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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Sen. Warner Declares U.S. Strategy in Iraq is Not Working; Panel Discusses Mark Foley Impact; Many Schools Still Fail Under No Child Left Behind
Aired October 6, 2006 - 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, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Tonight a power Republican senator, Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner breaks ranks with the White House over Iraq. Senator Warner declares U.S. strategy in Iraq is not working. We'll have that live report tonight.
And President Bush's campaign to sell his strategy in the war on terror is failing. In part because of the Mark Foley scandal on Capitol Hill. We'll have that report. And three of the country's best political analysts join us here. All of that and a great deal more, straight ahead, next.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, October 6th. Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
U.S. strategy in Iraq is on the verge of failure. And a leading Republican senator says the Bush administration should consider a change of course.
The chairman of the powerful Arms Services Committee, Senator John Warner, says no policy options should be taken off the table. The senator's remarks come after the deaths of 24 of our troops in Iraq in the past week.
Meanwhile, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il could carry out his first nuclear weapons test as soon as this weekend. The United States today said a nuclear North Korea is unacceptable.
Jamie McIntyre tonight reports from the Pentagon on Senator Warner's break with the White House and his bleak assessment of the progress of the war in Iraq. Barbara Starr reports on the rising nuclear menace from North Korea. And Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House tonight on the president's difficult struggle to sell his national security agenda to voters. We turn first to Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon-- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Lou, more evidence tonight that the U.S. strategy in Iraq is not working. That the political violence is worsening and the country is slipping further into civil war.
MCINTYRE (voice over): Citing what he calls the exponential rise in the number of deaths both U.S. and Iraqi, along with the failure of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to disarm the warring militias, Republican Senator John Warner is sounding a dire warning. While he still has hope, it's fading fast.
SEN. JOHN WARNER, (R-VA) CHMN., ARMES SERVICES CMTE.: I assure you, in a two or three months if this thing hasn't come to fruition, and if this level of violence is not under control, and this government able to function, I think it's a responsibility of our government, internally, to determine is there a change of course that we should take?
MCINTYRE: Just back from meeting with Iraqi officials and U.S. commanders in Baghdad, Warner is giving voice to what many inside and outside the Pentagon are coming to believe. Namely, the U.S. strategy of standing down as Iraqi stand up, is failing.
COL. DOUG MACGREGOR, U.S. ARMY (RET.): This change that the senator's talking about is long overdue. We had no business occupying central Iraq. It is been enormously wasteful. The change that's indicated is departure at the earliest opportunity.
MCINTYRE: But even as Warner says the situation is, in his words, drifting sideways, he argues withdrawal would simply turn the Iraqi oil fields into a treasury for the world terrorists movement. And he expressed continued faith in U.S. commanders.
WARNER: We've just got to stand behind them and give those military operations the time needed to succeed.
MCINTURE: Warner's downbeat assessment comes as an analysis by a respected military thinker concludes, "Iraq is already in a state of limited civil war." And questions whether Iraqi forces can ever do the job.
"Progress is slow or faltering in each of the areas necessary to make Iraqi force development successful," writes Anthony Cordesman, of CSIS. "Plans for significant troop reductions in 2006 have failed. Troop reductions need to be put on hold indefinitely," he says. "And the present odds of success are, at best, even."
MCINTYRE: So what's gone wrong? Well, Senator John Warner blames himself, along with former CentCom Commander General Tommy Franks for not asking the right questions about Iraq's history and culture. Questions, he says, that would have allowed them to anticipate how difficult the political divide in Iraq would be, and how difficult it would be to transition to democracy -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.
Also rising concern tonight in Congress about the progress of the war in Afghanistan. Senator Jack Reed, in Afghanistan today, said Pakistan must be much more aggressive in its efforts to control its borders. Coalition and Afghan officials say radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan are using Pakistan as a base to launch attacks against American and NATO troops; 269 of our troops have been killed in Afghanistan, since the beginning of that war.
On the opposite side of Asia tonight, a rapidly escalating threat to U.S. interests and our allies. Japan said North Korea could carry out its first ever nuclear weapons test this weekend. U.S. officials are refusing to speculate about the timing of a possible test, but our military tonight is closely monitoring North Korea. As Barbara Starr now reports.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT (voice over): North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il happily waved to his military commanders as world pressure mounts for him to cancel plans to conduct his country's first nuclear test.
Pyongyang's announcement has thrown diplomatic efforts at the United Nations into a frenzy. If there is a nuclear detonation, the world changes.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CTR. FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: This immediately affects the calculations of South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, all of whom might decide they need to have their own independent nuclear arsenal as well. If North Korea gets away with this, Iran would be encouraged to go forward.
