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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Democratic Town Hall Event with Voters in South Carolina. Aired 8-10p ET

Aired February 23, 2016 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(APPLAUSE)

CHRIS CUOMO, HOST: Good evening.

Tonight, live here in South Carolina, Democrats will get a chance to see their candidates in a different way, face-to-face with the voters, men and women living with real problems that demand real solutions.

So let's see if Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton can deliver.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, the Democrats turn to face voters before their first chance to win in the South.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: South Carolina has the opportunity to American history.

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fight goes on. The future that we want is within our grasp.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie Sanders, victor in New Hampshire, promising victory in November.

SANDERS: If you want a candidate who is going to defeat Donald Trump, you're looking at that candidate.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton, Iowa winner, Nevada winner, talking commitment.

CLINTON: I am going to fight for you because we've got to knock down every barrier that's holding Americans back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two candidates, connecting with the voters before deciding who will get the most important job in this country.

CLINTON: I just love answering questions and making clear where I stand.

SANDERS: This is a brilliant audience. With people this smart, we can't lose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a CNN Democratic town hall event, a chance for voters to get answers before a primary that can make or break a campaign. South Carolina is choosing. The Democrats are in the spotlight and they're talking to voters right now.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Hello from the university of South Carolina School of Law here in the state capital of Columbia.

We're simulcasting live right now on CNN, CNN En Espanol, and CNN International. We're also live on the American Forces Network, the Westwood 1 radio network and CNN's SiriusXM channel, 116,

So welcome to all of you.

Anderson Cooper, as you remember, was here last week with the Republican candidates. Tonight, it is the Democrats' turn.

Voters are in control, some undecided, some not, all with something to say or to ask to Senator Sanders or Secretary Clinton.

They came up with the questions. We've reviewed them to make sure that the questions don't overlap. When I say them, I mean the voters came up with the questions. Be clear on that.

I'm going to ask a few, as well. But tonight, as always, it really is about you, the voters.

Now, Senator Sanders asked to go first. Secretary Clinton was fine with that.

So let's get after it.

Joining us right now is the U.S. senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Good to see you, Senator.

SANDERS: How are you doing, Chris?

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Is the chair good?

SANDERS: It's pretty good.

CUOMO: All right.

SANDERS: All right.

CUOMO: Pretty good.

SANDERS: (INAUDIBLE) you like it?

CUOMO: It's very nice. Very nice.

SANDERS: OK.

CUOMO: So a lot of people thought you would not be sitting where you are right now. But here we are, three contests in. You and Secretary Clinton separated by one delegate, the same number pledged. You're in this thing.

What does it mean to you to be here tonight?

SANDERS: Well, it is kind of mind-blowing, the progress that we've made over the last nine months. I mean you and I have been chatting for a long time.

When it began, we were 3 percent in the polls. And to be honest, most people considered us a fringe campaign, never going to go anyplace.

Today, in the national polls, we have closed the gap to single digits. Actually, one poll had us ahead.

Uh, in Iowa, I was 50 points down. We ended in a virtual tie. In New Hampshire, 30 points down, we won.

South Carolina -- in Nevada, we were way, way down, came within 5 points. South Carolina, we started here in 7, 8 percent in the polls. We have narrowed that.

So I think, Chris, what it means to me is the American people are responding to our message that we have a corrupt campaign finance system in which billionaires today are buying elections and undermining American democracy. We have a rigged economy in which the ordinary people are working longer hours for lower wages, almost all new income and wealth going to the top 1 percent. And we have a broken criminal justice system in which we have more people in jail today than any other country on Earth, largely African-American and largely Latino.

And what it means to me and why our campaign has been doing so well, I think people are saying enough with establishment politics and establishment economics. We need a political revolution in which millions of people come together and say, you know what? Our government belongs to all of us, not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors.

CUOMO: Now you're sensitivity to the connection of Secretary Clinton to the big banks, to moneyed interests is very clear. You have co- opted the CNN countdown clock, Senator. Now I'm not here to come after you about that, you can use it if you want.

But just as of yesterday you said, it has been 17 days, 16 hours, and 32 minutes since Hillary Clinton said she would look into releasing her paid speeches to Wall Street. Now Clinton says she will do that when other candidates release their transcripts of paid speeches.

I know that you're saying, I don't talk to the banks, I don't have any, but you have done speeches that were paid before. Why don't you go first, say, here are my transcripts...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: ... if Secretary Clinton...

SANDERS: That's not a problem. Look, I have not had a paid speech, it's against the law to give paid speeches. I have given some speeches, the money was donated to charity. Way, way back I got a few dollars. If I can find the transcripts, I'd be very happy to do it.

But what Secretary Clinton said, I will do it if other people do it, well, I am very happy to release all of my paid speeches to Wall Street. Here it is, Chris. There ain't none.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: I don't do that.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I don't get -- I don't get speaker's fees from Goldman Sachs. It's not there. So I'm happy to do my best in releasing any of the speeches. It won't be very shocking to anybody.

CUOMO: All right. So, now I know this was a while ago, but it has been reported that in 1974...

SANDERS: That's a while ago.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: ... you said the CIA is a dangerous institution that has got to go. You went on to say the CIA was accountable to no one except right-wing lunatics who use it to prop up fascist dictatorships. Do you stand by those comments that you said back then?

SANDERS: No, I don't. That was 40 years ago. Since then I've served as eight years as mayor of the city of Burlington. I spent 16 years in the House and nine years in the United States Senate.

But let me tell you this, I do have concerns about past activities of the CIA. CIA was involved in the overthrow of a gentleman named Mohammad Mosaddegh way back when in Iran, overthrew him on behalf of British oil.

And you know what happened? That led to the Iranian Revolution and we are where we are today.

The CIA was involved in the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile, a democratic candidate, he won a fair election, the CIA overthrew him.

So I have a lot problems with some parts of our history, which continues, by the way, to the present.

CUOMO: But the institution itself of the CIA?

SANDERS: Oh, the CIA plays an important role. But have they done things which they should not have done on behalf of the United States government? Absolutely.

CUOMO: OK. Now, in the headlines, today the Obama administration released its plan for closing Guantanamo. Now you've said this is a good plan. Part of the plan involves the Naval brig here in South Carolina, in Charleston that one day could house detainees.

I'm sure there is concern in the audience tonight about some of the worst people in the world being in their backyard. Why is that OK?

SANDERS: What is OK is, look, we look like hypocrites and fools to the entire world. What we have done is locked up people in a way that is causing all kinds of repercussions around the world.

People say, oh, you're a democratic society, we have locked people up in an island. And I think that has hurt us all over the world.

Obviously if people are terrorists, they need to be confined, and we need to make sure they stay in jail until whatever happens. But I think the president is right. I think we should shut down Guantanamo. I think in the long run it will help us significantly.

CUOMO: Are you read to talk to the voters?

SANDERS: That's why I'm in South Carolina.

CUOMO: I know you didn't come here for me. All right.

SANDERS: That's right.

CUOMO: So I want you to meet Sylvia Johnson. She's a cousin of the late Reverend Clementa Pinckney, you'll remember her as one of those killed in the Charleston church massacre. She says she is undecided.

Sylvia, thank you for being here. What's your question for the senator?

QUESTION: Good evening. So glad to be here. My question is, do you think an individual who legally purchased a gun should be allowed to carry it openly in a public arena, such as places of worship, schools, public places?

And, if elected president, would you change the gun-free school zone act by allowing staff, teachers, and administrators to carry guns in order to defend the students and themselves?

SANDERS: To begin with, let me just say this. I have "D" minus voting record from the NRA. I probably lost an election way back in 1988 because I said that I didn't think it was proper in this country that military-style assault weapons be sold. Now, the issues that you raise are often, or significantly stated issues.

If I were the governor of a state, would I be supportive of people taking guns into houses of worship? No, I would not. That's not something that I am comfortable with, but that's a decision being made by the state. But, I will tell you at the federal level is that we have got to do everything that we can to expand and improve the instant background check. Our goal must be to make sure that people who should not have weapons, guns, do not have guns, and that means people of criminal backgrounds, people who are mentally unstable. We have to deal with the strawman provision right now which allows people to legally buy guns, and then sell them to criminals.

And, I'll tell you what else we have to do. We need a revolution in mental health in this country because a lot of people...

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: ... Let us be honest and acknowledge that there are many thousands of people walking the streets of America today who are suicidal, and -- or homicidal. They need treatment when they need treatment, not months from now. So, I think that's an issue that we have got to deal with.

But, bottom line, all of us are shocked and disgusted by the kinds of mass killings that we saw in church, and what happened to Reverand Pickney. We've got to do everything that we can.

You know, what President Obama said some months ago, I think, captures it. What the President said is, look, this is a difficult problem. Nobody here can guarantee you that terrible things don't happen, but just because it is a hard problem does not mean to say that we should not do everything that we can to try to end these mass killings.

CUOMO: Alright, another question for you from the audience. Silvia, thank you very much.

So, we have Vidual Futch. Vidal is a student who was the first member of his family to go to college, and he says he is leaning toward you. What's your question young man?

QUESTION: Senator Sanders, I am a student here in South Carolina. I'm from a rural area, raised in a single parent home. I attend a historically black college here in South Carolina, and my question to you is you have a plan to make free public college -- free. So, where does historically black colleges, private historically black colleges fall under this plan?

SANDERS: Great question, and congratulations on what you have accomplished.

QUESTION: Yes sir.

SANDERS: You know, I grew up in a family where my Dad came to this country from Poland without any money. He was a highschool dropout. My mother graduated high school. So, I was proud they were able to send my brother and me to college, the first in our family.

I believe that historically black colleges and universities play an incredibly important role in education in the African American community, and you're quite right. What I believe is that in the year 2016, when we talk about public education, we should make sure that public colleges and universities are tuition free, that everybody in this country who has the ability and the desire can get a college education.

But, in addition to that, we must sustain and strengthen the historically black colleges and universities who do a phenomenal job today educating a significant number of young African Americans.

