Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will participate in a CNN town hall event in Ohio two days before the state’s primary. Clinton could have effectively put the race away had she won Michigan, but Sanders’s victory there revealed Clinton’s vulnerabilities with working-class voters and the left’s activist base. Since his Michigan win, Sanders has ramped up his attacks on Clinton, especially highlighting his differences with her on trade.
The town hall will take place days after many Sanders supporters disrupted Donald Trump’s Chicago rally, which was ultimately postponed. Many protesters in Chicago were chanting “Bernie!” and Trump has called on Sanders to tell his supporters to stand down. Sanders has claimed his campaign did not organize any of the protests, but a variety of left-wing agitators spent weeks organizing Friday’s disruption.
Breitbart News will be providing live updates of the town hall.
9:59: Tapper asks Clinton what she meant when she said she wasn’t a “natural politician.” Clinton says that a lot of the work/demand that goes into a campaign are challenging. She says she is much better when “I actually have a job to do rather than trying to get the job.” She says she doesn’t want to get hired to be a constant candidate. She wants to be hired to be a president because she thinks she brings the combination of skill/understanding/experience to do all parts of the job. She says it is “poetry” when Obama/her husband campaign. She says “that’s not necessarily my forte.” She says she has “produced results” in every job she has had. She says she has an archive of nice things Republicans have said about her–including Trump.
9:52: Clinton: “We’re going to put a lot of miners and coal companies out of business.”
Martin wants Clinton to make the case to poor whites who vote for Republicans why they should vote for Democrats. Clinton says “we have serious economic problems in many parts of this country.” Clinton says instead of dividing people like Trump, let’s reunite around policies that will serve underserved communities. Clinton talks about reviving the economy through clean, renewable energy. Clinton then says “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies” out of business. [That’s not going to go over well in swing states in a general election, to say the least.] She says we have to remember the miners who did the best they could to produce the energy we relied on… and implies that she has economic revitalization plans to help them.
9:47: A “racial and social justice organizer” who is undecided asks what programs she would implement in impoverished cities to decrease gun violence. Clinton says 90 people a day are killed by gun violence and a “shocking number” of those killed are children. She says we are in a “crisis” when it comes to gun violence and it is “truly an epidemic.” She talks about the need for common-sense gun control like comprehensive background checks and closing the gun-show/online/Charleston loopholes. She says we have to “crack down” on the makers and sellers of guns. She says Sanders voted for a bill to give immunity to gun sellers. In previous debates, Sanders accused Clinton of wanting no guns in America. She says she doesn’t know how much she can get done but she is going to take on the gun lobby.
9:42: Clinton: Foreign Leaders Asking if They Can Endorse Me to ‘Stop Donald Trump.’ She cites the Italian Prime Minister. [This will only help Trump in a general election.]
Clinton blasts Trump’s “temperament,” which will be pushed “one way or the other depending on who said what to you today.” She says she will point out how “dangerous” Trump would be “for our standing, for our safety, for the peace of the world.”
9:40: Clinton says she will tell voters that they must vote AGAINST trump and for her. But she puts voting AGAINST Trump first because she knows that people may not be enthusiastic about voting for her. Clinton says Republicans have attacked her for 25 years and she has developed the thick skin that is necessary to combat Trump.
She says she is not going to “spill the beans” but “there are many arguments we can use against him.” Clinton a unique argument she can make as a former Secretary of State is what his presidency would mean to our country and our standing in the world.
9:38: The same sone of immigrants who asked the loaded question to Sanders about Trump GETS TO ASK THE SAME QUESTION TO CLINTON. He tells Clinton that since the rise of Trump, for the first time his family has been scared. He ask which Democrat can best defeat Trump. He wants to know three specific points of her anti-Trump game plan.
Clinton says she is the only candidate who has gotten more votes than Trump so far.
She says she is building a broad-based, inclusive campaign to convince people that this is the highest-stakes election they will be involved in.
9:35: Clinton is asked if she would allow farmers/communities to say no to fracking. She says that the federal government has an important role to play, including giving local communities the final say on the matter. She says we need much more scientific research but we know that methane releases are bad for the environment. She says we know that “if water is contaminated, that is bad.” She disagrees with a loophole in the law that allows fracking companies to not disclose the chemicals they are using. She says she has to figure out what she can do at the federal level and what we can do at the state level.
Clinton says there is growing scientific evidence that fracking is connected to the tremors in Oklahoma. She says now even Oklahoma is saying “wait a minute, we better stop and take a hard look at this.” She says she will set the rules, regulations and figure out how to influence the states. Clinton says she will do everything she can to limit, regulate fracking but no president can say “I’m going to ban it.” [Obvious shot at Sanders.] Clinton says she doesn’t want to make a promise she can’t keep. [very effective attack against Sanders.]