STARR: Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill sounded ominous this week, saying, "North Korea can have a future or it can have these weapons. It cannot have both." But the Bush administration is avoiding talk of a preemptive strike or a military response afterwards.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY, U.S. DEFENSE DEPT.: That's a decision for the country. It's a decision for presidents.
STARR: There is plenty of U.S. firepower in the region; 28,000 troops in South Korea, and some 20 warships based out of Japan. Half a dozen B-52 bombers are in Guam. But what is the target? U.S. intelligence shows North Korea is preparing several sites for a potential test. But one intelligence analyst told CNN, it's a game of nuclear three-card Monte. Trying to force the CIA to guess which hole in the ground is the right one.
The first signs of a nuclear detonation will come from more than 100 underground monitoring stations around the world. Spy planes such as this nuclear sniffer, are already flying overhead, and satellites are trained on the region, 24/7.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will be able to detect not just that a test has occurred, but what's the size of the test was, what the explosive yield of the device was.
(END VIDEOTAPE) STARR: But, Lou, one of the key questions really is, will the U.S. intelligence community be able to quickly determine what North Korea has exactly done, if there is a test. Intelligence analysts say after that July missile test by North Korea, very little useful intelligence data was ever collected by the intelligence community -- Lou.
DOBBS: Very little useful intelligence collected?
STARR: That's what they say, Lou. You know, it's an interesting question. That hasn't really come to light yet. Once again, billions of dollars of U.S. spy satellites, spy planes and sensors are now trained, again, on the Korean Peninsula. Will they be able to really determine what North Korea is up to? That country is a master of strategic deception. They may well be trying to fool the United States. Sources say the tests could be as soon as this weekend. It could be months from now. It could be never.
DOBBS: Barbara, thank you very much. Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.
The U.N. Security Council today warned North Korea not to carry out a nuclear weapons test. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said the United Nations takes the North Korean threat very seriously.
JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We don't think this is an attention-getting device. Of people waving their arm to say, see me, see me. We think that the main point is that North Korea should understand how strongly the United States, and many other council members, feel that they should not test this nuclear device. And that if they do test it, it will be a very different world the day after the test.
DOBBS: The White House also said a North Korean nuclear test would be unacceptable. It says a test would destabilize the whole of Asia.
President Bush this week strongly defended his national security policies and his conduct of the war on terror, but the president's efforts to convince the American people that his policies are working seemed to be failing. One major reason the president's message has been lost in the up roar over the Foley scandal on Capitol Hill. Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The president's megaphone might as well have been turned off.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They say that Iraq is a distraction in the war on terror. I strongly disagree.
MALVEAUX: Mr. Bush's three-day campaign swing out West was meant to try out new sharp rhetoric to paint the Democratic as weak on terror in the lead up to the midterm elections.
BUSH: They talk tough on terror, but when it comes time -- when their votes are counted, their softer side comes out.
MALVEAUX: But the Foley flood in Washington all but drowned out his message. The congressional cybersex scandal grabbing headlines, feeding 24-hour news.
THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It just suffocated the president's message. It ensured that it would get little play in the media and little public attention.
MALVEAUX: Mr. Bush struggled to get the attention back on his agenda.
But a series of rapid-fire school shootings in three states forced him to confront the news of the day. At the George W. Bush Elementary School in California, he addressed school safety, and then made the awkward turn to the Foley scandal.
BUSH: Families have every right to expect when they send their children to be a congressional page in Washington that those children will be safe.
MALVEAUX: While distancing itself from the controversy, the White House also tried to minimize the political damage surrounding the Republican leadership's handling of the crisis.
BUSH: I fully support Speaker Hastert's call for an investigation by law enforcement into this matter.
MALVEAUX: As the scandal mushroomed, the president's events on immigration, education, and the economy went largely unnoticed. And the frustration grew.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Both you guys write about the Foley scandal morning, noon, and night, it seems to me that the president is talking about things that matter.
MALVEAUX: Some political analysts believe it may be too late to turn the tide.
MANN: There is no question but that the modest gains the president made in August, in September have now been reversed.
MALVEAUX: But the Foley crisis has worked to the administration's advantage in one instance, as you know, of course, that book, the Bob Woodward book, "State of Denial," has been knocked out of the spotlight. That book, of course, accusing president Bush of being dishonest with the American people about the Iraq war -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.
Senior Republicans today rallied around House Speaker Dennis Hastert after he strongly defended his conduct in the Foley scandal. Former Secretary of State James Baker said speaker Hastert deserves credit for supporting an investigation. Baker said the speaker should not be a sacrificial lamb, as he put it. Meanwhile, the FBI in the House Ethics Committee are stepping up their investigations into the scandal.
Still ahead, here tonight, a rising backlash against e-voting machines across the country. Many state legislators are now worried about the rising threat to our democracy. That special report coming up here.