You have my word that we will not only sustain, we will substantially increase funding for the historically black colleges and universities.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: You know, they are under, today, a lot of financial pressure. And, one of the reasons they are under financial pressure is they do the right thing. They welcome kids into -- into those college that Harvard and Yale might not necessarily welcome.

And, some of those kids are struggling, and some of those kids may drop out. But, that is the right thing to do, and those colleges deserve very strong support. You have my word, a Sanders administration would provide that support.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: While we're on the topic of things that you could do in your administration that would help the African-American community, speak to what remains to be a sizeable gap, between you and Secretary Clinton if we look at the Nevada entrance polls, as you well know, Senator, among black voters, it was 76-22 Clinton over Sanders.

Why do you believe that your message is not resonating as well there?

SANDERS: Well, Chris, you know, when we started in South Carolina, my message wasn't resonating with anybody.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Nobody knew who I was. You know, I'm running against a candidate who is one of the best known people in the world, a candidate who ran here a very strong campaign in 2008, who knows a whole lot of people.

So we started with no support. Our support has grown and it has grown in the African-American community. And what I believe, to the degree that we can get our message out, and the message is that we have a criminal justice system which is broken, that there is something very wrong when African-Americans in South Carolina and around the country get nervous about walking down the street or going into their car and being stopped by a police officer. That should not be happening in America now. And we have ideas about how to deal with that.

When African-Americans here, my point of view, that when youth unemployment in the African-American community for high school graduates is 51 percent -- 51 percent unemployed or underemployed, we've got a plan to invest in jobs and education, not jails and incarceration.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And we have -- we have very specific ideas about how the federal government, you know, local police departments are run by municipalities. The federal government can play a major role in ending the militarization of our local police departments, they look like occupying armies. And we have also got to make police departments look like a diversity of the communities that they are serving.

There's a lot to be done.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: All right, just look to your right. You have Roger Jurnegen (ph) here.

And it's a question about what's happening right now with the Supreme Court.

He's an attorney and a past president of the South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association.

SANDERS: A pleasure to meet you, Roger.

ROGER JURNEGEN: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: He said he supports Secretary Clinton.

I've just got to get it in there, Counsel.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Just so the senator knows who he's dealing with.

JURNEGEN: I'm not going to pick on you about that, though.

SANDERS: All right.

JURNEGEN: Senator, welcome to South Carolina and welcome to my alma mater, the University of South Carolina.

SANDERS: Thank you very much.

JURNEGEN: Senator, with the passing recently of Justice Scalia, the issue of appointment of justices to the Supreme Court, in my opinion, has risen to the top of this election.

We all know the Supreme Court elected a president in 2001 and look what happened.

SANDERS: Well, I know that, you know that, probably some people would disagree.

JERNIGAN: I've got good friends of mine that would vehemently disagree with that. But that's OK. We're all friends.

Just re--- just thinking of the police cases, two cases yesterday regarding stopping was argued before the Supreme Court. Eight justices. It will probably be -- end a 4-4. So these issues and other profound issues will be...

SANDERS: Yes.

JURNEGEN: -- will be coming up.

Just today, as Chris said, Senator Grassley, as you're aware, advised -- the chairman of the Senate Justice Committee, advised McConnell, Senator McConnell, that there would be no hearings on any presidential nominee, no vote on any presidential nominee. So we will continue for at least another year with eight justices.

CUOMO: Counsel, is there a question in there somewhere.

JURNEGEN: It's coming.

CUOMO: It's an impressive case.

JURNEGEN: It's coming. The next president of the United States is going to appoint Justice Scalia's successor. With that in mind, past justices of the Supreme Court, not present, but past, which past justices do you admire the most and why?

SANDERS: Well, let me -- before I get to your -- your question, I am not so sure that you're right. I hear what McConnell has to say and I hear what Chuck Grassley has to say.

But let me say this. We have been dealing, in the last seven years, with an unprecedented level of obstructionism against President Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Literally it turns out, on the day that Obama was inaugurated, Republicans came together and said, what are we going to do?

And what they concluded is we're going to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, make it as difficult as he could to do anything.

Now, we have had to fight through that and I've been at the president's side time and time again, getting a stimulus bill through when we were in the midst of a horrendous recession, The Affordable Care Act, etc. Etc. Etc.

But what you are seeing today in this Supreme Court situation is nothing more than the continuous and unprecedented obstructionism that President Obama

SANDERS: But that is the right thing to do and those colleges deserve very strong support. You have my word, a Sanders administration would provide that support.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: While we're on the topic of things that you could do in your administration that would help the African-American community, speak to what remains to be a sizeable gap, between you and Secretary Clinton if we look at the Nevada entrance polls, as you well know, Senator, among black voters, it was 76-22 Clinton over Sanders.

Why do you believe that your message is not resonating as well there?

SANDERS: Well, Chris, you know, when we started in South Carolina, my message wasn't resonating with anybody.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: Nobody knew who I was. You know, I'm running against a candidate who is one of the best known people in the world, a candidate who ran here a very strong campaign in 2008, who knows a whole lot of people.

So we started with no support. Our support has grown and it has grown in the African-American community. And what I believe, to the degree that we can get our message out, and the message is that we have a criminal justice system which is broken, that there is something very wrong when African-Americans in South Carolina and around the country get nervous about walking down the street or going into their car and being stopped by a police officer. That should not be happening in America now. And we have ideas about how to deal with that.

When African-Americans here, my point of view, that when youth unemployment in the African-American community for high school graduates is 51 percent -- 51 percent unemployed or underemployed, we've got a plan to invest in jobs and education, not jails and incarceration.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And we have -- we have very specific ideas about how the federal government, you know, local police departments are run by municipalities. The federal government can play a major role in ending the militarization of our local police departments, they look like occupying armies. And we have also got to make police departments look like a diversity of the communities that they are serving.

There's a lot to be done.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: All right, just look to your right. You have Roger Jurnegen (ph) here.

And it's a question about what's happening right now with the Supreme Court.

He's an attorney and a past president of the South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association. SANDERS: A pleasure to meet you, Roger.

ROGER JURNEGEN: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: He said he supports Secretary Clinton.

I've just got to get it in there, Counsel.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Just so the senator knows who he's dealing with.

JURNEGEN: I'm not going to pick on you about that, though.

SANDERS: All right.

JURNEGEN: Senator, welcome to South Carolina and welcome to my alma mater, the University of South Carolina.

SANDERS: Thank you very much.

JURNEGEN: Senator, with the passing recently of Justice Scalia, the issue of appointment of justices to the Supreme Court, in my opinion, has risen to the top of this election.

We all know the Supreme Court elected a president in 2001 and look what happened.

SANDERS: Well, I know that, you know that, probably some people would disagree.

JERNIGAN: I've got good friends of mine that would vehemently disagree with that. But that's OK. We're all friends.

Just re--- just thinking of the police cases, two cases yesterday regarding stopping was argued before the Supreme Court. Eight justices. It will probably be -- end a 4-4. So these issues and other profound issues will be...

SANDERS: Yes.

JURNEGEN: -- will be coming up.

Just today, as Chris said, Senator Grassley, as you're aware, advised -- the chairman of the Senate Justice Committee, advised McConnell, Senator McConnell, that there would be no hearings on any presidential nominee, no vote on any presidential nominee. So we will continue for at least another year with eight justices.

CUOMO: Counsel, is there a question in there somewhere.

JURNEGEN: It's coming.

CUOMO: It's an impressive case.

JURNEGEN: It's coming. The next president of the United States is going to appoint Justice Scalia's successor. With that in mind, past justices of the Supreme Court, not present, but past, which past justices do you admire the most and why?

SANDERS: Well, let me -- before I get to your -- your question, I am not so sure that you're right. I hear what McConnell has to say and I hear what Chuck Grassley has to say.

But let me say this. We have been dealing, in the last seven years, with an unprecedented level of obstructionism against President Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Literally it turns out, on the day that Obama was inaugurated, Republicans came together and said, what are we going to do?

And what they concluded is we're going to obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, make it as difficult as he could to do anything.

Now, we have had to fight through that and I've been at the president's side time and time again, getting a stimulus bill through when we were in the midst of a horrendous recession, The Affordable Care Act, etc. Etc. Etc.

But what you are seeing today in this Supreme Court situation is nothing more than the continuous and unprecedented obstructionism that President Obama has gone through.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And this -- and this is on top of this birther issue, which we heard from Donald Trump and others, a racist effort to try to de- legitimatize the president of the United States. Can you imagine that?

To say, well, he's not really the president. He wasn't born in the United States, which is nonsense. You know, it's a funny thing on that issue. I was -- my dad, as I mentioned, came from Poland. I'm running for president. Guess what? Nobody has asked for my birth certificate. Maybe it's the color of my skin, I don't know.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Senator...

SANDER: To answer your question, Thurgood Marshall was a damned good Supreme Court justice.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: And just to clarify, you were born in the United States, right? To get it out of the way...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER) CUOMO: Oh, that's a problem.

SANDERS: Just joking.

CUOMO: And also, Brooklyn.

SANDERS: I was born and moved into a three-and-a-half-room rent- controlled apartment in Brooklyn, yes.

CUOMO: And, Senator, Donald Trump, you were talking about those who had been big voices in the birther movement. Do you believe that Trump was motivated by racism, as you suggest the movement was about?

SANDERS: Look, I don't want to -- you know, I'm not a psychoanalyst, and boy would a psychoanalyst have an interesting time with Donald Trump.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: But this is what I will say, and Trump is clearly not the only person involved in this. There was an effort to try to de- legitimatize the president. Look, you can disagree with Obama all you want, but to say that the president of the United States, who won an election fair and square, was not a legitimate president, really undermines what we are as a nation.

So I think what that was...

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: That was -- and I'm not going to speak to Trump, but do I think that at least in some parts of that Republican base there is race involved in that? Absolutely. Absolutely.

CUOMO: Another question. Clente Fleming spent 40 years in the banking industry, and is now in a tax preparation company. He says he's undecided.

