Below is a rush transcript of MSNBC and Telemundo’s Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Town Hall moderated by José Díaz-Balart and Chuck Todd live from Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 18 from 9-11 p.m. ET / 6-8 p.m. PT.
Find full coverage of the race for the White House at Decision 2016.
Mandatory credit: “MSNBC and Telemundo”
RACHEL MADDOW: The Democratic forum in Las Vegas, two days ahead of the Democratic Caucuses in Nevada, starts right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Clinton-Sanders Town Hall, live from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here now, Chuck Todd and Jose Diaz-Balart.
CHUCK TODD, HOST: And good evening and welcome to the MSNBC/Telemundo Clinton-Sanders Town Hall.
JOSE DIAZ-BALART, HOST: We are live from Las Vegas at this unique space, designed by renewed architect Frank Gary.
TODD: And thank you to the Nevada Democratic Party for helping us put this together tonight.
TODD: Absolutely. What a great space.
DIAZ-BALART: Oh, yes.
TODD: We canvassed the space. We talked to many people about what they wanted to ask and chose this audience of about 350 people. And many of them are going to get the chance to have their say with the candidates.
DIAZ-BALART: Now, the plan is to cover a variety of issues, but we're going to spend some time focusing on topics that resonate with Latino voters here in Nevada.
TODD: Our first chance to do that during this campaign.
But first, Jose and I will have a couple of questions that we'd like to ask both of the candidates and we'll be starting with Senator Bernie Sanders tonight. He won a coin toss, which means he will be coming out here first.
So please join us in welcoming Senator Bernie Sanders.
BERNIE SANDERS: (INAUDIBLE) to see you.
How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're looking good.
SANDERS: Good to see you (INAUDIBLE).
TODD: You can be in our little (INAUDIBLE) here for a minute.
DIAZ-BALART: Senator, it's great to see you.
How are you doing?
SANDERS: I am great.
DIAZ-BALART: Good. We're happy you're here with us.
And, Senator, let me start by telling you a little bit about Secretary Clinton, who's been describing you recently as a single issue candidate.
You disagree with that characterization. But this week, you told my colleague, Jon Ralston, that your one litmus test for a Supreme Court nominee is overturning "Citizens United."
So why doesn't that prove what Secretary Clinton says about you?
I mean you didn't say that you have a "Roe v. Wade" litmus test. You didn't say you had an immigration...
SANDERS: (INAUDIBLE). I don't (INAUDIBLE)...
DIAZ-BALART: -- action, litmus test, a marriage equality litmus test...
SANDERS: No, I don't think that's what Secretary Clinton is actually talking about. If she happened to come to one of my rallies, I — which she has not yet, but I welcome her, she would hear me speaking for about an hour and a half, for an hour and 15 minutes. And we would cover 15 or 20 separate issues. So I'm not quite sure where she comes up with this single issue idea.
But do I believe that there has to be a major focus on the economy when the middle class is disappearing, when people in Nevada and all over this country are working longer hours for lower wages and almost all new income is going to the top 1 percent?
Yes, I am going to focus on that.
To answer your question about "Citizens United," why is that a litmus test to me?
Because if we continue going the way we are going, Jose, in terms of a corrupt campaign finance system, you know what's going to end up happening?
A handful of billionaires are going to control the political life of this country and undermine American democracy and what men and women have fought to defend.
So to me, this is a underlying enormous issue.
DIAZ-BALART: But that is the priority. It is the litmus test, not one of them, it's the litmus test...
SANDERS: Oh, but that's not — I think that's not what she is talking about. I think she is talking, actually, about my focus on Wall Street.
But if you are asking me, do I think we have got to overturn this disastrous "Citizens United" Supreme Court decision so that billionaires will not be able to pump unlimited sums of money into super PACs and buy elections, man, I do believe that is an enormously important issue.
DIAZ-BALART: Let's talk a little bit about judges this week in California that ordered Apple to help the FBI unlock an iPhone that belonging to one of the two terrorists that killed 14 people and injured 22 others in San Bernardino, California.
In response, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an open letter to call attention to what he calls "the chilling implications of complying with the court's order."
And he wrote, among other things, "Ultimately, we fear this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect."
I know you've talked a lot about Big Brother.
Whose side are you on?
TODD: attention to what he calls the chilling implications of complying with the court’s order. And he wrote, among other things, "Ultimately we fear this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect."
I know you talked a lot about big brother. Whose side are you on, Apple or the FBI’s?
SANDERS: I’m on both. This is -- it’s a very complicated issue. And here’s what the issue is. Cook has very important point to be made.
I am very fearful in America about big brother. And that means not only the federal government getting into your emails or knowing what books you’re taking out of the library, or private corporations knowing everything there is to know about you in terms of your health records, your banking records, your consumer practices. I worry about that very, very much.
On the other hand, what I also worry about is the possibility of another terrorist attack against our country. And frankly, I think there is a middle ground that can be reached.
Clearly all of us would be very dismayed if we learned that we could’ve picked up information about a potential terrorist act and we didn’t do that. People would not feel good about this.
So I think there has got to be a balance. But count me in as somebody who is a very strong civil libertarian, who believes that we can fight terrorism without undermining our constitutional rights and our privacy rights.
TODD: All right, senator, a couple more that we want to get out of the way before we get to the audience.
Last week you called -- you said it was a low blow for Sec. Clinton to bring up the past criticisms that you had for President Obama. You said that you had every right to disagree with him. But it went further than that.
In fact, this is you calling for a primary challenge. And it was on a radio show. I’m going to get you to react to it on the other side.
[BEGIN AUDIO PRESENTATION]
SANDERS: One of the reasons the president has been able to move so far to the right is that there is no primary opposition to him. And I think it would do this country a good deal of service if people started thinking about candidates out there to being contrasting what is a progressive agenda as opposed to what Obama is doing.
[END AUDIO PRESENTATION]
TODD: All right. That was you in 2011…
SANDERS: That was…
TODD: Why should Democrats -- I understand that.
SANDERS: That was in response to a question on a radio show.
TODD: No, and I get that. But there are some Democrats who want to continue the president’s policies. Why should they trust you as somebody who wanted him primaried?
SANDERS: Well, first of all…
TODD: You said it was a good idea…
SANDERS: … nobody asked…
TODD: … if he had been primaried.
SANDERS: Well, you know by the way, there is one of the two Democratic candidates here who actually ran against Barack Obama. It wasn’t me.
AUDIENCE: Oh God.
SANDERS: All right.
Second of all, you know I have worked very closely with President Obama over the last seven years. He is a friend of mine. And we have gone a long way together to move this country forward from the disastrous position we were in when Bush left office.
When Bush left office we were losing 800,000 jobs a month and the world’s financial system was on the verge of collapse. And I applaud President Obama and Vice President Biden for the work they did. And I worked with them.
But to answer your question, do we have a right to have differences of opinion with President Obama? I have had another. For example, I have disagreed with him very strongly on his views on trade. He is for the TPP. I am against the TPP.
He has several years ago continued Bush’s tax breaks for the very wealthiest people on this country. I was on the floor for eight-and-a-half hours in disagreement with him.
Overall, I think the president has done an outstanding job. And the idea that there can be a primary where different ideas get floated and debated, I don’t think that that is terrible. 6
TODD: You actually think he still should’ve been primaried.
SANDERS: Look, this is a media issue. This is one thing I said on one radio show many, many years ago. Media likes that issue.
Bottom line is I happen to think that the president has done an extraordinarily good job. I have worked with him on issue after issue.
TODD: Now, very quickly on another Democratic president, this happened earlier today on your plane during a quick press gaggle.
You were pretty tough on Bill Clinton’s record. And you said -- you hit his record on Wall Street. You said this was a guy who wanted to deregulate Wall Street, was for welfare reform, the welfare reform act that you didn’t like, and got NAFTA through. It didn’t sound like a presidency that you were very pleased with.
SANDERS: Well, let me just, again, I was asked to comment on Bill Clinton’s very, very strong criticisms of me. Chuck, put it into context. It wasn’t that I went around attacking Bill Clinton.
TODD: Oh, I understand that.
SANDERS: All right. It was Bill Clinton has been on the campaign trail making some very nasty comments about me. And I was asked about that.
So I happen to think Bill Clinton did a pretty good job as president. But let’s be clear. I happen to think that our trade agreements from NAFTA through TPP have been a disaster. NAFTA was pushed through by President Clinton.
I fought very hard against the deregulation of Wall Street. Wall Street put billions of dollars in order to get deregulated so that large insurance companies and investor banks, the commercial banks could be merged together. I thought that was a bad idea. That was part of what the Clinton administration was pushing.
In terms of so-called welfare reform, that legislation ended up increasing extreme poverty in America for the poorest children in this country. I spoke out against that. I thought that was scapegoating some of the most vulnerable people in this country.
Overall, do I think Clinton did a good job? I do. But those are three areas where I disagreed with him. But let me just be very clear, if anybody thinks that a member of the United States Senate or the United States House has to agree with somebody in his own party who is president, well, you know, all of the time, that is not my understanding of democracy.
TODD: Well, given that we have Harry Reid in the audience, I think he knows how hard it is…
TODD: How hard it is to herd people in your own party. I will grant you that.
TODD: All right, Senator, it is time to get the questions from the audience...
TODD: So let's get started.
SANDERS: And let me just -- if I might, just say this as I see Harry Reid. The people of Nevada, I believe, are going to miss Harry Reid for all of his enormous accomplishment.
SANDERS: As well, the people of the United States. It is tough to be a Democratic leader. We are progressives. You have got more conservative people. Senator Reid has kept that coalition going. This country owes Harry Reid a real debt of gratitude.
TODD: Thank you.
DIAZ-BALART: Well, as we said, we have about 350 people here, full disclosure, each campaign got about 30 seats. There are about 40 people from the Nevada Democratic Party.
But mostly we went out and found people who are interested in the campaign and want know more about each candidate.
