Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Town Hall with Frm Vice President Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired February 20, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening live from the theater at Sahara, Las Vegas. I'm Anderson Cooper. This is a CNN town hall event. In just two days Democratic candidates will face a major test here in Nevada. Tonight two of the top contenders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, will take questions from our audience. Many of the voters here are undecided and waiting to hear directly from the candidates before choosing whom to caucus for on Saturday.
I want to get started right now with the former vice president, Joe Biden.
COOPER: Nice to see you.
JOE BIDEN (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How are you?
BIDEN: Help me out if I don't get the answers.
COOPER: I'm going to go to the audience in just a minute. I want to start, though, with some breaking news that we've just learned today. We learned today that a top intelligence community official told Congress last week that Russia is already taking steps to interfere in the 2020 election. The briefing indicated that Russia has a preference for President Trump, someone they believe they can work with. What's your reaction?
BIDEN: Not surprised at all. Look, I was deeply involved in the intelligence community when I was in the -- when I was vice president. We knew it then. They have been involved. They continue to be involved. I guarantee you they're involved. And the fact is that I expect whoever did that briefing is about to be fired.
COOPER: Do you have confidence in the person that the president wants to be the new DNI, who is currently the ambassador to Germany?
BIDEN: No, he has absolutely zero experience in intelligence. He is going to be an ambassador to Germany...
BIDEN: No. I'm not -- not about personally, he may be a fine guy. But he has zero experience, and they expect him to be both the acting head of all the intelligence, not just one, not just CIA, all the intelligence agencies, director of national intelligence, and the ambassador to Germany at the same time, and with no experience.
COOPER: If you were president right now, what would you do to try to protect election security?
BIDEN: Well, what I would do is what I did internationally. I joined an international organization headed by the former head of NATO to work out an agreement that everyone running for office, both in Europe and the United States, would take the pledge that they would not use any disinformation period in an election.
And two, any, any foreign power that provided information or tried to get engaged in an electoral process in any one of the countries would be reported immediately. And that's what I would do. I would -- and I'm the only one who has taken that pledge so far.
Now in fairness, I'm not sure the rest of my Democratic colleagues are as much as aware of it. I've raised it several times. But that's a pledge we all should also take. You know, Washington talked about, you know, the greatest concern for new republics is being interfered with by foreign powers. And it's going on. I promise you, I guarantee you right this minute it's happening. Right this minute.
COOPER: As president, would you confront Vladimir Putin about that?
BIDEN: I -- yes, I would confront Vladimir Putin, and I would engage making sure there was consequences for his actions, including seeing to it that there were economic consequences of it.
We also have to worry about cyber security...
BIDEN: ... which is going on. So but it's going to sound so political, my saying this, but this president has just no -- zero sense of any of this. And...
BIDEN: No, I know that sounds bizarre. I don't mean it to be.
(APPLAUSE) BIDEN: But -- and by the way, he doesn't care. He doesn't care. I mean, when he stood -- we've had this conversation. I'm sorry to repeat it with you. But we've had this conversation before. About eight months ago, he stood before the whole world. Vladimir Putin is there. He turns at his podium before the whole world, the G20, and he says, why would Vladimir Putin want to interfere in our elections?
Bless me, father, why would he want to interfere?
BIDEN: Why would he want to do that? Well, the fact that 18 intelligence agencies, your intelligence agencies told you he is doing that, has done that, continues to do that, and worse may be coming. The idea -- and imagine what that does to us around the world. Now our intelligence guys and women go to deal with any other intelligence agency of our partners.
Do you think they think you can count on our intelligence community and the president of the United States says they don't know what they're doing? This is dangerous.
COOPER: I want you to meet Elizabeth Tuch. She's a real estate agent from Henderson. She's still undecided. Welcome, Elizabeth.
BIDEN: I can't afford anything in Henderson.
BIDEN: God love you.
QUESTION: Hello there.
QUESTION: OK. I am sick and tired of bringing a knife to a gunfight. It's high time that we get down and dirty with the Republicans. It's one thing to rise above and not sink to their level, but I'm done with being nice. Do you have that fire in your belly? And what are your plans on how to defeat Trump?
BIDEN: Tell the truth to start, OK?
BIDEN: Now I'm not being facetious. Look, what I'm not going to do is I'm not going to get down in the gutter with Trump. That's where he is most comfortable. I'm not being a wise-guy now. I'm being deadly earnest. You know, when -- remember when that tape came out about, you know, "Access Hollywood" and he grabbed women and all that stuff, everybody said, God, that would kill any politician, they're done, they're over.
