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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Kerry Goes Hunting for Votes While Bush Blasts Kerry on Health Care; New Voting Systems Could Lead to Chaos

Aired October 21, 2004 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Senator Kerry goes hunting for conservative votes. President Bush blasts Senator Kerry on health care. We'll have live reports from the campaign trail.
In our special report, Democracy at Risk, will your vote count? New voting systems and technology could lead to chaos election night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONNY MCCORMACK, L.A. COUNTY REGISTRAR/RECORDER: People usually, if something's new, they don't always know how to use it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Tonight, two views on whether our national voting system is broken in Face Off.

A new survey confirms what we've been reporting on this broadcast for some time, a large majority of Americans concerned about illegal immigration. They want the federal government to take tough action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRAITON STUDIES: Illegal immigration creates an environment of lawlessness and anarchy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: And outrage over the words "illegal aliens" in Iowa, a phrase we often use on this broadcast. An activist group in Iowa says the phrase promotes racism. Minority activist Max Cardenas debates the issue with me tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Thursday, October 21. Here now for an hour of news, debate and opinion is Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening.

Senator Kerry and President Bush today battle for votes in two states that could determine the outcome of this election. President Bush campaigned in Pennsylvania. Senator Kerry in Ohio.

Frank Buckley is covering Senator Kerry's campaign in Columbus, Ohio, tonight. Dana Bash with the president's campaign in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

We begin with Frank Buckley -- Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Senator Kerry here in Ohio to court those voters who, as you said, could determine who the next president is going to be.

Here in Ohio especially, the race is among the tightest of the races in the top-tier battleground states, so Senator John Kerry was doing his best to appeal to swing voters, to women and to sportsmen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BUCKLEY (voice-over): Senator John Kerry appeared with the wife of the late-actor Christopher Reeve, a friend of Kerry's and an advocate for stem cell research.

DANA REEVE, WIDOW OF CHRISTOPHER REEVE: I am here today because John Kerry, like Christopher Reeve, believes in keeping our hope alive.

BUCKLEY: Kerry calls for expanding stem cell research and increasing funding. He is critical of President Bush who approved federal funding, but limited it to existing stem cell lines.

SEN. JOHN K. KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's wrong to tell scientists that they can't cross the frontiers of new knowledge. It's wrong morally and it's wrong economically, and, when I am president, we will change this policy and we will lead the world in stem cell research.

BUCKLEY: The focus on such research is part of Kerry's effort to present himself as the forward-looking candidate, President Bush as someone whose ideology stifles progress.

KERRY: You get the feel, my friends -- you really get this feeling that if George Bush had been president during other periods of American history, he would have sided with the candle lobby against electricity; he would have been with the buggy makers against the cars and the typewriter companies against the computers.

BUCKLEY: While the Kerry campaign appealed to swing voters and women with the stem cell speech, a goose hunting trip earlier in the day was designed to reassure voters in swing states like Ohio that Kerry, like many of them, is a hunter, too.

Bush campaign officials called it pure photo-opportunism. The head of the NRA suggested Kerry is no friend of gun owners.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: I don't know what happened in the blind today, but I'll tell you this I know John Kerry's not shooting straight with the American public on guns and hunting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BUCKLEY: Senator Kerry is in Minnesota and Wisconsin tonight, but he will be back to Ohio. We're told that next week either Senator Kerry or Senator John Edwards, his running mate, will be in the State of Ohio everyday except Tuesday when Senator Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, will be here.

Lou, the Democrats are doing their best to the take this state out of the Republican column. No GOP President has won the presidency without the State of Ohio -- Lou.

DOBBS: Frank, as you say, take it out of the Republican column. I think we should also point out -- I understand what you're saying -- that it is still a state that's very much in the undecided column as it stands at least right now.

Frank Buckley, thank you very much, sir, from Columbus, Ohio.

President Bush today strongly criticized Senator Kerry's plans for health care and medical liability reform. President Bush said Kerry's proposals would lead American down the road toward a government-controlled health-care system.

Dana Bash reports from Hershey, Pennsylvania -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the president said all of those things, of course, in Pennsylvania, and, if travel logs are any indicator of how hard the president wants to work and wants to win this state, this is certainly one that he's worked the hardest in.

He has been here now 40 times. Polls show it's still very close, but even the president's aides say that it's going to be tough to win these 21 electoral votes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): The president's uphill battle to take Pennsylvania means bringing back moderates in his own party who voted against him four years ago. Health care is part of his pitch.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When it comes to health care, Senator Kerry's prescription is bigger government with higher costs. My reforms will lower costs and give more control and choices to the American people.

BASH: In these final days, the Bush campaign's eased off the Kerry's-a-flip-flopper label in favor of calling him a big government liberal. The president took aim at Kerry's plan to offer health coverage to all and pay for it by repealing tax cuts for the healthy.