What's your question?

SANDERS: All right. Let me work on this guy.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: The question, Senator, it appears to me that a lot of your efforts are in social programs of social issues. My question, with the mood of this United States, how are you going to convince the voters you can make a difference as relates to social issues, free education?

There are several states out there that don't even provide minimum education. So the question is, how are you going to...

SANDERS: Good. QUESTION: From m a banker's standpoint, where is the money going to come from?

SANDERS: OK, thanks, Clente, for the question.

You know, I find it really quite funny -- well, not so funny, but I find it interesting that over the last 30 years, Clente, there has been a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class and working families to the top 0.1 percent.

Middle class has shrunk. Trillions of dollars have flowed to the top of 0.1 percent. Any of you hear an uproar about that? What a terrible thing. Middle class shrinking, people living in poverty, top 0.1 saw a doubling, a doubling of the percentage of wealth they own.

No one talked. The established was fine, Wall Street was happy with it, media was happy with it. Now I'm talking about ideas like saying every kid in this country who has the ability should get a tuition- free going to a public college or university if that's their choice.

I'm going to pay through that through a tax on Wall Street speculation. When Wall Street collapsed because of their greed, you know what? You bailed them out. Now I think maybe it's time for Wall Street to help the middle class.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: When I talk about creating 13 million jobs through a trillion dollar investment in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and anyone thinks it was just Flint, Michigan, who is in trouble, you would be mistaken.

Roads, bridges, water systems, wastewater plants, rail, you name it. I'm going to pay for that by ending loopholes that allows profitable multinational corporations making billions of dollars a year in profit stashing their money in the Cayman Islands and in other tax havens.

(APPLAUSE)

And, in some cases, not paying a nickel in taxes. We're going to use that money to create 13 million jobs.

And, by the way, we are going to target those investments to the communities in America that need the most.

Alright, so, to answer your question, Clint. Top one-tenth of one percent in America now own as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. I think that that is wrong. So, here it is folks, you can like it or not. This is my view. We are going to ask profitable multinational corporations and the rich to start paying their fair share of taxes.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

CUOMO: Senator? Two things. First one is you said in Iowa, "I do not represent the interests of the very wealthy."

If you're President of the United States, you have to represent everybody, don't you?

Do you believe that there is a risk of seeming device in a statement like that.

SANDERS: Divisive? You know?

CUOMO: You can use any word you want instead.

SANDERS: This is what -- when you have the 20 wealthiest people in this country owning more wealth than the bottom 150 million people, when you have a handful of billionaires spending hundred of millions of dollars trying to buy elections, and represent candidates and have candidates elected to represent the wealthy, and the powerful. Frankly, Chris, I think we need a movement in this country. And, no individual can do it alone.

A political revolution which says to the billionaire class, A, your greed has gone a long way to destroy our economy.

And, second of all, you can't have it all. This country belongs to all of us, not a handful. I will take them own.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Alright, in terms of what you want to provide, then you get to the wealth, will that be enough? Will that pay for it?

As you're aware, four former chairs of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, all appointed by Democrats, by the way. Say there's no credible economic research that supports the positive impacts that you're touting. One of them goes as far to say that it's like magic flying puppies with winning lotto tickets tied to their collars.

SANDERS: Those economists were organized by the Clinton campaign. It's a wild and crazy guess.

CUOMO: No, that's not true, they weren't...

SANDERS: ... We have well over a hundred, it's a 130 economists, and healthcare experts who will say the same.

Look, Chris, you have enough experience to know you go to economists, this one will say this. Well, we got economists who say, "hey, what this country needs are more tax breaks for billionaires," etcetera, etcetera. Economists have different points of view.

But, we have documented how we pay -- for what. Now, you get to the issue of healthcare. Let me say a word on health care because that's where a lot of the criticism comes from. Alright, here's the story folks.

Story is that Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Canada, dadadada (ph), every major country on Earth guarantees healthcare for all people.

And, guess what? Not only do they guarantee healthcare to all of their people, we -- who have 29 million unemployed, and many of you under 29 million uninsured, and many of you under insured with large copayments and deductibles. Many of you, all of us, paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

We end up spending, Chris, almost three times per capita more than the British do, 50 percent more than the French, far more than the Canadians.

So, when people say to me, well, Bernie, we can't do what every other major country does, run a cost effective healthcare system that guarantees health care to all people. Stop the huge ripoffs that come from the pharmaceutical industry, such that one out of five Americans can't even fill their prescriptions. Frankly, I don't believe it.

I don't believe it. We spend far more than any other major country, we get much less.

Now, what the real issue here is do we have the guts to take on the power of the insurance companies? Do we have the guts to take on the pharmaceutical industry who has 1,300 paid lobbyists in Washington D.C., and these guys spend zillions of dollars in campaign contributions.

I believe that when the American people stand up and they say, you know what? Healthcare is a right of all people, not a privilege. Yeah, I believe we can do that.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Another question for you, Senator. Meet Tracy Jackson.

SANDERS: I'm sorry?

CUOMO: Tracy Jackson, to your right. She runs a non-profit organization, says she is voting for Secretary Clinton, but has a question for you, please.

QUESTION: Hi, Senator Sanders. I was recently asked to teach a leadership course at my alma mater. If you were going to be a guest speaker in my class, what two leadership truths would you share with my undergraduate students?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, thank you for what you're doing.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SANDERS: I believe that you cannot be a good leader unless you go into your heart of hearts and passionately believe in what you are leading. You know, I see kids -- you know, I go around the country, and I see kids coming up to me, and they say, "I would like to be a senator. I would like to be a governor." Not good enough.

Why do you want to be a senator? Why do you want to be a governor? Why do you -- what is your passion? What motivates you? Because if you don't have that passion, if you don't really believe in something, you are not ever going to be a good leader. So my answer would be to the kids, is to say, think hard. What do you

believe? What do you believe? What kind of community? What kind of country do you want us to be? And are you prepared to fight for that? Are you prepared to take on very powerful special interests in order to achieve the vision that you had? That would be my message. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Let's take a seat, let's take a break. When we come back, we're going to have more with Senator Sanders at the CNN Democratic Town Hall. We're going to continue from Columbia, South Carolina, right after this. Please, have some water. It's free.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. We are back talking with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders here on the campus of the University of South Carolina School of Law in Columbia. The Democratic primary just four days away.

Don't be nervous. I have a question for you. The Clinton campaign recently released a Web ad hitting you for what they say is being a single-issue candidate. I want to play the ad and give you a chance to respond. Take a look and a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No bank is too big to fail, no executive too powerful to jail.

SANDERS: You've got to break up these huge financial institutions -- a tax on Wall Street speculation, the disastrous and illegal behavior on Wall Street.

The wealthiest people, the top 1.5 percent.

The CEOs of Wall Street companies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Pretty self-explanatory. What's your response? Are you too single-issue focused?

SANDERS: (OFF-MIKE)

CUOMO: You didn't like it? Was it a picture thing or was it a message thing?

SANDERS: Yes, actually, my hair was even worse.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: Is that what it was?

SANDERS: Hillary, at least let me comb my hair there occasionally. You know, single issue. Anybody here who has gone to my rallies, they

are the longest, most boring discussions in the history of politics. I talk for an hour, hour-and-a-half. Of course I talk about Wall Street.

And I'll tell you something, if I may, why Secretary Clinton is a little bit nervous, because people are asking, how does it happen or why does her super PAC receive millions and millions of dollars from Wall Street?

What does it means that you give speeches to a financial institution like Goldman Sachs, and you got a couple hundred thousand dollars a throw for giving that speech. So maybe they're a little bit nervous about the Wall Street issue.

But when I talk, what do I talk about? I talk about a disappearing middle class. I talk about raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I talk about rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

I talk about making public colleges and universities tuition-free. I talk about a health care program that works for all of our people. I talk about a tax system that is fair and equitable.

I talk about making certain that every woman in this country has the right to control her own body.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And that we fight for pay equity for women workers. I talk about ending a disastrous trade policy. Want to talk about a difference between Secretary Clinton and me? She supported NAFTA. She supported Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China.

I have led the opposition to virtually all of these disastrous trade agreements which have cost us millions of dollars.

What I am fighting for right now is a political revolution in which government starts working for working people and for the middle class, and that a revolution, which is prepared to take on the billionaire class today, which has enormous power.

So the idea that I'm just talking about Wall Street, Wall Street is enormously important, by the way, but it's not the only issue.

CUOMO: Senator, tell people what the revolution looks like, by the way?

SANDERS: OK.

CUOMO: Because this is a big part of the motivation for what you think will enable change on issues that are highly intractable right now.

SANDERS: Absolutely correct.

What does it look like? Last election, November, 2014, Republicans won a landslide victory all over the country, 63 percent of the American people didn't vote, 80 percent of young people didn't vote.

Republicans will always win elections when people are so disillusioned with the political process that they don't vote. And then you take on top of that the voter suppression that Republican governors are mounting all over this country.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: So, Chris, here is the answer, here is the answer. A political revolution means the revitalization of American democracy. It means my view is we should have one of the highest voting turnouts in the world, not one of the lowest.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Here is the answer. Political revolution means the revitalization of American democracy. It means my view is, we should have one of the highest voting turnouts in the world, not one of the lowest. It means we make it easier for people to get involved in politics, not harder.

Because this is why, Chris. When young people and working-class people and low-income people, people who often do not participate in the political process, when they get involved, when they stand up and they say, you know what, I'm a working mom, I want to make sure that I have quality, affordable childcare, we will have quality, affordable childcare.

CUOMO: All right, so...

SANDERS: And when people talk about the need to take on the fossil fuel industry so we deal with the crisis of climate change, we can do that, too. Nothing real will happen. I don't go around telling people, "Vote for me, I'm going to solve all your problems." Never said that. I say, "Vote for me, and together, when millions of us stand up, we can make real change in this country."

CUOMO: So let's hear from one of the voters who wants to be part of the process. Please, meet Thomas Kilpatrick. He's a lawyer here in Columbia, says he is undecided.

