Amy Klobuchar - Fighting for an America That Leaves No One Behind - Extended Interview

Extended - August 22, 2017 - Amy Klobuchar 08/22/2017 Views: 39,627

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar gives her take on some of the major issues facing Americans, from the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs to assaults on voting rights. (12:31)

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Please welcome Democraticsenator Amy Klobuchar.

(applause and cheering)

Welcome to the show, Senator.

Well, thank you.It is great to be on.

Uh, may I just say, you have oneof the most impressive resumes

I have ever come acrossin my life,

and not-not the workthat you've done

before you gotinto the Senate--

which is extremely impressive--

but the fact that you havepassed so much legislation.

You are...you're like a homerun hitter

when it comes to legislation.

In a town where they saynothing gets done,

how do you get it done?

Well, the first part of this

is believing in thatyou're there for a reason.

The second is to find peopleand meet them where they are.

Find that common ground,

and not just common ground,but higher ground,

-whether it's taking on opioids,human trafficking. -Right.

And then, the last thing is,memo to The White House:

be civil... to the people.

-Like, big surprise! -Right.-(applause and cheering)

-You can get things done.-Just being nice.

It works.

Uh, well, it-it really hasserved you well.

I mean, you have been rankedas first on a list

of all 100 senatorswith the most bills

that have been enacted into lawduring the current Congress.

-(applause and cheering)-Which is amazing.

Uh, do you walk around the hallswith a bit of like,

-"Yeah, that's me.That's me."? -(laughter)

No. I think it's a good timein politics to be humble.

-Right. -Uh, and...-(laughter)

-Very nicely said.Very nicely said. -Exactly.

-(applause)-Thank you. Thank you.

Uh, and then to also understandthat, yes, we passed some bills,

uh, and there are peopleon both sides of the aisle

-that want to work togetherand find compromise. -Uh-huh.

But the people in this countryare facing major, major issues.

-Right. -Uh, it is reallygetting hard for them to get by,

-whether it's, you know,paying for cable... -Uh-huh.

...payingfor prescription drugs.

And that's what you gotto remember, because...

Well, let's-let's talking aboutthe paying

for prescription drugs,'cause that's-that's something

that's close to your heart.

Your daughter is a userof the EpiPen, correct?

Mm-hmm. She's somewhereout there. That's why I...

Some... Like, in the audienceor in life?

Yeah. That's why I liked whenyou were saying how great I was,

-'cause, you know, she's here.Yeah, that's... -Oh, she's here?

Oh, 'cause when you said,"She's somewhere out there,"

-Yeah. -I was like,"Oh, I-I think we've lost her."

-(laughter)-Yeah, that was very cool.

-But, um... -Yeah.-(applause and cheering)

Your...

-So your daughter is a userof the EpiPen? -Yes.

And this was oneof those stories

in the U.S. that became big

because the price of Americandrugs has been skyrocketing.

Uh, critics have saidit needs to come down,

but then the criticson the other side have gone,

"Yeah, but you can'tbring it down

because that'll stifleinnovation."

-Is that true?-I don't believe so

because I thinkthe better question is,

why, in the United Statesof America,

of any developed nationin the world,

-do our drugs cost the most?-Right.

That is wrong.

Four of the top ten best-sellingdrugs in America

have gone up over 100%

in their priceover the last few years.

So, it's not just EpiPen.

-It is everything from insulinon down. -Uh-huh.

So what we need here, uh,is, first of all,

to say to the bigpharmaceutical companies--

-you can't own Washington, D.C.-Right.

Because that'swhat's been happening.

-The second thing... -Beforeyou go to the second thing,

if you go backto the first thing.

Uh, for some people,they would say

the price of drugs in Americais not just determined

by the pharmaceutical companies,but also the fact

that they are the developersof the drugs.

So many countries in the worldget to create

a generic version of that.

How true does that ring to you?

Well, they havedeveloped drugs--

they should be paid for that.

-But they're being more thanpaid for that. -I understand.

They basically have a monopoly.

And so what you dois you guarantee

that there's some competition.

And the oppositehas been happening.

So one, we should be ableto bring in less expensive drugs

-from safe places like Canada.-Right.

In Minnesota, we can see Canadafrom our porch,

and we see thoseless expensive prices

right across the border.

