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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Town Hall with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Presidential Candidate. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 18, 2020 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COOPER: And welcome back, live from the theater at Sahara, Las Vegas. This is a CNN town hall event. Good evening, I'm Anderson Cooper. Voters in Nevada are just days away from putting their stamp on the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race. Tonight we have already heard from two candidates vying for the chance to take on President Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Now to another Democratic hopeful, please welcome Senator Amy Klobuchar.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, everybody. Very good.
KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Thanks for being here.
KLOBUCHAR: How are you?
COOPER: Good. We're going to get to audience questions in just a minute. I just want to ask you about tomorrow night on the debate stage. You have been saying that you want to see Michael Bloomberg on a debate stage. It's going to happen tomorrow night. You've said you can't beat him in terms of the money he has got, but you can on a debate stage.
How do you plan to do that?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, you know, it's maybe a series of debates. But I'm just -- I actually thought he should be on the debate stage because I don't think you should just be able to buy your way to the presidency. And my issue is that a number of us, including the three of us that you saw tonight, have been going in town halls like this. We've been answering questions. We have been going to states like Nevada and actually meeting the voters and having them quiz us and ask all kind of things, and put our policies out there. And I think that is what a presidential candidate should do. So, you
know, I don't mind that he has this money, that's a great thing he made that money. But we want to make sure that we have the best candidate to lead the ticket. And I don't think that when people look at Donald Trump they automatically say, hmm, can we get someone richer?
KLOBUCHAR: I just don't think that's what they say. I think they say we want to have someone that we know can lead this country. And I think that's me.
COOPER: All right.
COOPER: I want you to meet -- this is Heather Gooze. She's a bartender, a server in Las Vegas. She was working at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival the night of the mass shooting that killed 58 people, wounded hundreds of others. She right now is undecided. Heather, welcome.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. Hi, Heather.
QUESTION: Hi, Senator. Thank you for being here. As a survivor of the October 1st, 2017, mass shooting here in Las Vegas, gun violence prevention is an incredibly important subject to me. I have seen firsthand what happens.
I support the Second Amendment. But I feel like we definitely need to have better background checks and more enforcement of gun laws already on the books. How do you plan to address gun violence prevention without provoking the pro-gun versus anti-gun debate?
KLOBUCHAR: What a good question. And I want to first of all tell you, Heather, I'm so glad you're here and I cannot imagine -- I don't think any of us here can imagine what that was like for you. And you must think about those moments all the time. And...
QUESTION: Live every -- like my bracelet says, you want to live every day for those who died.
KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. And you being here...
KLOBUCHAR: You being here and asking that question is just pushing people to talk about this and never forget. So I'll tell you how I come to this, because you asked that question
about gun owners and the interaction with the Second Amendment. So my state actually is a pretty big hunting state. And so I look at these proposals and I always say, do they hurt my uncle Vic (ph) in the deer stand? And they don't.
And I think that's why we see, and there was a poll last summer that showed for the majority of hunters, this was a FOX poll, and it said the majority of hunters actually supported universal background checks.
QUESTION: They should.
KLOBUCHAR: The majority of Trump owners support universal background checks. But let's think about why we don't have them. I think the first thing is that there are a lot of politicians out there that are afraid of the NRA.
And I saw this firsthand after the Parkland shooting because I have been working on a number of a pieces of legislation that would make things safer.
One of the bills that I have always led is a bill to close the boyfriend loophole. That basically says if someone has been convicted of domestic abuse, then they cannot go out and get an assault weapon. They can't go out and buy a gun.
KLOBUCHAR: That is pretty straightforward. And yet, it is sitting right now, along with the universal background check bill and a bill that does something called close the Charleston loophole, which was the result of that incredibly sad tragedy, that murder in the church in South Carolina where a white nationalist came in and killed a bunch of worshipers in a black church in Charleston.
That bill, my bill, and the universal background check bill are sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk right now, because they passed the House of Representatives. My bill actually got some Republican support. So why aren't these things passing? Well, the NRA wields so much clout right now with some of these Republicans that we basically need to shake things up.