And Arizona voted to stop illegal aliens from taking part in our elections. So why is a federal appeals court deciding to overturn the will of the people? We'll have that story.
And many cities are taking bold action, trying to save a public education system that's failed an entire generation of Americans, and to fix it. Stay with us for all of that, and a great deal more, straight ahead.
DOBBS: President Bush is using Hispanic Heritage Month to push his comprehensive immigration reform amnesty agenda. At the White House today, President Bush repeated his call for citizenship for millions of illegal aliens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must understand that you can't kick 12 million people out of your country. That we must figure out a way to say to those that if you're lawful and if you've contributed to the United States of America, there is a way for you to eventually earn a citizenship.
DOBBS: The president didn't explain how you could be an illegal alien and at the same time be lawful. The president obviously continuing to push for comprehensive immigration reform, though many lawmakers and the president's own party want border security established first.
One of the country's most famous immigrants is taking on Mexican citizens who come to this country, but then refuse to integrate fully into American society. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California says some Mexicans, quote, "try to stay Mexican instead of assimilating into the United States." The governor says they should learn English, like he did, and become part of American society.
The head of California's Democratic Party blasted Governor Schwarzenegger, calling his comments an insult to all immigrants.
DOBBS: Tonight, a law that would have helped prevent illegal aliens from voting in this nation's elections has been blocked by a federal appellate court. Arizona's Proposition 200 would have required state residents to show proof of citizenship before being allowed to register to vote. Opponents called the law, as a result, discriminatory. Casey Wian reports.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The ultraliberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is at it again. This time blocking the will of Arizona voters by temporarily striking down the state's voter identification laws.
Two years ago, Arizona overwhelmingly approved Proposition 200, an effort to prevent illegal aliens from voting and receiving some state benefits. It requires voters to submit proof of citizenship when registering to vote, and identification when voting. But two Clinton- appointed judges of the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit this week ordered an emergency injunction suspending those requirements. Proposition 200 supporters are outraged.
RANDY PULLEN, ARIZ. GOP NATIONAL CMTE.: Something that's important as voting, which is the fundamental right of any citizen of this country, something that needs to be protected, and leaving it open so -- I mean, literally right now if you were a citizen of -- of Poland, living in Warsaw, you could register to vote in the state, in Arizona, over the Internet, and you could receive a ballot in the mail to vote. I mean, that's literally how ludicrous it is.
WIAN: The order was timed to allow voters without ID to register before Monday's deadline to be eligible to vote in November elections. It was made at the request of several groups; including the ACLU and the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education fund. MALDEF claims Prop 200 discourages citizens from registering to vote. State officials deny that, saying the voter ID law worked well during September's primary election.
JAN BREWER, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well are I'm very concerned and alarmed that the Ninth Circuit Court would overturn the will of 1 million people in the state of Arizona. And now, to stop it immediately like that, and make us go back and do all that work all over, I mean, we're going to have chaos on November 7th.
WIAN: The U.S. House of Representatives and 19 states have passed voter ID laws. But in just the past two weeks, judges have suspended laws in Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, and now Arizona.
WIAN: Arizona officials plan to ask for an emergency review of the order, first from the full Ninth Circuit itself, and then if that fails, from the United States Supreme Court -- Lou.
DOBBS: How quickly can they move to the -- the U.S. Supreme Court, because it is hardly a secret that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is something akin to a Soviet-style aggregation?
WIAN: Within the next couple of days, they can move it to the Supreme Court, if the emergency appeal is rejected by the Ninth Circuit. Arizona officials say they are running out of time, as we mentioned, there's a deadline coming up on Monday for voters to register to participate in the election. And they are having to rework their entire voting procedures that they've worked so hard to craft. So they want to get this resolved as quickly as possible.
DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian reporting.
It has been 53 days since illegal alien Elvira Arellano took refuge in a Chicago church, avoiding deportation back to Mexico. Avoiding deportation -- again -- back to Mexico. Immigration officials are refusing to enter that church to arrest her, and Arellano remains on a very direct, straightforward path.
She's using her son in her fight to remain in this country. The seven-year-old Saul Arellano has traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit with the president, to urge President Bush to intervene. He dropped off a handwritten note to the president at the White House. He traveled to Washington with the help, of course, in support of illegal alien amnesty groups.
Illegal alien advocates tonight have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court. They are trying to stop the deportation of hundreds of illegal aliens. Their lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens, Anchor Babies, so-called, such as Saul Arellano.
The case argues that the constitutional rights of these Anchor Babies are violated because of the threat that the parents will be deported. The lawsuits contends that the united states has lost the right to deport illegal aliens that are parents now, because it failed to deport them years ago before they started families.
