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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Majority Power; Assassination Attempt?; Deadly New Tactics; Army Recruiting Missing Goals
Aired May 18, 2005 - 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: Good evening, everyone. Coming up tonight, Syria's connection with the escalating insurgency in Iraq: new evidence that al Qaeda is using Syrian territory to plan attacks in Iraq.
And America for sale: how foreign companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to win influence on Capitol Hill to win lucrative government contracts.
Our top story tonight: the Senate today began an historic debate on judicial nominees and filibusters that has put Republicans and Democrats on a collision course. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist today declared that Senate Republicans only want an up-or-down vote on the president's judicial nominations. But Senate Minority Leader Senator Harry Reid warned that a Republican victory on this issue could lead to abuses of power by the majority power.
We begin our coverage tonight with Congressional Correspondent Joe Johns -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it begins also with one judge, Priscilla Owen, from the president's home state of Texas. He nominated her four years ago to an appeals court position. She was blocked by Democrats. Now she's back again, re-nominated by the president.
The issue as you said, of course, is whether she and a group of other judicial nominees ought to have the opportunity for a straight up-or-down vote or if Democrats should have the right to block them by filibuster. Here is a sampling of some of the debate on the Senate floor today.
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SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: And the issue is that we have leadership-led partition filibusters that have obstructed not one nominee but two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 in a routine way. The issue is not closure votes per se. It's the partisan leadership-led use of closure vote to kill, to defeat, to assassinate these nominees. And that's the difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: And so when words are expressed during the course of the debate that those of us who oppose these nominees are setting out to kill, to defeat, or to assassinate these nominees, those words should be taken from this record. Those words are inappropriate. Those words go too far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: The filibuster is not a scheme, and it certainly isn't new. The filibuster is far from a procedural gimmick. It's part of the fabric of this institution we call the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Since the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic avoided a nuclear confrontation in the Cold War by concessions and confidence-building measures, why shouldn't senators do the same by crossing the aisle in the spirit of compromise?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: At the heart of all of this, of course, is a central question, what will happen when and if the president has to name a Supreme Court nominee and the Senate has to debate that? The negotiations continue to try to avoid a showdown vote on the Senate floor. Of course, the question is, what is the fallout?
One of the things we do know is that the Senate Democratic leader has already exercised his option to cut off the amount of time committee hearings can be held in the Senate while these hearings and the speeches are going on, on the Senate floor.
Back to you, Lou.
DOBBS: Joe, straightforwardly, this is not a Senate that is warm and fuzzy right now. There's no circle of love at the center of which are Republicans and Democrats. What is the likely impact should the Republicans move forward and remove closure, remove the filibuster for the future?
JOHNS: Democrats say there is a potential for a slowdown of all the Senate business -- of course, that would mean a variety of other bills -- that the president would like to see pushed through the House and the Senate could be slowed down. Democrats say they will talk about the things they care about most, the issues that they think most affect the country.
So what you have is a potential not necessarily for a stoppage -- they have said they won't do that. But what they have said is that they will slow it down to the degree they think is necessary.
DOBBS: One might even say, Joe Johns, that Democrats ought to be doing that anyway. Thank you very much. Joe Johns reporting from Capitol Hill.
As Joe just reported, the judge at the center of today's debate in the Senate is Justice Priscilla Owen. Owen has served on the Texas Supreme Court since 1994. Karl Rove, who's now President Bush's top political adviser, of course, ran Owen's election campaign back in 1994. Owen won reelection to the Texas Supreme Court in 2000.
Her supporters say she is a no-nonsense judge who would be a strong addition to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Her Democratic critics say Owen opposes abortion, is too slow in writing opinions. The ABA, meanwhile, says she is well qualified.
The White House today declared that President Bush has only one goal in the Senate showdown on judicial appointments and filibusters. The White House said President Bush simply wants to ensure all his nominees have an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think most Americans recognize the responsibility of the president is to appoint individuals to the bench, and it's the responsibility of the Congress or the United States Senate to give those individuals an up-or-down vote. That's all we're asking for here, a simple up-or-down vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: New information tonight about what might have been an assassination attempt against President Bush. The FBI today said a hand grenade thrown toward President Bush during his visit to the former Soviet republic of Georgia was live ammunition and not a dummy as was first reported.
White House Correspondent Dana Bash reports.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The FBI now says someone in this crowd tossed a live grenade within 100 feet of the president and only a malfunction stopped it from exploding in Georgia's Freedom Square.
BRYAN PAARMANN, FBI ATTACHE, U.S. EMBASSY, TBILISI: We consider this act to be a threat against the health and welfare of both the president of the United States and the president of Georgia.
