ago about a wealth tax, an ultra millionaire's tax. It's 2 cents on every dollar of the great fortunes above $50 million. So, your 50 millionth and first dollar, you've got to pay 2 cents and 2 cents on all of the dollars after that.
And here's the stunning part. If we ask the great fortunes in this country, understand, this isn't about trying to be nasty or say you've done anything wrong, what it's about is saying, look, you had a great idea. You got out there. You worked hard or you inherited well, whichever one it was.
WARREN: But now that you've got that great fortune, spend just a minute to remember how you got it. You built that great business or your ancestors did using workers that all of us helped pay to educate. You got your goods to market using roads and bridges that all of us helped pay to build. You are protected in your factories with firefighters and police officers that all of us helped to pay.
And we say, good for you, that you have now gotten this great fortune, but 2 cents. You've got to pay something back so everybody else gets a chance.
And here's how the money works out. If we put that 2 cent wealth tax in place on the 75,000 largest fortunes in this country, 2 cents, we can do universal child care for every baby zero to 5, universal pre-K, universal college and knock back the student loan debt burden for 95 percent of our students and still have nearly a trillion dollars left over.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: I want you to -- this is actually kind of related. I want you to meet Meghan McCormick from Pennsylvania.
WARREN: Hi, Meghan.
COOPER: She's a graduate -- you got to listen to this -- she's a graduate student at Harvard and MIT. She's also a contributor at "Forbes", where she covers women running high impact organizations in Africa. You make me feel like a shlub. I mean --
COOPER: Meghan --
WARREN: What do you do in your spare time, Meghan? It's good to see you.
MEGHAN MCCORMICK, GRADUATE STUDENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY AND MIT: Thank you for being here. So, Amazon's monopoly means that I can buy generic goods and brands
from my phone and receive them on my doorstep without a delivery fee within 24 hours. How is breaking up big tech good for me?
WARREN: OK. Good question, Meghan.
So, here's what we want to remember about Amazon, about Google, about Apple, about a lot of these giant tech companies. They actually run two businesses.
So, one is the platform. That's the place where people come to buy and sell goods. That's where you go to get whatever it is, you know, you can compare 48 printers and get it all delivered in less than 24 hours. Got it. Cool. That's the platform.
Just so you get an idea of the scale here for Amazon, Walmart does about 9 percent of all retail sales in America. If you want to sell online, Amazon is doing about 49 percent of all retail sales that are happening in America. So that is the marketplace.
So, Amazon runs the marketplace. I'm cool with that. I'm all for a marketplace.
But Amazon does a second thing and that is they collect information on every buyer and seller who comes through. Every time you go to buy something, they get your information and they aggregate it with the other information they had about you. Every time you come to sell something, they get information.
And then they see that, whoa, over there it looks like pet pillows is starting to make a big profit. Huh, says Amazon. I know what let's do. Let's jump in front of pet pillows and do Amazon pet pillows and move pet pillows from the front page back to page 16.
And the consequence is that Amazon, because of its superior information, can come in and knock out all of the competition. Now this is a real thing, Meghan, that's happening.
And here's what we know as a consequence of this, is that the area around these giants are referred to by venture capitalists, investors, as the dead zone because it means you try to start up a business, you just run the risk that Amazon steps in front of you or Google steps in front of you or they buy you out before you have a chance to get started.
Look, here's how I see it. You can run the platform, that is, you can be the umpire in the baseball game and you can run an honest platform, or you can be a player, that is, you can have a business or you can have a team in the game, but you don't get to be the umpire and have a team in the game. If we break off the platform from the parts that are competing, what you'll see in America is a platform that works really well.
It's a very profitable business, but you'll see a lot more competition where little businesses have a chance to get going, where when you've got a good idea you can build that good idea into something, where there's really a chance for everybody to get in and compete. So that's the reason I want to see the two of them broken apart.
COOPER: Do you order stuff from Amazon?
COOPER: You do? What was the last thing you ordered, do you know?
WARREN: A mailbox.
COOPER: What did they put the mailbox in when they deliver it?
WARREN: It comes in a box. It was a box of mailbox.
COOPER: We have another question now.