And I sat across from Donald Trump in the White House after Parkland and I watched, because I came to advocate for my bill, and I watched. And nine times, I had a piece of paper and I wrote it down, he said, and I did it with hash marks, nine times that he wanted universal background checks, to the public, there's a video of this.
And then what does he do? He meets with the NRA the next day, and he folds. And as your president, I will not fold. I know that we can do this.
(APPLAUSE) KLOBUCHAR: We can -- which would have been so helpful in the Las Vegas massacre, we could permanently put in place, just like your legislature has done in Nevada, a ban on bump stocks. We can put in the assault weapon ban, the background checks, magazine limits, all of these things.
And I just -- I think the public is with us. In 2018 we elected a bunch of House members in districts that had people who were too beholden to the NRA. And they went to Washington and helped pass these bills. So there's absolutely no reason that we can't get these done.
And I'll just end with one last thing. One of my saddest days -- or the saddest day I had in Washington is when we were voting on that universal background check bill, because I had those Sandy Hook parents in my office. And I had to tell them that we didn't have the votes to get it done.
And this one mom, she looked at me, she said, you know what, my kid, he had autism and he could hardly talk. And the last day that I saw him, just like he did every day, he pointed up to a picture on the refrigerator of his school aide, who was with him every day, because he loved her so much. And then he went to school. And she said hours later I'm in that firehouse and one by one the kids come in. And the parents that are left know we're never going to see our babies again.
And she said as she was sobbing in that firehouse, she had this thought of that school aide, because she knew that that woman would never leave her son's side. And when they found them in that school, that woman had her arms around that little boy. And they were both shot to death.
Those parents had the courage, just like the people in Nevada, ordinary citizens who ran into that massacre to save lives, they had the courage to do that. And there are people, including our president, that doesn't have the courage to stand up to the NRA. You have the power, Nevada, to change that and put a new leader in the White House.
COOPER: This is Alpha Nash. Alpha is a high school art teacher. And she's currently undecided. Alpha, welcome. Thanks for being here.
KLOBUCHAR: Hi, Alpha.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you so much.
QUESTION: Welcome, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
QUESTION: My question is, how do you plan to protect our under 18 population who are illegal immigrants who came to this country as young children? Do you have a plan on helping to fast-track them into citizenship? And if so, what are the steps to make this happen?
KLOBUCHAR: Sure. Thank you. And thank you for being a teacher.
QUESTION: Yes, thank you.
KLOBUCHAR: My mom actually taught second grade until she was 70 years old. Hopefully you can retire sooner than that, but...
QUESTION: We'll see.
KLOBUCHAR: But I can tell you love your kids even beyond the work that you do in the classroom.
So as we know, what she's talking about here are DREAMers. And there are so many young people here who only know one country or only know one state. And I have been taking this on for a while. I kept trying to think about how I can get people to understand what this is.
And I finally found a -- this a few years ago, a 99-year-old DREAMer.
He had been brought over when he was five years old. He didn't know it. He thought he was born in our country. And I see one of our Navy veterans out there with the hat. He signed up to serve in World War II. And when he signed up to serve, that was when he found out that he was a DREAMer, that he had not been born in our country. And so then you couldn't serve.
So what they did back then, get this, is they would say, OK, just come and live in Canada for one day. Stay over night in Canada, the Army did this. And then you can come back and you're a citizen. Because they needed people to serve. This is during World War II. And he said, I stayed in a hotel and I came back and I was a citizen.
And then he served under General MacArthur. He served bravely. He came back to Minnesota. he got married. They had a son. That son served in the Vietnam War. And I finally thought, OK, I brought him to stand in front of the World War II Memorial when he was now at this point over 100 years old with two DREAMers from the suburbs of my state who wanted to serve in the Air Force but couldn't under the current rules.
And there's no way under the current rules they could just go to Canada for a day. So I wanted to make that point. And the answer, of course, is comprehensive immigration reform, which would help not only DREAMers with a fast track to citizenship, but also a track to citizenship for many others.
That bill passed the U.S. Senate in 2013. I was part of the Judiciary Committee who worked on that bill. I know as president I can get things done. I can get it done in the first year. I don't think we can wait because this president, we actually worked out an agreement on DREAMers with the Republicans in the Senate. And we were gut- punched by the Trump administration. This is just another reason for a change. Think about it.
