Read: Democratic Debate Transcript, March 15, 2020

Read the transcript of CNN and Univision’s Democratic presidential debate. The live event is moderated by Dana Bash, Ilia Calderón, and Jake Tapper at CNN’s Washington DC bureau without the press and live audience because of coronavirus outbreak.

Photo: CNN

JAKE TAPPER:  Good evening from Washington, D.C.  And welcome to this unique event, the CNN-Univision Democratic presidential debate with the two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. 

Candidates, welcome, it's good to have you.  I'm Jake Tapper, along with CNN's Dana Bash and Univision's Ilia Calderon

Photo credit: CNN

DANA BASH:  We come together tonight at an extraordinary time in our country when people are worried about far more than just presidential politics.  We're in a national emergency because of the devastating global pandemic of coronavirus.  It has killed nearly 6,000 people around the world, and 65 dead and more than 3,300 known cases here in the United States.  As a result, tonight's debate will focus heavily on the crisis. 

ILIA CALDERON:  The setting of this debate is also different.  To reduce unnecessary risk of transmission of the virus, CNN, Univision, the Democratic National Committee, and the campaigns moved this debate from Phoenix, Arizona, to here at CNN studios in Washington, without any audience.  

TAPPER:  And all of this comes, of course, as four more states -- Florida, Arizona, Ohio, and Illinois -- prepare to vote on Tuesday, with Vice President Biden currently leading Senator Sanders in the race for delegates. 

Here's what we're going to do tonight.  Each of you will have 90 seconds to answer questions and 45 seconds for responses and rebuttals.  As much as we can, we hope this will be a conversation between the two of you. 

So let's begin with the most important issue right now:  the coronavirus and what you would do as president in the face of it.  Vice President Biden, let me start with you.  We're in a reality right now that might have seemed unimaginable a week ago.  Schools have been cancelled for more than 25 million students.  Grocery store shelves have been cleared out.  March Madness, NBA games, Disney parks, Broadway, small businesses all shut down, and just today, the CDC issued a new recommendation that for the next eight weeks events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S. be cancelled or postponed. 

What do you say to the American people who are confronting this new reality?  

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:  Well, first of all, my heart goes out to those who have already lost someone or those who are suffering from the virus.  And this is bigger than any one of us.  This calls for a national rallying to everybody move together. 

And, you know, I laid out in detail what I would do were I president today.  You can go to joebiden.com.  I laid it out in significant detail. 

But there are three pieces to this.  First of all, we have to take care of those who, in fact, are exposed or likely to be exposed to the virus.  And that means we have to do testing, we have to get the testing kits up and ready.  I would have the World Health Organization, I'd take advantage of the test kits they have available to us, even though the president says a million or more are coming.  Let's just get all the tests we can, done, as quickly as we can. 

Secondly, I would make sure that every state in the union had at least 10 places where they had drive-thru testing arrangements.  I would also at this point deal with the need to begin to plan for the need for additional hospital beds.  We have that capacity in the Department of Defense, as well as with the FEMA.  And they can set up 100-bed, 500-bed hospitals and tents quickly.  We have to lay all that out. 

But we have to deal with the economic fallout quickly.  And that means making sure that people who, in fact, lose their job, don't get a paycheck, can't pay their mortgage, are able to pay it and pay them now.  And do it now.  Small businesses, be able to borrow interest-free loans.  

I see my time is up here.  Are you going to hold us tightly, I assume, but that's what I would do.  Go to Joebiden.com.  It lays out precisely what I would do were I were president today. 

TAPPER:  Senator Sanders, this morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged that it's possible that hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Americans, could die from coronavirus in a worst-case scenario.  If you were president right now, what's the most important thing you would do tonight to try to save American lives?  

Bernie Sanders ( Photo: CNN)

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:  Well, firstly, we have to do -- whether or not I'm president, is to shut this president up right now, because he is undermining the doctors and the scientists who are trying to help the American people.  It is unacceptable for him to be blabbering with unfactual information, which is confusing the general public.

Second of all, what we need to do -- and I'm glad that he has called a state of national emergency -- what we have got to do is move aggressively to make sure that every person in this country finally understands that when they get sick with the coronavirus, that they will -- that all payments will be made, that they don't have to worry about coming up with money for testing, they don't have to worry about coming up with money for treatment. 

This is an unprecedented moment in American history.  Now, I obviously believe in Medicare for all.  I will fight for that as president. 

But right now, in this emergency, I want every person in this country to understand that when you get sick, you go to the doctor.  When you get sick, if you have the virus, that will be paid for.  Do not worry about the cost right now, because we're in the middle of a national emergency.  

Second of all, we have to make sure that our hospitals have the ventilators that they need, have the IC units that they need.  Right now, we have a lack of medical personnel.  And I worry very much that if there is a peak, whether we have the capability of dealing with hundreds of thousands of people who may be in hospitals.  

So we need unprecedented action right now to deal with the unprecedented crisis.  And bottom line, from an economic point of view, what we have got to say to the American people, if you lose your job, you will be made whole.  You're not going to lose income.  If Trump can put -- or the Fed can president $1.5 trillion into the banking system, we can protect the wages of every worker in America. 

TAPPER:  Thank you, Senator.  

Vice President Biden, President Trump says he does not take any responsibility for the problems with coronavirus testing, in part because, he says, he inherited so many rules, regulations, and red tape.  Did bureaucratic red tape hamper this response in any way?

BIDEN:  No, look, the World Health Organization offered -- offered the testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now.  We refused them.  We did not want to buy them.  We did not want to get them from them.  We wanted to make sure we had our own.  I think he said something like we have the best scientists in America, or something to that effect. 

The idea that we are not prepared for this and not -- and the other thing I want to point out.  And I agree with Bernie.  We're in a situation where we have to now be providing for the hospitals that are going to be needed, needed now.  The present system cannot handle the surge that is likely to come.  

So we should already be sitting down and planning where we're going to put these temporary hospitals.  And we can do that.  We did that -- we've been through this before with the coronavirus.  We've been through this -- I mean, excuse me, we've been through this before with dealing with the viruses that -- the H1N1 -- as well as what happened in Africa.  We provided these hospitals dealing with these great pandemics, and we were able to do it quickly.  And people would have a place to go.  But we also have to provide the equipment to protect the first responders.  And that's not being done, either.

TAPPER:  Senator Sanders, on that note -- and both of you have addressed this -- but, obviously, another major health concern right now for officials is the potential surge in patients all at once, overburdening hospitals, the health care system.  You've mentioned ICU beds, both of you, and ventilators.  

We're already in the middle of flu season, so already a lot of those beds and ventilators are already being used.  If you were president right now, what would you do to make sure every sick American is able to get treatment so the U.S. does not suffer the same fate as Italy, where doctors have to decide right now who gets life-saving treatment and who does not?

SANDERS:  Jake, let's be honest and understand that this coronavirus pandemic exposes the incredible weakness and dysfunctionality of our current health care system.  Now, we're spending twice as much per person on health care as the people of any other country.  How in God's name does it happen that we end up with 87 million people who are uninsured or underinsured and there are people who are watching this program tonight who are saying, "I'm not feeling well.  Should I go to the doctor?  But I can't afford to go to the doctor.  What happens if I am sick?  It's going to cost thousands of for treatment.  Who's going to feed my kids?"

We are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people.  We're spending so much money and yet we are not even prepared for this pandemic.  How come we don't have enough doctors?  How come hospitals in rural areas are shutting down?  How come people can't afford to get the prescription drugs they need because we have a bunch of crooks who are running the pharmaceutical industry, ripping us off every single day?

And I'll tell you something right now.  In the midst of this epidemic, you got people in the pharmaceutical industry who are saying, oh, wow, what an opportunity to make a fortune. 

So the word has got to go out, and I certainly would do this as president:  You don't worry.  People of America, do not worry about the cost of prescription drugs.  Do not worry about the cost of the health care that you're going to get, because we are a nation -- a civilized democratic society.  Everybody, rich and poor, middle class, will get the care they need.  The drug companies will not rip us off. 

BASH:  Thank you, Senator.  Vice President Biden, some medical experts are saying the only true way to control this virus is through a national quarantine, requiring every American, other than essential personnel, to stay home.  Would you take that unprecedented step of a national lockdown?  

BIDEN:  What I would do is what we did in our administration.  I would call a meeting in the Situation Room of all the experts in America dealing with this crisis.  I would sit them down and I would do exactly what we did then.  What is it that we need?  Listen to the experts.  What do we need? 

And with all due respect for Medicare for all, you have a single-payer system in Italy.  It doesn't work there.  It has nothing to do with Medicare for all.  That would not solve the problem at all. 

We can take care of that right now by making sure that no one has to pay for treatment, period, because of the crisis.  No one has to pay for whatever drugs are needed, period, because of the crisis.  No one has to pay for hospitalization because of the crisis, period.  That is a national emergency, and that's how it's handled.  It is not working in Italy right now, and they have a single-payer system.

SANDERS:  Well...

BIDEN:  Now, with regard to what else I would do, the fact is that we're in a position where I would bring together the leading experts in the world.  Instead of doing this -- in the United States -- instead of doing this piecemeal, sit down and do what we did before with the Ebola crisis, what is needed and have one voice, one voice, like we did every day we met in that crisis in the Situation Room, laying out -- so we lay out overall, for all nation, what the best proposal is and how to move forward. 

In the absence of that, governors are making some sound decisions.  They're doing the best they can by going out and getting the health care experts is their communities and their states to move.  But it should be directed from the White House, from the Situation Room, laying out in detail like we did in the Ebola crisis.  And we beat it. 

BASH:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Senator Sanders, your response?  

SANDERS:  Well, first of all, the dysfunctionality of the current health care system is obviously apparent.  As I said earlier, there are people who hesitate going to the doctor.  You're going to have a maze of regulations -- well, if this is my income, if that's my income, can I get it, can I not get it?  Clearly, we are not prepared.  And Trump only exacerbates the crisis. 

When we spend twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation, one might expect that we would have enough doctors all over this country.  One might expect that we would have affordable prescription drugs.  One might expect that we are preparing effectively for a pandemic that we were ready with the ventilators, with the ICUs, with the test kits that we need.  We are not. 

And bottom line here is, in terms of Medicare for all, despite what the vice president is saying, what the experts tell us is that one of the reasons that we are unprepared and have been unprepared is we don't have a system.  We've got thousands of private insurance plans.  That is not a system that is prepared to provide health care to all people. 

In a good year, without the epidemic, we're losing up to 60,000 people who die every year because they don't get to a doctor on time.  It's clearly this crisis is only making a bad situation worse. 

BIDEN:  That has nothing to do when you're in a national crisis.  The national crisis says, we're responding.  It's all free.  You don't have to pay for a thing.  That has nothing to do with whether or not you have an insurance policy.  This is a crisis.  We're at war with the virus.  We're at war with the virus.  It has nothing to do with co-pays or anything.  We just pass a law saying that you do not have to pay for any of this, period.  

SANDERS:  That's not true.  

BIDEN:  Period.

SANDERS:  As a matter of fact, that's not true.  That law has enormous loopholes.  I understand that Nancy Pelosi did her best, Republicans prevented it.

BIDEN:  No, I'm...