COOPER: This is Seth Filo from Arizona. He's a freshman at Harvard, a supporter of Mayor Buttigieg.
SETH FILO, STUDENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Senator Warren, in 2012, you opposed the legalization of marijuana nationwide. And then in 2013, as senator of Massachusetts, you oppose the state initiative for legalization. Yet in 2016, you came out in support of the legalization of marijuana nationwide.
What are your honest views on the legalization of marijuana and marijuana legislation? And if they have, why have they changed?
WARREN: So, actually, I supported Massachusetts changing its laws on marijuana. Massachusetts had decriminalized at that point and I thought it made a lot more sense for Massachusetts to go ahead and legalize marijuana, and I now support the legalization of marijuana.
And let me tell you at least a couple of reasons why.
The first one is, it's just a plain old science reason. It makes no darn sense that right now in America, we treat marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, which means in effect the federal government has determined in advance that it has no medicinal use, that it can't have any good effects, no research is supposed to be done. It makes it very hard to do research on it.
And that's just -- we should be doing this, right? We should be looking into it.
But the second reason is because of the racial impact of the enforcement of marijuana laws. You know, right now in this country, the best evidence suggests that African-Americans and whites use marijuana at about the same rates, and yet African-Americans are far more likely to be arrested for marijuana use than whites are. So, every time we start to talk about criminal justice reform, for example, I think a good place to start is with the things we make illegal, and one of the best places we could start is by legalizing marijuana.
COOPER: I want you to meet Jackson Dwyer, he's from Massachusetts. He's a senior at St. Anselm College.
WARREN: Hi, Jackson.
JACKSON DWYER, STUDENT, SAINT ANSELM COLLEGE: Hi, Senator.
You have often been a vocal critic of police and the criminal justice system, both the state and the federal levels.
DWYER: As a young Massachusetts voter and aspiring police officer who's lived through countless tragedies, including the recent murders of Sergeant Gannon of Yarmouth and Officer Michael Chesna of Weymouth, how can you assure me that you will support legislation that keeps law enforcement safe?
WARREN: So that's a very good question. I appreciate your asking it.
You know, I talk with a lot of people in different parts of the criminal justice system, people who are law enforcement, people who are in the judicial system, people who are in -- people who are incarcerated, in various parts of it, and what all of them tell me is we've got a problem. Our criminal justice system is broken.
And right at the heart of that problem is race. And we have to address this head on. So let me just give you some basic information about what's happening right now in our criminal justice system.
Study after study after study shows us that African-Americans compared with whites are more likely to be for exactly the same crimes, they're more likely to be arrested, they're more likely to be arraigned, they are more likely to be taken to trial. They are more likely to be wrongfully convicted and they are more likely to receive harsher sentences. That is a criminal justice system that is not only locking up too many people, it is a criminal justice system that has a problem of race right at the heart of it, and we need to call it out for what it is.
WARREN: No one is safer in a world where we have a broken criminal justice system. So let me just go through a couple of the parts directly to your question.
I said on the first part, one way we can help fix this system is take a look at what it is we make it illegal. How about the next part in the judicial system? We need to make sure that everybody is entitled and gets good legal representation.
Throughout the system, we want to make sure the right people are incarcerated and not the wrong people because they couldn't afford to hire a lawyer. Justice is not just for those who are rich, justice is for everyone, and the only way we're able to get that in America is if we're able to put the resources into it.
Third part of this is we should get rid of for-profit private prisons. It is an outrage in America.
WARREN: Fourth is that when people leave the prison system, they need to be reintegrated into their communities. They need to be able to have a chance to get a job, to be able to find decent housing, and they need to be able to participate in the political process. And that means they need the right to vote to be reinstated. They are American citizens.
WARREN: And one more, you talk about safety for our police officers and you are right. This is a very serious issue. One of the main ways that we could help make our police safer is to get serious about gun safety in this country.
WARREN: You mentioned Sergeant Gannon's tragic death in Massachusetts. I wrote an op-ed with his parents about asking for our leaders across this country to step up and pass some sensible gun safety laws.
We need universal background checks. We need to take weapons of war off our city streets. Right now, we live in America where 7 children and teenagers will die every single day, where the lives of officers are put at risk.
