tv Road to the White House 2020 Sen. Kamala Harris Town Hall in NH CSPAN April 25, 2019 11:36am-12:19pm EDT
hate no safe harbor. start, therere you is nothing you cannot achieve if you want that. that's what we believe. above all else that is what is at stake in this election. we cannot forget what happened in charlottesville. to remember who we are. this is america. >> president trump reacting to joe biden entering the race, tweeting, welcome to the race sleepy joe, i only hope that you have the intelligence to wage a campaign. if you make it i will see you at the starting gate. harris held a
campaign event, she officially int -- launched her campaign january. this is 40 minutes. [cheers and applause] sen. harris: what's up, dartmouth? it is so great to be with you guys. thank you so much. i have been reading about your leadership and your voice, and i am very honored you have been with us this afternoon to introduce me. thank you for your work. i spoke to a few of the folks
outside, the fire marshal, lucky us. speaking to the folks outside, one of the things i said is, in the history of our country, i think some of the most significant advances we have made, some of the most significant changes we have made in our movement toward social justice and equality and just progress has been prompted and fueled by the students of america. [applause] sen. harris: and, yet again, you're doing it. you are doing it. and i cannot thank you enough. i often talk about the circumstances, my parents met when they were graduate students at uc berkeley back in the civil rights movement.
i joke, me and my sister joke we grew up by a group of adults that spent time marching and shouting. your kids are going to say the same thing about you guys. [laughter] sen. harris: and that is how the cycle continues. i am so happy to be with all of you today. the leaders who were in the room of every age, thank you for this. i will share a few thoughts about our campaign and what is happening around the country, and then we will pass around the mic, because i would love to hear from everyone. i tell you i fully intend to win this election. [cheers and applause] sen. harris: but, a measure of success for me is also that at the end of this process, that we will be relevant, and relevant in the lives of the people we serve. one of the only ways i believe
we can make sure that happens is that we listen more than we talk. i will share with you just a little of my thoughts. we announced our campaign several weeks ago in the place of my birth, oakland, california. we were hoping we would have a few thousand people and about 22,000 of our friends showed up, that was kind of nice. during the course of the process, people have been asking -- why are you running? so i share with them a number of reasons. one of them has to do with what i think everyone here knows. we are at an inflection point in the history of our country. this is a moment in time that is requiring each individual, and collectively, to look in the mirror and ask a question, that question being -- who are we?
i think what we all know is that part of the answer to that question is we are better than this. we are better than this. [applause] sen. harris: so, this is a moment that is requiring us then to fight for the best of who we are. i think of this also as being a moment that requires that anyone who wants to be a leader must fight to restore the importance of truth and justice in our country. [applause] sen. harris: and anyone who thinks of themselves as a leader must also find to restore equal opportunity for all people in our country to succeed. [applause]
sen. harris: so those are some of the reasons i am running. i guess a very personal reason is, my sister and i were raised by a mother who was five feet tall, but if you had ever met her, you would think she was seven feet tall. our mother was the kind of parent who if you ever came home complaining about something, she would look at you and say, "what are you going to do about it?" so i decided to run for president of the united states. [laughter] there you go. [applause] sen. harris: so, let's talk a little bit more about the importance of truth and justice. certainly in these last two years and several months, we have been talking about truth, mostly in the context of truth
versus untruth. but i ask we also consider another context, which is this. right now in our country, there are a lot of people who rightly feel a great sense of distrust in their government, its institutions, and leaders. the thing about relationship of trust, is by its very nature, a relationship of trust is reciprocal. you give and you receive trust. one of the most important ingredients of trust is the truth. but there is a funny thing about truth. speaking truth can often make people quite uncomfortable. and for those of us who speak often behind a microphone are behind a podium, there is an incentive that we will engage in. we will make everyone feel
lovely, sprinkle lovely dust all over the room, people will applaud in the job will have been done. while speaking truth, doesn't always accomplish that goal. here is the other thing about speaking truth -- yes, people may walk away from their conversation thinking they did while speaking truth, doesn't not like particularly what they had to hear, but they will also walk away from the conversation knowing it was an honest conversation. i believe this is a moment in time where we must speak truth. so now, you all are looking at me, what are some of the truths you had in mind? i will share a few with you. if charlottesville didn't make it clear, if the tree of life synagogue could not make it clear, racism, anti-semitism, sexism, homophobia, trans-phobia are real in this country, and we must speak these truths.