SANDERS:  What -- what you're talking about, Joe, here is enormous loopholes within that, that, in fact, it is not necessarily covering treatment for all people in America, and that people are going to be stuck with the bill unless we change that.  And we're going to offer legislation to, in fact, change that.  

Joe Biden ( Photo: CNN )

BIDEN:  If I may, I offered legislation.  I laid out on my plan that it would cover exactly what is not covered by the House.  I laid out in the plan that I laid out for how we would deal with this crisis.  Nobody -- nobody will pay for anything having to do with the crisis.  

This is a national emergency.  There isn't a question of whether or not this is something that could be covered by insurance or anything else.  We, out of the Treasury, are going to pay for this.  It's a national emergency. 

SANDERS:  But you see...

BIDEN:  That's what my plan calls for.  

SANDERS:  But the weakness of this -- let's just do a hypothetical.  Family member's diagnosed with the virus.  Terrible tragedy, massive anxiety.  The wife has the virus, the husband is a wreck, wants to go to a psychologist, wants to get counseling, doesn't have the money to do that.  

Maybe their kid breaks a leg.  They don't have the money to go to health care.  So you're saying right now, in the middle of a crisis, but, you know what, last year at least 30,000 people died in America because they didn't get health care when they should, because we don't have universal coverage.  

I think that's a crisis.  One out of five people in America cannot afford the prescription drugs they need.  They suffer.  Some die.  I consider that a crisis. 

Bottom line is, we need a simple system, which exists in Canada, exists in countries all over the world, and that is, if you are an American, you get the health care you need, end of discussion.  We can save huge sums of money doing that.  The trick is, do we have the guts to take on the health care industry, some of which is funding the vice president's campaign?  Do we have the courage to take on the executives at the prescription drug industry, some of which -- some of whom are funding his campaign?

BASH:  Thank you, Senator.

Vice President Biden?

BIDEN:  Look, I -- this is a national crisis.  I don't want to get this into a back and forth in terms of our politics here.  I've laid out a plan, building on Obamacare, providing a public option of Medicare, it would cover everyone the same way.  This idea that this is his only answer is a mistake in notion.  

But regardless of whether my plan was in place or his, this is a crisis.  This is like we are being attacked from abroad.  This is something that is of great consequence.  This is like a war.  And in a war, you do whatever is needed to be done to take care of your people.  

And what you do is you -- and I have proposed it, laid it out in detail -- everything that you need in terms of dealing with this crisis would be free.  It is paid for by the taxpayers generally.  Generally.  It has nothing to do with Bernie's Medicare for all.  

And by the way...

BASH:  Vice President Biden, thank you.  

SANDERS:  Let me just...

BASH:  If I may, the vice president just mentioned war.  Would you deploy the U.S. military in an effort to contain the virus?  And if so, how? 

SANDERS:  Well, I think we use all of the tools that make sense.  And if using the National Guard, which is folks I think in New York state are already using the National Guard, that is something that has to be done. 

This is clearly, as the vice president indicated, a national emergency.  And what I worry about is not only how we respond aggressively to the virus, but also how we respond aggressively to the economic fallout of a global recession. 

So right now, in Illinois and Ohio, if my memory is correct, the governor there has said they're closing down bars, they're closing down restaurants.  What happens to the workers who are there?  What happens to the millions of workers who may end up losing their jobs?

So what I think we have got to do right now is, if Trump can provide or the Fed can provide a trillion and a half to -- for liquidity for the banks, what we've got to say to every worker in America, you know what, don't panic.  You're not going to -- you'll be able to pay your mortgage, because you're going to get a check.  

BASH:  Senator...

SANDERS:  You're going to be made whole.

BASH:  Senator, we're going to talk about the economic -- oh, go ahead, Mr. Vice President.

BIDEN:  The answer is I would call out the military.  

BASH:  OK.

BIDEN:  Now.  They have the capacity to provide this surge, help that hospitals need, and that is needed across the nation.  I would make sure that they did exactly what they're prepared to do.  They've done it.  They did it in the Ebola crisis.  They've done it.  They have the capacity to build 500-bed hospitals and -- and tents that are completely safe and secure, and provide the help to get it done to anybody -- this overflow.  So it is a national emergency.  I would call out the military. 

SANDERS:  Well, the Ebola crisis is one thing.  This is, obviously, a pandemic, which is far more severe and impactful to this country.  And I think one of the things that we want to remember here is that we got a lot of elderly people in this country who are told stay home, don't leave your house.  Who's going to get food to them?  How do we get food to them?

You got schools all over this country now being shut down.  OK?  How are we going to make sure that the kids do well in this crisis, not become traumatized?  What do we do about the parents now who have to stay home with kids and can't go to work? 

So I think what -- bottom line here is that, in this crisis, we have got to start paying attention to the most vulnerable.  That includes people who are in prison right now, people who are in homeless shelters right now.  What about the half-a-million people who are homeless tonight?  Who's going to respond to them?  

Now, in 2008, when we had the Wall Street bailout, they did very well for the people on top.  They bailed out the crooks on Wall Street.  They forgot about the suffering of ordinary Americans.  This time around, let us learn that lesson.  Let us pay attention to the working families of this country...

BASH:  Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS:  ... and to the most vulnerable.

BIDEN:  We have -- we have learned that lesson.  And again, I lay out in detail what we should be doing now is we should be surging help to those places which are the most vulnerable.  We should have every single person that's in a nursing home being able to be tested.  We should be moving forces in to do that.  We should move in the capability to do that. 

We should be sitting down -- the president should be sitting down in the Situation Room right now and do what we did before and asking the question, OK, you're going to close everything.  Well, if you close everything, how do you get prescriptions that have to be filled?  How do you make sure, when you close that school, those children are going to be able to get the school food program?  How do you make sure that you're going to be able to see to it that you get your mortgage paid?  

BIDEN: ... covered, and it's going to take a multi-multi-billion dollar program to do that. 

But first things first, the first thing is take care of the the immediate needs we have now relating to surging the kind of capability that we have to prevent this great bump in terms of this -- how it's going to cause such pain as well as moving in the direction of making sure we have a long-term plan to make sure it's...   

BASH:  Thank you, Mr. Vice President.  We're going to talk in a moment a lot more about the economic impact. 

But first, Senator Sanders, I want to ask about China.  When this outbreak first started in China, the government there censored the whistleblower doctor who sounded the alarm and downplayed the true gravity of the the virus. 

SANDERS:  Right.  

BASH:  What consequences should China face for its role in this global crisis?  

SANDERS:  Well, one of the consequences is we have got to learn that you cannot lie to the American people.  You cannot be less than frank about the a nature of the crisis.  And what bothers me very much is you have a president of the United States today, Mr. Trump, who is praising China for the good work that they are doing when, in fact, as you indicated, they were lying to their own people and allowing that virus to move much more aggressively than should have been the case. 

Look, I don't think this is the time for recrimination, to be punishing people.  Now is the time, by the way, to be working with China.  They are learning a lot about this crisis.  And, in fact, they -- you know, we have got to work with them.  We have got to work with the World Health Organization.  We have got to work with Italy.  We have got to work with countries around the world. 

If there was ever a moment when the entire world is in this together, got to support each other, this is that moment. 

BIDEN:  That's right.  And if I may respond, that's why I insisted the moment this broke out that we should insist on having our experts in China, in China to see what was happening and make it clear to China there would be consequences if we did not have that access. 

And we have to lead the world.  We should be the ones doing what we did during the Ebola crisis, bringing the whole world together and saying, this is what we must do.  We have to have a common plan.  All nations are affected the same way by this virus depending on exposure.  

And so this is -- we need world leadership.  We need international leadership.  We need someone who knows how to bring the world together and insist on fundamental change in the way in which we're approaching this. 

CALDERON:  Senator Sanders?  

SANDERS:  Well, the bottom line here is that in the midst of this crisis, we have got to act in an unprecedented way.  And that means every country on Earth is going to be affected.  Every country on Earth has got to work together.  It also means that we tell the pharmaceutical industry, we tell the big money interests that this is not a time for profiteering.  This is a time for all of us working together. 

The World Health Organization is a very, very strong organization.  It is sad that we have a president that has ignored the international community in so many ways, including in terms of international health crises. 

CALDERON:  Thank you, Senator Sanders.  

Obviously, another part of this story is the economy, which is reeling from this pandemic.  Many economies are warning of a recession.  Just hours ago the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to near zero percent, which has not happened since the financial crisis in 2008.  

Vice President Biden, what would you do?  

BIDEN:  What I would do is make it clear to the world and make it clear to the United States that we are going to have to have a major, major, major, major bailout package that we do not reward corporations.  We reward individuals who in fact are really put to the test here.  

The problem is the policies of this administration economically have -- we've eaten a lot of our seed corn here.  The ability for us to use levers that were available before have been used up by this godawful tax cut of $1.9 trillion, by the fact that we have used -- the Fed will be of little consequence now.  They have already used what leverage they have. 

And so we're going to have to just level with the American people.  And here's the deal, we're going to have to not only deal with the immediate crisis, economic crisis, which is the most critical now, to let people know their mortgage is going to be paid.  Their rents are going to be paid.  They are going to have child care.  They are going to make sure that all their medical bills are cared for relating to this, et cetera. 

We have to go beyond that.  And we're going to have be in a situation where we're meeting on a daily basis like we did in the middle of the financial crisis to decide how we are going to find the wherewithal and the money to be able to see to it we hold all these folks harmless.  But not, not do what Trump wants to do.  He's -- for example, he came along and said, I've got a great idea, let's -- well, you're going to tell me... 

CALDERON:  Senator Sanders?  

SANDERS:  The Ebola crisis, in my view, exposes the dysfunctionality of the health care system and how poorly prepared we are despite how much money that we spend.  And the Ebola crisis is also, I think, exposing the cruelty and the unjustness of our economy today.  

We have more income and wealth inequality in America today than any time in 100 years.  And what that means that in the midst of this crisis, you know, if you're a multimillionaire, no one is happy about this crisis, you're going to get through it.  You're going to get everything you need.  You're not worried about health care.  You're not worried about income coming in. 

Half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck.  We've got people who are struggling working two or three jobs to put food on the table.  What is going to happen to them?  So the lesson to be learned is we have got to move aggressively right now to address the economic crisis as a result of Ebola -- as a result -- keep talking about Ebola, you've got Ebola in my head here right now. 

As a result of the virus here, the coronavirus, what we have got to do also is understand the fragility of the economy and how unjust and unfair it is that so few have so much and so many have so little.

BIDEN:  People are looking for results, not a revolution.  They want to deal with the results they need right now.  And we can to that by making sure that we make everybody whole who has been so badly hurt.  In terms of their -- they lose the job, in terms of not having the ability to care for their children, in terms of the health care costs that they have relating to the crisis, we can make them whole now, now, and put in process a system whereby they all are made whole. 

That has nothing to do with the legitimate concern about income inequality in America.  That's real.  That's real.  But that does not affect the need for us to act swiftly and very thoroughly and in concert with all of the forces that we need to bring to bear to deal with the crisis now so no one is thrown out of their home.  No one loses their mortgage.  No one is kicked out of their house.  No one loses their paycheck.  No one is in a position where they have a significant financial disability as a consequence of this SARS (ph) -- of this particular crisis.  

CALDERON:  Thank you, Vice President.  

Senator Sanders?  