So Senator McCain and Icame together

-Oh, wow. -and introduced a billto allow us to buy those drugs.

Secondly,big pharmaceutical companies

are paying off generic companies

to actually keep their productsoff the market.

We could save $3 billionover ten years,

according tothe Congressional Budget Office.

Who has that bill?Senator Grassley and myself.

Again, a Republican.

These bills should comefor a vote before the Senate.

And why don't we unleashthe bargaining power

of 41 million American seniors?

They're kind of a tough crowd.

-They like to get bargains,okay? -Oh, we know. Oh, we know.

Okay, so why don't we let themnegotiate for less prices,

and lift the ban

on allowing them to negotiateunder Medicare.

It's just wrong.

(cheering, applause)

The, um...

the other piece of legislationyou're working on

that's really interesting--

to myselfand I guess many people--

is voter rights.

We've seen-- especiallyunder the Trump administration

with Jeff Sessions-- that thereseems to be a concerted effort

to try and stifle voter rightsin America.

It's a worrying trend.

It seems like oneof the most pressing problems

that America will facewithin its democracy.

Looking at that,you have come up

with a few interesting ideas.

How do you think Americagoes about fixing the problem

of voter suppression?

Well, you have to lookat the problem first.

We hear a lot about Russia,and that is a serious thing.

But there's not just a problemfrom outside

of someone tryingto influence our election,

-it's in the inside.-Right.

You have three-hour waitsin Arizona

in the last primary to vote.

Hundred miles for peopleto drive to a polling place

in some of our states.

One of the more conservativecircuit courts saying

that North Carolinahad discriminated

with "surgical precision."

-Those are their words,not mine. -Right.

And so what do you do?

Well, why don't we just let--

given that they are literallyafraid of people voting--

why don't we just letevery 18-year-old

who is eligible to vote,automatically register them.

Why don't we do that?

-(cheering, applause)-They are... if they have...

-Then they can just go to votewhere they are. -Why don't...

Why-why don't we do that?

-No, that's a great question.-Because...

-Why don't-- Is there a rule?-There are...

-Like, why don't they do that?-There are a bunch of people

that are afraidof people voting.

And I'm not afraidof people voting.

And by the way, in my state,

we have the highestvoter turnout.

We have-- in the country,in the last election--

and we haven't just votedfor Democrats.

Uh, we have voted forRepublicans, uh,

and we have voted for a lotof Independents.

If you don't believe me,I have three words for you:

Governor Jesse Ventura,all right?

Uh, and so, you know, I justthink that you should

unleash the power of America.

This is a race issue,of course.

-This is an income issue.-Right.

But more than anything,it's a civil liberty issue.

Our democracy is foundedon the simple idea

that people should havethe freedom to vote.

How hard would it beto implement, though?

How do you-- It sounds likea great idea.

Everyone who turns 18is eligible to vote.

How do you implement itand how do you make sure

that people who turn 18

who are not supposed to beregistered to vote,

-don't get registered?-Right, exactly.

Well, first of all, um,if we're living in a time

where Target,my hometown company,

can find a pair of shoes inHawaii with a SKU number,

we should be able to figure outwho's eligible to vote.

Um, and, uh, you know,Oregon has just done this.

Their governor out there,Kate Brown,

uh, got this signed into law.

And so what you do

is when people applyfor their driver's license,

you automatically register them.

When they get their-- with theirsocial security number,

then when they turn 18.

Of course you make sure thatthey're legal citizens.

You make sure that if you'rein a state where there's--

You can't-- If you are in astate where you can't vote

when you're on-- when you'vebeen convicted of a felony,

and you're still on probation,

you make sure that they aren'table to vote at that moment.

Which is another rulethat should change,

-when you look at Americaas a whole. -Yes, but...

-There's many thingsthat should change, -Right.

but the point is, is thatwe have to make it easier

for people to vote,not harder.

That is what this democracy--And if you want

to bring those prices ofprescription drugs down,

you have to make it easierfor people to vote.

-Wow. Um, let's...-It's all connected.

Let's talk about thingsthat are connected.

You're looking at voting,

you're looking at a lot of stateraces that are coming up.

Your seat is up in 2018, right?

And you're going to berunning again.

A lot of peopleseem to be worried

that the Democratsdon't have a plan.

