HOST: We’re live in Ohio. The Democratic candidates for president are here. And the voters have fewer than two days to make up their minds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Tonight the Democrats are in Ohio answering directly to voters in one of the nation’s key battleground states.
CLINTON: I want to be the president for the struggling and the striving.
SANDERS: We have a long, long way to go to rebuild the American middle-class.
ANNOUNCER: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sharing the spotlight and the scrutiny.
CLINTON: It matters with what you say when you run for President of the United States of America.
ANNOUNCER: Pressure mounting as the fight for delegates enters a crucial round.
SANDERS: We are going to win here on March 15th, and together, we’re going to transform America.
ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN TV One Democratic town hall event, a key chance for voters to have their say in a high stakes contest for the nation.
CLINTON: We have focused on issues.
SANDERS: This is a great country, and we can do a lot better than we’re doing now.
ANNOUNCER: The Democrats are making their pitch, voters are making their choice, and Ohio hangs in the balance right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Live from the auditorium on the campus of the Ohio State University in Columbus, this is the CNN Democratic presidential town hall. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world, and on our partner, TVOne, and to listeners on the radio one network. I’m Jake Tapper.
Ohio is known to decide elections, and the state is about to play a critical role on Tuesday when voters go to the polls here along with four other big states.
In this auditorium, we have found many Ohio voters who are still undecided, and before they make up their minds they want answers from Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Audience members have submitted questions to us, we have reviewed them to make sure that they do not overlap. I’ll be asking some questions as well, along with my friend, Roland Martin on TV One.
First, let’s welcome Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
TAPPER: Good to see you, Senator.
SANDERS: good to see you.
TAPPER: So, Senator, let’s start — and I have a few questions, and so does Roland, and then we’ll get to Ohio voters.
There’s been a lot of emotion on the campaign trail, and in some cases, unfortunately, there’s been some violence. Donald Trump has been on the stump blaming your supporters for some of it. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Look, it’s a Bernie Person. It’s a Bernie — hello, Bernie.
Hey, Bernie, get your people in line, Bernie.
Can you imagine Bernie saying that Trump should get his people under control, and they put in these people? And, by the way, our crowds are so much bigger than Bernie’s, you wouldn’t believe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Your response, Senator?
SANDERS: I hesitate to say this, I really don’t like to despair public officials, but Donald Trump is a pathological liar.
SANDERS: We have never — our campaign does believe, and never will, encourage anybody to disrupt anything. We have millions of supporters; people do what they do. People have the right to protest.
I happen to not believe that people should disrupt anybody’s meetings, but let me say something about Mr. Trump.
Some of you may have read just a few hours ago that Mr. Trump said that he is prepared to pay for the legal costs of an individual who sucker punched somebody at a recent event. He’s going to pay the legal fees of somebody who committed a terrible act of violence. What that means is that Donald Trump is literally inciting violence with his supporters.
He is saying that if you go out and beat somebody up, that is OK. “I’ll pay the legal fees”.
That is an outrage, and I would hope that Mr. Trump tones it down big time, and tells his supporters that violence is not acceptable in the American political process.
TAPPER: Senator Sanders…
TAPPER: … I interviewed Senator Marco Rubio this morning, and he told me that he is also very concerned about the tone that Donald Trump has at his rallies…
And Senator Rubio told me that he is quote “very concerned” about the tone to the degree that he is worried that somebody might actually lose their life.
Are you concerned that way?
SANDERS: Well, you know, Jake, you heard this one individual who sucker-punched somebody, and if he is quoted correctly, what he said, well, you know, why did you punch him up? Well, he might be a terrorist, and next time I might have to kill him. I think that is roughly the quote.
MARTIN: That is exactly what he said.
SANDERS: That is what he said. And this is the guy that Trump is going to be paying legal fees for? What that is essentially saying, my friends, is an incitement to violence. You go beating up somebody, it’s OK, we’ll pay the legal fees.
That is unacceptable, and I think that Senator Rubio has a legitimate concern. We have got to put an end to this. Trump has to get on the TV and tell his supporters that violence in the political process in America is not acceptable, end of discussion.
TAPPER: One second, Roland, I’m sorry, I just want to play devil’s advocate for one second on this. Some of your supporters in Chicago were acting violently as well, and I have to say the guy who rushed the stage yesterday at Donald Trump voted for you.