9:30: Clinton: ‘System Racism’ at Work Inside Criminal Justice System.
Questioner says black/brown people are disproportionately in prisons and asks what she will do to address the system to make it more “fair/balanced.” She calls the prison system “modern-day slavery.”
Clinton says her description of the system is “absolutely right.” She says her comprehensive approach is on her website and says she kicked off her campaign by focusing on prison reform. She says it is unacceptable that an African-American man is more likely to be charged/incarcerated for doing the exact same thing as a white man. She says “we have systemic racism that is really at work inside the criminal justice system and we got to be willing to stand up and question these inequities and go about the business of ridding them.”
She wants to end private prisons and really believes that states need to stop building prisons and investing in education.
Martin asks if Democrats should stop taking money from private prisons. Clinton answers “yes.”
[Clinton not pressed about her husband’s role in creating the school-to-prison pipeline.]
9:25: Questioner rips Democrats for raising health insurance premiums under Obamacare, says it’s costing a lot to vote for Democrats.
An office coordinator who is leaning toward Hillary says her health insurance skyrocketed after she voted for Obama. She says more than doubling her health insurance costs for her family of four was not just a “little more” like Obama promised. She says it has been difficult coming up with that payment. She says she would like to vote for Democrats but it’s costing her a lot. She wonders if Democrats wonder how much it is costing working-class Americans to pay for the health insurance.
Clinton says her mission will be to get costs down. She claims that for many people, Obamacare has reduced costs and has ensured people with pre-existing conditions get insurance. Clinton says it has become increasingly clear that “we have to get the costs down.” She wants to get her family’s co-pays, deductibles down so she could find an affordable plan on the exchange. She wants the questioner to go “shopping on the exchange” and keep looking to “see what the prices are.”
9:16: Martin asks Clinton about the death penalty. A man who was wrongfully committed of murder and exonerated from death row (he spent 39 years in jail for a crime he did not commit) asks Clinton how she could support the death penalty even though innocent people have been executed.
He says he came “perilously close to my own execution.”
Clinton says this is such a “profoundly difficult question.” She says the “state’s have proven themselves incapable” of carrying out fair trials of giving defendants all of the rights/support they should have. She says she would breathe a sigh of relief if the Supreme Court/states began to eliminate the death penalty.
Clinton says, at this point, given the challenges we face from terrorism, she says the death penalty can be held in reserve at the federal level for terrorists. She cites the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11 attacks. She is for a “very limited use of it in cases where there has been horrific mass killings.” She says “what happened to you was a travesty and I can’t even imagine what you went through and how terrible those days and nights must have been.” She says she is regretful that he had to go through what he did.
9:14: Questioner asks Clinton if we are “destined for more conflict” under Clinton’s watch. She says we have to use “every tool in our arsenal” including diplomacy and defense. She says in today’s world, it is important for a president to build coalitions and support allies to take on challenges that confront them. She says force should be the last resort and not the first choice. Clinton talks about Nye’s “smart power” and “leading the rest of the world” and not “going off on our own.” In Iraq/Syria, she wants to provide support for others to carry the military conflict forward with military action.
9:10: A laid-off steel worker tells Clinton that thousands of steel workers are about to lose everything because of the illegal dumping of steel. He asks Clinton if the federal government should bail out the steel industry. Clinton says we have to take much more aggressive action to stop illegal dumping of steel. Clinton says the United States government should stand up for steel, the companies, and the workers. She says the steel industry is in America’s national security/economic interests. And in addition to enforcing laws and going after China, she is committed to keeping steel workers working. [She doesn’t answer whether the government should bail out the industry. And she’s not pressed on it.]
9:06: Martin says many of the trade unions have “locked out black folks” and wonders if Clinton will demand that the trade unions bring in more African-Americans and Hispanics. Clinton says she has been an advocate for opening up every institution in our country. She says it will be a specific commitment to open up apprenticeships. Martin interrupts and says many of the skilled folks are shut out. Clinton says “we should do the whole gamut.” Clinton says it will be counterproductive to leave people out while building up the country’s infrastructure. Clinton says we have to encourage more Americans to consider jobs in various trades.
9:04: When asked if Democrats also need to be cautioned, Clinton blames Trump and says he is responsible for what happens at his events because he has been inciting and encouraging violence. She says people who engage in protests should be non-violent. Clinton again accuses Trump of committing “political arson.”
