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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Town Hall with Se. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Presidential Candidate. Aired 9-10p Et
Aired February 20, 2020 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BURNETT: And we are live from Sahara Las Vegas tonight. Welcome back to CNN's town hall event. I'm Erin Burnett.
The Democrats are making their final pitch to voters here in Nevada, and tonight some of those voters will have a chance to ask questions directly to the candidates, trying to earn their support.
Now, you just heard from former Vice President Joe Biden. And now to another Democrat who's fighting for a strong showing in Saturday's caucuses. Please welcome Senator Elizabeth Warren.
WARREN: Good to see you.
BURNETT: Good to see you again. Thank you.
WARREN: So, I've brought something with me today. Now last night, in the debate -- if I can, just for a minute here, last night in the debate, I had an exchange with Mayor Bloomberg about the question about sexual harassment and discrimination, that it occurred, and there have been many allegations about this, and he said on the stage that, no, it had just really been about a few jokes that he had told, that people hadn't been able to take a joke.
And that -- but the people on the other side, we think mostly women, had to sign non-disclosure agreements, which means they are legally bound not to tell their side of the story, he can tell his side of the story, but they can't tell theirs. And so I asked him if he would release all of those people from the non-disclosure agreements.
This is an election for president of the United States, and transparency here is important. So I used to teach contract law. And I thought I would make this easy.
WARREN: I wrote up a release and covenant not to sue. And all that Mayor Bloomberg has to do is download it. I'll text it.
WARREN: Sign it. And then the women, or men, will be free to speak and tell their own stories.
And if I can, I just want to read the relevant language. "Bloomberg and the company release any and all obligations contained in any agreement, including but not limited to, any employment settlement, severance, or non-disclosure agreement between Bloomberg and/or the company and any other person to the extent those obligations preclude the other person from disclosing information relating to sexual harassment, discrimination, or other misconduct at the company or by Bloomberg himself. Under this release, it is now the other person's choice to disclose such information or not."
I think that the mayor should sign this and that we all have a right to see.
BURNETT: So last night at the debate, when you talked about the this with him, you know, look, you came at him, you went right at him, you called him -- you were quoting, a billionaire who calls women "fat broads" and "horse-faced lesbians." That's what you said last night. Now one of his responses...
WARREN: Let me just be clear. That's what he said. I was quoting him on those words.
BURNETT: So his response -- one of his responses to what you said, was that maybe they didn't like a joke I told.
BURNETT: That he was implying this was an off-color joke that he made. What's your reaction to that?
WARREN: That just doesn't cut it.
BURNETT: So do you think that would be disqualifying in and of itself to be president of the United States?
WARREN: Yes, I do. I think that when a man, who is a billionaire -- you know, can we all just remember the power relationship about what's going on here? Who calls people names like "fat broad" and "horse- faced lesbian," and who knows what else, because of the non-disclosure agreements, that when a man who is a billionaire throws that kind of thing out there, and then when someone finally -- think what that must be like, to work in a company or to be someone else trying to make it in that field, and you're up against the owner of the company, a multi-multi-billionaire, someone finally says, this is bad enough, I'm going to raise a complaint, I'm going to go to a lawyer, or I'm going to go to H.R., I'm going to raise a complaint. You've got to admit, that takes a lot to be able to do that, and that
the consequence of it is he dumps some money on it and then stuffs a gag in the woman's mouth. If he's not willing to remove those gags and let those women and maybe those men talk, then he is disqualified from being president of the United States.
BURNETT: So you have said, and this is important, when you say disqualifying, because you have said you'll support the Democratic nominee for president.
WARREN: I will support the Democratic nominee.
BURNETT: What if it's Michael Bloomberg?
WARREN: Look, I will support the Democratic nominee because i believe that everyone on that stage would make a better president than Donald Trump. I'm in.
BURNETT: So I just want to be clear, you would support Michael Bloomberg even though he called someone a "horse-faced lesbian"?
WARREN: Look, but what we've got right now is a chance for the Nevada voters to make sure that Michael Bloomberg is not our nominee, and that's what I'm asking for.
BURNETT: So but you just said he should be disqualified.