Now I know you are not encouraging — I know you are not encouraging the violence, but do you need to tell your supporters…
SANDERS: Jakes millions of people voted for me, if I have to take responsibility for everybody who voted for me, it will be a very difficult life.
SANDERS: But let me repeat what I said. I never have and never will condone violence. People have the right to protest, that’s what America is about. I have been on the picket lines my whole life, but that is very different from getting involved in violence.
MARTIN: Senator Sanders, you have talked a lot about income inequality during this campaign. Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., who is here, has been fighting Silicon Valley, opening up the doors and opportunities for African-Americans and other people of color.
Yet four years ago, PowerPAC+ did a study showing that the Democratic Party spent $514 million on various consultants, yet minorities only got 1.7 percent or $8.4 million of that.
How can the people trust Democrats to do something about income inequality when, when it comes to political dollars, they practice income inequality?
SANDERS: Well, that’s a very good point. And let me say hello to Reverend Jackson. I was with him yesterday. And I am proud to say that way back in 1988 when he and I were a little bit younger, and he ran his brilliant campaign for president, I am proud to say I was one of the few white politicians, white elected officials to support Jesse Jackson. And in fact he won the state of Vermont, so I’m very proud of that.
But to answer your question, what we have got to do, not just as a party but as a nation, make sure that federal contracts and money goes to those people who need it the most.
Roland, let me tell you what I think is one of the great crises facing this country which gets little coverage from the media, and that is youth unemployment in this country. Unemployment and underemployment is off of the charts. For African-American kids, it is 51 percent.
SANDERS: I want, and I believe that the folks most capable of helping lower that rate, are the black business community. And I think we should be very aggressive in targeting federal contracts to the African-American community, the Latino community, those communities that can help us the most deal with high rates of unemployment.
So I share your concern. It’s a good point.
TAPPER: All right. Senator Sanders, if you’ll stand up, we’re going to take some questions from Ohio voters now.
Here you go, up here I think, and I’ll go over here. The first question is from Terina Allen. If she would stand up? There you are. Her brother, Sam DuBose, was shot and killed by a police officer last year after a routine traffic stop for a missing license plate.
You might remember this took place at the University of Cincinnati. He would have turned 44 yesterday. Terina says she is leaning towards Secretary Clinton, but she is still undecided. The floor is yours.
QUESTION: Hi, Senator Sanders. Thank you for taking my question. I just wanted to ask, as Americans, we are — it’s expected that we can speak out against terrorists, we can speak out against murders and killers of all forms except when that killer is a police officer.
Yesterday, my brother was going to turn 44 years old, and last July he was shot in the head by a police officer. And we have been on a mission to try to get some accountability within the police systems.
And so I wanted to know, it has been my experience, unfortunately, that police officers do lie. They do kill unjustly. They do falsify police reports. How can we — as president, what would you do to create zero tolerance policy for… How can we — as president, what would you do to create a zero tolerance policy for unjust police killings, and to help to create a system of accountability that is greater than what we have right now?
SANDERS: Well, Terina, first of all, on behalf of my wife, and myself, we send you our condolences for your terrible and unjust loss.
We have seen in Ohio, and all over this country, unarmed people, often African-Americans, shot and killed while being apprehended by police officers. That has got to end, and that has got to end soon.
So, let me just say a couple of things. Number one, any police officer who breaks the law, like any other public official, must be held accountable. Period.
People break the law; they must be held accountable.
SANDERS: Number two, if elected President of the United States, my Department of Justice will investigate every killing of an American held in police custody, or killed while being apprehended. An automatic Department of Justice investigation.
Number three, we need to develop the concept of a model police department, and a model police department, and the federal government can play a significant role on that, is to make and create training procedures so that police officers understand that the use of lethal force is the last response, not the first response.
Too often people are shooting, and then asking question later.
Furthermore, we need to demilitarize local police departments around this country so they don’t look like occupying armies, and we need to make police departments reflect the diversity of the communities they are serving.
SANDERS: The American people are tired, blacks, whites, and all of us, are tired of seeing unarmed people getting shot.
We are tired, by the way, of seeing more people in jail in America than any other country on Earth. I promise you that addressing this issue of real criminal justice reform and ending institutional racism will be at the very top of my list of priorities.
TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.
TAPPER; I want to turn now to John Terry. He works in manufacturing, and he is leaning towards you.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Senator. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be here. We all know that the auto industry is booming, but for myself and thousands of workers like me who manufacture parts for these huge companies, our paychecks are more comparable to fast food wages, opposed to being a pathway to, like, the middle-class.
So, as president, what would you do not only to bring up wages, but to keep these vital jobs in the United States?
SANDERS: OK, thank you very much for that very important question.
There are two issues surrounding the question you asked, if I might. Number one, you are looking a Senator and former Congressman who opposed every one of these disastrous trade agreements which have cost American workers millions of jobs.
I could see from day one that these corporately written trade agreements were designed to allow corporations to shut down in America, throw people out on the streets, go to Mexico, go to China, pay people pennies an hour, and then bring those products back into this country.
One of the very strong differences between Secretary Clinton and myself, she has supported almost all of those trade agreements and I have vigorously opposed it.
Now, you’re raising another issue which gets very little attention, it’s what we call the race to the bottom.
Now, the good news is that in recent years we have seen some increase in the number of manufacturing jobs in America, that’s good. The bad news is that some of these jobs are not paying 50 percent or 60 percent of what these jobs used to pay. And the reason for that is corporations are saying, “OK, well, we’ll bring back jobs, but you are going to have to take a significant pay cut and if you do not, we will ship your company’s jobs off…”
And the reason for that is corporations are saying, “OK, well, we’ll bring back jobs, but you are going to have to take a significant pay cut and if you do not, we will ship your company’s jobs off to China or Vietnam, all right?
I will not only continue to oppose trade agreements like the TPP, which asks us to compete against people in Vietnam who make 65 cents an hour minimum wage, but what we are going to do is develop an entirely different process in terms of trade.
SANDERS: Tonight on CNN, there are going to be 30-second ads from all of the major corporations, and they are going to be saying, buy this product, and buy that product. Well, you know what, if they want us to buy those products, the time is long overdue for them to manufacture those products here in the United States, not in China.
SANDERS: And furthermore, furthermore, for all working people, we have got to recognize that the $7.25 an hour minimum wage is a starvation wage. We are going to raise that minimum wage to $15/hour so that nobody in America who works 40 hours lives in poverty.
MARTIN: Senator Sanders, Senator, hope to see some of those ads on TV One, too. All right then, I want to go to right here, a question here, Wayne Carlson. He’s the dean of undergraduate students here at Ohio State University.
He says he is torn between you and Secretary Clinton. Wayne?
QUESTION: Thank you very much for allowing me to be here. As dean of undergraduates, I am very, very much aware of the impact on our students of escalating costs in higher education, particularly our disadvantaged students.
I, myself, am a first-generation low-income student, and I financed my way through college using federal grants and forgivable loans. I know, Senator, that you are proposing free college for all.
I don’t quite understand how that’s possible. Senator, is there room for compromise on this issue?
SANDERS: Well, Wayne, I am not proposing — and very often it gets misunderstood, I am not proposing free college for all. What I am proposing is free tuition at public colleges and universities. That is what I am proposing.
And I am also proposing to substantially lower the outrageous level of student debt that millions of people in this country are currently carrying.
Now why am I doing this? I am doing this because today in many respects a college degree is the equivalent of what a high school degree was 50 years ago. The world has changed. The economy has changed. People need more education.
And that is why I believe we should make public colleges and universities tuition-free so that anybody in this country who has the ability, who has the qualifications will be able to get a college degree, regardless of the income of his or her family.
Like you, I came from a family that didn’t have a lot of money, first generation to go to college, but I want every kid in this country who is in the sixth grade or the fourth grade to understand that if he or she studies hard, does well, they will be able to go to college regardless of the income of their family.
And we are going to pay for that. I will tell you how we are going to pay for that. You know, I have been criticized, this is an expensive proposition, it is, $70 billion a year.
But, you know, some of you will remember that back in 2008, Congress bailed out Wall Street after their greed and illegal behavior nearly destroyed our economy. I believe we should impose a tax on Wall Street speculation.
If we could bail out Wall Street, now it is Wall Street’s time to help the middle class of this country.
MARTIN: Senator Sanders, I have heard from and obviously at TV One we target African-American, and I have heard from a significant number of HBCU graduates who are very concerned about your plan.
