Live debate in Atlanta co-hosted by CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Dana Bash:
First question: Perez, you’ve said Democrats should hit Trump between the eyes with a 2-by-4, treat him like McConnell treated Obama. Would you work with President Trump or work stop him?
PEREZ: This person wants to turn the clock back. The Democratic Party needs to take the fight to Donald Trump.
(Note: Perez’s voice is hoarse, but he’s still going.)
BUTTIGIEG: No question we have to take the fight to Donald Trump… but it’s also not all about Donald Trump.
Make sure we’re talking about our values.
Donald Trump is like a computer virus on the American political system.
Second question: Ellison – three house colleagues raise specter of impeachment. Do you stand with them?
ELLISON: Trump has already done number of things that raise question of impeachment.
On Day 1, he was in violation of the Emolument Clause.
It is not only about Donald Trump, it is about the integrity of the presidency.
Begin investigations, not to go after Donald Trump, but to protect the integrity of the institutions.
GREENE: Absolutely. When he commits impeachable offense, the Democratic Party has to be the last line of defense.
This man is marching us toward fascism.
Third Question: Buttigieg – You called Trump “draft dodging chickenhawk” in previous event. Is that way Dems should talk about Commander in Chief?
RONAN: Trump is a draft dodger trying to send us into more frivolous wars.
Not enough to condemn Trump. Look at his administration.
Fourth Question: Harrison – easy to be negative, but is that enough? Criticism in 2016 that Dems didn”t have positive message.
HARRISON: I served in House when Dems retook majority in 2006. Pelosi said we have to take them down and then show tham hat we are for.
Unprecedented to have president go after judiciary and media with such vitriol.
We have to paint that picture, but at same time have to show, not tell.
Show American people what we are all about, not just words but actions.
Fifth Question: Peckarsky – what is case for the Democrats right now?
PECKARSKY: Reenergize the entire party from the ground up.
Donald Trump not suited for the office.
Not just issue of taking on Trump, lot of reforms party has to engage.
Sixth Question: Ellison – criticized Trump for not speaking on antisemitism. You have questions about antisemitism. What do you say?
Invoked memory of the St. Louis – Jews fleeing the Third Reich were turned away by US government in Cuba. Many of them died during the Holocaust.
These are smears, we’re fighting back.
Critical that we speak out. Jewish cemetery being defaced. Jewish community centers getting bomb threats.
Cuomo: You said in 2010 not to see Middle East through prism of Israel… What do you ay to critics?
ELLISON: You can trust when I am DNC chair, that relationship will continue.
Seventh Question: How do you build bridge between Democrats who voted for Trump and Democrats who stayed loyal to the party?
BOYNTON BROWN: Dem party needs overarching message for all Americans. Values based message that says who we are.
Teach each other empathy skills to sit in conversations ,ask why we do what we do, then agree on
BUTTIGIEG: In South Bend, those folks in the same room. What we have to do as party is recognize that struggle for belonging is same, blue collar worker, transgender kid.
Eighth Question: Republicans facing protests. How can Democrats harness energy?
GREENE: Dem party has unique transformative opportunity to open our doors to people who decided to start organizations without working with the party.
Ninth Question: New Progressive PAC vowed to pressure Dems who don’t oppose Trump enough. Threat of primary from left. Is obstruction right strategy to win in state like yours?
RONAN: No. It isn’t enough to offer minorities, give them little seat at the table.
Must embrace leadership and remove our thumb/heel. They will flourish.
Tenth Question: Uphill battle for Senate Democrats to iwn majority. McCaskill worried about primary challenge because critics don’t think she’s pure. Is purity test a bad idea?
PEREZ: Get back to basics. Have to make house calls. Guy in NW Wisconsin said “I feel politically homeless” because Democratic Party had given up on rural Wisconsin.
Q: If you’re DNC chair and there are challenges from left to incumbent Democrats, will yu cheer that?
PEREZ: Let the process run its course.
This energy is electric. January 20 was important day, but January 21 more important.
People standing up, running for office.
ELLISON: Role of DNC is to be neutral and fair to all primary contestants.
I will not publicly shame any Democrat in a primary.
Donald Trump, as deceptive as he was, said he was for jobs, infrastructure, social security. That’s our message.
HARRISON: Republicans need 7 seats in Senate to get to 60. They need one more state to call constitutional convention. If Dems want to be in minority let’s spend our energy fighting each other. We have to fight back against the Republicans, we can’t fight each other.