WARREN: I do believe he should be disqualified and I'm out here making that pitch to the voters every single day. They will make the decision whether he's disqualified or not, in the same way that the Republicans made the decision whether or not Donald Trump was disqualified. I'd like to think the Democratic Party is better than having an arrogant billionaire who harasses women and engages in sexual discrimination for its leader.
BURNETT: But how would you be able to support him then if he's the nominee?
WARREN: Look, at the end of the day, it's going to be Donald Trump versus someone and what I can guarantee is, I'm liking someone.
WARREN: I may not like him very much, but I'm liking him.
(LAUGHTER) BURNETT: I want to get to audience questions, Senator.
WARREN: OK, please do.
BURNETT: Robb Woldman is from Henderson. He works in the banking industry. And he was leaning towards supporting you but after last night's debate he says he is definitely supporting you. Robb, welcome.
WARREN: Oh, thank you. Hi.
QUESTION: Hi. You earned it last night.
WARREN: Oh, thank you, what a nice thing to say.
QUESTION: It seems you and Senator Sanders may differ on a few issues of nuances -- or nuances, but generally have a similar progressive vision for the country. Why do you feel that Sanders has be able to recently lead with that message, winning Iowa and New Hampshire? And what is your plan to regain that energy and excitement that you enjoyed late last summer?
WARREN: So it's a wonderful question and I think the answer is a little bit about last night. You know, I need to do what I've done pretty much all my life, and that is get out there and fight for working families. That's me. That's what I do.
WARREN: Of all the people on that stage last night, regardless of age, I have been in electoral politics the shortest amount of time. I didn't spend my life thinking, president, or senator.
WARREN: I spent my life on what was happening to working families in America. I was a teacher and a researcher. And I kept watching year by year by year as life just got tougher and tougher for working people, for America's middle class, to watch it just hollowed out, to watch how this country was just stepping on poor people and making it harder and harder for them, but at the very same moment, none of that was happening because our country was getting poorer.
Indeed, our country was getting richer but the riches were all being sucked to the top. I watched year by year and I kept talking about the changes we need to make. In the late 1990s, I kept warning about the coming crisis over mortgages, how these mortgage companies had figured out that they could target communities of color, African- American communities, Latino communities, go to those communities and sell them the worst of the worst mortgages, mortgages that take people that already own their homes and in two years knock them out of their homes, take that home back and sell it to someone else. They eventually so perfected this that they sold those mortgages all across this country, and they crashed our economy. Now, I was out there saying, look what's happening. I rang every
alarm bell I could ring. But nobody wanted to hear it. The banks were making money. The federal regulators were deep in the pockets of the banks. And everybody else was just out there, lamb to be sheared.
And so I got in that fight. That's why I was right here in Nevada in 2008, holding hearings about the banks that were taking away homes from your neighbors, maybe from in some of you in this room. That was one of the many fights I got in. Ultimately it led me to fight from the political end of this, to be an elected official.
But all I can do here tonight and for as long as I am in this race, as long as I've got breath in my body, is to fight for working families, to make this an America that isn't just about all the riches get sucked up to the top. It's about giving everybody in this country a chance. And that's what I'm going to keep bringing. Thank you. Thank you.
BURNETT: I want to bring in Gabrielle Hartman. She is a student at UNLV, Senator.
BURNETT: She is a supporter of yours. Gabrielle, go ahead.
WARREN: Hi, Gabrielle.
WARREN: What year are you at -- are you undergrad at UNLV?
QUESTION: I'm an undergrad, yes.
WARREN: All right, all right, have at it.
QUESTION: Thank you. So my question is, how do you plan on getting the ultra-rich to pay taxes when they're actively evading and dodging their fair share? And how will you respond to their possible backlash and protests?
WARREN: OK. So...
WARREN: I love this question, Gabrielle. Let me start with, it's time for a wealth tax in America.
WARREN: Basic idea here is that it is a two-cent tax on fortunes above $50 million. So your first $50 million free and clear. (INAUDIBLE), woman is not unreasonable, right? But on your 50- millionth-and-first dollar, you have got to pitch in two cents, two cents on every dollar after that. And when you hit a billion, you have got to put in a few pennies more. OK. That's the basic idea.