And we're starting tonight with the topic of immigration. Luisa Valencia (ph) is an undocumented 20-year-old who can legally stay in this country because of the president's executive action that holds kids available to stay in this country even though they were brought here illegally, to stay as long as they're working or in school.
It's known as DACA, they call themselves the DREAMers. Luisa says she supports Clinton.
And, Luisa, what is your question.
QUESTION: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
DIAZ-BALART: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
QUESTION: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
DIAZ-BALART: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
QUESTION: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
DIAZ-BALART: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
QUESTION: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
Senator Bernie Sanders, you've stated in the past that the reason why you voted against immigration reform in 2007 was because it wasn't perfect. As president, would you veto our shot at immigration reform if it wasn't deemed perfect by you?
SANDERS: Well, I voted for immigration reform in 2013 because it was a much better piece of legislation. I voted against the legislation in 2007 in agreement with groups like LULAC, one of the large Latino organizations, in agreement with the AFL-CIO, for a number of reasons.
But I will tell you one of them, included in that legislation was a guest worker provision which organizations saw as almost akin to slavery. Guest workers came in, and if they didn't do what their bosses wanted them to do, if they didn't accept exploitation and cheating, then they're going to be thrown out of this country.
And many of those workers were terribly, terribly exploited. And that was the major reason that I voted against that. I don't want to see workers in this country exploited. But I did vote for the 2013.
And let me say this, more importantly, I want to take 11 million undocumented people in this country out of the shadows, out of the fear that they are experiencing every single day. I want Congress to do its job.
Under Senator Reid, we did pass comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately the House did not. As president I will do everything that I can to pass immigration reform and a path toward citizenship for those who today are undocumented.
DIAZ-BALART: Even if it's not to your best liking?
SANDERS: Of course. We'll do the best…
DIAZ-BALART: Even if it's not…
SANDERS: Look, it's not that I didn't think it was perfect. You know, it's not a question of being perfect. Nothing is perfect. That was -- had particular egregious provisions in it.
DIAZ-BALART: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
DIAZ-BALART: And now I'd like to say hello to (INAUDIBLE). Rhoda (ph), like so many millions of others in the United States, is part of a mixed status family that lives with the fear of deportation of a loved one.
QUESTION: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
Yes, my question to you, sir, if you become the president of the United States, what would you do about the bars my husband -- I'm an American citizen, my girl is an American citizen. My husband was here 18 years. I tried to bring him out of shadows, how you said, and I petitioned him.
And they gave him a 10-year bar. He has been in Mexico doing his 10 years, six years now we've been separated. My little girl was in kindergarten when he left, the one in the…
QUESTION: The other one was in middle school and now she's going to graduate high school this year and her dad is not here to see that.
What would you do to bring my husband home?
SANDERS: I'll tell you what I would do. What you just described is unacceptable, and should not be happening.
My immigration policy is to unite families, not to divide families. When I was here in Las Vegas a couple of months ago I heard a story. A young man who was in the United States military. While he was in the United States military his wife was deported. Can you believe that?
QUESTION: (OFF MIKE) Yes. (INAUDIBLE...)
SANDERS: ... Clearly those not the policies that I want to see, and I will change those policies.
QUESTION: How long -- how long, when you get there, how long will it take to change those policies because I've been waiting six years...
SANDERS: ... That I can't tell you.
QUESTION: ... Six years of my life.
SANDERS: I can't, you know -- we will use our executive office and power as much as we can. Hopefully we'll have the cooperation of the United States congress.
QUESTION: Thank you.
DIAZ: (IN SPANISH) Gracias senorita.
TODD: We're going to stick with the topic of immigration. I've got Wayne Smith here. He has another question on immigration. He happens to be a veteran.
QUESTION: Yeah, Senator Sanders. Hello, I'm here both as the Vice Chairman of the Nevada Democratic Veterans and Military Families, and as an undecided voter.
We have become aware that in the last 20 years there have been hundreds of veterans who have served honorably as legal U.S. residents in the militar. After discharge, they ran afoul of the law for possession of illegal drugs, or another non-violent crime. As a result, their legal status was revoked, and they were deported.
In many cases these veterans ended up in countries they left when small children, often unable to speak the language. Remember, we're talking about veterans here who served our country, and people who are comrades of mine in arms. Is this policy fair, and what would you do about it if you're elected President.
SANDERS: Well, I was the former Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, and in that capacity I did all that I could to expand healthcare and provide the benefits that our veterans are entitled to. What you are describing to me seems to me to be an outrage. If people put their lives on the line to defend this country, are willing to die for this country, I don't think you deport those people.
TODD: Senator, what is your line when it comes to who gets deported, and who does not? President Obama has...
SANDERS: ... I'm sorry, I didn't hear that question.
TODD: President Obama has deported more folks than any president. What is your criteria for deportation at this point for folks that are here in this country...
SANDERS: ... People...
TODD: ... they're undocumented. What is criminal? Because some people think just being here undocumented...
SANDERS: ... Not for non-violent type crimes. If somebody is a violent criminal they should be deported.
But, as I said a moment ago, my own view is that our policy as a nation, what I believe, is we should unite families, not divide families. We should not be sending people back to a country that they could barely remember, and a language they may not be able to speak.
TODD: How quickly are you going to get immigration reform done as president...
SANDERS: ... It is our top priority.
TODD: What does that mean? First hundred days...
SANDERS: ... I'm not a dictator here. It has to do with a little bit of cooperation from the Congress. But, it is a major priority when you have 11 million people living in the shadows. I think we owe it to them to move as expeditiously as we can.
If congress does not act, I will continue to the President's, President Obama's efforts to use executive powers.
TODD: Senator, we're going to change the subject here. My next question comes from Taylor Scott Cruise. Taylor, why don't you get up here. He tells us he is supporting Clinton, but he has a question regarding your...
SANDERS: ... Hey, anybody here supporting me?
TODD: Senator, don't worry...
SANDERS: ... Just wanted to make sure, Chuck.
TODD: Don't worry, we're just doing full disclosure here, sir. Go ahead, Taylor.
QUESTION: Often times you treat racial concerns as if they were economic ones. Saying that creating jobs and reducing income inequality is the solution to racially charged issues. How is creating jobs for low-income earners going to stop a system of police brutality towards black Americans, a system of mass incarceration for black men, or even a poor education for the predominantly black inner cities across America?
SANDERS: Well, I would suggest that you go to my website, Bernie Sanders.com, which has a very, very extensive program regarding the issues that you talked about. So, let's talk about it.
Alright, we got more people in jail today in the United States of America than any other country on Earth, 2.2 million people, largely African American and hispanic. We spend $80 billion dollars a year to lock people up. Make any sense to anybody? Not to me.
Alright, so what do we have to do? We got to do a lot of things. Is there a connection between economics and people ending up in jail? Well, let me tell you something. Today, do you know what the youth unemployment for African American kids is? It is 51 percent.
And sometimes kids get into trouble when they don't have jobs.
So you know what I think?
We're going to invest in education and jobs, not more jails and incarceration.
SANDERS: Number two...
SANDERS: -- number two, every person in this country, I hope, black, white, Latino, is disgusted when we turn on the television and we see videos of unarmed people, often African-Americans, being shot, OK?
SANDERS: We need real police reform in this country. Police departments are run by local departments. Federal government can play a major role.
So what we have got to do is make it clear throughout this country that if a police officer breaks the law, like any other public official, that police officer will be held accountable.
SANDERS: We have got -- we have got to dramatize local police departments so they do not look like occupying armies. We have got to make police departments look like a diversity of the communities that they are serving.
There is a whole lot that has to be done...
SANDERS: -- and I would love to continue to discuss it. But please, you know, we're in a campaign and the Secretary will say what she'll say. I was arrested when I was 22 years old at the University of Chicago.
You know what I was arrested for?
So I have this issue...
SANDERS: -- and I -- and I know that I date myself when I tell you that in 1963, I was there in Washington for the March on Washington, for the March on -- on Washington for jobs and freedom with Dr. Martin Luther King.
This has been something that I have felt strongly about my entire life.
TODD: Senator, I want to follow-up something you said at last week's debate.
TODD: You said race relations would be better under a President Sanders than they've been under President Obama.
What -- what did you mean by that?
SANDERS: Well, you know...
TODD: Why do you believe that?
SANDERS: Well, what I believe is President Obama has made significant progress. We're going to build on that progress. We can always do better. And the progress that we can build on is to understand that we should not have 35 percent of African-American kids in this country living in poverty.
SANDERS: We should not have...
SANDERS: -- we need real police reform. We need to make sure that when people are in jail, often, African-American and Latino, there is a path back -- back to civil society so that we don't have the rates of recidivism that we do right now.
We have got to do away with mandatory minimum sentences. And I'll give you one example where we can make huge progress.
Right now, it turns out that the African-American community and the white community smoke marijuana at about equal levels, OK?
But it also turns out that blacks are four times more likely to be arrested than whites for possession of marijuana, OK?
And that is why I believe that we should take marijuana out of The Federal Controlled Substance Act. Too many lives have been destroyed. Too many young people have been -- incurred police records for possession of marijuana.
TODD: All right, Senator, thank you.
TODD: Do you have a question now for -- for Mr. Sanders?
DIAZ-BALART: (INAUDIBLE) on the issue of feminism.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good evening.
Thank you, Senator Bernie Sanders.
My question is, do you consider yourself a feminist?
If so, how do you, as a white male, understand the intersectional identities that people of color face, especially when entering high positions of power within business or government?
SANDERS: I consider myself a strong feminist. And, in fact, Gloria Steinem -- everybody knows Gloria is one of the leading feminists in America -- made me an honorary woman many, many years ago.
SANDERS: I don't know exactly what that meant, but I accepted it when she came to campaign for me.
Look, right now in this country, women are making 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. Minority women, women of color, are making substantially less. African-American women are making 54 cents on the dollar.
This is absurd. This has nothing to do with economics and it's everything to do with sexism. I will fight as hard as I can. And I've worked with Harry Reid. We have tried desperately to pass pay equity for women. I will continue that fight.