[cheers and applause] sen. harris: and, in speaking that truth, we must acknowledge that they are born out of hate, hate which over the last couple of years has received new fuel. we must agree that whenever and wherever that hate presents itself, we must all speak out, speak up, and we must agree that whoever is the target of that hate, they should never be made to fight alone. let's speak that truth. [applause] sen. harris: let's speak that truth. let's speak truth.
the economy of america is not working for working people. how do we know that? well, in our country today, almost half of american families cannot afford a $400 unexpected expense. $400. that could be the car breaking down, a hospital bill, $400 unexpected will completely topple that family. in america today, in 90% of the counties in our country, if you are a minimum wage worker working full-time, you cannot afford an apartment. in our country last year, 12 million people borrowed on average $400 from the payday lender at an interest rate often above 300%.
these are the truths about what is going on in our country today, which is why as president, i will reform the tax code and specifically what i propose is that for families that are making less than $100,000 a year, they will receive a $6,000 tax credit a year that they can receive at up to $500 a month which will represent all the difference between them being able to get through the end of the month or not. and, it is an interesting thing, because first of all, i will tell you the economists are talking about it is talking about that this is the most significant tax cut we will see in generations. this will lift up one into american families, two in three american children. there are others who will present the question --
[mockingly] how are you going to pay for it? [laughter] sen. harris: well, i will tell you how we are going to pay for it. on day one, we are going to repeal that tax bill that benefits the top 1% and the greatest corporations of america. that is how we are going to pay for it. that is how we are going to pay for it. let's speak truth. we are a society that pretends to care about education. but not so much the education of other people's children. so, i have been traveling our country, i have been meeting with teachers all over our country who are working two, sometimes three jobs to pay the bills. money comes out of their own
pockets to pay for school supplies. my first grade teacher, god bless her soul, attended my law school graduation. we all have memories of that teacher who convinced us we were special. we were not particularly special, but we believed them, and it put us on a path to be in a place such as this where we might be making decisions about who might be the next president of the united states. let's be clear, there are two groups of people raising our children -- parents, often with the assistance of grandparents and aunts and uncles, and our teachers. teachers on average make 10%
less than some of the college-educated professionals, which is why as president, i will implement what will be the first time in our nation, a federal investment in closing the teacher pay gap. [applause] sen. harris: so that gap on average is effectively $13,500 a year. let's be clear about $13,500 a year. in most places in our country, that represents a year's worth of mortgage payments. it is a year's worth of grocery bills. it puts a significant dent in
student loan debt. and to make a fine point on this, i firmly believe that you can judge a society based on how it treats its children. [applause] sen. harris: and one of the greatest expressions of love that a society can extend toward its children is to invest in their education, and by extension, that means investing in their teachers. let's speak truth. [applause] sen. harris: let's speak truth. health care and access to health care should be a right to which everyone receives and not a privilege of just those who can afford it, which is why i
support medicare for all. [applause] sen. harris: because let's be clear, in our country today, there are far too many people who do not have access to the care that can help alleviate their pain or save their lives simply because they do not have enough money in their pocket. that is immoral, and it is something we can fix, but we have got to have a commitment to do the right thing and understand this will be a reflection of who we are and what our values are as a nation. let's speak truth. [applause] sen. harris: let's speak truth. climate change is real. [applause] sen. harris: now, honestly guys,
isn't it kind of sad i had to say it that way? [laughter] and you know why i did? because there are supposed leaders in washington dc on this subject who represents an existential threat. but these leaders are pushing science-fiction instead of facts. we are in a collective peril. [applause] sen. harris: let's speak truth. in america this evening, in places around our country, families will sit down for their week nightly dinner, the parents
will look at their children across the table and ask them, "honey, how was your day?" to which those children will respond, "wasn't a good day." "why, what happened?" "today, we had to have a drill. we learned about how we had to go and hide in a closet in case there is a mass shooter roaming the hallways of our school. why, mommy and daddy, did we have to have that drill?" to which of course the answer is, "well, you see, there are supposed leaders in washington who have failed to have the courage to reject a false choice," which suggests you're either in favor of the second amendment, or you want to take guns away.
we need reasonable gun safety laws in our country, including universal background checks and a renewal of the assault weapons ban. let's speak truth. [applause] sen. harris: i will tell you guys, honestly, i am kind of fed up with this issue. i mean, look, some people wonder why is it taking so long? what needs to happen? we all know it is not like we are waiting for a tragedy -- we have seen the worst of tragedies. and i don't even need to go down the list with you guys. we have seen the worst of tragedies. the ideas had been had.
