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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript: Interview with Rep. Tim Ryan

Interview

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WHITFIELD: All right. Rebecca buck -- thank you so much.

So we are just three days away now from the next Democratic presidential debate right here on CNN. And for some candidates it might be their last best chance to boost support and stay in the race.

Joining me right now is one of the candidates set to take the debate stage on Tuesday night, Ohio congressman Tim Ryan. Good to see you -- congressman.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi -- thanks for having me.

[11:29:59] WHITFIELD: All right. So I want to play a moment for you and for everybody of the last round of debates in which you scolded your own party for being out of touch. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: We could talk about climate. We could talk about guns. We could talk about all of these issues that we all care about. We have a perception problem with the Democratic Party.

We are not connecting to the working class people in the very states that I represent in Ohio, in the industrial Midwest. We've lost all connection. We have got to change the center of gravity of the Democratic Party from being coastal and elitist and Ivy League, which is the perception, to somebody from the forgotten communities that have been left behind for the last 30 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So Congressman -- how are you proposing to then better connect with working class people?

RYAN: Well, keep the issues focused on what's on their mind, and that's wages. That's worrying at night about whether or not you're going to pay your bills. It's staying focused on things like prescription drugs where I was just at my mom's house a few weeks ago where she's paying a thousand bucks a month for her prescription drugs.

But we've got to get wages up. We've got to get jobs -- good paying jobs into the communities that have been left behind, the old steel communities, old textile communities like down here in South Carolina that people were making 30 or 40 or 50 bucks an hour are now making 15. And I'm speaking directly to that anxiety, that stress that they have. And I have a plan with creating a chief manufacturing officer so that we could actually start making things here in the United States and dominating the industries of the future.

There's going to be 10 million electric vehicles made in the next ten years. I want half of those made in the United States by -- built by American workers -- the batteries, the charging stations.

WHITFIELD: And how do you do that? And how do you do that because that does take capital and you have released this very comprehensive plan. And you know, my apologies for having to truncate it down to now kind of bite-sized morsels but how do you propose -- and it does take a lot of capital and investment and it's going to take an incredible team in which to do this.

RYAN: Yes, well, that's why I'm going to have a chief manufacturing officer that will report directly to me as president. And we're going to sit down and organize the government like China does, like Germany does, where the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, work with the business community, work with venture capital, work with investors to build out and say, look, how do we dominate the electric vehicle market?

China dominates it now. They control about 50 to 60% of the electric vehicle market. And we're going to build 10 million cars in the next ten years.

So how does the United States dominate that market? It needs to be helped and organized and engineered from the government side, but you also have to work with the private sector.

Here's what I'm saying Fredricka -- you can be hostile to greed. You can be hostile to income inequality. You can be hostile to a concentration of wealth. You can be for raising taxes on the wealthiest people in the country, which I am.

But if we're going to get out of this mess, we've got to have public/private partnerships. We've got to get away from this, are we going further to the left or are we going further to the right. We need new and better. There are new ideas out there that I'm championing that we can lift the American middle class back up.

WHITFIELD: So these seem like long-term aspirations, but what about for immediate relief? So for those Americans who are hearing you who are saying, ok, that does sound good to me, you know, way down the line, but what about right now? If my community is more like a ghost like community now because manufacturing jobs dried up long ago and we have very little industry happening now.

What's the relief and what's the promise that you offer to them?

RYAN: Well, you know, I represent a lot of these communities, and fortunately I'm on the appropriations committee, and I've been able to bring hundreds of millions of dollars back to my communities in northeast Ohio. But the government needs to start making investments, too. It's not just private. It's also got to be public.

I think we've got to have a complete urban marshal plan where we are helping resuscitate urban communities, where we are cleaning up houses that are dilapidated and reducing value for the homeowners that live in the neighborhoods where we invest into the communities, river walks, bike trails, renovate theaters, downtown redevelopment, swimming pools for our kids. Like -- let's reinvest back.

And I don't think it's going to take that long to get the manufacturing base up and running again. If the President of the United States is driving this agenda and saying this is going to be a priority -- wind, solar, artificial intelligence, 5g, machine learning, additive manufacturing, 3d printing.

These industries are growing by 30 percent a year, and we're missing the boat because the President's so distracted. And if people think that this makes sense, go to timryeryanforAmerica.com. We have a complete agenda on how we're going to rebuild the United States and lift the middle class back up.

[11:34:59] WHITFIELD: Ok. And speaking of the President, you're one of you know, more than 100, like 101 Democrats in the house calling for impeachment against the President, and now following the Mueller testimony this week, you know, there's greater debate within the party between the House Judiciary chair and the House Speaker on when to begin those proceedings.

How much information and promise to get out of the court route -- what's your feeling on waiting on immediacy or on waiting for any kind of court action that will release testimonies from some key players?

RYAN: Look, I think there is enough evidence in the Mueller report and Mueller's testimony to say we need to do it. We need to do it as soon as we get back in September. I think this has to happen. He clearly obstructed justice.

The President doesn't think the rules apply to him. His behavior is so shameful it's -- I believe it's criminal in that regard, but it's also shameful the way he has so much power. This is the most powerful person in the world. And he has planes and homes and belongs to the country clubs and owns country clubs, and he gets off on shaming communities around the United States.

His behavior across the board is shameful. I think he needs to be impeached not necessarily for that shameful behavior but for the criminal behavior. And look, this country needs rebuilt.

We are falling behind to China. Our economy is falling behind. Middle class people are falling behind. And he's over here screwing around just getting on the news, which seems to be his only goal.

WHITFIELD: So when moral or immoral behavior isn't going to be enough for impeachment proceedings, but you believe -- you're convinced enough based on Mueller's testimony, the Mueller Report that there is substantial or substantiated criminal behavior on the part of the President --

RYAN: Without any question.

WHITFIELD: -- that should propel congress to impeach?

RYAN: I think without any question. I mean all you have to do is read the report. There's five or six occasions where he obstructed justice.

His own team said don't talk to Jeff Sessions. Whatever you do, don't talk to Jeff Sessions because it's going to be obstruction --

WHITFIELD: You do not believe that he should be subpoenaed?

RYAN: Who's that?

WHITFIELD: Jeff Sessions?

Ryan: Yes, it's not like people are going to, you know, deal with the subpoena the way they're supposed to. There's so much obstruction even with the subpoenas.

so we need to move forward. but look, this is something that needs to be dealt with, but the vast majority of people in the United States are worried about their job. They've got two or three of them, and still can't make ends meet. They're worried about their health care. They're worried about the fact that we have a mental health crisis in the United States.

And so I'm trying to make proposals like put a mental health counselor in every school so that our kids are ok, so we're dealing with the trauma that our kids are on, that our kids have.

How do we fix the food system that's broken and making us all sick? Fix the health care system that is a disease care system, doesn't do anything to keep us healthy. These problems are so huge.

And I'll just say this. The American people want ideas on how we're going to solve them, and I'm giving them those ideas on how to solve them at timryanAmerica.com. We've got a plan around health care, and a plan around food and new ways of doing agriculture.

We can't be paralyzed with this left-right divide, or I hate Trump divide. We've got to deal with him but then move forward with new ideas.

(CROSSTALKING)

WHITFIELD: This week you will be challenged with having to or trying to present many of those ideas in a very restricted format. but a format, you know, with ten on one night and ten on another in the CNN debates.

Congressman Tim Ryan, all the best to you. Thank you so much.

RYAN: Super excited to be with you on Tuesday -- thank you.

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