Still ahead -- just hope that doesn't get to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals -- there is growing alarm tonight about e-voting machines. We'll have the latest for you on what local election officials are trying to do to protect our democracy.
And people running local school districts say Washington has failed America's children. We'll have a report on what they hope to do about it. There is hope.
And the attack ads are flying! As congressional candidates try just about anything, imagine this, to win in November. We'll ask our political analysts just which way the voters are leaning, and which way they are being pushed. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Tonight, election official the all across the country, most of them alarmed about the threat that electronic voting poses to our democracy, many are deciding to simply reject e-voting technology altogether. These officials say it's safer to use decades-old voting machines than to risk a free and fair election in which you can't count votes. Kitty Pilgrim has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: The crank of a voting machine lever has a solid sound, and Suffolk County officials don't want to give them up. They are asking the courts to rule counties have the right to use lever machines that have worked perfectly, and ignore state rules that call for them to be replaced.
The Help America Vote Act called for new election equipment across the country after the disastrous election in 2000.
STEVE LEVY, SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE: We do not believe that because a couple of counties in Florida had problems with hanging chads that we should have to spend tens of millions of dollars in new systems that are susceptible to fraud and are intimidating to many in our voting public.
PILGRIM: It would cost the county $14 million to buy machines that have not proved reliable. Neighboring Nassau County also wants to keep the old system in place, saying Nassau County doesn't have the space to store the electronic machines properly, in proper climate- controlled conditions.
Clinging to the old technology, only about 6 percent of the country will still use lever machines in this November election, mostly in New York and Connecticut. And with the recent electronic voting mess, many counties are printing and storing paper ballots, just in case the new electronic touch-screen systems fail.
LISANNE ALTMANN, NASSAU COUNTY LEGISLATOR: There's experience all across the country that these DRE machines have been a complete disaster, with some counties actually having spent a lot of money and then returning them and going over to the optical scanning machines.
PILGRIM: For that reason, 48 percent of voters across the country will use optically scanned paper ballots in November. That way if there is a recount, the paper record still exists.
PILGRIM: Now, in recent Suffolk county polls, 96 percent of the residents say they want to continue to use the lever machines, and there really is no reason to switch. It doesn't make sense.
DOBBS: You know, the country has done very well with paper ballots for a very long time. What kind of idiot would proceed with these e-voting machines when there's no paper trail, no plausible way to count these votes? What's happening in the state of Maryland, for example, is just -- it's absurd.
PILGRIM: It's really resisting the facts to continue to insist on technology without a voter verification trail.
DOBBS: And we're just about a month away from a very important midterm election. Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.
The subject of our poll tonight -- a broader question tonight. Do you believe the major political parties are representing your interests? Yes, Republicans! Said with enthusiasm. Yes, democrats! Also said with enthusiasm. No, neither, somewhat dispiritedly. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have your results later in the broadcast.
Marilyn in California said, "Communities that declare themselves to be so-called sanctuaries should be required to forfeit all federal and state funds.
Mike in Arizona, "If Houston is a Sanctuary City then Phoenix must be the new Mexican capitol. Wake up, America. We're being invaded by a foreign country. When are we going to start fighting back?"
You might begin by asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
BJ in Colorado, "Lou, if the middle-class ever started voting as a voting bloc, we'd be able to take this country back."
Rick in New Jersey: "The two-party system is dead. Both parties are no long looking to help the people."
Please send us your thoughts to loudobbs.com. We'll have more of your thoughts in the broadcast. Each of you whose e-mail receives a copy of my new book. "War on the Middle-Class: How the government, big business and special interest groups are waging war on the American dream and to fight back" on Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble. All great bookstores near you. Go to your favorite.
Coming up next, the federal No Child Left Behind Act is under fire across the country. Now local communities are trying to fix what Washington has broken. We'll have that report.
And just ahead are our weekly tribute to a member of our Armed services who served above and beyond the call of duty.
And it's just over a month until the midterm elections. Who will win? Republicans? Democrats? Perhaps the people. We'll ask our political analysts. Stay with us for that, and a great deal more, straight ahead.
DOBBS: A fire in a chemical plant outside Raleigh, North Carolina, forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes overnight. Local officials declared a state of emergency as massive explosions rocked the hazardous waste facility. Fire officials fear the huge clouds of smoke are toxic. The plant was fined for safety violations just six months ago, but it did pass an inspection last week.
A fire in Memphis, Tennessee, destroying an historic downtown church and damaging three other buildings there. Fire officials say the roof caved in, the steeple collapsed, the walls of that church crumbled into the street. Drifting embers also set three other neighboring buildings on fire. The First United Methodist Church was more than 100 years old. Three people were killed and another injured when a small plane crashed and burned in Georgia today. FAA officials say the single- engine Cessna appears to have hit powerlines as it took off from Berry Hill Airport southeast of Atlanta. The wreckage of the aircraft ended up in a residential area. No one on the ground was injured.