We are at Ohio State, but there are two HBCUs in this state, Wilberforce University, private, Central State, public. How do you ensure that your plan would not be the death knell of HBCUs which actually graduate most of our black doctors and lawyers and professionals?
SANDERS: HBCUs do a great job. And I am absolutely 100 percent supportive. But about — if my memory is correct, about half of HBCUs are public colleges…
MARTIN: And half private.
SANDERS: And half are not. And I understand that for a relatively small number of colleges, they graduate a heck of a lot of young African-American…
But about — and if my memory’s correct, about half of HBCUs are public colleges…
QUESTION: … About half are private.
SANDERS: And half are not, and I understand that for as relatively small number of colleges, they graduate a heck of a lot of young African-American people.
QUESTION: 300,000 students every year.
SANDERS: Huge role. I will do everything I can to make sure — and we are not doing it now, let’s be clear. I have talked to many presidents at black colleges, and they are struggling, and I will do everything I can to fully support.
We have legislation in that will protect not only HBCUs, but other non-profit colleges who bring in a lot of low-income students. They are high on my agenda, and they should not feel threatened by this legislation.
TAPPER: Senator Sanders, I want you to meet Charles Noble. He’s a program manager here at The Ohio State University here in Columbus. He says he is still making up his mind of who he’s going to support on Tuesday.
QUESTION: Good evening, Senator, thank you for taking my question.
I am the director of a program called, “My brother’s Keeper”, and we work with young black males on the South side of Columbus, all 200 percent below the poverty line. There’s been a lot of debate recently at the federal level related to where do we go with trade.
In the last 15 years on the South side of Columbus, we’ve see thousands of jobs gone due to plant foreclosure, and we’ve seen also subsequent economic disinvestment. Rates of infant mortality, rates of child poverty, rates of educational attainment, and so on, and so forth. And, some areas of the South side are as bad as they are in third world countries.
If elected, what will your administration do to ensure that international trade deals do more to promote growth on the South side, and in areas like it?
SANDERS: Well, when I talk about the disastrous trade agreements, and we have lost since 2001, almost 60,000 factories. Can you imagine that? 60,000 factories, millions of good paying jobs. You go to a department store, you know what? It is pretty hard to buy a product manufactured in the United States of America, isn’t it? We got to change that.
And, by the way, when we talk about groups of people who have been hit, everybody’s been hit. African-Community has actually been hit harder because if you’re an African American worker, you are working in a factory, you got a union. You know what? You’re doing pretty well. You’re making middle-class wages. You lose that factory, what do you do? Do you work in a McDonald’s now?
You’re working for $9 bucks an hour, or $10 bucks an hour. So, what we have got to do — we got to do a number of things economically to my mind.
Number one, we will develop an entirely new set of trade policies not written by corporate America for corporate America, alright?
We are going to write trade policies that work for the working people of this country and poor people abroad, but not just for the multi-national corporations.
Number two, as part of an overall economic investment policy, and we talked about this with Jesse Jackson the other day. We’ve got to target our economic development into those communities who are most hard pressed.
Now, I know what is going on in Ohio. I was in Flint, Michigan a couple of weeks ago, and you cannot believe what is going on. Talk about a third-world country, you would think it was a fourth-world country.
But, here is the main point that this campaign is about. People don’t know it, we are the richest country in the history of the world. Problem is that almost all new income and wealth is going to the top one percent. Problem is we have the worst distribution of wealth of any major country on Earth.
I have spent my life taking on the billionaire class and the special interests. I will continue to do that, and we are going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just a few, and we are going to invest in low income communities all over America.
What is going on in areas of Columbus, areas all over this country, is a national disgrace. Together, we care going to change it.
TAPPER: Senator, let me talk about…
TAPPER: … Let’s talk about trade more broadly.
TAPPER: You were, and remain, a strong opponent of NAFTA.
TAPPER: Exports are a big part of the Ohio economy, and more than half of Ohio exports go to the two countries affected by NAFTA other than the United States, Canada and Mexico. What do you tell a skeptical Ohioan that about how your trade policies won’t hurt them?
SANDERS: Look, Jake, we live in a global economy, and everybody understands that trade is a positive thing. Nobody is talking about building a wall around the United States. Of course, we are going to trade.
