CBS News Democratic Primary Debate Charleston, South Carolina Transcript Part 5


This is part 5 of the rush transcript from CBS News Democratic primary debate on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina.



KING:  I’m Gayle King with Norah O’Donnell.  Joining us now on the question here in Charleston, South Carolina are CBS News colleagues, the A team, Bill Whitaker of “60 MINUTES,” chief Washington correspondent, that’s Major Garrett, and Margaret Brennan, moderator of “FACE THE NATION.”


We’re going to begin with you, Vice President Biden, for this part.  Just across the street, as you mentioned at the top of the debate, is the theater (sic) where nine people were shot and killed inside the Mother Emanuel Church.  We all remember that day back in 2015.


And every day in our country, over 100 people die from gun violence.  You all have plans, I know, on this stage, to address the gun crisis.  But Congress has not been able to pass a major gun legislation in a quarter of a century.  And just think about this, in those 25 years we’ve had Columbine, Newtown, Parkland, Las Vegas.  We could go on and on.


Vice President Biden, I want to start with you, why should anyone have faith that you’re the one who can get this done now?


BIDEN:  Because I’m the only one that ever got it done nationally.  I beat the NRA twice.  I got assault weapons banned.  I got magazines that could not hold more than 10 rounds in them.  I got them eliminated.  Except we had a thing called an election with hanging chads in Florida and it was not reauthorized.


In addition to, that I passed the Brady Bill with waiting periods.  I led that fight.  But my friend to my right and others have in fact also gave into the gone manufacturers, absolute immunity.  Imagine if I stood here and said we’d give immunity to drug companies.  We would give immunity to tobacco companies.  That has caused carnage on our streets, 150 million people have been killed since 2007 when Bernie voted to exempt the gun manufacturers from liability.  More than all the wars, including Vietnam, from that point on.


Carnage on our streets.  And I want to tell you, if I’m elected, NRA, I’m coming for you, and gun manufacturers, I’m going to take you on and I’m going to beat you.  I’m the only one who has done it.




BUTTIGIEG:  That’s why we have got to change what Washington can deliver.




WARREN:  So this is about being able to dig in and talk about what really it’s going to take to get something done.  I’ve been in the Senate.  What I’ve seen is gun safety legislation introduced, get a majority, and then doesn’t pass because of the filibuster.  Understand this, the filibuster is giving a veto to the gun industry.


It gives a veto to the oil industry.  It’s going to give a veto on immigration.  Until we’re willing to dig in and say that if Mitch McConnell is going to do to the next Democratic president what he did to President Obama, and that is try to block every single thing he does, that we are willing to roll back the filibuster, go with the majority vote, and do what needs to be done for the American people.




KING:  We’re going to stay on this top and allow Senator…


BIDEN:  … and I can beat Mitch McConnell.


WARREN:  Understand this, many people on this stage do not support rolling back the filibuster.  Until we’re ready to do that, we can’t have real change.


O’DONNELL:  I want to allow Senator Sanders to respond because you’ve gone after the insurance industry.  You’ve taken on pharmaceutical companies.  And you’ve taken on big tech.  Why did you vote repeatedly to give gun manufacturers a pass?


SANDERS:  Well, you know, Joe has voted for terrible trade agreements.




SANDERS:  No, no, no, no, no.  Joe voted for the war in Iraq.  My point was, not to be — I have cast thousands of votes, including bad votes.  That was a bad vote.  I have today a D-minus voting record from the NRA.  Thirty years ago, I likely lost a race for the one seat for Congress in Vermont because 30 years ago, I opposed — I supported a ban on assault weapons.  Thirty years ago.


Right now, my view is we need to expand background checks, end the gun show loophole, and do what the American people want, not what the NRA wants.


BIDEN:  OK, but wait a second…




BUTTIGIEG:  … the opposition to the filibuster is not a discretion from a long time ago.


BLOOMBERG:  I think she recognized me, thank you.  I have a 6 million-person organization around this country.  Moms Demand Action and Everytown.