SANDERS:  Well, I think it goes without saying that as a nation we have to respond as forcefully as we can to the current crisis.  But it is not good enough not to be understanding how we got here and where we want to go into the future.  So how does it happen that today in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, half of our people are scared to death? 

Good, I agree.  In fact, that was my idea originally to make sure that every person in this country is made whole as a result of this crisis.  But, God willing, this crisis is going to end.  And we're going to have to develop an economy in which half of our people are not living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to put food on the table. 

BIDEN:  I don't disagree with that.  Let's -- you were asking about the crisis.  What are we going to do about the crisis now, which is incredibly consequential to millions and millions of Americans?  And it's not going to be solved by a change in tax policy now.  It's not going to be solved by a change in how we deal with health care.  

 It has got to be solved with an emergency need right now.  Right now, what do we do?  First thing we do is we make sure that health care is available by us having the tools to be able to deal with it.  And that requires us to go out and do much more than this president has done in terms of planning.  

Secondly, it requires us to be in a position where we're anticipating what will happen in the next month or weeks in terms of the flow into the health care system by bringing the military along, more hospital beds, more training, more equipment, more equipment to save the first responders as well.  

In addition to that, we then have to also look at what are the immediate needs right today.  How about that person who has been laid off today?  How about that person who doesn't have an income today?  They have to know that tomorrow that when the paycheck comes due, you will get that paycheck.  

And thirdly, we have to think long-term about how we deal with making all those who have been badly damaged right again.  And then we move on.  Then we move on to change the economy in ways that are more profoundly necessary than people think, but do not respond to the immediate needs we have now.  First things first.  

CALDERON:  Thank you, Vice President.  

Senator Sanders, you voted against bailouts following the 2008 financial crisis. 

SANDERS:  Yes.   

CALDERON:  Many believe those spending bills were a crucial part of stabilizing the economy back then.  Would you support bailouts for industries that are being crushed by the coronavirus outbreak now? 

SANDERS:  I did, you're quite right.  I voted against the bailout because I believed that the illegal behavior being done by the people on Wall Street should not be rewarded by a bailout.  And today, by the way, those banks are more prosperous and own more assets, by and large, than they did back then.  They are bigger now than they were then. 

I thought at the time that in the midst of massive income and wealth inequality the people on top, through a surtax on the very wealthy, should bail out.  And it's not just the TARP bailout.  We gave trillions of dollars in zero interest loans to large banks. 

But to answer your question where we are right now, we need to stabilize the economy, but we can't repeat what we did in 2008.  Joe voted for that.  I voted against it.  Because we have got to do more than save the banks or the oil companies.  Our job right now is to tell every working person in this country, no matter what your income is, you are not going to suffer as a result of this crisis of which you had no control. 

CALDERON:  Vice President Biden? 

BIDEN:  Had those banks all gone under, all those people Bernie says he cares about would be in deep trouble.  Deep, deep trouble.  All those little folks, we would have gone out of business.  They would find themselves in position where they would lose everything they had in that bank, whether it was $10 or $300 or a savings account. 

This was about saving an economy.  And it did save the economy.  And the banks paid back.  And they paid back with interest.  I agree with Bernie.  Someone should have gone to jail.  That was the big disagreement I had in terms of bailing out.  But the question was, they paid back.   

In addition to that, it also -- part of that was bailing out the automobile industry.  Saving thousands of jobs.  Tens of thousands of jobs over time.  He voted against that as well. 

SANDERS:  No.  I did not vote against that.  That bailout money was used later on by Bush to protect the automobile industry. 

But here's the point.  

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS:  One minute, one minute.  Here's the point here, is that in terms of that bailout, there are ways that you can bail out.  When you have a handful of people who have incredible wealth who have prospered off of the illegal behavior of individuals, in this case on Wall Street, you know what you say to them?  And I did.  I said this to the secretary of treasury.  You want a bailout?  That's fine.  Have your friends pay for it, not working people. 

The other point is, Joe should know, it wasn't just the $700 billion TARP program.  The Fed gave trillions and trillions of dollars in zero interest loans to every financial institution in this country and central banks all over the world.  That was essentially a grant.  Because they then could sell that -- they could then bring in interest rates much greater than the zero interest loans that they got. 

CALDERON:  Vice President Biden?  

BIDEN:  Look, the fact of the matter is that if, in fact, the banks had all been -- gone under, we would be in a great depression.  We would have not -- how do you get out of that?  Now Bernie is saying that I guess he's going to do a wealth tax or something, that the top 1 percent could pay for everything.  And they should pay for everything that occurred. 

We were talking about tens and hundreds of billions of dollars.  That's what this was about.  And the fact was that it saved the economy from going into a depression.  After we passed the Recovery Act, which I was the one that went out and got the three votes to get it changed, that had $900 billion in it and was the thing that kept us from going into a great depression. 

CALDERON:  Vice President Biden, I'm going to stay with you.  Many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants and now even many legal immigrants in the United States are afraid to seek medical help.  How do you ensure they feel safe enough to get treatment to help stop the spread of coronavirus?  

BIDEN:  Anyone who shows up to be tested for coronavirus or gets coronavirus and is treated would be held harmless.  Just like I have argued all along.  Any woman who crosses the border or is here and being beaten by her husband but she's undocumented, she cannot be deported because she reports.  

There are certain things you cannot deport an undocumented alien for -- an undocumented person for.  And that would be one of them.  We want them -- it's in the interest of everyone.  And those folks who are the xenophobic folks out there, it's even in their interest that that woman come forward or that man come forward because it deals with keeping the spread from moving more rapidly. 

They will not, should not under any circumstances be held accountable and be deported for that purpose, period. 

SANDERS:  I have been criticized because the proposal for Medicare for All that I introduced includes making sure that undocumented people are also covered.  And right now, we have the absurd situation where undocumented people who try to do the right thing, they're sick, they want to go to... 

Photo credit: CNN

 

SANDERS:  I have been criticized because the proposal for Medicare For All that I introduced includes making sure that undocumented people are also covered.

And right now, we have the absurd situation where undocumented people who try to do the right thing -- they're sick; they want to go to the doctor; they don't want to spread this disease -- are now standing and thinking about when ICE is going to deport them. 

 So one of the things that we have to do is to make sure that everybody feels comfortable getting the health care that they need.  That should be a general principle, above and beyond the coronavirus.

Second of all, we've got to end these terrible ICE raids, which are terrorizing communities all over this country.

And thirdly, to answer your question, the time is long overdue for this country to move to comprehensive immigration reform and a path towards citizenship for those 11 million undocumented.  And furthermore, on day one as president, I would restore the legal status of the 1.8 million...

BASH:  Senator -- Senator thank you... 

SANDERS:  young people of DACA.

BASH:  We're going to talk about immigration in a minute.  But first I want to ask about something that's going on right now, again, back to this crisis.

 We know that people over the age of 60 and those with underlying medical conditions, especially heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, are the most vulnerable to coronavirus and are being asked to change their behavior to protect themselves.

So Senator Sanders, I'll start with you.  You're 78 years old.  You had a heart attack.  What are you doing to protect yourself

SANDERS:  Well, a great deal.  I mean, last night we had a -- a fireside chat, not a rally.  I love doing rallies and we bring many thousands of people out to our rallies.  I enjoy it very much.  We're not doing that right now.  In fact, our entire staff is working from home. 

So on a personal level, what we're doing is I'm not shaking hands.  Joe and I did not shake hands.

(LAUGHTER)

And I am very careful about the people I am interacting with.  I'm using a lot of soap and hand sanitizers to make sure that I do not get the infection.  And I have to say, you know, thank God, right now, I do not have any symptoms and I feel very grateful for that. 

BASH:  Vice President Biden, you're 77.  What are you doing to protect yourself?

BIDEN:  Well, fortunately, I don't have any of the underlying conditions you talked about that I have to worry about, number one.

Number two, thank God, for the time being -- anything can happen, as my mother would say, knock on wood, that I'm in good health.

Number three, I'm taking all the precautions anyone would take, whether they are 30 years old or 60 years old or 80 years old.  And that is I'm going to make sure that I do not -- I do not shake hands any longer; I do not engage -- we did the same thing.  Our staff is all working from home.  We are not doing rallies any longer.  We're doing virtual rallies.  We're doing virtual town hall meetings. 

We're in a situation where now I do not -- as I said, when we encounter people, we're not going into crowds.  And so I'm taking all the precautions everyone else should be taking.  I wash my hands God knows how many times a day with hot water and soap.  I carry with me -- as a matter of fact, I have it in my bag outside here -- hand sanitizer.  I don't know how many times a day I use that.  I make sure I don't touch my face, and so on.  So I'm taking all the precautions we're told for everybody else to take.

TAPPER:  Let's turn to the race more broadly now.  Throughout this campaign, you have each laid out starkly different visions for how to bring about change.

Vice President Biden, Senator Sanders is calling for a political revolution.  You said people want results, not a revolution.  Make the case for why a revolution is not what the country needs or wants 

BIDEN:  We have problems we have to solve now -- now.  What's a revolution going to do, disrupt everything in the meantime?

Look, Bernie talks about -- excuse me -- the senator talks about his Medicare For All.  He still hasn't told you how he's going to ever get it passed.  He hasn't told you how in fact there's any possibility of that happening.  He hasn't told you how much it's going to cost.  He hasn't told you how it's going to apply.  It doesn't kick in for four years even after it passes.

We want a revolution, let's act now.  Pass the Biden health care plan, which takes Obamacare, restores all the cuts made to it, subsidizes it further, provides for lower drug prices, makes sure that there's no hidden bills, makes sure that we invest -- what I want to invest, $50 billion in dealing with underlying diseases that are of great consequence, diabetes, Alzheimer's and cancer.  Make sure that we have a Medicare option that's in a -- a public option providing Medicare for us.

We can do that now.  I can get that passed.  I can get that done, if I'm president of the United States of America.  That will be a fundamental change, and it happens now.

 I can tell you from experience, being a significant consumer of health care, with my sons, my family, all the things we've gone through, what people want is hope, and they need it now, not four years from now.  And Bernie still hasn't cost -- told us how he's going to pay for it.  We're talking about a...

 SANDERS:  Not quite true. 

 BIDEN:  ... 30-plus trillion dollar plan. 

SANDERS:  Not quite true.

TAPPER:  Senator Sanders? 

SANDERS:  Look, let's do something that is very rarely done in the Congress.  

BIDEN:  OK.

SANDERS:  Let's do something that the media doesn't do.  Let's talk about the reality of American life.  Why is it that, over the last 45 years, despite the huge increase in productivity and technology, the average worker today is not making a nickel more in real dollars? 

Why is it that, over the last 30 years, the richest 1 percent have seen a $21 trillion increase in their wealth; the bottom half of America, a $900 billion decline in their wealth?

Why is that we are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people as a human right?

 

Why are we the only major country not to have paid medical and family leave? 

 

Why do we give tax breaks to billionaires when half a million people are homeless today?

 

And it comes down to something, Jake, we don't talk about, the power structure in America.  Who has the power?

 

And I'll tell you who has the power.  It's the people who contribute money, the billionaires who contribute money to political campaigns, who control the legislative agenda.  Those people have the power.

 

And if you want to make real changes in this country; if you want to create an economy that works for all, not just the few; if you want to guarantee quality health care to all, not make $100 billion in profit for the health care industry, you know what you need?  

