CBS News Democratic Primary Debate Charleston, South Carolina Transcript Part 3


This is part 3 of the rush transcript from CBS News Democratic primary debate on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina.

BLOOMBERG: I have been training for this job since I stepped on the pile that was still smoldering on 9/11. I know what to do. I’ve shown I know how to run a country. I’ve run the city which is almost the same size — bigger than most countries in the world.

I am not the — I’m the one choice that makes some sense. I have the experience. I have the resources. And I have the record. And all those sideshows that the senator wants to bring up have nothing to do with that. When people hired me to run New York City three times, in an overwhelmingly Democratic, progressive city, they elected me again and again.

O’DONNELL: Mr. Vice President?

WARREN: I was mentioned in this.



WARREN: I’d like to respond.

O’DONNELL: Go ahead, Senator.

WARREN: He called me out by name.

BIDEN: There was a — I thought…

WARREN: … and referred to what I talk about as a “sideshow.” You know, this is personal for me. When I was 21 years old, I got my first job as a special education teacher. I loved that job. And by the end of the first year, I was visibly pregnant.

The principal wished me luck and gave my job to someone else. Pregnancy discrimination, you bet. But I was 21 years old. I didn’t have a union to protect me. And I didn’t have any federal law on my side. So I packed up my stuff, and I went home. At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, “Kill it,” the way that Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said…

BLOOMBERG: I never said that. Oh, come on.

WARREN: … to one of his pregnant employees. People want a chance to hear…


People want a chance to hear from the women who have worked for…


BLOOMBERG: I never said that. And for the record, if she was a teacher in New York City, she would never have had that problem. We treated our teachers the right way, and the unions will tell you exactly that.


O’DONNELL: Well, Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Warren has raised…

WARREN: Then let us — let us have — the women have an opportunity to speak. The Bloomberg corporations and Mayor Bloomberg himself have been accused of discrimination. They are bound by nondisclosures so that they cannot speak. If he says there is nothing to hide here, then sign a blanket release and let those women speak out…



WARREN: … so that they can tell their stories the way I can tell my story without having the fear they’re going to be sued by a billionaire.


O’DONNELL: Thank you. Thank you. We have a number of issues to discuss tonight, but I want to give the mayor an opportunity to respond, because she has raised concerns about women in your workplace. At the last debate, you said some of your female employees might not have liked some of your jokes. Did these women take your jokes wrong? Or were you wrong to make the jokes?

BLOOMBERG: Probably wrong to make the jokes. I don’t remember what they were. So I assume — if it bothered them, I was wrong, and I apologize. I’m sorry for that.

But what happened here is we went back 40 years and we could only find three cases where women said they were uncomfortable. Nobody accused me of doing anything other than just making a comment or two. And what the senator did suggest was that we release these women from the nondisclosure agreement. I did that two days later, and my company has said we will not use nondisclosure agreements ever again. The senator has got it. And I don’t know what else she wants us to do.

WARREN: Oh, I’ll be clear.

BLOOMBERG: We’re following exactly what she asked to do.

WARREN: I’ll tell you exactly what I want you to do.

BLOOMBERG: And the trouble is with this senator, enough is never enough for what this — I’m going to start focusing on some of these other things. We just cannot continue to re-litigate this every time. We did what she asked. And, thank you, we’ve probably made the world better because of it. And by my company renouncing using these, we probably changed, hopefully, the corporate landscape all across America.

BUTTIGIEG: If you get nominated, we’ll be re-litigating this all year.


WARREN: Sorry, Mayor, you did not do what I asked.

KING: Senator Warren, that is a very serious charge that you leveled at the mayor.


KING: He told a woman to get an abortion. What evidence do you have of that?

WARREN: Her own words.

KING: And, Mayor Bloomberg, could you respond to this?

BLOOMBERG: I never said it, period, end of story. Categorically never said it. When it was accused — when I was accused of doing it, we couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. But right now, I’m sorry if she heard what she thought she heard, or whatever happened. I didn’t take any pleasure in that. And we’ve just got to go on. But I never said it. Come on.

WARREN: What I asked the mayor to do is to do a release of all people who have discrimination claims…

BLOOMBERG: We are doing that, Senator.


O’DONNELL: We want to get to the — we want to get to the issue — we want to get to the issue of electability and the ideological difference within the Democratic Party.


O’DONNELL: Senator Sanders, the cost of your agenda. Yesterday, you released information about how you will pay for your major proposals, but not all of your details are clear. You’ve proposed more than $50 trillion in new spending.

SANDERS: Over a 10-year period.

O’DONNELL: You’ve said Medicare for all will cost $30 trillion.

SANDERS: Over a 10-year period.

O’DONNELL: But you can only explain how you’ll pay for just about half of that. Can you do the math for the rest of us?

SANDERS: How many hours do you have?

KING: Two.


BIDEN: That’s the problem.