Another lockdown at one of our public schools today, this time near Orlando, Florida. A SWAT team rushed to a high school and middle school after a 911 call said a man was going to shoot his girlfriend. Both schools were placed on lockdown. Male students, book bags, lockers all were searched, no weapon found. Police now say it might have all been a hoax.
The Mars Rover Opportunity, sending back the first color panorama of a huge crater on the red planet. These new images show Victoria Crater. It's five times larger than any crater that the Rover Opportunity, and its twin, Robot Spirit, have managed to visit and photograph yet. The crater is more than half a mile wide, up to 200 feet deep. Scientists say that these dramatic new pictures show previously unseen patterns in the layers of the crater walls.
The Conference Board has been a longtime supporter of outsourcing, and offshoring American jobs to cheap overseas labor markets. It said in a report just last year, quote, "potentially massive savings in wage and benefit costs continue to drive the global, offshoring movement."
But the Conference Board now is questioning the economic benefits of outsourcing. In an important new study, the Conference Board says the profit potential from overseas outsourcing is not as great as first promised. Its new report is titled "Competitive Advantage of Low-Wage Countries Often Exaggerated."
The Conference Board says, quote, "when adjusting wages for productivity, the cost advantage to companies of low-wage countries and regions is smaller than you think." In other words, think about outsourcing an American job just for cheap labor. It might you feel a little better at night, CEOs.
President Bush tonight insists that his signature education program, No Child Left Behind, is improving performance among students all over the country. But public schools across the country are still failing their students and city officials are taking emergency action in some cases, trying to fix those schools before they get even worse.
Lisa Sylvester reports.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You knew I was coming?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Friendship Woodward (ph) students in Washington, D.C., hosted a high-profile guest. The public charter school is making the grade under the No Child Left Behind law, enacted four years ago. BUSH: Instead of softening No Child Left Behind, we need to strengthen it. The law is working.
SYLVESTER: But the Friendship Woodward School is the exception. No Child Left Behind has left behind tens of thousands of District of Columbia students. Only 28 of 146 D.C. public schools are meeting academic benchmarks, fourth graders in the city, ranked at the bottom of 11 urban school systems in reading and math last year.
And school enrollment continues to drop dramatically. Adrian Fenty is the frontrunner for D.C. mayor. He wants mayoral control of the D.C. school system.
ADRIAN FENTY (D), MAYORAL CANDIDATE: You see, the problem with the school board, if we acknowledge there's a problem, is that you have nine people who have to make a decision. And a public board, where nine people have to make a decision, what very often happens is a decision isn't made, even a really obvious decision.
SYLVESTER: In 2002, Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the reins and reformed New York City's public schools. Sixty-one percent of third graders there are now proficient in reading, eight percentage points higher than last year.
MICHAEL PETRILLI, FORDHAM INSTITUTE: If mayors want to build a strong middle-class in their cities, they need to make sure there are good public schools. And so they are already feel like they're being held accountable for whether or not the schools are good, so they want then the true responsibility for the schools also.
SYLVESTER: Boston has also turned around its public schools by having someone at the top saying the buck stops here.
SYLVESTER: No Child Left Behind is up for reauthorization next year, but critics say the education law won't lift academic achievement unless the schools receive enough financial resources and there is accountability and not just for the teachers and the students, but at the top, an elected official who will take the blame if the schools do not improve -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, the first thing to say, I think, in this country -- and I wish that every public school educator listening to me right now, every mayor, everyone involved and concerned about education, this isn't about taking accountability for failure. It's saying we're not going to fail those students, period, and we're going to do what's necessary.
That's the only -- you know, I applaud those mayors taking responsibility. Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York, among others, doing so, and doing as best they can. But it's a community problem we all need to help, but we should not accept failure at all when we're talking about our children. Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester. Coming up next, fibbing about your background probably isn't the way to earn the voters' trust, yet one Senate candidate has been telling -- in the judgment, at least, of his opponent -- a whopper.
And the Foley scandal, there's a whopper. Republicans remain in full damage control, Democrats in full attack mode. It seems to be the gift that keeps giving. And did I mention the role of the national media? I'll be talking with our panel of political experts about all of this and more.
And "Heroes," our weekly tribute to the men and women serving this country around the world. We'll have a wonderful story for you next about a very special leatherneck. Stay with us.
DOBBS: This is what you've been waiting for, news from the campaign trail. Lots of politicians are liars -- I bet you didn't know that -- but don't count Tennessee's Congressman Harold Ford seeking the U.S. Senate among them. Ford, now running for the Senate, has been telling folks he's a lawyer and his Web site says he graduated from the University of Michigan's Law School a decade ago.
