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President Makes Surprise Visit to Baghdad, Backs Iraqi Prime Minister; Iraqi Government to Launch Big Security Sweep in Baghdad; Bush's Offensive; Indiana Congressman has an Immigration Plan; Talk Radio Hosts Discuss Illegal Immigration

Aired June 13, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Bush has launched a major new effort to defend his conduct in the war in Iraq. President Bush traveling to Baghdad to show support for the new Iraqi government and to bolster his sagging poll ratings at home. We'll have complete coverage tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Tuesday, June 13th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

President Bush today made an unannounced visit to Baghdad and told Iraqis the future of their country is now in their hands. President Bush did not talk publicly about whether or not large numbers of our troops will be withdrawn from Iraq this year.

At the same time, the president's top political adviser, Karl Rove, has been told that he will not face criminal charges in the CIA White House leak investigation. Rove is strongly defending the conduct of the war. He says Republicans should make no apologies for the conduct of the war in Iraq.

Suzanne Malveaux tonight reports from the White House on the president's visit to Baghdad.

John Vause, in Baghdad, reports on the new Iraqi government's promise to stop insurgent attacks in the Iraqi capital.

And Bill Schneider reports from Washington on the political strategy behind the Bush administration's policies in Iraq.

We turn first to Suzanne Malveaux at the White House -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, White House aides say that President Bush wanted to move as quickly as possible after the Iraqi government was formed to meet face to face with the new Iraqi leadership, essentially to determine personally whether or not Prime Minister Maliki is committed to assuming responsibility for Iraqis' future.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX (voice over): For President Bush, personal impressions are everything. That's why he secretly traveled to Baghdad, even surprising his host, to shake his hand and keep a promise.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've come to not only look you in the eye, I've also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it will keep its word.

MALVEAUX: The surprise visit is part of an aggressive new effort by the administration to bolster the new Iraq government and pivot the burden of security and governing to the Iraqi people.

BUSH: I appreciate you recognize the fact that the future of your country is in your hands.

MALVEAUX: The meeting with Iraq's new prime minister, Nuri al- Maliki, and his newly elected cabinet was the result of a cleverly orchestrated bait and switch.

Monday, Mr. Bush held five hours of meetings with his top advisers at his Camp David retreat, using a secure video link to confer with U.S. military commanders in Iraq. Then he said he would call Iraq's prime minister and his cabinet Tuesday morning to introduce them by videophone to the U.S. team.

BUSH: Tomorrow's going to be a fascinating day.

MALVEAUX: A coy hint? Perhaps. But certainly an understatement. Aides say the trip had been in the works for a month but was given the green light after the new Iraqi cabinet was completed last Thursday.

BUSH: On Monday, I will meet with my national security team and other key members of my cabinet at Camp David to discuss the way forward in Iraq.

MALVEAUX: The two-day war council was part of an elaborate rouse. Friday, a senior aide convened a background briefing for reporters to lay out the two-day schedule. Monday, the White House announced a Rose Garden press conference upon the president's return.

But the Camp David retreat was used as cover for Mr. Bush to quietly sneak off after dinner Monday night to Andrews Air Force base, where Air Force One departed for Baghdad just after 9:00. A handful of journalists sworn to secrecy went along for the ride, while those covering the summit back at Camp David remained clueless. Only the vice president and secretaries Rice and Rumsfeld knew of the president's departure. The rest off his cabinet was kept out of the loop.

By 8:00 Tuesday morning Eastern Time, Mr. Bush was in Iraq, quickly whisked away in a heavily-armed chopper for a six-minute ride to Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. There, Prime Minister Maliki and his cabinet were assembled for what they were told would be a secure video conference. Maliki was informed of Mr. Bush's arrival five minutes before he walked through the door. Under incredible security, the two leaders met in one of Saddam Hussein's old palaces which is temporarily the U.S. Embassy. Later, Mr. Bush gave a pep talk to about 800 U.S. troops.

BUSH: I truly believe the work that you're doing here is laying the foundation of peace for generations to come, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


MALVEAUX: And, Lou, tomorrow President Bush meets with lawmakers here at the White House to brief them on his brief Iraq trip, if you will. The last time he took a trip there was back in 2003 to share a Thanksgiving dinner with the soldiers.

Back then, he had a 55 percent approval rating. Now it's 20 percentage points lower. He got a little boost in the polls there. Still uncertain whether or not he'll get that boost this time around -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.

The number of American casualties in Iraq continues to rise. The equivalent of a battalion of soldiers or Marines is being killed or wounded in Iraq each and every month.

2,497 of our troops have been killed in this war, 18,490 of our troops wounded. Of those, 8,501 seriously wounded.

American and Iraqi troops today launched a major security operation to guard the president while he was in Baghdad. The Iraqi capital is one of the most dangerous places in Iraq for our troops. Tomorrow, Iraqi soldiers and police, backed by U.S. troops, will begin another massive security operation in Baghdad.

John Vause has the story from Baghdad.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Even by Baghdad standards, there's been a dramatic increase in car bombings, drive-by shootings, and other attacks in recent days. Most targeting civilians and police.

The government's solution? A massive crackdown to begin just after dawn Wednesday.

