It’s a high-stakes election with a large pool of would-be presidents, and young women might just be the deciding vote on our future. To help you choose—and to get the candidates to address what matters most to YOU—we’re hosting the hopefuls on the campaign trail. This is The Candidates Come to Cosmo.


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Cosmo!

Bernie Sanders: Great to be with you.

Jessica Pels: So, as you know, everything we do here is about young women. And Cosmo now reaches 1 in every 5 adults in this country—81 million people—and 73 percent of them have told us in recent polling that they plan to vote, which is very exciting. We’re working on the other 27 percent!

Bernie Sanders: Good, please do.

Jessica Pels: So what we’d really like to discuss today is what you, as president, would do for young women in particular. Let me start with an easy question: Why did you choose to come here today?

Bernie Sanders: For all the reasons you just gave us! You know, when you are running for office, you want to reach out to the people of this country, and CNN does its thing and NBC does its thing, but you guys have a dedicated group of people who are increasingly active in the political process, and let me say this, I say it all the time, not just to the people here: The future of this country depends upon increased political participation of young people in America. And we are beginning to see that. The numbers in 2018 went up for young people voting, but they are still much, much lower than for older people. And the younger generation that turns out is the most progressive young generation in the history of this country, and if they want to transform America and make it a nation of justice, they’re going to have to participate in the political process. I’m delighted to hear that your readers plan to vote, but we’ve got to get that number even higher.

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Jessica Pels: Yes, that’s a huge focus of ours, and what we find interesting is that millennials and Gen Z together will make up 37 percent of the electorate in next year’s election and half of the country that the future president will govern, so their concerns are really valid and, I think, something that candidates should really address and speak to. So I’ll jump right in:

Our polling shows that health care is a major issue for millennials—73 percent of our audience say that health care is more important to them than the elimination of student debt, and 84 percent say that health care should be a human right. Our readers say they’re especially worried about their mental health care access and their birth control access. Can you speak to what you would do about those two things in particular?

Bernie Sanders: Well, first of all, let me agree with all those people: Health care is a human right. That is something I have believed for my entire adult life. The idea that we have 87 million Americans today who are either uninsured or underinsured, who do not go to the doctor when they should go to the doctor—which, by the way, leads to 30,000 people dying unnecessarily in this country, leads to 500,000 bankruptcies—now I want you all to think, take a breath and think about the insanity and the cruelty of a system that says somebody is diagnosed with cancer, right?

They’re scared to death, their head is reeling about what kind of treatment they get, and then at the end of all that, they’ve got to also deal with whether their family goes bankrupt or not.

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That people go bankrupt because they become sick in America is absolutely disgraceful, and I want everybody to know, media doesn’t talk about it too often, we are the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people. You go to Canada, 50 miles away from where I live, you got a heart transplant, you’re in the hospital for a month, you do not come out with any bill at all. We spend twice as much on personal health care as do the people of any other country, and the function of this health care system is to make $100 billion a year in profits for the health care industry, that’s the insurance companies, the drug companies, and others. That should not be the function of a health care system.

So I have led the effort for many years, for what we call a Medicare for All single-payer system. Medicare is a strong program—eligible people, 65 and older are eligible, and I want, over a four-year period, to go from 65 down to 55, to 45, to 35, and then we cover everybody, including dental care, hearing aids, and eyeglasses as well.

And you say for the average person in this country, they will save money on their health care bills because they are no longer going to be paying a premium, no longer going to be paying a co-payment, no out-of-pocket expenses because there are no more deductibles. You walk into any doctor you want, you don’t take out your wallet, you don’t take out your credit card. That is what a humane civilized health care system is about, and that is what I intend to bring about as president.

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Jessica Pels: The vast majority of our audience supports universal health care and questions why so many other countries seem to do it but we can’t.

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Jessica Pels: You talk about the difficulty of getting health care in this country without going broke, but there’s an added layer of difficulty for young women in particular, which is being believed by their doctors. Andrea Stanley, our features director, reports often on the fact that a lot of young women’s complaints are dismissed and doctors just push them out the door until it’s too late to do anything about something like cancer. An interesting thing to keep in mind.

Bernie Sanders: That is an interesting thing to keep in mind. And by the way, that impacts African American women—

Jessica Pels: Massively more, yes.

Bernie Sanders: And let me just say, add to all this, in my Medicare for All bill, we include all reproductive health care, including abortion.