Immigrants, 70 of our Fortune 500 companies are headed up by people from other countries. Twenty-five percent of our U.S. Nobel Laureates were born in other countries. Immigrants don't diminish America, they are America.
COOPER: Let me just follow up with you. You have been in the Senate for 10 years, you have seen a lot of people try this and fail. In 2007 it didn't work under George Bush. Obviously under Obama 2013. Why would it be different with you as president?
KLOBUCHAR: I think the need has become clearer and clearer. And we were so close in 2013. George Bush worked valiantly, actually, to try to get that done. And back then they had -- it was right-wing talk radio defeated it. Then you go to 2013 and President Obama had come in in the middle of the downturn. He tried it in his second term and he worked really hard as well.
A number of those senators that voted for it, Republicans, are still there today. And that bill back in 2013 got stopped, I think it ended up in John Boehner's freezer when he was speaker of the House next to the frozen peas. And the point of it is Nancy Pelosi is now the speaker. I believe that if I am our candidate for the president, we are going to be able to win big and make sure we keep the House and win in these Senate districts like in Arizona, right, and in Colorado, and make a change.
KLOBUCHAR: But there are Republicans in the Senate that will still vote for comprehensive immigration reform. And you just need to do it in your first year. I have made that very clear that's what I will do. And I think we can get it done.
And one other argument I would make for people that when you're talking to your friends and neighbors that people don't always think about this. It brings the deficit down, this was a non-partisan budget office assessment, by $158 billion in 10 years. Comprehensive immigration -- why?
Why is that? Because people come out of the shadows and they start paying taxes. The AFL-CIO supported the bill because wages will go up. The private sector, of course, the Chamber of Commerce supported the comprehensive immigration bill. So there's a lot of good arguments for it that bring in people of different backgrounds.
COOPER: I wanted to ask you about something that happened recently. You were asked to give the name of president of Mexico. You couldn't at the time. Mayor Buttigieg did know the name and he says it helps his argument that Washington experience isn't necessary to be president. Does it?
KLOBUCHAR: Oh my. OK, well, first of all, I would like to give my greetings to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. (APPLAUSE)
KLOBUCHAR: The president of Mexico.
And I -- when that happened,
for what it's worth, I had been in the Senate all day. We had six votes and including a resolution to be a check on the president so he doesn't go pell-mell into war with Iran. And I got on a plane and got there, I think, at midnight my time and had a fast interview and then did two forums after that, I think, ending at about two or three in the morning.
So, you know, such is life. And -- and I would say to the mayor, this isn't like a game of "Jeopardy." This is about, to me, experience. And I have so much respect for him and his experience. But my experience is different. I have been in the Senate. I have passed over 100 bills as the lead Democrat. I think that matters.
And, most importantly, I have been able to win in rural and suburban districts. I have been able to win with independents and Republicans, not once, not twice but three times, and bring people with me.
I think that's really important right now, that we build this coalition, that we not shut people out. And I know he agrees with me on that. But I am the one that actually has the receipts of anyone that you'll see on the debate stage tomorrow night, that's done it. So it's just a different experience that I bring to this and to the job.
And as far as Mexico in general, I think I was the first one on the stage, yes, who gave my support to the United States-Mexican-Canadian Trade Agreement, which I think got much better because of the hard work of people like my friend Sherrod Brown, in terms of some labor provisions, and earned the support of the president of the AFL-CIO Richard Trumka.
I think that implementing that is going to be the job of the new president, making sure that those provisions are strong and that we enforce the trade agreement to help our workers. And I also think having a president, unlike this president, who's going to reach out to our allies immediately -- in my first 100 days I will be meeting with the president of Mexico, the president -- the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, as well as so many of our allies around the world. I think that has to immediately happen with the new president.
COOPER: I want to introduce you to Natalie Galvan. She's a retired registered nurse from Henderson. She's supporting you.
KLOBUCHAR: Hi, Natalie. QUESTION: Good evening.
KLOBUCHAR: I was just in Henderson.
QUESTION: Oh, good evening, Senator. As the first woman president, what will be the first thing you do -- you will do for the women in this country pertaining to equality?