But health care is a Bush weakness. Senator Kerry has a nine- point advantage. It's on the president's watch five million lost coverage, while others saw costs spike.

BUSH: My opponent wants the government to dictate to the American people. I want the American people to decide.

BASH: Mr. Bush says the cure is giving consumers more control through things like tax-free health savings accounts, allowing small businesses to form insurance pools to lower costs and limiting malpractice lawsuits.

To win Pennsylvania, the president also needs social conservatives from both parties, and he reached out to the state's large Catholic community by arranging a publicized, yet private audience with Philadelphia's Archbishop Justin Rigali.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And the cardinal has been outspoken that Catholics should support the candidate who supports the Vatican's opposition to abortion, and this visit was a not-so-subtle reminder that that means President Bush and not his Catholic opponent -- Lou.

DOBBS: Does the campaign consider that a significant boost for the president's chances there?

BASH: Certainly, they are hoping so, Lou. The president's top aides were making the point that the Catholic vote is very large and very important in this state, and it really matters to the president in terms of getting not just conservative and obviously Catholic Republicans, but also Democrats, particularly in rural areas.

Those are the folks that may push the president over the edge here, but, again, the president's aides say it's going to be hard to do at this point in Pennsylvania.

DOBBS: Dana, thank you.

Dana Bash from Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Both presidential candidates, of course, want the United Nations to help in Iraq, but the United Nations is failing to meet its obligations because nearly all of its members are now refusing to provide troops to protect U.N. staff.

Only tiny Fiji has offered to send its soldiers. Meanwhile, bigger countries, such as France and Germany, are doing apparently everything possible to stay out.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iraqi elections are scheduled for January. The U.N. is supposed to help organize them, but, in Baghdad, three months before the election, the United Nations has done very little. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari complained this week that the U.N. has not sent nearly enough people. The U.N. has been saying it will send only 35 people until security improves. Sources tell CNN less than 10 are election officials.

Today, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan again talked about security.

KOFI ANNAN, SECRETARY GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS: The circumstances have to be conducive in the sense that either we have to notice a genuine improvement in the security environment or solid arrangements for the protection of the staff.

PILGRIM: Concerns over security are not unfounded. U.N. headquarters in Baghdad was bombed in August 2003, killing 22 people, including U.N. Chief Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello, but, since then, the U.N. passed a resolution calling for 4,000 additional troops to protect U.N. election organizers.

Although it passed last June, the United Nations has not been able to persuade many countries to contribute. With a flourish yesterday, the U.N. announced just 130 troops from Fiji.

(AUDIO GAP)

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: ... smart thing. We want the United Nations to be in Iraq to help with the election and to help with other things, and we have consistently encouraged the United Nations to continue to expand its presence and play a vital role there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi keeps insisting that the election date cannot be pushed back, despite the violence in the country -- Lou.

DOBBS: This is an obligation undertaken by the United Nations, by Secretary General Kofi Annan. Are there other politics at work here beyond what is obvious as this point?

PILGRIM: Well, it's enigmatic because it was a unanimous vote to support this 4,000 troops that are going in, and yet no one is stepping forward to do this. So there has to be a political agenda here.

DOBBS: The secretary general put in something of a conflicted position since he has been -- now stated at least on two occasions that he believes the war in Iraq to be illegal.

PILGRIM: It certainly is. Action is not meeting resolutions. That's for sure.

DOBBS: Kitty Pilgrim, thank you.

New developments tonight in the multibillion-dollar U.N. oil-for- food scandal. Former Federal Reserve Chief Paul Voelcker, who is undertaking an investigation of the program, today revealed more about what his investigation into the scandal has and has not uncovered to this point.

Richard Roth, our U.N. correspondent, has the point.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL VOELCKER, INDEPENDENT OIL-FOR-FOOD INQUIRY: You will find it here.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Paul Voelcker, the head of the U.N. commissionned oil-for-food investigation, released the names of thousands of companies that did business with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, but the former Federal Reserve Board chairman said he is not yet finding any of the companies guilty of corruption.

VOELCKER: We would invite people to come forward with any information they have that they think is relevant about these particular contractors, and the transactions they may have had under the oil-for-food program.

ROTH: It's widely believed the oil-for-food humanitarian program was riddled with corruption as Saddam Hussein extorted billions of dollars in kickbacks.

Voelcker wants helps in identifying whether the Iraqis or outside companies named maintained phony front firms to hide illegal oil sales because of bribes and payoffs.

Just before Voelcker's press conference, the secretary general of the U.N. conceded oil for food has damaged the world organization.

ANNAN: There's no doubt that the constant campaign and the discussions have hedged the U.N. This is not something we would like, and that's why we want to get to the bottom of it and clear it as quickly as possible.