Jessica Pels: That’s very good news for this audience. In the recent Cosmo poll of millennial women, the majority of them told us that climate change is now the 500 Internal Server Error

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Bernie Sanders: No, it’s not a question of depoliticize, let’s be honest. Let’s put it right on the table. You’ve got a president—well, what can we say about Mr. Trump? You know, he’s a pathological liar, a racist, a sexist, he’s all these things. But in terms of climate change, he is simply a tool of the fossil fuel industry. So it’s not a question of politicians. We’ve got a president who thinks that climate change is a hoax when the scientific community all over the world is telling us this is the great crisis, faced not just by the United States but countries all over the world.

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So once again, you know this is kind of what makes our campaign unique, it’s easy to say, “Oh, we’ve got to do something about climate change.” Are we prepared to take on the fossil fuel industry? They have made billions of dollars of profits while they destroy the planet. They get massive subsidies and tax breaks from the federal government. I am very proud, very proud working with scientists from all over the place that introduced the most comprehensive and aggressive climate change proposal ever introduced by any presidential candidate or, I think, any candidate for federal office. It is a very expensive program, it is a very detailed program, but essentially what we do is do what the scientists tell us we have to do.

Now this is scary stuff, so it’s not a question of whether climate change is real or not—of course it is. The question is what the scientists tell us is that we’ve got 11 to 12 years in order to make aggressive actions to cut carbon emissions or else there will be irreparable damage done to our country and the rest of the world. You are seeing it today.

Jessica Pels: Absolutely. Those kinds of efforts are expensive—how would you fund them?

Bernie Sanders: I will tell you how we will fund them, exactly, but the first point is when people say that, and that’s a fair question, my proposal is $16 trillion, that’s a very expensive proposal. What is the alternative? It’s like there’s a fire raging in this building and people say, “Oh my goodness, it’s going to take us away from our workday to put out the fire.” What is the alternative? You’ve got to put out the fire.

We have got to put out the fire that is now raging all over the world, or else the planet that we leave to our children and our grandchildren—my grandson is right here; I have seven beautiful grandchildren—and the planet we leave to future generations will be increasingly unhealthy and unlivable, and from a moral perspective, we cannot do that.

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So what our proposal does, it does away with all the subsidies and tax breaks that the fossil fuel industry now receives and that’s somewhere around $4 billion per year. We are also going to get the federal government, in an unprecedented way, to be producing sustainable energy and selling that energy out to utility companies all over the world and making a lot of money. We are going to end military protection that now exists for oil producers around the world and that is going to save billions. Hundreds of billions of dollars.

So you add all that up, we kind of pay for it, but I’m not going to tell you that it’s not expensive, and also what we do is when we transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy, that means we retrofit, we provide the resources to hire all kinds of workers all over this country to retrofit buildings to make them energy efficient, to make sure we have a transportation system, which is electrified right now, to move aggressively to wind and solar energy and other sustainable energies, to invest heavily in new technologies. We’d create up to 20 million new jobs.

Jessica Pels: That’s amazing. You’re in a LEED-certified building right now!

Bernie Sanders: Good! Congratulations.

Jessica Pels: And the good news is that you’re looking at a voting bloc that is very willing to prioritize this issue, and again, it’s 50 percent of the population—

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Jessica Pels: Reproductive rights were not addressed at the last Democratic debate. Sixty-six percent of our readers say that they want presidential candidates to spend more time talking about this issue. I get that it’s a hot-button topic that’s hard to necessarily talk about on the campaign trail, but 37 percent of our audience say they’re “angry” that this issue isn’t getting more air time. Will you pledge to make reproductive rights more of a focus for you?

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“Let the American people do what they want to do with their own lives!” Except when it comes to a woman’s right to control her own body. So that is total and absolute hypocrisy. I believe that a woman’s right to privacy, a woman’s right to control her own body is a constitutional right, and my pledge to you, and I’ve made this pledge all over this country, I will never nominate anybody to the U.S. Supreme Court who does not 100 percent believe in Roe v. Wade.

Jessica Pels: We’re all very happy to hear that, as is Helen Gurley Brown, I’m sure, who is right behind you in a photo. So, speaking of the major issues that really matter to millennials, our polling shows that people have lost faith in politicians when it comes to gun control. The majority of them are very concerned about mass shootings, and yet 71 percent of our readers have significant doubts that gun laws in this country will ever change. How will you prove them wrong? And you support background checks, but is that enough in this day and age?