According to the Interior Ministry, more than 70,000 mostly Iraqi troops will take to the streets of Baghdad. It's been called an open- ended operation.

Checkpoints have already gone up on roads in and out of the city. And vehicles are being searched. "We're fulfilling orders to put the Baghdad security plan into force," says this Iraqi commando, "so that we can eliminate terrorism and seize car bombs."

But the security around the capital was also for the sudden, unexpected visit by the U.S. president for a one-on-one with the new Iraqi prime minister. He's ordered the largest security operation since sovereignty was handed back to the Iraqis two years ago with police, commandos, soldiers, as well as emergency police. Coalition forces will also be involved, and airstrikes called in if necessary.

(on camera): The Iraqi prime minister says he's working on a security plan for the rest of the country, but right now, his priority is the capital, home to six million, mostly terrified residents.

John Vause, CNN, Baghdad.


DOBBS: As President Bush flew to Iraq, his top political adviser, Karl Rove, learned that he will not face criminal charges in the CIA White House leak investigation. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said prosecutors informed him of their decision yesterday. The announcement ends months of speculation that Rove could face charges in that investigation into the leak of a CIA officer's identity.

Karl Rove is now, of course, able to focus on his role of trying to stop Democrats from winning the House or the Senate in the upcoming midterm elections. A key part of Rove's strategy is to convince Americans that President Bush has what the White House calls a strategy for victory in Iraq.

Bill Schneider has the report -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Lou, when the Bush administration receives a rare burst of good news, they know what to do: run with it.


SCHNEIDER (voice over): Democrats have been taking the offensive on Iraq.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: Iraq is not a matter for future presidents, as the president -- as President Bush has said. It's his war and it's his responsibility.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush did not get much of a bounce out of the elimination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Bush's job rating? Little change in the CBS News poll, down two points since mid-May. Not much change in the "USA Today"-Gallup poll either, up two points.

So is the White House defending itself? Not on your life. Because in politics, just like in football, the best defense is a good offense. Some rare good news from the special prosecutor that Karl Rove will not be charged. Seize the offensive.

KEN MEHLMAN, RNC CHAIRMAN: People like Howard dean, people like Harry Reid and others, they owe Karl Rove an apology.

SCHNEIDER: And finally, a new Iraqi government in place. Rove himself sees the offensive against Democratic war critics like Representative John Murtha.

KARL ROVE, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: If Murtha had his way, American troops would have been gone by the end of April and we wouldn't have gotten Zarqawi.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush seized the moment by going to Baghdad.

BUSH: I've also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it will keep its word.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats are demanding...

REID: ... a plan that provides our troops with an exit strategy from this seemingly unending conflict.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans respond...

ROVE: But when it gets tough and when it gets difficult, they fall back on that party's old pattern, a cutting and running.

SCHNEIDER: In March, most Americans were ready to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq within a year. Now they are not so sure.


SCHNEIDER: Republican leaders in Congress are seizing the offensive, too. They are scheduling votes this weeks on resolutions that declare Iraq a central front in the war on terror and reject any timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Now, the House majority leader says the debate will be about the question, "Are we going to confront the threat of terrorism and defeat it, or will we relent and retreat in hopes that it just goes away?"

Lou, that strikes me as kind of a loaded question.

DOBBS: But, of course, it is the way in which most questions are framed in Washington, D.C., these days. So we know you're used to that kind of false choice.

Thank you very much.

Bill Schneider.


DOBBS: Still ahead, the troubling illegal aliens numbers that supporters of amnesty at any cost are absolutely refusing to tell you about. We'll be telling you about them tonight in our special report.

And among my guests tonight, Congressman Mike Pence. He says the illegal alien lobby's assertion that amnesty is the middle ground in any immigration bill is plain wrong.

And three of this country's top radio talk show hosts join us here tonight. We'll be talking about the president's visit to Iraq, whether it will help his sagging poll numbers, and a great deal more.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Congress tonight deadlocked on so-called comprehensive immigration reform, as the president likes to call it. We have two reports tonight on what is amounting to a showdown in both houses of Congress.

Louise Schiavone reports on a new Congressional Budget Office report that says and demonstrates that the Senate legislation will do absolutely nothing to stop illegal aliens from entering this country.

And Casey Wian tonight reports on the swearing in of this nation's newest member of Congress. He's pledged to do all he can to defeat amnesty.

We begin with Louise Schiavone in Washington -- Louise.

LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, as voters watch the Senate immigration debate, they have the impression that the plan was to stop the flow of illegal aliens into the United States. The numbers tell a different story.


SCHIAVONE (voice over): The Senate immigration bill would do little to reduce the flow of illegal aliens into the U.S. That finding from the Congressional Budget Office.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: We're not seeing, according to the CBO study, a reduction in illegal immigration. That's just unacceptable. This bill, the more we learn about it, the worse it looks. It cannot become law. We've got to stop it some way.

SCHIAVONE: Senate Judiciary Committee Republican Jeff Sessions asked the CBO to assess the anticipated flow of illegals into the U.S. before the Senate bill and after. Based on the Senate immigration bill as presented at the outset of the debate, CBO projects that if the measure passed, the number of illegals expected in the U.S. would be 900,000 in 2007 and 2008. There would be slight reductions in illegal immigration in the years thereafter, but at no time over the next 10 years would there be fewer than 750,000 illegals entering the U.S. in a single year.