Oh, I beg your pardon, there is one guy who is talking about building a wall.
SANDERS: Let me rephrase it, no rational person is talking about building a wall.
SANDERS: So of course we are going to do trade, but trade policies have got to be policies that work for the people of our country.
And I will work very hard to expand agricultural exports, to expand manufacturing exports, but they have to be based around a principle, not of unfettered free trade where the American workers are working against people around the world who are makings pennies an hour, but fair trade, and that is the trade policy I will work for.
TAPPER: All right. Senator Sanders, stay with us. We’ll be right back with more questions from our audience for Senator Bernie Sanders. You’re watching the CNN/TV One democratic presidential town hall, live in Columbus, Ohio.
TAPPER: Welcome back to the Ohio State University in Columbus for this Democratic presidential town hall.
TAPPER: Welcome back to The Ohio State University for this Democratic Presidential town hall. We’re here with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Let’s go to our next questioner, and our next voter, Steve Caminati, who works in public relations, says he’s leaning towards Secretary Clinton, but there’s still a chance, Senator Sanders.
QUESTION: Thank you. Senator Sanders, welcome to Columbus. You mentioned your tax policy which would tax Wall Street. Obviously, it is tax the wealthiest Americans, but according to the Tax Policy Center, middle-income homeowners could also see an increase in their income taxes. I think the number is $4,700 dollars. For wages that have been stagnant for a shrinking middle-class, what’s your message to middle income Americans and Ohioans?
SANDERS: First of all, we disagree with that analysis, you know? Different groups do different analyses, and other groups come up with very different results.
At a time when the top one-tenth of one percent now owns almost as much as the bottom 90 percent, when 58 percent of all new income generated today goes to the top one percent, when major corporations make billions of dollars a year in profits, stash their money in the Caymen Islands and Bermuda, and end up in a given year not paying a nickel in taxes.
When communities in Columbus, and all over this country are falling apart, and when we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth, you know what I think?
I do believe that the wealthiest people in this country, and the largest corporations are going to have start paying their fair share of taxes.
Number two, a lot of the analyses of our proposals, our tax proposals, have forgotten to include our Medicare for All health care program. And, what Medicare for all will do is provide healthcare to every man, woman and child without have to pay premiums to the insurance companies and very substantially lower the cost of prescription drugs.
I believe that is the direction that we should go in. So, to answer your question, I believe that the wealthiest people and largest corporations should be asked to pay their fair share. We are going to protect the middle-class of this country, and we are going to address massive levels of income and wealth inequality, and the disinvestment that we are seeing in communities through this country.
TAPPER: Well, Senator.
MARTIN: Thank you. Since, I got a brother and two sisters who are teachers, and one who is a teacher’s aide, let’s go to a teacher.
We have Caitlyn Dunn, she helps lead a charter school here in Columbus, Ohio. She did Teach for America and saw the inequities in our school system, and she says she is undecided. So, you got a shot. Go for it.
SANDERS: Alright, I will work on it.
QUESTION: Thank you so much for taking my question.
An article was released in the Columbus Dispatch Friday announcing the schools producing top student gains from around the state of Ohio. Of these, one-third of those schools producing these results were charters right here in Columbus, Ohio. So, knowing this, and also having similar narratives from across the country, do you think that charter schools are a viable way to educate children in low-income communities, or do you think that you would continue, as President, giving money to traditional public schools?
SANDERS: I believe in public education, and I believe in public charter schools.
I do not believe in private — privately controlled charter schools.
And, I will tell you what else I believe. I believe that when we talk about education as a nation, we have got to make education not just rhetorically, but in reality one of the great priorities facing our country. I get a little bit tired about hearing about all the great football players and the millions of dollars a year they make. Maybe we should talk about the great teachers in this country and make sure that they can earn a good wage.
And, let me also say, if I can, build on your question. You know, when we talk about national priorities, and when we talk about a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires while half of the kids in public schools in America are on free or reduced lunch, talk about an issue that nobody every talks about, and that is the dysfunctional child care system we have in America.
Every psychologist who studies the issue knows that zero through four are the most important years for intellectual and emotional development, and yet we have child care workers who are making $9, or $10 dollars an hour without any benefits.
I intend to do everything that I can to create a first-class national child care system with well-paid, well-trained teachers so that the all of our little kids get a start in life that is worthy of children in the United States of America.