KLOBUCHAR: OK, well, very good. Well, I think there's a lot we should do. But I think...
... actually, passing the ERA would be a nice thing to do.
I don't know if it will be the first thing that I get done, but it's been waiting for a while.
I also think that economic issues for women and men are key. Getting an increase to the minimum wage, the federal minimum wage, that has not happened for literally nearly a decade would be really important for a lot of women workers.
Getting child care, universal child care, would be so key for so many workers; making sure that we keep strong women's right to choose would be so good, when we have a -- when we have a president that is trying to literally tear apart women's right to reproductive freedom.
There is so much we can do. But I think one of the amazing things about being the first woman president would be to basically have every little girl in America and really around the world think anything and everything is possible. And you think about...
I was just with some of the culinary workers, the housekeepers, today. I just left there, a big group of women, and a number of them, because they had just gotten off work, had their little kids, girls and boys, on their laps.
And you look at those kids and you think, they could grow up in a different world, where maybe they won't even remember when Donald Trump was president.
COOPER: If I could just follow up briefly, other countries -- other countries have had women presidents before. What do you think it says about our country that -- that we haven't?
KLOBUCHAR: You know, actually, Hillary Clinton did get the most votes.
[22:20:00] Let us remember that.
So I think that -- you know, I think people are ready for it. I think it is -- I've thought about this a lot because, actually, in my races, I was the first woman in both jobs I had, as the county attorney and then as the woman senator from my state. And I didn't really talk about it much back then because women had tried to run for the U.S. Senate in my state twice, and they were both really qualified, and they didn't make it. And there had been a lot of emphasis on "Put the first woman in."
And so when I ran, I made very clear I was running on my merits, that I was honored to be -- would be honored to be the first woman senator, but that wasn't enough of a reason, that I had to show I had the experience and I had a plan of what I wanted to get done. And I made that really clear throughout the campaign. And I think that's really important in this race as well.
I know it would be cool to be the first woman president, believe me. And I think a lot of women out there know exactly what I'm talking about. But I think that the story that we tell and the campaign that we run have to be more than about that. It's got to be about people's dreams. It's got to be about the fact that we have a president that can't seem to put himself into the shoes of other people.
I was saying this the other day in the last debate, that he literally seems to lack empathy. Because, if he had empathy, he wouldn't be talking about immigrants the way he did. If he had empathy, he wouldn't be belittling people like my friend who I miss so much, John McCain.
If he had empathy -- if he had empathy, he would be working on things like childcare. And so, as I've made it so clear, my pitch to the people of this state and across the country is that, if you are having trouble deciding between filling your refrigerator with food or your insulin prescription, I know you and I'll fight for you. And if you can't figure out if you're going to pay for childcare for your kids or long-term care for your parents, which I'm dealing with right now for my dad, I know you and I'll fight for you. And if you can't figure out how to make your paycheck stretch to pay your mortgage or your rent, I know you, and I'll fight for you.
And there is such a big difference between me and Donald Trump.
One of them -- one of them is a -- I loved when the president went after Michael Bloomberg and the president said that Michael Bloomberg was 5'4" and Michael Bloomberg's like, "No, I'm not; I'm taller than that."
I'm the only one that has a claim to be 5'4". I want to be very clear.
But, you know, he got $413 million over the course of his life from his dad. That's great. Me, my grandpa was an iron ore miner. My dad was a newspaper man. My mom was a teacher. And my grandpa saved money in a coffee can in the basement to send my dad to a two-year community college. That's my family's trust. And you cannot fit $413 million in a coffee can.
And I figure, if someone gives you opportunity, whether it's a parent or a grandparent or whether it is someone you work with or a teacher, you do not go into the world with a sense of entitlement. You go into the world with a sense of obligation, to lift people up instead of shoving them down.
COOPER: We're going to be right back with Amy Klobuchar, right after this.
COOPER: And welcome back. We're live from Sahara, Las Vegas, for a Democratic presidential town hall with Senator Amy Klobuchar. Let's get back to our questions.
This is Pam Whitfield Jacobson, a dietitian from Las Vegas. She's currently undecided.
QUESTION: Question: Senator, we love how even and reasonable you are, but how would you compete with the bombast of Trump? Would you be lost in the shuffle?