That would be on top of eventually tripling legal immigration numbers to three million a year and sliding into legal residency or citizenship the majority of those already in the U.S., between 12 and 20 million.

STEVE CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: It's right to wonder, by growing the U.S. population by 100 million people in less than 40 years, what will be the impact on issues like congestion and pollution and sprawl and loss of open spaces? These are profoundly important questions. The senators who passed that bill obviously haven't given that a thought at all.

SCHIAVONE: A CNN poll commissioned by LOU DOBBS TONIGHT shows that 62 percent of those surveyed have little confidence that Congress and the president can pass meaningful immigration reform.


SCHIAVONE: Right now, though, Lou, immigration legislation doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast. Neither the House nor the Senate has officially appointed negotiators to a conference, even as a generous schedule of summer recesses loom -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, it is illustrative, I think, for everyone who is interested and concerned about the illegal immigration crisis and border security crisis to learn that all of those senators who stood up there so proudly on Capitol Hill and said they had really accomplished a miraculous piece of work, important, profound legislation, we're just simply conducting a charade on the American people, as confirmed, again, this time by the Congressional Budget Office.

Louise Schiavone, thank you very much for that report.

Congressman Brian Bilbray, who ran on a strict border security platform, was sworn into office today on Capitol Hill. Congressman Bilbray promises to begin work immediately on this overriding issue for his constituency. His victory is already influencing the midterm election debate all across the country.

Casey Wian reports.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A week after voters chose Republican Brian Bilbray to fill out the remainder of disgraced bribe-taker Randy "Duke" Cunningham's term, Bilbray took the oath of office.

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Do you solemnly wear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic?

WIAN: Bilbray survived a race that began with 18 candidates, then turned five days before the election when his main opponent, Democrat Francine Busby, encouraged illegal aliens to help her campaign. While Democrats tried to turn the race into a referendum on Republican ethics scandal, ultimately border security and illegal immigration dominated the campaign. REP. BRIAN BILBRAY (R), CALIFORNIA: What is obvious in the last few months is the greatest scandal in America is not that one man broke the law, but that 12 million illegal immigrants are in this country and Washington isn't doing enough about it.

WIAN: Voter turnout for California's 50th district special election was 7 percent higher than the statewide primary and 14 percent higher than a special election in another district. Both national parties spent heavily, an estimated $20 million, because they viewed the battle as key to success in November's nationwide midterm elections.

ARNOLD STEINBERG, GOP POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Republicans felt that if they lost this seat it was almost an implicit acceptance of this view that there's this corrupt Congress for sale and Republicans ought to be blamed there. So they needed to win this.

WIAN: But there's little celebrating in the White House, because Bilbray won by taking a position on illegal immigration, no amnesty, period. That's in direct contrast to the president's.

HASTERT: Congratulations. You're now a member of the 109th Congress.


WIAN: And an example for candidates who may try to avoid the issue of illegal immigration in November.


WIAN: Bilbray's congressional committee assignments are still to be determined. However, he is hoping to be appointed to the conference committee that will attempt to resolve the stark differences between the House and Senate border security and immigration reform bills -- Lou.

DOBBS: Again, that conference committee from the House side has not been selected. The Senate leadership deciding, Casey, as you know, to send 26 U.S. senators into that conference to support what they are calling comprehensive immigration reform legislation that, again, has been demonstrated by the Heritage Foundation, the Congressional Budget Office, the reporting of this broadcast, everyone who has looked at this -- this legislation. It is a travesty and a joke and an absolute violation, in my judgment. Certainly, an absolute violation of the oath of office taken by every one of those senators to defend the interests of this nation.

WIAN: And there's also a procedural holdup that House Republicans are blaming on Senate Democrats that could force this conference committee to remain grounded for the foreseeable future, Lou. So we don't know if there's going to be any progress at all.

DOBBS: That procedural hang-up a reference to the little constitutional matter that legislation involving revenue is to originate in the House of Representatives, not the august Senate body. WIAN: Right.

DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much.

Casey Wian.

Well, coming up next here, your ballot may not be counted if you're voting on electronic voting machines. You'll never know. Perhaps neither will we. But some states are awakening to the dangers of those e-voting machines and trying to determine whether they are jeopardizing our democracy.

We'll have that special report tonight.

Congressman Mike Pence will join us. He's introducing his own illegal immigration and border security legislation. He says it is an amnesty. Others disagree. Congressman Pence will join us next.

And three popular radio talk show hosts, they'll be here. We'll be talking about the death of Zarqawi, illegal immigration, border security, such as it is, and the issues that will shape our upcoming midterm elections.

Please stay with us.


DOBBS: Nationwide, as many as a third of all voters are expected to cast their ballots in the midterm elections on electronic voting machines. But serious questions about those machines' reliability and their vulnerability to fraud are rising. Some election officials in some states are returning to paper ballots in order to assure competence in the election process.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Newark, they are using lever voting machines for a special city council run-off election Tuesday. The local election officials say they went back to the old system for this specific election because voters felt more comfortable and confident in using the old equipment. But last week, for the primary elections, they used electronic voting machines.

