Beyond the Beltway
The Debate in Ames, Iowa
(Debate Moderate and ANC Director, Walter Anderson)
2020 ANC Democratic Debate Transcript:
Walter Anderson: Thank you. My Name is Walter Anderson, Director of ANC, and thank you to the ANC Democratic Presidential Debate! I’ll be tonight’s moderator. Before I begin the rules, let’s introduce the candidates!
Please welcome Senator Martin Arroyo, Senator Elis Torkin, and Senator Catherine Williams! *applauds*
And now, please rise for the national anthem. *some singer performs it*
Thank you. And now, for a quick message from one of ANC’s sponsors.
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Walter Anderson: Welcome back to the ANC Democratic Presidential Debate! Before we begin the debate, the debate’s rules. Each candidate will have 4 minutes to post a response to the question. Following that, each other candidate will have 4 minutes to respond. If I have a follow-up, I can stay with one candidate for a clarifying question and a 3min response. No candidate may speak until they are asked a question directly by myself.
Now, for audience rules. Audience member are asked to keep all cheering and comments to themselves until the end of the debate, when we can cheer all three of our candidates together.
I’d like to begin by asking the candidates to introduce themselves. By a random process, Senator Williams will go first, followed by Senator Torkin, followed by Senator Arroyo. Senator Williams, you have 4 minutes for an opening statement.
Catherine Williams: Thank you to all who are hosting and participating in this debate. Hello, I’m Catherine Williams. Growing up, I lived in a middle-class community raised by working class parents in a God-fearing home. Despite my normal upbringing, I seen the violence and tumult in our country as the American dream seemed far removed for so many in our society. Like many women in my generation - many who have paved the way for what women can do and have done today - I was not bound by the traditional parameters of a woman’s perceived duty. I defined my own - and decided my duty was in service to my people. The people of my community, my state and my country! And the American people have trusted me time and again. I stand before you today as the most experienced candidate in this race. I served my community as a councilwoman, in the state legislature as an Assemblywoman, and eventually the people of the largest state in the union trusted me four times over the last twenty-seven years to represent them in the United States Senate. When you’re hiring someone for the job - especially in these perilous times - do you hire someone with very little experience, less than a decade of experience - and particularly only two in the Senate, or someone with thirty-years experience, fighting in the trenches. I call that as clear as the sky is blue. What is also clear are the challenges we face in this country. After four years of an inept, bigoted president in Donald Trump, we need someone with not only the experience but the vision to fix the damage that has been done. We need someone with the experience and vision to beat back the Republican attacks on women, children, and the LGBTQ community. We need someone with the experience and vision to break the cycle of oppression that continues to hold Black men and women back in this country. We need someone with the experience and vision to expand access to quality and affordable health care to more American families, better education for our kids and an economy that works for all. We need someone with the experience and vision to fight back against the inequalities in our tax code that favors the wealthy or the higher education system that straddles more and more students with debt. We need someone with the experience and the vision to beat back economic inequities as a result of outsourcing and China’s emerging influence in the world. We need someone with the experience and vision to break through the gridlock and finally address the very real threat that climate change poses to our country and to the world! Over the course of this debate and this campaign, I will outline plans behind my vision to restore America - we need to restore opportunity, equality, and decency. Ultimately, we need someone who has the experience to unite this country - renew security from violence and division. If you trust me with that awesome responsibility, I will be ready on day one! Thank you all.
Anderson: Thank you. Senator Torkin?
Elis Torkin: "Thank you to Anderson, Senator Williams, Senator Arroyo and any American giving me a chance tonight. The year 2020 will be such a historic one, as we as Americans have a chance to fix the mistake we made in 2016. And I don't want any Trump voter to feel down on themselves for their choice. Because no matter what, we always get back up. President Trump has fueled divisiveness in this country, and now more than ever we know that extremism is not progressive. We need a calm-headed, understanding and open-minded leader who represents all Americans in this day and age, and I believe I fit that role like a glove. I have seen so many struggles across the country, and although it is sad, I always see a silver lining- it helps us learn. And that's the beauty of America. We always keep learning. So let's seize the silver lining of our situation and lead us forward to a more unified community and world. Thank you all so much."
Anderson: Thank you. And finally, Senator Arroyo.
Martin Arroyo: "Thank you, Walter. It’s great to be here with you all tonight. Thank you to ANC for hosting this event. And thank you Senators Williams and Torkin for joining me this evening.