 

You need to take on Wall Street; you need to take on the drug companies and the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry.  You don't take campaign contributions from them.  You take them on and create an economy that works for all.

 

BIDEN:  You want to do that, do what I proposed over 30 years ago.  Federally fund all elections, no private contributions in the election process.  If you want to do that, join me.  Join me and my constitutional amendment that I've been proposing.  Maybe you and I can work on that together.  Because that would fundamentally change it.

 

And the complication is I'm getting these -- I've not accepted a contribution from anybody over $2,800, number one.  My average contribution is $44.  Just this month I've raised $33 million, average contribution, $51.  The idea that this is -- Bernie's implication is somehow I'm being funded by millionaires.  

 

Bernie, look, in the last -- in Super Tuesday and before that, Bernie outspent me two, three, four, five, six to one.  And I still won.  I didn't have any money.  And I still won.

 

TAPPER:  Senator Sanders? 

 

SANDERS:  It's good that you had an idea 30 years ago.  I don't want to join you.  Why don't you join me? 

 

Why don't you get rid of the SuperPAC that you have right now -- which is running very ugly negative ads about me, by the way...

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

SANDERS:  Don't laugh, Joe.  That's just the truth.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

And they've got two other SuperPACs runnings ads against us.

 

Why don't you just say, right now -- go on television and say, "Hey, you know what" -- I think, in the past, Joe, if I'm not mistaken, you condemned SuperPACs.  Is that correct?

 

BIDEN:  You get rid of the nine Super PACs you have?

SANDERS:  I don't -- nine...

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

I don't have any SuperPACs. 

 

BIDEN:  You have nine.  Do you want me to list them?

 

SANDERS:  No -- yeah.  You go ahead and list them.

 

BIDEN:  OK.  Come on.  Give me a break.  Come on.

 

SANDERS:  No, I won't give you a break on this one, Joe.  You condemn SuperPACs.  You've got a SuperPAC is running negative -- but here's the point.  This is the point.  In the richest country in the history of the world, half of our people should not be struggling to put food on the table. 

 

And the reason for that is you have a political structure in which big money interests not only dominate the political system but dominate our economy as well.  Somebody makes a decision we're going to shut down a factory in America; we're going to move to China; we're going to move to Mexico, pay people starvation wages there. 

 

This is an issue that has got to be ultimately deal with.  Who has the power in America?  Are we content with so few exercising so much power when so many people have given up on the political process?

 

BIDEN:  I proposed a significant change in the tax code and I've been proposing it for a long, long time, number one.

 

Number two, it's not just about taxing the super-wealthy.  It's about making sure everybody pays their fair share.  For example, I can pay for my whole health care plan by changing the way in which we deal with capital gains.  People should pay their capital gains based on what their income tax is and not 20 percent. 

 

That would raise $800 billion, pay for my entire medical health care plan, which would cover everyone.

 

The fact of the matter is, everything I call for, I pay for.  And I do not believe, and I have not supported these exorbitant tax cuts for the wealthy.  I strongly opposed the -- the tax cut that this president has put through of $1.9 trillion.  And I said at the time this was all about trying to eliminate the safety net. 

 

Look, the idea that Bernie implies, the way he says things, speaking of negative ads, my Lord, Bernie, you're running an ad saying I'm opposed to Social Security, that Politifact says is a flat lie, and that The Washington Post said is a flat lie.

 

SANDERS:  Oh, well, let me ask you a question, Joe. 

 

BIDEN:  Yeah.

 

SANDERS:  You're right here with me. 

 

BIDEN:  Yeah.

 

SANDERS:  Have you been on the floor of the Senate -- you were in the Senate for a few years...

 

BIDEN:  Yep.

 

SANDERS:  ... time and time again talking about the necessity -- with pride -- about cutting Social Security, cutting Medicare, cutting veterans' programs.

 

BIDEN:  No.

 

SANDERS:  You never said that?

 

BIDEN:  No.

 

SANDERS:  All right.  America, go to the website right now.  Go to the YouTube right now.  Time after time -- you were not a fan of Bowles-Simpson?

BIDEN:  I was not a fan of Bowles...

SANDERS:  You were not a fan of the Balanced Budget Amendment, which called for cuts in Social Security?

Come on, Joe, you were. 

BIDEN:  Look, here's the deal.  

SANDERS:  You're an honest guy.  Why don't you just tell the truth here?  We all make mistakes.

BIDEN:  No, I am telling the truth.  You said that I in fact -- why am I rated 96 percent by the Social Security organizations?

Why am I viewed as a strong supporter...

SANDERS:  All that I said...

BIDEN:  I have laid out how I will increase Social Security. 

SANDERS:  Well, that's good.  I laid that out...

BIDEN:  I have laid out how I'm going to make sure...

SANDERS:  OK, let me...

BIDEN:  ... that it is in fact paid for. 

SANDERS:  Jake...

BIDEN:  Go to joebiden.com, look at my exchange with Paul Ryan on his desire to try to privatize and/or cut Social Security...

SANDERS:  OK.

BIDEN:  ... and understand how he manipulated an ad. 

SANDERS:  No -- all right.  Let me repeat it again.  I want you just to be straight with the American people.  I am saying that you have been on the floor of the Senate, time and time again, talking about the need to cut Social Security, Medicare and veterans' programs.  Is that true or is that not true?

BIDEN:  No, it's not true.

SANDERS:  That is not true?

BIDEN:  That is not true.

What is true is, in terms of the negotiations that are taking place, how to deal with the deficit, everything was on the table.  I did not support any of those cuts, in Social Security or in veterans' benefits...

SANDERS:  Whoa -- whoa -- you -- everything was on the table.  All right.  You're right.  You just said it -- including, in your judgment, cuts to Social Security and veterans...

BIDEN:  In order to get the kinds of changes we need on other things related...

SANDERS:  Joe, then you just...

BIDEN:  But we didn't -- but we did not cut it.  I did not vote for it.

SANDERS:  I know, because people like me helped stop that.

BIDEN:  Oh, come on, Bernie.

SANDERS:  But, Joe, you just contradicted yourself. 

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN:  Joe, you just contradicted yourself.  One minute...

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN:  Excuse me.  One minute you said "I was not on the floor."  The next minute you say, "Well, yes, there was a reason why I was worried about the deficit."

 Maybe that's good reason, maybe it's not.  All that I am saying is you were prepared to cut and advocated for the cuts of programs...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH:  So let me... 

BIDEN:  I did not.  I never voted to cut Social Security. 

SANDERS:  I'm not talking about voting, Joe.  That's not what I said.

BIDEN:  I never voted -- well, look, I voted to protect it.  I was -- just go look at the debate with Paul Ryan for the vice presidency.  Look at what I did.

And, Bernie, will you acknowledge your campaign took out of context that whole exchange between Paul Ryan.  Are you saying Politifact is wrong?  Are you saying...

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS:  Well, believe me, The Washington Post, Politifact is wrong a whole lot of times.  But...

BIDEN:  Are they wrong on that, Bernie?  Are they wrong on that, Bernie?

SANDERS:  Joe.. 

BIDEN:  Bernie, did you...

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS:  Did -- Joe, wait a minute.  I'll answer your question.  You answer mine.

BIDEN:  I answered yours.

SANDERS:  No, you didn't.

BIDEN:  All right.

SANDERS:  One more time.  Were you on the floor, time and time again, for whatever reason, talking about the need to cut Social Security and Medicare and veterans' programs?

BIDEN:  No, I did not talk about the need to cut any of those programs.

 SANDERS:  OK.  All that I would say to the American people, go to YouTube.  It's all over the place.  Joe said it many, many times.  And I'm surprised -- you know, you can defend or change your mind on it, but you can't deny the reality.

BASH:  So, Senator, because you brought up Social Security and you have been talking about it, I want to ask you about something that you wrote in 1996.  You were a member of the House and you wrote an op-ed that said, quote, "It is clear we will have to make incremental adjustments in Social Security taxes and benefits."

SANDERS:  Yeah.

BASH:  Why are your past comments any less relevant than the vice president's?

SANDERS:  Incremental adjustments.  What I advocated -- adjustments that I advocated and have advocated for years is among other things increasing the cost of living assistance.

No, you're not going to find me ever calling for cuts to Social Security.  Right now, for example, we determined (inaudible) looking at inflation for the general population rather than segregating the higher costs that seniors are paying for prescription drugs and for health care.  That's what I was talking about. 

I have -- in fact, when Joe and others were enamored with the so-called Bowles-Simpson, which included cuts to Social Security or raising the retirement age, I formed, along with people like Barbara Boxer, the Defending Social Security Caucus to say, no, when 20 percent of our seniors are trying to get by on $13,000 a year or more, we are not going to cut Social Security.

CALDERON:  Vice President Biden, yesterday you endorsed an Elizabeth Warren plan that would undo key parts of the bankruptcy law you helped pass in 2005.  A few hours ago, you announced support for making public college tuition-free for families who make less than $125,000 a year, something Senator Sanders has supported.  What changed?

BIDEN:  Two things.  Number one, let's talk about the bankruptcy bill.  The bankruptcy bill was passing overwhelmingly, and I improved it.  I had a choice, it was going to pass, Republican president, Republican Congress, and I offered two amendments to make sure that people under $50,000 would not be affected and women and children would go to the front of the line on alimony and support payments.  That's what I did.  It passed overwhelmingly.  I did not like the rest of the bill, but I improved it, number one. 

Number two, I've talked with Senator Warren about her proposal.  This is the first opportunity we've had to make substantial change in what we couldn't get done in a Republican administration.  That's why we talked last -- two nights ago, and I supported her proposal.  And it's a good proposal, it's a solid proposal.  And she should get credit for having introduced it. 

 With regard to what we're talking about in terms of college education, I've been saying for a long time that we're in a position where 12 years of education is not enough, is not enough for the 21st century.  We need 16 years of education.  The exact bill that the -- that Senator Sanders introduced of -- I guess a little over a year ago, capping it off at $125,000 in income, you could get free up to that point, after that, you'd have to pay for your college education, it'd only work for public schools and it would work for public universities in your state.  I support that idea.  

It was a good idea.  And I support it.  And so that's -- that's what it is.  And I'm not saying everything Bernie said has been wrong.  He happens to be right on that one.

CALDERON:  Senator Sanders, I assume you welcome these changes?  

SANDERS:  Look, this is a little bit about leadership, as well.  Joe talked about bankruptcy.  Joe, if I memory is correct, you helped write that bankruptcy bill. 

BIDEN:  I did not.  

SANDERS:  All right. 

BIDEN:  I did not 

SANDERS:  And that bankruptcy bill -- by the way, we talk about education, we've got 45 million people in America struggling with student debt.  Some of them really struggling with student debt.  And that bankruptcy bill made it impossible or very difficult for people to escape from that student debt.  It was a very, very bad bill.  

You said, Joe, that a majority of the people in the Senate voted for it.  You're right. 

BIDEN:  Overwhelming majority.

SANDERS:  Overwhelmingly.  Well, I voted against it in the House and I was right.  And I don't have to rethink my position, because that's what leadership is about, having the guts to take an unpopular vote. 