The New Jersey State Attorney General's Office says there were no reported problems with the primary last week, but they admit they are discussing moving to a statewide verified paper trail system in the future.

WARREN STEWART, VOTETRUST USA: The real difference with an electronic voting machine like a touch-screen machine or any of the direct record electronic machines is that the votes are counted with software. In the case of a paper ballot that's run through an optical scanner, yes, it is counted by software initially, but there's the possibility of hand counting it. PILGRIM: New Mexico has decided to move to an all-paper ballot system in the future to increase voter confidence, even though they stand by their previous results on electronic voting systems.

REBECCA VIGIL-GIRON, NEW MEXICO SECRETARY OF STATE: We were trying to accomplish uniformity more than anything in the state of New Mexico because we had all these different types of voting machine systems in the state. We decided that uniformity was the best way for us to go.

PILGRIM: According to, a watchdog group, 26 states have legislation or regulations requiring paper ballots. And 13 more have proposed legislation but have not yet enacted it.

Eight counties in Arkansas are not using touch-screen voting in Tuesday's run-off because there was not enough time to reprogram the machines after last month's primary. But officials say they are looking into tabulation problems with their electronic machines in the May 23rd primary.


PILGRIM: Now, some in Congress are calling for a bill that would set federal standards for voter-verified paper records and legislation that would also call for election officials to conduct random audits of the systems. And those are audits done by election officials and not the companies that make the machines -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, I'll tell you, frankly, I'm no more reassured by the fact that some election official is doing an audit of a machine with proprietary software for which there is not a paper record of that vote cast and for which we have the ability to conduct a recount reliably and accurately. After all, that is the purpose of the recount.

This e-voting machine wave that has taken over about a third of the country I think desperately needs to be re-examined and re- examined with care.

PILGRIM: And many officials are doing that just now.

DOBBS: As you have just recorded. As always, thank you, Kitty.

Kitty Pilgrim.

Turning now to some of your thoughts.

Steve in Arizona said, "Benedict Arnold tried to give away West Point to the British. Bush wants to give away our ports, our airlines, and our borders. That's not capitalism, it's capitulation."

And Nick in Florida, "Hey, Lou, with the question you asked about what is the best use of our lawmakers' time and who is for the people of the United States, it seems that 'none of the above' is the clear winner. Indeed, it was. Now if we could only make 'none of the above' a candidate in the next elections." Chuck in Michigan, "The Senate, the Congress and President Bush are all for the people that have purchased them."

And Gene in California, "Well, Lou, with this administration exporting jobs and importing illegal immigrants, there is no place left for the middle class to work. It is not that Americans won't do that job, it is that there is no job for that American."

And Farrell in South Carolina, "Since our government wants to give away our ports, borders, airports and airlines, why don't they just put a big 'For Sale' sign on our entire country? This way the multinational corporations could get control of our government. Wait a minute. I forgot, they already own the Congress and president."

Send us your thoughts at We'll have more of your thoughts coming up here later.

Next, three of the nation's most popular radio talk show hosts join us. And the new political ads you'll be seeing soon that are talking tough on illegal immigration.

A special report next.

And Congressman Mike Pence introducing new legislation he says could break the immigration deadlock on Capitol Hill. He'll be with us.

And tonight, new threats to Geno's. The restaurant asking its customers to order in English. Imagine that. This time an entire city is attacking the owner of Geno's. We'll have that special report.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Across the country tonight, congressional candidates are increasing their spending on campaign ads that stress their positions on illegal immigration. These candidates are promising to deliver the meaningful border security and immigration reforms that is so far eluding everyone in the Senate. We'll see how the House does. We know one thing, Americans are demanding border security.

Lisa Sylvester has the report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Senator Conrad Burns is in a tough race. The Montana Republican has seized on an election strategy to capitalize on the illegal immigration debate.

ANNOUNCER: Burns votes against amnesty. It gives illegals Social Security and tuition with your taxes.

SYLVESTER: The illegal immigration issue could prove to be the litmus test for voters this fall. NATHAN GONZALES, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: Immigration is an issue that we're not only seeing in the border states, but we're seeing the fight going to the Midwest, to the Mid-Atlantic, and all over the country.

SYLVESTER: In Pennsylvania, Republican Senator Rick Santorum and Democrat Bob Casey are duking it out over who is tougher on the issue.

ANNOUNCER: Rick Santorum voted against the Senate Immigration Bill because he thinks it's wrong to offer amnesty.

ANNOUNCER: Bob Casey supports John McCain's position. Tough penalties for employers who hire illegal workers.

SYLVESTER: But the attack ads are often so nuanced it's hard to distinguish real differences between candidates. Democrats who support legalizing illegal aliens downplay that fact and emphasize security issues. Listen carefully to Democrat Jim Pederson who is running against Republican Senator Jon Kyl in Arizona.

JIM PEDERSON (D-AZ) SENATE CANDIDATE: My plan starts with tougher enforcement of the border. Along with criminal background checks, fines, and an English requirement for undocumented workers to earn legal status. My plan is not amnesty. It's realistic.

SYLVESTER: Conservative groups like Team America are running counter-ads in select states.