My name is Martin Arroyo, U.S. Senator from California, and I stand here today as a child of the American dream. My mother gave birth to me at age sixteen. My father left her while she was just four months pregnant. She raised me, despite the crime and poverty of where lived, so I could live out my dreams and stand here today as a candidate for president. I am the product of the promise of America. Tonight, I want to talk about the American dream and what it truly means. It’s a pledge to each and every citizen that regardless of your race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or where you started from, you can achieve your wildest dreams and build a better life for you and your family. But I am worried that promise is now slipping away. It’s dissipating as more and more Americans are stuck in jobs that do not pay a living wage. The dream is disappearing as manufacturing jobs are shipped overseas. Our children may not live to taste the blessings of America if we do not fix our education system and tackle climate change. We as Americans face a series of unparalleled challenges. We have taken several steps backwards as a country. We’ve taken many lumps over the last four years. But I promise you there is hope. I found it in Lordstown, Ohio, with the assembly line workers who are keeping the faith despite their jobs being shipped overseas. Hope still lives in the town of Flint, Michigan, where mothers and fathers lovingly raise their children despite the failures of bureaucrats. And I saw it in the eyes of young African-American children in Oakland and Hispanic boys and girls in El Paso. All across this country, Americans yearn for change and a new beginning.
This generation of Americans is ready to rise up and lift our country to new heights of opportunity and prosperity for all. But if we are to do so, we need a new president and a new vision to reverse course and the promise of America. That is why I am running for president: so we can begin our ascension as a country towards the dawning of a new day."
Anderson: Thank you.... Our first question is for each of you, and we'll begin with Senator Arroyo.
A great deal has been made of the voters who supported President Obama in 2008, and then supported President Trump in 2016. How will you reach out to these voters in the 2020 election?
Arroyo: Thank you, Walter. A few weeks ago, I visited Lordstown, Ohio, where the General Motors plant is being shuttered. I met with some of the thousands of people who are losing their jobs. Many of them supported Donald Trump after backing President Obama in 2008 and 2012. What matters to them is not who is in charge, but who will deliver results. And neither party up until now has offered any real solutions. If we are going to win back the blue-collar American voter, we have to embrace a new economic patriotism in this country that bridges the divide between the public and private sectors. As president, I will offer tax relief for working and middle class families as well as manufacturers that locate all jobs in the United States. For those companies who outsource those jobs, I pledge to raise their rates and close off their tax loopholes. If you create jobs and invest in our working class, we’ll have your back. That’s how we can win back everyday Americans and get this country moving again.
Anderson: Senator Williams, same question. How will you reach out to Obama/Trump voters heading to November?
Williams: “Walter, this is one of the most important questions that’ll be asked in this debate. And really, for me, it’s a question of how we restore the American dream for those who feel left out and left behind. When I talk about restoring America, I’m talking about giving everyone hope through opportunity. There are too many communities in America that have been hollowed out and we need to do more as a Democratic party to reach out to the people of these communities. And in this new election, we don’t have any excuse - everything’s fair game without Mr. Trump on the ballot. As the Democratic nominee, I will preach an unabashed opportunity for working people. I will be releasing specifics during this campaign about how to help many in the Appalachia and throughout the midwest restore economic prosperity. We can’t make vague promises of tax relief, these people deserve a real plan. I’m proposing a public fund that will back loans to businesses that are creating jobs in places left out and left behind. We are going to invest in infrastructure development and clean energy, increase funding for Early Head Start, universal pre-K, free community college, and support for telemedicine and Medicaid expansion, and expand broadband access. We must put the tools in the hands of the people to take back their lives and for too long we’ve taken people for granted. And you rest assured I will be the first to call out the Republicans for their false promises and false hopes under this administration. No longer will any voters be taken for granted when I’m the Democratic nominee! No longer when I’m president!"
Anderson: Senator Torkin?
Torkin: "Walter, that's an amazing question. Not too long ago, I went to Iowa to discuss Ethanol with those most affected by it. I think that most Americans just want to be litsened to. They don't want, and they certainly don't need, a smooth talking Washington elitist telling them what they need. That's what we saw with Hillary Clinton, a member of a massive political dynasty and Mitt Romney, a Super PAC loving billionaire. They Americans would fall for them, but they saw right through them. They want litseners, like myself or President Obama. Washington has failed America so badly that America had to resort to an extremist outsider to feel like they had a voice. I say no more. We can have a competent leader who still litsens and knows they aren't better than the American people. Because, unfortunately, that's what they had to choose last time. Never again."
Anderson: Senator Arroyo, you wanted to respond?