ROTH: Voelcker declined to reveal any findings on Kofi Annan's son, Kojo, who worked for a Swiss company that later won the bid to inspect oil-for-food shipments to Iraq.

Curiously, Voelcker didn't think it would be useful to interview Saddam Hussein, but said it's difficult to interview his former ministers in jail facing other charges.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROTH: Voelcker said he's getting good cooperation in general from the Americans in Iraq, not necessarily from the Justice Department and some of the six other oil-for-food investigations going on now. He said he's getting cooperation up to a point from BNP Paribas, the French bank at the center of this oil-for-food investigation where the oil-for-food accounts were held. The bank says it is fully cooperating as a witnesses in the investigation, not a focus -- Lou.

DOBBS: In the past month, Paul Voelcker had said, Richard, that he would not have anything for us for at least six month, perhaps a year, and suddenly he is now speaking, although not saying much, certainly, but at least addressing the issue. Why the change of heart? Why the change of direction?

ROTH: Well, I think he's definitely been influenced somewhat by the release a couple of weeks ago by Charles Duelfer, the CIA man investigating weapons and, in effect, oil-for-food money that might have funded the arsenal in Iraq. He released what Voelcker called substantially the same names.

He's looking now, Voelcker is, for anyone to come forward to help. He also blamed the media in effect, he says, for possible damaging part of the investigation regarding Kofi Annan's son. He mentioned a London newspaper report.

He says his full definitive report is coming mid next year, though there might be an interim update, and he also said he might have been wrong when he said within three months he'd have something to say about the U.N. and the former head of the oil-for-food program Bennan Saddam (ph).

DOBBS: So, at this point, in summation, Paul Voelcker is blaming the media for reporting on details that so far his investigation has not permitted him to reveal?

ROTH: Well, just on that one point so far, but he's also asking, I guess, through the media that he would like some help and people to come forward. He is still at loggerheads with the congressional panels. They in Washington seem to be willing to characterize the names and whether people are guilty or not. He says he's not willing do that. They can if they want.

DOBBS: Richard Roth from the United Nations.

Thank you.

Still ahead here, a new study confirms that a large majority of Americans are now concerned -- is now concerned about illegal aliens in this country and the extent of illegal immigration. We'll have that special report.

And the White House is standing firm. It still insists Congress must drop border security reforms that will make it easier to stop the traffic of illegal aliens. The committees, the conference committee continuing behind closed doors to work toward what apparently will be a blockbuster development. We'll have the report from Capitol Hill tonight.

And Democracy at Risk. Rising concerns about the possibility of a breakdown in our national voting system come election date. We'll have that, a debate in our Face Off on the very issue.

All of that and a great deal more still ahead here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight, an alarming new study confirming what we've been reporting here for more than a year. An invasion of illegal aliens into this country is of great and rising concerns to millions of Americans, a majority of Americans, and most Americans now believe the government isn't doing enough to stop illegal aliens from crossing our borders.

Bill Tucker has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Americans make a very clear distinction between legal and illegal immigration. Eighteen hundred people were surveyed, both immigrant and nonimmigrant, in a poll of National Public Radio, Harvard's Kennedy School and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

MARCUS ROSENBAUM, SENIOR EDITOR, NPR: We have sort of a live wire sitting out there that I think nobody's willing to touch right now, and there's no real reason to because you're not going to solidify your base. You're not really going to bring any people over to your side, and I think that everybody's just kind of keeping away from it on a political front.

TUCKER: Sixty-nine percent admitted they're concerned about illegal immigration. The top reasons: Taxpayers have to pay too much to provide social services and that illegal immigration increases the likelihood of terrorism.

KRIKORIAN: Illegal immigration creates an environment of lawlessness and anarchy that makes it impossible to effectively screen -- whether at the border or at airports or what-have-you, effectively screen who's coming into the country and keep out people who shouldn't be.

TUCKER: Sixty-six percent of those surveyed think the government should crack down on the issue.

STEPHEN PELLETIER, HARVARD OPINION RESEARCH PROJECT: There is a concern that the government needs to become a little more strong in enforcing immigration laws and doing something about immigration.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: But on the issue of guest worker programs, 72 percent of the group overall don't think guest workers will return to their country of origin when they'e required to do so.

And, Lou, not even people who support the program by a margin of 61 percent think the guest workers will go home when their time's up.

DOBBS: Well, the -- obviously the debate is underway now, and so we can expect at least a clarification, if not a resolution in the issue in the months ahead.

Bill Tucker, thank you.

This new study comes as the White House is pressuring Congress to remove some immigration control measures from the massive intelligence reform legislation. Those measures would put more Border Patrol agents on our borders andnd expedite the deportation of illegal aliens.

Ed Henry has the report from Capitol Hill -- Ed. ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Lou.

That's right. It looks like a little bit of news here this evening. House Republicans may be giving in a little bit on those immigration provisions.