BAY BUCHANAN, CHMN., TEAM AMERICA: We need someone to come in and say, listen, this is the record. Lay out the record. And make these Congressmen and senators defend the record. Their actual votes.

SYLVESTER: Political ads are good for a sound bite or two, but ultimately, it's up to the voters to figure out where their candidates truly stand on the issue.


SYLVESTER: And the key is to look at alliances. Is a candidate embracing the Senator John McCain and President Bush approach that puts illegal aliens on a path for citizenship or are they pushing for enforcement only and leaving off any amnesty plan and the best source for incumbents is to go back and look at their congressional voting report, Lou.

DOBBS: We're going to put that on our Web site exactly that record, where they stand on amnesty. Every senator that voted for the idiotic piece of legislation. It's an absolute travesty by any objective standard and they deserve whatever they get. I mean, it is criminal to me what they've done, and the House is seriously entertaining the legislation in Congress, they are required to do so, and it is the law, and we do know this Congress loves to enforce the law.

Pederson in Arizona, he sounds, I think I've got it, lets sounded very sincere and talk about fines to employers and for undocumented workers. Is that sort of the gist of it is?

SYLVESTER: It is, indeed. And it's very tricky, because a lot of the ads they'll look and it sounds like they are tough on enforcement.

DOBBS: It sounded tough.

SYLVESTER: That's what they are doing, take a look at the fine print. These are people that actually support amnesty, but they just don't call it amnesty.

DOBBS: And Senator Kyl actually voted against it.

SYLVESTER: Yes, indeed.

DOBBS: Unbelievable. Undocumented workers. It's hard to sound tough when you are saying -- you lower your voice.

SYLVESTER: They are trying to confuse muddle the issues. And that's what it is. And for voters it's all sort of a bait and switch.

DOBBS: I may be proved wrong in November, but I truly believe the American people have had a belly full of this nonsense. I pray. I pray that it doesn't work anywhere.

SYLVESTER: I think you are absolutely right, Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester as always, great reporting.

This broadcast has commissioned a comprehensive nationwide poll on illegal immigration and border security and the legislation being debated in Washington. As far as I know this is the most comprehensive poll conducted on these issues in decades. And the survey, conducted by opinion research, definitively gauges American attitudes on these critical issues.

We're going to examine five of the questions tonight, and tonight, looking at the first result, 54 percent of those surveyed say children of illegal aliens born in this country should automatically receive American citizenship, 40 percent disagree.

Nearly 60 percent say the government of Mexico has encouraged illegal immigration into this country. Only 18 percent believe the government of Mexico discourages illegal aliens. It has just about 25 million of its citizens in this country now.

Fully 83 percent of Americans surveyed said the government of Mexico has not done enough to stop the flow of illegal drugs into this country. Overwhelming, and more than two-thirds say the Mexican government is responsible for the illegal drugs coming into the United States.

And on the question of making English the official language of the United States, fully three-quarters of all Americans surveyed favor making English the official language. Congressman Mike Pence is the chairman of the House Republican Study Committee. He's written compromise immigration legislation he says could break the deadlock on immigration reform in Congress. His legislation includes an illegal alien guest-worker program, but he says it strictly rules out amnesty. Congressman Pence joins us tonight from Capitol Hill. Congressman Pence, good to have you with us.

REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Let's start with the deadlock. I will tell you, categorically, the Senate bill is, in my judgment, something that, if any legislation could be dismissed out of hand by your speaker, your leader, Congressman Sensenbrenner and declared dead on arrival it is that legislation. How do you feel?

PENCE: I couldn't agree with you more, Lou, and appreciate your leadership on it. House members, me included, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the speaker are categorically opposed to amnesty and the Senate passed an amnesty bill. Amnesty by any other name where we let individuals get right with the law and stay in this country to do it is not acceptable to the American people. And it is not acceptable to the majority of members of the House of Representatives.

DOBBS: And the compromise that you're putting forward, be a compromise between what? If you would articulate that for us.

PENCE: Well, I appreciate it. My bill, which is all available on my Web site, emerged in a speech at the Heritage Foundation a couple weeks ago. Basically most of my bill, Lou, is everything we passed out of the House of Representatives last December, about 280 pages, includes virtually everything in the border security measures, all of the tough enforcement ...

DOBBS: Let's put that up, if we may, Congressman.

PENCE: Thank you.

DOBBS: You say that would you secure the border.

PENCE: That's right. Well, we do everything in the House bill to secure the border.

DOBBS: I'm sorry, Congressman, I spoke over you. Say again.

PENCE: Thank you. Well, we do everything that the House legislation adopted last December does to secure the border. And my proposal is, Lou, that for the first two years after enactment, all we do is secure the border, and build the fence and deploy the UAV and build the additional capacity and have additional border patrols. A nation without borders is not a nation. That has to come first.

But we also do employer sanctions. And then the nuance here is that as someone who strongly rejects amnesty, I think like most Americans, I've proposed that we work with the private sector to establish what we call Ellis Island Centers outside the United States, where people outside the country or people in this country illegally could apply for a legal right to be here from outside America, and that means it's not amnesty.

DOBBS: Congressman, my reaction on a couple of points here is the guest-worker part of this program, we are witnessing right now wages falling in the lowest wage scales in this country, suggesting definitively, by any economic theory, even Washington economists, that we have a surplus of labor not a shortage of it. The idea of a guest- worker program, what -- what is driving that?