Arroyo: Thank you, Walter. Senator Williams, I have a great deal of respect for you. I appreciate your honesty when you say that all you have to offer is preaching and a nonexistent plan. You said that will be releasing specifics soon about your plan for working class Americans. Well, Senator, these are my friends you are talking about. And they’ve waited on Washington bureaucrats for far too long when it comes to a plan. Apparently, you don’t have enough time to write a specific laid out plan. But just last night, you were wining and dining with CEOs and bankers at Martha’s Vineyard. While I was writing letters to union workers and blue-collar Americans asking for their contributions, you were wheeling and dealing with big corporations for their campaign checks. At your gala last night, you promised them that you would deregulate Wall Street, calling their struggles understandable, in exchange for their support. Now, I don’t know of a single white-collar billionaire who is struggling more than the working-class American family right now. Nor can I understand how anyone could fly out to Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet, sip cabernet and eat cheese with the elites, and then turn around and convince a hard-nosed assembly line worker in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan that his or her interests matter. Senator Williams has the authenticity of Mitt Romney when it comes to understanding the plight of working-class Americans. We need a president who has visited blue-collar communities and listened to mothers and fathers over their kitchen table. We need a leader who has walked in their shoes and has the vision to restore the promise of America for all. While Senator Williams was giving lectures at Harvard and chilling in the backrooms of Wall Street, I was working around the clock to bring jobs to my home state along with more than $2 billion in new housing and job training investments. While Senator Williams wants to deregulate Wall Street and empower the big banks, I have proposed and will enact the 21st Century Glass-Steagall to defend innocent American from predatory banking. While Senator Williams has only proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour, I believe it’s time to deliver the American people a real living wage of $15. For the everyday American working an average of 2,080 hours a year, that’s an extra $6,200 in your pocket thanks to my plan. And while Senator Williams is still figuring out her plan, I have mine set in stone with a 5% tax cut for all middle and lower income Americans. I am determined to make sure our economy profits all Americans, especially those blue-collar patriots who have been waiting on Washington to act. As president, I will fight for every working-class citizen and I will not be distracted or swayed by corporate lobbyists.
Anderson: Senator Williams, you’ve taken big money from Wall Street already in this campaign. In a fundraising speech to Wall Street, you promised to reform the Volcker Rule, something that limits the same speculations that causes the Financial Crisis in 2008. You even claim that speculation, and I quote, “poses no systemic risk to the financial system.” Many progressives believe the 2008 regulations actually don’t go far enough, so why do you want to roll them back?
Williams: I believe very strongly that we need robust financial regulation. I also believe that we need sensible regulation. There’s a sentiment on this stage that, ‘you know, we should just get rid of the financial industry’, not acknowledging that ultimately, we need the financial industry to help up build a strong middle class - whether it is providing financing for cars and homes, businesses or other endeavors. I want to leverage the private sector to invest in places that have long been hollowed out and left behind - whether it’s new businesses or infrastructure investment that benefits entire communities as a whole - and not one company promising to plant its headquarters in your backyard for political gain. We need a president that understands that we can work with the financial industry to work for Main Street. And really, I know that Mr. Arroyo wants to use this moment to show how tough he is on Wall Street and attack me viciously. But how tough is he on Wall Street when you look at his plans on ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share? Mr. Arroyo’s plans may not be a day late - but they are certainly a dollar short. The breadth of his proposals in holding the wealthy accountable to paying their fair share resembles his breadth of experience, compared to mine. While he would only lift the FICA cap as it relates to Social Security, I have released a broad swath of proposals that include closing tax loopholes and expenditures that benefit the wealthiest taxpayers, ending the “carried interest” loophole, enacting the “Buffett Rule” that ensures no millionaire pays a lower effective tax rate than their secretary, and reforming the capital gains tax to encourage long-term investment in Main Street. These are the kinds of substantive differences between me and Martin. And I think they are vital for every Democrat to consider going forward.
Anderson: Senator Arroyo, you’re noted as one of the most business-friendly Democrats in recent years between the Amazon HQ deal, promising to cut red tape caused by the EPA, cutting taxes for some businesses, and expanding corporate welfare grants. Yet the progressive base has largely condemned the focus on business in the way we spend tax dollars. How do you explain to progressives how you’re fighting for the economic change they want in this campaign?