We need as a country to step up, to be more responsible, to be willing to push back against the NRA and to put some sensible gun safety laws in place.
I think that will be the best that we can do. Thank you. Thank you for your question.
COOPER: This is Ellie Taylor. She's from Wisconsin. She's a student at Harvard and she's a freshman.
WARREN: Hi, Ellie.
ELLIE TAYLOR, STUDENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Hi, Senator. So, this isn't as much of a policy-based question. But some have voiced concerns about you getting Hillaried in the election, meaning that you get held to a higher standard than your opponent for potentially arbitrary or may be even sexist reasons.
So what lessons have you learned from 2016 that will help you to kind of navigate these situations when you might be criticized for something that's partially motivated by sexist?
WARREN: So, that's a really good question, but if I can, I want to go back before 2016. Can we all just let our hair down here for a minute? This didn't just start in 2016, right? Been around for a while.
I'll tell you when I ran into it big time. I never thought I was going to be in elected politics. I've known what I wanted to do all my life. I wanted to be a teacher.
And I thought that would be my job forever. And during the crash, I end up down in Washington setting up a consumer agency for President Obama. After I did that for a year, the Republicans said, we're never going to let her stay and run that thing.
So, I came back to Massachusetts. And there was an incumbent Republican, a very popular Republican incumbent who had the Senate seat and he was coming up for reelection. Understand, he had high approval ratings, he had a bucket of money in the bank from Wall Street, and he had just beaten a woman who was really good and everybody thought was going to win.
So, I start getting these phone calls from people and they say, Elizabeth, you should run against him for the Senate seat. You should do it. Go ahead. You should do this thing.
You're going to lose, but you should definitely do -- these were Democrats calling me. Saying, you should do this. You're going to lose.
All I can say is, Democrats, get a better message.
WARREN: But people said to me, you're going to lose because Massachusetts in 2011, according to conventional wisdom, was not ready to have a woman senator or governor. We never had and people said it's just not going to happen, not at least for another generation.
Now you can imagine how I heard that. I heard that as, get in this race, right now, which is what I did. So I jumped in the race and sure enough, you know, the early coverage is about what I'm wearing. It's about my hair. It's about my voice. It's about whether or not I smile enough. I didn't.
It was every part of that. And this kept up and I thought, you know, look, I'm going to be in this race. I'm going to make something count every single day. So every day when I saw a little girl, I would come up and I'd usually get down, I'm a teacher, and I would say, hi, my name is Elizabeth and I'm running for Senate because that's what girls do.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
WARREN: And then we would pinky swear to remember.
And so, every night when I went home, no matter what the day had been like, I would count up how many pinky swears we had done during the day. And I kept getting out there and hammering my message. I kept getting out there talking about what's happening with working families across the country, talking about how Washington works great for the rich and the powerful, just not working for anyone else, and how we've got to fight back against that.
So I talked about it every single day and ultimately, I went from 17 points behind that guy to beating him by 7-1/2.
So, the way I see it is here we are in a presidential, and it's the same kind of you stay after it every day. One might say you persist.
WARREN: Organize, build a grassroots movement, fight for working people, and that's how I'm going to be the first woman elected president of the United States. Thank you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back more with the CNN presidential town hall live in St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Stay with us.
COOPER: And welcome back. We're live in Manchester, New Hampshire, for a special CNN Democratic presidential town hall event. Five town halls tonight, with some of the top Democratic contenders, all of them are taking questions from college students.
Right now, it is Senator Elizabeth Warren's turn.
We're going to have questions from the audience in a minute. I do just want to ask you, you have called for impeachment proceedings to be initiated against President Trump. What do you say to those Democrats who say, look, this is not the time, it's going to take away the focus from winning in 2020? Speaker Pelosi told her caucus again just today that she no plans to immediately initiate impeachment proceedings.
WARREN: So, there is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution.
WARREN: This one is -- if I can, I want to take a little time on this because I think this is really important.
Last Thursday, I had been out -- I had been to South Carolina. This was all about climate change. That's where I was, South Carolina, coastal communities protesting off shore drilling.