Well, what happened? We responded in kind. We said, well, all of a sudden, you know, this is what we're going to do. Instead of talking about what he has done, and then it gets back to this back and forth. And it's about what he hasn't done for America.
He has devastated this country. He has put us in a terrible situation. He has diminished the middle class significantly. He has made it more difficult for everybody who is struggling every single day just to make it, the people I grew up with, to be able to do anything about it. This is -- it's just amazing.
So but, by the way, if he stands behind me like he did Hillary, and I say, Jack, come here.
BIDEN: Come on up here.
BIDEN: No, I'm not going take it easy. I'm going to talk about all the things that he has done that are so devastating. And one of the most devastating things are, I think has happened, is he has blemished the soul of this country. The way in which he talks, the way in which he deals with people, the way he treats people. He has diminished -- I mean, you know, we're a nation that is -- talks about, we hold these truths to be self-evident. All men and women are created equal, or, we the people.
Think about what he has done. Think about what he has done, how he treats people, how he talks about people. And I'll ask a rhetorical question. How many of you have, when he comes on the air, on television, literally taken your children or grandchildren and said, take them away from the television?
BIDEN: Have you ever, ever, ever, ever thought that would be the case? It's -- anyway, I shouldn't.
COOPER: Let me ask you -- I want to ask you about something you talked about earlier today. You delivered very emotional remarks today about gun violence. We're obviously in Las Vegas, the site of the deadliest mass shooting in American history. You attacked Bernie Sanders's voting record on gun legislation. You acknowledged that Sanders has changed his views, but has he done enough?
BIDEN: Well, look, it's not so much what you say you believe now. It's what did you do and when did you do it? And the fact is Bernie has had a very different record than me for a long time. For example, I'm the guy that as chairman of the Judiciary Committee worked to pass very difficult legislation, the Brady Bill, that had background checks as well as waiting periods.
BIDEN: Well, Bernie, when he was running for the Senate in Vermont, he said it was tough state to run in. He voted against it five times in the House of Representatives. Guess what? We've kept over 5 million people from being able to get weapons that they should not have been able to get. How many lives has that saved?
BIDEN: Secondly, the one thing that I am most upset about is, you know, I've met with -- as you know, Anderson, I've met with every family -- virtually every family up in Connecticut when those kids were just slaughtered in school, and then also down in Florida when they came up to Washington. I was out of office at the time, but I met with them. They were petitioning members of the Congress to change the law with regard to assault weapons and the like.
And I made a commitment, and I mean it. I made a commitment that I'm going to do everything in my power in office or out of office to get those assault weapons off the street, which I've done once already, and to get those clips that have multiple bullets in them not for sale, not be able to sell silencers, all those things.
BIDEN: And here's what happened. The only industry -- how about if I stood before you all today and any of you who are undecided, thinking about voting for whomever, me in this case, how about if I said -- by the way, you can roll your eyes, it's OK.
BIDEN: I'm not suggesting you have to vote for me, but what I'm saying is, how about if I said to you, you know what, drug companies should be immune from being able to be sued. They put out 9 billion opioid pills in a matter of years, but they shouldn't be able to be sued. They misled advertising on television saying that you in fact can get -- they don't point out you can get hooked in five days on everything from -- that they advertised. And I said, but we can't sue them.
How about if I said that about the tobacco companies? I said, we shouldn't be able to sue the tobacco companies when they're misleading about how it caused cancer and the like. Or the oil companies that are out there polluting the ground? But guess what? The only industry in America that is not able to be sued are the gun manufacturers.
Now Bernie talks about my record. It's appropriate. It's not -- I'm not being mean. He voted to exempt gun manufacturers from any liability, zero. They can't be sued. And I tell you what, I'm not joking. I've sat there and looked in the eyes of those parents, as recently as today, talking about their kids and how they died, and they died at the hands of -- why can't we sue these manufacturers for advertising, for misleading, for glorifying, for promoting this godawful -- you know how many people have died since 2007 of murder with guns? Three times as many people have died in the Vietnam War and every war
since. Three times as many, 150,000 murders, 150,000 murders. Those lives have crushed families. I was on the phone on the second anniversary with Fred Guttenberg down in Florida. He is the guy who lost his daughter, to just call him because I know what it's like to lose a daughter, lose a son.
