Transcript: Marianne Williamson on "Face the Nation," July 28, 2019

Marianne Williamson on her proposed "Department of Children"

The following is a transcript of the interview with Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson that aired Sunday, July 28, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with one of six women candidates for the Democratic nomination. Our guest is the only one who is not a Senator or congresswoman, but Marianne Williamson is an author of seven bestselling self-help books. She's also a spiritual advisor. Good morning and welcome to the broadcast. 

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON: Thank you. Thank you. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to pick up with the question I asked some of our other guests, which is is it important for Democrats to respond to tweets like the president has sent about Elijah Cummings? Or should you stay focused on issues?

WILLIAMSON: Well first of all that is an issue and it's important for every American to respond. You know, Mr. Mulvaney said something very interesting to me on your show. When he was talking about what Elijah Cummings said- why the president came after him, Mr. Mulvaney said what he said was wrong. Now Mr. Mulvaney did not say what he said was inaccurate- the idea of children sleeping in their own feces, etcetera. He said what they- what he did was wrong. So really this is demagoguery. This is beyond- you know we use words like racism, but we need to understand and every American needs to understand, the president sends out warning shots. You criticize me, I'm coming after you. That's why many Republicans will not take him on. That's why certain Republicans chose not to even run again. And now he's doing that with someone like the congressman and I thought that was fascinating. What you did was wrong, it is wrong to come after me. That is how demagogues behave.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are running on a platform with some proposals that involve some massive restructuring of the U.S. government-- 

WILLIAMSON: I sure am.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --one of the things you're floating is this idea of creating a Department of Children--

WILLIAMSON: Children and Youth, yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --how is this different than what the Education Department does and what is it that you're actually proposing?

WILLIAMSON: Well, the Education Department gets about 68 billion dollars in the budget and then within HHS, there is also the agency of children and working- excuse me, children and families that gets about 48 billion dollars. Now, education is extremely important, but we have children who are traumatized before they even reached- before they even reach preschool. We have a relatively high infant mortality rate. We have problems that go beyond the things that are already covered. We have problems with the fact that children have PTSD. Millions of American children have PTSD that is considered as severe as that of returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. We have millions of American children who go to school every day- elementary school students who are asking their teachers if maybe they have some food for them. We have American children who go to classrooms where there aren't even the adequate school supplies with which to teach a child to read and if the child cannot learn to read by the age of 8, the high school graduation a- possibility- probability is drastically decreased and the chances of high- of incarceration are drastically increased. So, we need a holistic perspective. We need more than just educational funding. We need wraparound services. We need trauma informed education. We need to deal with the nutrition of our children, the high poverty rates, the violence in our schools, the- the trauma informed education. There are so many issues for the whole child that need to be addressed, as a--

MARGARET BRENNAN: How--

WILLIAMSON: --I'm sorry.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, when it comes though to even public education--

WILLIAMSON: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --not even the level of social services you're talking about- a lot of this is controlled at the state level. So how do you get Republican governed states, in particular, to agree to fund everything you're laying out here and to actually implement? 

WILLIAMSON: Well let's talk about that. The truth of the matter is we are the only advanced industrialized nation that bases our educational funding on property taxes. So what this means is that a child in a- in a financially advantaged neighborhood stands a chance- a good chance of getting a very high quality public school education here. But if a child does not grow up, not live in a- in a financial advantage neighborhood, then the opportunities are far less for a higher quality education. To me--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So how would you fund it?

WILLIAMSON: --there should be a federal mandate. Two things are going on here. Some states have the money to do better and they choose not to. Some states simply do not have the money. To me this should be a federal mandate every- when I'm president- if I'm president. The idea is that every school in America should be a palace of learning and culture and the arts. This is the way to create a peaceful society and a prosperous society years from now and that's what we should be doing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Kamala Harris says she wants to pay teachers more-  thirteen-thousand-five-hundred dollar raise over four years. Is that the dollar amount you're looking for?

WILLIAMSON: I'm not looking at a specific dollar amount, but I certainly agree with the Senator that we need to pay teachers a lot more. But you know what, that's the- that's one out of so many things that need to be changed. That's just one- one thing. We have to talk about- about what even happens in these children's lives before they even get to school. I also want to- feel that the high stakes standardized test things are not- are not helpful at this point. But we have to deal with so much more than- as important as it is that we pay our teachers more, which is extremely important, we have to look at the whole issue of how American- America basically neglects millions of chronically traumatized children every single day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You mentioned health. You have clarified in recent days that your position is not one of an anti vaxxer.

WILLIAMSON: Well--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You do--

WILLIAMSON: --there are people who say

MARGARET BRENNAN: --support vaccines?

WILLIAMSON: Well, what's happening in the world today is that anybody who has any kind of conversation that is not toeing the line with big pharma is called an anti-vaxxer. I am pro- vaccine. I am pro-medicine and I also find the fact that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you don't object to antidepressants either? You've clarified that.

WILLIAMSON: No. If people want to use antidepressants- and I do not like the predatory practices of big pharma and I don't know why people- when we are seeing what's going on now with the opioid crisis, where attorney generals all over this country are now indicting these big pharmaceutical executives for what we now know to have been their role in the opioid crisis, I find it so odd that people are just assuming that in every other area they're just the paragons of pure intent and concern for the common good. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: As commander in chief what do you think America's role in the world should be?

WILLIAMSON: Moral leadership. Our grandparents would be rolling over in their graves to see something like, for instance, for the sake of a $350 billion dollar arms deal over the next 10 years. We are giving aerial support to a genocidal war that Saudi Arabia is waging against Yemen. Tens of thousands of people have been starved, including children. Now I'm not saying that America was ever perfect, but there was a time on this planet when other nations, and Americans ourselves, saw that when it came to international policy we at least tried to stand for democracy and humanitarian.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you would cut funding for Saudi Arabia and the alliance? 

WILLIAMSON:  It's not just about cutting funding to military. I want the military to have whatever it needs for legitimate security purposes. My critique is of political decisions that have more to do with short term profit maximization for defense contractors. We need to wage peace. Even Donald Rumsfeld who was the secretary of defense under- under George Bush said we must also wage peace, which is why I want a U.S. Department of Peace. We need to far- far beef up and- and support far more our peace building agencies within the state department. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well we'll hear more about that on the debate stage this week, I'm sure. Thank you very much.

WILLIAMSON: Thank you. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will be right back with our political panel.