Arroyo: When I first heard that Amazon was looking for a new location for their headquarters, I was interested but had my concerns. The New York deal between Amazon and the Big Apple failed to protect blue-collar and urban communities. And while I wanted to bring those jobs to California, I knew there had to be protections and investments in place for American families to prevent any negative impacts. The deal I secured with Amazon for LA was different than the New York deal. It protected and improved the prosperity all Californians. Not only are we creating more than 25,000 good paying jobs, we secured nearly two-billion dollars of new investments in quality and affordable homes to prevent any potential rise in housing costs and fight homelessness. Right now as we speak, three and a half million new homes are being built in California to help reduce poverty and ensure every family has a roof over their head and a place they can call their own. We also chose an ideal location that will not cause the displacement of any urban families. On top of it all, I worked to secure one hundred million dollars in funding for workforce training for California residents find better paying jobs. What we did in California is what we should be doing everywhere: setting aside our partisan differences and making sure our economy works in the people’s interests. Instead of allowing lobbyists to pit the corporations and politicians against the people, we bridged the divide between the private and public sector to restore job creation and improve the lives of millions of impoverished Californians. For the last four years, we’ve dealt with a Republican White House and Senate that has acted exclusively in the interests of their corporate allies. I, on the other hand, believe that our economy can lift up all Americans. But only when our public servants protect the people and make sure all citizens have their fair shot and opportunity at prosperity. That is why I proposed the 21st Century Glass Steagall Act, as mentioned earlier, to split up investment and savings banks so no predatory banker can strip away the wealth of middle-income families. It’s why I voted in favor of Dodd-Frank in 2010 and support strengthening antitrust laws. We need to make sure both Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street work in the interests of Main Street Americans. This is how I will get America growing again as president. I am proud of the fact that my leadership has led to tens of thousands of new jobs, millions of new homes being built, and a more prosperous economy in my home state. And I am ready to bring those results to rest of America and that same leadership to the White House as president.
Williams: May I respond to that, Walter?
Anderson: Let's get Senator Torkin into this conversation, first... Senator, how do you respond to your colleagues spat over Wall Street regulations?
Torkin: Thank you Walter. Wall Street is an influence that I see as unneeded. It puts corporate interests over those of the people, and it could cause many problems in the future. I think that the first thing we need to do is make a lifetime ban on any politician becoming a lobbyist. The factor of lobbying is a negative one, and puts business interests over American ones. Also, I think that all congresspeople should disclose every single union, corporation and non-profit that funds them. Maybe then the American people will know who to support.
Anderson: Senator Williams, you wanted to respond?
Williams: "Look I do not fault Mr. Arroyo on the massive time and energy he spent trying to get Amazon to Los Angeles. You know, he’s young, he was just elected to the Senate, now he’s running for president - he’s obviously an ambitious fellow - and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when people ask me: ‘Catherine, why weren’t you more forceful in getting Amazon to L.A.’, I look at them and say, ‘because I believe in free-market capitalism and not crony capitalism’. I’m a public official, not a corporate lobbyist. The government’s role ought to be making it easier to start a business and helping balance out the interests of workers and the interests of profits, and ensuring workers rights are being upheld and there aren’t too many burdensome regulations on businesses - all in terms of policy. It shouldn’t be about securing a large lump sum of taxpayer funds for a one big corporation! It’s one thing to pitch your state as a good place for business, as we seen many politicians across the country fairly do; it’s another thing entirely to sell your state short. And that’s exactly what Martin Arroyo did to the state I’ve spent my life representing in the Senate! It’s one thing for a state to be business-friendly, and thus be attractive from a free-market perspective, it’s another thing to cobble together a batch of incentives - $100 million worth to be exact - in a backroom deal to lure, some may say ‘bribe’, a billion-dollar company. You know, I love jobs. I plan on being a jobs president, a small-business president. When we talk about 25,000 jobs - I mean, California is the most populous state in the country. There are far more than 25,000 people in Los Angeles alone - far more unemployed, for that matter! Now, I certainly wouldn’t tell any one of the 25,000 people who will get a job: ‘hey, you shouldn’t have this job because it's indicative of what’s wrong with corporate politics’. But if you’re from San Francisco or San Diego, my hometown, or anyone from anywhere else in the state for that matter, I’d perhaps tell you it is unfair - unfair that you have to pitch in $100 million to line Jeff Bezos' pocket and not reap any benefits from it - and you have Senator Arroyo to thank for that."
Arroyo: Walter, (chuckling) may I respond?
Torkin: May I as well?
Anderson: Of course.... Senator Arroyo, go ahead. Then Sen Torkin, you may go.
Arroyo: Well, first off, Senator Williams, you mentioned my age. Our three youngest presidents were Teddy Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. I like my chances if you think youth plays any role in performance.
Now, let's discuss what you said about the Amazon deal. Senator, with all due respect, no one is buying this attack; especially from you. The very day that the Associated Press reported I was preparing a bid for Amazon HQ2, you tweeted out your support for landing Amazon in California. You tweeted your support BEFORE I secured one hundred million dollars of funding for workforce training so more California residents could land jobs at Amazon. You supported a deal BEFORE you realized that we chose an ideal location that is positioned to avoid displacing residents or escalating housing costs. You supported Amazon to L.A. BEFORE Governor Newsom and I worked together to build 3.5 million new homes in our state. You supported Amazon moving to California BEFORE we secured more than $2,000,000,000 of investments in housing and job training. And Senator Williams, you had no problems supporting a deal that would have left working class and urban communities with nothing. But the moment I delivered a package that offered financial investments in working- and middle-class Americans on a 10 to 1 scale compared to Amazon, you suddenly pull the plug and call me a corporate sellout.
