Before she sat down with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night, the mere mention of Elizabeth Warren’s name during The Late Show host’s monologue drew loud applause from the live audience.
That enthusiasm only continued when the senator and 2020 presidential candidate joined Colbert at his desk moments later. “Why don’t we just quit now and do a selfie line?” she joked.
But Colbert wanted to talk about more than just selfies. And he began by asking about a specific line from her massive rally the night before in New York City’s Washington Square Park.
“There’s a lot at stake in this election, and I know people are scared,” Warren told the crowd of 20,000. “But we can’t choose a candidate we don’t believe in just because we’re too scared to do anything else. And Democrats can’t win if we’re scared and looking backward.”
Asked by the host if that was a “veiled shot” at her 2020 rival Joe Biden, Warren said, “No, the way I see this, is these really are scary times. It’s scary times because Donald Trump is truly a terrible president. Not just bad, terrible.”
Colbert pushed further on this point though, saying, “People are seeing you refer to Biden in that because when things do get scary—and it is a scary time—people run to the familiar, they run to the safe, they run to the comfortable,” all things that the former vice president seems to represent for voters. “How do you make yourself familiar and comfortable to these people?” the host asked.
“So I guess I just don’t see it the same way, Stephen,” Warren replied. “I see this as either, you know, we can hide under the covers, or we can say, no, we get it. The government isn’t working for us. Donald Trump is in charge, but things have been broken for a very long time. And instead of hiding, we can actually come together, all of us, fight back and make this the country we want it to be. For me, this is about looking forward.”
The crowd sounded impressed.
Later in their conversation, Colbert attempted to corner Warren into admitting that taxes will have to go up for middle-class households in order to pay for her Medicare-for-All plan. As she kept referring to overall “costs” and saying, “here’s the thing,” he interrupted her to say, “But here’s the thing, I’ve listened to these answers a few times before and I just want to make a parallel suggestion to you that you might defend the taxes perhaps that you’re not mentioning in your sentence: Isn’t Medicare-for-All like public school?”
“There might be taxes for it, but you certainly save a lot of money sending your kids to school and do you want to live in a world where your kids aren’t educated?” Colbert asked. “Do you want to live in a world where your fellow citizens are dying, even if it costs a little bit of money?”
“I accept your point and I believe in your point. Health care is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights, and that’s Medicare-for-All. Everyone gets covered,” Warren said. She proceeded to make her pitch for why her plan is better than keeping private insurance companies, declaring “those who have more will pay more” and “hardworking families will pay less,” but did not give a straight answer on middle-class tax increases.
Colbert ended the interview by asking Warren if she agrees with President Trump on anything. After a long pause, she replied, “Yes! Yes! He signed my bill into law that is going to bring down the cost of hearing aids for millions of people across this country. I’m in. My guy!”