And by the way, just so everyone is following. Anyone in here own a home or grow up in a family that owned a home? Yes, you've all paid a wealth tax. It's just called a property tax. Yes, every year. And all I'm saying is for millionaires and billionaires, maybe their property tax should include the real estate but also the stock portfolio, the diamonds, the Rembrandt, and the yacht.
WARREN: That's the basic idea. And here's the thing. Here's what you're going to love about this, Gabrielle. This is an idea that will raise a ton of money. And I want to talk about the things we can do with it in a little bit. But it is supported by Democrats, independents, and Republicans. Get that. This is something that is popular across America.
Why? Because Americans, regardless of party affiliations, understand they're getting the short end of the stick. Just to give you an idea, the 99 percent last year paid about 7.2 percent of your total wealth in taxes. That topped 0.1 percent, 3.2 percent, less than half. Can we have just a little basic fairness in this country? Ask those guys to pitch in two cents and let's invest in a whole generation of young people.
I'm going to get this done.
BURNETT: Senator, there's some breaking news tonight, and I know you're on the trail so I'm sure if you've heard this. But we're reporting that the intelligence community's top election security official told lawmakers, there was a briefing, told them that Russia is already taking steps to interfere in the 2020 election. And the briefing was about Russia having a preference for President Trump because they believe that he is someone they can work with.
Now, you are a current sitting senator.
BURNETT: What are you going to do about this?
WARREN: Look, what we're going to about this is we're going to keep pushing Mitch McConnell to tighten security around our election. What is deeply worrisome about this is we now live in an America where one political party seems to think that political interference helps them in an election. And that makes the challenge enormous.
Even so, I sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee, we get the security briefings. There are a lot of good people in this government who are not political, a lot of good people who want to get out there and do what is right. So I think we speak to those people, we push at the political side.
But here is the third part of it, this really is going to be up to you, to you and to people all across this country. Let's face it. We cannot afford to win in November by a little tiny bit. We've got to win by so much that no one can deny.
WARREN: So everybody out and winning. That's what we're going to do.
BURNETT: I want to bring in to you Seth, Seth Penrod. He is a health and wellness educator who is currently undecided, Senator Warren, but strongly leaning towards supporting you.
WARREN: All right.
BURNETT: Welcome, Seth.
WARREN: It's good to see you.
QUESTION: Thank you for taking my question, Senator.
WARREN: I'm liking your lean, OK.
QUESTION: Make it relaxed.
QUESTION: If you're in the White House, what steps would you take to assure the American people that the Department of Justice would be a credible independent branch and also keep a consistent attorney general?
WARREN: Yes, so good question. So, you know, for me, as you know, I have spent a big part of my life teaching law. And I believe in the rule of law. And I believe that that means we need a Justice Department with an attorney general whose loyalty and the loyalty oath they take is not to an individual human being who sits in the White House. The loyalty oath they take is to the Constitution of the United States of America.
WARREN: I will have an attorney general who takes that oath seriously. I will ask that attorney general to enforce our civil rights laws.
I will ask that attorney general to enforce our efforts to shut down white supremacy in this country. (APPLAUSE)
It is domestic terrorism that threatens us.
I will permit -- I will encourage this Justice Department to do what a Justice Department is supposed to do, investigate crimes without interference from the White House. That is my pledge to you.
BURNETT: So you have said you will create -- your words -- an independent DOJ task force to investigate crimes by Trump administration officials?
BURNETT: That's what you've said. So what do you say to critics who say, "Well, that's weaponizing the Justice Department, just like you're saying President Trump has done"?
WARREN: No, listen to the first word, "independent."
Look, we live in an America right now where the president of the United States has effectively said publicly that, if anyone breaks the law helping him, he will intervene and either offer a pardon or at least a reduced sentence. That is a lawlessness that we have never seen in this country before.
If that becomes the pattern in America, that each person who becomes president says, in effect, "Forget the oath you took to the Constitution and instead just become the henchman of whoever is the president," our country changes. We lose one of the fundamental principles of our democracy.
So what I have said is -- I want everyone to hear it who's in the administration right now -- if you get out there and break the law now serving this president, he may be willing to look the other way, but President Warren will not look the other way.
BURNETT: Ulises Romero is a student at Advanced Training Institute. He is currently supporting Senator Bernie Sanders.
QUESTION: Hi, Senator Warren.