The Democrats may not havetheir identity in check.

You're in Minnesota.

I think Hillary only won bya point and a half.

It was closer than many peoplewould have liked.

And 19 of the countiesthat voted for Obama

flipped over to Donald Trump.

Looking at that, looking atthe voters who flipped sides,

what do you thinkthe Democrats need to do?

What messagedo they need to give

to win back votersand to get the people

who didn't bother to voteat all?

We should leave no one behind.

And I think a lotof people felt left behind.

It wasn't necessarily thepolicies we were putting out.

Some of it was that,but some of it was the fact

that there wasn't enough focuson the economy,

-and what mattered to peoplein their daily lives. -Right.

And we can't leave the middleof the country behind, right?

My husband'sthe third of six boys,

and maybe one time he got lostand left at a gas station,

-and no one noticed.-(laughter)

-We can't leave anyone behindat the gas station. -Right.

Um, and so, uh, uh,this means, uh, for me,

I visit all 87 of Minnesotacounties every single year.

I have gone to...In some of the counties,

I have practically met everyone.I've gone to every cafe,

every business.Uh, at one point my staff

had me go to a businesscalled Insect Inferno, uh,

where I got into a truckwith a big sign on the side

that said"We Kill Bedbugs With Heat."

-Um, and so my messageto you there... -(laughing)

I know.

You're welcome to visit.No, my-my message there is--

someone once said this--you don't just go where

-it's comfortable, you go whereit's uncomfortable. -Right.

And that's why you see,in this 2018 election,

strong, incredible,uh, candidates that...

On... Fromthe Democratic side, here.

Like Heidi Heitkamp,Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin,

Clair McCaskill of Missouri,Joe Donnelly-- they are...

Debbie Stabenow--those Midwestern senators--

uh, they areleaving no stone unturned,

and they are reaching outto people in their state

even if they don'tagree with them.

-That's what you have to do.-Now... let's talk about

-not leaving people behind.-(cheering, applause)

Let's talk aboutnot leaving people behind.

Let's talk aboutthe idea of making sure

that everyone feels like they'repart of the conversation.

Recently, the Democratshave started to notice, uh,

a rift in the party, in thatsome Democrats are saying

it's time to have Democratsrunning for office

even if they may not agree withall the Democratic principles,

such as pro-choice orcertain taxes or... Just ideas

that are commonly associatedwith being a Democrat.

Other people, likeElizabeth Warren, have come out

and said, "No, if you are notgoing to be pro-life..."

I mean, "if you're notgonna be pro-choice,

then the Democratic partyis not for you."

How do you see the Democrats

navigating that quagmire?

Well, we have a clear platform,um, and that is that

we are, uh, we believethat a woman has a right

to choose her own destiny.Uh, we are pro-choice.

Uh, but I know, in my state,honestly, there are people, uh,

that vote for meor vote Democratic

that don't agree with that.But they... yet they agree

with us that you should be ableto afford college, right?

Uh, they agree that,uh, you should be smart, um,

about how you,um, uh, move forward

when it comes to foreign policy.

Um, they didn't like thatwe got into the war in Iraq.

I would have people come up tome and say, "Look, I'm pro-life.

"I don't agree with you on that.Uh, but I do agree with you

-that we need to get out ofthe war in Iraq, okay?" -Right.

-So I don't believe those peopleshould left be-behind. -Uh-huh.

And while I believe in theplatform of our party, strongly,

I believe that, uh, one ofthe dumbest things we could do

is defund Planned Parenthoodwhen that's where

a great majority of womenin this country, uh,

-get their health care.-(cheering, applause)

Um, and as far as our party--

and Elizabeth and I, uh,serve together in leadership--

I was proud of our party whenwe took that heath care vote,

that in the president's ownwords, on this "mean" bill

that would have kicked20 million people

off of heath insurance,our party,

from Joe Manchinto Bernie Sanders,

stood together fromthe beginning to the end,

and that is why three courageousRepublicans joined us.

And if we had not stood togetherthat would not have happened.

-That's what happened.-(cheering, applause)

I'm excited to see,uh, how the race pans out.

-I'm excited to have you onas a guest again. -Okay.

-It was great to be on.Thank you. -Thank you so much.

Senator Amy Klobuchar,everybody.

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