KLOBUCHAR: I don't think so, no. If anyone has seen me on the debate stage, I don't think so, no.
I think that, actually, having someone very different than he is, as I just described my background, I think that's really important. And I think the other thing is to have an optimistic economic agenda that you keep pushing. That's going to be important. People want to have something to vote for and someone to vote for and not just someone to vote against.
And then I think the other piece of it is how, when you put yourself -- I was just talking about, before the break, putting yourself in the shoes of other people. You know, not everyone agrees with everything that's said on the Democratic debate stage. I don't agree with everything that's said there. And there are a lot of people out there who are independents or moderate Republicans, or people who maybe stayed home in 2016, who see this as a patriotism check on this president.
You know, they don't like that we have a president that stood next to a ruthless dictator in Vladimir Putin, and when asked about Russian interference in the election, made a joke about it. Think about it. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their lives on the battlefield standing up for democracy. That's what World War II was about. Four little girls at the height of the Civil Rights movement lost their life because they were innocent, trying to be part of that democracy and other people were trying to shove them out of that democracy.
So I think it's important -- or they think of it as a decency check. I have met so many people that see it in those eyes.
And you have others that feel like there have
been promises that haven't been kept to them, that -- you know, he keeps talking about the economy. Well, look at their prescription drug prices. Or what's he done when it comes to childcare? Or what he's done when it comes to rural broadband in northern Nevada or the like?
I think you have a lot of things that people are thinking. And then the last thing, I think it's important to take him on and be aggressive, of course. But I also think you've got to point out how absurd he is at times, right? You do.
And you have to -- you have to be nimble -- you have to be nimble in the moment to be able to do that. So when I announced my candidacy in the middle of that blizzard, and he made fun of me for talking about climate change in a blizzard and called me Snow Woman, which I kind of liked, actually, I -- I sent out a tweet and said the science is on my side, Donald Trump, when it comes to climate change. And I'd like to see how your hair would fair in a blizzard. Or...
Or, like, you look at the absurdity of when -- other people when things go wrong for them and they can't afford stuff, they've got to get out a loan or they've got to work extra hours or find another different job or their spouse has to go work. With him, when anything goes wrong, what he does he do? He blames other people. That's what he does, he blames other people.
Picture him going by that helicopter, it's whirring, and he's, like, yelling about stuff. He blames Barack Obama. He loves blaming Barack Obama. He does that all the time. The president who had so much dignity, right, he -- I'm talking about President Obama. He...
He blames -- he blames the generals he commands. He's done that. He blames the Federal Reserve head that he appointed. He blames the entire kingdom of Denmark. Who does that? He does that. I kept saying that throughout New Hampshire, and I had this cult of Danish people following me that would wave flags.
And then my favorite one recently is that he blamed the prime minister of Canada for cutting him out of the Canadian version of "Home Alone 2." Like, who does that?
So I think, you know, you have to be able -- and I am not at one moment making light of what he has done to so many people, how immigrants feel in this society, how people of color feel when he says there are two sides after Charlottesville, when one side is the Ku Klux Klan. There is only one side, and that's the American side. But...
But when we take this guy on, we have got to remember what he does and how he does it and have someone that's able to take him on in his own arena.
COOPER: I want you to meet Brandon Cromer. He's a law student at UNLV. He's currently undecided. Brandon?
KLOBUCHAR: OK, Brandon, thank you. And congratulations for being a law student.
QUESTION: Thank you, Senator. And thank you for being here. Currently, there is a movement to push for marijuana legalization. As you may know, men and women of color were disproportionately prosecuted for small marijuana possession. If marijuana is legalized, would you consider a pardon or encourage states to seal or expunge those records?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, I would.
And by the way, I'm well aware of what this state has done, in Nevada...
... where you legalized marijuana and where you actually put in place, I think, medical marijuana, and you did that when you made some changes to the legislation and a new governor and the like. And so I think it's really important to look at it as a way of making changes to our drug policy and doing the right thing.
And I think there's other things that we should be doing, as well. We just passed the First Step Act, which is a bipartisan effort in the Congress that reduced the federal sentences for non-violent offenders, some of them way too long. And I actually was a cosponsor of that bill.