You know, senior lawmakers like Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins are here trying to hammer out a deal on a broad, sweeping intelligence reform bill, acting on the 9/11 commission's recommendations, but the major stalemate has been the fact that these immigration provisions have been blocking a deal over the last couple of days.

They've been meeting around the clock, trying to break through, and we understand that just in the last couple of hours, House Republicans have agreed to drop a key provision. It's the so-called expedited removal provision, which would have expanded the government's power to deport people trying to enter the United States illegally.

House Republicans are now saying that they'll drop that in exchange for increasing the number of detention beds at various immigration detention facilities across the country. This could be a significant development.

I can tell you we've been trying to reach Senate negotiators to see whether or not they will accept this compromise. We're expecting some sort of a response from them tomorrow, a counterproposal, but, right now, Senators Lieberman and Collins are behind closed doors working on this and other provisions.

It's significant because, as you mentioned, the White House, Senate Republicans as well as House and Senate Democrats have opposed these immigration provisions. House Republicans have been holding firm.

And today, some 9/11 families came forward and said they think these immigration provisions should stay in, they should not be knocked out, that securing the borders -- that's the most important reform that could be made.

But, right now, it looks like the House Republicans could be giving in on at least some of that -- Lou.

DOBBS: And a critical component of it, Ed. In point of fact, do the Republicans really believe they can put a fig leaf over this because these are -- this principal provision is one of those that the third most powerful person on Capitol Hill, that is Congressman Roy Blunt, said that there would be no compromise on.

HENRY: That's right. You're -- Lou, absolutely. This is going to be very difficult for House Republicans to sell, if, in fact, they move forward on this, because Republican leaders like Blunt, Tom DeLay and others have said they're going to hold firm, that immigration reform is perhaps the most critical part of this overall restructuring because they say, if the borders are not secure, this will be a worthless effort. The problem, though, politically for House Republicans could be that with the election coming close, there's heavy pressure from the 9/11 commission and the 9/11 families to get something, anything done right now, and though Tom DeLay and others have been saying they would not just take anything, they wanted firm, good reform, maybe they will give in at least partially on these immigration provisions-- Lou.

DOBBS: OK. Thank you very much.

Ed Henry.

Leaving the Republican with a nice piece of political dancing to do since these reforms are part of the 9/11 commission recommendations.

Ed Henry reporting from Capitol Hill.

As Ed just reported, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican of Maine, is among those leading these negotiations over the massive intelligence reform bill in conference, and she'll be with us tomorrow. She's our guest here tomorrow evening.

Still ahead here tonight, Democracy at Risk. Why there is no guarantee your vote will be counted nor count on Election Day. We'll have a special report for you.

And the battle over whether the term "illegal alien" is offensive or accurate. Latino activist Max Cardenas is my guest. We'll debate the issue.

And then, Grange on Point. New concerns tonight about whether American troops in Iraq have the proper training, proper equipment to do their jobs. General David Grange will join me shortly.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight, in our special report, Democracy at Risk, new and troubling concerns about whether your vote will count. Officials around the country are making huge efforts to improve the election process since the 2000 debacle, but that is no guarantee that there won't be another election fiasco this year.

Casey Wian has the story from Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Los Angeles County, you can vote a half-dozen ways. Already, early voting is taking place using touch-screen machines.

Then there are mail-in absentee ballots, three different systems for military and overseas voting, plus provisional ballots for those whose name doesn't appear at their polling place. Even the old-fashioned way has changed. It's a challenge for election officials trying to count all the votes and only the votes that should count.

MCCORMACK: We've launched a huge voter education effort on how to use the equipment. A lot of voting equipment has changed. People usually, if something's new, they don't always know how to use it.

WIAN (on camera): Like many places, Los Angeles is switching to electronic voting, but it's not ready to complete the change. On Election Day, Los Angeles County will use a transitional voting system to replace its old punch-card method. Voters will be required to fill in a bubble on a card like this one.

(voice-over): The system mimics the sound of a punch card, but there's no chad to hang, only an ink dot counted by an optical scanner. Still, there will be errors here and everywhere.

Michael Alvarez led a Cal Tech/MIT study estimating four million to six million votes were lost during the 2000 election. He sees improvement, but persistent problems this time.

MICHAEL ALVAREZ, VOTER TECHNOLOGY PROJECT: For example, the very widespread use of prescored punch cards in a state like Ohio. The problems that we really don't know much about right now or we really can't foresee, like what's going to happen with provisional ballots.

WIAN: Provisional ballots are supposed to reduce lost votes caused by registration mistakes. L.A. County recently purged 200,000 invalid names, about 5 percent of its voter registration list, but that's not happening everywhere.

JOHN FUND, AUTHOR, "STEALING ELECTIONS": There are an awful lot people, You could march in and vote in their name, and you would never be stopped because they don't exist or they've moved or they're no longer around.