DIAZ-BALART: Senator, up next is Cameron Miller (ph).
He is a filmmaker who has a question about minimum wage.
Cameron, good to see you.
CAMERON MILLER: Oh, thank you.
I’m all about everyone making as much money as they possibly can. However, if we increase the minimum wage, how do we ensure that that cost isn’t passed onto the consumer?
SANDERS: OK. Here’s where we are right now.
We have a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That’s where we’re at. You can do the arithmetic as well as I do. Multiple that number, or multiply $9.00 an hour or $10 an hour 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. And you know what? You come up with a sum, with an income that nobody can live on and certainly cannot bring up a family on.
All right. So here is my radical idea. You ready for a radical idea?
All right. My radical idea is that in America if somebody works 40 hours a week that person should not live in poverty. All right? That’s the radical idea. I believe we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage, and that is $15 an hour over the next several years.
And I am proud to tell you I have been on picket lines with fast food workers in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. And these people deserve an enormous amount of credit for their courage. And we are making real progress.
Cities now like Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco are beginning, have passed legislation to raise the minimum wage over a period of years to $15 an hour.
Bottom line is in America today we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality. Rich are getting much, much richer. Top 20 wealthiest people in America now own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of America, 150 million people.
What my campaign is about is saying we are going to have an economy that works for working families and not just the top 1 percent. One part of that is to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, $15 an hour.
QUESTION: How do we ensure that once we increase that to $15 an hour that we’re not creating a situation where those same people are now below the poverty line because prices are going to -- I would assume prices are going to increase.
SANDERS: Prices — look, the truth is yes, you may end up paying a few cents more for a hamburger at McDonalds. But you will be, if you’re that worker going from $8.00 or $10 an hour to $15 an hour, you’re going to be a lot better off.
And I’ll tell you something else. We have 47 million people living in poverty today. We have people who go to emergency food shelves who work 40 hours a week, but they’re not earning enough money to provide for their family.
When we put money into the hands of working people, you know what, when that happens they can go out and buy products. They can go shopping. And when they do that, they create jobs.
So instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires and thinking that’s going to trickle on down, my view is you put money into the hands of working people who spend it and then create more jobs.
QUESTION: Thank you.
DIAZ BALART (?): Senator, one question comes from high schooler Jessica Acunya (ph) who will be voting for the first time this year.
Jessica, buenos noches.
QUESTION: Buenos Noches.
So, my question to you is I’m a student. So I like how you want free education. But what is your plan to possibly achieve this being that it would cost about -- no, no, no…
SANDERS: $70 billion.
QUESTION: $70 billion per year…
QUESTION: More than twice what the federal government…
QUESTION: … spends on programs?
QUESTION: Would -- wait. I’m not finished.
DIAZ-BALART (?): (Inaudible). Make sure that question counts.
QUESTION: So, would free college make higher education more efficient, more innovative and higher quality?
SANDERS: I’m sorry. I didn’t get…
DIAZ-BALART (?): Get to those?
SANDERS: … the point of the last…
QUESTION: So would free college make higher education more efficient, more innovative and higher quality?
SANDERS: Let me answer it in this way. And this is something I feel very strongly about.
Hundred, 150 years ago very brave Americans fought for the concept of free public education. And what they were saying is you know working class kids, low-income people, their kids have a right to get free education. It shouldn’t just be available to wealthy families. Their kids shouldn’t have to work in factories or on farms. Huge achievement.
And what public education has been in this country from day one is saying free education for the first grade through grade 12. That’s great. But you know what? The world has changed.
Today in 2016 in many respects a college degree is the equivalent of what a high school degree was 50 or 60 years ago in terms.
… grade 12. That's great.
But you know what? The world has changed. Today in 2016, in many respects, a college degree is the equivalent of what a high school degree was 50 or 60 years ago in terms of going out and getting a good job.
I believe that today when we talk about public education, it should include free tuition at public colleges and universities. That's what I believe.
SANDERS: And why that is a revolutionary idea, my parents, my dad came to this country from Poland, immigrated here, dropped out of high school. My mom never went to college.
There are millions of kids in this country who today, because of their economic circumstances, never believe they're going to be able to make it to college.
What I want is for every child in America, regardless of the income of his or her family, to know that if they study hard, take school seriously, yes, they will be able to get a college education.
SANDERS: All right. Now to answer -- you raised a very good question and your number was exactly right. The other thing that I want to do is lower student debt in this country. Millions of people are being crushed with high student debt.
SANDERS: Every place I go, $50,000, $100,000, $300,000 going to medical school. We are fighting for both of those provisions. Now, you're right. It will cost $70 billion a year. It's a lot of money. It's a lot of money.
How am I going to pay for it? I'll tell you how I'm going to pay for it. When Wall Street's illegal activities helped destroy this country, and hit the state of Nevada probably harder than any other state in this country, you know what happened? Congress bailed out the illegal behavior on Wall Street.
Well, you know what? Wall Street is doing OK now. I think that we should impose a tax on Wall Street speculation. It is Wall Street's time to help the middle class of this country. That will raise all the money that we need.
DIAZ-BALART: Thank you.
We are going to take a short break. When we come back we're going to be talking about affordable health care and a whole lot more.
TODD: Welcome back here to Las Vegas. Our Clinton-Sanders town hall. Senator Sanders is up. We've got some veterans issues for you, Senator Sanders. This is a state, of course, where the unemployment rate for veterans is more than a third higher nation wide.
I want to bring up Vanessa Raymond's (ph) here. She has served in Iraq, is a member of the Army Reserves, and she has a question for you.
QUESTION: Good evening, Senator. Now, veterans are always thanked for their service, and all the candidates say that they support veterans. But, unfortunately that support has not translated into jobs, and I would like to know how you will ensure that support translates to getting veterans hired. And, not only hired, but getting them jobs that are commensurate with their skills, and abilities.
SANDERS: Well, thank you very much.
Your point is well taken. Everybody thanks the veterans, but sometimes after they come home we have a tendency to forget about them, and the struggles that they go through. I was chairman of the veterans committee for two years, and in that capacity, passed in a bipartisan way, the comprehensive veterans health care legislation passed in the modern history of this country.
And, we also did some other things in that legislation.
To answer your question, we've got to do a number of things. In other words, we have to give a priority in terms of federal employment. And, second of all, what we have to do which we do not do enough is people in the military develop a lot of really good skills, you know? Whether it's driving a truck, or doing whatever it may be, being a paramedic. We have got to make sure that the skills that they have acquired in the military are transferable to the civil society.
So, when they walk in...
... And, that is not often the case. So, in other words, in the civil society you work three years, you know, and then you go to another job. You get credit for those three years. Often that's not the case in the military.
So, we got to prioritize making sure that the federal government and the private sector hire veterans who often, by the way, are very, very good workers. Very good workers because of the discipline they have -- incurred in the military. There's a lot to be done, but the bottom line is when people put their lives on the line to defend us we have got to protect them in every way that we can.
TODD: We're going to stick with veterans issues here. It's less than 10% of the population hears (ph) veterans, about half of them are enrolled in the V.A healthcare system. This Peni (ph) Soua (ph) who retired from the military in 2015 and has a question for you. And, we just learned today that he's a volunteer for the Clinton campaign, but I think the question is still relevant.
QUESTION: Thanks. Thank you. Senator Sanders, you're chairmanship of the Veterans Affairs Committee, in charge of oversight for the V.A. is arguably the most important position and highest ranking you have held in government. In that time, you were a major defender of V.A. care despite seven plus I.Q. (ph) reports of mismanagement, and my fellow veterans have been dying on waiting lists.
At a time, you went so far as to call it manufactured scandal by the Koch brothers to promote the privatization of government healthcare. We need someone who would fix the issue, not ascribe blame. If elected as president, how will you fix the V.A. and ensure that me and my fellow combat veterans that will receive the care that we need?
SANDERS: Well, I don’t…
Well, guess what? The Koch brothers and many of their allies do precisely want to privatize the VA. That’s what they want to do.
Do you think -- and I believe, along with the American Legion, the VFW, the DAV, the Vietnam Vets and virtually all of the veterans’ organizations, that that is a pretty bad idea because veterans have their own special health care needs based on their service to this country. I will fight to protect and preserve the Veterans Administration.
Now as it happened, as I just mentioned, under my leadership, with the support of Senator Reid, we managed to pass the largest and most comprehensive VA health care legislation in the modern history of this country, approximately $17 billion. What we did is put billions of dollars into the VA to precisely address the issue of waiting lists.
Now it’s good for some people to say well there’s a problem. But we addressed the problem.
Why was there a waiting list? There was a waiting list in Phoenix and many other parts of this country because there were not enough doctors, not enough nurses, not enough medical personnel. And we addressed that issue.
And we addressed a number of other educational issues. We brought many, many new health care facilities, community-based outreach clinics around this country.
So I apologize to nobody for my work as chairman of the VA. We made significant progress in improving health care and expediting benefits for the veterans of our country, who deserve, by the way, the highest quality health care we can provide.
DIAZ-BALART (?): Thank you, senator.
DIAZ-BALART (?): Senator Sanders, I want to turn to Faisal Suba (ph), a doctor from this area who is here with his wife. And he is kind enough, because he speaks five languages fluently which makes us bilinguals feel really bad all of the sudden…
He’s kind enough to agree to do this in English.
How are you, doctor?
SANDERS: That’s good. Yes.
QUESTION: Sen. Sanders, I’m a physician in Tuomey (ph). And my wife Alia (ph) does a lot of volunteer work in town. We try tirelessly to serve humanity every day.
SANDERS: Thank you.
QUESTION: We are also proud, peace-loving American Muslims. We’re the parents of two children. And we’re very concerned about the safety of our children with the Islamaphobia that’s rampant right now, as you know. I mean…
SANDERS: Yes. I do.
QUESTION: As president how would you address Islamaphobia?
SANDERS: Bluntly and directly.