My friends here and watching at home, here is the contrast between the two of us. Senator Williams would have supported any Amazon deal, even if it was nothing but a giant corporate welfare check, as long as someone else didn’t get the credit. That does not matter to me. What I care about is getting the American people back to work in good paying jobs and living in quality housing. I worked around the clock with Governor Newsom and other public servants to deliver a deal that will create 25,000 new jobs, construct more than three million new homes, and boost upward mobility in our communities. One of us is running their campaign on Wall Street’s fuel, the other’s campaign is powered by the energy of the working American. I trust your judgement as to who on this stage is the true public servant. I pledge to bring that same innovative and cooperative spirit to Washington and deliver for all Americans.
Williams: All of those you mentioned, sir, have more experience than you. You are no Jack Kennedy, Bill Clinton, or Teddy Roosevelt.
Arroyo: Senator Williams, I served in Afghanistan and Iraq. And I've served in both the House and Senate for a decade. And in that time, I've delivered more than you in your time as a career politician. Now, let's get back to the issues that matter and allow our colleague to speak.
Williams: "Well Senator, what exactly have you delivered?"
Anderson: Senators, your colleague has the floor
Torkin: "Senator Williams, we all know that you met with Bezos and other elitists. But did you meet with the people who may be affected by the traffic? Or the workers who might have to be laid off due to their companies being destroyed by a massive corporation? I don't remember that, and I doubt you do either. How about you care about your cities, not the elite who run them."
Williams: "Walter, I'm getting attacked from both sides here, may I respond?"
Anderson: A quick response, Senator, and then we need to move on.
Arroyo: (chuckles) I think Senator Torkin was speaking to me, but had a minor mistake in who he is referring to.
Arroyo: Yes I have Senator. I met with residents of Los Angeles, our mayor, and our governor. And now, 25,000 new jobs are coming to our communities. Right now, three and a half million new homes are under construction. And I have a plan to help the entire United States and its infrastructure with a National Infrastructure Bank with over $500 billion in new investments by 2035. I am ready to get to work and continue my mission as president of making this economy work for all Americans.
Anderson: Senator Williams, you have 60 seconds. And then we are moving on.
Williams: To Senator Arroyo's point, I'll reiterate. I’m a public official, not a corporate lobbyist. I supported the Amazon deal before there were no public town halls to gauge the support of the people in the communities to see if they were willing to have a billion-dollar company uproot their livelihoods. I was with the deal before I realized that the rest of California was paying $100 million in tax breaks to Amazon. And I was with the deal BEFORE no promises were made on protecting worker's rights and collective bargaining abilities - which apparently is not important enough for Senator Arroyo. So yes I supported the concept, but I did not support the final product.
Anderson: Moving on to a new topic, a leak of the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota has displaced more than 100 people, and there are concerns of long-lasting environmental concerns. Senator Torkin, how do we stop these spills in the future?
Torkin: "Thank you Walter. The Keystone Pipeline is a disaster. It goes over Native American lands, and obviously, hurt those pour souls in North Dakota. First thing we need to do is provide greater subsidies for every American who uses renewables. Because it isn't a 1 step process to change from fossil fuels to renewables, and we need to commend those steps. Then, we need to relocate construction jobs in the fossil fuel sector to the renewables sector slowly and carefully. We need to expand public lands that no private company can use for their own benefit. And finally, we need to create more institutions for scientists and economists to collaborate and finalize our solution for the future."
Anderson: Senator Arroyo, how would you handle the Keystone leak as President?
Arroyo: I have promised from the beginning of my campaign that I will immediately halt construction of the Keystone Pipeline on my first day in office. In light of the recent events, however, we must act immediately to shut down the pipeline and provide federal emergency aid to the citizens of Freeman; especially those families who have been displaced. We must not stop there, however. I also pledge to reinstate President Obama’s moratorium on offshore drilling and pursue an ultimate end to the practice. Our addiction to oil is killing the environment. Climate change is one of the greatest national security threats and impending economic disasters we have ever encountered as a nation. But I believe in the ability of the American people to overcome. That is why I will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, commit over $500 billion of investments towards energy efficient infrastructure for the next fifteen years, and set the United States on track to be completely independent of foreign sources of oil like Saudi Arabia. I will make sure our cars, trains, and planes have new standards of energy efficiency and set our nation on course to making a predominantly green energy by the time my term is over as president.
Anderson: Senator Williams, what about you? How would you handle the Keystone Leak and the country's energy future?
