Transcript: Sen. Raphael Warnock on "Face the Nation," March 24, 2024


The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Raphael Warnock, Democrat of Georgia, that aired on March 24, 2024.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to “Face The Nation”. We go now to Georgia Democratic Senator, Reverend Raphael Warnock. He is part of President Biden’s reelection campaign. Good morning, and welcome to Face The Nation.

SENATOR RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Thank you so much for inviting me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, your state of Georgia was so key to President Biden’s win back in 2020. Our polling now, though, shows Donald Trump with 51% of the potential 2024 vote, Biden at 48%. When it comes to Black voters, support has dropped since the last election. Why do you think that enthusiasm has declined?

SEN. WARNOCK: Well, listen, you know, it- it’s still relatively early in the campaign. And I can tell you as someone whose name has been on the ballot five times in less than three years, that the polls don’t tell you nearly as much as the people do. I think that at the end of the day, Black voters, Georgia voters, will see that this is a binary choice. And the- the more Donald Trump talks, the better our fortunes will be. And in the end, I believe that Georgia voters are going to do for Joe Biden what they did for me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Respectfully, Senator, I- I keep hearing that argument that, oh, the other guy’s worse, is the affirmative argument somehow, I mean, what do you think is actually helping Trump’s appeal, though, among Black voters?

SEN. WARNOCK: Actually, I think we’re seeing a whole lot more than that. Look, Black wealth is up 60%. We’ve seen a 30 year high in the creation of Black small businesses. We’ve invested $7 billion in historically Black colleges and universities, and Black unemployment is at an all time low. 

And so I’m very proud of the work that we’ve been able to do together, in partnership with the Biden administration. I’m proud of my legislation that capped the cost of insulin to no more than $35 of out of pocket costs for seniors. I’m trying to get that done for everybody. And, you know, I- as I move across the state and across the country, I’ve made it a habit of late to ask people, if you or somebody you know has had your student debt canceled. And hands go up all over the room. We’ve done $144 billion dollars of student debt cancellation, helping some 4 million Americans. And- and again, I- I think that at the end of the day, people will see that this is a binary choice, the- the juxtaposition, the contrast could not be more stark. And they’re going to send Joe Biden and Kamala Harris back to the White House.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But in- in states like Georgia, Democrats have been campaigning on action on voting rights, safeguarding democracy, police reform. The administration hasn’t been able to legislate, really, on any of those things. Trayvon Martin’s mom was at an event this past week and said, “The people are not understanding what the politicians are doing, and the politicians definitely don’t understand what the people want.” She was talking about the state level, but at the federal level, how do you explain the inaction on these issues?

SEN. WARNOCK: Well, nobody has been more vigilant and focused on the issue and the Senate on voting rights than me. I was John Lewis’s pastor. And I saw up close his courage, the depth of his commitment, his understanding that change is slow. That’s the nature of politics and history. Often we take one step forward, we take another step back, but we keep pushing. And in a real sense, in the history of this country, there are moments when the democracy expands. There are moments when it contracts. And a Donald Trump part two, would represent a contraction that we cannot bear. When we think about the threat; the threat on voting rights, the threat on women’s reproductive rights, their ability to decide what happens to their own body. And so we remain vigilant. I reintroduced a few days ago, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. And I remind my colleagues that the last time we authorized voting rights in this country, it passed the Senate 98 to zero. It was signed into law by Republican President George W. Bush– 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Has Leader Schumer told you when he’ll bring that to a vote? 

SEN. WARNOCK: — It’s- we have reintroduced it, and we will continue to push the issue. Here’s the thing. I think that the reason why we’re seeing such pushback from the other side on voting rights, on an issue that used to be bipartisan, is because Donald Trump and his allies know that they are losing the argument. They know that they are out of step with the American people on voting rights, on reproductive choice, on the ability of workers to participate and enjoy some of the prosperity that they’re creating for others. People who know they’re losing the argument tend to engage in voter suppression, but we won’t let up for one minute and I won’t rest until we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have been outspoken on the issue of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. According to CBS polling, it is 61% of Black adults polled by CBS say Biden should encourage Israel to decrease or stop military actions and the feelings are really strong, particularly among younger voters. Recently, we also saw a thousand Black pastors from congregations across the country issue the demand for a ceasefire. Sir, of all the issues facing the Black community, why do you think this particular one is resonating in the way that it is?

SEN. WARNOCK: Well, you know, we- we in the African American community, understand human struggle. We know it when we see it. And I called for a negotiated ceasefire just a couple of weeks ago, on the floor of the United States Senate. Look, the state of Israel is our ally. And there – they are our most important partner in the Middle East. But right now, we are having an important conversation about principles about American values. In a real sense, that’s what’s at stake. We cannot forget about the awful attack of Hamas on October 7, against innocent people, including Americans. We can’t turn away from that. And at the same time, we cannot turn away from the scenes of awful suffering and human catastrophe in Gaza. And so we will continue to fight for a negotiated ceasefire. I have said very clearly, that I think for the- for Mr. Netanyahu to go into Rafah, where some 1.4 million Palestinians are now sheltering, would be morally unjustifiable. It would be unconscionable. And I hope that at the end of the day, cooler heads will prevail. And that one day we can get to a two-state solution. A  Jewish democratic state of Israel living in peace, alongside its neighbors, a moment where Palestinian mothers and Jewish mothers can put their children to sleep at peace at night, and awaken to a world that embraces their humanity. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: In terms of what the US can control, the question of US military support for Israel is being debated within your party, as you know. Just yesterday, 11 organizations who operate in Gaza, including the Episcopal Church, Oxfam, Save the Children, issued a letter saying “the humanitarian response in Gaza, including us funded humanitarian assistance has been consistently and arbitrarily denied, restricted and impeded by the Israeli authorities.” Do you worry that continuing to provide American weapons to Israel will sacrifice moral authority? And do you believe that the Biden administration should suspend arms transfers?

SEN. WARNOCK: Listen, Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood. And its enemies are more than just Hamas. They are serious and geopolitical concerns that we have to pay attention to. But look, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can be consistent in our support of Israel’s right to defend itself. And at the same time, be true to American values, and engage this catastrophic humanitarian situation that’s on the ground. And I’ve been saying this now for months, we’ve got to make sure that humanitarian aid gets in, to the people of Gaza. And ultimately, we need a ceasefire –

(CROSSTALK) 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But should it trigger a suspension of arms transfers?

SEN. WARNOCK: Because the answer to death and destruction is not more death and destruction.  

We have a security supplemental right now that’s already passed the Senate and it hasn’t been put on the floor of the House. That security supplemental will provide humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. It will support our partners in the Indo-Pacific arena.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SEN. WARNOCK: And it will also check Russian aggression in Ukraine. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, but I hear you stopping short of saying it should stop transfer. 17 Democratic senators have said the administration should reject Israel’s claims that it is not violating international law. You are not comfortable with that statement.

SEN. WARNOCK: I am saying that we have to continue to engage our partner and to ensure that humanitarian aid gets to the people of Gaza. And ultimately we need a ceasefire.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sir, I know it is Palm Sunday and you will be headed to church and to preach today. Thank you for sharing your time this morning with us. We’ll be right back.

WARNOCK: Great to be with you.



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