I snapped a selfie with Anderson Cooper at the CNN Town Hall at Drake University on Jan. 25, 2016

CNN Democratic Town Hall at Drake University: My Take

“Hey, do you need help getting up the stairs?” I heard a voice from behind me ask. I swiveled around. I first noticed a CNN aide, and then another man behind him. That man was Anderson Cooper. Not going to lie, I did a double take. “Oh my goodness, HI ANDERSON!” I said way too enthusiastically. He responded and was definitely in a hurry. “I want your job some day,” I scrambled to say as I hobbled up the stairs. Getting ACL surgery three weeks before the Iowa Caucus definitely had worked in my favor.

The CNN Town Hall was the most productive event I have witnessed during the Iowa Caucus. Each Democratic candidate gave an authentic version of their values and policies. The Democratic party throughout the night praised inclusion and respect for everyone in America. This is an ideal I can rally behind. Here is a quick synopsis of the night:

Senator Bernie Sanders

  • His issue is income inequality, and he touts it proud. So do his supporters. Income inequality is a problem- the top .1% of earners have more money than the bottom 90% of the U.S. population. He wants to raise the minimum wage, expand Social Security, and provide Medicare for all. He plans on doing this by taxing banks on speculation and eliminating tax inversions.
  • He touts his record on Planned Parenthood, with a “100% positive voting record in favor of women’s rights.
  • On gun violence, he says he is an “enemy” of the NRA and even back in the 1970s supported a ban on assault rifles.
  • Sen. Sanders proposals will immensely enlarge the federal government.

>> My Take He is the perfectly progressive candidate, and sticks to his principles. But, his proposals, like free-college tuition seem too good to be true. In order to get his drastic progressive agenda passed, Sen. Sanders will have to work with Congress. Just a wild guess… Congress might not “feel the Bern”.

>> Most Notable Moment: Bernie Sanders was asked about what his parents would think if they saw their son running for president today. The whole crowd was silent, and Sen. Sanders showed a more personal side. He explained his humble beginnings, in a three bedroom rent controlled apartment in New York, and said that his parents probably wouldn’t believe that he could be a U.S. Senator, let alone run for president.

>> Quotable: When Chris Cuomo said he was tired from standing during the show, Bernie responded, “You would be a lot more tired if you followed me around all day!”

Governor Martin O’Malley

  • Gov. O’Malley has executive experience. As Governor of Maryland (2007–2015) and Mayor of Baltimore (1999–2007) he has implemented programs focused on the criminal justice system and education.
  • O’Malley oversaw criminal justice reforms and crimes in Baltimore decreased. He decriminalized the possession of marijuana and provided drug rehabilitation services in his state. He also repealed the death penalty.
  • O’Malley wants to legalize the 11 million undocumented immigrants within the U.S., he spoke about comprehensive immigration form.
  • O’Malley, in contrast to Sanders, said he believes in fair market American capitalism, but fair market means freedom from monopolies and the concentration of corporate power. O’Malley said he was frustrated with trickle down economics.
  • He believes in equal pay for equal work, and gradually raising the minimum wage. In Maryland, he raised the minimum wage to $10.10 for state workers.
  • When asked about the largest issue facing young Americans today, O’Malley responded that it was climate change.

>> My Take: O’Malley is a qualified candidate, but for some reason the polls don’t agree with him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the next Vice President. He is my favorite Democrat in the race. Maybe if he wins the White House he will continue to serenade the masses with his guitar and sultry voice…

>> Most Notable Moment: When Chris Cuomo asked O’Malley if he will be a viable candidate, he gave a rallying cry to his supporters, and told them to “hold strong” because anything can happen. He says Iowa has always found a way to sort through the noise and prop up lesser known candidates. Despite the polls, he is running to win.

>> Quotable: “I am the only one of the three of us who has a track record of bringing people together.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

  • Clinton has a record on foreign policy that prides itself in diplomacy. She has first hand experience with world leaders, and has already developed relationships around the world. She helped negotiate sanctions against Iran rather than letting other countries use military force to ensure Iran would not become a nuclear state.
  • Clinton strongly supports women’s rights, with the firm assertion that human rights are women’s rights.
  • Clinton has advocated for universal health care since she was First Lady, and believes that opponents spent millions on attack ads for her health care campaign. Eventually, she succeeded in getting healthcare for millions of children within the U.S. She will reform and work with the ACA.
  • During the town hall Clinton spent time explaining that she has been on the forefront of change her entire life, and that many continue to attack her while she campaigns. She says when she is in office, many people love her, but when she is campaigning, the attack ads never stop.
  • Clinton was asked about her emails being disclosed to the public, but her response was unclear on whether or not she should have apologized for using her personal email address for state affairs sooner.

>> My Take: I was honestly surprised with Hillary Clinton’s performance, and I definitely gained more positive vibes from HRC after the CNN town hall. I liked that she seemed more authentic in addressing questions and more impassioned with many of her responses to constituents. Yet, Clinton was evasive when asked about her emails. I think this will continue to haunt Clinton in the long run. Although fellow Dems might not be worried about Clinton’s emails, it is a no-brainer that Republicans will continue to attack her on the issue. Nevertheless, Hillary is poised as the next Commander-In-Chief, and I would much rather have President Hillary than any of the current Republican front runners.

>> Most Notable Moment: My personal favorite was when HRC explained her own account of the tragedy in Benghazi. She said that with any other terrorist attack, people have come together to ensure that it would not happen again. Instead, the nation became divided over this attack, with Republicans trying to place all of the blame on Clinton. Republicans held Clinton to the fire, blaming her for the botched response without moving forward. She argued that no other terrorist attack in previous administrations had been a partisan issue — citing numerous examples during the Reagan and Bush administrations where Democrats and Republicans united so that terrorist attacks could be prevented in the future.

>> Quotable: “I’ve been going a long time, and I keep going forward. They throw all this stuff at me, and you know what? I’m still standing.”