SANDERS: First name is?

CUOMO: Thomas.

SANDERS: Thomas, hi.

QUESTION: Senator Sanders, welcome to Columbia.

SANDERS: Thank you.

QUESTION: Senator Sanders, both tonight and throughout the campaign you've talked a lot about the millionaire-billionaire class and what you think they're doing to the country. I was wondering if you could name a millionaire or billionaire who you admire, who you think has done good things for the country, and why? SANDERS: Well, there are -- look, there are great billionaires, I

mean, people who are serious. I don't great with everything that Bill Gates has done, but, you know, this is a guy who has made massive investments in education and health care around the world. He's not just sitting on his money. He's trying to make the world a better place.

He's not alone. There are other people who have done that. So this is not some kind of personal vendetta against, you know, people who happen to have a lot of money.

But what ends up happening in this country, Thomas, is you have people like the Koch brothers, OK, second-wealthiest family in this country, they and a few of their billionaire friends are going to spend $900 million on this campaign in order to elect candidates who represent the rich and the powerful.

I think that stinks. I think that's undermining American democracy. And I think that's why we have to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

(APPLAUSE)

So this is not personal. It's not personal. It is simply saying that you have a handful of people who have incredible wealth and incredible power. They have economic power; they have political power. I think that is not what the United States of America is supposed to be about.

CUOMO: Let's bring in Angela Houlemard-Smith. She's an attorney who works in commercial real estate. She says she is leaning toward you, Senator.

SANDERS: Keep leaning.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Senator Sanders, I believe it's fair to say that you're a career politician, you've been in government for over 30 years. Can you unequivocally assure your supporters that when you are elected president of the United States, you will not be beholden to any persons or special interest groups?

SANDERS: Angela, thanks so much for that question.

QUESTION: You're welcome.

SANDERS: Look, when we talk about why so many people are giving up on the political process, why voter turnout is so low, people understand that we have a political system which is corrupt and it's rigged, OK? Now, I know every politician -- Democrat, Republican, whatever -- who receives millions of dollars in campaign contributions, they say, oh, these contributions are not going to impact me.

Then the question we ask is, why are these special interests making these contributions? Maybe they're dummies and they're just throwing their money around? I don't think so, OK? So here's what I am enormously proud of. In this campaign, not only do I not have a Super PAC -- we don't have a Super PAC, we don't raise money from corporate America, Wall Street, or billionaires -- you know what we have done, Angela? We have received 4 million individual contributions from well over a million people. You know what the average contribution is? $27.

(APPLAUSE)

So, Angela, I guess I am indebted to the people who have contributed $27 bucks. Those are the people I will stand for and fight for.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: On your left, we have Barbara Cunningham. She's a retired private-sector health insurance worker. Barbara Cunningham. She says she is leaning towards supporting you on Saturday, but she has a question.

SANDERS: Hi, Barbara.

QUESTION: Hi, Senator Sanders. I've been a lifelong Democrat, and I've always supported the Clintons, but I love what you say. I've waited my whole life for a truly liberal politician, Democratic politician, with a platform like yours, including affordable health care for all. My concern is with Medicare for all. There's hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs in the health insurance industry all across this country that could be adversely affected.

Do you have a transition plan...

SANDERS: We sure do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- that would keep these jobs from being put in jeopardy if you can implement...

SANDERS: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- Medicare for all?

SANDERS: Good.

Thank you for the question.

I am an advocate for a Medicare for all program. But I think what we need is rather than people billing, people spending enormous amounts of time driving doctors crazy and insurance companies, can I prescribe this drug or not, we are going to need, when we provide insurance to 29 million people who today don't have it, when we deal with the problems of high deductibles and co-payments and more people get the health care that they want and they need, we're going to have all kinds of jobs opened up in health care.

And the first people in line should be those people who are currently in the private health insurance industry. Our goal is to make sure that when we spend a dollar, it's not on administration and bureaucracy, it is on the provision of health care to the American people. And people like you have a whole lot of experience in that area can play a vital role in making us and allowing us to do that.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Dave Sprung is on your right.

He has a question...

SANDERS: What was his name?

CUOMO: Dave Sprung.

SANDERS: OK.

CUOMO: He's got a question that's highly related to the discussion you're having right now.

SANDERS: OK.

CUOMO: He's a student at Fuhrman University. He says he's undecided, leaning a little bit toward Secretary Clinton.

He has a question for you.

DAVE SPRUNG: Senator Sanders, according to the the CDC, cigarette smoking contributes approximately -- to approximately 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is an important issue for me, as I lost my father, a lifetime smoker, to lung cancer in 2014.

My question is, if you were to be elected president, can you think of any specific reforms that you would put in place to combat this epidemic?

For example -- oh, go ahead.

SANDERS: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

SPRUNG: I was just going to say, for example, you could consider raising the minimum legal purchasing age of tobacco products from 18 to 21.

SANDERS: I don't know whether I'd go in that direction, but by the way, my dad smoked two or three packs a day. I remember him like it was yesterday, going before -- waking up in the morning and coughing and coughing and coughing. He died young and cigarettes certainly contributed to that. And we have lost God knows how many people in this country who are addicted to tobacco.

What I would do and what I think we have got to do is take on, you know, when you talk -- when I talk about the greed of corporate America, you know, when we talk about the pharmaceutical industry that makes prescription drugs unaffordable, you know, maybe at the top of that list, actually, is the tobacco industry.

You know what they are doing?

They -- you know what they're doing right now around the world?

They are trying to peddle cigarettes to kids all over the world. They go into countries and they come up with these colorful packages and they have these pretty girls literally giving out -- like heroin dealers, literally giving out cigarettes to kids to get them hooked on nicotine.

And as you indicate, this is a product that is killing, killing, killing people and costing our health system billions and billions of dollars.

I will do everything that I can -- and we're not doing a good enough job. We are making some progress. We are making some progress, but we could do better.

For example, if you are a low income person today who is addicted to cigarettes and you want to get off, can you find, in most states, easy access to the kinds of treatment that you need to get you off of that addiction?

The answer is not really. And one of the interesting things that are happening, by the way, in this country, you know, who's doing more and more smoking?

It's the low income people. It's the working class people, people who don't necessarily have as much education as others.

So I think we have a major health crisis with regard to cigarettes and -- and tobacco. We've got to take on the tobacco industry and be very clear, you cannot continue to kill the children of America. And that will...

CUOMO: All right...

SANDERS: -- we can do that in a number of ways. Maybe we raise cigarette taxes is one way to do it, make it unaffordable for kids to buy that product. But it is something I feel very passionate about.

I wonder, if I could, Chris, just one story.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

SANDERS: This gets even to a trade agreement. I'll just give you an example how crazy these trade agreements are.

Philip Morris, one of the large tobacco companies in the world, sued the small little country of Uruguay on a trade issue.

And you know why they sued Uruguay?

Because their president was an oncologist who felt very strongly about this issue, worked very hard for tobacco prevention. And Philip Morris said you are denying our company future profits. We want the freedom to kill the children of Uruguay and you're taking away our freedom.

That's how crazy some of these trade agreements are, which guarantee profits about human health.

But that's a whole other story.

But taking on the tobacco industry is something that I would enjoy doing very, very much.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: End on a few personal questions.

SANDERS: Ah.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: When we talked to you in New Hampshire, we talked about religion. You said your spirituality is that we are all in this together. Explain to people what, in your head and in your heart, motivates that togetherness. Is there a higher power? Is there a higher intelligence? What do you believe in?

SANDERS: This is what I believe. Every great religion in the world, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, essentially comes down to do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. And, what I have believed in my whole life, I believed it when I was a 22 year old kid getting arrested in Chicago fighting segregation.

I believed it in my whole life that we are in this together, not just not words. The truth is at some level, when you hurt, when your children hurt, I hurt. I hurt. And, when my kids hurt, you hurt. And, it's very easy to turn our backs on kids who are hungry, or veterans who are sleeping out in the street, and we can develop a psyche, a psyche that says I don't have to worry about them, all I'm going to worry about myself. I'm going to make another five billion dollars.

But, I believe what human nature is about is that everybody in this room impacts everybody else in all kinds of ways that we can't even understand. It's beyond intellect. It's a spiritual, emotional thing. So, I believe that when we do the right thing, when we try to treat people with respect and dignity, when we say that that child who is hungry is my child, I think we are more human when we do that than when we say, "Hey this world, I need more and more. I don't care about anybody else."

That's my religion, that's what I believe in. And, I think most people around the world, whatever their religion, their color, share that belief that we are in it together as human beings. And, it becomes more and more practical.

If we destroy the planet because we don't deal with climate change, trust me. We are all in it together, alright?

So, we have got to work together, and that is what my spirituality is about.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: So, on one hand, you have the notion that nothing will leave you as hungry as the appetite for more. and, then on the other hand you have something that you believe in so deeply that you would rather lose this election that win, and have to compromise on that thing. Is that true for you, and if it is, what matters to you so much that you would rather lose than win, and compromise?

SANDERS: You know, that's a fair question. When you are a candidate for president, and certainly not just me, Secretary Clinton and anybody else, you meet so many people. Many, many thousands of people. We've had hundreds of thousands of people coming out to our rallies. Wonderful people, I mean, from all walks of life.

And, just today we were in Norfolk, and kids come up to me and say you've given me hope, and you've rekindled my interest in democracy and in politics. If I let those people down who have faith in me, that's a scary thing, when so many people have faith in you, and believe you can do something.

So, it scares me very much. If I ever let those people down it would be a terrible, terrible thing. I will try to continue to do my best to run a principled campaign for standing up for the people who today don't have a lot of power, and hopefully will continue to have the courage to take on those who are abusing the power that they have.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Senator Sanders, take 30 seconds, make your closing pitch to the people of South Carolina. Thirty seconds.

SANDERS: Look, I have known Secretary Clinton for 25 years, I respect her, and I like her. In the midst of a campaign, crazy things happen, but that's the truth. I like her, and I respect her so this not some kind of personality fight, or stuff like that.