[What’s interesting is Trump has been saying the same thing at his rallies for months. Yet the organized chaos started happening this weekend.]
9:02: Tapper invites Clinton to attack Trump and his “violence” at Trump’s rally. He asks Clinton what are her concerns. Clinton says it is “clear” that Trump is running a “cynical campaign” pitting “group of Americans against one another.” She accuses Trump of “trafficking in hate and fear” and “playing to our worst instincts rather than our angels of our better nature.” He says Trump “actually incites violence” by urging his audience on. Clinton says Trump has been “bigoted” toward certain groups and blasts Trump for wanting to deport illegal immigrants and a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants.
[Clinton seems well prepared for this question–like she knew it was coming.]
9:00: Clinton is on deck.
8:57: Sanders is asked about his friends. He cites his campaign manager, who has worked with him since he was 18. Sanders says the people he works with are his closest friends. When asked who is a friend of his that he disagrees with the most on politics is, Sanders says one of the most conservative members of the Senate is Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Sanders says though Inhofe is a climate change denier, he is a decent guy and he and I are friends. Sanders says just because you have political differences doesn’t mean you can’t develop friendships with people.
Has running for president changed Sanders?
“Yes, it has profoundly changed me,” he says.
Sanders says you meet so many extraordinary people on the campaign trail. He recalls meeting Latino supporters who fear their families will be deported and that makes him want to fight harder for immigration reform. He says he has met extraordinary people and “so many young people” who are optimistic about the future of the country.
8:51: Questioner asks what Sanders will do to move Obama’s agenda forward if Republicans still control Congress. Sanders’s answer is the same/predictable. If he wins the election, he says there will be a large voter turnout and Democrats will recover the United States Senate and gain significant seats in the House. He says the premise of his campaign is the belief that most of the members of Congress feel themselves indebted to their large campaign contributors rather than to the people they represent. Sanders says on all of the issues he is fighting for, Republicans are moving in the opposite direction of what the American people want. Sanders says the only way you transform the country is if “people stand up by the millions and fight back and tell Congress” they will have to represent everybody and not just the 1%.
8:48: Questioner asks what the tax burden for small businesses like his will look like. Sanders goes back to his talking points. He just says “you will be a lot better off” since he will not have to pay for health insurance for his employees. Sanders says he will pay “a little bit more in taxes” but the savings will be greater because he will not have to pay private insurance premiums. [That’s a leap of faith voters may not take.]
8:42: Questioner, a former heroin addict, asks Sanders what he will do about a drug policy that seems intent on incarcerating–instead of rehabilitating–addicts. Sanders says what we have got to do is fundamentally rethink the so-called “war on drugs, which has become a failure.” He says drug addiction needs to be looked at as a health issue and not a criminal issue. He says we are failing to provide adequate mental health treatment.
8:37: Questioner, a son of immigrants, says he has been afraid in America for the first time as Trump has emerged as the GOP frontrunner. He says if Trump is nominated, his mission will be to defeat Trump. [Of course, CNN selects this question.] He asks which Democrat can best defeat Trump and asks Sanders how he would defeat him. Sanders says he does better against Trump than Clinton in various state/national polls. Sanders also says Democrats win when voters turn out and he says the excitement is with his campaign even though all of the energy has been with Trump/Republicans. Sanders says you defeat Trump by exposing him. He says Trump is a billionaire who doesn’t want to see an increase in the minimum wages. He blasts Trump for saying at a debate that wages are too low (that was a stupid comment by Trump). He attacks Trump for insulting “virtually everybody” who is “quite not like Donald Trump.” Sanders thanks God that most people are not like Trump. Sanders says he doesn’t want anybody to forget that Trump was one of the leaders of the so-called Birther movement. He says the movement was an attack/assault on the presidency of Barack Obama.
8:35: Martin challenges Sanders on his opposition to private charters schools. He says 80% of African-Americans in one poll supported private charter schools and asks how he can support federal funds going to private colleges but not to private charter schools. Sanders says the idea of “neighborhood schools” is one of the reasons America became great because people from all income levels went to school together.
He wants to support “experimentation” in education but he does not want to see money leave the public schools to private charter schools.
8:33: Sanders says he believes in public education and public charter schools but he does not believe in privately-controlled charters schools when questioner asks about education. Sanders says we have to make education “one of the great priorities facing our country.” He says he gets tired of hearing the millions of dollars football players make. He wants to make sure teachers earn a good wage as well. Sanders blasts the “proliferation of millionaires and billionaires” while kids in public schools are on free/reduced lunch. He rails against the low pay child-care workers receive and he wants all kids to get the care that will give them a good start in life.