WIAN: Fund estimates 30 percent of ballots will be cast outside of polling places this year, and they're the most susceptible to fraud.

Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: And that brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. How do you think this presidential election will compare to that of 2000? Do you believe it will be more orderly, less orderly or just about the same? Cast your vote at cnn.com/lou. We'll have the results for you later in the broadcast.

Immigration and illegal aliens, the focus of a congressional battle in the campaign this year in Des Moines, Iowa. Project USA is an advocacy group for immigration reform. It sponsored campaign signs that read -- these billboards say, "Congressman Leonard Boswell supports amnesty for illegal aliens. Do you?" Congressman Boswell's campaign calls the ads a cheap shot, but it's not the issue of amensty for illegal aliens that's causing some outrage, rather the words used "illegal aliens." Hispanic advocates -- or at least some of them -- say the term promotes racism and fear mongering.

One of those advocates is Max Cardenas. He's from the University of Northern Iowa and joins me tonight from Des Moines.

Max, good to have you with us.

MAX CARDENAS, UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN IOWA: Thanks a lot, Lou. Great to be here.

DOBBS: You've got a tight battle underway there. Why the concern about the expression "illegal aliens"?

CARDENAS: It's a painful term, Lou, and it's something that we try to stay away from, but, to tell you honestly, the reality here in Iowa is that it's not so much what you call immigrants, but actually who immigrants are, and who we are and what we see here in Iowa is that immigrants are...

DOBBS: Well, now you just said "we." Are you...

CARDENAS: ... contributing immensely to...

DOBBS: Forgive me, but you said "we." You're not an illegal immigrant, are you?

CARDENAS: I'm a legal permanent resident and...

DOBBS: Right. So I was just curious about the expression "we." What did you mean by "we"?

CARDENAS: We -- I define myself as an immigrant, but, first of all, as an Iowan, and that is the issue with immigration in Iowa, that it's not a Latino issue or an immigrant issue, but an issue that Iowa needs immigrants, and the immigants need Iowa, and Iowans on the ground here are seeing how immigrants share their values of hard work, of faith and family, and we see great success stories of immigration and welcoming migrants in our state.

DOBBS: Max, I want you to know, I empathize entirely. I worked in farming communities, citrus growing areas throughout my life. I know how hard-work immigrants are, particularly frankly Mexican immigrants, whether legal or illegal with whom I worked from the time I was a young fellow to when I was older. But the issue here it seems to me that it is getting blurred is trying to eliminate the distinction between an illegal alien and a legal immigrant. A distinction on the basis of race often, that suggest illegal aliens as you did is painful. But fact is, it's not a racial or racist issue, is it?

CARDENAS: It's absolutely, absolutely not. Unfortunately, some elements in our communities, which is of course a minority, do make it a racial issue. When the real issue we have at the table and the reality that we see on the ground here in Iowa, and not with out-of- state groups like Project USA trying to divide our communities. It's the fact that immigrants are contributing, thus are welcome given the fact that their revitalizing Iowa small towns, and contributing a lot to our economy.

DOBBS: But you do -- no question. Contributing to an economy but I'll tell you, it pains me you saying as an activist when they contribute to the economy, when point in fact illegal aliens in this country and every quarter in the country are being exploited for their labor. I am sure you would identify yourself as a social liberal one who cares about quality of life for all Americans and those in our country legally or illegally, correct?

Why could -- how you can support the exploitation of those people, which then goes on to further depression of wages for working men and women, legal immigrants in particular in this country, to the tune of $2 billion a year?

CARDENAS: Lou, I don't really ascribe to any label right now whether liberal or conservative, but what I am concerned about is my state which is Iowa. And it's a state with an aging work force. A lot of communities are losing population and when immigrants come, regardless of legal status they pay taxes, they pay sales taxes, they pay taxes through their employment and are -- the communities that actually have seen more increase immigration actually have the lowest unemployment...

DOBBS: Why not...

CARDENAS: ... have the largest tax base. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are coming together. And groups, out-of-state groups trying to say the opposite is something that's not welcomed.

DOBBS: Not welcomed, perhaps the truth isn't -- the fact of the matter is, Max in Iowa or any other state, it's illegal. It's absolutely illegal. Number two, if there's a desperate need for labor in that state, why in the world wouldn't the communities, your government, your state government, your business industry come together and seek out the legal immigration of those who want to join the work force in Iowa?

CARDENAS: You're absolutely right. We're definitely seen there is a problem. We have bad laws hurting good people. And what we need is actually immigration reform that will provide those legal channels. People would have an opportunity to come here legally, which right now there isn't. And that's something that myself somebody who waited 16 years here to come here legally, see that people don't have that option. Even if it takes, you know, 20 years. So we need to open those legal channels and make our borders safe, orderly, secure and immigration legal as well as humane and dignified.