BASH: The FBI director briefed Mr. Bush on the agency's latest conclusion that the undetonated grenade was hidden in a dark cloth when it was hurled towards him.
PAARMANN: This hand grenade appears to be a live device that simply failed to function.
BASH: Though the FBI is on the ground working with local authorities, this report directly contradicts a statement out of the Georgian interior ministry last week saying the device did not contain explosives and was merely placed in the crowd, not thrown. In fact, there are still many unanswered questions, like how did someone toss a grenade here without the Secret Service surveillance, everywhere, or even journalists on the scene seeing any disturbance? And how could the Secret Service allow that kind of device so close to the president?
JOSEPH PETRO, FMR. SECRET SERVICE AGENT: The Secret Service has the responsibility for the life of the president, but in a foreign country they don't have the authority or the jurisdiction, and they don't have the resources. So they have to depend on the local governments to provide those resources.
BASH: Just before the president spoke to the jam-packed thousands, U.S. officials in Tbilisi told CNN the crowd had broken through a barrier and they could no longer be sure the area was safe.
MCCLELLAN: And those are all issues that the Secret Service will look at and take into consideration for future events.
BASH: Law enforcement experts say an exploding grenade certainly would have hurt or killed Georgians in the square and caused panic. But Mr. Bush was partially shielded by bulletproof glass, and his life was probably not in danger.
BASH: Officials in Georgia are appealing for any witnesses to come forward with pictures, videotape, any information that could lead to figuring out exactly who threw the grenade, because, Lou, they still do not know exactly what the intention was, whether the aim was perhaps at President Bush, the president of Georgia, or perhaps some other reason we just don't know about yet -- Lou.
DOBBS: Dana, thank you. And as you point out, a potential disaster in the making, but the Georgian security forces should get some credit for averting that, as well as all of the introspection that will be going on for some time amongst the Secret Service and others responsible for the president's safety. Dana, thank you very much.
Dana Bash from the White House.
The commander of U.S. Central Command, General John Abizaid, today declared Syria is not doing enough to stop terrorism in Iraq. General Abizaid said it's important that Syria do everything possible to stop the violence. Earlier, a senior U.S. official today directly linked Syria with the recent escalation in insurgent attacks in Iraq.
Ryan Chilcote reports from Baghdad.
RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A senior U.S. military official says Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq's most wanted terrorist, ordered insurgents associated with his terror network to increase their use of car bombings. The military, according to the official, has intelligence that Zarqawi's lieutenant's met last month in Syria. It is not clear if Zarqawi was present at the meeting, but the military believes he gave the order to his lieutenants to include car bombings in their daily operations.
Before, the official said, car bombs were used normally for spectacular attacks, like this assassination of an Iraqi government official last year filmed by insurgents. Just after the reported meeting in Syria, Baghdad was awash in bombings. On this day, 11 car bombs went off before lunch.
According to new data on attacks in the Iraqi capital, there were twice as many car bombings in the last two-and-a-half months alone than there were in all of last year. The official called last month Iraq's most violent since the offensive in Falluja.
(on camera): The U.S. military says it's encouraged by what it sees as a relative lull in the violence over the last few days, and intelligence it says it's gained in recent offensives like Operation Matador. But it says it is up against an enemy who has shown an ability to learn and adapt.
Ryan Chilcote, CNN, Baghdad.
DOBBS: Coming up next, an historic election victory in California that could have national political implications. We'll have that report for you.
And America for sale. Foreign corporations spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Washington, D.C. In our special report, we'll show you what all of that money is buying in our nation's capital.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The nation's second largest city, Los Angeles, will soon have a Latino mayor, the first mayor of that city in more than 100 years to be elected mayor. City councilman Antonio Villaraigosa easily defeating incumbent mayor, James Hahn, winning in a landslide, in point of fact, 59 percent of the vote to Hahn's 41 percent.
Bill Schneider reports.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): On Tuesday, Los Angeles elected Antonio Villaraigosa, its first Latino mayor in 133 years. Is the message Latino power? Not according to this close observer of L.A. politics.
JOEL KOTKIN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: He has really not identified himself as predominantly a Latino candidate. After all, the Latino vote, even if it comes out in large numbers, is only 20, 22, 23 percent. You can't win with that vote alone. SCHNEIDER: And he didn't. Villaraigosa built his coalition on broad dissatisfaction with the incumbent mayor, James Hahn, who had alienated key constituencies of African-Americans and whites. They delivered for Villaraigosa.
Villaraigosa campaigned as a unifier.
ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES MAYOR-ELECT: We need a bridge builder. We need somebody that wants to unite all of our communities.
SCHNEIDER: And that's how he says he will govern.