I then came to Colorado, the biggest drought in 1,200 years. And then to Utah where they had one of the worst wildfire seasons in a generation.
I'm on an airplane and the Mueller report drops. And so, I start reading it on the airplane, I read it on through the evening, I read it into the wee hours of the morning. And when I get to the end, three things just jump off the page.
I don't care if you're a Democrat, a Republican, an independent, a libertarian, a vegetarian.
WARREN: Three things just totally jump off the page. The first is that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election in order to help Donald Trump. The evidence is just there. Read it, footnote after footnote, page after page documentation.
Part two, Donald Trump welcomed that help.
So, on the first one about what they did, understand, this was a sophisticated attack. They attacked part of voting system. That's going to be an ongoing federal investigation. They hacked into more than 50 computers at the DNC, the DCCC, a very serious attack.
And Donald Trump welcoming it -- in the Mueller report, just read it. He gets off the phone from an unnamed caller and looks up and says to the other person on the phone, there are more leaks coming.
The idea that he was welcoming what was happening from the Russian government, and by the summer of 2016, the report documents that by that point, the Trump adminis -- the Trump campaign actually had a worked out formal process for dealing with the leaks that were coming in from the Russians. So that's part two.
Part three is when the federal government starts to investigate part one and part two, Donald Trump took repeated steps aggressively to try to halt the investigation, derail the investigation, push the investigation somewhere else, but otherwise keep that investigation from going forward and turning into a serious investigation about a hostile foreign government that it attacked us and about his own personal interests.
So, here's how I see this: if any other human being in this country had done what's documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail. Obstruction of justice is a serious crime in this country. But Mueller believed because of the directions from Donald Trump's Justice Department that he could not bring a criminal indictment against a sitting president. I think he's wrong on that, but that's what he believed. So he serves the whole thing up to the United States Congress and
says, in effect, if there's going to be any accountability, that accountability has to come from the Congress. And the tool that we are given for that accountability is the impeachment process.
This is not about politics. This is about principle. This is about what kind of a democracy we have. In a dictatorship, everything in government revolves around protecting the one person at the center, but not in our democracy and not under our Constitution.
We have checks and balances, and we have to proceed here in a way understanding our place in history that not only protects democracy now, but protects democracy when the next president comes in and the next president and the president after that.
COOPER: But you...
WARREN: That's our responsibility.
COOPER: But you started off by saying -- by talking about some of your travels and people talking about climate change and their concerns and tabletop issues.
WARREN: Yes. Yes.
COOPER: Doesn't putting a lot of Democrats' focus on impeaching the president, which is not going to pass in the Senate, it's not really going to go anywhere in that sense, doesn't that take away focus from the tabletop issues that you and other Democrats say they want to run on?
WARREN: So, you know, let me just say, if you've actually read the Mueller report, it's all laid out there. It's not like it's going to take a long time to figure this out. It's there. It's got the footnotes. It's got the points. It connects directly to the law.
But this really is fundamentally -- I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and so did everybody else in the Senate and in the House. And I believe that every person in the Senate and the House ought to have to vote and to say either, yeah, that's OK with me, yeah, let a president just step in the way he did when he told the White House counsel to go fire Mueller, and then told the White House counsel to go lie about having told the White House counsel to go fire Mueller, and then told the White House counsel to write a letter saying that Donald Trump had not told him to go fire Mueller, and then to say, why on Earth would you take notes about what I said to you? The lawyers I deal with never put anything in writing.
If there are people in the House or the Senate who want to say that's what a president can do when the president is being investigated for his own wrongdoings or when a foreign government attacks our country, then they should have to take that vote and live with it for the rest of their lives.
COOPER: I want you to meet -- this is Cecilia D'Arms. Cecilia is a sophomore at Harvard from Columbus, Ohio, studying social studies. She interned for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Cecilia?
WARREN: Hi, Cecelia.
QUESTION: Hi. You were registered as a Republican until 1995.
WARREN: I was.
QUESTION: But you've since become one of the most progressive people in Congress. Did you change your beliefs? Or do you believe that the political parties changed around you?