We're not Republicans after all.

(LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: What I do believe is that given the crises facing this country, you know? And, I've ticked off some of them, it essentially comes down to a very few people control our economy, control our political system.

It is too late in my view for establishment politics, and establishment economics that we need a political revolution when millions of people come together and basically say that our government belongs to all of us, and has got to represent all of us, not just the few on top.

So with that, I would very much appreciate the support of the people of South Carolina next Saturday. Thank you all very much.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Senator Sanders, thank you for being with us tonight.

SANDERS: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Still to come, Hillary Clinton joins us. You are watching a CNN Democratic town hall, live in South Carolina. Remember, primary day fast approaching. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: All right, we're coming to you tonight from the School of Law at the University of South Carolina in Columbia for the final Democratic town hall before voters go to the polls this weekend. Now, you've already met Senator Bernie Sanders.

Right now, let us welcome former secretary of State, former U.S. senator from the state of New York, former first lady, former 2008 presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Great to see you here.

CUOMO: And you.

CLINTON: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Please, have a seat.

CLINTON: Thank you so much.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: I'm sorry, it took me a second. There were a lot of titles to get through there.

CLINTON: I know. I'm sorry about that.

CUOMO: So, here we are. You fought off a late surge from Bernie Sanders in Nevada. Your supporters say they're feeling momentum. You picked up a big endorsement, this gentleman in the front row, Congressman Clyburn, who wound up coming out for you.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Where is your head on it?

Do you believe that you have turned a corner?

CLINTON: Look, I believe every election or caucus has to be taken seriously. You have to work hard for every vote. That's what I'm going to be doing here in South Carolina.

I'm taking no vote, no place for granted. So that's not how I think about it.

I think that, you know, we have had three contests. We have about 47 to go. And I'm going to work hard in each and every one of them.

CUOMO: Now, I notice you did not bring me any package of paper tonight, of speech transcripts. Earlier tonight, I asked Senator Sanders, will you give your transcripts of speeches, that's what you said, when the others give then I'll give...

CLINTON: Right.

CUOMO: He said he doesn't have the bank speeches, if he can find any of his speeches that he did give for money, he will gladly give the transcripts up.

So will you agree to release these transcripts?

They have become an issue.

CLINTON: Sure. If everybody does it, and that includes the Republicans, because we know they have made a lot of speeches.

But look, what is this about?

This is about whether I have the best plan to go after Wall Street, whether I have a record that already demonstrates my willingness to take on Wall Street and financial interests. And there's no question about that.

I did it before the '08 crash. I have done it since. In this campaign, I have been absolutely clear and a lot of people have said I have the most comprehensive, effective, comprehensive plan to make sure that Wall Street never wrecks Main Street again.

I've also said I will use the tools that President Obama achieved in the Dodd-Frank regulations, best, tightest regulations we've had in a long time. And they provide the opportunity to break up the banks, if they pose systemic risks. And I've said that I would do that if that becomes the case.

CUOMO: All the more reason to move this as an issue. You know everybody is not going to bring up their transcripts. There will be 100 reasons why.

CLINTON: Well, why -- why is there one standard for me and not for everybody else (INAUDIBLE)...

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, at -- at some point, at some point, you know, look, I'm on record, I have a record. It certainly is far different from the Republicans, because they think, actually, and have said that the cause of the Great Recession was too much regulation on Wall Street, which is an absolute joke.

I have been up front and strong on this issue for a long time, as strong, I would argue, as my esteemed opponent.

So, you know what, if people are going to ask for things, everybody should be on a level playing field and I'm happy if that were the case.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: You do understand, though, the temptation of the unknown. I don't have to explain this to you. You understand that when people...

CLINTON: But there is...

CUOMO: -- ask for something...

CLINTON: -- there is -- but with all due respect, there is no unknown. I am on record -- I went to Wall Street before the Great Recession. I called them out. I said what they were doing in the mortgage market was going to cause serious problems.

I called for reining in CEO pay. I called for ending the loophole that lets hedge fund managers get a lower tax rate. I have been on record for a really long time. I've now put forth a plan. It's in the public arena. I want people to hold me accountable, because that's what I'll do.

The other part of this which I find, you know, somewhat concerning, actually, is the argument seems to be that if you ever took money from any business of any kind, then you can't fulfill your public responsibilities.

Well, that's just not the case. I mean President Obama took an enormous amount of money, more than anybody ever had, from Wall Street in 2008, when he was successful in his election. And then he turned around and pushed through the toughest regulations that we've seen since the Great Depression.

So the argument just doesn't hold up.

But again, you know, if everybody is going to do the same thing, then I'll be part of it.

CUOMO: We will continue to wait then and see what happens on that issue.

But there are others that must be covered, of course.

President Obama just released his plan to close Guantanamo Bay. You've said you believe in the plan.

CLINTON: Yes.

CUOMO: One part of it, though, will be the transfer of the people who are there now. There is a military holding facility in Charlotte, South Carolina which may receive some of the people from Guantanamo.

Tell the people of South Carolina -- I asked the same thing to Senator Sanders -- why is it OK to have some of the worst people in the world in their backyard?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, the president hasn't made any decision about where the transfers would go. And I think what he wants to do, and I hope he can achieve this, is to work with the Congress.

But I've been on record in favor of closing Guantanamo for a long time, since 2008. When I was secretary of state, working closely with the president, I had a special envoy to find places that could take back some of the prisoners, just as President Bush had done before President Obama.

I believe the president is right to try to close it. I think it is a continuing recruitment advertisement for terrorists.

I know that he wants to work with the Congress and I hope the Congress will work with him, Chris, because there is no reason for us to continue to have Guantanamo which is a very serious, I guess, symbol, I would say, for a lot of the people around the world who would do us harm and try to recruit others to do us harm.

So where they end up should be a matter of negotiation. I know that's what the president wants to do.

I will say this, we've got a few places in the country, not here, but, you know, the maximum security place that I think is in Colorado, there's one in Illinois, that holds some really terrible people who have committed horrific crimes, including the mastermind of the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.

The president is trying to figure out what to do with people who are too dangerous to be released, who have to be maintained in a very tough maximum security environment.

And all I can hope is that the Congress will work with him. I remember back in the '08 election, President Obama, Senator McCain, and I all had the same position. So I hope some of the Republicans will understand that we're in a fight against terrorism, we have to defeat it, we don't need to have Guantanamo hanging out there over our heads.

CUOMO: Memory is short for compromise and comity these days. Comity, with I-T-Y, not the joke that sometimes we behold.

So how about we talk to some voters.

CLINTON: Great.

CUOMO: Let's start with some foreign policy.

CLINTON: Sure, absolutely.

CUOMO: All right? I want you to meet Dennzon Winley. He's a student here at the University of South Carolina, ran for student body president. He is an independent voter, says he is undecided. Has a question for you, Secretary.

CLINTON: Great, great.

QUESTION: Good evening, Mrs. Clinton.

CLINTON: Good evening.

QUESTION: First of all, I hope your campaign goes better than mine did.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: Well, do not give up.

QUESTION: Oh, no, ma'am.

CLINTON: Keep going, if it's something you want to do, don't get deterred.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Madam Secretary, you are for a regime change in Syria. But as we have learned in Iraq, and recently Libya, getting rid of longtime dictators and their affiliates can lead to problems unforeseen.

So if Assad was to be deposed, how would you direct the State Department and international partners to install within that country a government capable of containing and mitigating the sectarian and insurgency violence that will undoubtedly increase, thus further destabilizing the region?

CLINTON: Well, that's an excellent question. And let me say, first of all, talking about Syria and Libya, in Syria, it looks like, and I hope it's the case, we will have a cease-fire by the weekend.

I know that Secretary Kerry has been working very hard on that and I hope that takes hold, because we need to turn the attention of everyone in Syria to defeating the terrorists.

And we've got to stop the ongoing bombing that Russia has carried out in support of the Assad regime against the Syrians, themselves, who are trying to, you know, wage a civil war against Assad.

So I'm hoping that that happens because we do have some work to do. And I would like it to be work that, number one, has safe havens for people in Syria, number two, begins a political dialogue, which was your question, how do you create some kind of outcome that will have a more stable future?

Who do you get at the table? I worked on that when I was secretary of state. I know Secretary Kerry continues that work.

And the Russians and the Iranians are the two biggest supporters of the Assad regime. So they have to be part of any kind of ongoing political diplomatic effort.

Libya is a little different. You know, Libya actually held elections. They elected moderates. They have tried to piece together a government against a lot of really serious challenges internally coming from the outside with terrorist groups and other bad actors.

They're working to try to unify the different factions inside Libya so that they can take united action against the terrorists and try to get the east and the west of the country working together.

You know, they're a rich country. They have oil. They're not without resources. But they've got to get over their internal disputes. And the United States, Europe, and others are helping them to try to do that, and I think they need some time and support.

I know the United States has taken some actions against terrorists inside Libya, particularly ISIS training camps, and I support that, because I want to give the people of Libya a chance to actually form a government and realize the promise of getting rid of Gadhafi, who had so oppressed the country for, you know, more than 40 years, hollowed out all the institutions, threatened genocide against his own people, which is one of the reasons why the rest of the world intervened. And I'm hoping that we can give them the time and space to actually, you know, make a difference for their country in the future.

CUOMO: How do you explain the time and space to people? Because when you look at Libya, for example, you're right about ISIS being there. The U.S. just had to bomb. The place, by most estimates, is in a nightmare phase right now. Is it an example for people to say, you see what happens when we get involved, you see what happens when we take somebody out? You don't know what's going to replace it; maybe we shouldn't have done it that way. Do you believe there is a mistake involved in Libya right now?

CLINTON: Well, let me make two points. One, let's remember what was going on at the time. This was at the height of the Arab spring. The people in Libya were expressing themselves, were demanding their freedom, and Gadhafi responded brutally and said that he would just hunt them down like cockroaches, and made it very clear that he would use his mercenaries -- because he didn't have a standing army, he had a lot of hired mercenaries from around -- to do literally that.

