- Geneva Reed-Veal
the mother of Sandra Bland, whose death last year in a Texas jail cell following a traffic stop sparked national protests.
- Nina Turner
former Ohio state senator and national surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
- John Nichols
political writer for The Nation and co-author with Robert McChesney of the new book, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy.
In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton won Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio, and leads Senator Bernie Sanders by only about 1,500 votes in Missouri. As Sanders began his address on Tuesday night, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC all declined to cut away, instead offering pundits’ commentary and graphics promising they would soon go to Donald Trump’s address. We hear from both candidates and host a debate between former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner, a Sanders surrogate, and Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, whose death last year in a Texas jail cell following a traffic stop sparked national protests.
AMY GOODMAN: In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton won Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and leads Bernie Sanders by about 1,500 votes in Missouri, too close to call at the time of this broadcast. Clinton spoke Tuesday night in Palm Beach, Florida.
HILLARY CLINTON: You know, to be great, we can’t be small. We can’t lose what made America great in the first place. And this isn’t just about Donald Trump. All of us have to do our part. We can’t just talk about economic inequality; we have to take on all forms of inequality and discrimination. Together, we have to defend all of our rights—civil rights and voting rights, workers’ rights and women’s rights, LGBT rights and rights for people with disabilities. And that starts by standing with President Obama when he nominates a justice to the Supreme Court. Our next president will face all these challenges and more. You know, running for president is hard, but being president is harder.
AMY GOODMAN: As Senator Bernie Sanders began his address on Tuesday night, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC all declined to cut away, instead just continuing with their pundits’ commentary and graphics promising they would soon go to Donald Trump’s speech. So we’re going to do something we didn’t consider particularly revolutionary in this 2016 year: We’re going to actually play an excerpt of what Bernie Sanders had to say.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: We’re a democracy. People have different points of view. But what is not acceptable, no matter what your point of view is, is to throw racist attacks against Mexicans. The reason that Donald Trump will never be elected president is the American people will not accept insults to Mexicans, Muslims or women. … What Trump is about and other demagogues have always been about is scapegoating minorities, turning one group against another group. But we are too smart to fall for that.
AMY GOODMAN: Bernie Sanders, speaking last night in Phoenix, Arizona.
Joining us from Cleveland is former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner, national surrogate for Senator Bernie Sanders. In Chicago, we’re joined by Hillary Clinton supporter Geneva Reed-Veal. Yes, she is the mother of Sandra Bland, whose death last year in a Texas jail cell followed a traffic stop which sparked national protests. And still with us in New York is John Nichols.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! I want to go to our guest first in Chicago, to Geneva Reed-Veal. Talk about how—the victory that you saw last night in your own state, in Illinois, and the sweep that Hillary Clinton, even perhaps to her own surprise, experienced, achieved last night.
GENEVA REED-VEAL: Well, good morning. Thank you for having me.
The victory last night was overwhelming. Of course, I am Hillary-excited this morning. And when I tell you that when you think about a race that is so close, you are watching the television with your nails biting, and you’re looking, and you’re saying, “OK, come on, come on, come on.” So, the excitement went on until about 3:30 this morning. And so, when you look at all of the sweeping that was done on last evening, it puts you in a better position to say, “OK, we can do this. We can take her all the way to the top.” I totally believe that.
AMY GOODMAN: Nina Turner, your response to what happened last night? It’s now still too close to call at the time of this broadcast in Missouri. But, yes, Bernie Sanders, while he may have been surprised by the Michigan miracle, did not achieve that miracle last night, not in Ohio, not in Illinois. He knew he wouldn’t be winning Florida.
NINA TURNER: Well, Amy, we’ve certainly come a long way in this campaign. And let us not forget that Senator Sanders is a senator from Vermont, with about 600,000 people, not a terribly diverse state. People wrote him off from the time he made his announcement to become the president of the United States of America. And look at him now. And to the credit of Democracy Now!, and I want to thank you so much for even playing a portion of his speech. A lot of this has to do with the corporate media structure, who—they have locked him out. And so they don’t want people to hear his message. So it’s either about Mr. Trump—he gets the overwhelming majority—or it’s about Secretary Clinton.