WARREN: So understand this, Cecilia. I grew up in a family that wasn't political. I grew up out in Oklahoma, and to this day I couldn't tell you how my parents were registered or my grandparents or much of anybody else.
My mom always voted. I know that. And in fact, she worked at the polls sometimes, but we weren't a political family. And when I was a young mom and struggling to try to keep up with my job and get dinner on the table and take care of a couple of little kids and launch my career, I didn't think much about politics.
Now, I've been a policy person for a long, long time, so I think the question you're asking me is, when does the change come? And that I can tell you. So in late mid-1990s, I had been working over and over and over on what's happening to America's working families, to America's middle class, how it is that people who work hard, who play by the rules are just finding the path steeper and rockier year by year, and for people of color even steeper and even rockier.
This is my life's work. And so I keep working on this about what's changing in America. I'm studying families that go bankrupt. And the credit card companies, half-dozen giant credit card companies figure out that if they can get the bankruptcy laws changed, that what will happen is they can improve their bottom line by just a little by keeping people locked out of bankruptcy.
Never mind that there's people are head over heels in medical debts, that they've had job losses that have put them way behind, that they've had a death or divorce in the family, but they've been cheated by credit card companies and mortgage companies. Never mind any of that. Just improve the bottom line for the credit card companies.
Man, I looked around in the middle of that fight and I realized all the money was on one side and all the hurting was on the other. And that's when I jumped in politically. I got in that fight, and I fought it for 10 years. And by the end of that fight, I fully understood that every single Republican stood there for the banks and half of the Democrats did.
So my party was the party that at least we got half of them to stand up for working people, and that was the big change for me. (APPLAUSE)
COOPER: I want you to meet -- -- this is Eric Jjemba, a sophomore at Harvard. You can tell from his sweatshirt. From New Jersey, studying environmental engineering...
WARREN: Great sweatshirt, Jjemba.
COOPER: He's a former intern for Senator Cory Booker. He says he's currently undecided on who to support in 2020. Eric?
QUESTION: Hi, Senator.
WARREN: Nice to see you. Hi.
QUESTION: Entitlements in this country, though certainly not the sexiest issue for Democratic candidates to be discussing in this race, are an area of concern that under the status quo will fail my generation. Do you have a plan to reform our present Social Security system to increase its longevity?
WARREN: So I'm really glad you asked about Social Security, because this is one that reminds you how things have broken apart in this country. As you all know, Social Security passed back during the Great Depression. The biggest problem with Social Security, it was too narrow and cut out too many -- particularly, jobs that were largely held by African Americans and other groups.
But Social Security became a mainstay. And from the 1930s until the late 1980s, we understood that Social Security is not something you can just set once and go. Population changes. How long people live changes. Women going back to work changes. How many people get sick change, right?
And so every few years, for a very long time, we kept making little adjustments. And that way, Social Security stayed on a track to make sure that it would be there for your generation and the next generation and the next generation after that.
In the late 1980s, the Republicans just said, no, that we're not going to make any more changes to Social Security, not going to increase the revenue stream, not going to change the pieces. And we've been locked there. And the consequence is every year that goes by, we get the system just a little further out of whack.
Now, the good news is, we've got roughly -- I haven't checked the latest numbers, but roughly about 20 more years where we are if we do nothing. And when it drops, it would drop by roughly about 25 percent, and then level out and be there. So it's not that it will disappear for your generation.
But here's the deal. This is one more of those problems, a little like climate. The sooner you fix it, the easier it is to fix. Now it's already hard on this front, but it's one of those things we need to fix now. But the problem we've got is we're caught -- not in that nobody understands the math. Everybody -- well, not everybody understands the math, but...
There are a whole lot of people who understand the math. The problem is the political will and the willingness to step up and say, we've got to make adjustments. We've got to make adjustments on revenue. We have to make adjustments -- I believe we need to bend the curves, they're called, so that particularly women who had lower earnings for so many years especially in the first years that they were working get better support in their later years.
But at this moment, there's no political will to come together. There's no one who's willing to drive this. Why? Because Washington keeps working for those at the top. It's not working for people who are relying on Social Security.
So your question was, is this something -- the plan is not hard. It's political will to make it happen. I'm willing to take on that fight. It's an important fight. So, thank you. Thanks for the question.
