Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) said she did not support free four-year college on Monday, telling a New Hampshire audience she would back it if she was a "magic genie" but it wasn't affordable.
In a town hall hosted by CNN, a 2017 college graduate named Griffin Sinclair-Wingate complained of high student loan payments to Klobuchar, who last week joined a growing field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
"Would you be willing to stand with my generation and end the student debt crisis by supporting free college for all? And would you include undocumented and formerly incarcerated people in that program?" he asked, adding he wanted a "yes or no" answer.
Klobuchar didn't honor his request, giving a long response that included making it easier for students to refinance their loans and supporting free two-year, community colleges. She also called for government Pell grants to be expanded to more students.
Moderator Don Lemon noted she hadn't answered her questioner directly, leading Klobuchar to say, "No, I am not for free, four-year college for all." The CNN camera showed Sinclar-Wingate looking unhappy with her answer.
"If I was a magic genie and could give that to everyone and we could afford it, I would," Klobuchar said. "I'm just trying to find a mix of incentives and make sure kids that are in need—that's why I talked about expanding Pell grants—can go to college and be able to afford it and make sure that people that can afford it are able to pay.
"We're on a college campus so you know many of the questions—" Lemon said, before Klobuchar cut over him.
"I know that, but I've got to tell the truth," she said. "We have a mounting debt that the Trump administration keeps getting worse and worse. I also don't want to leave that on the shoulders of all these kids, right? So we've got to do a balance. Some of it's major tax reform in terms of reversing some of the things that this administration has done, and then some of it is making sure that students are getting degrees and being led to jobs where we actually have jobs."