VILLARAIGOSA: I'm an American of Mexican descent, and I'm proud of that. But I intend to be a mayor for all of Los Angeles.
SCHNEIDER: Latinos have already broken into the California power structure. The speaker of the state legislature, the chair of the state Democratic Party, the president of the Los Angeles City Council, the city attorney, all Latinos. The president of a Latino research center says...
HARRY PACHON, PRESIDENT, TOMAS RIVERA POLICY INSTITUTE: There's not that feeling of breakthrough because the breakthrough in a way has already occurred.
SCHNEIDER: The message of this election was not Latinos are taking over, it was it's time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a sense of inevitability that we're going to have a Latino mayor. Half the population of the city is Latino. We haven't had a Latino mayor since the 1870s. It's time.
SCHNEIDER: Ethnic and racial tensions were kept below the surface in this election. Nobody wanted to push any hot buttons. As Mr. Kotkin told me, "If you're a bigot, this city is a really stupid place to live" -- Lou.
DOBBS: And the fact that those racial tensions, as you put it, were below the surface, you might also say, why not? With the representation of the population Los Angeles being half Hispanic, why should there be any issue at all?
SCHNEIDER: Well, remember that Villaraigosa and Hahn faced each other four years ago and there was some racial tension. Villaraigosa was defeated. Hahn ran a tough campaign which seemed to associate his opponent with gangs and drugs.
And there was a lot of resentment about that in the Latino community. So the mayor did not do that in his campaign for reelection.
DOBBS: OK. Bill Schneider, thank you very much from Los Angeles. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was trying to sound Hispanic when he kicked off his reelection campaign this week with a series of television ads in Spanish. The Bloomberg campaign says this is the first time a candidate at the city or state level has released Spanish language advertisements before English. The campaign says the mayor is reaching out to what it calls the broadest coalition ever seen in an election.
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MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK CITY: (SPEAKING SPANISH).
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DOBBS: Mayor Bloomberg's campaign tells us he's been studying Spanish since he started his first campaign for mayor four years ago. Right now, opinion polls show Bronx Burough president, Fernando Ferrer, is the leading Democratic challenger to the Republican, Bloomberg.
Ferrer is of Puerto Rican descent. He speaks fluent Spanish and English. The mayor, Mr. Bloomberg, can't quite say that yet.
Turning now to national politics, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, is once again blasting embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Dean told the "Arizona Republic" newspaper he thinks DeLay is "guilty of taking trips paid for by lobbyists and of campaign violations during his manipulation of the Texas election process."
It comes just days after Dean said DeLay should go back to Texas and go to jail. DeLay's spokesman responded by mentioning Dean's comment in last year's Democratic primary when he called for due process for Osama bin Laden.
Tonight, a shocking new report about the federal government and how much money foreign corporations are spending to influence that government. The money reaches into the hundreds of millions of dollars and is raising questions about whether our government and U.S. public policy is for sale.
Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Foreign lobbying ranks third out of more than 100 special interest groups vying for attention on Capitol Hill right behind the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Lobbyists on K Street in Washington have spent $624 million lobbying for foreign companies since 1998, according to a new report by the Center for Public Integrity.
ROBERTA BASKIN, CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY: Well, lobbying is kind of like the fourth branch of government. People don't know that much about it, but it's where the real power is wielded. It's on K Street, not necessarily on Capitol Hill. SYLVESTER: The United Kingdom alone spent more lobbying the U.S. government than companies from 37 states. Trade and defense topped the list of issues. $5.5 billion in defense contracts awarded to foreign companies were no bid, which means American companies were not even in the running. That includes 86 percent of England's Rolls- Royce defense contracts to make jet engines.
REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: It's costing America in its technology, it's costing America in its jobs, and most importantly, it's costing America in its public policy. Is this the best way we should operate?
SYLVESTER: The lobbying industry argues foreign company should have access to our lawmakers to keep other countries open to U.S. business.
PAUL MILLER, AMERICAN LEAGUE OF LOBBYISTS: We're not going to let people come into this country and at least compete for opportunities. Should we then be allowed to then go over to other foreign countries and compete for the same types of opportunities?
SYLVESTER: But it's the lack of transparency and disclosure that has some lawmakers calling for change.
REP. MARTY MEEHAN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I think the American people have a right to know which foreign interests, for example, are lobbying members of Congress and on which issues, and why do they have to spend so much money to lobby the members of Congress.
SYLVESTER: As one member of Congress put it, "When the gavel comes down, it should open the people's House, not the auction house."
SYLVESTER: A bill introduced yesterday would tighten regulations. It would require lobbyists to report quarterly who they are meeting with and what is being discussed. And it would bar congressional members and their staffers from taking a job with a lobbying firm for two years after they leave office -- Lou.
DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
That brings us to our poll question tonight. Would you support legislation to restrict lobbying by foreign companies, yes or no? Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have results at the conclusion of the broadcast.
Coming up next, Mexican President Vicente Fox and Reverend Jesse Jackson meet in Mexico. But Reverend Jackson brought along another guest as well. We'll have that special report for you.
And falling short, why the U.S. Army is having so much trouble bringing in new recruits. The general in charge of Army recruiting is our guest coming up.
DOBBS: The Mexican government has filed a diplomatic protest because of the Real I.D. Act. Mexico's foreign minister says he sent a diplomatic note to the United States protesting the law. The Real I.D. law just signed by President Bush.
The Mexican minister sent it on the same day the State Department condemned President Fox's offensive comments about black Americans. The Real I.D. Act, of course, is designed to strengthen our border security and to make it more difficult for illegal aliens, including millions of Mexican illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses.
Reverend Jesse Jackson today met with Mexican President Vicente Fox. The purpose of that visit to Mexico was to discuss President Fox's negative portrayal of black Americans. Reverend Jackson, however, was accompanied by a group that wants open borders and fights for illegal aliens and all of the rights and privileges of citizenship in this country.
Casey Wian reports from Los Angeles.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reverend Jesse Jackson wasted little time in flying to Mexico to meet with President Vicente Fox. Both men tried to squelch the damage done by Fox's statement that Mexicans in the United States are doing work even blacks won't.
Jackson says the statement was offensive and says Fox again expressed his regrets, though again no word of an apology, except by one mid-level Mexican government official. After the meeting, Jackson sought to capitalize on the controversy, promising to build a formidable political coalition between American blacks and Mexicans.
JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: We have reasons to build a coalition and to choose coalition and to choose connection over confrontation. I'm concerned now that as we move in this season that Mexican-American workers do not become pawns and African-Americans scapegoats.
WIAN: Jackson says Fox agreed to send ambassadors to several African-American meetings and conventions this summer. And the Mexican president has agreed to be a guest on Jackson's radio show.
Jackson also expressed concern about job losses in the United States because of the importation of cheap labor from Mexico. But accompanying Jackson on the trip, the president of the Mexican- American Legal Defense and Education Fund, who continued to push for more privileges for illegal aliens.
ANNE MARIE TALLMAN, PRESIDENT, MALDEF: Good afternoon. MALDEF is committed to protecting and promoting the civil rights of all Latinos regardless of their immigration status in the United States.
WIAN: Larry Elder is a Los Angeles-based talk radio host. LARRY ELDER, TALK RADIO HOST: Think about that. MALDEF wants open borders, effectively. They want driver's licenses for illegals. They want in-state tuition for illegals. They want us really to do nothing about -- about the borders.
Then Jesse Jackson is standing there and talking to Vicente Fox about the "problem of illegal immigration." It's a joke.
WIAN: Elder is among a growing number of prominent blacks who say Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton, who also criticized Fox, shouldn't pretend to speak for the African-American community and don't have the moral authority to demand an apology from the Mexican president, in part because both have made racially offensive statements in the past.
WIAN: As much as the governments of Mexico and the United States appear to be trying to put this issue behind, it's not going to disappear soon. Sharpton plans to visit Fox this Friday -- Lou.
DOBBS: Any explanation of the relationship between MALDEF and Jesse Jackson and the reason for their presence on that trip?
WIAN: The only explanation is that Reverend Jackson is trying not to offend the Hispanic community, Hispanic voters, by talking tough to President Vicente Fox of Mexico. It's going to be interesting to see, though, if this political coalition he's trying to put together is actually going to work -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, the Reverend Jackson will be our guest here tomorrow, Casey, so we'll find out more about his trip to Mexico and a great deal more.
Casey Wian reporting from Los Angeles.
And the Reverend Al Sharpton, who will also be meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox, will also be our guest upon his return.
Coming up next, the fight for the filibuster, why Senator Barbara Boxer is among those leading the fight to save it. Senator Boxer and I will debate in our "Face Off" tonight. Stay with us for that.
And falling short. The Army facing its worst recruiting crisis in more than a decade. I'll be talking with the Army's top recruiter next about the trend and what the Army is trying to do to reverse it.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The United States will impose new quotas against clothing from China. The new quotas are in addition to the limits announced last week when the Commerce Department restricted other textile imports from China. The Bush administration says the quotas demonstrate its continued commitment to America's textile manufacturers. The United States, however has a long way to go. America's trade deficit with China last year hit a record $162 billion. That's the largest trade imbalance ever with a single country.