WARREN: Hi, good to see you.
QUESTION: My question is the Trump administration ended DACA in 2017. Since then, my loved ones who could apply for the program are graduating without opportunity of work and keep pursuing their dream. DACA is under the threat to end completely. ICE said they will deport DACA recipients if it ends.
How will you ensure all immigrants have a pathway to citizenship?
WARREN: All right. Thank you very much for the question.
WARREN: I'd like to start with just a statement of values. Immigration does not make this nation weaker; immigration makes this country stronger.
We need to expand legal immigration. And now let's talk specifically about DACA.
I spent a lot of time right here in Nevada with mixed-status families. And I heard the stories of what this is like, even from people who have their own citizenship, what it's like to come home in the evening and to call out and not be sure if your father will be there, if your grandmother will be there, if your auntie may have been picked up by an immigration raid.
That has to stop in America. I support DACA. But that is not enough. We need a pathway to citizenship for all of our neighbors, friends and loved ones who are here.
Now, two things about this. The first, I will do what I can do as president, all alone. And that means I will make sure that these raids that sweep through our neighborhoods stop. We will not engage in this kind of deportation. It is wrong.
But, second, in order to create a path to citizenship, we have to have Congress. That's something a president is not permitted to do alone. So to create that path to citizenship, I want everyone here to think about this. What are going to be the obstacles?
Because you know me. I not only have a plan for what I want to do; I have a plan to get it done.
And on immigration reform, the serious question is, for all of the senators,
including Senator Sanders, who still support keeping the filibuster, you're going to have to find 60 votes to get it done.
My view is, if Mitch McConnell tries to do to me what he did to Barack Obama, and that is to try to block whatever you're trying to do, then I'm all for rolling back the filibuster, and that means we could get immigration reform on 50 votes, which is a lot more likely to make it happen.
I have a plan for immigration reform and a plan to get it done.
BURNETT: Jolie Lindley is a teacher here in Las Vegas.
WARREN: Hi, Jolie. You teach?
WARREN: What do you teach?
QUESTION: I teach journalism and English to eighth graders.
WARREN: Woo-hoo, eighth graders.
You are a brave woman.
BURNETT: She's leaning towards supporting...
QUESTION: I've been doing it a long time, so...
WARREN: You persist. All right.
BURNETT: Go ahead, Jolie.
QUESTION: So my question is how do we break through the inherent bias in the national media coverage of the women candidates for president...
QUESTION: ... versus the men?
In 2016 Hillary Clinton -- Hillary Clinton had an illness, and the narrative for weeks was "Is she fit enough to serve?"
We've seen Senator Sanders have a heart attack on the trail in this campaign cycle, and he has not been subjected to the same scrutiny.
How, in 2020, do we overcome this sexism? WARREN: So it's a question we all struggle with every day. And --
and I have to say, it's one that is really tough for women candidates. I'm just going to be blunt about this -- you know, because you, kind of, get caught in between. If you complain about it, then you're whining. And if you don't complain about it, the rest of the women think, "What planet are you living on?"
And so you get caught in between the two.
So here's how I see this. We have to -- we have to recognize that the world has changed since 2016. And how do I know that? I'm here in Nevada with a woman majority state legislature.
Democrats took back not only Nevada but state legislatures around the country, got more seats, got more statewide offices and took back the House of Representatives because women ran and women won.
So here's what I think it's going to take. I think it's going to take calling it out. You've just got to name it. You've got to name it over and over and over, and keep saying, "This isn't right; look what you've done; we've got to change this."
But the second is, nothing is going to work nearly as well as electing a woman president of the United States. I'm ready.
BURNETT: All right, Senator, we're going to take a very brief break...
BURNETT: ... and everyone please stay right there. We'll be right back with more from Senator Elizabeth Warren.
BURNETT: Welcome back to our CNN Democratic presidential town hall. Tonight I am joined by Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is back with me now.
So at the debate...
(UNKNOWN): President (ph) Warren! (LAUGHTER)
BURNETT: At the debate here in Las Vegas last night, you took on Senator Sanders, saying Democrats are worried about gambling on a revolution that won't bring along the majority of this country.
Do you think that Senator Sanders is too risky to be your party's nominee?