SANDERS: No, it’s not the problem. All right, let’s talk about Medicare for all. I’m sure you’re familiar with the new study that just came out of Yale University, published in Lancet magazine, one of the prestigious medical journals in the world. You know what it said? Medicare for all will lower health care costs in this country by $450 billion a year and save 68,000 lives of people who otherwise would have died.

What we need to do is to do what every other major country on Earth does: guarantee health care to all people, not have thousands of separate insurance plans, which are costing us some $500 billion a year to administer.

Our plan — we have laid out options all over the place. One of the options is a 7.5 percent payroll tax on employers, which will save them substantial sums of money. Another…

KLOBUCHAR: Bernie, let me — let me respond to this.


SANDERS: You asked me a question.

O’DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar, does the math add up?

KLOBUCHAR: No, the math does not add up. In fact, just on “60 Minutes” this weekend, he said he wasn’t going to rattle through the nickels and the dimes. Well, let me tell you how many nickels and dimes we’re talking about: nearly $60 trillion. Do you know how much that is, for all of his programs?

SANDERS: Not true.

KLOBUCHAR: That is three times the American economy — not the federal government — the entire American economy. The Medicare for all plan alone on page eight clearly says that it will kick 149 million Americans off their current health insurance in four years. That is true.

As one prominent Democrat once said, we should pay attention to where the voters of this country are, Bernie. That prominent Democrat was Barack Obama a few months ago. And I think that’s what we should do. They are not with you on spending nearly $60 trillion.

SANDERS: First of all…

KLOBUCHAR: What I think we should do is make things more affordable, nonprofit public option, make sure we’re paying for long-term care better, take on the pharmaceuticals, like you and I have done together…

O’DONNELL: Thank you, Senator.

KLOBUCHAR: … and do something for the people of America.

KING: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar.


KLOBUCHAR: Instead of a bunch of broken promises that sound good on bumper stickers.

KING: Mr. Steyer — Mr. Steyer…

BUTTIGIEG: I think we’re talking about math.

KING: We’ll get to you, Mr. Sanders.

BUTTIGIEG: Let’s talk about it.

STEYER: Can I say something?

SANDERS: First of all…


STEYER: No, let me go.

SANDERS: No, I think — Tom, I think she was talking about my plan, not yours.

BUTTIGIEG: I think we were talking about math, and it doesn’t take two hours to do the math.

SANDERS: No, no, well, let’s talk about math.

BUTTIGIEG: Because let’s talk about what it adds up to.

SANDERS: Let’s talk about math.

BUTTIGIEG: Let’s talk about math, indeed. OK, so here’s the math…

SANDERS: If we do nothing is what…

BUTTIGIEG: No, here’s the math.

SANDERS: Excuse me, can I respond to the attack?


BUTTIGIEG: To do nothing is what will happen…


O’DONNELL: Senator Sanders, you are allowed a quick response and then we would like to allow the other candidates…


SANDERS: Listen to the moderator, guys.

O’DONNELL: Senator Sanders. Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: The moderator — is it my turn?

BIDEN: This helps a lot, doesn’t?

O’DONNELL: Senator Sanders, you have been name checked. You are allowed to respond.

SANDERS: OK. What the Health and Human Services have said in analyzing health care costs, what Yale — recent Yale study has said is that your program would cost some $50 trillion over a 10-year period. We would continue to pay in some cases 10 times more for the same exact prescription drugs. What every study out there — conservative or progressive — says, Medicare for all will save money. Ours will cost about $45 billion, not $60 trillion.


KLOBUCHAR: Bernie, I was talking about — I was talking about…


KING: We would like — Senator Sanders, we would like to bring Mr. Steyer in on this conversation.


STEYER: Mr. Steyer, please.

KLOBUCHAR: I was talking about all your programs.


STEYER: Excuse me, Amy. This conversation shows a huge risk for the Democratic Party. We are looking at a party that has decided that we’re either going to support someone who is a democratic socialist or somebody who has a long history of being a Republican.

And let me say that I got into this race because I wanted to fight for economic justice, for racial justice, and to make sure we had climate justice for the American people. And I am scared.


If we cannot pull this party together, if we go to one of those extremes, we take a terrible risk of re-electing Donald Trump.

O’DONNELL: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.

STEYER: And that is something — I still have some time. And let me say this.

O’DONNELL: Thank you, Mr. Steyer.

STEYER: That is a risk that will hurt the American people in a way that none of us on this stage should be willing to risk.

O’DONNELL: Thank you. Let’s keep this topic going. Mayor Pete?

BUTTIGIEG: So let’s do this math. Senator Sanders at one point said it was going to be $40 trillion, then it was $30 trillion, then it was $17 trillion. That’s an incredible shrinking price tag. At some point, has said it is unknowable to even see what the price tag would be. Now there are new numbers.

I’ll tell you exactly what it adds up to.

Transcription by ASC Services LLC.

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