Separately tonight, China is backing out of an international human rights conference that it was supposed to host within a matter of days. It turns out the conference was scheduled too close to an anniversary that China's government would altogether rather forget. Kitty Pilgrim reports.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scholars from New York's Fordham University were headed to Beijing for a major conference, but China canceled it because it fell too close to the 16th anniversary of Tiananmen Square.
This canceled conference is part of a pattern -- China has increased surveillance of freedom, speech and democracy advocates in recent years. Many had hoped current Chinese president Hu Jintao would turn out to be a Chinese Gorbachev, but that hasn't materialized.
JEROME COHEN, NYU LAW/COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: People are seeing that our usual Western naive belief that things are necessarily going to get better with respect to political and civil rights, it's not really working out that way in China.
PILGRIM: Chinese attempts at media spin on human rights is transparent. For example, China released dissident Rebiya Kadeer with much fanfare before the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in March. Kadeer left China for the United States. But shortly, after Chinese police reportedly beat and detained many of Kadeer's associates.
NURY TURKEL, PRES. UIGHUR AMERICAN ASSOCIATION: The Chinese are using a pressure on her family and business associates to stop her political activities in the United States.
PILGRIM: The U.S. State Department protested on Monday.
RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We have expressed our concern about these reports to the Chinese.
PILGRIM: There is reason for the increased repression. What the Chinese call spontaneous protests have erupted throughout China with increasing frequency, some 58,000 in 2003.
PILGRIM: A recent U.S. State Department report says 30,000 Chinese officials monitor ordinary people using the Internet in China. And the scholars we spoke to today say communication and academic interaction is so important to changing the way the Chinese people think. DOBBS: Changing the way they think or not, the way they are thinking right now is apparently this conference is canceled and that's the end of it.
PILGRIM: The government says there are a lot of Chinese scholars that are reaching out to Western academics and they would like the free flow of information.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.
A showdown in a Senate tonight over the president's judicial nominees and the future of the filibuster. Senator Barbara Boxer is fighting to save the filibuster. She says the White House and some Senate Republicans aren't happy with the results of the debate so they want to change the rules. Senator Barbara Boxer of California joins us tonight from Capitol Hill. Senator, good to have you with us.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER, (D) CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Senator, negotiations have been going on. We're being told in rather stark terms that this is critically important to the Republican Party and leadership and majority. We're being told by the Democrats it's a constitutional crisis.
In point of fact, this is a confrontation that would be unnecessary if the Democrats would back off of the judicial nominations as the venue for the filibuster, wouldn't it?
BOXER: Well, Lou, you are talking the Republican line here which is your prerogative to do. We have confirmed 208 of President Bush's nominees for the court. We have stopped ten. Now that number is actually a little lower, but we'll stick with the ten. That's 95 percent.
And I would say to you, Lou, just in your life if CNN gave you 95 percent of what you wanted and your family did, and the same for me, I'd have a smile on my face. But if you really wanted everything, if you had that arrogance that you wanted 100 percent, you wouldn't be happy. And what we're fighting here is an arrogance of power that isn't good for the country, because these judges that we have stopped are way out of the mainstream.
DOBBS: Well, now, senator, you and I are having a face off. And I'm going to force that, taking the Republican line on some of this. But let me quote something you said eight years ago.
DOBBS: According to the -- if we could put that up it would be great -- "according to the U.S. constitution, the president nominates and the Senate will provide advice and consent. It is not the role of the Senate to obstruct the process and prevent numbers of highly qualified nominees from even being given the opportunity for a vote on the Senate floor." One Senator, Barbara Boxer on May 14, 1997.
BOXER: I stand by that. You have to understand that 61 of president Clinton nominees never got out of committee. They were pocket filibustered. These nominees have all had votes. Priscilla Owens has had four votes on the Senate floor. She just didn't make the 60 vote cut.
Janice Rogers Brown, someone who I know pretty well in terms -- I don't know her personally, but I know her record, way out of the mainstream from California, had a vote. Didn't make the cut of 60.
So what I was talking about is the fact that the Judiciary Committee wasn't even allowing us to have this vote to see if we could get to 60 with some of the nominees.
DOBBS: Well, in 1995 you joined with Senator Lieberman and others, other Democrats, trying to end all filibusters just two years before that, Senator.
BOXER: Well, here's what happened then. That was Tom Harkin. And he was trying to change the rules. And I was wrong. And as soon as this happened, I admitted it. I have big statement. As a matter of fact, I gave a big speech to the National Newspaper Editors that I had come over from the House just a couple of years before. And I kind of wanted to make the Senate like the House. I thought it took too long to get things done. I thought that, you know, my party had all the answers. I was absolutely wrong. And I have made my mea culpa on that one.