And guess what? You know, he has devoted his whole life to try to make sure. And all they want, let me sue these guys who have done this stuff, this carnage on the street. Look at the people here in the greatest mass shooting in American history, the worst mass shooting at Mandalay Bay.
A guy has 12 assault weapons with bump stocks, which means you can fire it faster. You can pull the trigger faster. And 100 rounds. Why in God's name should anyone, anyone, anyone, anyone be able to own that? It's just wrong. And we've got to -- and I promise you as president...
BIDEN: ... I am going to get these guys. I want to let them know, promise you. I'm the only guy that has beaten the gun manufacturers. I'm the only guy that has beaten the NRA nationally, and I did it twice, nationally. And gun manufacturers, I'm coming for you, period.
COOPER: Let me ask you, last night, you, as well as a number of your fellow candidates, were critical obviously of Mayor Bloomberg for stop and frisk. One of the things you said was that monitors, when monitors were sent in, Bloomberg thought that was a terrible idea. They were sent in by a judge to oversee the policy.
Do you know what specifically Michael Bloomberg had a problem with in terms of having monitors?
BIDEN: Well, let me say it this way. He is advertising himself to be Barack's best buddy.
BIDEN: No, have you seen his ads? For real. You'd think Barack endorsed him. Well, he didn't support Barack, number one, or our administration. He -- when we did the Obamacare, which is one of the greatest accomplishments of our administration, a signature piece for the president...
BIDEN: ... guess what happened? He said it was a disgrace, and here's what happened. When he had this stop and frisk proposal -- by the way, close to -- you know, they -- thousands and thousands of young black men were thrown up against the wall. That's how he's going to control guns, right? Well, when we said, that's not appropriate, you can't do that, and we
sent in monitors from the Justice Department, he said, we don't need them, don't send them, I don't want them. Now why do you think he didn't want them? I can only think of one reason. He wanted to continue the policy. He didn't want it exposed.
Now, look, I just think -- and the way he refers to people of color, and the way he refers to -- I'm not even going to repeat the language he used about why he was doing this, why these are the most dangerous people in the world, et cetera, et cetera. I don't think he said "in the world." "Incredibly dangerous people." I don't want to misrepresent anything he said.
But it's just wrong. It's just wrong. Just like you have all those women with non -- you know, NDAs. I can't say what -- because you paid me, I settled with you and I promise you I'll never tell anybody what you said or did to me. How can you run against Donald Trump when you have, what is it, 10, 12, 14 NDAs?
And we asked him last night, will you free up those women, and say, it's OK, you can now talk? What did he say? He said, well, they won't want to. Just say, OK. Let them make a decision to talk. How can we not have any transparency?
COOPER: I want you to meet Ryan McConnell. He's a law student at UNLV. He supported and volunteered for Senator Cory Booker before he dropped out, now he is undecided. Ryan, Welcome
BIDEN: He is a good man. By the way, what year?
BIDEN: All right, man. It's all downhill from there.
QUESTION: All downhill, just the bar in July.
BIDEN: I'd rather run for president two more times than take the bar again.
QUESTION: Well, thank you for taking my question. President Trump's Department of Justice recently got involved in the trial of Roger Stone, a close confidante of Trump's. This led to four of the federal prosecutors to either withdraw or resign from the department all together.
Many see this as a further abuse of presidential power that challenges our very ideas of what the justice system should be. As president, how will you restore the barriers between the Department of Justice and the Oval Office?
BIDEN: First of all, for years and years I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I have never, never, never, including when I got elected as a kid at 29 years old when Nixon was president, this is not an exaggeration, no one, no one has ever abused that office or weaponized it.
He has weaponized it, flat out weaponized it. And he has made it real clear. Whatever you do, it's almost like the biblical phrase, whatever you do in my name to help me, you will get pardoned. That's the message being sent. And the idea that Roger Stone and/or -- well, I won't go into all of them.
Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to federal prosecutors, and a judge said, whoa, whoa, whoa, I'm not going to listen to whatever the Justice Department has to say now, I'm sentencing this guy and I'm sentencing him to 40 months, 40 months. Guarantee you, he is going to be pardoned. Guarantee. Guarantee.
What's that message about? Don't worry. Do anything illegal for me and you're OK, I will pardon you. No one has weaponized it before ever like this. Number one.
The Justice Department is not the president's private lawyer. It's the people's lawyer.
BIDEN: And I will never, I will never direct the Justice Department as to who they should or should not indict and under what circumstance they should or should not. That is an independent judgment to be made.