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Bernie Sanders: No, it’s not, and the answer is, on this one, I think there’s not a whole lot of debate. The American people, not just your readers, the American people overwhelmingly want significant improvements in gun safety legislation. That’s true for a rural state like Vermont. That’s true for an urban city like New York City. It’s true for gun owners; it’s true for non–gun owners. So let me briefly tell you (a) what has to happen but (b) why it is not happening. And again, I’m going to be partisan here, but it’s really simply the truth: The American people want to move to gun safety legislation, you have the NRA who is resisting, and you have the Republican party and the president of the United States who are literally scared to death and intimidated by the NRA. I will not be intimidated by the NRA.

So what do you have to do? You do obvious things! I’ll give you some and there’s more that has to be done. Alright, for a start, expanding background checks is kind of a no-brainer. Should somebody who has a violent past go out and be able to buy a gun? The answer is no. Ending the so-called gun show loophole, which enables people to evade the background check at a gun show, that should be eliminated. The straw man provision, which allows you to legally go into a gun shop, buy guns legally with a background check, and then sell them to criminals, that should be eliminated.

What’s interesting is over the last few months—and I think what happened in El Paso and in Dayton has kind of moved people in this direction—people now believe what I have believed for many decades, that we should ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in this country. Assault weapons are military-style weapons designed to kill human beings very, very quickly. They should not be sold and distributed in the United States to the civilian population.

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There are more things that we can do: We can hold manufacturers responsible when they are selling large numbers of guns to a community that normally would not support that type of gun sale. So there are a lot of other things that we can do, this is what the American people want and the problem is not politicians. The problem is, in this case, a Republican party and a president that is intimidated by the NRA.

Jessica Pels: To take it even a step further, most of our audience supports the removal of AR-15s from people who already own them.

Bernie Sanders: I would support the registration. A strong registration policy.

Jessica Pels: Is there a reason you wouldn’t support removal?

Bernie Sanders: Yeah, I think it sets a precedent of forcing somebody to give up something that they own. You believe in that and somebody else believes in something else. But I think what we can do, way back when Ronald Reagan was president, before that, you could own a machine gun, which is even worse than an assault weapon—you know that really mows down people. And we passed laws for very strong registration, which basically eliminated the private ownership of machine guns. You could not go out and buy a machine gun right now. I think that’s exactly the direction we should go in, in terms of assault weapons.

Jessica Pels: Right, phase them out by not distributing them.

Bernie Sanders: Yes.

Jessica Pels: So most of our readers really want to vote President Trump out of office.

Bernie Sanders: Me too!

Jessica Pels: But they’re concerned that so-called far-left candidates are too radical to beat him. How can you prove to them that you can defeat Trump?

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I believe that as a nation, if we could bail out the crooks on Wall Street and give huge tax breaks to billionaires, we should cancel all student debt in America. Is that a radical idea? That’s not what the American people believe. Medicare for All, doing what every other country on the earth does, guaranteeing health care to all people is a radical idea? It ain’t a radical idea, it’s what the American people want. Dealing with climate change? Saving the planet—oh my god, that’s far left! It’s not far left, it’s what the American people want.

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So I reject the idea that my ideas are something that the American people won’t support, quite the contrary. There are many people who voted for Trump who are disgusted with the political establishment and feel that the Democratic leadership has not been aggressive enough.

Jessica Pels: That’s fair. Related: We have all been following the impeachment inquiry this week with rapt attention. I know you’ve said recently that you won’t comment on supporting the measure until you’ve reviewed the materials that an investigation would turn up. Has your position on that changed over the last few days?

Bernie Sanders: No, let me just explain what it is, and I think it is really common sense. I’m a United States senator, so I have to be...if Trump is impeached and articles of impeachment come from the House to the Senate, I vote on them. That’s what I have to do. And if I tell you that he’s guilty, I mean, it’s like you going into jury duty and saying, “Oh yeah, the guy’s guilty, now I’d like to hear the evidence.”

So what I believe is, I believe that we must go forward, which is what Speaker Pelosi is now doing, with an impeachment inquiry, which lays out the case. Alright, what are the articles going to be? I suspect they will deal with obstruction of justice regarding the Mueller investigation. I suspect they will deal with the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, in which this president, it seems to me, pretty clearly is enriching himself at taxpayer expense. I think this new whole discovery with regard to his relationship to the Ukraine, holding back federal security money in order to get dirt on a political opponent, I’m quite sure that will be investigated.