But it's not just bankruptcy.  The difference between Joe and I on higher education is, four years ago, it was not a popular idea, Joe.  Glad you're coming around now.  Four years ago, when I said that public colleges and university should be tuition free, people were saying, Bernie, that's a radical idea.  Well, you got states and cities and counties all over the country that are moving in that direction. 

And I'm glad that Joe is on board.  But what leadership is about is going forward when it's not popular, when it's an idea that you get criticized for.  So I'm proud of that fact, and I'm proud of my leadership on many issues.  Joe, since the campaign, has come around.  I talked about raising that minimum wage $15 bucks an hour four years ago, Joe. 

 BIDEN:  So did I.  And I went out and campaigned for it.

SANDERS:  Fifteen dollars an hour?

BIDEN:  Fifteen dollars an hour.  New York City.  Go talk to the governor.  

SANDERS:  I will talk to the governor.

BIDEN:  All right?

SANDERS:  I am not aware of that.  I am not aware of that.

BIDEN:  You should be aware.  Look...

SANDERS:  Four years ago, it was a radical idea.  Very few people in Congress were talking about it. 

BIDEN:  I wasn't in... 

CALDERON:  Go ahead, Vice President.  

 BIDEN:  Well, here, look.  Let's get something straight about the bankruptcy bill.  The bankruptcy bill already -- it did not affect student debt for 90 percent, because the law had already been passed.  You could not declare bankruptcy for those loans that were from private institutions.  You couldn't do it.  And so the bankruptcy bill didn't affect that.  It affected 10 percent of the people, the first bankruptcy bill, 10 percent of the student loans, number one.

 Number two, now we're in a position where we're able to correct that problem.  The fact is if I hadn't stepped up and changed the law as it relates to people making less than $50,000, those for alimony and child support, then, guess what, they would have been in the bucket, too.  It was going to pass anyway.  I made it -- let me finish.  I made it incrementally better.  I did not like the bill.  I did not support the bill.  And I made it clear to the industry I didn't like the bill. 

Number two, this bill now calls for the opportunity to fundamentally change the mistakes we couldn't correct in the bill the first time around.  And that is why I support Elizabeth Warren's idea.  And it's a very good idea. 

CALDERON:  Senator Sanders, go ahead.

SANDERS:  Well, this is kind of circular logic.  We're going to reform the bill that I voted for.  Well, if you hadn't voted for it, and if you had rallied other people, as I tried to do in the House voting against it, we might not have the problems with it we have today.

You know, what leadership is about, Joe, and it deals with -- you know, whether your opposition -- or your support, I should say, for legislation -- for legislation regarding gay communities in the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.  You remember that bill, right?  You remember the Defense of Marriage Act?

BIDEN:  I sure do.

SANDERS:  It was -- you know, gay marriage today is considered a Little bit differently than it was 25 years ago.  I remember that vote.  It was a very hard vote.  I voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.  You voted for it.  I voted against the bankruptcy bill.  You voted for it.  I voted against the war in Iraq, which was also a tough vote.  You voted for it. 

I voted against disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA and PNTR with China, which cost this country over 4 million good-paying jobs.  You voted for it.  I voted against the Hyde amendment, which denies low-income women the right to get an abortion.  You have consistently voted for it.  I don't know what your position is on it today, but you have consistently voted for it.

In other words, all that I'm saying here, we can argue about the merits of the bill. 

CALDERON:  Vice President Biden...

SANDERS:  It takes courage sometimes to go do the right thing.  

BIDEN:  You can argue about the past or the future.  This man voted against the Brady bill five times, background checks, background checks, five times, number one. 

Number two, this man is the only -- one of the few Democrats I know who voted to exempt the gun industry from being able to be sued.  Talk about a special, special interest.  We can sue -- we should be able to sue drug companies.  We should be able to sue tobacco companies.  We cannot sue the gun manufacturers because he voted for that years ago.  He says it was a mistake now.  I'm prepared to accept he says it's a mistake.  The question is, what do we do from this point on? 

And by the way, I might add, I'm the first person to go on national television in any administration and say I supported gay marriage.  I supported gay marriage when asked.  And I -- so -- and it started a ripple effect.  I'm not taking all credit for it, but I'm the first major player to say I support gay marriage on national television. 

SANDERS:  All that I'm saying here is...

BIDEN:  Leadership.

SANDERS:  ... we can argue, you know, this or that bill.  But what I'm suggesting is that, in this time of crisis, when we're living in a really, really unsettling world, economically, from a health care with the coronavirus, the people of America know my record, OK?  For 30 years, I have stood with the working families of this country.  I have taken on every special interest there is out there.  And that is what I will do in the White House.  That's a very different record than Joes. 

BIDEN:  That is not a different record than mine.

SANDERS:  That is a totally different record than yours, all right?  I mean, it's manifested in this campaign when you're, you know, getting all this money from, you know, wealthy people and billionaires.  So I think if -- if you want somebody who will take to the White House what I have done for my whole life...

TAPPER:  Thank you, Senator Sanders.

SANDERS:  ... and that is take on special interests, I think I'm that candidate.

BIDEN:  The average campaign contribution, $44 dollars. 

TAPPER:  Let's talk about the future, Vice President Biden.  If you become the Democratic presidential nominee, how will you appeal to supporters of Senator Sanders when you do disagree on so many issues? 

BIDEN:  He's making it hard for me right now.  I was trying to give him credit for some things.  He won't even take the credit for things he wants to do.

Look, I think that -- I want to make it clear.  If Bernie is the nominee, I will not only support him, I will campaign for him.  And I believe the people who support me will do the same thing, because the existential threat to the United States of America is Donald Trump.  It's critical.  I would hope that Bernie would do the same thing if I'm the nominee and encourage all of his followers to, in fact, support me, as well, because it's much bigger than either of us.  

Character of the nation is on the ballot.  It goes well beyond whether or not -- Senator Sanders and I both agree we need Medicare -- health care should be a right, not a privilege.  We both agree we have to give -- deal with student debt.  We both agree we have to deal with education and access to education.  We both agree that we deal -- we have a new green deal to deal with the existential threat that faces humanity. 

We disagree on the detail of how we do it.  But we don't disagree on the principle.  We fundamentally disagree with this president on everything.  This is a man who wants to cut Social Security, cut Medicare, not -- not Bernie, the president of the United States. 

So this is much bigger than whether or not I'm the nominee or Bernie is the nominee.  We must defeat Donald Trump.  He is the -- four more years of Donald Trump will fundamentally change the nature of who we are as a nation.  We've got to restore this country's soul.  That's essential.  And as long as this president is there, we're not going to be able to do it. 

TAPPER:  Senator Sanders, if.. 

SANDERS:  Can I just say a word, then I'll respond to your...

TAPPER:  Well, it's just a quick question, which is, if he is the nominee, Vice President Biden, you've already said you would support him. 

SANDERS:  Of course.

TAPPER:  But will you campaign for him?   

SANDERS:  Sure.

TAPPER:  Will you urge supporters to support him?

SANDERS:  Look, on day one, when I announced my candidacy, what I said is this country cannot deal with a president who is a pathological liar, who is running a corrupt administration and obviously doesn't know the Constitution of the United States, who believes is above the law, who is a racist and a sexist and a homophone.  He is the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country. 

And what I said on day one, Joe, day one, that obviously I hope to win the nomination, but if I don't win the nomination, I -- and I think every over Democratic candidate -- is prepared to come together to do everything humanly possible to defeat Donald Trump.  

But let me respond to something that Joe said.  You know, we talk about the Green New Deal and all of these things in general terms, but details make a difference.  What I have said throughout this campaign -- and I don't think I've heard you say this, Joe, is that if we're going to -- if we're going to save this planet for our kids and future generations, we need to have the courage to take on the greed of the fossil fuel industry and make it clear to them that their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet.  And we have a very detailed planet -- detailed proposal.  Happy to get the endorsement of the Sunrise Movement, the young people...

TAPPER:  We're -- we're going to get into the Green New Deal.  

 SANDERS:  OK.

 TAPPER:  We're going to talk about climate change.  We have to squeeze in a quick break.  When we come back, the CNN-Univision presidential debate will return.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BASH:  Welcome back to the CNN-Univision Democratic presidential debate, live from Washington, D.C.  And as we noted, Arizona will vote on Tuesday.  We solicited questions from undecided Democratic voters there.  One is from Amy Langenfeld, who is a law professor from Chandler, Arizona, with a question for Senator Sanders.  

 QUESTION:  Women are the canaries in the coalmine of the conservative agenda.  Our access to health care is at risk from the Federalist Society's remaking of the courts.  Our lives are threatened by abusive partners' access to guns.  Women are disproportionately affected by bail requirements (ph), Social Security cuts, and cuts to public education.  How will your cabinet ensure the best advice on issues that affect women's physical and financial health?  Thank you.

SANDERS:  My cabinet, my administration will look like America.  Last I heard, over half of the people in America are women.  And that will be the representation in my cabinet and my administration. 

And in terms of policies, unlike Joe, I have consistently believed and have a 100 percent lifetime voting record from groups like NARAL, that it is a woman's right to control her own body, not the government. 

I have believed that we have got to move aggressively to deal with domestic violence in this country.  I have aggressively -- and I think effectively -- made the case that we cannot have women in America earning 80 cents on the dollar compared to men.  And if you're a minority woman, it's 50 or 60 cents on the dollar.  

We need to have universal, affordable, high-quality childcare, so women who are single or married can go off to work and know that their kids are going to be well taken care of.  So I think if you look at my agenda, which is on berniesanders.com, what you will find, it is a very strong agenda in fighting for the rights of women who today are under incredible political assault by Trump and Republican governors all across this country. 

BASH:  Vice President Biden?

BIDEN:  Am I able to respond to that?  

BASH:  Please.

BIDEN:  Yes, thank you.  Number one, I agree with -- with the question of the -- the underlying premise of Amy's question.  Number one, I committed that if I'm elected president, have an opportunity to appoint someone to the courts, will be -- I'll appoint the first black woman to the courts.  It's required that they have representation now.  It's long overdue. 

Secondly, if I'm elected president, my -- my cabinet, my administration will look like the country.  And I commit that I will, in fact, appoint a -- I'll pick a woman to be vice president.  There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow.  I would pick a woman to be my vice president.  

Number three, I'm the guy that wrote the domestic violence law.  And I'm the guy that put in the prohibitions that no one who abuses someone else should be able to own a gun, period.  They should not be able to own a gun.  I would get the boyfriend exception amended now.  I've gotten it passed that if you are -- got a stay away order from a court, you have a child with someone, that you cannot own a gun.  No one should be able to own a gun who has abused a woman, period. 

BASH:  Mr. Vice President, if I could just follow up, just to be clear, you just committed here tonight that your running mate, if you get the nomination, will be a woman?

BIDEN:  Yes.  

SANDERS:  Let me...

BASH:  Senator Sanders, will you make that same statement?   

SANDERS:  May I just respond and ask Joe a question?

BASH:  Please.

SANDERS:  Right now, a woman's right to control her own body is under massive assault, unpredictable assault.

BIDEN:  It is.

SANDERS:  Joe, you have in the past on more than one occasion voted for the Hyde amendment, which says that a woman, low-income woman, could not use Medicaid funding for an abortion.  Is that still your view?  

BIDEN: It's not my view.  And by the way, everybody who has been in the Congress voted for the Hyde Amendment at one point or another because it was locked in other bills. 