And now I think we need to have the Second Step Act, which is to look at fact that 90 percent of people incarcerated are in state and local jails. And when you look at some of these non-violent offenders, you see that these sentences are too long and you make changes. So I think there's still so much more work that needs to be done when it comes to criminal justice reform. So, thank you.
COOPER: I want to just follow up on that. I want to ask you about your -- a study from your first year as a prosecutor. This was a study from the Council on Crime and Justice. [22:35:00]
It found that black men ages 18 to 30 in Hennepin County were 15 times more likely to be arrested for narcotics offenses than white men, 12 times more likely to be arrested for serious violent crimes, 5 times more likely for serious property crimes. Were you aware of those disparities at the time?
KLOBUCHAR: I think anyone that's worked in the criminal justice system knows there's institutional racism. And over the years, I think we've seen just how devastating that is.
And when I was there, I worked hard on, for instance, doing more when it came to white-collar crime, doing more with drug courts. And while there were still disparities in our system like there were any, we at least managed in those eight years to reduce the African-American incarceration rate by 12 percent.
And -- but there's still more to be done. We just talked about sentencing reform. I think there needs to be more done when it comes to grand jury reform. When I was there, I worked on eyewitness identification and making sure that when police showed witnesses pictures, that they showed them one at a time, instead of all at once, because it's been proven there's mostly racially involved misidentifications when you do it that way.
Also making sure the officers showing the picture doesn't know who it is, that can make a big difference. Using everything from DNA reviews to making sure that both our police departments and our prosecutors' offices are diverse makes a big difference. And I just think we have to come to grips with the fact that while we must keep our communities safe, you can do that at the same time you get at the institutional racism that we have in the criminal justice system.
COOPER: This is Paula Zinko. She's a maintenance dispatcher from Las Vegas. She's an undecided caucus-goer. Paula?
KLOBUCHAR: Hi, Paula.
QUESTION: Good evening, Senator. As a Jewish woman, I would like to know, what do you plan on doing to improve the anti-Semitic attitude that has been on the rise in this country?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, thank you. And I think we know, if you didn't know it was going on, when you look at what just happened in New York City, the rabbi's home, where this stabbing occurred. Can you imagine, at a time that was supposed to be joyful, of a holiday, and you have this madman, anti-Semitic, coming in and stabbing people in the rabbi's home? We've seen that time and time again in this country.
And I actually go back to my days that I mentioned when I was the head county attorney in our biggest county. And I took on hate crimes in a big way then. And it was everything from an African-American kid, a guy literally told people, "I'm going to go and shoot a black kid on Martin Luther King Day." And he did it. It was just a miracle that this young man wasn't killed, but we went after that guy, of course, for attempted murder.
Or a manager at a -- a floor manager at a manufacturing floor who literally hit an employee over the head with a two-by-four for speaking Spanish. That case happened.
Since I've been in the Senate, we have a mosque that was bombed in Minneapolis by -- a suburb of Minneapolis by white nationalists. And that's why, when you look at this, we have seen this increase in hate crimes in this country, many of them involving synagogues, like we saw at the Tree of Life Synagogue, and many involving other religious centers.
So the first thing you do is you make sure you have an attorney general in place that is going to make this a priority. That's number one.
Number two, you work with local law enforcement and you have major coordination with local law enforcement, local DAs, state attorney generals, because so much of the work on this is done on the front end.
You look at how you can look for the signs, right? Some of this is everything from schools to social media and, by the way, having enough counselors and other people in the schools to identify this, which, as you know, as we talked about gun violence, is not just about mass shootings. It's also about everyday violence and what we can see.
And then the third thing is education and making sure that people understand this right to worship and how fundamental it is.
One of the more endearing stories that I heard from our Jewish community in Minnesota was that they had a threat phoned in to their community center and everyone had to leave. It wasn't just people who were there for meetings. It was people -- little kids in swimming pools and seniors that were there.
And they were all -- it was a cold day, and they had to wander outside, and when they came in, and they checked their messages, the first message -- and we'd worked hard on this in our community -- saying, do you need a meeting space? It was from the Islamic Center of Minnesota.