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So I just think as the United States senator, you know, the House is going to do its job. I think this president is the most corrupt president. I think he makes somebody like Richard Nixon look like a choir boy. This guy is really corrupt. I think he’s a liar, but as a United States senator, I am going to have to judge the evidence, so I want to proceed as rapidly as we can with that evidence, but I think it’s wrong for somebody who’s a judge to say, “Oh, he’s guilty, but now let me hear the evidence.” There’s a process that the Constitution provides and I want to support that process.

Jessica Pels: That makes sense. You have cited that there are risks to impeachment. Will you explain to our audience what you think those are?

Bernie Sanders: Not risks, I mean, I think you have a corrupt president. I think the impeachment process will and should go forward, but here it is, and I’m glad you asked me that question. If in the next six months or whatever, all that Congress does day after day is talk about impeachment, there will be millions of people who say, “Well, yeah, that’s important, but you know what? I can’t afford to go to the doctor, I’m worried about climate change, I’m worried about gun safety legislation, my kid just graduated college $100,000 in debt, does anybody care about him or her? Our infrastructure is crumbling and now all you guys are talking about is Donald Trump.”

So my view is, and maybe you could help me phrase it in a better way, is to say that I think that Congress can chew bubble gum and walk at the same time. And what that means is, if, simply, we become obsessed with Trump, as important as that issue is, and we don’t pay attention to the needs of the working families in this country, it could benefit Trump, and I am not so sure, I am not so sure....Trump, you know, may be crazy, but he’s not stupid. And I am not so sure that in the back of his mind he thinks that this impeachment thing may work for him.

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And the other thing that you have to keep in mind, nobody knows what the results will pan out. To impeach, to remove a president from office, you need two-thirds of the Senate. That’s 67 votes. There are 53 Republicans as of this moment. None of them have indicated interest in voting against him. Now, that may change. But then I want you to think about, let’s just say you go through the whole process and all the Republicans stick with Trump, which is a possibility, and then he says, “See! I was vindicated. I told you all along that I’m innocent, those Democrats and the fake media, Cosmo, all these people are picking on me, poor Donald Trump, vote for me and show the establishment what a wonderful human being I am.” Is that a danger? I think it is a danger.

So the way out of this is to continue your focus on the needs of the American people. High costs of prescription drugs, women’s rights, gay rights, and all the issues that are important to millions of people at the same time as you go forward with Trump. If you only obsess on Trump, I’m not sure at the end of the day it may not benefit him. Alright, it’s a long explanation, but that’s my answer!

Jessica Pels: You’ve heard enough from me. Let’s open it up to questions from my brilliant editors. Who has a question for Senator Sanders? Mia?

Mia Lardiere, Snapchat editor: Hi, senator, how are you? Question for you: If you’re elected president, how do you propose to bring back immigrants who were deported unfairly?

Bernie Sanders: The issue of immigration reform is a major, major issue for me and the answer is: We will. I mean, that’s the short answer. The answer is that on day one, we will restore legal status to 1.8 million young people in the DACA program. On day one, we will push for comprehensive immigration reform. And on day one, we will change, absolutely, our border policy right now. And under my administration, no government agent will ever tear a baby away from the arms of a mother. Okay?

When I talk about Trump, one of the ugliest things that he is doing, he’s not only ignoring the reality of climate change, he is trying to divide the American people in a very ugly way and demonizing undocumented people before he was president. He thought that, you know, he led the birther movement against President Obama...so this is a mean-spirited guy, and we will end that demonization and restore, create a just and fair immigration system.

Jessica Pels: Okay. Other questions? Rosa, I know you have a smart question.

Rosa Heyman, deputy editor: I have a bit of a wild question!

Bernie Sanders: I’m a wild candidate! Alright, go ahead.

Rosa Heyman: So, given how activated young people are these days and how, as you mentioned, they are the future of our democracy, do you think that the voting age should be lowered to 16?

Bernie Sanders: I think that’s something that states, I mean, one of the beauties of a federalist system, and I’m speaking to you as a former mayor, is you have a local form of government, you know New York City has its mayors, you have a state-wide government, you have a federal government. So I think that if state governments or local governments want to experiment with the idea and see how it plays out....

There are arguments for and against it. And the “against it” is, will kids be able to vote independently of their parents? But on the other hand, you want to encourage young people’s participation. So that would be my answer. If cities and states want to do it, if it works out well, it could be something we can think about at the federal level. And by the way, just on that issue, I trust you all know the voting age used to be 21, and during the Vietnam War, in a very profound way, people said, “You’re sending me off to get killed in a war that we never should have gotten into in the first place, but you’re not allowing me to vote,” and that changed the system.