My son, the one who -- my deceased son was the attorney general of the United States (sic) and before that he was a federal prosecutor in one of the largest offices in the country in Philadelphia. And I tell you what, he wouldn't even talk to me about anything he was doing, his father. And he shouldn't have. And i I didn't have any control over either one of those things.
But my generic point is you should stay out of it. Let the Justice Department do its job, period.
COOPER: This is Jenniffer Dias. She is a mom and a student from Henderson. Her parents migrated from Guatemala when she was two years old. She is currently undecided. Welcome, Jenniffer.
QUESTION: Hi, how are you? My question is, when you become president of the United States, how will you handle the ICE raids that are affecting our immigrant communities? Will this department cease to exist or will it be replaced with something else?
BIDEN: First of all, how long have you been here?
QUESTION: Thirty-three years.
BIDEN: You can't be that old. All right.
BIDEN: All right. You're making me feel really old now. The -- first of all, the people who are going to go back to school are ICE. Family separation, I promise you, will end on my watch, just flat end.
BIDEN: Not a joke. Number one.
Number two, we'll also increase the number of people that are able to come to the United States for family reunification, to bring brothers, sister, moms, dads, back to the United States or to the United States for the first time around.
Number three, I'm going to make sure that we surge to the border, surge to the border those people seeking asylum, asylum judges and interpreters as well as federal judges who are going to make judgments about immigration, because it's outrageous what's happening now.
You have to cross the border to go in and, I don't have to tell you about it, you understand it incredibly well. My wife just went across with, excuse me, the representative from Brownsville, Texas, Vela. And, you know, he -- and she served a meal, a Christmas meal
She said there was squalor.
These are the people -- this is the first time in American history we've required people seeking asylum to do it from another country. It all stops. I'm not joking about this. It all flat stops.
And the first thing I'm going to do, literally I have already had one written, on day one, I'm sending to the United States Congress an immigration bill providing a pathway for 11 million undocumented. And I'm going to make sure every Dreamer is protected now.
For real. And by the way, you know, we have a right to protect our border, but protecting our border by building a multibillion-dollar wall from sea to shining sea makes no sense at all. All the bad guys, all those so-called terrorists, all those folks -- and some are -- all those folks who are coming across the border with the drug cartels, they're coming through legal ports of entry.
We have the technology to spend the money on -- for example, we essentially -- the best way to explain it, we can put on top of a tractor-trailer essentially a big X-ray machine, can tell you everything that's in there, the density of it, whether there's people in there, whether -- what's in that -- what's inside that facility, what's inside that container. We don't need to have this -- what this president is talking about.
It's unnecessary. We have a right to protect the border. But the idea -- and by the way, nobody -- and some of you are going to get mad at me with this -- but nobody is going to be deported in my first 100 days until we get through the point that we find out the only rationale for deportation will be whether or not -- whether or not you've committed a felony while in the country.
Lastly, the people who are going to go back to school are ICE, and they should not be standing outside. You know people and families that are afraid to take their child to the doctor because an ICE agent will be waiting outside to arrest them. You know people who don't want to go to mass on Sunday because they're afraid they're going the walk out. And all the anxiety, the anxiety of these children -- you know, 24 out of every 100 children in America in school are Latinos, 24 out of 100. And we treat this like somehow we can do away with it.
It's overwhelmingly in our interest we embrace these people. It's overwhelmingly in our interests. No, I really mean it.
And, by the way, it makes us economically stronger, too. It benefits everybody. And one of the things presidents should be doing is not just legislating, not just trying to change the law, but persuading, persuading. And I find when I talk to people who think they're anti- immigrant, and I say, wait a minute, let's get the facts here. Number one, the reason Social Security is still working and it's being funded is because of immigrants.
The reason why our workforce is increasing is because of immigrants. The reason why it makes sense for everyone to make sure those 24 out of 100 kids get in and out of school does well, everybody does better when everybody does well. And so there is so much we can do.
And by the way, you know, everybody thinks that the way we work is that somebody right now in Guadalajara or somebody in Indonesia or someone in Africa is saying, "I got a great idea. Let's sell everything we have, give it to some smuggler to take it," in the case of Mexico or Latin America, a coyote, "take us across the border, drop us in the desert, and a country that says they don't want us, where we don't speak the language, won't that be fun?" No, I really mean it.