And so those kinds of stories and making sure that people know that kind of interfaith alliances that still exist and are so strong and having a president that wants to talk about it, I think that makes a big difference, too. It's knowing how you enforce the laws. It's putting people in place that will do it. But it is also having the heart to actually make it a priority.
COOPER: I want you to meet Tommy Sheahan. He's from Stateline, Nevada. He's the founder and CEO of a software company. He's currently undecided. Tommy, welcome.
KLOBUCHAR: Hi, Tommy.
QUESTION: Hi, Senator Klobuchar. Thank you for your service.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
QUESTION: Vladimir Putin and his regime have attacked Western democracies throughout the world with fake information, Facebook, Instagram accounts, and attacked our election in 2016. Putin seems to have a disproportional influence over Trump and several actors in Washington. What are your views on regime change in Moscow?
KLOBUCHAR: OK. So I think the way that you get people in other countries to want to believe in actually having a democracy is by having strong leaders in your own democracies -- I will start with that -- that respect democracies.
So they have something to look to. When you look at what happened with the fall of the Iron Curtain and other moments in history, a lot of people in those countries who were desperate for examples of beacons of democracy would look to our own country. So making sure that our democracy is working and that we have a president that actually believes in democracy is key.
I think the second thing is to be very firm in our relationships with Vladimir Putin. We know that this isn't just about interfering in our election. We know that under his regime that they have done things like poisoned dissidents, like went after and killed journalists, like brought down planes, like invading Ukraine, which I'll never forget being there with the Ukrainians on the front line on New Year's Eve with my friend, John McCain, one of the last trips that he took.
Now, why did he take that trip? Right after Donald Trump was elected, he took me and Senator Graham on this trip to Lithuania and Latvia and Estonia and Georgia and, of course, Ukraine, because he wanted to make that point loud and clear to our allies that we stood with them against Russian aggression and that America stood with them.
And literally every country we went to, the leader of that country would be on one podium and the three of us would be on the other podium. So I learned a lot with John McCain.
And I learned the importance of those things. And one last thing I would add as we go into this election and we think about what we can do here at home to stand up for our own elections, because you brought up some of the things that they had done in our election. And, by the way, the same thing in other countries. I still remember that trip, Estonia, they moved a statue of a Russian fighter away from a public square into another location, in a cemetery. And so they got all their internet shut down. You know everything. You're like -- and like people would have to, like, try to go onto a hill to get service.
And another country that we were in, they had allowed Ukrainian dissidents who in exile, they had allowed them to come to a celebration in their country, and then those people got their computers hacked into. This is a long, long history.
Or one of the stories I heard from one of the Scandinavia prime ministers, and she said that they were mad at their country, Russia, so they started running things on Russian TV that would get into their countries that said that they had run out of fruits and vegetables.
And all these well-meaning Russians would cross over to see their friends with carrots and apples, because they -- I mean, it just is endless.
And so for our country's sake, what we should do, I think we never thought this would happen to us, but it did. We have to, one, safeguard our democracies. I lead the bill for backup paper ballots.
We still have a number of states that don't have backup paper ballots, and we need those.
And then, secondly, when it comes to social media -- and I make a plea out there to help. This is a bill that actually Senator Graham and I now have that says to the social media companies, you've got to follow the same rules for political ads that TV and radio and newspapers do.
Which is that you have to say who paid for things, right, on the ads. And then you have to keep those ads in an archive so people know what they are so other campaigns can check them out.
And if you think this doesn't matter, I use an example of an image -- this wasn't a paid ad, but an image that went out to African-American Facebook pages in the 2016 election. And we had it and displayed it in the Judiciary Committee. It was an innocent woman, innocent African-American woman from Chicago. They put her face on an image with a fake Hillary logo. And it said, "Why wait in line to vote?" This is in 2016. "You can text your vote to 86513." Made up some number.
Think about that. They were suppressing the vote, whoever did that, by putting those images up. They were trying to get people not to go to the voting booths because they would think they could just text their vote in. To me, that's a crime.
But that is what we are talking about when we talk about social media.
So that is why the name of the bill is the Honest Ads Act. Mitch McConnell won't let it come forward. The citizens of this country should demand it.