PENCE: Well, I think what's driving it, Lou, is I think you used the 20 million number, the number we talk about on the Hill is 10 million to 12 million illegal immigrants that are in this country, working, you know, what we ...

DOBBS: We use 11 million to 20 million, Congressman.

PENCE: What we see in Indiana, what, frankly, folks see all over the country is people who have over the last 20 years stepped in to our labor force in many positions where -- and many areas where there's been a labor shortage. And in my judgment, we ought to come up with an orderly new guest-worker program that will meet the need, but we can't do that with amnesty or we undermine our nation's commitment to the rule of law.

DOBBS: Yes, well, I think this Congress, Congressman, has undermined this nation's commitment to the rule of law, and this president and the previous president have absolutely insulted the American people and are not obeying the law, not insisting that it be enforced, and if you would like to correct the record on that, I'd be glad to hear it. Because that is exactly what this Congress and this president have done.

PENCE: Well, it's been a great frustration as a conservative member of the House Judiciary Committee. I helped write that enforcement-first bill that we passed last December that focused on tough employer sanctions and border security.

But, you know, I'm someone who believes that creating a new guest-worker program outside the country, not with amnesty, Lou, would be a way of meeting the needs of our marketplace without undermining the law and achieving -- here's the big deal. And finding a way with the situation we have in the Senate today, to get this border secured and get new enforceable sanctions on the books.

DOBBS: You know when you say marketplace, Congressman, I get really nervous, because I don't hear enough frankly of you-all in Washington, Republican or Democrat, the Senate or the House, talk about this nation. This is not a marketplace. This is not an economy. We're not consumers, we're not just workers, we're citizens.

Congress has moved so far away from the idea that this is a nation, a country, and looking upon all of us as either consumers or workers rather than citizens. I get very nervous about that. Let me say one thing to you, Congressman, if I may, and I've just been give then quote from Congressman Tom Tancredo, one of the leading anti- illegal immigration advocates, as you know.

He says of your plan, "It gives the administration exactly what it wants: unlimited foreign workers first, enforcement later or never. Pence's plan is the '86 amnesty with a trip home tacked on."

PENCE: Yes, and you know, Lou, that's actually not a very fair reflection of my proposal. In my proposal, we actually do border security first. The whole first two years are all security, and it's not a trip tacked on home. We would require people who are illegal in this country, to go to an Ellis Island center outside the United States, submit to a background check, be a private placement and go through health screening.

DOBBS: That would be a privately-owned outfit, right?

PENCE: Well, you know, I want -- we've got a lot of companies in this country that do private placement every day of the week. The people that manage your credit card, the data management. We certainly don't want to look to a failed government bureaucracy to manage this new guest-worker program or quite frankly, it will fail us as much as the bureaucracy failed us last time.

DOBBS: I'm with you on the bureaucracy. There's not a dime being put forward in the Senate legislation that, according to Senator Judd Gregg, that will move to border security. The fact is, we got failed bureaucracies because we're not managing this government. But to put the idea of putting our immigration law in the hands of private enterprise, I'm sorry I just...

PENCE: We wouldn't put it in the hands of private enterprise, Lou.

DOBBS: ... This country is getting eaten alive from the left and the right, the Democratic and the Republican side by this libertarian fatalism that doesn't recognize we've got a role for government.

PENCE: Lou, if I may.

DOBBS: You may.

PENCE: The Department of Homeland Security would manage the new guest-worker program. The FBI would do all of the background check, the State Department would issue the visa. What I'm talking about, really is using the people in America, the companies that do data management and data dragging and employment placement and tracking every day of the week to do it, because, frankly, the government bureaucracy got us into this mess. We ought to look to the private sector to help us get out of it.

DOBBS: I would just disagree with you on one small point. It's the elected representatives we've sent to Washington and the White House, Congress and the Senate that have gotten us into this mess, and apparently don't have the guts or the innovation to understand there's a role for government and a role for U.S. citizens and hard-working men and women in this country who demand their government serve them. PENCE: Yes, I'll tell you, Lou, I really want to agree with you. That I think, to date, the Congress and this government has failed to address this issue.

DOBBS: Right.

PENCE: What I want to suggest is that we can get control of our borders. We can have tough sanctions.

DOBBS: Right.

PENCE: Then we can meet the needs of our country for labor with -- without amnesty, and we bring innovation and new ideas to doing that. And I hope people will go to my Web site and check out the Pence plan, and, Lou, I hope you do, too.

DOBBS: I already have, partner.

PENCE: Thank you.

DOBBS: I appreciate it, Congressman, thank you.

PENCE: Thank you.

DOBBS: Coming up next -- by the way, what is the Web site again?

PENCE: MikePence.House.Gov.

DOBBS: Thank you, we just wanted to make sure that's out there. Thank you, sir.

Coming up next, three of the country's most popular talk radio show hosts join me. We'll be talking about illegal immigration. We'll talk about the Pence plan, we'll talk about the Senate plan, if you can call the Senate a plan. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Illegal immigration, border security, the war in Iraq, some of the issues that could determine the outcome of our upcoming midterm elections. Joining me now, three of the country's most popular talk show hosts. Lionel, talk show host on WOR radio in New York. Mark Simone with WABC in New York. And Steve Cochran, WGN radio from Chicago. Good to have you gentlemen with us.

