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Elizabeth Warren slides by prickly health care question at Culinary Union town hall

Updated December 10, 2019 - 10:09 am

Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren glided through questions on health care, immigration and labor during a Las Vegas town hall meeting held by Culinary Local 226 and parent organization UNITE HERE on Monday night.

The Massachusetts senator stuck to her typical event script with a retelling of her modest upbringing in Oklahoma, capped off by a formative moment in which her mother was able to save her family’s home and livelihood by working a minimum wage job. Several hundred members packed the small Las Vegas union hall, with dozens of attendees forced to stand in the back during her speech.

She then answered prepared questions from a handful of union members as part of an ongoing town hall series, which began in November with Sen. Kamala Harris and will continue Tuesday and Wednesday with Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.

‘Medicare for All’? Leaders from the Culinary Union set the stage for a possible tough night for Warren by noting the union had fought hard for its stellar health care benefits, with Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline adding, “we’re going to do whatever we can to protect that health care.”

Like clockwork, the first question from Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas cook Cristhian Barneond centered on how Warren would protect those benefits.

Warren began by complimenting the union’s health care facility, which she toured earlier in the day. Without mentioning “Medicare for All” by name, Warren said her plan is not about taking anything away from the Culinary Union, but rather replicating it for all Americans while charging corporations and the wealthy.

UNITE HERE President D. Taylor then jumped in, repeating a prevalent Medicare for All maxim: Health care is a right and not a privilege. He then steered to the next question with no obvious objection from the crowd.

Pro-union, anti-corruption. Warren’s fiery rhetoric on the outsized influence of corporate interests and the need to remove big money from politics were hits with the crowd, as were her calls for increasing the minimum wage and reining in bosses who attempt to illegally break union drives.

Money line: On immigration in the time of President Donald Trump: “(Trump) hopes if we’re all fighting each other, that nobody will notice that Donald Trump and his corrupt buddies are stealing the great wealth and dignity of this country.”

Contact Rory Appleton at rappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.

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