MARTIN: Senator Sanders, I listened to your answer about charter schools and not supporting the private charters.
MARTIN: But we use taxpayer dollars in forms of grants for folks to go to private colleges. We did a poll for TV One and rolandsmartin.com, nearly 80 percent of black parents said they support charters, they support school vouchers. Many Democrats don’t.
So explain how we can support tax dollars going to private colleges, but we don’t believe in school choice for folks in elementary, middle, and high school?
SANDERS: I think that — I think there is a difference.
MARTIN: And that is?
SANDERS: And I think the difference is that right now public schools all over this country are being defunded. And money is leaving the public school system.
And you may want to argue with me, and it’s a good debate, but I happen to believe that public schools, the ideas of neighborhood schools, people from different economic levels, rich and poor and middle class coming together, that is one of the reasons that we created the kind of great nation that we have.
So, we are going to do everything that we can to support public education, and support experimentation in public education. In my city of Burlington, Vermont, we have started some great public — I don’t know what they are called, charter schools. One of them is into — one is, well, I forgot what it is actually.
MARTIN: Magnet school?
SANDERS: Yes, magnet-type schools. And they’re doing a great job. So I want to see a lot of experimentation, but I do not want to see the money leave the public schools.
TAPPER: All right. Senator sanders, I want you to meet a Dr. Amit Majmudar. He’s a radiologist from Dublin, Ohio. He says he is undecided, but leaning towards Secretary Clinton. Doctor?
QUESTION: Senator Sanders, welcome to Columbus. I’m a son of immigrants. My parents, both citizens now, have done very well in this great country, and so have I.
But as a 1 percent ethnic and religious minority, witnessing the rise of Donald Trump, for the first time, my family has started feeling a little uncomfortable here, and frankly, a little bit scared.
If Donald Trump secures the Republican nomination, I am going to have one mission heading to the ballot box, which is to keep him from taking office.
Which Democratic candidate is going to be better at helping me to do that, someone who can not just condemn, which is easy, but defeat him?
SANDERS: Good. Good question.
QUESTION: And other than the usual negative rhetoric and attack ads, none of which have worked so far, what are three specific points of your anti-Trump game plan?
SANDERS: OK. First off, thank you for the question.
SANDERS: You know, a lot of criticisms are thrown at me, and that is natural in politics, but one that I resent is, well, Bernie, you are a nice guy, I like your ideas, but you just can’t win the general election.
All right. So let me deal with that. Take a look at virtually every national poll that has been done. Take a look at the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of two or three days ago, guess what, Bernie Sanders was defeating Donald Trump by 18 points.
In fact, in all of…
SANDERS: And in virtually, not all, but virtually all of those polls, the margin, my margin over Trump is wider than Secretary Clinton’s. If you look at statewide polls, the polls done in Michigan a week or two ago, I was 19 points ahead of Trump. And in New Hampshire, I think 19 points as well.
So first point, I think if you are looking at the polling, I am the strongest Democratic candidate to beat Donald Trump.
Second point is Republicans win when the voter turnout is low. I think any objective assessment of the current campaign, and we have just had a rally here in Columbus a few hours ago, we had 7,000 people out. We have had 25,000-28,000 people out at rallies.
I think any objective assessment of this campaign will suggest that the excitement and the energy for large voter turnouts is with the Bernie Sanders campaign.
Third point, to answer your question. The way you beat Trump is to expose him. And he can be exposed at many, many levels, not the least of which, this is a guy who is… SANDERS:
Third point, to answer your question. The way you beat Trump is to expose him. And, he can be exposed at many, many levels, not the least of which this is a guy who is a billionaire but doesn’t think we should raise the minimum wage about $7.25 above an hour. This is a guy who goes on Republican T.V. debate and says wages in America are too low. Tell that to the people in Ohio that wages are too low.
This is a guy who believes in defiance of all science that climate change is a hoax. And, then of course, on top of all of that, is the issue that you raise, the American people are not going to elect a president who is insulting Mexican, Muslims, women, veterans — insulting virtually everybody who is not quite like Donald Trump.
Thank God most people are not quite like Donald Trump.