When my great, great grandfather got on a coffin ship in the Irish Sea in 1849, not having any idea if he was going to make it, guess why we're the best country in the world? Because we've been able to cherry-pick from every single culture the people who are the most optimistic, the people who are the most resilient, the people who are the toughest, the people who, in fact, believe they can do anything given a chance. That's why America is who we are.
(APPLAUSE) COOPER: Mr. Vice President, this is Michael Woxland. He is a graduate student at Sierra Nevada College. He's leaning towards supporting Senator Warren. Michael, welcome.
QUESTION: Hello, Mr. Vice President.
QUESTION: Some expressed concern about the ages of you and Senator Sanders. Would you, if you are the nominee, go as far to commit to only one term, if it meant uniting our party?
BIDEN: No, I wouldn't do that. But I'd tell you what, you're going to be able to make a judgment. And by the way, the two youngest men on the stage now are me and Buttigieg.
That's the way it goes, you know what I mean?
But look, look, it's totally legitimate for y'all to ask about my age or anybody else's age up there and our health. That's why I give all my medical records, everything, OK, the whole deal, so you know where I am, number one.
Number two, number two, look, anybody who starts off saying I'm only going to serve one term is already behind the eight ball, because then you're a one-term president and no one worries about what the hell is going to happen after that, OK?
Number three, you know, all of the candidates that are up on that stage, including the woman you're leaning towards, is over 70 years of age. And I'm in pretty good health, knock on wood, as my mother would say.
But, look, I guarantee you this. If anything changed in my health making it incapable of me to fully exert all the energy and mental acuity that was needed to be done, then I give you my word, I would not run again. I would not -- that's why it's going to be so important for, if Elizabeth wins or I win or Bernie wins, or whoever wins, that they pick someone who's ready to be president of the United States on day one.
And by the way, last question, last point. It's totally legitimate to ask about age, because when I ran as a 29-year-old kid, the question was, was I old enough?
No, no, I ran as a senator. I got elected before I was literally legally able to be sworn in. I had to wait 17 days to be eligible. It was a legitimate question then. I'm running in large part because of my age and my experience. Every
single time there's a general election for president, a slightly different set of criteria is required for the things that are needed at that moment. And I would respectfully suggest that the next president of the United States is going to inherit a world in disarray and a divided nation.
And the two things that I have been very good -- and by the way, you shouldn't vote for me because I've been vice president or because I've been a senator or a chairman of a committee. You should vote for me based on whether I get the job done. You pay me money to get a job done. And I would respectfully suggest I've gotten the job done on foreign policy, I've gotten the job done domestically.
And that's what you -- I think is a -- totally legitimate to look at. And with age comes experience. With experience, hopefully, judgment, and with some judgment, hopefully, some wisdom. There's going to be no time for on-the-job training.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll have more questions for former Vice President Joe Biden.
COOPER: And welcome back to a live CNN Democratic presidential town hall with former Vice President Joe Biden. We're going to get back to the audience in just a second. Last night, I want to ask you, you were asked about the possibility of a contested convention. You said that you would play by the rules. But just to be clear, you don't believe that a candidate who arrives at the convention with the most delegates should be the nominee?
BIDEN: No, the reason is, is say you've got to get over 1,900 delegates. That's the deal. And so let's say someone comes with the most delegates, it gets split up, and they got a thousand delegates, and the rest are split. Does that mean you should go ahead and change the rules? I don't think so. I mean, I -- you know, I guess I'm a Catholic school kid. You play by the rules. You know, what the nuns say, you do.
COOPER: Do you worry about a brokered convention? Do you worry about what that would do to the Democratic Party?
BIDEN: No, I don't, because, look, we've been through -- when you say brokered convention, there's an awful lot of Democrats who are -- show up at that convention that worked really hard to be involved in the party and giving everybody a chance, the party in the primaries and caucuses, and I worry about your caucuses. But, anyway, primary and caucuses. You know, I think that, you know, we should play by the rules. COOPER: All right. I want you to meet Akyra Ford, an administrative
assistant at the College of Southern Nevada. She's currently undecided. Akyra, welcome.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for having me. So my question is, while the Affordable Care Act was put in place to make health care affordable for the American public, there has been some criticism by the American people that the Affordable Care Act does not work as well as it's intended. As one of the Affordable Care Act's biggest defenders, how do you plan to fix the Affordable Care Act's problems if elected president?
BIDEN: Good question.
QUESTION: Thank you.
BIDEN: Number one, I would restore all the cuts this president has made in the Affordable Care Act, across the board, number one.