WARREN: Look, I think that Democrats want to beat Donald Trump. And they're nervous. They're nervous.
And they want to find the strongest candidate. And they're nervous about a narrow vision that just doesn't speak to the Americans who see real problems and want to see real change. But they are also worried about gambling on a revolution that won't bring along a majority of this country.
It is -- I am a Democrat, through and through. I have rock-solid values. And I know how to get things done. I speak to all parts of our party, and with things like the wealth tax, speak to independent and Republicans.
Look, I've spent my life fighting for working families, not fighting for Democratic families, fighting for working families, fighting to rebuild a middle class, fighting for poor people who have been left behind, because I believe this is the way that we win, that we beat Donald Trump, and even more importantly, that we bring our nation together and become the nation of our best values.
That's why I'm in this fight. That's why I'm here.
BURNETT: So you said on your website that you would, and the word you used was "disavow," any Super PACs that were formed to support you, right?
BURNETT: You've talked about your grassroots fund-raising.
BURNETT: Now there's a Super PAC here in Nevada...
BURNETT: ... that's actually been spending six figures on your behalf. And this morning you were asked about it. You didn't disavow the group. Did you change your mind on Super PACs overall? WARREN: So from the first day I got in this campaign, I said to
anybody who runs for president, "Let's do this without Super PACs. Let's all agree. Before they've gotten into it, before people have invested money in this, let's all just agree we will all say no Super PACs."
Nobody took me up on it. So I tried again and I tried again and I tried again. And what was the answer over and over and over? Not a single other candidate would agree with me. So I haven't changed my position.
Look, if the other candidates would all say, "You know, you're right; let's do the primary from this point forward without Super PACs, I'll lead the charge. Let's do it. Let's all disavow Super PACs.
Let's make this about the money that goes through our campaigns. That's what I'd like to do. And that's what I'll keep fighting for.
BURNETT: So on your website, I know you're saying this is a matter of practicality, but on your website, it does say Elizabeth rejects the help of Super PACs and would disavow any Super PAC formed to support her in the Democratic primary.
BURNETT: You're saying that's changed? You're reversing?
WARREN: No, I am not. What I'm saying is, come on, Democrats, all of us should disavow Super PACs. And I should add to this, this is also about the billionaire in the race, or the billionaires in the race. And that is, they have the equivalent of a Super PAC. It's known as their sock drawer.
You know, they reach in, kind of pull out $100 million, and drop it on the campaign. So it really should be all of it. Either we're going to run campaigns that have unlimited spending or we're going to have campaigns where the money goes through the campaign, in which case everybody plays by the same set of limits.
I think we all ought to be running campaigns where all the money comes through the campaign and everybody plays by the same limits and the same disclosures. That's what I believe. I still believe it. I believed it the first day I got in this race, and I believe it today. And I hope every other Democrat -- I'll call for it again -- will join me, and let's all agree to get rid of the Super PACs.
BURNETT: So you're saying because they can't, because they haven't...
WARREN: They can, of course they can.
BURNETT: ... it has made it impossible for you do it?
WARREN: They can. All of us can do this. Come on, Democrats, where you on this? Let's get rid of the Super PACs. Let's do it together.
BURNETT: Our next question is from Amy Forton. She is a professional counselor here in Henderson. She is deciding between Senator Bernie Sanders and yourself. Amy, welcome.
WARREN: Hi, Amy.
QUESTION: Hi, Senator Warren. I'm a mental health care provider in Nevada. Every day I see patients struggling to receive the services that they need as a result of either insufficient insurance coverage or lack of mental health care programs. After the Route 91 attack here in Las Vegas, many people were traumatized by this horrific event and needed counseling. As president, what would you do to make sure that people who need it have access to mental health care?
WARREN: OK, so it's a wonderful question. And thank you for the work that you do. I know this has been a really hard time for Las Vegas, for Nevada. And you really have shown what it takes to come back. And it's been amazing.
QUESTION: Thank you.
WARREN: But, look, a big part of this is we need to make sure that everyone has the full health care coverage they need, and that includes mental health care, full services.