BLOOMBERG:  We have put background checks — we have got background checks in 20 states.  So you can do it.  It’s Congress that can’t seem to do it.  And I don’t know why we think they’re going to do it.  The vice president voted for a death bill, and supported the NRA.  And certainly Senator Sanders has supported the NRA.


But we can do this.  We have just got to stop talking about it.


KLOBUCHAR:  But the way we do it — the way we do it is having someone leading the ticket from a part of the country that we actually needs the votes.  So I have long supported the assault weapon ban.  I am the author of the bill to close the boyfriend loophole that says that domestic abusers can’t go out and get an AK-47.


BIDEN:  I wrote that law.


KLOBUCHAR:  That bill, along with — you didn’t write that bill.  I wrote that bill.


BIDEN:  I wrote the bill, the Violence Against Women Act…


KLOBUCHAR:  OK.  You did you that.


BIDEN:  … that took out of the hands of people who abused their…


KLOBUCHAR:  OK.  We’ll have a fact check look at this.


BIDEN:  Let’s look at the fact check…


KLOBUCHAR:  Oh my goodness.


BIDEN:  The only thing that the boyfriend loophole is was not covered.  I couldn’t get that covered.  You, in fact, when you were — as a senator tried to get it covered and Mitch McConnell is holding it up on his desk right now, and we’re going to lose the Violence Against Women Act across the board.


KLOBUCHAR:  OK.  So, if I could finish.  I have the bill.  Anyone can check it out, to close the boyfriend loophole.  Also to close the Charleston loophole is another bill that is out there.  Universal background checks.


But let me say how we win this.  We have got to win in the middle of the country.  And while everyone talks about winning rural areas, suburban areas, I’m the only one up here with a receipts that has actually repeatedly, while being for the assault weapon ban, won in Republican congressional districts over and over again, including Michele Bachmann’s district.


So having someone that can lead the ticket, that can bring people with her, is the way you get gun safety legislation.  I look at these proposals and say, do they hit my uncle Dick in the deer stand?  They do not.  So coming from a proud hunting state and still being able to pass this legislation is going to be the key.


O’DONNELL:  Senator Klobuchar, thank you.


We want to allow many people to get in on this topic.  Mayor Buttigieg.


BUTTIGIEG:  I’m definitely on board with the part about sending up somebody from the middle of the country.  But I want to come back to this question about the filibuster because this is not some long-ago bad vote that Bernie Sanders took, this is a current bad position that Bernie Sanders holds.




And we’re in South Carolina.  How are we going to deliver a revolution if you won’t even support a rule change?  We are in this state…




BUTTIGIEG:  We are in the state where Strom Thurmond used the filibuster to block civil rights legislation repeatedly.  No less a Senate traditional figure than Harry Reid has called for it to go.  It has got to go, because otherwise Washington will not deliver.  I was in high school when the Columbine shooting happened.  And I remember everybody in Washington saying, never again, we’ll never let this happen again.


And then a second school shooting generation has now been produced.  Shame on us if we allow there to be a third.  And also…




BUTTIGIEG:  … in terms of making the case, I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea for somebody to illustrate, from the perspective of the a veteran, why the kinds of weaponry, anything remotely like what I trained on in order to go serve in a war zone has no business being sold anywhere near an American school or church or neighbor.




KING:  All right, Senator Sanders, please.


SANDERS:  Thirty years ago, I supported a ban on assault weapons.  Mike Bloomberg has started a very good organization, Moms Demand Actions.  Congratulations.


BLOOMBERG:  Thank you.


SANDERS:  They have credited me with gun sense, as you know.


BLOOMBERG:  Yes, we did.


SANDERS:  Furthermore, furthermore, it is my view, the time is now, and Joe made this point, look, at the end of the day we need to rally the American people.  Here is the good news.  Because of all these disgusting and horrific mass shootings, the American people now understand that we must be aggressive on gun safety, not be dictated to by the NRA. ​

Transcription by ASC Services LLC.