Williams: There are two things that we need to do in response to this crisis. We need to get in and provide emergency financial support to those displaced and impacted by the spill, in the meantime, we need to make sure that TransCanada is being held accountable. When you’re being trusted to maintain these pipes and ensure spills like this don’t occur, that’s a responsibility that you don’t falter. Yet, TransCanada did falter and they ought to be held accountable! The environmental impacts of this could be massive. And ultimately we’re going to have to decide what we’re going to do: are we going to build this pipeline or not? We’ve been battling over it for two administration’s now and it has led to something like this. As president, we’ll have some clarity on this issue. Infrastructure cannot wait - and particularly energy infrastructure for the American people. We need an all the above approach that includes expansive investments in clean energy. In fact, I want us to become the world’s clean energy superpower by generating enough clean energy to power every home in America within a decade through competitive grants and public-private partnerships.
Anderson: Seems like we finally have some agreement *chuckles*.
We'll move on to an issue that has dominated American politics for four years. Immigration... Senator Arroyo, you’ve called for increased border security, including expanding the role of border enforcement agents and increasing the number of agents. This stand in stark contrast from the progressive base, which made “Abolish ICE” a major talking point in the midterms. What drives you to continue to support immigration enforcement officers?
Arroyo: First, off Walter, I have visited the ICE facilities where these children of undocumented workers are being held. And it broke my heart to see young boys and girls who look just like me held in cages. I believe each and every boy and girl being held captive should be granted immediate legal status and citizenship as well as have reparations for their suffering. It is a national travesty and embarrassment what is happening. I believe the Director of ICE and all responsible figures for this policy should immediately face criminal investigation for child abuse. We must overhaul and completely clean house in terms of ICE's leadership and practices.
When it comes to border security, I believe we do need to protect our neighborhoods and communities. There are dangerous drugs being smuggled into America. Human traffickers are pulling away children from their mothers and fathers. We need a secure border and I will work the states and Mexico to craft a comprehensive plan to do so. And we won't need a phony, archaic wall to do so. My administration will secure our border, protect every family and citizen in this country, and reunite every last child with their mother and father.
Williams: "Can I add, Walter..."
Torkin: "May I interject, Walter?"
Anderson: Let's actually bring this to Mr. Torkin. Go ahead, Senator.
Torkin: Thank you. Firstly, there are so many things that are touchy in the immigration debate that must be treaded on lightly. The first thing is, ICE is a program that has a valiant effort, but is currently mislead. I believe that most of ICE's resources should be relocated into having greater background checks and more checkups for work visas, because that's how most undocumented immigrants stay in the country. They aren't rapists, drug dealers and criminals, they are good people who need help. And we need to be tough, but also helpful. We need to give more humanitarian aid rather than defense aid to nations like Mexico to stop the problem at the source. We need to expand the Peace Corps. to help these people so they never have to illegally come here. And we need to make an easier path to citizenship for those who have overstayed their visas.
Anderson: Senator Torkin, on illegal immigration, you’ve called for voting rights for undocumented immigrants in local elections. Why should people who came to this country illegally be allowed to vote, yet we should increase efforts to remove the ones who overstay their visas?
Torkin: Well, Walter, this is a tough issue. I don't think that those who aren't accounted for in this country should have the right to vote at a nationwide level, because that's unfair to those who legally reside here. However, I don't think those who are undocumented should be forced to leave if they have established a life here for longer than 5 years. Additionally, I believe we should only toughen immigration restrictions once the path to citizenship is easier for those with less resources. Then we can start to crack down once things are actually fair.
Anderson: Senator Williams, you want to respond on the question of ICE.
Williams: Well, first of all, it is simply preposterous to afford anybody who isn't a naturalized citizen the rights afforded to naturalized or natural-born citizens. This is the time of non-sense that opens us up to attacks from the Republicans accusing us of being as ridiculous as that sort of policy sounds and it gets distorted to represent our party. In the meantime,…
Let me just say, on this issue of immigration. We’ve seen the damage done over the last four years. Kids being ripped out of their mother’s arms. Kids be displaced. Families trying to seek refuge and asylum. The people in this country who’ve contributed so much but receive so little respect from our government. We need to heal the divides in this country as it relates to seeing immigrants as ‘the other’. I don’t believe Mr. Arroyo goes far enough in his immigration proposals. He has vague references to ‘stand up against discrimination’ but where’s the teeth behind it. I have a real plan that includes ending family detention by closing private immigration centers, promoting naturalization by expanding fee waivers so more people can get a break on costs; increasing access to robust language programs to help people boost their English proficiency; and enhancing outreach and education so more people are informed about their options and engaged in the process. We can talk about ‘comprehensive reform’ but it’s about who has the know-how, the experience, and the policy heft to back it up - and rest assured, I do - because if you are willing to work hard, be a good steward of the freedoms and liberties America has to offer, then you ought to be afforded the opportunity to achieve your American dream! That’s what this country is about!
Arroyo: Walter, may I respond?