But an official in the Ford campaign now admits that Ford flunked the bar exam in 1997 and he never took it again. Meanwhile -- and his opponent, as you might expect is making a lot out of that.
Meanwhile, in Iowa, Republicans are linking a Democratic candidate for the House to -- you bet -- to the Communist Party, or what's left of it in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Bruce Braley has been called a peace candidate by the Communist Party. Bruce Braley, endorsed my ultra- liberals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Ultra liberals, communists, I'll tell you, it's getting bad. We've got to watch what's going on in this country. Democrats call the ad laughable, but a GOP spokeswoman says, at the very least, it shows that Braley's an ultraliberal.
Tonight, a Republican Congressman in Pennsylvania is running an unusual campaign ad in which he apologizes for cheating on his wife, as well certainly he should. In this ad, Congressman Don Sherwood also denies long-standing allegations that he also abused his mistress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DON SHERWOOD (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I made a mistake that nearly cost me the love of my wife, Carol. and our daughters. As a family, we've worked through this, because of my deep regret, our love and the fact that the allegation of abuse was never true. (END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Congressman Sherwood is a four-term Republican Congressman who is urging voters to focus on his record in Congress when they go to the polls next month, and I think we all certainly should focus on everyone's record when we go to the polls. Along with some rather interesting campaign advertising.
A top White House official has resigned after a stinging report that links her to a huge Washington lobbying scandal -- in fact, the biggest. Susan Ralston was an aide to top Bush strategist Karl Rove, and once worked for our disgraced lobbyist and jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Her resignation comes a week after a House report showed her role in arranging tickets to sporting events for Rove from Abramoff.
Joining me now, three of the best political minds in the country. Former White House political director, Republican strategist, Ed Rollins. Michael Goodwin, Pulitzer prize winner, "New York Daily News" columnist. And Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman.
Ed, let's focus first...
ED ROLLINS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The first scary thing is Ford has moved ahead since those commercials, by not being a lawyer. He's -- and Sherwood is now become the multi-family candidate. So it's a scary process.
DOBBS: Well, I have to say, the politics this year is starting to be very interesting. It is -- I have to say, I've covered politics for a while, but this is the first time I've seen a man, say, I'm sorry about cheating on my wife, and I'm really sorry about abusing -- or not abusing or whatever he's saying.
MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS COLUMNIST: I think he denied that.
DOBBS: He denied that, I've got to get that right. But just the idea of it. I mean, this is -- we have the Tom Foley scandal.
ROLLINS: Not Tom.
DOBBS: Mark Foley. I'm going all the way back.
ROLLINS: I defeated Tom Foley, ran that campaign in 1994.
DOBBS: Mark Foley. Is it really the Democrats' fault that he did this?
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well...
DOBBS: ... Because the Drudge Report seems to suggest that and a number of others are taking up the mantle that the Democrats really sort of entrapped the Republican Party here.
ZIMMERMAN: Well, because you've covered politics, you know the Democrats aren't nearly organized enough to do that. But, more importantly, when Denny Hastert was asked about the evidence, he said he no real reliable source, all he knew was what he read in the paper. So this is nothing more than another desperate and pathetic effort by the Republican leadership to avoid taking responsibility for being a major part of the scandal.
DOBBS: It also could be just a desperate, pathetic effort on the part of the Democrats and the national media to take advantage of a House speaker who is uninformed on the actions of his colleagues over which he has responsibility in Congress.
ZIMMERMAN: Apparently he was informed, he just didn't want to hear of them. In fact, what's even more incredible, is Congressman Tom Reynolds, who chairs the Republican congressional campaign committee, after he went to the speaker about Foley then came back and encouraged Foley to run again.
DOBBS: All right Ed, save your party. You know, rise to the defense, put that standard up and tell us why this is much about nothing.
ROLLINS: It's a lot about nothing. Remember Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco?
ZIMMERMAN: Here we go.
ROLLINS: Charlie Rangel from Harlem, chairman of the Ways and Means going to be responsible for raising your taxes.
DOBBS: I think you've got -- Michael, you've got a way to go here.
GOODWIN: Yes, I think, yes.
ZIMMERMAN: It was a nice try, Ed, I'll tell you.
GOODWIN: We've now been in Foley doo-doo for a week, and I hope we're probably going to be in it for another week at most. That will leave us about three weeks to get back to some substantive issues before the elections. I know that's probably asking for too much, but I do think that the most important thing that happened this week was not Mark Foley's emails, but John Warner's comments about Iraq. And I think that is the sort of thing that this election ought to turn on, not the trivial pursuits of a lecherous congressman.