The Europeans, who are across the sea from Libya, you know, came to us and said, this is on our doorstep, we need your help. Basically, they said, we're with you in Afghanistan, we need you now to help us with Libya, because we've got to prevent this terrible happening that could result from Gadhafi. We had Arabs come to us and say the same thing.

We formed the first coalition between NATO and Arab nations. Arab nations actually ran a lot of the air campaign and other support systems. So I think you have to look at what was going on at the time and why it seemed -- and I agree with this -- to make sense for us to bring our special assets to the table to help the people of Libya.

Now, I go back to this point. They had an election, and it was a good election, it was a fair election, it met international standards. That was an amazing accomplishment for a nation that had been so deprived for so long.

You know, the United States was in Korea, and still is, for many years. We are still in Germany. We are still in Japan. We have a presence in a lot of places in the world that started out as a result of conflict. And if you think about South Korea, there were coups, there were assassinations, there was a lot of problems for the Koreans to build their economy, to create their democracy.

This doesn't happen overnight. And, yes, it's been a couple of years. I think it's worth European support, Arab support, American support to try to help the Libyan people realize the dream that they had when they went after Gadhafi.

CUOMO: The young lady standing here has a question for you. Her name is Kyla Gray. She's a student at Columbia College. She is leaning in your favor, but you have work to do with Kyla. She has not made up her mind completely yet. Kyla, what's your question for the secretary?

QUESTION: Well, good evening. Recently, I started wearing my hair natural and I...

CLINTON: I'm sorry. You started what?

QUESTION: Recently, I've started wearing my hair natural...

CLINTON: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: And I've noticed a difference in the way some people address and look at me. In the wake of things like Ferguson and Black Lives Matter and the recent backlash against Beyonce for her "Formation" video, there have been a lot of racial tensions recently in our nation. So my question to you is, what do you intend to do to help fix the broken racial relations in our nation?

CLINTON: Well, Kyla, first of all, thank you for being so candid and brave to stand up and say this about yourself, because I think it really helps to shine a spotlight on what are one of the many barriers that still stand in the way of people feeling like they can pursue their own dreams, they can be who they are, they can have the future that they want in our country.

And I believe strongly we have to deal with systemic racism, and systemic racism is found in our criminal justice system, it's found in housing, in job opportunities, in education.

And it's also cultural. And so there are barriers that people are encountering that I think we need to be honest about. You know, I just came from Central Baptist Church with mothers of the movement. I think they might be here. And, yes, they are. You know, I'd want them to stand up, if you don't mind. These are the bravest women.

(APPLAUSE)

These five women have lost children to police actions, and to random senseless gun violence. And, there's not doubt that in each case, as they said at the church earlier, there is a racial component to it.

A young black teenager, 17 years old playing the music in his car too loud with a bunch of his friends, and white guy comes up and tells him to turn the music down. They exchange words, the man pulls out his gun and kills him. So, we have serious challenges, and I think it's important for people -- and particularly for white people, to be honest about those, and to recognize that our experiences may not equip us to understand what a lot of our African American fellow citizens go through every single day.

So, for me, when I talk about breaking down all the barriers that stand in the way of people's ambitions and dreams, racism, along with economic issues, educational issues, and all the rest, have to be addressed. Otherwise, we are never going to be the nation we should be. We're never going to overcome our legacy -- dating back to slavery, segregation, Jim Crow.

It is still, unfortunately, alive and well, and you've got places in this state where an African American baby has a higher rate of dying than you have in a lot of other places. The infant mortality rate can be compared to some third world poor countries, you know?

In this state, your governor, legislature wouldn't extend Medicaid, and so people can't get the health care that they deserve to have.

(APPLAUSE)

So, I think there are a lot of barriers that we have to be honest about, and I think honesty and willingness to listen to each other, actually respect each other, would go a long way toward us rolling up our sleeves and dealing with a lot of these issues. And giving you the feeling that you have a right to wear your hair anyway you want to. That's your right.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: You look great.

CLINTON: As somebody who has had, you know, a lot of different hairstyles.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: I say that from some personal experience.

CUOMO: I'm just happy to keep my hair. That's my whole -- you know? Kayla (ph) mentioned Beyonce, let's talk about Beyonce for a second because why not? No -- specifically, what happened at the Super Bowl halftime performance.

It upset a lot of men and women in the law enforcement community. They felt that they were targeted, and they felt that this was one of many anti-police messages. And, now there's this resulting call, don't buy her C.D.'s, don't support her because she does not support the police.

Do you understand where they're coming from? Do you agree, and how do you see, in terms of reconciling these points of view?

CLINTON: You know, look, I think there are an enormous number of police officers in our country that perform honorably every single day. They put themselves in harm's way. They connect with the communities they are sworn to protect, and we should show them all the respect that they have earned and deserve.

But, we have problems in our criminal justice system in a lot of places that we can't ignore. Put aside any particular celebrity, or any particular song, or performance. The fact is that we have too many instances here in South Carolina, we had Walter Scott, North Charleston. There was a young white teenage, if I believe right, Zachary Hammond who was unarmed and killed in a police action here in South Carolina. We have lost too many young people.

So, what's the answer? I don't think the answer is for us to find ourselves in opposing camps where we're just going to be looking at each other with, you know, mistrust. We have to figure out how we're going to lift up the good practices, reform policing, provide more support so that force is a last resort, not a first choice, and that means helping to train police so that when they go out on the street I'm sure they're nervous and scared too.

So, how do we create a better understanding about how to deal with different situations that escalate, instead of escalate?

You know, one of the mothers here lost her son. Several police officers were asked to move him out of a public park. They said, no, he has a right to be in a public park. This happened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Maria Hamilton's here; her son was Dontre.

And so, no, we're going to move them out. But one police officer who knew somebody who was in, you know, the restaurant that wanted him moved showed up and, you know, so he started beating this young man with a baton, and when the young man, you know, tried to protect himself and grabbed the baton, you know, the officer pulled out his gun and shot him, now -- and, you know, numerous times.

So we've got to come to grips with the fact that we've got to do some re-training here. We've got to do some work to make sure that our police are understanding how best to deal with situations, where somebody's not armed, somebody's sitting on a park bench, and he ends up dead.

You know, so there is work to be done. And I don't -- I think the right response is: Let's respect the police, let's be sure that we hold up those who are doing the right things and protecting us, and let's try to help more police follow that example, and then let's hold police behavior accountable so that there's an incentive for people to change how they are doing police practices.

(APPLAUSE)

And, you know, President Obama had a policing commission, and, you know, I embrace all of their recommendations. And as president, you know, I would try to work with the police and work with the community and work with victims of violence, getting everybody together, because what we want to do is stop this from happening again. We want to save lives; we want to prevent any other mother from going through what these mothers have gone through. And that would be my goal as president.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Have another voter for you.

CLINTON: OK.

CUOMO: Sally Horne, on the left. She's a student, part-time law clerk, says she's undecided, has a question. Go ahead.

CLINTON: Hi.

QUESTION: Welcome to the Palmetto State.

CLINTON: Thank you.

QUESTION: I am from Rock Hill, South Carolina, and I had the privilege and delight of attending Agnes Scott College in Decatur, George, a women's college. We share that. And I was wondering if you could elaborate on how attending a women's college prepared you for the specific challenge of running for president, especially when it's often challenging when people don't recognize women's issues as significant, or women themselves as significant.

CLINTON: Well, that is a great question.

QUESTION: Thank you.

CLINTON: Thank you. And I have been to Agnes Scott. It's a wonderful campus.

QUESTION: I agree.

CLINTON: I think you must have had a great time there, just as I did when I went to Wellesley College, a women's college. Look, I think -- what I got out of going to a women's college was that women were in charge of everything, you know? That's just a fact.

(APPLAUSE)

And, you know, we ran the student government, we ran the newspaper, we ran the yearbook, we ran all the activities. So it was a great leadership opportunity. And, you know, I know that you can find that in many different settings, but for me, it really helped to give me the confidence and the understanding of what leadership meant. It put me in some challenging positions to negotiate issues that I learned a lot from. So I feel very grateful for that experience.

And, you know, when I got to the United States Senate, I was so grateful to the women who'd been there before. And we formed a bipartisan group, and we used to meet off the record on our own, no press, nothing ever reported out of it, you know, to trade information and ideas about how you did the work of being a senator and how we could support each other where appropriate. You know, funny little things, like, what do you do with your handbag?

(LAUGHTER)

I mean, you know, that's an issue. You've got to figure it out. But serious things about how we could support each other on women's issues, how we could make some of the concerns we had about childcare, about equal pay real to the rest of our colleagues, who may not have thought about it as much as we had.

So I think there's real support to be found when you're lucky enough to work with other women. And I was certainly fortunate in both the Senate and the State Department to have that experience. And I give a lot of credit to my education equipping me to be able to do the work that I've done.

CUOMO: Secretary, have another question for you. Jamie Rutkoski, she's a law student at the University of South Carolina. She's leaning toward Senator Sanders, has a question.

QUESTION: Hi, Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Hi.

QUESTION: So my mom supports you, and I've been leaning towards Bernie for several reasons, including that he's not corporately funded. I feel like he really understands my generation's problem with student debt and, you know, how much pressure we're under with that.

My question for you is what do you think has been causing this common generational gap that I see so -- so many places between your supporters and Senator Sanders' supporters?

CLINTON: Well, I'm not sure, to be honest. I really don't know. But I want you to know that whether you end up supporting me or not, I will support you. And I will support the young people of this country because...

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: -- that has been a -- that has been my life's work.

And let me say a word about student debt, because I honestly believe that my plan to make college affordable and to help you pay down your student debt is a very effective way of doing what I know must be done, particularly with student debt.

You're in law school now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, (INAUDIBLE).

CLINTON: So did you come out of college with debt?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unfor -- luckily, I was -- I didn't have any debt from undergrad, but...