Number two, I add what Barack -- what President Obama and I wanted to add, but we had trouble, where it took five presidents just to get us to the point where we were able to pass the Affordable Care Act, which is a big deal. We did it without a single Republican vote, and I spent a lot of time camped out in the House and Senate getting those votes to get it done.
And what we wanted to do is add what they call a public option, and that is a Medicare-like option, if in fact, you wanted to buy into that option or if you didn't have the money, you would be able to get it for free. So it's Medicare if you want it.
So I add to the Biden option to Obamacare what we wanted to do in the first place, and I add to that the option of being able to have Medicare if you want it, a Medicare-like proposal.
If you can't afford -- if you qualify for Medicaid and you don't have it in your state, you're automatically enrolled. There is no waiting for anything.
Secondly, we make sure we reduce drug prices, as well, allowing -- allowing the drug companies to -- for Medicare to be able to negotiate with the drug companies the cost of drugs.
Number three, there's now bio-drugs that are not chemical-based drugs. And very few companies are, in fact -- there may have one or two companies. I've been very deeply involved in dealing with cancer and cancer issues in the Biden moonshot, and a whole range of things related to the cancers, become a -- it's
And I would set up at the Department of -- National Institute of Health, I would invest over $50 billion -- $5 billion over the next 10 years to focus on the diseases that cause the most damage and cost the most -- cancer, Alzheimer's, and obesity. Let me be precise, and dealing with the whole notion of whether or not we're going to have anything to do with how people, in fact, their diets, how they work, and how it works out. And so because we now have so much evidence that it's worked that we now have.
And, look, in the Department of -- and the Department of Defense, there is a thing called -- I know Anderson knows about it, DARPA. It's the defense -- it's the application agency that is separate and apart from the whole department. It sits over here, and it's supposed to find out those things that would advance the security of the United States that are out of the box.
They're the guys and women that came up with the whole idea of the internet. They're the guys who came up with the whole idea of being able to global spacing. They're the guys who came up with stealth technology, et cetera.
We should be doing the same thing at NIH. We should have a department that says what we're going to do is deal with diabetes, deal with Alzheimer's, and deal with cancer, and we're going to spend the money needed that the drug companies are unwilling to spend or unable to spend to make sure that, in fact, we find cures.
I promise you, we are on the verge of changing significantly the ability to cure many cancers, significant number of cancers, because we now have the capacity to do what never could be done before. We have a capacity to share -- and any oncologists out there? Any of you researchers? You know that, in the beginning, back when Nixon declared war on cancer, he meant it, but he had no army. He had no ability for hospitals to share data.
Today, for example, if you're diagnosed with cancer, you can have -- you can find specifically what genomic strain you have. You can have it sequenced. You can find out precisely of the 204 cancers that are out there identified now which one you have. And we now have the capacity to use a million, billion calculations per second to determine whether or not why that particular therapy works on you and doesn't work on me. What's the difference? Why is it happening?
We have so many more tools. And now what you're finding is you have cancer researchers, as you know -- and I've met with over 19,000 of them, there's two big organizations that are out there doing research -- that, in fact, they now are beginning to share data. You know, sometimes you don't have to be an expert on an issue, but you have to know how to organize.
So I asked the question, when the president put me in charge of the cancer moonshot, I said, let me ask you, I said, how many -- right now, we're finding out that -- we found out a while ago that to deal with AIDS, multiple drugs may be required to control it. Well, multiple drugs now people are saying may be required to deal with certain cancers.
But guess what? If you're the five drug companies and you each are working on the same particular therapy, and you have not found it yet, well, we -- I said why can't we get them all to put all their material on the table, let any researcher come in and use it? And they said, no, we can't do that. I said, well, let's go back and assign a monetary value to the work you're doing. If it works, you get 14 percent of the profit, you get 22 percent, you get -- and work it out ahead of time. Give you -- exempt you from liability, put it on the table, and let researchers from around the world, anyone come in who's qualified, and determine and experiment with the answer.
We've had over 8 million hits on that proposal. We're going to find cures that never were found before because we're changing the way we think about things. And part of it is to do just that, to change the way we think.
Last point I'll make, Alzheimer's. You know, if we don't find a cure to Alzheimer's in the next 20 years, it's a fact, every single hospital bed that exists in America now will be occupied by an Alzheimer's patient, and it will cost the government, you taxpayers, us taxpayers, it will cost us $258 billion a year to pay for the cost of that. And so, folks, it's in our overwhelming interest to think outside the box here. Think outside the box.