 

The reason why I affirmatively came out opposed to the Hyde Amendment was that if we're going to have public funding for all health care along the line, there's no way you could allow for there to be a requirement that you have Hyde Amendment, a woman who doesn't have the money could not have coverage under health care.  

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS:  Well, I'm glad...

BIDEN:  Number two -- and I've done that -- I did that a while ago, OK?  Number one. 

Number two, I would send immediately to the desk of the United States Congress, when I'm elected president -- if I'm elected president, a codification of Roe v. Wade amended by Casey, because I think it is a woman's right to choose.  I think it's a woman's opportunity to be able to make that decision.  And, in fact, I have gotten 100 percent rating from NARAL as well. 

BASH:  Senator Sanders, before we move on, I just want to get you to respond. 

SANDERS:  Excuse me, you have a lifetime 100 percent voting record from NARAL? 

BIDEN:  I know my record of late from NARAL has been 100 percent.  I don't know whether it was 25 years ago. 

SANDERS:  Well, all right.  I mean, I think one of the differences, not to, you know, pick a bone here, is I have been consistent.  All right?  I have always believed in that.  And you have not.  I'm glad you have changed your views. 

BASH:  Senator, just to be clear, the vice president committed to picking a woman as his running mate.  If you get the nomination, will you? 

SANDERS:  In all likelihood, I will.  For me, it's not just nominating a woman, it is making sure that we have a progressive woman and there are progressive women out there.  So my very strong tendency is to move in that direction. 

CALDERON:  Let's turn now to immigration.  Vice President Biden, you have recently said for the first time that the Obama-Biden administration made a big mistake in deporting millions of immigrants, but you didn't publicly speak out against it at the time.  What commitment will you make tonight that as president you won't deport millions again? 

BIDEN:  Number one, I said that it took much too long to get it right.  And the president did get it right by DACA as well as making sure that he tried to protect parents as well, and, by the way, moving on an immigration bill as well.  The fact is that we already had a vote on an immigration bill, by the way, and Bernie voted against it, the immigration bill.  Had he voted for it and it had passed, we would already have 6 million undocumented would be citizens as I speak right now. 

But I will send to the desk immediately a bill that requires the access to citizenship for 11 million undocumented folks, number one.  Number two, in the first 100 days of my administration, no one, no one will be deported at all.  From that point on, the only deportations that will take place are commissions of felonies in the United States of America. 

CALDERON:  So to be clear, only felons get deported and everyone else gets to stay? 

BIDEN:  Period, yes.  Yes, and the reason is...

CALDERON:  Senator Sanders?  

BIDEN:  ... it's about uniting families, it's about making sure that we can both be a nation of immigrants as well as a nation that is decent. 

SANDERS:  Let me respond and I'll answer your question, respond to what Joe's comments about the 2007 immigration bill.  That bill was opposed by LULAC, the largest Latino organization in America.  The Southern Poverty Law Center called its guest worker programs akin to slavery.  

There wasn't really a vote on the bill.  It was killed because there was a vote on the Doggett Amendment, I think it was 49-48, and you know who voted with me on that one, Joe?  Barack Obama.  He understood that that proposal was a bad idea.  We don't need slavery in America where workers -- guest workers are forced to stay with their employers. 

But in terms of immigration in general, let me outline some of the things that we do.  Day one, we restore the legal status of 1.8 million young people and their parents in the DACA program.  Number two, immediately, we end these ICE raids which are terrorizing communities all over this country.  Three, we change the border policy.  Under my administration, no federal agent will ever grab little babies from the arms of their mothers.  And, fourth, I think we can pass what the American people want and that is comprehensive immigration reform, a path towards citizenship for the 11 million undocumented. 

CALDERON:  Senator Sanders, critics suggest positions like this send a message that when a Democrat is in the White House, the border is open.  Do they? 

SANDERS:  No, that's just -- I mean, that's what Trump says.  And that is a total lie.  What we're talking about is a humane, sensible policy supported by the American people.  Nobody is talking about open borders.  And, of course, Trump lies a about that. 

But the bottom line is right now you have in this country people who have been here for decades.  They are working hard.  They are raising their kids.  They are an important part of our agricultural economy, our construction economy.  These are good people.  And yet they are living in terror.  And we have got to end that terror and end the ICE raids and move toward a path towards citizenship. 

BIDEN:  Let me set the record straight on something that was said.  You know, the idea that it was slavery, Barack Obama supported that bill -- that immigration bill.  Teddy Kennedy supported that immigration bill.  I supported it.  I doubt whether those people think it's slavery.  

SANDERS:  Well...

BIDEN:  And by the way, right after his vote against that, he went on the Lou Dobbs show and continued the canard that they're taking jobs, these immigrants are taking jobs from Americans, which is one of the Republican canards, right after that vote -- that no vote.  

And so, come on, this is -- you think Ted Kennedy is for slavery?  Think I was for slavery?  You think...

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN:  ... voted for it for slavery?  And with regard to your issue -- your question relative to whether or not I would deal with supporting the border.  Look, we can deal with securing the border by national technical means.  All the bad things are coming through ports of entry right now.  We don't need a wall.  

And by the way, I would immediately as president surge to the border.  I would end this notion for the first time in history that people seeking asylum have to be in squalor on the other side of the river, and in just desperate situation.  They should be able to come to the United States and have a judgment made as to whether or not they qualify. 

I would also surge to the border immigration judges to make decisions immediately.  And no one, no one would be put in jail while waiting for their hearing. 

CALDERON:  Senator Sanders?  

SANDERS:  Well, it's kind of what I have been saying throughout the entire campaign. 

BIDEN:  So have I.  

SANDERS:  What we need is, at the border, hundreds of administrative judges.  We need to deal with people who are seeking asylum based on international law.  We need not to be dividing children from their parents and dividing families up.  We need a humane border policy.  

And I'll tell you what else we need.  And I speak as the son of an immigrant.  My father came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket, couldn't speak English, didn't have much of an education.  I will end on day one the demonization, the ugly demonization from the White House of the immigrant community in this country.  We have got a president who is trying to divide us up.  My administration brings our people together, black and white and Latino, Native American, Asian-American. 

CALDERON:  Thank you, Senator Sanders.  

Vice President Biden, you opposed sanctuary cities as a presidential candidate in 2007.  Where do you stand now?  Should undocumented immigrants, arrested by local police, be turned over to immigration officials? 

BIDEN:  No.  

CALDERON:  Senator Sanders?  

SANDERS:  Of course not.  Look, and one of the things that goes on when you have that process is that not only the psychological terror, and I have talked to these kids, kids are scared to death in America when they come from school that their mom or dad may not be there, maybe deported.  

What we need to do is to end, and I will end this on day one, the ICE raids that have been so harmful to so many people.  And we need to do again what the American people want us to do.  I'm the son of an immigrant.  This is a country significantly built by immigrant labor, built by slave labor.  And what we have got to do is appreciate each other and end this demonization and divisiveness coming from the Trump administration. 

TAPPER:  Senator Sanders...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER:  Go ahead.  

BIDEN:  Look, we are a nation of immigrants.  Our future rests upon the Latino community being fully integrated.  Twenty-four out of every 100 children in school today from kindergarten through high school is a Latino.  Right now, today.  The idea that any American thinks it doesn't pay for us to significantly invest in their future is absolutely a bizarre notion, because if we do not invest, everything that the very wealthy are concerned about and the xenophobes are concerned about will, in fact, get worse, not better.  

We should be embracing, bringing them in, just like what happened with the Irish immigrants after the famine, just what happened with the Italians, et cetera.  We have been through this before.  Xenophobia is a disease. 

TAPPER:  Thank you, Vice President Biden.  

Let's move now to the climate crisis.  I'm coming right to you, Senator Sanders.  The World Health Organization calls the climate crisis a “health crisis” and warns that climate change could fuel the spread of infectious diseases.  Can you point to specific measures in your climate plan that address that threat?  

SANDERS:  Well, of course we do.  I mean, we -- look, this is what the scientists are telling us, the same scientists who make your point there, Jake.  What they are telling us is if we don't get our act together in the next seven or eight years, there would be irreversible damage done to this planet.  We're talking about cities in America from Miami to New Orleans to Charleston, South Carolina, being under water. 

We are talking about severe droughts, which will prevent farmers in the Midwest from growing the food that we need.  We're talking about extreme weather disturbances, which hit Houston, Texas, Venice, Italy, just a few months ago.  We are talking about the absolute need, and I want to hear Joe's position on this, this is not a middle of the ground thing.  This is not building a few more solar panels or a few more wind turbines. 

What this is about is transforming our energy system as quickly as we humanly can away from fossil fuel.  It is insane that we continue to have fracking in America.  It is absurd that we give tens of billions of dollars a year in tax breaks and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.  This has got to end and end now if we love our kids and future generations. 

TAPPER:  Vice President Biden?  

BIDEN:  First thing that President Obama and I were summoned to the State Department -- excuse me, the Defense Department for was to meet with all the chiefs.  The single greatest threat to our national security, they said, is climate change, the single greatest threat to our national security.  Because as populations have to move because they can no longer live where they are, because their islands are sinking, because you saw what happened in Darfur with the change in weather patterns and the desert there.  It causes war.  It causes great migrations, great migrations.  They said that's the single biggest problem. 

Number two, there's an awful lot of people today who are, in fact, getting ill because of the changes in the environment, particularly up where Bernie lives, I'm not -- it has nothing to do with him, but having -- up in the Northeast because you have everything from beetle infestation and a whole range of things that are causing diseases as well in addition to eliminating foliage. 

TAPPER:  So, Vice President Biden, let me ask you then that the -- you talk about this being the number one crisis, they told you at the Pentagon. 

BIDEN:  Yes.  

TAPPER:  The price tag for your climate plan is about $1.7 trillion.  That's about $14 trillion less than Senator Sanders wants to spend on this.  Is your plan ambitious enough to tackle this crisis? 

BIDEN:  Yes, it is ambitious enough to tackle the crisis because what -- you go to joebiden.com, I lay out the first 13 things I would do immediately upon being elected. 

Number one, we're going to once again reinstate all the cuts the president made in everything from the CAFE standards, how  far automobiles can go, investing in light rail so that we take cars off the road, making sure we're in a position where we are now in a position that we put 500,000 charging stations in areas that, in fact, all new highways that we built. 

Making sure that we spend $500 billion a year in the federal government paying for transportation, the vehicles we run.  All of those being converted to be able to run on low carbon fuel and/or be able to run on no carbon fuel at all by having them move into a direction that is all, all carbon-free.  

We can do these things.  We can lay down the tracks where nothing can be changed by the next president or following president, the one beyond that. 

In addition to that, we also have to -- I would immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, which I helped put together.  I would call the 100 nations -- over 100 nations, but the 100 major polluters to the United States in the first 100 days to up the ante and make it clear that, in fact, we would -- in fact, if they didn't, there would be a price to pay. 

And lastly, I would be right now organizing the hemisphere and the world to provide $20 billion for the Amazon, for Brazil no longer to burn the Amazon so they could have forests -- they're no longer forests, but they could have farming, and say, this is what we're going to do.  They absorb more carbon in the Amazon, and the region is burning now, than we emit in one entire year per year. 

TAPPER:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. Vice President.  