it is about people failing to have the courage to act. here is what i'm going to say, when i am elected president of the united states, i am going to give the congress 100 days to get their act together, and if they don't, i'm going to exercise executive power and do three specific things that i they don't, i'm going to will share with you. one, i am going to require that anyone who sells more than five guns a year is required to do background checks. i am going to require that the atf will remove the licenses from any gun seller who violates the law. and, i am going to reverse what this administration did as it relates to fugitives for justice. they took them off the list of
prohibited buyers. i am going to put them back on that list. that is all i will do if congress fails to act. [applause] sen. harris: and just to put a fine point on it, on the issue of gun dealers? because i have researched this issue. did you know that 90% of the guns that are used in connection with crimes are sold by 5% of the dealers? we need to crack down on this. let's speak truth. let's speak truth. in america today, there are families and parents that have to sit down with mostly their sons, sometimes their daughters, when that child turns 12 years old to have what is called "the talk," wherein those parents explain, son, you may be
stalked, you may be arrested, you may be chased, and you may be shot because of the color of your skin. let's speak truth that in america today, we have a criminal justice system that is deeply flawed, that has been infected in many ways by bias, and that can be reformed. we should agree that in our america, no young men should fear for the safety of his life because of the color of his skin. [applause] sen. harris: let's speak truth. let's speak truth. let's speak truth. russia interfered in the election of the president of the united states.
[applause] sen. harris: and let's speak truth. we have a commander in chief, who on that subject, preferred to take the word of the russian president over the word of the american intelligence community. that we have a commander-in-chief who prefers to take the word of a north korean dictator over the word of the american intelligence community when it comes to an american student who was tortured and later died. that we have a commander-in-chief that prefers to take the word of a saudi prince over the word of the american intelligence community when it comes to a journalist who was assassinated, a journalist who had american credentials. and let's speak truth. we can no longer afford to have that commander-in-chief. [applause]
sen. harris: i could go on and on with the truth. i am going to close up on this one, which i believe especially now, when there are so many powerful forces and voices in our country that are trying to sow hate and division among us. a truth that i believe is not only critical that we speak, but that we know and feel in our hearts and in our sole. -- soul. that truth is this -- the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. let's speak that truth and know it to be truth. right. [applause] sen. harris: and here is how i
think about it. it is what i call the middle of the night thought, the 3:00 in the morning thought, the witching hour, you know what i am talking about, when you wake up in the middle of the night with that thought that has been weighing on you. sometimes in a cold sweat. for the vast majority of us, when we wake up thinking that thought, it is never through the lens of the party with which we are registered to vote. for the vast majority of us, when we wake up thinking that thought, it is never through the lens of a simplistic demographic that a pollster put us in. and for the vast majority of us, when we wake up thinking that thought, it usually has to do with just one of very few things, our personal health, our children, our parents, can i get a job, keep a job, retire with
dignity? can i pay off the student loans? for so many families in america, right here included in new hampshire, can i help my family member get off their opioid addiction? the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. and so, i say, as we march to 2020, let's hold onto that knowing that is part of the strength of who we are. let's reject the stuff they are trying to sell. people who are trying to say it is us versus them. i am not buying that. i am not buying it when people are trying to say -- you need to have one conversation in the midwest, another one down south, another one on the coast, i am not buying that.
the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. and so, i also say this -- on our march toward 2020, let us remember that one of the greatest strengths of who we are as a nation is by our very nature, we are aspirational. we are an aspirational people. we are a nation that was founded on noble ideals. the ideals that were present when we wrote the constitution of the united states and all of its amendments and the bill of rights and the declaration of independence and the words we spoke in 1776 -- that we are all equal and should be treated that way? we are aspirational.