And so there's a lot of things that I do, God willing, if I'm elected -I can get this done, by the way. I can get this done. The idea that you're going to be able to go out and have Medicare for all, God love them, as my mom would say. And by the way, they won't even tell you how much it costs anymore, have you noticed that? And who's going to pay for it, you notice that?
But it's going to cost at least $35 trillion over 10 years, $35 trillion.
And I can tell you, like, how many of you have lost a mom, dad, brother, sister, husband, wife, son or daughter to cancer? Raise your hand. We did this last time, remember? Look at this. Now, what do you seek most of all? Hope. Just a little hope. Hope, hope. And, god, we have an obligation to move on what we can do now. Do it now. And that's what we can do when we pass, when I'm going to -- if I win, going to start calling Bidencare.
COOPER: Mr. Vice President, this is Cristina Flores, an office manager for a law firm. She's one of your supporters, plans to caucus for you. Christina, welcome.
QUESTION: Thank you for being here tonight.
BIDEN: Thank you.
QUESTION: My question is, do you think it's possible for you to work with Mitch McConnell in a way that would benefit the American people? The Republicans stonewalled President Obama. What will you do so that they don't do the same to you? BIDEN: Well, first of all, Mitch is not my closest friend.
But I tell you what, for example, I'll give you -- he did stop the judges from moving forward, the Supreme Court justice we wanted to move forward. He has been an impediment to an awful lot of things that we wanted to do.
But he's also been able -- I've been able to work him to get some things done. For example, I'm the only person ever -- remember when he was going to close down the government New Year's Eve day? He said he wouldn't negotiate longer? We were about to go into bankruptcy as a nation. We weren't going to pay our debts for the first time ever. And he said, "I'll only talk to Biden." He wouldn't negotiate with the president any longer.
I walked into the Oval, as I did every morning, and I said, Mr. President, I haven't called him back. He said, you got to call him back. Call him back. I said he's just trying to embarrass you. Call him back, see what you can get done.
Well, I called him back, and we had a head-to-head negotiation where I made it clear what was going happen if he did not find out a compromise. And here's what happened. First time in American history, Republicans voted to raise taxes on the wealthy $650 billion, to raise the tax rate, so people started paying their fair share.
Or after Mr. Trump won, between Election Day and the time he was sworn in, I've been working with a group of Republicans and Democrats for a thing called the CURES Act. Mitch McConnell and the Republican leaders from both Houses say we're not going to have any more legislation passed until the next president is sworn in. Well, guess what? We didn't have any more than I think it was like 40 or 39 votes in the Senate, and something like 119 or something -- or 114 in the House.
After my negotiations, guess what? We passed an almost $9 billion bill called the CURES Act. It got voted on in late December, before the president got sworn in, after he was elected, over his objection. And guess what it did? It had $1.9 billion for cancer research, which the Republicans stood up -- I was presiding over the Senate at the time. They said it was never going to happen. It got 94 senators. It got 390 some members of the House, as well as, after it passed, because I was there to be a deciding vote if I had to be as vice president, they stood up, the Republicans stood up and moved to name it the Beau Biden Memorial Bill for my deceased son.
And so, folks, the idea that we can get nothing done is just not true. Here is the problem, in my view, in my experience. My experience has been that it's always appropriate to question another man or woman's judgment. It's never appropriate to question their motive.
And how do we do politics today? I'm not going to work with you because you're in the pocket of big business or you're in the pocket of labor. I'm not going to work with you because you're dishonest. I'm not going to work with you because -- by the way, let's see if we can get a bill on infrastructure done. Fat chance. But you go and you can challenge a person's judgment and argue like hell about it, and then say but we've got to work out a compromise in the interests of the country.
I guarantee you, there are a number of Republicans, especially with this president out of the way, who are ready to work on things like a rational immigration policy, who are ready to work on things like dealing with infrastructure, who are ready to work on things like health care. I promise you that's there.
But right now, they're deathly afraid, because this president is so vindictive, so vindictive. Look what he's doing. The idea he marched out of the White House,
a Purple Heart winner, an immigrant who came and was a brave soldier, a lieutenant colonel, like he was a criminal? The idea that he went -- my son spent a year in Iraq. I don't know what I would have done when this president almost started a full-blown war with Iran because he makes a better deal -- he's a great deal-maker, isn't he -- a better deal -- he walks away from the Iran agreement. We end up having rocket launches against Al Asad Air Force Base, where my son had been.