Senator Sanders?  

SANDERS:  All well and good, but nowhere near enough.  I mean, you mentioned we started this debate talking about a war-like situation in terms of the coronavirus.  And we said we have to act accordingly.  You said it.  I think you're right.  I said it.  We have to act dramatically, boldly, if we're going to save lives in this country and around the world. 

I look at climate change in exactly the same way.  It's not a question of re-entering the Paris Accord.  That's fine.  Who cares.  Not a big deal.  The deal right now is do we have the courage?  And this gets back to the point I'm trying to make all night long.  Do we take on the health care industry and tell them their profits are not more important than health care for all?  Do we take on the fossil fuel industry? 

Look, in terms of the fossil fuel industry, these guys have been lying.  They've been lying for years like the tobacco industry lied 50 years ago.  "Oh, we don't know if -- if fossil fuels, if oil and carbon emissions are causing climate change."

They knew.  Exxon Mobil knew.  They lied.  In fact, I think they should be held criminally accountable. 

But this, Jake, is an issue of enormous consequence.  What Joe was saying goes nowhere near enough.  It's not a question of money.

Give me a minute here.  Let's -- we have time to talk about this.  This is a world-changing event.

TAPPER:  I understand.  I just want to give him a chance to respond and then we can come back to you.

SANDERS:  OK.  All right.  Let's stay on it.

TAPPER:  We're staying on this issue.

BIDEN:  Number one, no more subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, no more drilling on federal lands, no more drilling, including offshore, no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period, ends, number one.

Number two, we're in a situation, as well, where we cannot -- we -- we are able to move rapidly to change the dynamic in terms of what we can do to set in motion -- the fact that he says climate change, Paris Accord doesn't mean much -- we can get everything exactly right.  We're 15 percent of the problem.  Eight-five percent of the problem is over there.  We need someone who can deal internationally.  We need someone who can bring the world together again.  We need someone who can move in a direction that, in fact, if you violate the commitment you make, you will pay an economic price for it, like what's happening in China.  They're exporting coal, significant coal.

TAPPER:  Thank you.

SANDERS:  OK, look, obviously, the Paris Accord is -- is useful.  But it doesn't go anywhere -- if you're laughing, Joe, then you're missing the point.  This is an existential crisis.

BIDEN:  Bingo. 

SANDERS:  You -- you -- you talk about -- you know, I'm talking about stopping fracking as soon as we possibly can.  I'm talking about telling the fossil fuel industry that they are going to stop destroying this planet -- no ifs, buts and maybes about it.  I'm talking about speaking to...

BIDEN:  So am I. 

SANDERS:  Well, I'm not sure your proposal does that. 

I'm talking about speaking to China, to Russia, to countries all over the world -- and in this moment, making the point that instead of spending $1.8 trillion on weapons of destruction designed to kill each other, maybe we should pool our resources and fight our common enemy, which is climate change. 

I know your heart is in the right place, but this requires dramatic, bold action.  We've got to take on the fossil fuel industry.  Your plan does not do that.

BIDEN:  My plan takes on the fossil fuel industry and it unites the world.  You just got finished saying -- what's he going to do?  He's going to bring these countries together, make it clear to them.  I'm saying we bring them together, make them live up to their commitments.  If they don't live up to their commitments, they pay a financial price for it.  They pay an economic price for it. 

Because we can do everything -- my -- my state is three feet above sea level.  I don't need a lecture on what's going to happen about rising seas.  I know what happens.  I watch the whole DelMarVa peninsula, just like it is in South Carolina and the rest, something I know a little bit about.

I wrote the first climate change bill that was in the Congress, which Politifact said was a game-changer.  I'm the guy who came along and said, with Dick Lugar, that we're going to trade -- we'll forgive your debt if you don't cut down your forest.  I have been way ahead of this curve.  This idea that, all of a sudden, Bernie found this out is amazing to me.

TAPPER:  Senator Sanders?

SANDERS:  No, Bernie didn't find it out.  Bernie is listening to the scientists.  And what, you know, you're talking about making countries around the world fulfill their commitments, those commitments are not enough.

What this moment is about, Joe, is that the scientists are telling us they underestimated the severity of the crisis.  They were wrong.  The problem is more severe.

So all that I'm saying right here is that we have -- we are fighting for the future of this planet, for the well-being of our kids and future generations.  You cannot continue, as I understand, Joe believes, to continue fracking.  Correct me if I am wrong.  What we need to do right now is bring the world together, tell the fossil fuel industry that we are going to move aggressively to win solar, sustainable energies...

TAPPER:  Thank you.

SANDERS:  ... and energy efficiency.

BIDEN:  Thank you, Senator. 

BIDEN:  No more -- no new fracking.  And by the way, on the Recovery Act, I was able to make sure we invested $90 billion in making sure we brought down the price of solar and wind, that is lower than the price of coal.  That's why not another new coal plant will be built.  I did that, while you were watching, number one. 

Number two, we're in a situation where we, in fact, have the ability to lay down the tracks where no one can change the -- change the dynamic.  And that's why we should be talking about things like I have been talking about for years, high-speed rail, taking millions of automobiles off the road, making sure that we move in a direction where no more -- no more drilling on federal lands, making sure that we invest in changing the entire fleet...

TAPPER:  Thank you.

BIDEN:  ... of the United States military to -- anyhow.

TAPPER:  Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

 

Senator Sanders, I want -- I want to talk to you about fracking.  Because you want to ban fracking..

SANDERS:  Yes.

TAPPER:  ... which is a method of extracting natural gas.  The shift towards natural gas and away from coal has resulted in reduced U.S. carbon emissions.  So how can the U.S. transition to your targeted goal of zero emissions with fracking completely out of the picture? 

SANDERS:  Because we have to invest in an unprecedented way -- in an unprecedented way.  You started off by saying that we're talking about a $13 trillion, $14 trillion investment.  That is a lot of money.  And I've been criticized for that.  But I don't know what the alternative is, if we are playing for the future of this planet.  So we've got to be dramatic.  And what being dramatic is, massive investments in wind, in solar, under the -- in sustainable energies in general, in research and development, in making our buildings all over this country. 

My state of Vermont and around this country have got a lot of old buildings.  We can put millions and millions of people to work making our buildings energy-efficient, moving our transportation system to electricity.

So what we're talking about is a massive unprecedented investment.  That is what the Green New Deal is about.  I supported it.  And I will fight to implement it.

TAPPER:  Thank you so much, Senator Sanders. 

We're going to be back with more from the CNN-Univision Democratic presidential debate.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER:  Welcome back to the CNN-Univision Democratic presidential debate.  On Tuesday voters in Arizona, Ohio, Illinois and Florida will cast their votes in the Democratic primary.

Here's Univision's Ilia Calderon.

CALDERON:  Thank you, Jake. 

Let's move now to foreign policy.  Senator Sanders, there are about 1.5 million Cuban-Americans living in Florida right now.  Why would they vote for you when they hear you praise a program of Fidel Castro, a dictator who jailed, tortured and killed thousands of Cubans? 

SANDERS:  I have opposed authoritarianism, whether it's in Cuba, whether it's in Saudi Arabia, whether it's in China or whether it is in Russia.  That is my life record.  I believe, unlike the president of the United States, in democracy, not authoritarianism, in Cuba or any place else. 

What I believe right now, in this world, is that we are faced with a global crisis and a movement toward authoritarianism.  That's what Putin in Russia is leading.  That's what MBS in Saudi Arabia is leading.

And as president of the United States, unlike Donald Trump, I would put the flag down and say that, in this country and in this world, we have got to move toward democracy and human rights.  That is my view and has always been my view.

CALDERON:  To be clear, Senator Sanders, Cuba has been a dictatorship for decades.  Shouldn't we judge dictators by the violation of human rights and not by any of their alleged achievements?

SANDERS:  Well, I think you can make the same point about China.  China is undoubtedly an authoritarian society, OK.  But would anybody deny, any economist deny that extreme poverty in China today is much less than what it was 40 or 50 years ago?  That's a fact.  So I think we condemn authoritarianism, whether it's in China, Russia, Cuba, any place else.  But to simply say that nothing ever done by any of those administrations had a positive impact on their people would, I think, be incorrect.

BIDEN:  Vice President Biden, you have criticized Senator Sanders for praising Castro's education system.  But in 2016 President Obama said Cuba made, quote, "a great progress in educating young people" and that its health care system "is a huge achievement that they should be congratulated for."

How is that different from what Senator Sanders has said? 

BIDEN:  He was trying to change Cuban policy so the Cuban people would get out from under the thumb of Castro and his brother, that is to change the policy so that we could in fact on -- impact on Cuba's policy by getting them opened up.  That's what that was about. 

But the praising of the Sandinistas, the praising of Cuba, the praising, just now, of China -- China is an authoritarian dictatorship.  That's what it is.  We have to deal with them because they're there.  But the idea that they, in fact, have increased the wealth of people in that country -- it's been marginal, the change that's taken place.  It is still -- they have a million Uighurs, a million Muslims in prison camps in the West.  You see what's happening in Hong Kong today.

And by the way, the idea that he praised the Soviet Union, when it was the Soviet Union, about the things that they had done well -- they're an awful dictatorship killing millions and millions of people.

And in addition to that, we have a circumstance where, after the election was all over and we knew what -- what was done by -- by the Russians now, in interfering with our elections, this man voted against sanctioning Russia for interference in our elections.

BASH:  Senator Sanders...

BIDEN:  I don't get it. 

SANDERS:  Well, what you don't get -- and this is exactly what the problem with politics is about.  All right, question.  Did China make progress in ending extreme poverty over the last 50 years, yes or no?

BIDEN:  That's like saying Jack the Ripper...

SANDERS:  No, it's not.

BIDEN:  Yes, it is.

SANDERS:  See, Joe, this is the problem. 

BIDEN:  Yes, it is. 

SANDERS:  This is the problem.  We can't talk -- I know there's a political line.  I understand.  China's terrible and awful, nothing ever good, (inaudible).  But the fact of the matter is China, of course, is an authoritarian society.  It's what I just said.

BIDEN:  It's a dictatorship.

SANDERS:  That's what I just said five minutes ago, you know.  And, by the way, you know, the question that was asked quoted Barack Obama.  President Obama was more generous in his praise of what Cuba did in health care and education than I was.  I was talking about a program 60 years ago, in the first year of the Castro revolution. 

So the bottom line is that I think it's a little bit absurd -- if we're going to look at the world the way it is, of course, we are opposed to authoritarianism.  And by the way, you know, before it was considered good policy, a good idea.  I was condemning the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia when a lot of other people in Washington...

BIDEN:  It wasn't me.

SANDERS:  I was condemning the dictatorship in the UAE.  You were not.

BIDEN:  Yes, I was.

CALDERON:  Thank you, Senator Sanders.  

Vice President Biden? 

BIDEN:  Look, the idea of occasionally saying something nice about a country is one thing.  The idea of praising a country that is violating human rights around the world is, in fact -- makes our allies wonder what's going on.

What do you think the South Koreans think when we -- or he praises China like that?

What do you think -- what do you think the Australians believe in the shadow of China?

What do you think is happening in Indonesia in the shadow of China?

What do you think is happening in terms of Japan in the shadow of China?