CLINTON: But now you do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Right.

CLINTON: Yes. I borrowed money when I was in law school also.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

CLINTON: And I -- I know that it can be a burden. And so here's what I want to do. I want you to be able to reference your debt at much lower interest rates. It makes no sense at all that you're paying -- are you -- do you know what your interest rate is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's between 7 and 9 percent. I know I'm already $75,000 in debt and I'm only half way through.

CLINTON: And, you know, I want everybody to understand this. She borrowed money for the principal and to be able to pay her fees to go to law school. And I would bet that a good percentage of what you now owe is because of the interest. A 7 to 9 percent interest rate, when we haven't had interest rates that high in years, it makes absolutely no sense.

So we need to refinance it.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: We need to strip as much...

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: -- of the interest payment out that we possibly can. We need to give you a chance to move into a contingency repayment program. That's what I had when I went to law school. I paid back my loan at a percentage of my income, because I went to work for the Children's Defense Fund right out of law school. And I didn't make much money at all. I can't even remember, I think $14,000 is what sticks in my head.

But I paid it back as a percent of my income, so I could go to work and do the work that I loved doing. It brought me here to South Carolina to do a project to get kids out of adult jails and I really am grateful for that.

So I want to move you into those programs. And then I want to have a date certain when your debt ends. I don't think you should be paying debt more than 20 years at all...

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: -- and shorter, if we can figure out how to do it.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And I -- I don't think the federal government should be making money off of lending you money to get your education.

(APPLAUSE) CLINTON: I think we've got to fix that, as well. And I'm going to be introducing more national service jobs so that if you do national service, you can get basically your education free, which I think we should do, to more -- have move young people involved in national service.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And then on the affordability side, I do disagree with Senator Sanders, with his plan about, you know, free college, because I want to have debt-free tuition, but I don't believe that my family or Donald Trump's family or a lot of other families that can afford it should have the advantage of free college. I think they should be contributing on behalf of their children.

So I want...

CUOMO: Secretary...

CLINTON: -- I want this to be a program where we have affordability and I have a particular commitment to the historically black colleges and universities, because both the public and the private HBCUs do so much good.

So I hope you'll go to my Web site, hillaryclinton.com, and look at what I'm actually proposing, because I -- I think you might -- might find it interesting and then go talk to your mother.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: All right, on your left we have the Reverend Robert Cooper.

He's the presiding elder of the Florence Dillon District for the AME Church.

CLINTON: OK.

CUOMO: He is still undecided and has a question for you.

Reverend?

CLINTON: Great.

Hi, Reverend.

REV. ROBERT COOPER: Good evening, Madam Secretary.

I'm Reverend Cooper, (INAUDIBLE) mortician and a family member.

My question to you is that my concern is about the illness of the family, the degeneration of the value of the family.

When you look at the stage of American scene, all the actors and actresses are little children that used to sit around mom and dad's table, all the shooting the looting and the killing, they once sat around mom and dad's table. That was the first academy they ever attended.

And it points to the -- the illness in the family and it seems as though the young people have to take all the blame for it.

When you think about the shooting that happened in Charleston just a few months ago, if that young man had had a chance to have breakfast with his mother or a tight-knit family, someone would have detected that he had a problem and it might not would have happened.

If you were to become president, what would you do to help some wellness come back to American families?

CLINTON: You know, Reverend, I think your question is an incredibly important one because strong families are at the core of a strong society, a strong America.

And the family is the first introduction any child has to how to behave in society, what's expected, what the values should be. So we do have to do more to help lift up families and support families.

And a lot of families are under tremendous economic stress right now. And a lot of families just are trying to keep body and soul together, trying to make enough money to keep food on the table and a roof over the head.

And the working hours that are demanded by so many employers make it difficult for a lot of families, particularly headed by single mothers, to be able to spend the time that you would want and I would, of course, want, to see families spend together.

So I think it's both an economic issue as well as a sort of personal issue. On the economic front, let's raise that minimum wage. Let's get more income into the pockets of those women who are minimum wage workers.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Let's get equal pay so that people who are working hard are given the dignity, the respect, and the income they deserve. Let's get incomes rising again. Let's get more good jobs for more people, something that would help the family feel that they weren't on such rocky terrain and not sure where the next step would be.

And also let's do more to help support families as they raise their children. And I think this is not something that can be done only by the government. I wrote a book called "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child." I believe that.

So I think faith institutions, community institutions, trying to get the extended family to be more supportive are all part of how we help families do right by their own kids.

And I think we can also do more with better early childhood education, when families are looking for it, they can't afford it. A universal pre-K program so that more kids get off to a good start in school. But time is the most precious commodity. And we need to figure out

how we get more income into families so that they can actually have more time with their kids.

And I will do everything I can because I believe in this. That's how I was raised. You know, my husband and I, you know, certainly did everything we could to make sure that one or both of us was home with our daughter. That we were there at night to have dinner, to, you know, read to her before she went to sleep.

And we believe in that. And we know it makes a difference for the children. So what we want to is to help more families have the support they need, which too many of them don't have right now, to be able to do more to get their own kids off to a good start.

And I think that would be a great way to help families and to help our country get stronger in the future.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Secretary, speaking of time, fortunately we have more time tonight but we do have to take a quick break.

CLINTON: OK.

CUOMO: So we're going to take a quick break right now. When we come back, we do have more of your questions for former Secretary of State Clinton and her final thoughts when our "CNN Democratic Townhall" continues here in Columbia, South Carolina.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. We are back here at the School of Law at the University of South Carolina. We have former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And I have a question for you and a little bit of video to watch.

CLINTON: OK.

CUOMO: You may not know, but the late-night comedians love you. They love you; they love to do things about you. Stephen Colbert had fun with an interview you had recently with Scott Pelley. You'll remember it. I want to play you a piece of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT: And something has emerged, something has just emerged, just last night, that is potentially damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, and it's Hillary Clinton.

(LAUGHTER)

It's true, who has been dogged by questions of trustworthiness, and here she is yesterday with our good friend, Scott Pelley. PELLEY: You know, in '76, Jimmy Carter famously said, "I will not lie

to you."

CLINTON: Uh-huh. Well, I have to tell you, I have tried in every way I know how, literally from my years as a young lawyer all the way through my time as secretary of state, to level with the American people.

PELLEY: Some people are going to call that wiggle room that you just gave yourself.

CLINTON: Well, no, I...

PELLEY: "Almost always tried to."

CLINTON: No, I've always tried to...

PELLEY: I mean, Jimmy Carter said, "I will never lie to you."

CLINTON: You know, you're asking me to say, have I ever? I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever will. I'm going to do the best I can to level with the American people.

COLBERT: How can you be this bad at it?

(LAUGHTER)

Just say no. Just say no. You're running for president of the United States. Even -- even Richard Nixon knew to say, "I am not a crook." He didn't say, "It has always been my intention, as far as I believe, I will do the best I can not to be a crook." "Will you lie?" is the homerun of campaign questions. You just say, "No," and then touch all the bases.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Funny guy, serious topic. Is that a question that you'd like another shot at answering?

CLINTON: I'll just say no.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: You make Mr. Colbert very happy...

CLINTON: Good, good. I want to make him happy.

CUOMO: ... if you do that. You know the universe of thought that this comes from. You've known it for a long time; you've dealt with it for a long time. And many of us have watched it. Today, a federal judge, as you know, issued on -- a ruling on a motion that could pave the way for the possibility that you could be subpoenaed in order to obtain any information, whatever the details of this latest case, it's what they call the drip, drip, drip theory of this. It doesn't go away.

What is your statement to democrats who are afraid that this, right, wrong, good, bad, it will not leave you in this race, and may now and going forward?

CLINTON: There just has been no basis for that, Chris. Look, I'm well aware of the drip, drip, drip. I've been in the public arena for 25 years, and have been the subject of a lot of ongoing attacks, and misinformation and all the rest of it.

But, I can only tell you what the facts are, and the facts are that every single time somebody has hurled these charges against me, which they have done, it's proved to be nothing. And, this is no different than that.

I testified for 11 hours on the Benghazi committee, you know? People were really, you know, "My goodness, my goodness." I told the truth, I testified under oath, and at the end, they had to say, well, there was nothing there.

Here, I have turned over 55,000 pages of emails. Nobody in any cabinet position has ever been as transparent or open. I know there are, you know, challenges about what the State Department did or didn't do. That'll all be worked out. It is just not something that, you know, is going to have any lasting effect, and I am not at all worried about it.

CUOMO: So, let's go to the audience.

CLINTON: Yeah, let's do it.

CUOMO: We have Mary McClellan, she's a retired high school guidance counselor. She says she is undecided, has a question.

CLINTON: I'm coming to the red because, you know I want to bring the red and the blue together here.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Thank you. I am currently receiving Social Security benefits, and that's after working for nearly 40 years as a high school guidance counselor. Currently there are more than 63 million people receiving Social Security benefits. Hard working people who have been able to work and secure these funds. My question to you, Madame Secretary is this.

How do you plan to fund the Social Security Trust Fund to enable us to have a solid and secure Social Security system moving forward to keep me getting my benefits, and those in our next generation? Those young people who are moving towards Social Security age?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, we're going to prevent the Republicans from privatizing it.

(APPLAUSE) CLINTON: That has to be the highest priority, and I listen to the Republican candidates, the ones who are still competing, and they all are very critical of Social Security. I think Ted Cruz called it a ponzi scheme. They've all said they should be changing it dramatically.

I'm absolutely against that. I fought it when I was a senator, I will never let that happen as president.

With respect to the Social Security Trust Fund, so that we can extend its life and make sure it is there for young people coming up, we have to go where the money is. That means we have to look at different ways at trying to get more money into the trust fund. Raising the cap on the income that is subject to the Social Security tax is one way of doing it.

(APPLAUSE)

Another way of doing it is expanding the Social Security tax to investment incomes, so called passive income, because a lot of well off people don't make a lot of what we would think of as earned income, but they have a lot of income because it comes from capital gains, and investment, and other sources.