COOPER: Our next question comes from Max Frank. He's a senior at Harvard, studying social studies. Max took a leave of absence from college to work as a full-time staffer for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. Max?
WARREN: Hi, Max.
QUESTION: Good evening, Senator Warren. You know, as one of your constituents, I just want to say thank you for your service.
WARREN: Thank you.
QUESTION: My question has to do with the politics of this race. In particular, I know that you have experienced President Trump's name- calling and bullying firsthand.
QUESTION: And given the success that he's had with these tactics in the past, I was wondering how you propose to counter them if you were to become the Democratic nominee. And then, in particular, are you worried that he might be able to caricature you to general election voters before you've had a chance to make your candidacy heard?
WARREN: So, thanks for the question. You know, I've been around this block before. Back in 2012, when I ran against that very popular Republican incumbent, he ran the same play. And what I discovered at that point is that around this country, around the commonwealth of Massachusetts, people care a lot more about their families than they do about some kind of name-calling.
I got in the race in '12 and I got in this race right now as a presidential candidate not because I looked at myself in the mirror every day and said, "Oh, Senator, President?" (LAUGHTER)
It wasn't that at all. It's my life's work. I grew up in a family that was paycheck to paycheck. I was one of those kids who had a dream. We talked about college. I've known what I wanted to do since second grade. I wanted to be a public school teacher. Can we hear it for America's public school teachers? Come on, guys.
Yeah, I knew what I wanted to do. But there was no money in my family. And by the time I graduated from high school, there was no money even for a college application, much less to send me off to four years of college.
So I have a kind of twisted story, like some Americans do. We're not all on a straight line on this. And mine is that I won a scholarship. Yay. And then at 19, I fell in love. Yay.
And then I got married. Yay. And then I dropped out of school, yay. And I took a job answering phones. And I thought that was going to be my life forever. A good life, but not the dream I had.
And then I found a commuter college that cost $50 a semester. And for a price that I could pay for on a part-time waitressing job, I had a chance to get a four-year diploma and become a special needs teacher. I have lived my dream.
And that's what I believe is the best of America, when we open more doors for more people. I want to live in an America that's not just about opportunity for those born into privilege, but that's about opportunity for all of us.
And that's what we can do. Just those few pieces I put together. A 2 cent wealth tax would let us do universal childcare, would let us do universal Pre-K, would let us do universal college, would let us not back the student loan debt burden, and still have money to spend.
I think that this is the case we've got to make against Donald Trump. We're not going to win by just saying not Donald Trump. We're not going to win by doing better name-calling than he does. The way we're going to do this is we're going to get out and talk about our vision and how it affects families all across this country, how it touches people personally.
And we're going to invite people not just to vote but to come off the sidelines and be part of this, to get engaged, to volunteer, to kick in five bucks, to go to elizabethwarren.com and sign up. But it's every piece of this, because what's at stake is not only our economic future, it is also our democracy. And I'm in this fight all the way. I think we make that case. I think the American people are with us.
COOPER: We're going to have more with Senator Elizabeth Warren, a CNN special Democratic town hall event. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Welcome back. We're live in New Hampshire for a special CNN Democratic presidential town hall. With me now, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
I want to -- our next question is about climate change.
COOPER: You talked about it briefly. It's drastically grown as a top issue among young voters, according to a Harvard Institute of Politics youth poll, which was released today. This is Tyler Pearce, a freshman at the University of New Hampshire. He's studying biomedical science, which I'm not even sure what that means...
... because I'm dumb. He worked as a fellow for the New Hampshire Democratic Party for the 2018 midterms. Tyler?
WARREN: Hi, Tyler.
QUESTION: Hi, Senator, how are you?
WARREN: I'm good. How about you?
QUESTION: Good. So my question is, what will you do to combat climate change in a world where the threat has become increasingly more dangerous?
WARREN: All right, Tyler, it is the existential question right now. As I said, I was just out in three different states facing climate -- the effects of climate change in different ways, but all of them potentially devastating.