You know, this country, this country’s greatness relies on the reality that throughout our history we have welcomed people into this country. As I mentioned, my dad came from Poland at the age of 17.
People can disagree about immigration and immigration reform. I believe we need comprehensive immigration reform taking people out of the shadows. But it is absolutely unacceptable to me that in the year 2016 we have people like Donald Trump and others who are trying to gain votes by scapegoating people who may be Muslims or people who may be Latinos. That is unacceptable.
This country -- this country has struggled too much for too many years.
And by the way, I am appalled. You know people can agree with Barack Obama. You can disagree with Barack Obama. But anybody who doesn’t understand that the kind of obstructionism and hatred thrown at this man, the idea of making him a de-legitimate president by suggesting he was not born in America because his dad came from Kenya.
No one asked me whether I’m a citizen or not. My father came from Poland. Gee, what’s the difference? Maybe the color of our skin.
So I promise you, I promise you -- you know, what motivates me is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said. You remember what he said? He said we have got to -- paraphrasing. We have got to judge people based on their character, not the color of the skin, not the country that they came from. That’s the America we have got to fight for.
And all of us together have got to say no to xenophobia. And to racism and to bigotry of all forms.
And, by the way, thank you so much for being in our country, for practicing medicine and for helping your fellow human beings.
TODD: I want to -- Senator, I want to bring Aidan (ph) -- Aidan Char (ph) here.
She's got a question about the two party system, about what...
TODD: She's a high school student.
Is this going to be your first time voting?
AIDAN CHAR: Yes, it will be.
TODD: Well, there you go. Another first time voter.
TODD: Go ahead.
CHAR: So seeing that it is -- as it is nearly impossible for a third party candidate to be elected and the fact you had to switch from an Independent to Democratic to be considered as a legitimate candidate, since reformation of our party system has never been addressed by a presidential candidate, how would you suggest to reform our system and allow for other parties and ideas to be represented?
SANDERS: Well, I probably know more about that issue...
SANDERS: -- than any human being in the United States of America.
SANDERS: You know, when I became mayor of the city of Burlington, I had to take on Democrats and Republicans and so forth. Your point is well taken. I chose to run, proudly, in the Democratic primary and caucus process and I look forward to winning that process.
But clearly, as a nation, I think we flourish when there are different ideas out there, when there are more differences of opinions.
If you go to Europe, for example, there are many, many political parties. And what happens in this country is sometimes the two party system makes it very, very difficult to get on the ballot. If you are a third party. And I think that that's wrong.
I think we should welcome competition, welcome different ideas. And I think the two parties should be open to making sure that people have a fair shake if they want to run on another party.
TODD: By the way, Senator, I just want to show you, she really worked on this. She wrote it on a piece of paper. This is clearly...
TODD: -- just so you know, it was this paper. It's very impressive.
SANDERS: Let me just say it...
SANDERS: -- if I might, if I might.
SANDERS: As a nation, when we talk about the political process, nobody in this room, no matter who you're supporting, should be proud that we have one of the lowest voter turnouts of any major nation on earth. Nobody should be proud that we have Republican governors and legislatures who are working over time trying to suppress the vote.
We want to make it easier for people to vote, not harder for people to vote, which is what many Republican governors are doing.
TODD: Thanks, Senator.
DIAZ-BALART: -- if I could, Senator, to piggy off -- to piggyback off that question -- and, by the way, I agree with you, Chuck, a millennial using pen and paper is unusual.
TODD: I know. There's a pen and paper, it's everything. Old school. Well done.
DIAZ-BALART: But, Senator, you have often talked of the need for a political revolution in the United States.
DIAZ-BALART: You're a democratic socialist. When -- when some Latinos hear those words, they think Venezuela and Cuba, Chavez and the Castro brothers, 57 years of dictatorship.
Talk to the people who escaped those regimes today and hear you use those words and wonder exactly...
DIAZ-BALART: -- what you have in mind.
SANDERS: Sure. When I talk about democratic socialist, you know what I'm talking about?
Social Security, one of the most popular and important programs in this country, developed by FDR to give dignity and security to seniors. And it has been enormously successful at reducing poverty among seniors.
When I talk about democratic socialist, I am talking about Medicare, a single payer health care system for the elderly. And in my view, we should expand that concept to all people. I believe that everybody in this country should be entitled to health care as a right. And the most effective way to do it is through a Medicare for All single payer program.
When I talk about democratic socialist, I'm not looking at Venezuela. I'm not looking at Cuba. I'm looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden.
And you know what goes on in those countries?
All of the kids who have the ability and desire go to college.
And you know how much it costs?
It is free. They have child care systems which are outstanding. They have public educational systems which are extremely strong. The retirement benefits for their elderly much better than they are in the United States.
The bottom line is, when I talk about democratic socialist, what I mean is moving away from where we are right now. As a member of the Senate, let me break the bad news to all of you. We have a Congress right now which is dominated by Wall Street and big money interests.
What I mean is moving away from where we are right now. As a member of the Senate, let me break the bad news to all of you. We have a Congress right now which is dominated by Wall Street and big money interests.
The members of Congress are not worried about the people making nine bucks an hour. They're not worried about the kids who can't afford to go to college. They're not worried about people who have no health insurance.
That's not their worry. Their worry is getting campaign contributions from very, very wealthy people and providing tax breaks for those who don't need it.
SANDERS: So in one sense, Jose, we're not talking about Venezuela, we're not talking about Cuba. We are talking about the concept, which I don't think is a radical idea, of having a government which works to represent the needs of the middle class and working families rather than just the top 1 percent.
DIAZ-BALART: Senator, thank you. I want to introduce you to Luisa Perez (ph) who speaks English and speaks Spanish. But she's more comfortable in Spanish, so she'll ask the question in that language and I'll translate it into English for you.
QUESTION: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
DIAZ-BALART: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
You may have expressed support for affordable child care, but have talked little about how quality care is dependent on a strong workforce. What do you plan to do to strengthen the child care workforce with the wages they need to stay in the field and then provide affordable care for parents and families?
SANDERS: Wonderful. Very important question which is very rarely discussed.
Every psychologist who studies the issue understands and has told us that the most important years of human development intellectually and emotionally is zero through four.
In this country today we have millions of working families, mom goes to work, dad goes to work. They don't make a whole lot of money. They are desperately searching for quality, affordable child care. And all over this country, including my own state of Vermont, it is hard to find.
So to answer your question, number one, when we look at the instructors, the educators who work with the little ones, you know what, their work is as important or more important than college professors.
We have got to rethink how we deal and treat the youngest and most vulnerable among us. The idea there today, and I have talked to these workers, we have child care workers who are making $8, $9 an hour, who have no health insurance, who are not making a career of the important work they are doing.
What other countries are doing and what we must do is say taking care of the littlest ones is one of our major priorities. To do that we need a well-trained, well-educated, and well-paid workforce.
And this means changing our national priorities. My Republican colleagues want to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 0.2 of 1 percent. Not me. I'm going to tax the wealthiest people and the largest corporations.
And we're going to use some of to money to provide quality child care for all working families and make sure that those who work with the little kids are well-paid and well-trained.
TODD: Thank you. Before I get to the next question, Senator, I wanted to follow up on something you were talking about, the single-payer -- referred to single-payer health care, talking about some of the European systems.
You know, a common complaint in those European systems has to do with wait times for treatment, wait times for seeing specialists. How do you propose in your Medicare-for-all system to not have Americans have to deal with rationing of care?
SANDERS: Well, Chuck, let me answer your question…
TODD: I mean, this is a common -- that's what I said, it's a common critique in Canada and the U.K. in particular.
SANDERS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. But let me answer your question.
You know, the insurance companies and the drug companies and their mouthpieces, they go around in telling us how terrible health care is all over the world. All these terrible waiting lines.
And yet when they do international studies and they ask people how they think and how they feel about their health care system, you know what, the United States is often down below many of these countries on much higher levels.
We are the only country in the industrialized world that doesn't guarantee health care to all people. I've been criticized for saying it, let me say it again. I believe health care is a right of all people.
I will fight for…
SANDERS: ...are much higher levels.
We are the only country in the industrialized world that doesn't guarantee health care to all people. I've been criticized for saying that. Let me say it again. I believe healthcare is a right of all people. I will fight for a medicare for all, single payer system.
Second of all, alright. You want to talk about rationing (ph), you got 29 million people in this country who have no health insurance. How's that for rationing (ph). They can't got to the doctor. And, then you got even more who are under insured with high deductibles, and high copayments.
I have talked to doctors who have told me that people walk in the door extremely sick, and the doctors say, why didn't you come in here six months ago when you first felt your symptoms?
And people said, "I had no health insurance," or, "I had a high deductible".
Chuck, some of those people die, or they end up in the hospital. You want to talk about rationing (ph), that's rationing. To answer your question. We spend almost three times more per person than the people in the U.K., 50% more than the people in France.
We can have a world class healthcare system without waiting lines, spending the same amount of money we're spending right now.
TODD: With all due respect, the V.A., which is a system...
SANDERS: ... I'm sorry, Chuck, I didn't hear...
TODD: The V.A., which is a system that is designed to essentially be universal healthcare for veterans had wait times. Had a rationing situation. And, I know you tried to correct that, but we just had an experiment which we got -- how do you guarantee that your plan is not going to experience the same problems...
SANDERS: ... Well, let me answer in -- I just indicated to you. If, for example, there are systems, you're right. Where if you needed a knee replacement, or something like that, you might have to wait for that. But, when you're sick you go into the doctor when you need to go.
My point is, Chuck, there's massive rationing in America. It is rationing based on money. If you don't have money, and you don't have insurance, and you don't have -- you have a high deductible, and you don't go to the doctor when you should. One out of five Americans today cannot afford prescription drugs their doctors write. What do you define that as?
Other countries around the world make sure that the people have the medicine they need. When one out of five people can't afford those prescriptions, man I call that rationing. We can do a lot better than we're currently doing.
TODD: Alright, thank you, Senator.