8:30: Sanders is asked about his tax policy that would tax Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans. He points out that middle-income homeowners could see increases in their taxes. He asks what Sanders’s message is to middle-income Ohioans/Americans. Sanders says he disagrees with the analysis of his tax plan that the questioner cited. Sanders says he believes that the wealthiest people in the country and the largest corporations will start having to pay their “fair share” of taxes. Sanders claims the analysis of his tax plan did not take into account his “Medicare for all” program that will reduce the premiums Americans will pay. [Really not a good answer from Sanders for middle-income Americans.]
8:25: Sanders says nobody is talking about building a wall around the United States. Then he says “I beg your pardon, there is one guy who is talking about that.” He says “no rational person” is talking about that when asked if his opposition to trade deals will hurt Ohio’s economy that is dependent on exports. He says he will work to expand agricultural/manufacturing exports but trade has to be on principle of fair trade.
8:21: Questioner, a director of one of the “My Brother’s Keeper” programs, asks Sanders about trade. He says on the South Side of Columbus, there has been a lot of economic disinvestment, etc that has made some areas look like third-world countries. Sanders says it is tough to buy products manufactured in the United States and Sanders says African-American communities have been hit hard by trade deals. Sanders says trade deals have forced African-American factory workers to get jobs at McDonalds. [Sanders is making Trump’s argument against Clinton in a potential general election for him.] Sanders says we will write trade policies that work for working Americans at home. Sanders says we have to target economic develop into communities that are most hard pressed. He says areas in Flint looked like a “fourth-world” country. He says we “have the worst distribution of wealth” of any country on earth. He says he ha spent his life taking on the special interests/billionaires and he will invest in low-income areas. He says what is going on in Columbus, etc. is a “national disgrace.”
8:20: Martin asks Sanders how his free college plan will not be the death knell of the historically black colleges and universities. Sanders says they should not feel threatened by his legislation.
8:18: Now, Sanders says he is not proposing “free college for all.” He says is proposing “free tuition for all.” Sanders says a college degree is the equivalent of a high school degree 50 years ago, and that is why public colleges/universities should be tuition-free.
8:15: Questioner asks Sanders about wages and Sanders says he could see from day one that the corporate trade agreements were designed to shut down corporations in America and pay people pennies an hour in Mexico/China and bring the products back to America. He says that Clinton supported the trade deals while he opposed. Sanders also blasts corporations for forcing workers to take significant pay cuts. He says he will oppose trade agreements like the TPP and develop an entirely different process on trade. Sanders says there will be ads on CNN for corporations asking Americans to buy their products. Sanders says the time is long due for those products to be manufactured in America. He also calls for raising the minimum wage.
8:11: Questioner, whose brother was shot and killed by a police officer last year after a routine traffic stop for a missing license plate, rips police for lying and for engaging in “unjust killings.” Sanders says that any police officer who breaks the law must be held accountable. Sanders says the federal government should play a role in training police to understand that lethal force is the last–not the first–response. He says too many police officers shoot first and ask questions later. He says we have to demilitarize the police departments and make them look like their communities. Sanders says Americans are tired of seeing unarmed people shot.
8:07: Roland Martin asks Sanders how Democrats can preach about income inequality when Democrats only spent 1.4% on minority consultants. Sanders says Martin makes a good point that Democrats can’t talk about inequality when they are hypocritical re: spending their political dollars. [Good, refreshing question by Martin. Shows how important it is to get non-traditional voices at the debates on both sides.]
Sanders says the media are not talking about youth unemployment–but he doesn’t mention immigration like he has in the past. He wants federal dollars targeted to African-American/minority communities.
8:05: Sanders says Trump has to get on television and tell his supporters that violence is not acceptable. He says Rubio has a legitimate concern that someone will get killed during a Trump protest. Sanders says it would be a “very difficult life” to take responsibility for everyone who has voted for him. But he wants to hold Trump accountable for all of his supporters?
8:03: Sanders again says that Trump is a “pathological liar.” Sanders says “our campaign” does not encourage anybody to disrupt anything. But he doesn’t point out that many of his supporters organized for weeks trying to disrupt Trump’s rally. Sanders points out that Trump said he may pay the legal fees of his supporter who sucker-punched a protester. Sanders accuses Trump of “inciting violence” with his supporters. Sanders says that is an “outrage” and hopes that Trump “tones it down big time” and tells his supporters that violence is not acceptable in the American political process.
8:01: CNN’s Tapper tells Sanders that Trump has been telling Bernie to “get your people in line.”