There's another point, Lou, you need to understand. It's really key. When Tom Harkin made the motion to do away with filibusters, we got something like 19 votes, OK. So, it wasn't very popular. But we did it in the context of a rules change, which would have taken 67 votes. We didn't try to go around the back door and say, well, we can't get 67 votes so we'll have the vice president sit in the chair and then we'll have this ruling and all of that.
What they are doing is an end run around the Senate rules and around the constitution. And it will have terrible ramifications.
DOBBS: Senator, forgive me, I can understand how you might feel that way. But in point of fact it's changing the rules which have been done twice over the course of the past hundred years. But the second part, it's a constitutional issue, how so?
BOXER: Well, the fact is the Senate sets its rules. That's what the constitution says. So, therefore, when the Senate wants to change the rules, they should have to go by the rulebook.
What kind of lesson is this to our children? We have a set of rules, it takes 67 votes to change it. And they figured out a way to go around the back door with 51 votes. If this is so great an idea, they should have to get 67 votes to change the rules.
Let me tell you, this whole thing is so bad, Lou, I don't know, you don't have enough time to go through it all. But let me just say we stopped ten judges out of 218. The ones we stopped deserve to be stopped, because they will hurt the people of America. That's the truth. DOBBS: How is it the ABA gave both Justice Owens and Justice Brown qualified and well qualified ratings?
BOXER: Well, it has nothing to do with the fact that they have stood alone in many of their decisions. Do you know, that Janice Rogers Brown is in a court, the California Supreme Court, with six Republicans and one Democrat. 31 times she stood alone. And she stood on the side of rapists. She stood on the side of big business against consumers. Her record is horrendous for the people.
DOBBS: Why don't you have confidence senator, if that is the case.
DOBBS: That your colleagues, your peers in the Senate, a majority could form to vote her up or down.
BOXER: Yes. Well, we have had a vote. We already had a vote, Lou. And she didn't make the 60 vote cut. We are going to have another one way or another.
DOBBS: This would not be unprecedented that you would vote over and over on an issue.
BOXER: We voted four times on Priscilla Owen. The question is, shouldn't we have this advice of consent situation with judges where they do have to meet, because their lifetime appointees at very high salaries here. They may be around for 30 years. No other check and balance but this moment. Why wouldn't you want to have that kind of nominee have to meet a higher bar? It happens very rarely. I think it's a good system. I hope you change your mind.
DOBBS: We're out of time. I just wonder, would your view change if the Democrats were in the majority?
BOXER: The truth is, I should not change my view at all. That would be hypocritical. I would keep my view...
DOBBS: It might just be flexibility and growth. One never knows. I wouldn't want to characterize it.
BOXER: That's what politicians are known to say. The fact is, I've grown up in this job, the founders knew what they were doing when they said the Senate sets the rules. We said it takes 67 votes to change it. And they are backdooring it. And it's all about politics. It's all about Doctor Frist's ambition. It's wrong for the country, Lou.
DOBBS: Senator Boxer, we thank you for being here.
BOXER: Thanks for having me.
DOBBS: Thank you very much.
Coming up next, the nation's biggest Latino rights group blasts the president of Mexico for his offensive comments about Black Americans. I'll be talking with the leader of the National Council of La Raza next.
And then, the military faces one of its greatest recruiting challenges in decades. The Army's top recruiter will tell us how the Army plans to overcome significant recruiting deficits next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The military faces one of the biggest recruiting challenges in a decade. The army's top recruiter will tell us how the Army plans to overcome significant recruiting deficits. Stay with us.
DOBBS: More now on the outrageous comments from Mexican President Vicente fox on black Americans. This nation's largest Latino civil rights organization is among the numerous groups that have condemned those comments by President Fox. My guest is president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza. Janet Murguia joins us now. Good to have you with us, Janet.
JANET MURGUIA, NAT'L. COUNCIL OF LA RAZA: Thanks, Lou.
DOBBS: Your organization came out rather strongly and condemned those remarks. It is -- in light of that, your organization, other Hispanic groups, Fox still doesn't get it. He still will not apologize.
MURGUIA: Yes, I thought it was constructive for him to meet with Reverend Jackson today, and I believe it's perfectly appropriate for him to apologize. I think those comments were inaccurate and insensitive and we repudiated those. I don't think it was appropriate.
DOBBS: You absolutely did, and then, Reverend Jackson takes with him, not the representative of La Raza but rather, MALDEF to Mexico City to meet with Fox. Any sense what that could be about?
MURGUIA: Well, look, I think...
DOBBS: I mean, that's a fairly radical group of people.
MURGUIA: Well, look, MALDEF has been a prominent organization for Hispanic Americans.
DOBBS: Prominently radical, I guess I would say. Yes.