Medicare for all makes certain that everyone has access to the health care that they need. And I just want to say for a minute about this, how it is that mental health has been separated out as if it is somehow different. And look at how it is treated. You show up in the emergency room with a broken leg, nobody says, "We can work you in, in three weeks, just go home and tough it out for three weeks." You may spend a little time in the waiting room but we measure it in hours. We don't measure it in weeks.
And yet for mental health, even people in crisis, because there's just not enough beds or treatment. You know, no one says, well, you have cancer and you had four treatments and I'm sorry, that's all your policy covers. No. You get the treatments until your cancer is cured. That's the basic idea.
But with mental health, with substance abuse, with issues that people are having, the answer is often, sorry, that's all you get. No, mental health parity means people get the full health care services they need, and that includes mental health and physical health. So I'm all in on this one, 100 percent.
I also want to say just one more quick thing, because I promised a friend of mine I would do this. When we talk about mental health issues, there's still enormous stigma in this country. People will talk about a brother who broke his leg or even a sister who's struggling with cancer, but they don't like to talk about mental health issues. And the consequence of that is many people do not receive the care they need, many families don't know how to help.
So I just want to say: Schizophrenia is a health problem in America. Bipolar disorder is a health problem in America.
Suicide is a problem in America that we all need to address.
It is important that we talk about these issues in the same way we talk about other health issues. We love our brothers and sisters, our moms and our dads, our kids who struggle. And we need to make that struggle a little easier by making sure that we've got full health care coverage for everyone and that we can talk about it in a loving and open way and help people toward recovery.
Thank you. Thank you.
BURNETT: Joan Lima works as a community relations manager for a nonprofit helping homeless and low-income families here in Nevada. And I know you're currently undecided. So please go ahead with your question, Joan.
WARREN: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you, Senator. In the city of Las Vegas, a new law makes it illegal for homeless individuals to sleep or camp in designated areas on the streets when shelter beds are available. If you are elected president, please share how you would solve issues such as chronic homelessness and affordable housing.
WARREN: OK, so thank you.
You may know, I actually opposed this law in Las Vegas. My view was...
... it criminalizes being poor. It's not like folks who are sleeping on the street have an alternative of their own two-bedroom, two-bath condo and they just decided to sleep on the street. This is a problem of poverty across our country.
It is also, though, a problem particularly about housing. We've got a housing crisis in this country. You know it here in Las Vegas. Wow, do they know it in Reno. It's also true in rural areas.
And here's the basic problem. For generations, the way we built housing in America is two parts. The federal government was doing its part. It was building affordable housing, it was helping subsidize the development of more housing units. I grew up in one of those houses. Two bedrooms, one bath, garage converted to hold my three brothers. That was the house I grew up in.
But today, no developer is building that house. The developers have all moved to the high end, right, they're all building McMansions. And I'm not mad at them. It's just that's where the money is. That's where the profits are.
And the federal government that used to build affordable housing, current federal law basically states the federal government can't bring any more affordable housing units online unless it takes other affordable housing offline. So think about how crazy that is.
Housing deteriorates over time. So we have a shrinking housing supply, a growing population, and no help from the federal government. I plan to fix that. I've got a plan to build 3.2 million new housing units across this country. I've got it fully paid for.
And just one quick thing on the housing. It's housing across the board. It's housing for middle-class families who want to be able to have a chance to buy a home. For working families, for the working poor, for the poor poor. It's housing for the homeless. It's housing for veterans. It's housing for seniors who want to age in place.
It's housing for people with disabilities who need accessible housing. It's housing for people who've been incarcerated and are trying to make it back into their communities.
We need affordable housing in this country across the board. And that means we need to be willing to put federal resources in to get it done. We can make this country work for everyone. And that means a safe, affordable place to live. That's the kind of America I want us to be.
I'll fight for this.
BURNETT: Nancy Zeigler (ph) is a high school special education teacher. She is from Las Vegas, currently undecided, but leaning towards supporting Senator Sanders. Please, Nancy, go ahead with your question.
QUESTION: Hello, Senator Warren.
WARREN: Hi, Nancy.
QUESTION: Does your commitment to the environment include a ban on the export of American oil?
WARREN: So what I want to see us do -- I hadn't thought about it in terms of that specific part. What I want to see us do is get off an oil economy, and not only for ourselves, but for the rest of the world. I want to see us move entirely to green.