So, I think we have to look at, you know, something like either one of those. There may be some other ideas, but I'm going to do everything i can to extend the life of the Social Security Trust Fund.

And, it is also important though to look at people who are not getting by on what they currently have under Social Security. There are a lot of low wage workers who didn't make much, and it's really difficult for them. There are a lot of women who were not in the formal workforce.

You've got a professional, you've worked for all those years, but a lot of women may have been in, may have been out, may have raised children, may have cared for an ill relative. They don't have a lot of what they've earned in the Social Security Trust Fund.

And then, the other group I'm concerned about are widows who lose half their benefit when their husband dies. So, I want to prevent it from being privatized, I want to extend the Social Security Trust Fund, and I want to figure out how we up the benefits for people who are literally just barely hanging on.

And, the three groups I mentioned are the ones that I'm looking at most closely. But, we're going to make sure that we extend it, and it will be there so that young people will have the same kind of guarantee that you did, and I did when we started out.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: Madam Secretary, you have John Loveday on your right. He's the principal of a charter school, undecided. John?

CLINTON: Hi. How are you? QUESTION: Hi, I'm doing well. How are you?

CLINTON: Great.

QUESTION: My charter school is unique, because we are the only school in the state that offers more instructional days than required by law. We offer 230 instructional days versus the traditional 180. If you look at countries like India and China, they offer -- they require their high school students to attend 220 days on average, and that's 40 days more than our high school students. Do you think that puts our students at a disadvantage? And if so, would you work with states to help modernize that policy?

CLINTON: Here's what I think it does -- and thank you for being involved in education. It's so critically important. I think we need to focus on disadvantaged kids, low-income kids, kids with learning difficulties, because they do need more time on task. Others could also benefit from it, but we understand -- and you do, I'm sure, from the research -- that the more time that kids who need that time have, the more likely they will make gains in their learning.

In fact, there's a lot of research which shows that, you know, for most middle-class or, you know, well-off kids, they get out of school in the spring or early summer, having gone to 180, 185, whatever the days are in their state, and then they do things over the summer that keep them learning, where a lot of disadvantaged kids get out and they actually lose some of the learning that they've gained during the year.

So I want very much to expand the school day and the school year and provide more structure, starting with kids who would be most benefited from it. But I am in favor of states looking at how they might do that for every student. But I'm most concerned about the kids who are left out and left behind and need more time on task.

The research on this is very clear. In fact, you know, I have said I want to be a good partner for educators and teachers, but I want to help them do what they know they're supposed to do. We need better and fewer tests, not more tests. We need more support in the classroom, because a lot of kids come with needs. And as the reverend was saying, a lot of kids who have challenges at home, you know, the school is the only place other than the family where they might get some additional assistance.

So we need to look at this from a broader perspective. And you're right, more days, more hours actually does produce results, particularly for kids who need that kind of structure and support.

CUOMO: Madam Secretary, we have Marjory Wentworth on your left. She is the poet laureate of South Carolina.

CLINTON: She's what?

CUOMO: The poet laureate of South Carolina.

CLINTON: Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Great. CUOMO: And she says she's supporting you.

CLINTON: Well, that really makes me very happy.

CUOMO: What is your question?

QUESTION: Well, great. I'm not going to recite a poem, don't worry.

CLINTON: Oh, I wish you would.

QUESTION: So, the world was astonished at the generosity of the forgiving statements made by family members whose family were killed in the Charleston massacre at Emanuel Church, and just two days after, at the bond hearing. And, you know, it helped our city heal. You were there; you saw that. Led to a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, which is extraordinary. And -- yes.

(APPLAUSE)

And, you know, one of the things I want to ask you is, why do you think that forgiveness is so rarely an action that we take, especially in terms of violent conflict? And, you know, how could you, as president, harness the power of forgiveness, in terms of helping heal all the division in our own country and beyond?

CLINTON: That's a great question. You know, I could not be standing here if I had not been forgiven many times and if I had not been able to forgive myself those who I thought had in some way disappointed or wronged me. So I, as a person of faith, believe profoundly in the power of forgiveness, and we need to do more to try to take that value, that experience.

The best example I know of it, in modern times, is the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa. You know, I was very fortunate to spend quite a bit of time with Nelson Mandela. I know Bishop Tutu, I know others who were part of that process. It was just an astonishing leap of faith to bring together those who had been oppressed by apartheid, often physically abused, imprisoned, members of families whose loved ones had been murdered, with their oppressors, their abusers, their murderers, in a process that truly was a national effort to try to forgive enough that the country could be held together, that the nation could be born, that the work could begin.

And it was to me a stunning example of what is possible. I think there's a lot that we could do in this country if we could figure out how to harness those feelings. And I see so much anger and fear and bitterness.

Some of it's being played out in our political system right now. The kind of language that's being used, violent images, threats again people, it is deeply troubling to me because we have to try to unite our country, not divide it if we're going to deal with a lot of the challenges that we face.

So I would very much consider if there were a formal way and, if not, what we could do to talk about forgiveness and reconciliation to try to begin bringing people together from different backgrounds, obviously different races, different ethnicities, and every other of the wonderful mosaic that makes up our country so that people could begin once again to kind of see themselves in the other's life.

Maybe the old saying, walking in someone else's shoes, because I think that's essential to sort of nurture the ground out of which forgiveness and reconciliation and unity could come.

I think it's one of our biggest challenges. And I hope that we -- I hope we find ways to try to address it. And I will certainly give it as much thought as I can and try as president to think of ways to lead that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

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CUOMO: Have a seat. I have a question for you on exactly that theme, the idea of being able to see yourself in somebody else who may appear as an opponent. You said recently when you were reminiscing about the significance of Justice Scalia, you said, you know, it's so beautiful that Nino Scalia had Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that even though they were so ideologically or philosophically looking at from a legal perspective different, opponents, they were still very close friends.

And it made me wonder, who do you consider your Scalia, this person on the other side of the aisle that you have real disagreements with but you consider a friend.

CLINTON: You know, I thought a lot about that, Chris, because of the Scalia example. And I just want to make three quick points before I get to your question. One, Scalia and -- Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg actually got to spend time with each other, they got to know each other as people.

And it wasn't just a showing up, doing the work, and leaving. What has happened in our Congress, and I'm sure Congressman Clyburn can remember the days when people actually got to spend time with each other. You got to know their families. You got to know a little bit about them so that they were not just some kind of political caricature, they were a real person.

I don't know how we get back to doing that under the pressures that people -- ideological, fundraising, political, partisan pressures people are under.

But it's a great loss for our country, because when I got to Washington, when my husband became president, I looked for opportunities to work across the aisle. And yes, was it hard, and was there was a lot of incoming, you know, battles back and forth?

But to keep looking, I worked with Tom DeLay, one of the most partisan Republicans in the Congress, to reform the adoption and foster care system. We never became friends but we did something good for a lot of young kids who had better lives because of it. I worked with Lindsey Graham to get health care for the National

Guard. And, you know, we traveled together. I traveled with John McCain, who I grew to very much like and respect and consider a friend.

The women Republican senators are people, you know, like Susan Collins from Maine, that I have a lot of regard for and have worked with and others.

So it took time, though, to get to know each other. And it was the same -- they had the same feeling about me. I mean, I came into the Senate, I, you know, was a first lady and now I'm in the Senate.

So I had to really work hard to develop those relationships. And that's what I want to do as president because relationships underlie everything. If you don't have those relationships, it's really hard to get things done.

It's hard to get them even with the relationships but in the absence, it's practically impossible. And I want to do what I can to try to find that.

Now, there will be people who are not interested at all. But I still think there is a critical mass of members of Congress who actually do want to get something done and who would be interested in, you know, kind of getting to know one another, getting to know me as president, if they don't know me before as senator or secretary of state, so -- you know, people like John McCain, Susan Collins are people that I felt, you know, I got to know well and worked well with.

CUOMO: So it's more of a group. You don't have one special...

CLINTON: No. No.

CUOMO: Maybe to come, give yourself a goal.

CLINTON: Well, I hope so. I would love, that, to get things done. It would be great.

CUOMO: So you've got a big date coming up here in South Carolina. Take 30 seconds, please -- Sanders had the same amount of time -- and make a final pitch to the people here tonight.

CLINTON: Well, first of all, I'm thrilled to be here campaigning toward the primary on Saturday. As I said, the first time I came to South Carolina was as a young lawyer with the Children's Defense Fund. I've been back many times since.

I am going to work very hard to break down all the barriers that stand in the way of South Carolinians and Americans achieving their dreams. Those include economic barriers we have work to do, to create more jobs, to get incomes rising again. I want to go after manufacturing and infrastructure and clean energy, and, yes, raise the minimum wage and get equal pay for women's work.

I want to make sure we defend the Affordable Care Act, one of President Obama's great accomplishments and a historic achievement for our country...

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... and make sure that we extend it. And I'm going to figure out some way that we extend Medicaid in states like South Carolina to take care of the people who deserve to have health care.

And, yes, I'm going to work on education. I want to start with early childhood education. I want to support families. They are their child's first schools. Parents are their child's first teachers. So we have work to do.

But mostly, I want you to know that it would be an incredible privilege and honor to have the opportunity to represent this country at such a consequential time. The next president will face challenges here at home and challenges around the world. You will be voting on Saturday for a president and a commander-in-chief. I feel that I ready, I am willing, and I will serve you with the utmost of my ability and commitment to making this country all it should be for everyone who's in it.

Thank you very much.

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Secretary Clinton, thank you very much.

CLINTON: Thank you very much, Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you. We thank all of you. We thank the candidates. Special thanks to the voters for asking such great questions. Thanks, as well, to the viewers at home and everybody here in Columbia for their amazing hospitality.

Remember, Thursday night at 8:30, a CNN Republican debate from Houston, be sure to join us for that. Tonight is a huge night in politics, and it's not over. Our coverage continues in Washington with the latest on the Nevada caucuses. Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash pick it up after a quick break. Thanks again.