TODD: I'm going to introduce you to William Anderson. Mr. Anderson, can you get up? Talk about an issue that's pretty important to a lot of people out west. Land issues. Mr. Anderson?
QUESTION: Yes, first of all, I'm very honored to go ahead and be here, to go ahead and present this question to you. But, under Obama there has been areas here that's been designated as national monuments. And, at this point, my people the Nueve (ph), the Southern Paiutes here, we're trying to go ahead work towards Gold Butte as a national monument too.
SANDERS: Yeah, I'm sorry, can you...
QUESTION: Gold butte.
QUESTION: There is a lot of recent issues that came up here, and what I want to really ask is is that there are those who oppose the American people's ownership of public lands, and would see those lands sold to private interest. As president, how would you ensure that our public lands remain in public hands, and preserve our heritage and lives by stopping corporations from destroying Mother Earth?
SANDERS: I don't have to explain to you, or I hope anybody in this room, or anybody watching the outrageous way, unfair way, that governments have treated Native Americans from day one. It is a disgrace.
Number two, I will -- you know, you're raising issues in terms of extraction of fossil fuels, for example. I believe that climate change is one of the great challenges facing this planet, and what I have introduced legislation to do, by the way, it to say that we will not extract fossil fuels in the future from any public lands.
Number three, I understand that it is absolutely important that the federal government do much more than it is now doing to work with the native american community in preserving their heritage, and their way of life. And, I will do everything I can to bring that about. Thank you.
DIAZ: Senator, say hello to Alex Turner.
QUESTION: Hello, sir.
DIAZ: I got this, Alex.
QUESTION: Aspect of the U.S. visa program are currently in the spotlight as a possible homeland security risk, and even before that it was a concern that it was being used to traffic young women from foreign countries.
What measures do you intend to take to ensure that this program isn't used to attack the U.S., or to exploit vulnerable immigrants?
SANDERS: Well, it goes without saying that human trafficking, yo uknow, taking girls, or young boys and doing horrible things with them is something that we have got to do everything that we can do stop. And, I will do everything that I can to stop...
SANDERS: trafficking. Taking girls or young boys and doing horrible things with them is something that we’ve got to do everything that we can to stop. And I will do everything that I can to stop it.
In terms of making sure, as I understand your question, that people do not come into this country, let me back up and say that I believe, given the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan that the United States and the rest of the world have got to make sure that refugees can get their lives together. And that we should welcome those people in the United States, along with other countries around the world.
But when we do that we have got to make very sure that the vetting process is strong, that people who we welcome into this country to help do not do terrible things to our own people.
DIAZ-BALART (?): How do you do that, senator?
SANDERS: Well, you do that by having a much stronger security approach to vetting people who are coming in, to knowing what their background is, to making sure that they have not been involved in terrorist activity. And there are a variety of ways that you can do that. But that is what we’ve got to do.
QUESTION: Sir, there’s several Tier 2 countries that are on the Visa Waiver Program that individuals can get an expedited waiver -- visa to come in. And those Tier 2 countries don’t meet the minimum standards to defend people from human trafficking.
SANDERS: Right. That’s something that we have to address. I agree with you. It is a very serious concern.
TODD: All right. Thank you, Jose.
And we’re going to have to take a break here.
Sen. Sanders, thank you very much.
Coming up we’re going to hear…
Give him a round of applause.
We’re going to hear from Sen. Hillary Clinton.
So let’s sneak in a quick break. We’ll be right back.
TODD: Set our alarms to that music.
DIAZ-BALART: We do.
TODD: Anyway, we are back here in Las Vegas. And it's time for the second part of our townhall. Please join us in welcoming former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the stage.
HILLARY CLINTON: Hi, Chuck.
TODD: Have a seat.
CLINTON: Hi. How are you? Hello, hello.
DIAZ-BALART: It's good to see you, Secretary.
CLINTON: It's great to see you too.
TODD: Welcome, welcome, welcome.
CLINTON: Thank you.
TODD: We're going to do what we did with Senator Sanders. We begin with a few -- just a few questions from us. Then you get to get rid of us and get to the real people, I promise.
TODD: As you know, President Obama now says he regrets voting to filibuster Justice Alito's nomination. To quote the White House this week, quote: "throwing sand in the gears of the confirmation process was a regret."
You joined 24 other Democrats when you were in the Senate to filibuster Alito's nomination. You ultimately voted against actually both Alito and Justice Roberts. Do you also regret that considering the situation we're in now? Do you wish that you, like that now I think President Obama feels as if, boy, I wish I didn't have that vote, I wish hadn't participated in something like that?
CLINTON: Well, the way I look at it is this. I did oppose Justice Alito and, as you say, Chief Justice Roberts, because after meeting with them, listening to them, I did not believe that their judicial philosophy and approach was one that would be the best for the country.
So I did. I spoke against him. I voted against him. But we had a process. You know, the nomination was made. And we went through the process. And what the Republicans today are saying is you can't vote on anything. We don't want the president to send us a nominee.
I think that is very different. And what am I saying is, number one, the president has the right and obligation under the Constitution to send forth a nominee. And the Senate has an obligation under the Constitution to decide whether to approve or not.
That's very different than on the floor of the Senate making your argument.
TODD: But a filibuster, if you had been successful, then Judge Alito would not have gotten a vote on the floor of the Senate.
CLINTON: But that's the way the Senate operates. You get to have a vote. You get to use the rules, and Harry Reid is sitting here, he's an expert on the rules, a master on the rules, and you get to use the rules.
CLINTON: That happens a lot. And so, you know, I'm not in the position that the president is right now trying to talk some sense into the Senate Republicans to actually do their constitutional duty.
But once a nominee goes to the Senate, then you go through the process. There should be hearings both from the nominee and other witnesses. Then it should be presented to the floor. And then you use the procedures that are available.
And eventually, as you know, Justice Alito was confirmed.
TODD: All right. Let me move to another question. Some of your lines of attack against Senator Sanders in this campaign sound familiar. And as we did with Senator Sanders, we have a little clip we want to play.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: You are not going to wave a magic wand and have the special interests disappear.
I wish that we could elect a Democratic president who could wave a magic wand and say, we shall do this and we shall do that. But that ain't the real world we're living in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: All right. First clip was from a month ago, second clip was from eight years ago.
TODD: Many Democratic voters obviously didn't believe your criticism eight years ago was fair. Why should they believe that the criticism you're making of Senator Sanders isn't just as unfair as they thought it was eight years ago?
CLINTON: You know, I think that it's important for Democratic voters to take a hard look at…
TODD (?): obviously didn’t believe your criticism eight years ago was fair. Why should they believe the criticism you’re making of Sen. Sanders isn’t just as unfair as they thought it was eight years ago?
CLINTON: You know, I think that it’s important for Democratic voters to take a hard look at all the candidates, and in this case obviously Sen. Sanders and myself, and to evaluate who’s got the best plans. Who’s got the most experience? Who’s ready to do all parts of the job on day one, not only being president but being commander-in-chief?
And I think it’s fair for voters to also take a hard look about where we are and what we need to accomplish in order to have the kind of progress that I’m advocating. I am a progressive who likes to make progress. And I know how hard it is.
So I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. I don’t want to tell people something that’s not on the level. I want people to actually hold me accountable for what I say and what I present. And then you know they get to make their decisions. So we’ll see what happens.
TODD (?): So this magic wand…
… it does not discount your criticism this time, even if they did eight years…
CLINTON: I have a number of differences with Sen. Sanders. And we’ve been laying those out in the campaign. And we’re going to continue to do that.
DIAZ-BALART (?): Sec. Clinton, a judge, a federal judge this week ordered Apple to disable the privacy feature in the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists so law enforcement can access the data. Apple CEO Tim Cook is pledging to fight it calling it a dangerous precedent and saying the government is asking Apple to hack our own users. What do you think is right here?
CLINTON: Look, I think because this is one of the most difficult dilemmas that we’re faced with. Of course law enforcement has every reason to want to get information off of a killer’s cellphone. One of the San Bernardino killer’s cellphones that they can’t open, they’re asking for help.
Apple, understandably, is worried about opening the door, creating what they call a backdoor into encryption that would not just have to field requests from the United States government, but from the Chinese, Russian, Iranian governments.
This is a very hard dilemma. And what I keep calling for is to try to get the government and our great tech companies to figure out what is the path forward?
Because I don’t know what this judge is going to do in this case. I assume that it’ll be appealed. It’s going to have lots of ramifications. But I see both sides. And I think most citizens see both sides. We don’t want privacy and encryption you know destroyed. And we want to catch and make sure there’s nobody else out there whose information is on that cellphone of the killer.
So this is why you need people in office who can try to bring folks together to find some common ground. That is exactly what I would do.
And I’m well aware that the government has its needs. Obviously Apple and the other tech companies are concerned about this. But as smart as we are, there’s got to be some way on a very specific basis we could try to help get information around crimes and terrorism.
DIAZ-BALART (?): The problem is that if you open up that back door that doesn’t exist right now, as you’ve said, the United States is looking for information from a cellphone that was used by a terrorist. But does China have the same intention?
DIAZ-BALART (?): And does Russia?
CLINTON: That’s what I said.
DIAZ-BALART (?): And does Cuba? And does North Korea?
CLINTON: Well, that’s why I said it’s a dilemma.
DIAZ-BALART (?): So…
CLINTON: It’s a legitimate dilemma.
I am not a tech expert. I’m not -- you know, I’m not telling you what can or should be done. I’m just describing to you the very difficult dilemma that we’re caught in, and really making a plea that the government and the tech companies keep working together to see that there isn’t some legitimate way to help deal with these kinds of very real world problems that we face.
DIAZ-BALART (?): Secretary, on his plane flight here Sen. Sanders attacked your husband’s legacy. And to quote he said Bill Clinton was the president who led the effort to deregulate Wall Street, was the president who fought for the disastrous NAFTA trade agreement, was the president who pushed the so-called welfare reform, which was absolutely disastrous for low-income people.