SANDERS: And, by the way, just as an addition, I don’t want anybody here to forget that Donald Trump was one of the leaders of the so-called “birther movement”, and what that movement was about was a very, very deep attack on the legitimacy of the presidency of Barack Obama. That was a real assault. It wasn’t saying, “I disagree with Obama,” that’s fine.
What he was saying is that Barack Obama does not have the right to be president. He wasn’t born in America. That is an insult not only to the African-American community, it is an insult to every one of us who voted and supported Barack Obama.
TAPPER: Senator, I want you to meet Crystal Oertle. She’s a mother and an advocate who helps people struggling with addiction. She says she is supporting you on Tuesday, but she has this question.
QUESTION: Hi. I was addicted to heroin for over 12 years, trying to raise my two small children, and oftentimes taking my youngest with me to buy heroin daily. It became my main goal every day. I am in recovery now, and lucky not to be in prison. What my question is what you plan to do with the failed drug policy that tends to want to incarcerate addicts instead of rehabilitate them.
SANDERS: Thank you.
SANDERS: If you were at the rally we held just a few hours ago, what you would have heard me say, and what I say all of the time, is that today in America we have in my state, in neighboring New Hampshire, and all over this country, a massive crisis in heroin addiction and overdosing, and opiate addiction as well.
What we have got to do is fundamentally rethink the so-called War on Drugs which has been a failure.
We have got to look at substance abuse and addiction as a health issue, not a criminal issue. Locking up addicts is not going to solve the problem.
SANDERS: Frankly, in terms of the broader issues of mental health in this country, we are failing and failing badly.
It is not only that we are not providing the treatment that addicts and abusers need when they need it, we have thousands of people who are walking the streets of America today. You talk about those horrific mass killings, you have people walking the streets today who are suicidal and who are homicidal. They call up my officer, other senators’ officer. Families cannot find the treatment that those people need.
Mental health is part of healthcare, and we need a revolution in providing mental health treatment to the people who need it in this country.
TAPPER: Thank you so much, Senator. We’ll be right back after this quick break. We’ll have more questions for Senator Sanders.
MARTIN: Hey, folks, welcome back to the CNN/TV One Democratic presidential town hall in the Mershon Auditorium here in Columbus, Ohio. We’re here with Senator Bernie Sanders. Let’s continue with our questions.
And we have Aaron Mercier, is a (INAUDIBLE) chef, so is my brother. So I don’t know what’s up with these tie-ins. He has a question here. He says he is leaning towards you, see if you can seal the deal.
SANDERS: All right.
QUESTION: Senator, thank you for taking my question.
I am opening up a small independent restaurant not too far from here this summer. And while as a citizen, I am 100 percent behind your populist message, I have some questions as an entrepreneur.
What will the tax burden for small businesses like mine look like under your administration?
SANDERS: After you add up the fact that you will not have to provide health insurance for employees or for yourself, you will be a lot better off.
SANDERS: Small and medium-sized and large businesses in this country are being crippled by the huge amounts of money that they are now spending on health care and the amount of time that they are spending trying to figure out what type of health insurance program works for their employees.
Now I want you to think about your business, and think about having health insurance for you and your families and your employees that is publicly funded, which is the case in every other major country on earth.
What will that do for you business? Make your life a little bit easier?
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) simplify, I think.
SANDERS: All right. So you, to be honest, you are going to pay a little bit more in taxes. You will pay a little bit more in taxes. But the savings will be in total much greater by the reduction — by the fact that you are not going to be having to pay private health insurance premiums.
You and every other small business…
You and every other small businessman in this country will be better off under my plan.
MARTIN: Considering that black women start businesses at a faster rate than anybody else in the country, that is (INAUDIBLE).
SANDERS: There you go.
MARTIN: Let’s go right now to Misty Jordan from Radio One here in Columbus, Ohio. Where we come, we call that family.
QUESTION: Good evening. I’m thrilled to be here. My question for you is what will you do different than President Obama to the move your agenda forward if there is no change in congressional power?
SANDERS: Good question.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SANDERS: For a start, if I become president, it will mean that there will be a significant increase in the voter turnout. In every caucus and primary that we have won, and we have won nine so far, and we think we have a chance to win here in Ohio.
SANDERS: In every instance, including Michigan last week, the turnout was great. So what we are doing is creating large voter turnouts. If there is a large voter turnout, there is no doubt in my mind that the Democrats will recover the United States Senate and gain significant seats in the House. All right. That is number one.