COOPER: I want to -- as president, in your first phone call with Vladimir Putin, what would you say to him?
KLOBUCHAR: I would say hello.
And I would say -- I would, first of all, make very clear that I will stand up for our democracy and stand up for human rights, and go through exactly everything I think that has not been good.
And then, then, I would say we should start talking about negotiating the nuclear agreements that we have for nuclear arms with Russia. One of them, unfortunately, Donald Trump has already gotten us out of, which has not made the world safer. The other one is called the New START Treaty. And it's going to end during a new president's term. And I would immediately start negotiating things.
I think you can do two things at once. And the most important thing that we have to do is stand with our allies when it comes to Vladimir Putin.
COOPER: Also, I assume you'd allow your national security staff to listen in to the call?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, I would allow my national security staff to listen into the call. That is correct, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Stay there. We have more questions for Senator Klobuchar right after this.
[22:50:00] COOPER: And welcome back. We are live in Las Vegas with Senator Amy Klobuchar.
I want to bring in Reverend James Kosko. He's a pastor from Reno, he's currently undecided. Reverend, welcome.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. Hi, Reverend.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, and, Senator Klobuchar, I want to welcome you back to Nevada.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
QUESTION: It's good to have you here.
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, I was just in Reno. it was great.
QUESTION: Yes. I have a three-part question.
KLOBUCHAR: Oh, I'd better stand up. OK.
QUESTION: The good news is, they are kind of related.
KLOBUCHAR: OK. Phew.
QUESTION: As president, first of all, what joy can you bring back to this country? And, secondly, what will you do to make each of us proud to be an American? And, lastly, how will you reestablish our dignity and standing in the world community?
All right. So the joy I will bring is the joy of loving people. And I really think that that kind of zest for enjoying being with people, even if you don't agree with everything they say, seems to be missing right now with this president.
And you feel it, when you want to have a president -- I remember the old days, you look about being proud, your second part, being proud to be an American, you remember -- I do -- when my parents would put the TV on because the president was giving an address. And it might not be a president that they had voted for, or that they even terribly liked, but they felt it was important to watch the president because they wanted to teach that to me, but they also wanted to know what the president was saying, because they wanted to, as a citizen, understand that, so that they could have discussions with people and the like.
And I think we've lost that right now. I think people are afraid when they see him at a rally, they need to mute the volume because they don't know what he's going to say. There are teachers that they want to teach in a neutral way about -- and they don't know, because the things that he says and does isn't what they're teaching the kids at school.
I just think we need to bring that sense of decency back. And I know it's going to be boring when I don't send out a mean tweet at 5:00 in the morning. I know that, OK.
I know that. And it's going to be really boring for the media. They're going to be like, oh, we've got to find something else. Because I just think that has become such a negative thing.
At the beginning, people were shocked, and he always finds ways to distract us every single day. And then that makes it harder, right, to work on these long-term challenges, some of which we talked about, and things like bringing health care premiums down and doing something about climate change and all of those things. It makes it harder to do, because those are really hard things to work on, because you've got to have -- meet with people and you've got to draft a bill and do all these things. And he's just out there tweeting all the time. So I think that is -- that's the first thing.
And then as far as our standing in the world -- so I did a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. You can see it on our website at amyklobuchar.com, where you can also help us out. And the speech was about foreign relations and the five R's that I would bring to foreign policy. It's not "reading, writing, and 'rithmetic."
It's, first of all, renewing American leadership in the world. It's secondly -- don't worry, I won't go through them that long -- the second one is to repair our relationships with our allies, something we've talked about tonight. The third one is to renegotiate back into international agreements. I mentioned the Russian nuclear arms agreements, but also the Iranian nuclear agreement, which this president got us out of, which I didn't think was the right thing.
And the fourth thing would be to respond appropriately when things come up around the world, instead of doing tweets in the bathrobe at 5:00 in the morning. And then the fifth thing is to reassert American values around the world. And it really comes down to one R, and that would be to renew sanity. Return to sanity in our foreign policy.
COOPER: Senator Amy Klobuchar. The CNN Democratic presidential town halls live from Las Vegas continues this Thursday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, with former Vice President Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren. Stay tuned for "CNN Tonight" coming up next.