Should you be held accountable for your husband’s…?
CLINTON: Well, he was the president who created 23 million jobs, who raised incomes for every group in America, not just those at the top. In fact, African-American families, Latino families had an even higher than average increase in income, created some great economic development programs like you know the Empowerment Zones and the New Market Tax Credits.
So you know, I know that Sen. Sanders has also attacked President Obama. He’s called him weak. He’s called him disappointing. He tried to get somebody to run against him in the 2012 election in the primary.
And you know I just don’t know where all this comes from because maybe it’s that Sen. Sanders wasn’t really a Democrat until he decided to run for president.
He doesn't even know what the, you know, last two Democratic presidents did...
CLINTON: And I'm -- you know, well, it's true. It's true. You know it's true. I mean, it happens to be true. And I've go to tell you, I look at our last two Democratic presidents, were they perfect? No, no person is.
But I'll tell you what, I would take the two of them over any Republican any time, anywhere.
TODD: Thank you, madam secretary. I think we should hear from the people.
And by the way, you both have been booed at some time.
TODD: So absolutely have a -- we can tell, this is a competitive race at this point.
CLINTON: That's good.
TODD: We're going to open the questions.
CLINTON: We like a good contest.
TODD: We're going to open the questions back up to the audience.
CLINTON: And we also like the facts. The facts are our friends, so let's talk about them.
TODD: Fair enough.
Madam secretary, we're going to go and start with the same issue that we started with Senator Sanders, and it's the issue of immigration. As you know Nevada is almost 28 percent Hispanic, and Latinos are the fastest growing group in this state. People are concerned with legal immigration, the ability to work in this country and reforming the current system, to name just a few things.
So I'm going to turn it over to Alan Aliman (ph) here. He's going to ask how a Clinton administration would deal with immigration reform.
QUESTION: Hi, Mrs. Clinton.
QUESTION: In 2007 you opposed giving driver's licenses to undocumented people. Why?
CLINTON: Well, back then it was a state-by-state determination, and I'm happy that most states have moved in the right direction, but what we've got to do now is get the comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
And I understand that somebody asked Senator Sanders a question because her husband was in Mexico -- I don't who asked that question. And I want to tell you, I will end the three and 10-year bar provision so that you do not have to face that ever again.
TODD: Let me follow up on something. I've asked you a few times about the prioritization of immigration reform.
TODD: And when I'm talked about -- asked you about your first 100 days priorities, you've mentioned a lot of issues, and you haven't put immigration reform first. And some immigration reform advocates are concerned that if you don't put it first, that the same thing that happened in '07, the same thing in '10 -- how do you prevent that if you don't make it first? As you know these legislative lifts are hard? And the concern is if it's not first, it may not happen. What do you say?
CLINTON: Well, when we both had a chance to vote on comprehensive immigration reform in 2007, the bill that Senator Ted Kennedy championed, I voted for it; Senator Sanders voted against it. So I know how important it is to put together a coalition.
If I'm fortunate enough to get the Democratic nomination, I will immediately begin working on the priority legislation that I want the Congress deal with right away, and immigration reform will be among those issues.
Now for me the way that Congress works, and I think my friend Congresswoman Marcia Fudge is here somewhere.
CLINTON: There she is. Thank you.
The way that the Congress works, there are a bunch of committees, and the committees have different jurisdiction. So if you're dealing with immigration reform you go to one committee, if you're dealing with equal pay for women you go to a different committee.
So what I want do is get my priority legislation ready to go, begin working even with Democrats in the Congress during the general election. I also want to do that for nominations, because I want to get the judges I want to appoint, I want to get the other important officials appointed.
So I'm not going to waste a minute. That's why I want to get this nomination as quickly as possible so I can gets to work on being your president.
TODD: Thank you, Madame Secretary -- Jose?
DIAZ-BALART: Secretary Clinton, just very quickly, how would you go about cutting out those three and 10-year proposals (ph)? How would you do that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And how long would it take you?
DIAZ-BALART: And how long would it take you to do?
CLINTON: And I'm so sorry about that. And you know what, it does have to be done legislatively. I would do it on two paths. I would do it on a separate piece of legislation and part of comprehensive immigration reform, but we've got to get rid of it, because you know, I met a young dreamer. She was brought her when she was seven months old. She has a younger sister who's a citizen. Her father is a legal resident. Her mother is undocumented.
Her mother cannot leave their family for three or 10 years to go back to where she came from, leaving her family and her daughters alone to wait until she can get in line to be able to come back. It makes no sense. It breaks up families. It is burdensome. We're going to end it. And I'm going to do everything I can to get it ended as soon as possible.
DIAZ-BALART: Secretary Clinton, one quick follow-up to Chuck's -- do you (SPEAKING IN SPANISH). Do you promise to deal with immigration reform within the first 100 days?
CLINTON: Absolutely. And we're going to introduce legislation, Jose. We are actually going to introduce legislation. I'm going to call everybody on the committee, Democrats and Republicans, alike, Gary (ph).
DIAZ-BALART: Within 100 days?
CLINTON: Yes, yes, I'm going to introduce my priority legislation and this is at the top of that list. It's going to be introduced. And then I'm going to work as hard as I can to make sure that we get it moved through the Congressional process.
I can control the introduction of legislation, but the Congress has to get its act in gear. That's why we need to elect a Democratic Senate, so we've got some friends...
CLINTON: -- (INAUDIBLE) will actually move the legislation.
TODD: Secretary, say hello to Nocio Puente (ph).
She speaks both English and Spanish.
A little bit more comfortable in Spanish, she tells me, so I'm going to translate for her.
She wants to ask you about DACA, the president's executive action that gives children brought here illegally through no fault of their own, their parents, temporary legal status.
(SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
DIAZ-BALART: Mrs. Clinton, what would you do to make possible that the DACA students become permanent residents?
You know, they live with a lot of fear, because they have to renew their permits every two years and that is a terrifying prospect for them.
CLINTON: Right. Right.
CLINTON: Well, that's why I support the president's executive orders on DACA and DAPA. And I will do everything I can to make sure that they are kept in place. As you know, there's a court action challenging them. I don't know what's going to happen now, because of the Supreme Court situation.
But I will renew them. I will go further if it's at all legally possible. And I will make this a big political issue because we need to keep those young people working, going to school, being productive members of our society.
So I have to tell you, I will do what I can as president. I'm hoping if we win back the Senate and we win the White House again, the Republicans are going to see the error of their ways and quit using immigrants to divide our country and quit taking the kind of mean-spirited actions that they do.
You know, I was the first person to call out Donald Trump. I said, "Basta!" enough of this prejudice and paranoia and the kind of language that he uses.
CLINTON: So I will do everything I can not only for the young people who deserve the highest protection, but for their families, as well.
DIAZ-BALART: Gracias, procedo.
Secretary, if I could, in...
DIAZ-BALART: -- in the summer of 2014, you said undocumented children from Central America should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their family are, a position you've defended by saying we had to send a message to families and communities in Central America not to send their children here.
That's far from the message Pope Francis had yesterday. He criticized leaders on both sides of the border, calling migrants cannon fodder and their treatment a human tragedy.
Do you still believe that you held that position and is that a right position?
CLINTON: Oh, well, first, let me -- let me really express my deep appreciation to Pope Francis. He has talked about immigrants and migrants everywhere in the world. He came to our border to talk about it again. And I really appreciate him doing that, because I hope people will begin to understand that we've got to show our values. We need to provide humane treatment.
So here's what I believe.
Number one, we need to end family detention. I've been saying that for a very long time.
We need to close the private family detention centers that are making a profit off of housing family members.
We need to make sure that every child has due process and is guaranteed counsel. I have advocated that. Again, I thank Senator Reid because he now has introduced legislation to make that the law.
So there is a process. We have to follow the process.
But at the same time, we don't want children being handled by smugglers and traffickers, often being abused and mistreated. So there is a way where we need to take care of and provide total legal due process, including counsel, to children who get here.
But we need to do more to help families back in Central America have a better life, get rid of the violence that stalks them so that they don't live in fear.
DIAZ-BALART: But should those children be a message?
CLINTON: Well, the children themselves need to be taken care of. They are children. They should be given every help that we can. And I think we're doing a better job of that than we were.
TODD: All right, thank you.
Our next question...
TODD: -- comes from Joe Saco (ph).
He's a realtor here.
He is a Sanders supporter.
Mr. Saco, go ahead with your question.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, as a realtor here in Nevada I know personally how important the economy, and the housing market is to the stability of our great nation. As the Democratic presidential candidate who has delivered speeches to the largest U.S. financial institution in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees, why are you hesitant to release transcripts, or audio-video recordings of those meetings in order to be transparent with the American people regarding the promises, and assurances that you have made to the big banks?
CLINTON: Well, let me say this. I'm happy to release anything I have when everybody else does the same, because every other candidate in this race has given speeches to private groups, including Senator Sanders.
CLINTON: But let me get to the heart of your question. I was the candidate who went to Wall Street before the crash. I was the candidate who went to them and said you are wrecking our economy. What you are doing with mortgages is going to bring us down.
I called to end the carried interest loophole for hedge fund managers. I called to reign in CEO pay. I now have the most effective and comprehensive plan to deal with the threats that Wall Street poses, and I go further than Senator Sanders does because I want to go through after all the other bank bad actors.
The bad actors like hedge funds, the bad actors like AIG, the insurance company. Like Countrywide mortgage. I take a backseat to nobody in being very clear about what I will do to make sure Wall Street never crashes main street again. And, that you can count on.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, I do respect you very much. In fact, only a decade ago I was a very, very big supporter of yourself, and your husband. It actually broke my heart when you said marriage was between a man and a woman. How can we trust that this isn't just more political rhetoric.
Please, just release those transcripts so that we know exactly where you stand.
CLINTON: You know where I stand, because I've been in the public (INAUDIBLE) the whole time. But, let me say something about this.
You know, I, like many Americans, have evolved. And, I'm glad I have. I am a 100% supporter...
