UPDATE 10:00 p.m. EST--When asked how she plans to fund the Social Security trust fund moving forward to make sure it is secure, Clinton said she will not privatize it. Instead, she wants to extend the fund.
In terms of education, Clinton said the focus needs to be on disadvantaged kids, and that she wants to expand the school day and school year, arguing that doing so actually produces results.
In response to a question regarding how she plans to harness the power of forgiveness to heal divisions, Clinton said she would try to begin bringing people together from different backgrounds.
“I would not be standing here if I had not been forgiven many times…or forgiven myself,” said Clinton.
UPDATE 9:30 p.m. EST--Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the stage next, and agreed that she will release transcripts of speeches she had made to Wall Street and Goldman Sachs as long as everyone else does, including Republican candidates. She emphasized her track record of calling out Wall Street.
As he did with rival candidate Bernie Sanders, moderator Chris Cuomo asked Clinton for her input on President Barack Obama’s decision to shut down the prison in Guantanamo Bay. Echoing Sanders’ sentiment, Clinton said she agreed with Obama’s decision.
“Where they (the Guantanamo prison transfers) end up should be a matter of negotiation,” said Clinton.
Touting her foreign policy knowledge, Clinton said she hopes the ceasefire will take hold in Syria to stop the Russian bombing that has been taking place in support of the Assad regime, and touched on Libya.
“I want to give the people of Libya a chance of actually forming a government," Clinton said. “I’m hoping we can give them the time and space to actually make a difference for their country in the future…they had an election. And it was a good election … that was an amazing accomplishment.”
In response to a question about how she will help fix racial relations in the U.S., Clinton asked five women in the crowd to stand. They included Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died in a police chokehold in New York City, and Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, 17, who was shot to death by George Zimmerman in Florida.
“These five women have lost children to police actions and to random, senseless violence," said Clinton. “There is a racial component to it…I think it’s important for people, particularly for white people, to be honest about those," she said. “Our experiences may not equip us to understand what our African-American citizens go through every day."
Cuomo asked Clinton to weigh in on Beyoncé’s controversial Super Bowl performance, after which police officers argued that they felt like they were targeted. Clinton said that there is work to be done, and the correct response is to respect the police, try to help more police follow that example and hold police officers more accountable.
A young voter asked Clinton how her education at a women’s college helped prepare her for running for president.
“What I got out of going to a women’s college, women ran everything,” Clinton said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
When the former secretary of state was questioned about the generational gap between Sanders’ supporters and her own backers, she said she did not know why that was the case, and then delved into her plan to address student debt and to allow refinancing at a lower interest rate.
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) February 24, 2016
UPDATE 8:55 p.m. EST--In response to rival Hillary Clinton’s charge that he is a single-issue candidate who blames Wall Street for everything, Bernie Sanders listed numerous causes he has advocated for including higher minimum wage, healthcare, taxes, infrastructure and women’s issues.
The Democratic candidate pledged that he will not behold to any special interests in office, citing that he has received 4 million contributions from more than 1 million people, and the average contribution was $27.
“Those are the people I will stand for and fight for," said Sanders.
A young voter asked Sanders what he will do to help combat cigarette smoking, and Sanders linked the issue back to the greed of corporate America. To solve the problem, Sanders said that the U.S. needs to take on the tobacco industry and suggested raising cigarette taxes.
“Taking on the tobacco industry is something I would enjoy doing very, very much,” said Sanders.
Sanders's closing case: "It is too late, in my view, for establishment politics and establishment economics." #DemTownHall
— Michele Gorman (@mrich1201) February 24, 2016
UPDATE 8:30 p.m. EST-- Vermont Sen. and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders kicked off Tuesday night’s town hall on CNN by talking about the progress his campaign has made —adding that he thinks people are positively responding to his overall message of the need for a political revolution.
He said he would be happy to hand over any transcripts of paid speeches he had given in the past. “ I am very happy to release all of my paid speeches to Wall Street," said Sanders. "Here it is, Chris, there ain’t none! ”
Moderator Chris Cuomo asked Sanders to weigh in on President Barack Obama’s recent decision to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and Sanders said he agreed with that decision.
“We look like hypocrites and fools to the entire world,” said Sanders.
A family member of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a victim of the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, last year, asked Sanders whether people who buy guns legally should be able to carry them openly in public, and whether he would change the Gun-Free School Zones Act. Sanders emphasized that the U.S. needs to expand background checks, and added that there is a need for a mental health care revolution.
Sanders: We've been dealing with an unprecedented level of obstruction. Supreme Court situation is continuing it. #DemTownHall
— The Advocate (@TheAdvocateMag) February 24, 2016
Asked by an audience member what would happen to private, historically black colleges under Sanders’ plan for tuition-free college, Sanders said that he plans to not only sustain but substantially increase funding to historically black colleges and universities.
Sanders emphasized the need to demilitarize local police departments, invest in jobs and education, not jails and incarceration, and slammed people who have questioned whether Obama was born in the U.S.
When questioned about where the money would come for to pay for Sanders’ proposed social programs such as free health care and higher education, the Vermont senator said he will tax Wall Street.
UPDATE: 7:45 p.m. EST — Ahead of Tuesday night's Democratic town hall, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton reportedly made an appearance at the Central Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina, alongside the mothers of victims whose deaths have helped drive the Black Lives Matter Movement, including Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland.
Clinton called them the "Mothers of the Movement," according to a tweet, and said there had been "too many deaths."
Trayvon Martin's mother says she's "near tears" recalling meeting Hillary. "When nobody listened to us, Mrs. Clinton did."
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) February 24, 2016
Just a few days before the South Democratic primary on Feb. 27, Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders are slated to make their final pitches to voters Tuesday night at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. The two-hour broadcast is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. EST on CNN.
Tuesday night’s forum, moderated by CNN’s Chris Cuomo, will give Democratic candidates another chance to woo South Carolina voters, and they are expected to present their positions on a variety of issues. Sanders faces pressure to change the dynamics of the race as Clinton picks up momentum; the former secretary of state won Nevada’s Democratic caucuses Saturday and also narrowly won Iowa’s caucuses Feb. 1. In New Hampshire’s primary earlier this month, Sanders won a resounding victory.
"There are a lot of differences of opinion between Secretary Clinton and myself on major, major major issues," Sanders said Monday, CNN reported. "But at the end of the day, this is the main one — what we are seeing is more and more power going into the hands of the few. Whose life work is about standing up to the billionaire class, standing up to Wall Street?"
The African-American population is an influential demographic in the Palmetto State — in 2008, black voters represented more than half of the Democratic primary electorate in the state, according to the Washington Post — and Clinton is leading Sanders among black voters in South Carolina, 63-23 percent, according to a recent Public Policy Polling survey. But Sanders has also been increasingly attempting to court the black community, and earlier Tuesday African-American film director and producer Spike Lee released a radio ad urging black voters in South Carolina to “wake up” to the idea of Sanders as the next Democratic nominee.
Republican candidate and billionaire businessman Donald Trump won the Republican primary in South Carolina last weekend. Both parties are preparing for Super Tuesday March 1, during which numerous states—many of them Southern—are scheduled to vote on the same day.
Check back here for live updates throughout Tuesday night’s town hall.