I have an 8-year-old grandson, and I think about what the world is going to be like when he's 38. Will it be a place where our cities are underwater part of the time? Will it be a place where the Midwest has burned up, where we have lost some of our great forests? Will it be a place where the oceans, large parts of the oceans are dead? Will it be a place where people around the world are just fighting for clean water?
We're running out of time to make change. We must make change. And we must make it now. So here's how I see this: I am a strong supporter of the Green New Deal.
And I want to tell you why. There are two principal reasons for that. The first reason that I'm a strong supporter is it is a way to say urgency. Now, we cannot wait any longer. We have got to make change. That's how I hear this.
The second part about the Green New Deal right now is it calls for a huge investment in our infrastructure. And I think that's just absolutely critical. And when I say our infrastructure, it's about our green infrastructure, it's about our power infrastructure, but it's also about hardening our infrastructure so that we can withstand heavier storms, so that flooding is not so much a problem, so that we move to distributed generation of power. Lots of pieces that we need to do.
But I also see this as a time when it's all hands on deck, that is, we need to do everything we can. So let me just do a couple that a president of the United States can do all by herself. And that is, part one, I just put out a plan. On the first day of my administration, I will put in place a moratorium: no new drilling, no new mining on any federal lands, period.
We should not be selling out for pennies on the dollar to mining companies and to oil companies our national treasures. I'll give you another just little piece of this, and that is 10,000 jobs. For people who want to go spend a year in the national parks, in the national forests, to be able to give something back to the land and to make some repairs.
This is a part of what we can do together. How about a couple of more pieces? The United States is a world leader on climate. We are. We're just leading in the wrong direction right now. And that's dangerous, because it's not only what we're doing wrong. It's that we're giving cover to the rest of the world for everybody who doesn't want to have to step up, who doesn't want to have to take the tough steps, who doesn't want to have to make changes in their economy. We're giving them cover.
That stops on the first day of my administration. We become a world leader in the direction of a sustainable Earth. That's where we go. And, by the way, can I throw in just one more? I know. And that is no coal lobbyists for head of the EPA.
COOPER: All right, we have time for -- we have time for one more question from the audience. This is Nicholas Fahy. He's a freshman at Harvard from Massachusetts. Nicholas?
WARREN: Hi, Nicholas.
QUESTION: Hi. As a Democrat who has a lot of respect and admiration for President Obama but who also knows that, like every president, he had his shortcomings, what do you think is the biggest philosophical difference the way you would approach your job as president and the way that President Obama approached his job?
WARREN: You know, I'm going to take this in just a little bit different direction, if I can. No, no, I'm going to get here. So I spent, as I've told all of you, really, my whole life's work
about what's happening to working families. And starting in the early 2000s, the crisis was coming. I was waving my arms, ringing the bell, doing everything I could. I said families are getting cheated all over this country.
It started when the mortgage companies targeted communities of color. They targeted seniors. They targeted Latinos. They came in and sold the worst possible mortgages and stripped wealth out of those communities, and then took those products across the nation. I went everywhere I could. I talked about it to anyone who would listen, a crisis is coming.
And I'll just say, nobody wanted to hear it. Really basically what happened in Washington, nobody could hear it. I learned, if your ears are stuffed with money, it's hard to hear.
So the crisis hit in 2007, 2008, and just took us down. The big question becomes, so what are you going to do going forward? And a lot of folks thought what we should do is we should just take care of the big financial institutions. My view was, we've got to put a cop on the beat to make sure that this never happens to working families again.
So the idea I had, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I said, I'm going to get in this fight. I was a college professor. I have no political sway, but I'm going to get in this fight and I'm going to fight for it.
And here was the deal. People told me two things. Great idea. Don't even try. And the reason not to try is there is no way on God's green Earth you will ever get this passed, because the giant financial institutions will fight you every inch of the way.
COOPER: We've got to wrap it up.
WARREN: All right. So here's what happened. I got in the fight. President Obama signed it into law. And he was the one who stood there when everyone else said in his administration, throw that agency under the bus. And he said, no, I'm not going to let this crisis pass and not come away with a consumer agency that makes sure that families never get cheated again. I will always be grateful to the president for that.
COOPER: Senator Elizabeth Warren. Up next, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. We'll be right back.