CLINTON: And I am absolutely adamant about protecting marriage equality. And, I think it's significant that the Human Rights campaign, the leading organization in our country to ensure that the LGBT community has the rights they deserve, have endorsed me.
Now, your candidate said, well, that's because they're a member of the establishment. Well, with all due respect, they fight against the establishment every single day, and I've been with them for years, and I will pass the Equality act too.
Congresswoman Titus. Thank you for being here.
TODD: Secretary Clinton, we're going to talk about housing. You brought it up, it's been brought up, it's a big problem here in Nevada here. This was the top state in the country for foreclosures during the crisis. Francisco Morales here has a question for you.
QUESTION: First of all, I'd like to thank you for your lifelong commitment to the Democratic party, and comprehensive immigration reform.
CLINTON: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
QUESTION: But, as you know, many hispanics, for many hispanics, achieving home ownership is synonymous to achieving the American Dream. Many of our families were hit particularly hard during the great recession and housing bust. What would a Clinton administration do to ease the fears of home ownership among our community?
CLINTON: Well. I know how hard hit Nevada was. I think the highest rate of foreclosures? You still have a lot of houses underwater, meaning that, you know, the value is not equal to what you had to pay for it, and what the mortgage principal and interest are.
I take that very seriously, so here's what I want to do. I want us to move in any way we can in the federal government to help relieve the burden of already existing homeowners. I don't want the kind of wave of foreclosures that struck this state ever again to happen. ]
Secondly, we want to provide more help so that more homeowners, hispanic homeowners, African American homeowners, those who want to be, have access to better credit, and better support.
You know, credit has tightened up in ways that are just not fair, you know? You are three times more likely to be able to get a mortgage if you're a white applicant than if you're black or hispanic, even if you have the same credentials, and you're presenting it to the people who are looking at it.
That has to end. I will go after that kind of discrimination and bigotry with everything I've got using every housing authority, the Justice Department, the U.S. attorney. We're not going to have this kind of bigotry.
You know, I'm running to knock down all the barriers that stand in the way of people getting ahead. So we're going to make that possible.
And, of course, we've got to get incomes up so you have more of a chance to save for that down payment, and you have got a better chance to actually get in a home and stay there.
So I'm going to use every tool at my disposal to make that dream a reality again.
QUESTION: I actually purchased a home six months ago and I can relate because the amount of hoops that I had to jump as a 24-year-old Hispanic were just unprecedented. So thank you for that.
CLINTON: Yes. And I'm telling you, if you were not Hispanic, you would not have had as many hoops. That has to end. It's not right and fair.
DIAZ-BALART: Thank you very much.
Secretary Clinton, (INAUDIBLE) Ramos (ph) is retired and he has a question about Social Security.
QUESTION: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
Good evening, Secretary. How are you?
My question has to do with Social Security. Hard-working people pay into Social Security with hope and anticipation that in the future they will receive the benefit of their labor and monetary investment.
Social Security needs a 21st Century update to keep it financially sound for future generations. This will take presidential leadership. What is your specific plan to address this issue for the many who need it for economic survival?
CLINTON: So important. And the first thing we have to do is prevent the Republicans ever from privatizing it. They are still determined to privatize Social Security.
CLINTON: You know, Harry remembers after Bush got reelected in 2004, the first thing he said was, let's go privatize Social Security. I was one of the leaders in the Senate, with Harry and others.
We went around the country. We made it clear we would never let that happen. And you know what, their whole plan was, their plan was to give the Social Security trust fund to Wall Street. Imagine that.
If you thought we had scandals and collapse before, think of that. That will never happen on my watch.
But here's what will happen. We need to get more money into the Social Security trust fund to keep it solvent far into the future. There's a couple of different ways I'm looking at and I'll have to talk with the Congress to try to figure out what's the best way forward.
We can raise the cap and get more money that way. We can go after -- with the existing percentage that comes out of people's paychecks, we can go after what's called passive income so that rich people have to pay on all their income, not just their earned income, because, frankly, they live mostly off of, as you know, capital gains and investment income.
So we're going to come up with the best plan to do that. But here's what else I want you to know. We have too many Social Security recipients right now who are barely making it. And that's largely because, number one, they were low wage workers during their lifetime.
They didn't put that much into the fund so now when they need it, they're capped out. They don't get what they need to live on.
We also have a problem of older women who may not have worked at all during their lifetimes. They took care of their homes and their families. They contributed to their communities. So they don't have much to draw on either.
And then one of the saddest problems I'm going to go after is what happens when a husband dies and then a widow loses half of her Social Security payment. If she's not making much to begin with, I've met a lot of these women, they're losing their homes, they are just really in financial distress.
So we're going to get it more solvent and we're going to fix some of the problems of the people who are most in need. And that's what I'll do as president.
DIAZ-BALART: Among those different issues that you mentioned, as you know, people pay Social Security taxes on income up to about $120,000. Senator Sanders wants to change that. You were opposed to raising the cap in 2008. This time around you seem to be considering it.
DIAZ-BALART: But you haven't come out one way or the other. So should people start paying Social Security taxes on income over $120,000?
CLINTON: That's one of the options, Jose. You know, that's why I said…
DIAZ-BALART: Right, but it's 120, 150, 200, do you have any…
CLINTON: Yes. Well, it could be over 250. It could be from 120 up. It could be at a higher amount. But this is the kind of issue that you've got to try to figure out where the Congress might be. So I've laid out a number of different approaches to get the money.
And the other one that I mentioned to the gentleman is putting the -- you know putting the percentage on passive income so that people with a lot of income, but from capital gains and from investments who now, you know they don’t pay much into Social Security, but they have a lot of money, they will have to pay more.
So those are a couple of the options. I think we could pick one or more of those. But the goal is to get more money into the trust fund.
TODD: All right.
Do you ever -- would you ever imagine raising the retirement age in the next 10 years?
CLINTON: No. And I’ll tell you why, Chuck. No.
I’ll tell you why. Right now if you look at who draws Social Security for the longest time, people who have worked hard for many years, people who are often really broken down by the physical labor or the repetitive labor that they’ve done. Their lifespan is much lower than the lifespan of people like you and me who had a different sort of life, made our monies different ways, didn’t have to work that hard.
So right now the average death age for a lot of Americans and Latinos and African-Americans is lower than the average death age of whites. And that’s lower still than the age of people who are affluent and well educated.
So raising the retirement age would very well eliminate a lot of hardworking people from getting much Social Security at all. I will not do that.
CLINTON: I want people…
… to have the best possible older years. So that is ruled out to me.
TODD: Thank you.
Madam Secretary, we’re going to take a -- sneak a break in here. And when we come back, a lot more issues, and we’ll hear from a lot more folks. Thank you.
TODD: Welcome back to MSNBC Clinton-Sander town hall. Just two days before Nevada democrats go and caucus. Our next question, Secretary Clinton, it's been no secret that many democratic voters who are considering voting for you or for Senator Sanders are worried about some questions of trust. Our next question has to do with that, and it comes from Tianna Winters, who by the way, supports you.
QUESTION: Good evening. My name is Tianna Winters. I attend UNLV, I'm a senior and...
TODD: You're a rebel. (INAUDIBLE)
QUESTION: And I'm representing the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs. My question tonight is my generation is the generation that grew out of that economic downturn. Gone are the days of affordable tuition, booming job market, and obtaining that classic American Dream. We need a rebel.
We need somebody who's going to be by our side and ensure that after working hard, and putting in our time that we will be able to attain that success. My question to you is because my generation is a little weary of placing another politician in the White House. With your tenure in politics, how are you going to deserve our vote?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, I know that you think, with good cause, everything is messed up because that has been your personal experience. I have the deepest respect for, and feeling for young people who literally came out of the great recession ready to get on with their lives, and are finding barriers everywhere they turn.
I believe with all my heart that I'm the best person to be the president who will deliver for you.
I've actually been in elective office shorter period than Senator Sanders, who's been in the Congress 25 years. I've been there for eight, but I've also been a Secretary of State, and I was a very big activist my entire life.
And, I know what has to be done, and I will do it. That's why I've laid out plans to remove the economic barriers that stand in the way of young people. You know, I want to stop bad actors from doing bad things, there's no disagreement there.
But, I want to make some good things happen. I want to get back to the kind of job creation we had when my husband was president, and get incomes rising because Americans haven't had a rise in 15 years. I want to be sure that we knock down the barriers that hold back people because of racisim, sexisim, homophobia, all the other kinds of prejudice and bias that is out there. I also want to be sure women get equal pay for work.
I think it's way past time, and we deserve it.
And, I have a very specific plan to make college affordable, and I also have a really aggressive plan to get student debt down to enable you to repay, refinance at a much lower cost, and be able to get out of it sooner.
So, you're not paying, your student debts 30 years from now. That's ridiculous. I didn't have to do that, I had student debt, and I got it paid back within 15 years because I had it at a reasonable amount. And, I want to move more young people to what are called contingent repayment plans. That's a mouthful but it basically means you pay as a percentage of what you earn, not a fix interest rate. I want to triple the number of national service jobs. I want to double the amount of education grants that go to do national service. So, I have a comprehensive plan.
And I think it’s really important for young people to understand yes, you know what, we’ve got to have big, bold plans. We’ve got to have our ideas and our values. And then we got to figure out, OK, how are we going to get it done?
CLINTON: How are we going to make it happen?
I am absolutely confident I can do that. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and your support.
QUESTION: Thank you.
TODD: Secretary, you probably saw the exit polls. What about this trust deficit?
CLINTON: I couldn’t hear you, Chuck.
TODD: I’m sorry. This issue, to be a successful president you’re going to have to erase this trust deficit that you’re dealing with right now.
TODD: You saw it out in New Hampshire.
TODD: How do you deal with it?
CLINTON: Well, look. You know I won one, he’s won one. We’ve got 48 to go. That’s why we’re here in Nevada working as hard as we can. And then onto South Carolina and all the other states that come after.