we are also clear-eyed that we have not reached those ideals. but the strength of who we are is that we fight to get there. and so, let's own that strength. let's own that strength in a way that we fight knowing what can be unburdened by what has been. let this be a fight that is born out of optimism. let this be a fight that we know is born out of love of country. and knowing we are better than this. that is how i think of the task before us. and my final point then is this -- this moment in time will pass, and years from now, our children, grandchildren, others will look in our eyes, each one of us, and they will ask us, "so where were you at that
inflection moment?" and part of what we are going to say is, there was this one afternoon hanging out at dartmouth. [laughter] sen. harris: but what we are also going to be able to tell them about this moment in time -- we will be able to tell them more than just how we felt. what we are going to tell them is what we did. what action we took. that we stepped up. that we spoke out. that we organized. that we touched her friends and neighbors and family members. that we got people registered to vote. we took them to the polls, and we worked knowing the power of who we are while we are all in this. when we know the power of the people. when we know that the strength of this nation is the people, and who we are and what we see
and what we know about what we can be. so years from now, we will tell them all that and we will tell them we won. thank you. [cheers and applause] >> all right. let's get some questions for the senator. right there, with the glasses. >> hi. sen. harris: what is your name? >> i'm sam. you support tuition-free public
college, so, how would you help people who have already graduated from college relieve that student debt? sen. harris: absolutely, it is one of -- it is a big area of concern for me. first of all, let me say that no student should have to fear that that burden of what student debt brings. on average, new hampshire students graduate with $32,000 in debt. back to the issue i am talking about with the teacher pay, i have met more teachers who left the profession of teaching because they simply could not afford to do the work and pay off student loans. on this point, i want that student who might be you or anyone of you, who is excelling in science and has a passion to
go teach middle school students, i want you to be able to look out on your future and not be concerned about the student loan that you are facing and the cost of living and then decide instead of going to teach middle school students, i have to go and join a pharmaceutical company, or wall street because i can't afford to teach. there are so many variables that come with the issue of student loan debt that one is about a burden, a real burden, emotionally, psychologically, and financially as well as what will end up being career decisions that will be made simply because you can't pay the bill as opposed to following your passion and doing something that will contribute to growing our society. these are the ways i think about the issue of student loan debt.
first of all, yes, tuition free community college, debt-free college. next, we need to seriously understand that we have to let students refinance their student loan debt. for example, i don't think it would be any of you, but a couple of generations before, if they took out their loans between 2006 in 2013, they were looking at about 7% interest rate. i am proposing that would be renegotiated to 3.5%. the other thing is we have to strengthen and actually banned the system so that the repayment schedule is going to be income-based. so, it would be proportionate to the amount of money you are making. the other thing we have to recognize that will go back to my days as being an attorney general and going after people who were defrauding consumers, is the number of predatory service providers that are out there who are servicing loans but really in a predatory way that is taking advantage of students. we need to go after them and prosecute them when they are engaged in wrong behavior.
[applause] sen. harris: and then, finally, something that we also need to do in terms of the entry point is simplify the financial aid application process. all the students here know what i am talking about. that is awful. it is just awful and it needs to be simplified so that more students can have access and know what they are getting into. those are some of my thoughts about what we need to do. thank you. [applause] >> all right. i think we have time for one more question, sorry about that. let's see. right there. >> i was just wondering, how do you plan to bridge the gap between republicans, democrats in the senate and the house? sen. harris: natalia asked, how
do we plan to bridge the gap between republicans and democrats to get something done, right? i hear you. here's the thing. i will share with you that there is bipartisan work that is happening. i am very pleased and excited to have two pieces of significant legislation that do some very important work. one, i am sponsoring a piece of legislation that would reform the money bail system in the united states. [applause] sen. harris: it is a criminal justice reform issue and an economic justice issue. there are people in our country that are sitting in jail for days, weeks, months even potentially years waiting to go to trial simply because they don't have enough money in their back pocket to pay for bail to get out while they are pending trial.
it's an economic justice issue. i have a bill that would basically change the whole system. my cosponsor, even though we don't agree on most of anything, his name is rand paul, a republican from kentucky. he is my cosponsor and we are working on it together. and i will tell you. [applause] sen. harris: he said, kamala, appalachia loves it. of course. getting back to the earlier point, the vast majority of us have more in common than what separates us. another bill dealing with a very big issue that deals with critical infrastructure and our country and our elections and the integrity of our democracy is election security. so, i sit on the senate intelligence committee and senate homeland security
committee, and we receive all kinds of information about the vulnerabilities to our national security. one of the things we know is that we are vulnerable in terms of foreign interference with our elections. i am working with a republican from oklahoma, and we have a bill that will upgrade all of the states' elections systems, and interestingly enough, the most secure way to vote is paper. it would be great if the republican leader would put these bills on the floor for a vote, which has not happened, but there is bipartisan work happening. i will say this also -- after this election, it is my intention to bring congress together and to say we have got to fix some things.
because part of our collective frustration with what has been going on over the last couple of years is this whole situation has us staring at our belly button. the world is passing us by. we have critical issues that are being neglected in our country and we are becoming weaker because of it. let's be clear about this. ain't nobody else going to come in here and fix our problems. if we don't do it, who will? when we are looking at globalization, at the fact that we need to compete on a much bigger plane, we better get our act together. and most of the intractable issues that we must address are not even bipartisan. i would suggest to you they are nonpartisan. but we have to have real leadership at the top, and that is why i am running for
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