Q: Trump asserts 3M people voted illegally without proof. Perception caught fire. What would be wrong with more voter ID laws?
PECKARSKY: What would be wrong with more voter ID laws? The ones that exist are in general violation of consttution.
Republican Party chose to disenfranchise people because of color of their skin.
As far as Trump, if he has proof of a crime, he ought to offer it. Be sworn in and say “Here are names of the 3M people that I know of personally that voted illegally.”
Q: Tell average person why voter ID law is a problem?
PEREZ: In Texas, have to drive 120 miles to get an ID. If you are poor, that is a poll tax.
GREENE: Dem party has to shift battle from voter suppression to voter expansion. Embrace universal registration. We have to beat them at own game.
ELLISON: Minnesota GOP put on 2012 ballot a voter ID law. I devoted my entire campaign to defeating it
Q: How do you ensure Democratic Party is party of working people?
PEREZ: In my campaign, I decided not to take mone yfrom lobbyists and corporations. Need to have this conversation at the DNC.
Need to understand intended and unintended consequences. A friend couldn’t work in Obama administration for two years because he was lobbyist for tobacco-free kids.
These are important questions.
RONAN: Perception is everything. Other part is divisiveness.
We have pushed so many people out of party over course of many years because of issues like gun control.
When we were party of FDR and had something to fight for, we were greatest party on earth. Got in bed with big business.
PECKARSKY: Energize party locally, find out what hapepning on local basis
Other ways to raise funds, in small amounts.
Critical issue is what everyone will do to protect the electoral process.
BOYNTON BROWN: I was first candidate to support Christine Pelosi resolution coming before the DNC.
Have to get money out of politics so we have politicians who reflect our people.
Q: Perez and Ellison went out for dinner recently. DId you cut a deal?
ELLISON: No deal. We said unity for this party is so essential. If I win, I can count on Tom. If Tom wins, he can count on me. Goes for everybody here.
I’m proud to have support of Ray Buckley. We should work together, need to be a team.
PEREZ: I have traveled to Keith’s district as Labor Secretary because we worked on same things.
Most important principle we need to understand: unified Dem party is not only our best hope, but Trump’s worst nightmare.
Q: Buttigieg – bring thisup. Metaphor of the dinner was who had seat at the table? Intrigue… Is it important that party in rebuilding recognizes sense there that hasn’t been equal playing field for everybody.
BUTTIGIEG: We have been party of fairness, but mantle stolen from us by Donald Trump.
Started sounding like system is fine, which is not true.
Next time secty and congressman want to get cheeseburger, do it in South Bend.
When you’re from a community like that… find your own town studied with exotic fascination, people… not a mystery. They voted for Obama, voted for Trump, voted for Pence, and voted for me.
We have to understand what’s on their mind.
Q: Why should you be DNC Chair?
PECKARSKY: I will reform the party. Understand the tech involved and the electoral system. Key is reenergizing the party.
RONAN: Why here today… I was active duty four years ago. Saw lack of commitment, spine, courarage. 2013 government shutdown.
About truly reengaging that which has been lost.
BOYNTON BROWN: Important young women understand they can do anything, don’t have to wait for permission.
I’m excited because I want to make DNC service-based organization for 21st century.
GREENE: This is transformative moment for our party and our country.
Need someone who can increase turnout – I’ve done that at Rock the Vote.
Need someone able to innovate how we operate as a party.
If we are going to tap into this moment, politics as usual not going to cut it.
Need leader not afraid of saying uncomfortable truths.
HARRISON: Chief job is party building.
I’ve done that in SC, we’re still doing it.
Visionary who is not just thinking about next election cycle, but 2,5, 10 years down the road.
I started out in life ehind the starting line. I know what poverty looks like.
Only chair on food stamps, who lost their hom twice. That’s what we need in our next chair.
BUTTIGIEG: This is test whether DNC ready for change.
New generation of leader.
Solution not coming from Washington.
This is our future. I helped turn around a city. Now is time to turn around our party.
ELLISON: I have burning conviction Dem party have to stand for working people of this country.
We need party that fights for us.
DNC has to win elections. On this stage, I’ve won more. Stood for election 13 times and won them all. Up and down the line, Dems statewide in Minnesota.
I’ve raied more than $1M for my state party .
PEREZ: Need a leader who can take fight to Donald Trump.
When Hope on the ballot we win. When fear on ballot we lose.
Need someone who understands intersection of all these parts.
Organization has crisis of confidence and crisis of relevance.