You know look, I am absolutely focused on delivering results for people. And any fair reading of what I’ve done since I went to work as a young lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund up until today shows that I know how to do that.
It is obviously troubling that people have questions about me, which I will do my best to answer. But I think they really come down to saying well look, you know like this young woman asked me. You’ve been around a while. We’ve seen your face a long time.
What does that actually mean?
Well, I’ve been around doing stuff. I’ve been around getting things that I believe will help people. And that’s what I’m going to keep doing.
You know when I ran for the Senate in New York people said the same thing, you know we can’t trust her, we don’t know her. I won. And then when I ran again six years later, I was reelected with an even larger percentage of the vote because people saw me in action.
So people are really asking is she in it for herself or is she in it for me? I’ve always been somebody who believed and raised in my family and my faith that I, with my blessings, had an opportunity and an obligation to do what I could to help others. And that’s what I will do as president.
TODD: All right. Thank you, Madam Secretary.
DIAZ-BALART: We have a run on running rebels when it comes to our questions. So our next question comes from Adriana Iguizar-Vasquez (ph). Adriana (ph)?
QUESTION: Hi. Good evening. My question is exactly on your debt-free college proposal. Will your debt-free college proposal give the same opportunities to Latinos and DACA students as Sen. Sanders’ tuition-free proposal?
CLINTON: I will do everything I can to make sure that it does. And you know I want to make that possible. I hope I can do it without legislative action. But I might not be able to and he might not be able to. So that’s why comprehensive immigration reform is so important because that would clear all this up.
So I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that the young people I met -- you know I met a young woman who wants to be a doctor. She came here as a child undocumented. She’s at the top of her class here in Las Vegas.
She’s worried can she get into school being undocumented? Can she get the scholarship she and her family would need? Can she graduate and go to medical school? And when she gets her medical degree can she get a license? I tell you that is just heartbreaking to me.
So I’m going to do everything I can to clear all the barriers away so that every young person in this country has the same chance to make a contribution as that young woman wants to make.
QUESTION: So based on the proposal -- based on the proposal that you have right now, with this -- for example, the AmeriCorps grants that you’re willing to give to students, how -- would those also be granted to DACA students, for example?
CLINTON: Yes. Yes. And you know I think both Sen. Sanders and I are seeking the same goal, to make college affordable for everybody. I believe my plan is a better way to get it done. And therefore I’m standing behind it. And I am strongly in favor of clearing away all these barriers.
So yes, anything I can do to make sure every single young person who wants to go to college in this country is given the chance to do it. It’s also why I want to make community college free. Because if community college is free then a lot of young people can actually go to community college without a lot of the assistance that they might need for a four-year college or a university.
QUESTION: Thank you.
TODD: The caucus cough, we know that well.
DIAZ-BALART: Oh yes, the cough.
Secretary, a quick follow-up on that, and I know it’s a states issue. But drivers license for the undocumented.
Do you foresee a time when the federal government would be able to include the undocumented in federal grants for education, for example? Because if the state doesn’t do it, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have those dreams and aspirations that they can’t reach because in Washington they decide...
DIAZ-BALART: … that they’re not equal.
CLINTON: Absolutely true, Jose. And I'm very proud of all the states that have taken steps to make sure that grants and college tuition and other things are taken care of for DREAMers, for others who are undocumented.
But it should be a national priority. And that's another element of comprehensive immigration reform, because once we get that, then there are no more questions. Everybody is entitled to the same rights and benefits.
You know, I'm not sure everybody in the audience even knows, I mean, every year undocumented workers contribute $12 billion to the Social Security trust fund.
CLINTON: And the best estimate -- the best estimate is that under comprehensive immigration reform that amount would go up to 20. It would be an additional $20 billion every year.
So you talk about making the Social Security trust fund solvent, getting people out of the shadows, getting them in the economy to be able to pursue their dreams helps all of us. So absolutely we're going to head for that.
DIAZ-BALART: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
As Lu (ph) says, money they can contribute and never see anything back from.
CLINTON: That's right. They contribute for everybody else, like the gentleman's question. I want you to be able to contribute and as a citizen be able to draw it down because it's yours.
DIAZ-BALART: Secretary, say hello to Onvez Felipe Ribeiro (ph). He has a question about labor unions, right?
Good evening, Secretary Clinton. Your ties to corporate America have been at the center of this campaign. As president of the United States and former board member of the board of directors of Walmart, will you be silent on Walmart's anti-union campaign?
But more importantly, will you propose legislation that protects the right of workers to organize in the workplace?
CLINTON: Well, can I tell you…
CLINTON: The answer to that is yes. And it's why all the unions have endorsed me. And I want to tell you including…
CLINTON: Including the union -- the union (INAUDIBLE)…
CLINTON: … that is at the forefront of the organizing campaign at Walmart.
But most of the other unions have, public unions, private sector unions. And you know why? I mean, really, here we go. Let's go back to the facts, because I've always been a champion. I've always been there for them.
Tom Perez, our great secretary of labor, who is here, where is Tom? Right there, is somebody who…
CLINTON: … has been on the front lines standing up for workers and unions. He endorsed me. He has been campaigning for me. So I know that there's a lot of stuff that is said and thrown around.
But look at the facts. Unions have endorsed me because they know I'm on their side. I'm not just showing up at election time telling them what they want to hear. I've been there year-in and year-out, and I will be as president.
QUESTION: One more question, will you support a living wage of $15 an hour, which is an issue that is very — that is at the forefront for working families?
CLINTON: Absolutely. You know, I support a federal minimum wage and I support states going higher than the federal minimum wage. That's why I support Andrew Cuomo in New York who wants to raise it to 15. I supported what they did in L.A. And I supported what they did in Seattle.
But I'm standing with the majority of Democrats in the Senate who have introduced a minimum wage increase to $12. That would put it at the highest it has been since 1968. That would mean a wage increase for 35 million American workers, and one in four low-wage workers who are now just barely getting by.
And it would help so many women because the majority of minimum wage workers are women. So I'm absolutely in favor of it. I will do everything that I can. We'll set it because it's a floor. And then I will use the bully pulpit to convince states that believe they can go further to do just that.
TODD: Madam Secretary, a little subject change here. Let me introduce you to Mary Chapman (ph). Mary has a question on foreign policy.
QUESTION: What strategies do you plan to employ in dealing with the conflicts between women and children's rights versus the practices being utilized by some of our Middle Eastern allies?
CLINTON: Well, you know, I went to Beijing in 1995 and said women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights. And I believe that with all my heart.
And when I was secretary of state…
CLINTON: When I was Secretary of State, I put women's rights at the center of our foreign policy. And, I went to 112 countries for all of you, I raised it in every country. I looked across the table at dictators, and authoritarians and shovanists, and sexists, and misogynists -- yeah, I did.
CLINTON: And, I raised it with every one of them. So, it will be a huge issue for me. And, you know? I also raised gay rights. I went to Geneva and I made a speech about how gay rights are human rights because the people who are often the most depressed and mistreated right now in a lot of countries are LGBT members. So, from my perspective, human rights...
CLINTON: ... Human rights always has to be at the center of who we are as a nation, and what I will do as president. You can count on that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
TODD: Let me -- quick follow on foreign policy. President Obama has announced that he's going to go to Cuba.
TODD: In march. Is is -- what has Cuba done to earn a presidential visit? It's one thing to open diplomatic ties, but since December, since the official opening, there have been some regression, particularly in some human rights issues. Is a presidential visit a step too far? Would a President Clinton be going this quickly, rewarding Cuba with a presidential visit this quickly?
CLINTON: Well, I know that the President intends to raise human right issues. He will be very open about that, I'm sure. Talking about, you know, the ongoing abuses within Cuba that are visited upon people who are seeking freedoms, standing up, speaking out.
I think having the President on Cuban soil delivering that message is very powerful, and I'll say too, Chuck. You know, I was determined as Secretary of State to try to get an opening to Burma, now called Myanmar. And, a lot of people said, well, you know, that'll never happen. The military dictatorship will never change, and I said, you know what? We got to try.
And, so I went, and I made, you know the case for why it would be better for them to pursue democracy and freedom. And then, I took the President back with me. And, the President spoke out, he spoke to a big group of students in Rangoon, Yangon, and said you deserve better. Speak out for it, speak up for it, the United States will support you.
Look what's happened? There was an election. Aung Song Suu Kyi's party won. The military is turning over power.
Now, we can't promise that in everything, but if we don't take reasonable steps, we negotiated a long time to try and get the opening to Cuba. So, I think the President's goal is to make it clear to the Cuban people, we're with you today, tomorrow, and into the future. We know you deserve a future of freedom and democracy, and we will be there every step of the way.
TODD: Some people worry that you've lost leverage.
TODD: Some people that the administration's lost leverage on this issue of human rights with the issue of INAUDIBLE)...
CLINTON: ... You know, I think it's a different situation because there's so much traffic now between the United States and Cuba. There are so many Americans, both Cuban-Americans, and other Americans coming to, yo uknow, look at new businesses. Looking to make a alliances with people in their professions, or similar interests.
So, I think it's not just a presidential visit. It is a punctuation point that makes clear the United States is going to stay with this. We're going to keep pushing, you know?
I don't think the Castros can live forever, unless they have found...
CLINTON: ...Ponce DeLeon's magic water fountain somewhere.
CLINTON: ... So, there will be a new generation, and we've got to -- you know, I want the president to be able to look in the eyes of the new generation, just like we did with the Burmese. We need to say, OK, we're here. What are you going to do for your people? Look how far behind you are.
I mean, the economy in Cuba is stuttering because they're not part of the larger world. Let's lift it up, and open it up.
DIAZ-BALART: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
DIAZ-BALART: Secretary Clinton, thank you for being with us tonight.
CLINTON: Oh my gosh, it's over?
CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you, thank you.
TODD: We will try to go a third hour.
DIAZ-BALART: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
TODD: Too my friend, Jose, thanks very much. Rachel Maddow takes things over right now. Thank you, Nevada.