DOBBS: A lecherous congressman or whatever and however many of them there are, the fact is that more than 2,700 Americans are now dead in Iraq. More than 20,000 wounded. The powerful chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee returns from Iraq and says he thinks until the end of the year before suggesting that we take a different course. What do you make of that?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, it's a tremendously important statement and it does reflect, in fact, what John Murtha, on what Democrats and Republicans, like Chuck Hagel have been saying for some time, that we have to in fact have a Congress that is going to hold the administration accountable, conduct the proper hearings, and begin to look at alternative strategies. The Iraq battlefield is not the battlefield to fight the war on terrorism. And I think what we're realizing is because we now are losing ground in Afghanistan, we've got to focus on that.
GOODWIN: I think just the substance of what Warner said. Don't forget, he's been around now for about three months. In other words, over the summer it was said you have until the end of the year. That was basically what Tony Blair and Bush said in early May, actually.
So I think it's been pretty clear that this government in Iraq cannot stand much longer if it can't produce. And so I think -- I think Warner going there and saying that just keeps the pressure on. It's going -- it's got to happen now or it's not going to happen.
ROLLINS: But the added significance, John Warner, former secretary of the Navy, John Warner who's been probably the staunchest defender, not only of this president, but of the armed services as the chairman, came back and said, I'm at fault. He didn't blame Bush. He said I'm at fault, I didn't do my job, we didn't do the due diligence and he said we're now going to do the due diligence. Not only that, but you think in terms of what he just did to the Senate race, in his home state of Virginia, where it's Allen versus Webb. Webb's basically taking the same position he's taking now, the war is not...
ZIMMERMAN: Yes, but it's a very important point. Senator Warner's comments really were a profile of courage and it shouldn't be disregarded. It was the fact that he said, I'm holding myself accountable for not asking the tough questions.
DOBBS: I don't think that Senator Warner got the memo in current modern Washington, you just do not apparently take responsibility for anything. This man at the same time he was laying a new course, the possibility for a new course, as you say, Ed, saying it's my fault.
DOBBS: I mean -- my hat's off to the guy.
ROLLINS: Great senator.
GOODWIN: And I think he is clearly breaking the kind of partisan mold, too, and I think that's what the Senate -- when the Senate is at its best, it is the centrist that people who break out of the party lockstep, and I think Warner has done that by saying look, we all need now to look at Iraq again.
ZIMMERMAN: I think we're also seeing the electorate break the party mold too in terms of traditional voting patterns. The evangelicals, according to the Pew Research Center, have dropped by 20 percent in terms of their support of the Bush administration. You're seeing now a third of conservatives looking at Democrats.
DOBBS: Well let me ask you, straightforwardly. Is your party going to take control of the House of Representatives in November and straightforwardly? We'll put it down on the forecast. ZIMMERMAN: I'll go with the forecast. I believe we are well positioned to and will, in fact, take the Senate and take the House.
ZIMMERMAN: Both. The one caveat I would give to my party, having been down this road with them in 2002 and 2004, that this type of close election, the polls aren't the determining factor. It's the field operation, how you pull that vote.
DOBBS: That's a little tactical for me. I just want to know the results.
ZIMMERMAN: OK, fine.
DOBBS: Michael, your thoughts?
GOODWIN: Look, I've gone back and forth on this and I think right now, clearly, the Democrats have a big lead in Iraq. I think with what Warner has said, does scramble some Senate races and some House races. So I'd say right now, it looks like the Democrats will take both, but I still think there are still three or four weeks to go.
GOODWIN: Still time for the Democrats to make a mistake or some event to rebound for Bush's favor and the Republican favor.
ROLLINS: I think it has so muddied the waters, it's allowed Republicans to go intensify the local battles, and I think that we're going to hold both by very narrow margins.
DOBBS: Do you really?
ROLLINS: Arguably, I really do, and I watch them pretty closely.
DOBBS: You're all speaking firmly from your hearts, firm with conviction in your minds.
GOODWIN: Subject to change.
DOBBS: And always...
ZIMMERMAN: ... subject to polling information.
ROLLINS: I will concede the Foley, the 16th in Florida, is going. Right now I concede the DeLay seat and the Foley seat to you.
ZIMMERMAN: OK, that's good. We'll take those two.
DOBBS: Well, we thank you, gentlemen, as always. It's been quite a week. And we didn't even get to the issue of what some fear will be a North Korean nuclear weapons test this weekend. Thank you, gentlemen. Robert, Michael, Ed, thank you.
The latest advice for politicians on the campaign trail is to watch out for all those handshakes. The American Occupational Therapy Association, yes, there is such a thing, says if politicians want to avoid injury, they should warm up, exercise, and ice down their right hands, assuming, of course, that they are right-handed. That probably would be the best way to avoid injury on the campaign trail is not to watch out for your hand, but rather, to watch out for your mouth.