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Jessica Pels: I think we have time for one more. Shannon, I saw your hand?

Shannon Barbour, news writer: So you’re an older white man—

Bernie Sanders: Excuse me?! Okay, yes, you’re right!

Shannon Barbour: And you have similar policies to other women of color and people in the candidate field, so my question is, why do you think you’re the best person right now to represent the country when, you know, maybe we could have more diversity and inclusion?

Bernie Sanders: That’s a very fair question. Let me answer it by saying that, as president, we will have the most diverse administration and cabinet that this country has ever had. Okay, that’s number one. And, you know, we’re going to continue the fight and we have been making progress over the years, to create a government in general, a House of Representatives, a Senate, which reflects what America looks like. You know, everything being equal, half of elected officials in America should be women. And half of the Supreme Court should be women, half the Senate should be women, half the governors, all that. Number one, very honestly, Jane and I—Jane is standing right here, she will tell you that—we had long, long discussions about whether or not I should run. On Monday, we thought yes; on Tuesday, we thought no. We concluded that I should run for two reasons.

Number one, I happen to believe, I believed then and I believe now, that I am the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump, and I think that it is absolutely imperative that we do that. That’s reason number one. Reason number two is that this campaign cannot just be about defeating Trump. This campaign has got to be about transforming this country in a very profound way. And I’m going to say something that might make some of you uncomfortable, and it is certainly not something you’re going to see on corporately owned television. And that is that this country is moving toward an oligarchic form of society.

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In other words, they have scientists who told them exactly what carbon emissions were doing, and they lied about it. We need a president who has the guts to take on Wall Street, the insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the prison industrial complex, the military industrial complex—that’s what I have done for my entire life.

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There is no candidate out there who has stood up to the powers that be in this country more than Bernie Sanders has, and I believe that in this particular moment in history, that’s the kind of president that we need.

Jessica Pels: So this is Cosmo, and we can’t let you go without having a little bit of fun.

Bernie Sanders: Don’t you know I don’t believe in fun?!

Jessica Pels: I want to do a rapid-fire round of questions—

Bernie Sanders: Oh, god!

Jessica Pels: We’ll make it fun, I promise. So, what’s your favorite Ben and Jerry’s flavor?

Bernie Sanders: Cherry Garcia.

Jessica Pels: Good one!

Bernie Sanders: I just had it last night.

Jessica Pels: Do you have a favorite cocktail?

Bernie Sanders: I don’t drink much.

Jessica Pels: The correct answer is a cosmo!

Bernie Sanders: Oh, the cosmo!

Jessica Pels: What’s your dream vacation?

Bernie Sanders: There’s my wife. She would like...the dream vacation would be: a vacation! We went to Ireland...how many years ago did we go to Ireland?

Jane Sanders: 1985?

Bernie Sanders: That’s what she’s married to. We don’t do much. You know, we hang around Vermont, which is an incredibly beautiful state.

Jessica Pels: What’s the most Brooklyn thing about you?

Bernie Sanders: Some people claim it’s my accent. I deny it!

Jessica Pels: What’s your favorite curse word?

Bernie Sanders: What, you want me to tell you?

Jessica Pels: You can say it, this is Cosmo!

Bernie Sanders: No.

Jessica Pels: We’ve made him shy!

Bernie Sanders: My wife tells me I curse too much. Is that right?

Jane Sanders: [Nodding.]

Bernie Sanders: You don’t want me to curse in front of the television.

Jessica Pels: I know you’re a Virgo, just like me, which explains a lot. But do you know your Rising sign?

Bernie Sanders: No.

Sam Feher, assistant to the editor-in-chief: Scorpio!

Bernie Sanders: Oh, Scorpio!

Jessica Pels: What’s your skincare routine?

Bernie Sanders: Not much.

Jessica Pels: Do you moisturize?

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Jessica Pels: You’re supposed to moisturize every day. Don’t worry, we’ll send you home with some things. And lastly, what time do you go to bed?

Bernie Sanders: Too late, and I don’t get enough sleep. How’s that?

Jessica Pels: You and me both, Senator Sanders. Thank you so much for being with us today, this was amazing. Thank you.

Bernie Sanders: Thank you.

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This is an edited transcript of their full conversation.