MURGUIA: Well, they have been prominent. They play an important role in defending civil rights, particularly in the Voting Rights Act for increasing opportunity for Hispanic Americans. I think they have figured out that we need to build...
DOBBS: I'm pushing to see how much solidarity there is here.
MURGUIA: Well, there is a lot. We work closely with MALDEF on a lot of issues and we believe that it's important to build coalitions.
DOBBS: Driver's license for legal aliens?
MURGUIA: Well, I think we need to be careful about how we...
DOBBS: MALDEF doesn't.
DOBBS: I mean, you know, the next time that -- MALDEF would have -- give the right to vote to illegal aliens.
MURGUIA: Well, look, I'm not sure about that. I don't think that they would agree with that, but I think that you need to understand they've played an important role in defending civil rights and increasing opportunities in the areas of civil rights for Hispanic Americans, and we have worked closely with them.
This is really about building coalitions, and I think, you know, for MALDEF and NAACP or Rainbow Coalition to work together. Today I met with the president of the Urban League, Mark Morial, because I think we need to look at opportunities to build coalitions that affect our collective communities.
DOBBS: What affects your community that doesn't affect all Americans irrespective of ethnicity?
MURGUIA: I think there are issues that affect all Americans across the board. So, we just want to help make sure we're building coalitions to help communicate those issues effectively.
DOBBS: But it could seem to some, Janet, as you know, you and I have discussed this, that the ethnocentricity of these activist groups becomes actually a barrier to bringing people together and to working as a common -- members of a common community. It just seems like to some, and I would include myself, that there is so much to be done that these silly divisions along race -- your organizations tend to perpetuate some of the distinctions that should be, it seems to me, irrelevant...
MURGUIA: Yes, I don't...
DOBBS: ...in a perfect society.
MURGUIA: Well, I know that I and Nancy Alera (ph) are not perpetuating any divisions. We are about dealing with the issues that affect all Americans, but particularly highlighting how Hispanic Americans' interests can be integrated and addressed, when we're dealing with issues.
Education is a very good example. When we invest in all of our kids, we're investing in the future of America, and Hispanic kids can benefit and all kids can benefit. And we're very committed to working on issues that affect our community, that we think can help all of America. DOBBS: And help me out there. MALDEF, other organizations, concerned, I'm sure, about education, certainly of Hispanic children. Fifty-six percent -- only 56 percent -- graduating in southern California, according to Harvard University study just two months ago.
What in the world has gone on? If all of these organizations -- and I know your organization, La Raza, works very hard and diligently to help. But, the fact is, what are we perpetuating here? We're perpetuating failure, and people are not working together politically, that is, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, to solve the problem. It's not just a problem for La Raza or MALDEF, is it?
MURGUIA: No, we have to work with partners and work collectively to address all these issues, and on many of the issues, work at the national level. One of the things that, you know, I was hoping we'd get to touch on tonight is comprehensive immigration reform. We have such a need to deal with this issue. I think you recognize it. It's a broken system. I think you've talked about that a little bit. But we need to talk about solutions and we need to build coalitions.
There's a bill that's been introduced by Senator McCain and Senators Kennedy. It's a bipartisan bill. I think it makes a very good faith effort to deal with the issue in a comprehensive way.
DOBBS: You know what? Let's you and I talk about that bill next week. Do you have -- can you do it?
DOBBS: And we'll go through it and we'll debate that bill.
DOBBS: You'll be for it.
MURGUIA: But, you ought to be for it, too, and I hope you'll look at that.
DOBBS: I'll give you an opportunity next week to convince me.
MURGUIA: OK, I will. All right. Great.
DOBBS: Janet, thank you very much.
MURGUIA: Thank you very much.
DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in our poll. Would you support legislation to restrict lobbying by foreign companies in Washington, D.C.? Yes or no, we'll bring you the results here in just a few minutes.
Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, none other than Anderson Cooper. Anderson has a preview. Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Lou, thanks very much. Yeah, next on 360, a triple homicide and two missing kids. A person of interest caught just a short time ago, but is he going to lead police to the children? We'll have the very latest.
Plus, microscopic bugs in your pillows and mattresses. We're talking about millions of them. Could they be making you sick? Find out tonight -- 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta investigates. That's at the top of the hour. Lou?
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Anderson, looking forward to it.
Still ahead here, the U.S. Army faces a severe shortage of recruits -- there are lots of reasons for that -- and strong criticism about improper recruiting methods. I'll be talking with the Army's top recruiter here, next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The army's top recruiter says he's facing what could be the toughest recruiting challenge since the all-volunteer force started back in 1973.
One reason, certainly, is many potential recruits are reluctant to join the military in wartime, a time when there is a shortage of equipment, body armor, armored Humvees, even ammunition.