But we’re going to continue to push. Senator Sanders has some bright lights coming. We knew that the first few waves of Tuesdays were certainly more toward Secretary Clinton. But we are moving to the west, where we will see states that are more—that will be much more competitive for Senator Bernie Sanders. But we’re going to keep on pushing no matter what. We’re going all the way to the convention. And let us not forget: In 2008, when then-Senator Clinton was competing against then-Senator Obama, they went all the way to the convention. And we are going there, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: John Nichols, what are those states coming up that you think Bernie Sanders could take?
JOHN NICHOLS: Well, I’ve been out on the road, so I’ve been to a lot of them recently. And there’s simply no question that Bernie Sanders has a tremendous level of on-the-ground organization, I think better than in some of the states that have voted so far—in Utah, in Arizona, in Washington state, in Hawaii. All these states are going to vote in the next couple weeks. And then you move, in short order, to Wisconsin, where polls show that he’s actually leading or at least narrowly ahead. And so, the chances are that Sanders will continue to post a number of wins.
And this is an important thing about this race. No one should deny that Hillary Clinton is the front-runner. She is. No one should deny that she just had a great night. No doubt about that. But the majority of delegates have not been chosen. Most states have not voted. And it’s awfully important to, A, make sure that we maintain a democracy here, where we actually, at least in this process, let people participate, and also recognize that, as Nina Turner said, this initial calendar was quite favorable to Hillary Clinton. What comes next is a number of states that—where Hillary Clinton is not as strong and where Bernie Sanders could continue to post significant wins.
AMY GOODMAN: Geneva Reed-Veal, can you talk about why you decided to support and speak out for Hillary Clinton? What happened after your daughter’s horrific death in Texas, after she was—
GENEVA REED-VEAL: Absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: —stopped in a traffic stop, then taken to jail, then found dead three days later?
GENEVA REED-VEAL: Absolutely. Of course, the family was devastated. We were all devastated. And I just did not know what to do at that time. I was in a sort of a daze. And so, Hillary Clinton’s camp, Hillary’s was the only one that contacted my family to find out what it was that I needed at that time. And so she met with 12 families, and the Mothers of the Movement are a part of those families. She met with us privately in Chicago at a Sweet Maple restaurant. That’s what the restaurant was called. No media involvement. She came into that room as a secretary of state, as the former first lady, and she walked out of there as grandmother, as mother. She allowed us to sit around the table with her and literally give her our stories about our children. As we were talking, she was writing down notes. We were asked what we would like to see her do or what would we think should be the best thing for her to do in cases like ours to assist additional families, as well as ours. And we gave her some thoughts. And she made no promises. She wrote a lot. And when we left that meeting—that meeting was supposed to be a half-hour meeting, which turned into two hours, OK? No media involved.
She followed up with us throughout the months. I received two personal letters from her, one at a very crucial time, when there is no indictment in my daughter’s case. The second one was right around the holidays, when she was telling the family, “Hey, you know, I know this is your first holiday without your baby. I’m sorry, thinking of you at this time.” It was the most moving thing you ever want to see. She followed up throughout all those months, invited us to the Democratic National Convention in South Carolina. Didn’t announce it. Nobody even knew that she was the person that had us there. And at that point, the pivotal thing for me was when she asked me, “What is it that you want for your daughter?” And when I explained to her that justice for me would mean accountability, and I will seek that relentlessly, she listened, she nodded. And I am telling you right now, I believe that there will be an outside investigation very soon. And so, at that point, I said, “OK, I have to back this woman.” But I was already a Hillary supporter before I lost Sandy. We were dating, and she didn’t even know it.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, on—just on the topic of the officer, the officer who stopped Sandra—
GENEVA REED-VEAL: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —Encinia, can you talk about what’s happened to him and your response to that? He was charged with perjury?
GENEVA REED-VEAL: Right, he was charged with perjury, and which, of course, was a—the lowest charge on the totem pole, as far as I’m concerned, because there should have been assault and battery charges. The tape shows everything. He was then dismissed from his job, which, if I am not mistaken, I believe he’s still able to appeal. We will be in court next Tuesday at his arraignment, and we’ll see what happens there. But as far as right now, today, he is completely terminated from the DPS.
AMY GOODMAN: But he has not been charged with responsibility for her death, and neither has any other police officer inside the jail.
