CBS News Democratic Primary Debate Charleston, South Carolina Transcript Part 2

Joe Biden at South Carolina Democratic Debate (Photo Credit: Sidney Evans / Politisite
(Photo Credit: Sidney Evans / Politisite)

This is part 2 of the rush transcript from CBS News Democratic primary debate on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina.

BIDEN: A waiting period of 12 hours. I’m not saying he’s responsible for the nine deaths, but that man would not have been able to get that weapon with the waiting period had been what I suggest until you are cleared.

In addition to that, being progressive, he thought Barack Obama — he wanted a primary– he said we should primary Barack Obama, someone should, and, in fact, the president was weak and our administration was in fact not up to it. Look, folks, this is — let’s talk about progressive. Progressive is getting things done, and that’s what we got done. We got a lot done


KING: Senator Sanders — Senator Sanders, your response.

SANDERS: You know, Pete mentioned — I’m hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight.


SANDERS: I wonder why. And maybe, you know, Pete mentions what the American people want. I will tell you, Pete, what the American people want, and, Joe, what the American people want. They don’t want candidates to be running to billionaires for huge amounts of funding.

BUTTIGIEG: All right, let’s clear this up once and for all.

SANDERS: Pete has gotten funding from over 50 billionaires.

BUTTIGIEG: You’ve got people believing something that is false. This needs to be cleared up.

SANDERS: Joe, I think, has gotten a little bit more. What the American people want, by the way, and a lot of the issues we’ll be discussing tonight are issues I raised four years ago: raising the minimum wage to a living wage, 15 bucks an hour. Making public colleges and universities tuition-free. And finally, doing what every other major country on Earth does, guaranteeing health care to all people as a human right through a Medicare for All, single-payer system.


BUTTIGIEG: I can’t allow — I can’t allow this to stand because it’s just not true. Senator Sanders…

KING: We’re going to allow everyone an opportunity opportunity to respond.

BUTTIGIEG: … has got people believing something that is untrue about my campaign. The idea that most of my campaign is funded by billionaires…

SANDERS: I didn’t say that, Pete.

BUTTIGIEG: Fifty people, all right. In Charleston alone, just in Charleston, over 2,000 people have contributed to my campaign. That means the dollars that have come to my campaign, just from Charleston, is more than the dollars that have come from the 50 people that you mentioned. Grassroots contributions are the life blood of my campaign.

In fact, I shouldn’t miss the opportunity, if you’re watching right now and you support my campaign, go to, and chip in. And if you are watching right now, and you’re a billionaire, I will raise your taxes. But if you’d like to defeat Donald Trump, please go to and donate legal maximum of $2,800, if you’re a billionaire.

KING: All right, all right, Mayor Buttigieg.

Vice President Biden, I want to make — I want to bring us to another topic. We’re in South Carolina. It’s the first primary with a significant black voting population. Your numbers appear to be slipping with black voters. And I’m wondering if you could respond about why that is happening to you at this particular time.

BIDEN: Well, first of all, the latest poll I saw, my numbers — I’m still 15 points ahead, the latest poll.

KING: Yes, yes, you’re correct. You’re correct.


BIDEN: But look, look…

KING: But Senator Sanders is in striking distance of you. You are within the margin of error in this state.

BIDEN: Well, it depends which — look, I’ve earned the vote, I’ve worked like the devil to earn the vote of the African-American community, not just here but across the country. I’ve been coming here for years and years, creating jobs here, making sure that the port, for example, that employs one in 11 people, we put $500 million, in our administration, just into this county. We’ve created jobs for people.

The people know me. My entire career has been wrapped up in dealing with civil rights and civil liberties. I don’t expect anything. I plan to earn the vote. I’m here to ask. I’m here to earn it. But, folks, I intend to win in South Carolina, and I will win the African-American vote here in South Carolina.


KING: Mr. Biden, will you continue if you do not win South Carolina? You have said that South Carolina will determine the outcome of this presidential race. If you don’t win South Carolina, will you continue in this race?

BIDEN: I will win South Carolina.


KING: All right, sir.

Mayor Bloomberg, I’d like to bring you into this conversation. I want to ask you about a question that impacts the black and brown community. You’ve apologized for stop and frisk repeatedly. What exactly are you apologizing for?

BLOOMBERG: We let it get out of control and when I realized that, I cut it back by 95 percent. And I’ve apologized and asked for forgiveness. I’ve met with black leaders to try to get an understanding of how I can better position myself and what I should have done and what I should do next time.