And let me say on this, I not only support a Green New Deal, I don't think it goes far enough. I also have a Blue New Deal, because we've got to be thinking about our oceans, as well, that we need to protect.
So I'm glad to talk about all parts of climate. But let me just -- I'll do two quick things around it. Climate is the existential threat. And here is the part that scares me. Every time the scientists go back and collect more data and put it into their models, the problem is worse than we thought and we have less time than we thought.
So the urgency of the moment is upon us.
How are we going to fix this problem? In the biggest sense -- I'm going to say something very controversial in Washington, I feel safe here to say it -- I believe in science.
A tenfold increase in science. And then whatever we invent to help clean up this country, the oceans, and around the world, American taxpayers paid for the research and development, that you can build using that research, but you've got to build it here in the United States. That will produce millions of union jobs, good union manufacturing jobs.
One other thing. I will not talk about climate without talking about climate justice.
Because for decades, this country has permitted the polluting factories, the toxic waste dumps, to be put in African-American and Latino communities, over and over and over. It is destroying people's health. It has destroyed their economies. I make a trillion dollar commitment that America will own up to what we've done wrong and we will clean up these communities. It's our responsibility. Thank you.
BURNETT: Stacey Wolff is a middle school English teacher, I believe, and she's currently undecided. Stacey, go ahead.
WARREN: Hi, Stacey.
QUESTION: Good evening, Senator. We have a nationwide teacher shortage that is getting worse by the year.
QUESTION: Senator Sanders has addressed part of the issue by promising to raise the starting salary for teachers nationwide to $60,000 a year. That's a good start. What plans do you have to attract new teachers and, more importantly, to retain experienced teachers?
WARREN: All right. It's a great question. Let me start with the fact that I have known what I wanted to be since second grade. I wanted to be a public school teacher. So...
And I made it. It was a long and bumpy path in my family. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. But I became a special education teacher. I had 4- to 6-year-olds. And I loved that job. In fact, I'd probably still be doing that job today, but at the end of the first year, I was visibly pregnant, and the principal did what principals did in those days, wished me luck and hired someone else for the job. So that's how I ended up going to law school and ended up teaching in law school.
But back to your question. So here's how we do this, I believe. Remember my two-cent wealth tax? It produces a lot of money, right? So what do we do with the money? There are a lot of things we could do with the money. For me, it's all about investing in our children.
So here's how I think of it. We can take the two-cent wealth tax and provide -- now, stay with me on this -- universal childcare and early childhood education for every single baby in this country, age zero to 5.
Universal pre-K for every 3-year-old and 4-year-old in America.
And we can stop exploiting the largely women, largely black and brown women, who do this work. Part of my budget says we will increase the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher in America. So that's what we can do for our babies.
What we can do K-12 is that my two-cent wealth tax permits us to put an historic $800 billion of federal investment into our public schools.
Think what that means. Quadruple the funding for Title I schools, so that we can truly pay our teachers and make sure our kids get a start, a fair start here. And, for the first time ever in history, fully fund IDEA so children with disabilities will get the full educational opportunities they need.
We can also bring more young teachers in by providing tuition-free technical two-year college, four-year college for anyone who wants to get an education, increasing Pell Grants so people who come from low- income backgrounds have a chance, put $50 billion into our historically black colleges and universities, which turn out a huge number of our teachers, and for people who are already teachers, we can cancel student loan debt for 43 million Americans.
So lots of ways to come at this. Because this is a values question. What kind of an America do we want to be? Do we want to be an America that says that two cents stays with the millionaires and billionaires in these funds that already have
their own money managers and their own PR firms? They're already growing at, what, 6 percent, 8 percent, 10 percent a year? Or do we say, guys, 2 percent, and with that money, we invest in an entire generation? That's how we build a future in America. That's what I will fight for.
BURNETT: You mentioned...
WARREN: For your kids.
BURNETT: You mentioned your first job.
BURNETT: Which was, you said, 4- to 6-year-olds, special needs children, speech therapist.
WARREN: That's right.
BURNETT: Is what you were -- OK. What was the most important thing you learned? And you were yourself, to emphasize this, very, very young at the time.