Let me begin with you, Steve Cochran. The president in Iraq, a surprise visit. He's got a bump on the death of al-Zarqawi of two points in the poll, one up and one down. What's the response?

STEVE COCHRAN, TALK RADIO HOST: You know, I think -- well, I think the reaction by most people is, this was a good thing. There's a million thing you can knock the president on. I don't know that this is one of them. And it does kind of reinforce this new government at a good time. So, you know, the Bush administration needs a good move. This looks like it was a pretty successful day. DOBBS: Honestly, Lionel, I thought he would get a much bigger bump, frankly. An actual decline in one poll, I believe the CBS poll, I thought he would get a significant bump from that.

LIONEL, TALK RADIO HOST: Did you ever hear when somebody was in the hospital, they say he went from fair to stable. And you wonder, what do these gradations mean? I don't know what that means. You know what I want to know, here's the question...

DOBBS: That's why -- he's up and down.

LIONEL: ... When he shows up and the prime minister -- The President Bush is here, yes, right. No, no he's here. Do they really show up in the middle of the night or just surprise him? And, also, would he looked -- I want to look you in the eye and tell you, look you in the eye -- the same way, Lou, he looked in my eye, your eye, and said there's weapons of mass destruction. There's aluminum tubes, there's trailers. Yes.

DOBBS: Mark?

MARK SIMONE, TALK RADIO HOST: Well obviously getting al-Zarqawi is a good thing, although Democrats tried every which way to find something wrong with it.

The funniest attempt at creating a scandal was Saturday. You know, they found out that he was alive for another hour afterwards and then they found a witness that said our troops might have beaten him. We just dropped two 500-pound bombs on his head.

LIONEL: Why do we try to resuscitate somebody after we dropped two bombs -- I'm serious. Why do we do that? Why put his picture? Did you see that morgue photo of him in gold frame?

DOBBS: Don't forget the matting, elegant matting around it. Did you have the feeling that was a military idea, Steve Cochran, or do you think they had some sort of civilian P.R. consultant to help them with that?

COCHRAN: Well, the impression that we've gotten through all of this is, again, if you're going to drop two 500-pound bombs on a house, there's a mission intended there. However, as America...

DOBBS: You think?

COCHRAN: ... As America, we will bring the gurney in, we'll bring some extra gauze. Frankly, I think it was a waste of gauze, and it's time to move on.

SIMONE: I don't think anybody's going to accuse the Bush administration for having great P.R. advice.

LIONEL: Yes, but then the Bush administration turns around the next day and says by the way, the stuff we told you about al-Zarqawi, he really wasn't the big shot that we thought he was. DOBBS: My favorite headline was from the "New York Post," and it said al-Zarqawi, put up his picture with the fancy matte framing, it said "Rest In Pieces." I couldn't have agreed with the headline more in I don't know how long.

Steve Cochran, we did a poll and we asked our viewers to examine the responsibility of Mexico for its estimated 25 million citizens who are now in this country, and on the issue of illegal immigration and amazingly, the American people, by about 60 percent, say that the Mexican government is encouraging illegal immigration, not being a good partner and neighbor. Shocking, don't you think?

COCHRAN: What a shock. Pinch me, pinch me. I could be blown over with a feather and I'm a large man. Listen, here's the deal. We get calls all the time about this. The American public is very bright and very in touch with this, and they are really hacked off at President Fox.

Lou, you and I have talked about this on my show as well. He will protect his own southern border while he'll drive people across into Arizona and Texas, and we have got to stop partnering with this guy and got to get tough. And, frankly, we got to stop apologizing for the fact that we are trying to do the right thing by our people.

DOBBS: Exactly.

LIONEL: Lou, I love you. I love CNN, too.

DOBBS: Oh, I love you back.

LIONEL: Who was the genius who requisitioned a poll to ask the American people, do you think Mexico has something to do to encourage illegal immigration? What's your next poll? Do you fear from dying -- burning to death in a fire? Well, yes. I mean, everybody knows this is -- Vicente Fox is....

DOBBS: Well Lionel, actually, the reason we did that is that not once in the floor of the House of Representatives or the United States Senate has there been a discussion of the responsibility of the government of Mexico for an illegal immigration crisis.

Instead, we hear this president and the Senate talk about our good partners, our friends and neighbors, as a matter of fact, is the language and vice versa, the Mexican government. In point of fact, that's no part of the legislation, no part of the debate, and the American people, who are intuitively quite aware of what is going on and where the responsibility lies. That's why we put it forward, so that we could share it with our elected officials.

LIONEL: Why hasn't anybody like...

DOBBS: ... By the way, I was the genius who commissioned that poll. And I take deep offense, Lionel.

LIONEL: It's a great poll.


LIONEL: It's a great poll. It's a great poll. But why doesn't somebody ask the president, in terms of all this, would you please explain to me why you are in bed with Vicente Fox? What -- where -- I mean, other than you, where is this aggression, where is somebody asking the hard questions?