Words matter.  These are flat-out dictators, period.  And they should be called for it, straight up.  We may have to work out -- for example, I was able to help negotiate a New START agreement with Russia, not because I like Putin.  The guy's a thug.

TAPPER:  Mr. Vice President, sticking with foreign policy, you acknowledge that your support and vote for the Iraq War was a mistake.  What lessons did you learn from that mistake?

And how might those lessons influence your foreign policy decision-making as president?

 

BIDEN:  I learned I can't take the word of a president when, in fact, they assured me that they would not use force.  Remember the context.  The context was the United Nations Security Council was going to vote to insist that we allow inspectors in to determine whether or not -- whether or not they were in fact producing nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction.

They were not.  And what's the first thing that happened when we got elected? 

President Obama turned to me and said, "Get those troops out of there."

I was responsible for getting 150,000 combat troops out of Iraq.  I was -- I admitted 14 years ago it was a mistake to have trusted him.  And I'm prepared to compare my foreign policy credentials up against my friend here on any day of the week and every day of the week. 

BIDEN:  Well, let's start off with the war in Iraq, Joe.  I was there, too.  I was in the House.  I understood -- and, by the way, let's be clear about what that vote was.  And you were there at the signing ceremony with Bush.  Everybody in the world knew that, when you voted for that resolution, you were giving Bush the authority to go to war.  And everybody knew that's exactly what he and Cheney wanted to do.

Most people who followed that issue closely understood that the Bush administration was lying through its teeth with regard to Saddam having weapons of mass destruction.  I understood that.  I was on the floor of the House time and time again.

But the issue is not just the war in Iraq.  That was a long time ago.  The issue is the trade agreement.  It wasn't so easy for me to lead the effort against disastrous trade agreements.  The issue was the bankruptcy bill that you supported.  The issue was the Hyde amendment.  The issue was the Defense of Marriage Act.  The issue is whether or not, in difficult times, and God knows these are difficult times, we're going to have the courage to take on powerful special interests and do what's right...

TAPPER:  Vice President Biden?

SANDERS:  ... for working families in this country. 

BIDEN:  Why did you vote not to sanction the Russians? 

SANDERS:  I'll tell you.  You know why?  Because that -- you keep talking about Iran.  That was tied to Iran.  Russia was in Iran.  I think John Kerry indicated his support for what I did.  That was undermining the Iranian agreement.  That's why.

BIDEN:  That's not true.  Our...

SANDERS:  That's why, and that's the only reason why. 

BIDEN:  That is not...

SANDERS:  I have condemned Russia time and time again. 

TAPPER:  Vice President Biden? 

BIDEN:  The fact is that -- the idea that I, in fact, supported the things that he's suggesting is not accurate.  Look, I'm the guy that helped put together the Iran deal and got the inspectors in there.  That was my -- my chief of staff was the guy, my foreign policy guy, doing that negotiation. 

I was the guy that helped put together a 60-nation organization to take on the ISIS in Iraq and in Syria.  I've dealt with these folks.  I know them.  And I know what they're like.  And I know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. 

The fact is this -- Bernie's notion about how he embraces folks like the Sandinistas and Cuba and the former Soviet Union and talks about the good things in China, it's absolutely contrary to every message we want to send the rest of the world.

TAPPER:  Senator Sanders?  

SANDERS:  I have led the effort against all forms of authoritarianism, including America's so-called allies in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia, and in fact, as you may know, work with conservative Republicans to utilize for the very first time the War Powers Act to get the United States out of the horrific war in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia.  That's what I did.  So my view is that in a world moving toward authoritarianism, the United States has got to be the leader where people all over the world look to us for guidance.  

BASH:  Thank you, Senator.  Thank you, gentlemen.  I want to change topics and ask each of you about some of your vulnerabilities in this election, starting with you, Vice President Biden.  Senator Sanders has won more of the Hispanic vote than you in several key states so far.  In fact, he doubled your support in California among Hispanics.  He almost tripled it in Nevada.  So why is your message not resonating with Hispanic voters? 

BIDEN:  Well, look, my message is resonating across the board.  Every single state we've been in, there's been a significant turnout.  In Virginia, turnout was up 70 percent.  They voted for me.  He didn't bring them out.  I brought them out. 

And, number two, look what's happened in Mississippi.  Look what's happened in North Carolina.  Look what's happened in Washington state.  Look what's happened across the board.  Why is it that I'm I winning all those places?  What's the reason?  What's the reason?

The reason is because they know I am a Democrat with a capital "D" who, in fact, believes that our base is the base of the Democratic Party, which are hard-working men and women, who, in fact, are high school educated, African-Americans and minorities, including Hispanics, but all minorities, suburban women, people who, in fact, have a sense of our place in the world.  That's why I am winning -- not just winning, but overwhelmingly winning.  Not even close in these places.  And...

BASH:  Senator...

SANDERS:  Well, you didn't quite win...

BASH:  Senator Sanders, Senator Sanders, let me just follow up with you about an issue that you're having.  For the second consecutive presidential election, you're struggling to gain wide support from African-Americans.  Why is your message not resonating with African-American voters?  

SANDERS:  Here is what I believe is happening.  And this is an important point and why I decided to run for president.  I think it's imperative that we defeat Trump.  I think our campaign, of a biracial, bi-generational, multigenerational, grassroots movement is the way to do it.  

Now, we have won some states.  Joe has won more states than I have.  But here's what we are winning.  We are winning the ideological struggle.  Even states in Mississippi, where Joe won a major victory, it turns out that a pretty good majority of the folks there believe in Medicare for all.  And that's true in almost every state in this country. 

And the other issue that we don't talk enough about is we are winning the generational struggle.  Depending on the state, we're winning people 50 years of age or younger.  Big time, people 30 years of age and younger.  I, frankly, have my doubts. 

Look, I -- if I lose this thing, Joe wins, Joe, I will be there for you.  But I have my doubts about how you win a general election against Trump -- who will be a very, very tough opponent -- unless you have energy, excitement, the largest voter turnout in history.  

And to do that, you are going to have to bring young people, who are not great voters.  They don't vote in the kinds of numbers they should -- into the political process.  You're going to have to bring Latinos, who are great people, who have the agenda that we need, but also don't vote in the numbers that we need.  I have my doubts that Vice President Biden's campaign can generate that energy and excitement and that voter turnout. 

BIDEN:  I will do that.  And by the way, just get this straight.  The energy and excitement that's taken place so far has been for me, 70 percent turnout increase in Virginia.  I can go down the list.  They are coming out for me.  And I didn't even have the money to compete with this man in those states.  I virtually had no money.  The press kept saying, Biden has no money.  And they were right.  Biden had no money. 

And the idea, why are they doing that?  The reason they're doing that is because they understand I know what has to happen, that I know what needs to be done.  And by the way, the idea that everybody supports Medicare for all, he still hasn't indicated how much it's going to cost people.  He's yet to know exactly what's going to -- so here's my point.  People don't know the detail at all.  And the fact is...

BASH:  Thank you, sir.

BIDEN:  ... I am winning overwhelmingly among Democratic constituencies across the board.

BASH:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. Vice President.  We're going to be right back with more from the CNN-Univision Democratic presidential debate.  Stay right there.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

TAPPER:  Welcome back to the CNN-Univision Democratic presidential debate.  

 

Finally, gentlemen, thanks so much for everything.  As we end here tonight, let's return to where we began, the coronavirus, which does not discriminate based on ideology, it does not care if one is a Democrat or a Republican, a conservative, a moderate or a progressive.  

 

Senator Sanders, let me start with you.  What's your closing message tonight for those who are concerned about, affected by, or dealing with the coronavirus? 

 

SANDERS:  Well, our hearts go out to everyone.  We need to move aggressively to make sure that every person in this country who has the virus, who thinks they have the virus, understands they get all the health care that they need, because they are Americans, that we move aggressively to make sure that the test kits are out there, that the ventilators are out there, that the ICU units are out there, that the medical personnel are out there. 

 

But, Jake, if I might also say, that in this moment of economic uncertainty, in addition to the coronavirus, it is time to ask how we get to where we are, not only our lack of preparation for the virus, but how we end up with an economy where so many of our people are hurting at a time of massive income and wealth inequality.  It is time to ask this -- the question of where the power is in America. 

 

Who owns the media?  Who owns the economy?  Who owns the legislative process?  Why do we give tax breaks to billionaires and not raise the minimum wage?  Why do we pump up the oil industry while a half-a-million people are homeless in America? 

 

This is a time to move aggressively, dealing with the coronavirus crisis, to deal with the economic fallout.  But it's also a time to rethink America and create a country where we care about each other rather than a nation of greed and corruption, which is what is taking place among the corporate elite.

 

TAPPER:  Thank you, Senator Sanders.  

 

Vice President Biden, what's your closing message tonight for those concerned about, affected by, or dealing with this virus? 

 

BIDEN:  Number one, as I said at the outset, I just can't imagine what people are going through right now who have lost someone already.  I can't imagine what people are going through, when they have a mom -- for example, a good friend of ours is sitting outside the window of a nursing home where her mom is because she can't go in, trying to do sign language to her mom through the window to be able to talk to her.  I can't imagine the fear and the -- I guess I can imagine the fear and concern people have. 

 

Number one, one of the things that I think we have to understand is that this is an all hands on deck.  This is -- as someone said, maybe it was you, Jake, at the outset, this is bigger than any individual.  This is bigger than yourself.  This is about America.  This is about the world.  This is about how we bring people together and make the kind of sacrifices we need to make to get this done. 

 

And so, first and foremost, what we have to do is start to listen to the science again.  As I said, what we did, we met -- what I'd be doing today, I'd be sitting down in the Situation Room literally every day, like we did at the outset of other crises we had when we were in the White House, and pulling together the best people, and not just in the United States, the world, and say, what is it -- what are the prescriptive moves we have to take now to lessen this virus, to beat it, to go to the point where we can save more lives, get more people tested, get more people the kind of care they need?

 

And then what do we do beyond that, to make sure that the economic impact on them is, in fact, rendered harmless, that we, in fact, make sure every paycheck is met, every paycheck that's out there, that the people are going to miss, that we keep people in their homes, that they don't miss their mortgage payments, they don't miss their rent payments, making sure that they're going to be able to take care of education, that they're -- and, by the way, the education systems are closing down right now. 

 

And so there are so many things we have to do.  And in addition to that, what we have to do is we have to have the best science in the world telling what can stay open and what need be closed.  Like I said earlier, the idea that we're closing schools -- which I understand -- but not being able to provide lunches for people who, in fact, need the school lunch program to get by. 

 

The idea that we would close any place that -- I can understand the decision made to close places where 100 or 50 people or more gather.  But how do you keep open the drugstore to make sure you can get your prescription?  How do you deal with the things that necessarily have to be kept going?  And what's the way to do that?  There should be a national standard for that.  It should be coming out of the Situation Room right now. 

 

And by the way, the single most significant thing we can do to deal with the larger problem down the road of income inequality is get rid of Donald Trump.  Donald Trump, he's exacerbated every single one of these problems, both the immediate urgent need and how we're going to hold people harmless for the damage done as a consequence of this virus.  It's important we do both. 

 

TAPPER:  Vice President Biden, Senator Sanders, we want to thank you both for being here tonight under these challenging and trying circumstances.  We wish both of you the best. 

 


 

 

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