Anderson: Go ahead, Senator.
Arroyo: I don't see where Senator Williams and I disagree. I support closing all private prisons. I have called for a 21st Century Equal Rights Act to constitutionally prevent states like Arizona from discriminating against everyday Americans on the basis of their race. I support the DREAM Act, reparations and citizenship for every separated child, and offering a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants without other crimes on their record. I have also promised, unlike Senator Williams, to repeal President Trump's racist and Islamophobic travel ban to ensure our immigration process is colorblind. As president, I am going to make sure that we finally reform our immigration system, pure and simple.
Torkin: May I respond?
Anderson: In a moment, Senator.
Senator Williams, I want to press you on part of your answer... You support far wider English language programs for migrants, despite language being an important part of culture retention among migrant communities, especially Hispanic migrants. Do you worry that pushing a language change when the US has no official language will white wash Hispanic migrant culture?
Williams: It shouldn't white wash culture. Learning English should be a component to naturalization because we've got to make sure that immigrants are receiving the kinds of broad support needed to live in America with diverse options. We need to give people the tools to succeed and respect their cultural identity. It shouldn't shift their culture. We have a wide melting pot of diversity in our country and learning English is not a threat to that - and never will be.
Anderson: Senator Torkin, go ahead and respond.
Torkin: I completely agree with Senator Williams. The phrase isn't 'give me your tired, your sick, your huddled masses... who happen to speak English.' We accept all who are peaceful and believe in the American dream. However, we should certainly give assets for immigrants to learn English if they so choose. It's a useful skill in this country that will allow for greater communication and understanding between native born Americans and new ones. This is a government service that will have great impacts on our economy, with said communication, and by tearing down social barriers we will have a more prosperous nation.
Anderson: Thank you.... We'll move on to our final topic, trade.
President Trump has made passing the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement before he leaves office, which has been one of the most important issues facing the country. Senator Arroyo, you’ve promised to renegotiate NAFTA. How would your deal look different from both NAFTA and the USMCA?
Arroyo: Thank you Walter. I will make sure that our trade policy respects the intellectual property and currency of every nation we enter trade agreements with. That means we will rework NAFTA so Mexico cannot sink its currency again like it did in the 1990s and siphon away our manufacturing jobs. No trade deal, whether it's the WTO, NAFTA, or USMCA is a fair-trade deal if it does not protect American workers from currency manipulation and fraud. As president, I will bring these trade agreements to the front of the national spotlight, bring our jobs back, and ensure no foreign country can steal away the livelihoods of American families.
Anderson: Senator Williams, you don't discuss either the USMCA or NAFTA in your platform. What would be your plans as President regarding North American trade?
Williams: I believe strongly that it is good for workers and the broader economy as a whole when we trade with the rest of the world. I will work tireless to engage with other countries, including Mexico and Canada, to get their products here and our products there. We need to make sure we're providing expanded economic opportunities by opening up other markets for more family farms and other small businesses. Ultimately this will result in more prosperity and more jobs. And on the issue of creating jobs. I’ll put my plans up against anyone’s. I have by far the most comprehensive plan to harness America’s entrepreneurial spirit and value to extend access to opportunity and jobs throughout this country. It begins first by making sure every child in America has the education and training that will actually prepare them for the new economy. My K-12 plan, and particularly my Opportunity Fund for young people entering adult society, prepares every generation that follows to go into the workforce with robust wind at their backs. In the meantime, we’re going to create a public fund that backs small to medium business loans and investments so that risk capital is available to millions more entrepreneurs in places that have been left out and left behind. To further connect people to where the jobs are at, we are going to prepare people with the skills they need. I’ve proposed an apprenticeship program that will proactively engage local employers and unions across a range of industries, identify workforce needs, and support employers as they design and implement programs to connect young Americans in developing valuable skills to add productive value while on the job in industries such as advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology, and healthcare. We’re going to uplift Rural America by spurring investment in small business and infrastructure through a proposed Infrastructure Bank and my proposed public fund to back small business loans in places underserved by investment and capital in this country. We’ll also invest in vital infrastructure to improve rural transportation and broadband access. We will support family farms through increased funding to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers in local food markets and regional food systems and create a safety net to help family farms get through challenging times.
Anderson: Senator Torkin, what are your plans for North American trade?
Torkin: Well, we need to firstly unite our industries by selecting different duties for each country. For example, if we were on the topic of aluminum, which President Trump has put major tariffs on, perhaps Canada would be in charge of physically mining the material, the US would be in charge of freating parts from that material, and then Mexico would assemble it into a machine. Its a plan I call the 'global assembly line'. it unites our three countries, and simplifies the system into a basic goal every country should achieve. These guidelines would not only unite our three countries, but also create a system in which we are not competing for jobs and are working together with our own jobs. We put America first while not overtaking the other countries' goals.