DOBBS: By the way, the audience of this broadcast has had a belly full. Steve, I don't know what the reaction is in Chicago. Mark, here in New York, you have got so many people. We've got the mayor talking about a half million immigrants in this city, as if that excuses illegal immigration across the nation.

SIMONE: Well, (INAUDIBLE) frustration is everybody is curing the symptom and not the disease. We've got to work on a wall. It's proven to be 90 percent effective everywhere else. Forget who is here now. You're going to have another 100 million illegal aliens in this country in the next 10, 20 years.

COCHRAN: And again, stop apologizing for it. You know, it's like your poll earlier on whether or not English should be the language of this country. Why is it that every other country is taking care of their own best interests, but when we do it, our elected representatives feel like, aww shucks, and they're shuffling around, and well, we just want to do the right thing.

DOBBS: Because all they know are the special interests and the corporate interests who are working with them every day, with, you know, filling their coffers with campaign funds or promising them constituent interests.

LIONEL: You know, as long as....

COCHRAN: Well, you know...

LIONEL: I'm sorry.

DOBBS: Go ahead, Steve.

COCHRAN: No, I was just going to say, I was just going to say, Lou, the interesting thing's going to be, because you and I both believe that the middle part of this country, the people that don't believe all the Republicans are right or all the Democrats are right, these are the people that need to get engaged, especially in this race as we replace the House...

DOBBS: Amen, brother.

COCHRAN: ... or decide who gets to get the job. Because we know you're smart enough to know what's best for this country. You've got to get engaged. You've got to decide who you are going to vote for and you've got to tell them what you want and you have got to vote.

SIMONE: And every day when you call a corporation, why should we have to push one for English?

LIONEL: I still have a rotary phone.

DOBBS: Why does that not surprise me?

LIONEL: Well, I'm old-fashioned. But you know, as long as...

DOBBS: You're traditional.

LIONEL: As long as -- conservative, diehard American. As long as corporations get away with this, until you see chairmans of the board of big industrial packing plants led away in irons -- I mean, let's face it, we know exactly -- I said it last time, if you want to find an illegal alien, order a pizza. If you want to see -- they are in the fields. We know exactly where they are. Why aren't these people treated like we did Enron? Make them accountable.

DOBBS: Because their money is still flowing into the various treasuries of the various PACs and campaign coffers of our elected officials of both parties.

Steve Cochran, good to see you out there in Chicago. And Lionel, Mark, good to see you.

COCHRAN: Thank you, sir.

LIONEL: It was a good poll, the second...

DOBBS: We do agree, it was a genus-like, inspired...

LIONEL: Could not have done it better myself.

DOBBS: Thank you, Lionel.

Up next here, a report on the Philadelphia restaurant owner charged with discrimination because he wants people to order his -- from his menu in English. Imagine that. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Coming up at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, tell us about it.


PR and politics. President Bush makes a surprise visit to Iraq. We'll take you behind the scenes of his secret mission.

Also, Karl Rove in the clear. The Republican mastermind free from legal troubles. Find out why this White House victory may mean some bad news for some Democrats.

Plus, guilty as charged. A Kennedy congressman takes the rap for drugging and driving.

And busted at the border. Customs agents accused of taking bribes for letting people and drugs into the country. We have all the details, Lou, coming up right at the top of the hour.

DOBBS: Wolf, thank you very much, looking forward to it.

Geno's, the Philadelphia restaurant that asked its customers to place their orders in English, is being charged with discrimination. The city's Commission on Human Relations has filed a complaint, charging the restaurant with denying service on the basis of national origin.

Let me say to that commission: Please come here and explain what the heck you think you're doing. Signs posted in Geno's say, "when ordering, please speak English." The restaurant's, owner, by the way, not exactly intimidated by the city's Human Relations Commission. I think -- we really desperately want them to come here and talk to us about this. The restaurant's owner, Geno, says he isn't removing the signs.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe that Geno's Steaks sign asking customers to order in English is the owner's right or is it discriminatory? Please cast your vote at We'll have the results and a lot more of your thoughts, at least some of your thoughts, right after this quick break. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight. Good news for you, Geno in Philadelphia: 96 percent of this audience responding to our poll says the Geno's Steaks sign asking customers to order in English is the owner's right. Four percent of you, out of some misbegotten sense of political correctness, consider it discriminatory. We'll talk about that later.

Right now, let's look at your thoughts. Tony in Colorado: "Wow. Vague thoughts of possible future U.S. troop cuts in Iraq. What a coincidence, with election season coming up. Do they think we're stupid? Oh, wait a minute. Bush was reelected. Fair enough."

Patrick in Washington: "Say it ain't true, Lou. Our president went to Iraq to tell them he wants to see a government of the people, by the people, for the people, while we at home are wishing for the very same thing!"

And Jim in Nevada: "Lou, perhaps we should place a few of Geno's signs at the White House, the Senate, Congress and House of Representatives, for it's evident they forgot just who the hell they work for."

And Diane in Connecticut: "Dear Lou, as far as immigration goes, isn't it obvious to every American that there's Fox behind that Bush?"

Send us your thoughts at Each of you whose email is read here receives a copy of my book, "Exporting America."

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. Among my guests will be Senator Jeff Sessions. For all of us here, good night from New York. Thanks for watching. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.


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