A total now of over 100 of our military men as a consequence of those attacks traumatic brain injury. And the president called them -- it's not bad, just they're headaches. He called them headaches. He stood before in what they call -- any way, he stood in the Defense Department, we now learned, and looked at -- looked at our flag officers and our generals and said -- they called them names to their faces. Nobody, no president has ever done anything like that. Never before. So it really, really matters. It really matters what a president says, what a president does, and how we get things done.
And by the way, where you can't get them to agree with you, you go out and beat them. No, I really mean it.
Remember what we were told, the reason why we lost the Congress in '16 was because of Obamacare. Remember? And by the way, it probably was. People didn't know what it was. You've heard me say this, Anderson. I apologize for repeating it to you, but, you know, what happened was I said to Barack -- I said to the president, I said you ought to take a victory lap here. You ought to have, quote -- this is where I got criticized, there goes Biden again -- a fireside chat. Anyway. Another Biden gaffe.
But any rate, and I said, you ought to tell people what it's about. He said we don't have time for a victory lap, Joe. I said people don't know what we did. So we lost the House. But guess what? Republicans then went and eviscerated health care,
eviscerated and went out and went to court against Obamacare. Then I went into 24 states, 24 purple states with 66 candidates. We got elected 41 members of the House. And guess what we ran on? Obamacare, because all of the sudden, did you find -- no, did you find any Republican...
COOPER: I got to get a break in, I'm sorry. I got to quickly get a break in. We're going to come right back.
BIDEN: All right.
COOPER: Let's take a quick break. We'll have more with Vice President Biden in just a moment.
COOPER: And welcome back. We're live in Las Vegas with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. We're going to get to the audience in a minute. Just a quick question. You mentioned earlier, I want to follow up -- you mentioned earlier this evening, just as an aside, you said you're worried about the caucuses. I wasn't sure if you were referring to Iowa or here. Are you confident in the system here this time around? And do you think Iowa should still be first?
BIDEN: Well, I don't -- I'm not big on caucuses, because they're so complicated.
No, no, I'm not -- and I think they're doing everything possible here. But the idea is you walk in and you have an early ballot, apparently a lot of people have voted already, and you mark one, two, three, who you're for. If the first person doesn't qualify and get 15 percent, then it automatically goes to the second person.
But how do we know that that gets to that particular -- you walk in, you can vote anywhere, basically. And how do you know it gets to the precinct you're from? It's not that I think anybody is trying to do anything wrong, it's just really a complicated system. One of those iPads breaks down, things change a lot. And so I'm hoping you all decide to go to a primary next time.
COOPER: Let's go -- this is Ellen Koons (ph). She's an account manager for a software company. She's undecided. Ellen?
QUESTION: Hi, thank you. Many people in middle America voted for Trump. I'm from middle America, a small farm town in Illinois. My parents are farmers. And it's no secret farmers have been negatively impacted by Trump's trade wars. Yet many of the farmers and workers are supporting him and not many candidates have publicly addressed these concerns. What would you do with these trade wars? And how would you convince middle America you're going to make their lives better?
COOPER: We have about two minutes left.
BIDEN: Number one, I spend a lot of time dealing with farm, f-a-r-m, policy. And they should become the new -- the first net zero emitters in the world and get paid for doing it, so you much more opportunity on your land.
But, number two, middle America, starting in my home state of Pennsylvania, working where -- these are people that I grew up with, these are ordinary, hardworking Americans who bust their neck every day and they're getting battered, they're getting battered, they're getting battered across the way -- just across the board.
And they're not safe in their schools because of the gun policy. They're not safe in their neighborhoods. They're not safe in a position where they don't have the health care they need. They're worried about whether or not they're going to get an even shot to be able to make it, whether or not they're going to be in a position where -- it used to be -- and I'll end with this -- it used to be in America -- let me put it this way.
The middle class built this country, not Wall Street. The middle class.
And unions -- and unions built the middle class. Never -- no, I mean it -- never, ever, ever have we given the American people an even shot they've ever let the country down. Never, never, never. There's not a thing beyond our capacity, nothing, if we remember this is the United States of America, we can do anything if we set our mind to it, and do it together, treat people decently, honorably, and fairly. There's nothing beyond our capacity.
COOPER: Vice President Joe Biden, thanks very much for joining us.
Coming up next, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren joins my colleague Erin Burnett. Stay right there.