GENEVA REED-VEAL: Correct. And the issue that I have with that is, well, we know that he’s been indicted for lying, so there is a possibility to be indicted for lying. There are quite a few lies that are going on here, and I believe that that should have also extended over into the Waller County Jail.
AMY GOODMAN: Former state Senator Nina Turner, you’re in Ohio. Talk about why you decided to go with Bernie Sanders. And also talk about why you think he didn’t win Ohio. I mean, after Michigan, what they call the Michigan miracle, it was felt that maybe he could take Ohio, as well.
NINA TURNER: Yeah, Amy, we were certainly hoping for that Michigan miracle. I think one of the biggest differences between Michigan and Ohio is that in Michigan independents could vote. And we know that Senator Bernie Sanders wins independents overwhelmingly across this country. We have what you call in Ohio a semi-open primary process, so independents are locked out. They cannot vote unless they declare—you know, declare themselves to be a Democrat or a Republican. So that certainly has a lot of impact.
But I will tell you this: Senator Sanders was 30 points behind in Ohio months ago, so he has certainly come a mighty long way. In the campaign, we are so proud of all of his accomplishments, in states like Missouri, which we know that it is still a toss-up; you know, in Illinois, I mean, a virtual tie. So, it’s kind of curious to me that even when Republicans, who are in the second, third tier of the race, are almost in a virtual tie, they declare victory, but Senator Sanders does not get that same benefit.
Amy, I’m supporting Senator Sanders because he has that heart-soul agreement. He doesn’t say one thing in front of one audience and another thing in front of another audience. He doesn’t politic tragedies. Senator Sanders has been a champion all of his conscious life, from his work, as we all know, in the 1960s as a young college student. He didn’t have to step into that divide, but he did, chained to an African-American woman, arrested for fighting for civil rights. As a mayor of Burlington, we all know that he stood up for Reverend Jesse Jackson, when the Democratic Party itself, the status quo, turned their back on him. And he was only one of three white folks, white elected officials, who would dare stand up for Reverend Jesse Jackson in the—in 1988, to say that he should and could be the president of the United States of America.
And whether people know it or not, Amy, this senator from Vermont has continued to stand up for the working poor in this country. He is not afraid to say the word “poor.” And he stands up for the middle class in this country. He filibustered, as we all remember—and I know John remembers this, too—for eight hours on the Senate floor against the extension of the Bush tax cuts. He doesn’t lead by polls. He stands up for folks, whether he gets—whether it will harm his political career or not. And that is the kind of leader that we need. He’s speaking out firmly about an increase in the minimum wage of $15 an hour, that folks will have a living wage in this country.
He talks about the five violences against black and brown folks in this country. And as a former mayor, he certainly understands what the relationship with police needs to be. He talks about the accountability that a police officer, like any other public servant, if they have committed a crime, they need to be prosecuted, they need to answer that. So he totally understands that. So, his honesty and integrity, and that is why, overwhelmingly, over 80 percent, almost 90 percent, of millennials, ages 17 to 29, they believe in Senator Sanders. They believe that he is the leader to lead us into the future.
And my final point on that is that, to me, he has the foundation of Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, when she said, “What the people want is simple: They want an America as good as its promise.” That is what he is running for. And he’s asking the working poor and middle class in this country, don’t accept shorts, that if we can bail out Wall Street, certainly we can make the requisite investments in everybody in this country, that universal healthcare is a moral imperative in this country, and that we should indeed make the same investments in our young people in terms of tuition-free colleges and universities. He is a man of honesty and integrity, not just when the cameras are on.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask Geneva Reed-Veal—you’re in Chicago. It’s where Trump canceled his rally this weekend. We’re talking about Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders. But what about Donald Trump, Geneva Reed-Veal?
GENEVA REED-VEAL: I have no comment on Donald Trump. I cannot comment and will not do that. I just won’t do it.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
GENEVA REED-VEAL: Media hogs love that. I will not do it.
AMY GOODMAN: Because?
GENEVA REED-VEAL: Because it’s just not necessary for me to comment. I’ll let the rest of the world continue to comment on that.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you—
GENEVA REED-VEAL: I support and endorse Hillary Clinton.
AMY GOODMAN: John Nichols?
