Potential Biden VP Pick Tammy Duckworth Signals Openness To Tearing Down Statues Of Founding Fathers

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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 25: Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., conducts a news conference in the Capitol after the Senate adjourned for the day the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Saturday, January 25, 2020.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, signaled on Sunday that she was open to tearing down statues of some of America’s founding fathers.

“Senator, I know that you support change in the name of military bases named after Confederate leaders,” CNN’s Dana Bash said. “But there are leaders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who were slave owners, and some people are demanding that their monuments come down, too. So, in your view, where does it end? Should statues, for example, of George Washington come down?”

“Well, let me just say that we should start off by having a national dialogue on it at some point,” Duckworth responded.

Duckworth continued by attacking President Donald Trump, saying that Trump has “spent all his time talking about dead traitors.”

“So, that might be true, but George Washington, I don’t think anybody would call him a traitor,” Bash responded. “And there are moves by some to remove statues of him. Is that a good idea?”

“I think we should listen to everybody,” Duckworth responded. “I think we should listen to the argument there.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA CNN:

CNN HOST DANA BASH: Tammy Duckworth is blocking more than 1,000 military promotions to try to protect impeachment witness Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, and that as the senator is picking up buzz as a potential running mate for Vice President Joe Biden.

One column this week calling her — quote — “the anti-Trump, the anti-ugliness he revels in and the cynicism he stokes.”

So, joining me now is Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, a former Army lieutenant colonel who served as a helicopter pilot in Iraq.

Senator, thank you so much for joining me.

President Trump gave a speech at Mount Rushmore Friday night. He talked about the importance of preserving historical monuments. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Senator, I know that you support change in the name of military bases named after Confederate leaders.

But there are leaders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who were slave owners, and some people are demanding that their monuments come down, too. So, in your view, where does it end? Should statues, for example, of George Washington come down?

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, let me just say that we should start off by having a national dialogue on it at some point.

But, right now, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. And our — one of our ally — one of our — countries that are opposed to us, Russia, has put a bounty on American troops’ head.

What really struck me about this speech that the president gave at Mount Rushmore was that he spent more time worried about honoring dead Confederates than he did talking about the lives of our American — 130,000 Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19, or by warning Russia off of the bounty they’re putting on Americans’ heads.

I mean, his priorities are all wrong here. He should be talking about what we’re going to do to overcome this pandemic. What are we going to do to push Russia back? And, instead, he had no time for that. He spent all his time talking about dead traitors.

BASH: So, that might be — be true, but George Washington, I don’t think anybody would call him a traitor. And there are…

DUCKWORTH: No.

BASH: … moves by some to remove statues of him. Is that a good idea?

DUCKWORTH: I think we should listen to everybody. I think we should listen to the argument there.

But remember that the president at Mount Rushmore was standing on ground that was stolen from Native Americans who had actually been given that land during a treaty.

And, again, let’s talk about the greater context of where we are in our country right now. We should be talking about the fact that COVID- 19 is experiencing a resurgence, and both this president and the man he put in charge of the pandemic response team, the vice president, have both failed miserably at their jobs.

I’m more worried about the 130,000 who have lost their lives recently and the thousands and thousands more Americans who are currently sick than I am about the — our historical past.

We need to talk about what we’re doing now to bring this country off of the brink of chaos that it’s in.

BASH: So, I’m going to ask about that, for sure, in a minute.

I want to ask also about the fact that you announced that you would block Senate confirmations of over 1,000 military officers until the Defense Department confirms that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who is a key impeachment witness — he was — against President Trump, to make sure that he gets his promotion.

Have you heard from the Defense Department?

DUCKWORTH: I have not heard from the Defense Department.

Let me just make it clear. If Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is on that list, he made his way on it through his own job performance. And you can’t get on the promotion list unless you were recommended to be on it by your rater, your intermediate rater and your senior rater. So, three superior officers have to agree to put you on the promotion list.

And all I’m saying is, I will not support the promotion of anybody to the rank of colonel or general unless the Defense Department certify to me that, if he is on the list, they won’t take him off.

The reports that I heard was that he was on the list, but that the White House had directed the secretary of defense to take his name off, a list that he earned his way onto himself.

And I’m not blocking the promotions of anybody below the rank of lieutenant colonel, so just colonels and generals.

BASH: So, let’s talk about the coronavirus and the way that leaders are or are not responding.

We spoke around Mother’s Day about the difficulties of being a mother while also working from home. And there was a recent “New York Times” op-ed entitled “The COVID-19 Economy: You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Can’t Have Both.”

And the author wrote the following, wrote: “Why isn’t anyone talking about this? We — why are we not hearing a primal scream so deafening that no plodding policy can be implemented without addressing the people buried by it?”

You’re the first senator to give birth in office. You have two small children. How are you and other leaders dealing with this? And are you doing enough to address this problem?

DUCKWORTH: Well, child care is part of the Democrats’ proposal for the next COVID-19 relief bill. So, it is part of what our platform is.

And I will tell you, I’m living this on a firsthand basis. I just found out from my daughter’s public school that we have a choice come fall of her either being full-time homeschooling. And how do I do that and be a full-time united state senator?

And the other choice is that two days a week in school and three days a week at home. I can figure out how to make things work. But what about the single mom who’s got to go and work at McDonald’s or the grocery store? How are they going to put this together?

This is very much something that I’m talking with the Democratic leadership on. And it is part of the Democratic position that we should have child care for all Americans. BASH: Senator, hundreds of female black leaders across the country signed a letter urging Joe Biden to pick a black woman as his running mate.

And here’s what they wrote. They wrote — quote — “It is a fact that the road to the White House is powered by black women, and black women are the key to a Democratic victory in 2020.”

So, what do you think? Should he pick a black woman as his running mate?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I do think black women are a key to the victory for Democrats. Look at how Doug Jones was elected and will be reelected to the United States Senate.

Listen, the Biden campaign have their own process that they’re going through. And I’m sure Vice President Biden will pick the right person to be next to him as he digs this country out of the mess that Donald Trump has put us in.

Remember that we need a leader who’s going to bind us back together, someone whose resilience — who has empathy, who has seen so many of the ups and downs through his own life and can connect with the American people.

And Joe Biden is that person. And I believe so strongly that we need to get him into the White House.

BASH: So…

DUCKWORTH: I will do whatever I need to do. I will do whatever I need to do to support him.

And it’s one team, one fight. And I — if that means I have to go sweep floors in a VA hospital, and that’s the best thing I can do to help him win, then that’s what I will do.

BASH: So, real quick, you do not think that his running mate has to be an African-American woman?

DUCKWORTH: I think that Joe Biden needs to make his own mind and will make his own mind.

I don’t think it’s on any of us to dictate to him. He knows best who he needs as a vice president who can help him connect with the American people, who can help him overcome the crises that we’re — that we’re operating under right now, everything from rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, making sure we can face off the next pandemic, making sure our economy gets turned around, and making sure we push back our folks like the Russians, who are putting bounties on Americans’ heads.

BASH: Senator…

DUCKWORTH: There’s a lot of problems that Donald Trump is leading and Joe Biden is going to have to clean up.

And he will pick the right person to help him do that.

BASH: Senator, thank you so much.

Thank you for your service. We really appreciate it, again, especially on this holiday weekend.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

BASH: Thank you, Senator.

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