SANDERS: Number two, and maybe more importantly, the whole premise of my campaign, you are saying, how do we get things done really? The premise and essence of my campaign is the belief, which I know to be true, because I work in Washington, D.C., that most of the members of Congress feel themselves indebted to their large campaign contributors rather than to the people they the represent.
On all of the issues that I am fighting for, raising the minimum wage, health care for all, making public colleges and universities tuition-free, pay equity for women, dealing with the climate change, by the way, we don’t talk enough about climate, that is what the American people want, but you have got Republicans who are moving in exactly the opposite direction.
What I have said over and over again, no president, not Bernie Sanders or anybody else can do it alone. Wall Street is too powerful. Corporate America is too powerful, large campaign contributor.
The only way we really transform this country, and that is the history of the workers movement and unions, the history of the civil rights movement, the history of the women’s movement, the history of the gay movement is when people stand up by the millions and fight back and tell Congress they are going to have to represent all of us, not just the 1 percent.
We do that, we will have a progressive agenda.
MARTIN: All right. Folks, our final question for Senator Bernie Sanders. And then Secretary Hillary Clinton after this short break.
TAPPER: Welcome back to the Ohio State University in Columbus. We’re talking with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Senator Sanders, as you know in the town halls towards the end of them, we like to ask some questions to the audience to get to know you better. You’re still relatively new on the national scene. One question that I think people might be interested in hearing is that we all know that you’re very close with your wife, Jane, and your family. But, who are your friends?
If you’ve got Nationals tickets in Washington one day, who would you invite, other than — let’s say Jane was out of town. Who would you invite?
SANDERS: Well, we come some very close friends, many people who work with me in my office who I have known for years. My campaign manager is somebody who started working for me when he was 18 years of age, doing a great job running this campaign. So, the people that I work with are often my closest friends, and back in Burlington, I have very dear friends who I have been close to for 30 or 40 years.
TAPPER: As you know, Washington works well when people in Washington from both sides of the aisle know each other, work well together. Who is the person who is closest to you with whom you disagree with most on politics?
SANDERS: Republican, we are talking?
Well, you see, the irony here, this is not even funny. If I told you the Republican that I liked the most it would ruin his political career.
TAPPER: Do it. Do it.
SANDERS: There will be a 30 second ad, Sanders said he likes this person, and he is finished.
QUESTION: Who is it?
SANDERS: I’ll give you an example. One of the most conservative members of the Senate is a fellow named Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma. And, Jim is a climate change denier, he is really, really conservative, but you know what? He is a decent guy, and I like him, and he and I are friends. And you find that, you find the fact that just because you have very significant political differences doesn’t mean to say you cannot develop friendships with good people.
TAPPER: And, lastly, Senator, this is an enormous undertaking that you’re in the middle of right now. Has this experience running for president changed you, and if so, how has it changed you?
SANDERS: How has it changed me? My God, yes. It has profoundly changed me. You Know, I come from a small state, and I love my state so much, and I’m so proud to represent Vermont in the Senate. But, when you go around the country you meet so many extraordinary people. Almost at every rally that we do, we usually do what we call a clutch, where we bring local people together. And, you meet people from the Latino community, and you hear their experiences.
I remember in Phoenix talking to a young teenaged girl, tears, literally tears rolling down her eyes fearful about somebody and her family being deported, and that makes you fight that much more for real immigration reform.
We meet with people from the Native American community, extraordinary people whom we have treated shallowly …
We meet with people from the Native American community, extraordinary people whom we have treated so shabbily over the years. And you learn a lot about their culture.
The one regret that I have, and it’s the nature of campaigns, is you just don’t have the time to spend with people and go around the state. You know, you go in there, you give a speech, you get in your hotel, and you’re off for five speeches the next day.
But I have met extraordinary people, and I have seen so many young people who are optimistic about the future of this country, and are prepared to fight to make sure this country becomes all that it can become.
So all of that has been extremely gratifying to me, and at the end of the day, when you look around, we are so proud to be Americans, we are so proud of what we have accomplished, but we know we still have a long way to go.
TAPPER: Senator Sanders, thank you so much. Let’s give a hand to Senator Sanders. Thank you so much. Thank you so much.