JOHN NICHOLS: I kind of like what she just did there. You know, I mean, look, one of the challenges with Donald Trump is that everybody does talk about him. And I’m as guilty as anybody. And there is a reality that this guy is so overcovered that he sucks the air out of the Democratic race. You just had one of the best discussions between two very thoughtful, engaged people about this race. That rarely happens. What we end up with—do you know that, Amy, what happens now is? Democrats come on television, or Democratic candidates even, you know what the first thing they ask them about? Donald Trump.
AMY GOODMAN: Geneva Reed-Veal, how do you respond to Nina Turner on what Bernie Sanders represents?
GENEVA REED-VEAL: I—
AMY GOODMAN: And could you—go ahead.
GENEVA REED-VEAL: Go ahead. Go ahead.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask each of you this, Nina Turner and Geneva—and, Geneva Reed-Veal, if Bernie Sanders was the candidate, would you vote for him? And I want to ask Nina Turner, if Hillary Clinton is the candidate, will you vote for her? But, Geneva Reed-Veal, you first.
GENEVA REED-VEAL: Well, I can say to you right now, I’m not going to focus on if Bernie Sanders is the candidate, so I won’t answer that question, because I don’t know what I will be feeling at that time. I don’t know what will have happened at that time. So, I will say to you, I won’t make any back-and-forth with the other person that you have on the panel, won’t do that, because I just don’t intend on taking the focus off of what the focus should be. And for me, that focus is getting Hillary straight to the White House. And so, all of the outside commentary, I will not make any statement about.
But I will say to you, because I’ve heard it more than once, Hillary is not politicking tragedy, our tragedies. We are adults who have decided to back her. And it should not be a problem that a person who makes a choice to endorse an individual—you shouldn’t have to be vilified for backing that individual. And I’m not saying that the other individual is stating that. We’ve just heard that across the country. And so, I want the world to know, no, we’re not being exploited. We made our own choices. And I am just saying, may the best individual win. Go, Hillary.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Nina Turner, if Hillary Clinton were the candidate? And the issue of enthusiasm on the Democratic side?
NINA TURNER: Well, I certainly want to say that I agree with Mrs. Veal about people not being vilified. This is America, and people have a choice. And I certainly know a lot about being vilified for deciding to choose to back Senator Bernie Sanders. So, in that, Mrs. Veal and I certainly, totally, 100 percent agree with that. In terms of Senator Bernie Sanders versus Secretary of State Clinton, I, too, am here to push for Senator Bernie Sanders. I am not entertaining a thought about voting for the secretary, because this race is not over for us in the Sanders campaign, and I want to see him become the president of the United States of America.
AMY GOODMAN: Nina Turner, I don’t know if this is true, but CNN has a chart, and it says, in terms of voter turnout, it was way up for Republicans.
NINA TURNER: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And until now, it has also been up, but not as up, for Democrats. But this one shows Democrats way down, particularly in Ohio, down 49 percent.
NINA TURNER: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: That was in—oh, that was comparing it to 2008.
NINA TURNER: Amy, Democrats should be concerned about that. I mean, we want folks to vote. And where Senator Sanders has been, we know that he pushes out especially that youth vote. Democrats should be concerned. And, Nancy—I mean, excuse me, Amy, one of the problems is, for both parties, but particularly for the Republicans, who tend to try to suppress the vote—and they use public policy to do it—that in a democracy, we should want each and every person to vote. It makes us stronger. And so, to the extent, especially in places like North Carolina, and even in my home state—and, Amy and John, you both may know this—I mean, just recently, within a couple of days before the primary, Secretary Jon Husted—Secretary of State Jon Husted came out with a directive to try to block 17-year-olds from voting in the primary. We had to take that to court. And thank God, Senator Sanders did file a lawsuit, and a judge saw right through that. And so, we can’t nation-build every four years. That is my message to your viewers, no matter if they’re voting Democrat, Republican or Libertarian, that to nation-build, we must vote every single year, and that electing a school board member is just as important as electing the president of the United States of America.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. And I thank you so much to both of you for joining us, former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner, speaking to us from Cleveland, as well I want to thank Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, who is a supporter of Hillary Clinton, speaking to us from Chicago. And, John Nichols, stay with us. After break, I want to get a quick take from you on the Supreme Court nominee. Stay with us.