A reminder now to vote in -- nothing about icing that. A reminder now to vote in our poll. Do you believe the major political parties are now representing your interests? Yes, the Republican Party. Yes, the Democratic Party. No, neither. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. Results, upcoming.
Just ahead, "Heroes," our weekly tribute to our men and women in uniform serving this nation around the world. Tonight, we recognize a U.S. marine that put his life on the life in Afghanistan. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Coming up shortly here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer.
Wolf, tell us all about it.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Lou.
Former congressional page among those at the center of the Foley investigation. His lawyer joins us here in the "THE SITUATION ROOM." We'll find out what he says about his client's interactions with the former Congressman.
Plus, one Republican Congressman's very controversial comments on the story. Is he shifting the blame from where it belongs? I'll ask him.
And drowned out by scandal. President Bush has a very hard time getting his message out.
And gay in the GOP? The political closet on Capitol Hill that's creating serious tension in the Republican Party.
All that, coming up, right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Lou.
DOBBS: Wolf, thank you.
Now, "Heroes," our weekly tribute to our men and women in uniform all around the world. Tonight, the story of Marine Staff Sergeant Anthony Viggiani. He risked his life to save fellow marines in Afghanistan, and he was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism.
Bill Tucker has his story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 0700 hours, basic warrior training for India Company, 3rd Battalion, Parris Island Marine Recruit Depot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The (INAUDIBLE) will go on your head, face down. Say, aye, sir.
CROWD: Aye, sir.
TUCKER: Staff Sergeant Anthony Viggiani commands a platoon of newly listed recruits for three months of boot camp. As a senior drill instructor he trains and instills discipline with a stern face and a sharp tone.
The recruits know very little about Viggiani by design, how he protected Presidents Bush and Clinton at Camp David, or the details of his seven-month tour in Afghanistan, where while on patrol in the Zabul Province in June of 2004, his actions earned him the Navy Cross.
STAFF SGT. ANTHONY VIGGIANI, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Rough terrain. I was pretty much going through, started hearing machine gun fire. We all hit the deck, and everybody took cover.
TUCKER: But another one of his teams was pinned down by enemy fire, so he scrambled Viggiani scrambled across exposed ground to take out its source.
VIGGIANI: Started screaming down the mountain. I mean, hauling. My rifle was in my right hand, and I had a frag grenade in my left.
TUCKER: He reached the cave where he believed the insurgents were hiding.
VIGGIANI: Fired about three or four rounds in it. I saw skin, fired three or four more rounds, pulled the pin on the frag and I dropped it right in the hole.
TUCKER: In the hour long firefight, Viggiani's company took out more than a dozen enemy fighters. A ricochet him Viggiani in the knee, but he refused treatment until he knew his men were all right.
VIGGIANI: I made a promise that they are going to come home. It doesn't matter what the case may be. You know, if it meant me not, I made that promise, and it's going to happen.
TUCKER: For his heroism, Staff Sergeant Viggiani was awarded the Navy Cross during a graduation ceremony at Parris Island last February. During the course of the three-month training, Viggiani eventually reveals a little of his story to the recruits, in the hope that he inspires them.
VIGGIANI: They think they are tired, they think they are hot, they think they are thirsty, they think they are hungry. We're operating in 134 degrees in the shade, over 10,000 feet above sea level, and you tell them what you see in the movies? It's not even close.
TUCKER: Bill Tucker, CNN.
DOBBS: Coming up next, the results of our poll. More of your thoughts. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll -- overwhelming. Eighteen percent for Democrats, 13 percent -- excuse me, three percent for Republicans. But a whopping 79 percent of you saying neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party is representing your interests.
Let's take a look at your thoughts quickly.
Joshua in Massachusetts saying, "Finally someone is speaking up for the middle class. What's taken so long? We're being squeezed by every direction, and this administration continues to favor big business over the average citizen. I hope your words will help people to wake up and become involved in this election. It's literally an election for our survival."
And Bill in Michigan: "I'm tired of taking the blame for my own actions. Maybe I will become a Republican."
And Damon in Arizona: "The Ethics Committee is going to protect the integrity of the House of Representatives? What integrity?"
And Michael in Nevada: "Is Bush for or against the border issue? Lou, it seems that Bush is sitting on both sides of the border fence he now promises to build. Talk about flip-flop"
And Dan in South Carolina: "Did President Bush get Vicente Fox's approval before the signed approval for the border fence funds?"
And Dave in Florida: "Could it be said that our local government is now doing the jobs that the federal government won't do?"
We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "War On The Middle Class."
That's the broadcast for tonight. We thank you for watching. Have a great weekend. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
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