DOBBS: All right. Max, I think you and I can end on an absolute agreement. Max Cardenas, good to have you with us.

And this programming note, tune in to "CNN PRESENTS" this Saturday evening know if an encore presentation our special report "IMMIGRATION NATION DIVIDED COUNTRY" on the immigration crisis that does grip this country, not just the state of Iowa. That's this Saturday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Coming up next, "Democracy at Risk," fears that vote are intimidation and fraud could undermine our national election. Two experts will be here to debate the integrity of our voting system.

And Senator Kerry and President Bush focusing on key domestic issues in the most hotly-contested states. We'll hear from three of the country's top political journalists, next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Election officials across the country have trumpeted extensive efforts to secure our national voting system in the four years since the 2000 election. However, a number of issues from voter intimidation to technical glitches and fraud are still threatening to undermine the election on November 2nd.

Joining me tonight from Washington, D.C., is Edward Hailes. He is senior attorney for the Advancement Project. He believes our national election system is broken, and has been for some time.

And John Lott, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who says there is no evidence of voter intimidation or voting booth fraud.

And both gentlemen, I want to say thank you for being here.

And let me turn to you first, Mr. Hailes, and ask you, how broad a problem do you think this is going to be?

What is your -- your group is working there a number of state, all of them critical battleground states.

What is the sense -- or the proportion of the problem you see?

EDWARD HAILES JR. THE ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Well, we are working in a number of states where there's been a substantial increase in voter registration, activity in states where African-American, Latino, Native American, and Asian-American, voters can really make a difference in the outcome of the election based on their ability to express their voices in our democracy. And so rather than being concerned, we're actually encouraged by the number of people who want to participate in our democracy, and there are a number of nonpartisan coalitions around the country who are going to do everything they can to protect voters and to make sure their voice is heard in the ballot box.

DOBBS: John Lott, you say there's not a problem.

What's the real deal in your view?

JOHN LOTT, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, I think there's some differences here. I mean, I think a lot of the concerns that people have raised about punch cards or about electronic balloting, I think a lot of those are misplaced and greatly exaggerated. I think there are concerns about issues like provisional ballots and the fact that we have a lot of counties in urban areas in this country where we have more registered voters than we have citizens that can live in those areas. Issues of whether you can go and check I.D.s or not, or whether they're properly checked. Whether people are going to be allowed to vote in places outside their own precincts. Those can create some problems.

DOBBS: Well, are we talking in code here, and let's get to it. I mean are we talk ago when we talk about voter intimidation and disenfranchisement, are we talking about a liberal perspective when we say there is an orderly system involved, are we talking about a Republican and a conservative viewpoint, John Lott, your response first?

LOTT: Well, probably no way you can get around that. Different people gain and lose as a result of how well I think the system can operate in different places. I think a lot of the discussion about disenfranchising African-American voters, in particular I think it's been fairly sad, because I think there have been a lot of myths in Florida, for example. I mean, you have the Commission on Civil Rights did an extensive set of hearings, they weren't able to identify even one person.

DOBBS: Not one?

LOTT: No.

HAILES: Lou, that's absolutely false. And Mr. Lott is actually in the minority of people around the world to really believes nothing bad happened in Florida and in other places around the world. We did see systemic irregularities, problems with identifiable victims who were disenfranchised and we're going to do everything we can this time to make sure that citizens of color in particular are not disenfranchised the way they were during the 2000 election. So Mr. Lott simply wrong.

LOTT: Even the Democrats on the Civil Rights Commission were not able to point to a single case of voter intimidation in Florida. They had possibilities that might have existed. But the only cases that people could even point to that were even remotely were similar would be like a police officer's car who was a mile from the polling place. Nothing that the police officer intimidated people or talked to people or threatened them and he was a mile from the polling place. And no evidence, not one case where they could point to somebody who, because of intimidation, didn't vote.

HAILES: Well, let's look to the future. Our concern is that there may be make-believe, wanna-be law enforcement, fraud cops showing up in minority precincts claiming that fraud is an issue and intimidating voters. And we're not going to let that happen. We have a cadry of well-trained lawyers who will make sure that our communities are not disenfranchised.

DOBBS: John Lott, you get the last quick word if you were. LOTT: I think it is sad to me, because I think these have real long run repercussions by making people think there is some systemic effort to try to prevent people from voting. And I think there's been lots of people in the government who have a big -- would like to find this and have looked for these types of claims and haven't been able it find it. And I think it is sad that these charges are keep on being made.

DOBBS: John Lott, Edward Hailes, we thank you both for being here. And I know you agree, both of you at least on one issue, and that is everyone should be casting their vote on November 2. Thank you, both.

HAILES: That's correct. Thank you.

LOTT: Thank you.