But let me tell you, I have been working very hard. We’ve improved the school system for black and brown students in New York City. We’ve increased the jobs that are available to them. We’ve increased the housing that’s available to them. We have programs like the…

KING: But what more can you do about this issue, Mr. Mayor, to put people’s fears and skepticism to rest? It continues to follow you.

BLOOMBERG: No — well, that’s because it’s in their interest to promote that. But if you talk to the people in New York City, I have over 100 black elected officials that have endorsed me. A lot of them are in the audience tonight. And I’ve earned the respect of people in New York City.

I was the mayor of the largest, most populous city in the United States for 12 years, and people will tell you it’s a lot better city today. It is safer for everybody. The school system is better. The budget is under control. We’ve done the things that people need in New York City for all ethnicities.


KING: Mayor Buttigieg, mayor to mayor, mayor to mayor, you’ve certainly had your issues with the black community as well. Do you think the New York City’s implementation of stop and frisk was racist?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, in effect, it was. Because it was about profiling people based on their race. And the mayor even said that they disproportionately stopped white people too often and minorities too little. And I’m not here to score points. I come at this with a great deal of humility, because we have had a lot of issues, especially when it comes to racial justice and policing in my own community.

And I come to this with some humility because I’m conscious of the fact that there are seven white people on this stage talking about racial justice. None of us — none of us have the experience, the lived experience of, for example, walking down the street, or in a mall, and feeling feeling eyes on us, regarding us as dangerous, without knowing the first thing about us just because the color of our skin.

None of us had the experience that black women have had that drives that maternal mortality gap that we are all rightly horrified by, of going into a doctor, and being less likely to have your description of being in pain believed because of your race. Since we don’t have the experience, the next best thing we can do…

O’DONNELL: Thank you, Mayor.

BUTTIGIEG: … is actually listen to those who do.

BLOOMBERG: I know — wait a second. I know that if I were black, my success would have been a lot harder to achieve. And I know a lot of black people that if they were white it would have been a lot easier for them. That’s just a fact, and we’ve got to do something about it than rather just demagogue about it.

O’DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar, was the way that the mayor implemented stop and frisk racist?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes, and I think that what we need to do instead of just reviewing everything from the past is talk about where we’re going to go forward. Martin Luther King once said that we are all tied in a single garment of destiny, and that what affects one of us directly affects all of us indirectly. So when there is racism in the criminal justice system, then we need to fix it.

And to me that means sentencing reform, like the First Step Act, and extending that to the states with the Second Step Act. It means equal opportunity. Because if we don’t pass Representative Clyburn’s bill out of South Carolina here to invest in impoverished communities, we’re never going to get to that single garment of destiny.

And we also need to do something about child care, about making sure we increase the minimum wage. And then, finally, voting. While we are all sitting here debating, Wisconsin has kicked hundreds of thousands of people off of their voting rolls. Georgia kicked 100,000 off. As president, I will get voting rights to be a reality for everyone.


KING: Senator Warren, I’m coming to you. I want to direct this question to you because you — because Mayor Bloomberg has said he got in this race late because he doesn’t believe that any of you on stage can beat Donald Trump. You said Mayor Bloomberg is not the safest candidate, he is the riskiest candidate. What did you mean by that?

WARREN: I mean that Mayor Bloomberg — let’s think of it this way. We’re here in Charleston, and you know who is going to be in Charleston later this week is Donald Trump. He’s going to be here to raise money for his buddy Senator Lindsey Graham, who funded Lindsey Graham’s campaign for re-election last time? It was Mayor Bloomberg.

And that’s not the only right-wing senator that Mayor Bloomberg has funded. In 2016, he dumped $12 million into the Pennsylvania Senate race to help re-elect an anti-choice, right-wing Republican senator. And I just want to say, the woman challenger was terrific. She lost by a single point.

In 2012, he scooped in to try to defend another Republican senator against a woman challenger. That was me. It didn’t work, but he tried hard.


WARREN: I don’t care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has. The core of the Democratic Party will never trust him. He has not earned their trust. I will. And the fact that he cannot earn the trust of core of the Democratic Party means he is the riskiest candidate standing on this stage.


KING: All right, Senator Warren, thank you.

Mayor Bloomberg, would you like to respond? Mayor Bloomberg?

Transcription by ASC Services LLC.

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