Arroyo: I'd appreciate the chance to respond.
Anderson: Senator Arroyo, go ahead.
Arroyo: As we close tonight’s debate, I think the topic of trade and the economy highlights the difference between all of us here on stage. Senator Williams chose to spend her leadup and early days of the campaign at Martha’s Vineyard with Wall Street elites. She promised to deregulate the big banks and leave NAFTA and other unbalanced trade agreements untouched.. I, on the hand, was visiting working class neighborhoods and discussing how we can renegotiate NAFTA in order to stop currency manipulation, bring back our jobs with tax relief for businesses that hire American, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and establish a National Infrastructure Bank to get unemployed Americans back into good paying jobs. It is time for a new economy and trade policy that is designed to benefit all people instead of just stockbrokers and hedge fund managers. Having toured this country and met with the hard-nosed, no nonsense citizens who make this country what it is, I am confident that America is ready for new leadership and a new vision in the White House. And I will deliver both as your president.
Torkin: If I may interject, we already have a President who attacks the character of his political opponents, Senator Arroyo. Please don't try to give us another one.
Anderson: Senator Williams, did you want to respond?
Williams: Mr. Arroyo chooses to grovel in the mud, I won't join him. Let me focus on something positive. We have a chance to completely renew our country - renew possibilities in America. I'm up for that challenge. My vision of America is where everybody has a chance. This requires providing hope through opportunities for people from birth - onward. That is why I am the only candidate in this race that has proposed a universal child savings account. As president, I would account for and make a commitment to every child born in America - one that would outlive my presidency - in which every 18 year old in this country that graduates high school will a stellar citizenship record and record community service under their belt would be provided an opportunity fund of $21,600 to spend on education, housing, to begin a family and enter the workforce strongly. This is about giving everybody in America a chance - forging a compact that leads to the restoration of the American dream. I have the experience to get it done and make this new idea a reality. I just need your support. Let's unite this country and heal the wounds of partisanship, I'm ready and willing!
Anderson: Thank you. We’ll be back for closing statements right after these messages from a sponsor.
Anderson: For closing statements, we’ll begin with Senator Arroyo. You have 4 minutes.
Arroyo: Thank you, Walter. And thank you Senator Williams and Torkin. Right now, we face an important crossroads as a country. Any one of us three here would be better than four more years of a Trump Republican. However, we don't strive as Americans to just do better. We strive to be the best we can be. And the last four years are far beneath what we deserve and were promised by Americans. The time has come for America to ascend to new heights again. We must fight to restore the promise of America so no child, wherever they live or their background, can grow up to fulfill their wildest dreams. I have been blessed to live the American dream. And the spirit of this country that got me here to this stage today can carry our country up and onward to the next horizon of opportunity and prosperity. Let us begin this journey together.
Anderson: Senator Williams, your closing statement.
Williams: Thanks to all for those participating and hosting this debate. America, this is our moment. This is our moment to restore our country, once again. We need to rebuild the bonds of trust within each of our communities and between our people and our government. We need to unite behind a vision of opportunity, responsibility and community. We need to unite behind protecting and upholding our God-given Constitutional rights. We need to combat fear. We need to unite behind a vision of breaking barriers to equality and inclusiveness. We need to unite behind the history of breaking that highest, hardest glass ceiling once and for all! We need to do it for the young girls and boys. We need to do it for working families of all communities and cultures. We need to do it for the sake of the benevolent people, our national community. If you believe we need to restore America. If you believe in a vision of hope, equality, and freedom. I am your candidate. I want all you to join millions of people across the land in watch parties to see my official campaign launch rally. Let’s do this together!
Anderson: And Senator Torkin.
Torkin: Thank you for having me tonight, Walter. Maybe I wasn't that bombastic tonight, but also that might be a good thing. We need a leader who listens and doesn't have to defend themselves from scandal, personal greed or any attempts to degrade their character. We need someone who can be a friend to all, and understands all struggles. We need someone who can avoid controversy but also bring revolutionary ideas to the table. We need someone who puts America over themselves or their own interests. We need someone who cares about the land everyone has. We need someone who cares about equal opportunities for all Americans, regardless of what group they may belong to. We need someone who loves America enough to constructively criticize it and change things for the greater good. We need someone who can look at states not as red or blue, but as people who need equal value to everyone else. We need someone who can make compromise with all fairly elected leaders, regardless of political leanings. I think I fit all of those titles. And when I'm President of the United States, prepare to be listened to, because I know you have a lot to talk about! (laughs)
Anderson: On behalf of everyone here at ANC, and each of the candidates, thank you for watching tonight’s ANC Democratic Presidential Debate. Goodnight!