DOBBS: A reminder tonight at 8:00 Eastern on the Paula Zahn show here on CNN, a town hall meeting in one of the nation's most important battleground states. Joining me now, none other than Paula Zahn. Paula, what do you got?

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're in the process of building that town hall right now, Lou. We are expecting 170 people. And believe me, they are going to show up. Voters, half of them are undecides. The rest pledged to either the Kerry of Bush campaign.

And we're going to open up the floor to questions to two very important guests. The former police chief of New York City Bernard Kerik, and General Wesley Clark, representing the Kerry campaign. As is always the case at these town hall meetings, there is a lost spontaneity. They really hold these operative's feet to the ground. So it should be very interesting.

And as you know, Lou, Ohio is an incredibly important state. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning here. Al Gore won this particular county by just several hundred votes, although, of course, President Bush won the state.

So there is a lot at stake here. And at the top of my show tonight, Lou, we are going to reveal some new numbers on just how critical this state will be to both of the candidates winning.

DOBBS: The town halls that Paul's conducting all across the country, making for a great engagement on the issues. She does a terrific job. Please join her 8:00 Eastern tonight right here on CNN. Paul, thank you very much.

Still ahead, "Grange On Point." New concerns tonight about the safety of our troops in Iraq. General David Grange coming right up.

President Bush, Senator Kerry attacking one another on a host of domestic issues in key battleground states. How are they doing? I'll be talking with 3 of the country's top political journalists as we continue. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: New concerns tonight about whether the military's doing enough to protect our troops in Iraq. In particular, concerns about the equipment and training of reservists and National Guardsmen who make up of about 40 percent of our troops there.

The concerns, highlighted by the refusal of an Army Reserve Supply Unit to go on a mission saying they didn't have the right equipment to do the job. General David Grange joins me tonight from Oak Brooke, Illinois. General, good to have you with us.

GEN. DAVID GRANGE, (RET) U.S. ARMY: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: This, basically -- this unit, about 17 men, refusing to go forward. Their officer in charge relieved today. What is your take on the situation?

GRANGE: Well, you know, they went ahead and said it was too dangerous. There was a suicide mission to go ahead and go north with supplies for another element. How they knew it was suicidal is beyond me. The military's dangerous. That's what you join the military for is to participate in dangerous situations. But there's probably some truth to the equipment. That some of it is worn out a little bit. May have been suddenly maintenance issues or lack of armor.

DOBBS: Now, these men were not exactly cowards in making this decision. They've been on these -- they've been carrying out their duties there for some time, very dangerous duties. This is a very difficult issue for the Army, isn't it?

GRANGE: It is a difficult mission. Transportation units are the unsung heroes. It was the same thing on Highway 1 in Vietnam, the same thing in Desert Storm, the same thing now in Iraq this time again. And it is very difficult. You are a juicy target for the enemy. So these men and women have a tough mission. There's no doubt about it.

DOBBS: How critical is it for the U.s. army to get this resolved as quickly as possible, and I mean with justice and care, but quickly as possible.

GRANGE: It will be done very quickly. There's a good chance there will be some disciplinary action. It's very unusual to have people disobey orders in a combat situation. I only recall it happening once in my 30 years, where I was involved. And it'll be resolved. It'll be put to bed.

DOBBS: I can't think of anyone associated with this broadcast who can even imagine what it would be like to refuse General Grange's orders. You will not see it happen here, general.

GRANGE: That's for sure!

DOBBS: Take care.

When we continue, President Bush and Senator Kerry push their platforms in critically important states across the country. Three of this country's leading political journalists join me next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Joining me now from Washington, D.C., Roger Simon, "U.S. News & World Report," Karen Tumulty, "TIME" magazine, and here in New York with me, Mark Warren, "Esquire" magazine. Karen, let me begin with you. Stem cell research, is this really worth Senator Kerry's emphasis at this late juncture in the campaign?

KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: It sure is. I've got two words on that one, swing voters. And particularly, it's important to highly educated women voters. So, yes, this is one issue that -- that has been identified in polls as increasingly important to swing voters.

DOBBS: And is Senator Kerry, Roger Simon, fairly characterizing President Bush's position in the state of science and stem cell research and its potential?

ROGER SIMON, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": I think Senator Kerry correctly states the position that he's for this research, and Bush in general is really against the kind of research that some doctors think will be the most productive. Karen is right about the political value of it. And also it's an issue that just strikes people as anti- modern, anti-scientific, a step backwards. Being against someone for religious -- or being against science for religious or political reasons. It makes no sense.

DOBBS: Mark?

MARK WARREN, "ESQUIRE" MAGAZINE: I think that there's a significant cohort of scientists who believe that we are on the threshold of an age of miracles. I don't know that Senator Edwards, as he did last week, is qualified to proscribe those miracles but it's an extremely potent issue because of his promise.