The Army has missed its recruiting goals now for three straight months. The military has raised incentives to persuade more people to join our Army. And at the same time, the Army is ordered a one-day stand-down in recruiting because some recruiters have used improper methods of recruiting.
Joining me now is the man in charge, the Army's top recruiter, Major General Michael Rochelle from Los Angeles.
General, good to have you with us.
MAJOR GENERAL MICHAEL ROCHELLE, U.S. ARMY RECRUITER: Thank you very much, Lou. Glad to be with you.
DOBBS: We're delighted to have you. I wish it was under different circumstances. Given the problems that have befallen in the Army, first in terms of the shortfall in your recruiting goals, what do you blame for that?
ROCHELLE: Well, I don't blame anything but let me explain the challenge we're dealing with.
First of all, as one of the most notable watchers of our economy, you certainly know that we are in a very strong economy, one that has very low unemployment. That is a critical factor.
Yesterday I was in San Diego where unemployment in parts of San Diego is as low as 3.2 percent. That's point number one.
Second, of course, is the fact that -- make no mistake about it and we certainly don't attempt to skirt the issue whatsoever -- we are engaged in war. And right now no one wants to see their sons or daughters placed in harm's way. No person should want that.
But the reality is that we have to defend our freedoms. And someone has to do it.
I would add to that the challenge we face, Lou, with influencers right now. The generation we are recruiting from -- millennials, as they are called -- are individuals who listen very carefully to the advice and counsel of influencers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, et cetera. They are being urged not to serve.
DOBBS: And they are being urged -- to what degree, as I mentioned, the fact that we have had shortfalls in recruiting goals, but in armor for our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, having to buy ammunition, for crying out loud, from Israel and from Canada and not even being able to make enough of it -- the difficulty it seems to provide basic equipment like armored Humvees with those improvised explosive devices alongside roads that young men and women traveling in Iraq, in particular -- how much is that playing into this as well?
ROCHELLE: I truly have no empirical evidence whatsoever, Lou, to indicate that that's a factor for moms, dads, coaches, aunts and uncles whatsoever. Once again, I believe it's the opportunity to continue to pursue education and college. I also believe it's concern over the welfare and well-being of their young loved one.
DOBBS: General, my reaction when you tell me that the economy is doing well and that the moms and pops are saying and aunts and uncles are saying, "Be careful, young man; be careful, young woman," for three years the United States Army engaged in heavier combat than now was meeting, exceeding its recruiting goals-- what has changed?
ROCHELLE: Well, as you probably certainly know -- and I appreciate you're leading question there -- the further away we get from September 11 and the war will wear on the psyche, wear on the minds of the American people, we must have the staying power to recognize that this probably is going to go on for a long while.
We really must come to grips with the issue of valuing military service, Army service in particular, above many, many other things that we value in our society like the professional athlete, the rock star and the pop star.
DOBBS: Well, we should have a discussion about values perhaps every night here. In a way I guess we do. The idea that you have called the stand-down for recruiting after allegations of improper recruiting methods, General, what do you expect to achieve in that stand-down? What are you going to do about that kind of problem?
Well, first of all, let me say that the actions of a few have reflected very, very badly on many of us, myself included. We are all injured by that.
The U.S. Army is a values-based institution. We live every single day by our seven Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor integrity and personal courage.
The overwhelming majority of our recruiters recruit with those values in mind. We will focus ourselves back as a command on exactly who we are, reflective of that institution and the face of that institution, that values-based institution, in communities all across America.
DOBBS: General, you convey the sense you mean exactly what you say. And as we close here I want to say thank you and just say to our viewers that a former general I respect a great deal said, "General Rochelle, you have the one of the toughest possible jobs in the U.S. military.
General Michael Rochelle...
ROCHELLE: I am honored to be where I am, Lou. Thank you for that.
DOBBS: General Michael Rochelle, thank you, Sir.
Still ahead here, we'll have the results of tonight's poll and a preview of what is ahead tomorrow. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight: 97 percent of you say you would support legislation to restrict the lobbying of foreign companies; 3 percent would not.
Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow, a line-up of great guests.
Pay Buchanan will be here. He'll tell us why he says the conservative movement in this country has, as he put it, "passed into history."
Natan Sharansky, former Israeli cabinet minister, author of the book "The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror" -- President Bush recommended that to all of his closest advisers -- he'll be here to discuss democracy in the Middle East, among other things.
And The Reverend Jesse Jackson will be our guest, as well, joining us after his meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox.
We hope you will be with us. Thank you for joining us here tonight. For all of us, goodnight from New York. "Anderson Cooper 360" starts right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Lou, thanks very much.
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