WARREN: Yes, I was. I was. I learned that you never give up. You never give up on someone else, because that's what being a teacher is all about, that you try and you try, and sometimes -- sometimes you don't seem to be there. But that means it's up to me then to try another way and try another way.
I loved those babies. And I loved having this opportunity to be able to just let them be a little more of who they were. These were mostly children who couldn't communicate. And finding just a little bit of a way that they could communicate with their families, that they could communicate with a friend or a sister, it opened up another world for them.
And so I learned, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how steep the road looks, no matter how many times it looks like it's not moving forward, you just don't give up. Never give up.
BURNETT: Senator Warren, thank you. We do have more questions for Senator Warren, and we'll get to those after a very brief break.
BURNETT: And welcome back. We are live from Sahara Las Vegas with Senator Elizabeth warren. And I want to get back to audience questions. Senator, Victor Gutierrez is a server at a hotel here in Las Vegas, Victor.
WARREN: Hi, Victor.
BURNETT: He also runs his own graphics business and is currently leaning towards supporting you. Please, go ahead, Victor.
WARREN: Hi, Victor.
QUESTION: Thank you so much for being here.
WARREN: Thank you.
QUESTION: And welcome to Las Vegas.
WARREN: Thank you.
I'm having fun. I get out and walk every morning here in Vegas. I've been having fun.
QUESTION: Great. So happy to have you. I was fortunate enough to be able to be a delegate for Hillary in 2016, went through the county convention, went through the state convention, spent a lot of time there.
QUESTION: When she announced her VP running mate, even I was like, who the heck is this guy?
WARREN: Now, now. Uh-huh.
QUESTION: I truly believe that hurt her chances and it contributed to her loss. Would your running mate be someone we'd be proud of, have faith in, and actually know?
WARREN: Oh, yes.
QUESTION: Would you consider any of your fellow candidates as a potential running mate and, hopefully down the road, part of your cabinet?
WARREN: Both current people who are running and past?
QUESTION: People that are qualified to do the job.
WARREN: Yes, yes. And they are. You know, I want to say a word about this because -- great question. Let me tell you exactly the kind of vice president I want. I want somebody who will be in this fight alongside me for your families. That's the whole idea. There is so much we need to do.
So many pieces that we need to work on. So I want someone who feels this fight passionately and who brings his or her or their own energy to this to get it done. That's what I'm looking for in a vice president. We're going to make this happen. OK, I love your suggestions.
BURNETT: You mentioned -- you mentioned also past candidates. I mean, specifically, which candidates would you consider?
WARREN: Oh, come on.
It would be presumptuous, and it really would, to start naming names. But I do want to say, I am deeply grateful to the people who got into this race to begin with. Look, everybody who did it, did it out of the sense of patriotism, of trying to bring their ideas to the national stage. And I'm grateful for that. And -- and for many of them, when they dropped out, tried to bring in people from their team, their volunteers, and make them a part of our campaign.
My campaign is bigger and stronger now because I have people who are working on it who are from Julian's campaign, who are from Kamala's campaign, who worked with Cory, who worked with Bullock from Montana, Jay Inslee. And I love it.
Someone was taking a picture the other day when I was at one of our campaign headquarters. And I held up their camera, it said, "Kamala." And I thought, yeah, you bet, because Kamala has a great voice. She brought great ideas to this. And I want that to be a part of this campaign. That's how we build an inclusive campaign.
And Julian Castro, who has endorsed me, who is out on the line. (APPLAUSE)
I swear to you, I could not ask for a better partner than Julian. So let's hear it for the folks who care about this.
BURNETT: Senator, we all appreciate your time tonight. Thank you so very much for being with us. And I want to thank all of you for your patience and your questions.
WARREN: Thank you.
BURNETT: We appreciate it. Be sure to watch CNN's special live coverage of the Nevada caucuses on Saturday. And on Monday, please join us for two more presidential town halls, live from Charleston, South Carolina. At 8:00 Eastern, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will join us, followed by Senator Bernie Sanders. And then on Wednesday night, four more presidential candidates. At 7:00 p.m., Senator Amy Klobuchar joins us, 8:00 p.m. Vice President Joe Biden, 9:00 p.m., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and at 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, we will welcome back Senator Elizabeth Warren.
From all of us here in Las Vegas, thank you so much for watching. "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon is coming up right after this.