DOBBS: Is there is an issue here that sort of -- that is subtext, though, since President Bush was the first president to move forward with funding for stem cell research?

TUMULTY: Actually, Lou, the number of lines that President Bush initially announced in August 2001 turned out, at least according to the scientists who were using them, that the number of lines actually available for research are far fewer than President Bush promised. A lot of them had been tainted by being mixed with mouse cells. And there are a lot of private efforts now under way to fund stem cell research.

DOBBS: But, Karen, is it not true that he was the first president to move forward with it?

TUMULTY: He moved forward in a very limited fashion. And in a fashion...

DOBBS: Let me try it again. We can debate how far this should have gone and how many lines are truly available...

TUMULTY: But that's the debate, Lou!

DOBBS: But my gosh, there has got to be some fact here. Did he or did he not?

TUMULTY: He did not make a significant step. If you listen to scientists, they will tell you what he did is basically useless for their needs at this point.

WARREN: It is true that he's the first to move forward with it...

DOBBS: That's all I am saying.

WARREN: Because stem cells were just discovered a few years ago. So it's just by (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that he's the first president because he's the first president in the age of this discovery.

DOBBS: No, no, not really. These stem cells have been with us for some time now. They're coming of -- predating the Bush presidencies certainly President Clinton had the same opportunity. Now, let's go to the issue of these swing states and what is resonating with voters there. Karen, in Ohio, in Wisconsin, we have seen some movement in both states. What's going on?

TUMULTY: Well, in Ohio, it's -- President Bush is returning to Ohio after not having been there in a couple of weeks. I think that the Republicans are quite concerned that Kerry is making inroads there and the same is true. Wisconsin is a lot closer than it was just a few weeks ago.

DOBBS: Roger Simon, I love seeing Senator Kerry out there in camouflage, shooting geese out of the sky and the NRA blasting away at him. I had a hard time reconciling -- there's a man with an Over/Under shotgun doing his business as a real macho hunter. And Wayne LaPierre of the NRA is going after him. What's going on?

SIMON: I think he is going to lose the goose votes for starters. I think the Democrats in general and Kerry in specific have really blown the issue of gun control. They wanted to stay away from it except for paying lip service to extending the automatic weapons ban when it was too late to do any good. Kerry has not mentioned it. In the faint, faintest of hope of attracting so-called Bubba voters which he is not going to get but by doing this he sacrifices the votes of suburban women who care very much about gun control. It's just an issue that I think the Democrats tactically made a big mistake about.

DOBBS: Really? Do you agree, Mark?

WARREN: I would say this has less to do with gun control, more to do with regular guy. Which is either the regular guy gap with Kerry. That he's just trying to convince you that he can have a beer with you, he can shoot a gun with you. It has nothing to do with guns so much. DOBBS: That almost moves to the level of too much information even on a guy basis. The fact of the matter is you mentioned the word Bubba. The magical word in some quarters, Karen, Bubba going on the campaign trail, President Clinton to support Senator Kerry in Philadelphia Monday. Is that a pretty smart idea?

TUMULTY: I think it is. It revs up the base. Don't forget, it is not an unalloyed blessing here and that Bill Clinton is still a pretty controversial figure with a lot of swing voters but taking him to Philadelphia, the middle of an urban area is probably a pretty smart move and I think the sight of Bill Clinton caring enough about this election to essentially get up off of his sick bed is going to dominate the news.

DOBBS: You agree, Mark?

WARREN: Absolutely. He's incredibly effective, certainly the Clinton headers will be motivated but they are voting anyway and if you send him to Arkansas -- Gore had sent him to Arkansas in 2000, he would be president today -- to campaign.

DOBBS: Roger, do you want to argue with Mark's view or shall we leave it right there?

SIMON: It's arguable. I doubt that it would have carried Arkansas for him but it's a good move to use Bill Clinton. And he's a celebrity and he's good with crowds. Crowds love him.

DOBBS: As best I recall. Roger Simon, Karen Tumulty, Mark Warren. Thank you all for being here. See you tomorrow.

Still ahead, the results of our poll tonight and we'll have a preview of what's ahead tomorrow. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight: 7 percent of you say this presidential election will be more orderly than in 2000. 62 percent, however, say less orderly and 31 percent say just about the same.

So this is a good point at which we can say so we'll see come November 2. Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow. A battle over immigration and border security. Holding up negotiations on the massive intelligence reform bill. Leading those negotiations, Senator Susan Collins of Maine. She'll be here tomorrow evening. She's leading those negotiations. We'll see where they lead. And James Zogby of the Arab American Institute has endorsed Senator Kerry for president. James Zogby will be my guest to tell us why he has made that decision.

And democracy at risk, thousands of attorneys already standing by, lawsuits under way. We'll have a special report. Be with us. For all of us here, good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.

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