STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Senator Elizabeth Warren joins us next. The Massachusetts lawmaker is among the candidates in tomorrow's New Hampshire primary, where she trails Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, among others, depending on the poll. Senator Warren has called in from Conway, N.H. - population just over 10,000. Senator, good morning.
ELIZABETH WARREN: Good morning.
INSKEEP: So you're working through the snow there. I have to mention, though, New Hampshire is a neighboring state to yours, so I presume they know you pretty well. Shouldn't you be winning in New Hampshire?
WARREN: I've been to New Hampshire a lot. I came here when Jeanne Shaheen was running for Senate last time, when Maggie Hassan was up for Senate. So I'm back and forth in New Hampshire a lot, and it's been a lot of fun to be here. You know, it's given me a chance to talk about why I'm in this race for president. I see in America it's working great for rich people. It's working great for the billionaires and the corporate executives and the lobbyists. But it's just not working for much of anyone else.
INSKEEP: Why do you think you wouldn't be doing better in New Hampshire if they know you that well?
WARREN: Well, you know, I've gotten great crowds. I'm out there talking to people. We had a wonderful time last night in Lebanon. We had a great group. We had people on the ground knocking doors. I - this is about repairing our democracy, really putting it down at the grassroots.
When I made the decision to get in this race, I decided I wasn't going to spend 70% of my time fundraising with billionaires and corporate executives. And that meant I wasn't going to - I was going to spend the time doing town halls, like I've been doing across New Hampshire, because I think we've got a real problem in our democracy. If the only way you can be president is either to be a billionaire or to suck up to billionaires or to use corporate superPACs, then buckle up - because we're going to have an America that just keeps working better for those folks.
INSKEEP: If I may, I think Pete Buttigieg is one of the candidates that you or others have described as sucking up to billionaires in different ways. But as we have noted, after doing very well in Iowa, Buttigieg seems to be getting a lot of attention from New Hampshire voters. What's wrong with his argument that, well, he's a young guy and people should give a new generation a chance?
WARREN: Look - I'm not here to criticize other candidates; I'm here to talk about why I'm running. And for me, it's the fight of my life. On...
INSKEEP: Although, forgive me - you just said suck up to billionaires. I mean, who are you talking about there?
WARREN: Look - I'm talking about generally in this race. Take a look at it. But ultimately, we have one job, and that is to beat Donald Trump in November. And to do that, we're going to have to pull our party together. And I think I am the best person to do that because I'm trying to reach out to everyone. I've run a campaign that's open, that respects everyone.
Lots of folks who started out in this campaign had good ideas - people like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and Julian Castro and Kirsten Gillibrand, people who brought good, vibrant ideas and got squeezed out because of money. I try to incorporate their ideas, incorporate their people. We've hired a lot of staffers from those campaigns and brought in a lot of volunteers because we need to be a Democratic Party that embraces ideas, and those ideas should be the ideas that help working people. That's my life's work, and that's why I'm in the fight.
INSKEEP: I'm going to give you a chance to talk about one idea very briefly. The president is putting out a budget proposal today. And of course, they're dealing with trillion-dollar deficits. We can talk about why; we don't really have time for that - the tax cuts and so forth. But trillion-dollar deficits - that's what the next president would inherit if President Trump is not reelected. Will it be realistic to expand health care in the way you want to do with trillion-dollar deficits?
WARREN: Look - the trillion-dollar deficits are brought on because not just of the tax cuts, but also 40 years of trickle-down economics, which doesn't work - cutting taxes for those at the top and cutting regulations. It's just about helping the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful. All the plans I've put out are paid for.
It is time for a wealth tax in America. That's a 2-cent tax on all the fortunes over $50 million, and that's the kind of thing that makes a real difference in this country. For a 2-cent wealth tax, we can provide universal child care and early education, universal pre-K for every child in this country. And we can raise the wages of every child-care worker. We can cancel student loan debt.
INSKEEP: Right. Two percent of people's wealth that would be taken. In about a sentence, what's the first state you think you can win, Senator?
WARREN: Look - I'm out here talking to people all across this country; I just don't frame it that way.
WARREN: These are the ideas that we need to embrace to build a future - not for those at the top, but to build a future for everyone going forward. That's why I'm in this fight.
INSKEEP: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, always a pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much.
WARREN: Always good to talk to you. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.