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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Huckabee Names Ed Rollins His National Campaign Chairman; Clinton's Stall; Hillary Defiant in Face of Polls; Baseball Steroids Report

Aired December 14, 2007 - 19:30   ET

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


LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Wolf, thank you. Tonight, Mike Huckabee's president campaign soaring ahead while Senator Clinton's campaign losing momentum. New polls show the former Arkansas governor has a commanding lead in another key state. Huckabee's new campaign chairman is one of the most respected names in politics and an old friend of this broadcast. Ed Rollins. He'll be here for an exclusive interview tonight. All that and all the day's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. News, debate and opinion for Friday, December 14, 2007 14. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. New indications tonight that Mike Huckabee is surging forward in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination. A new CNN poll shows the former Arkansas governor is now in first place among republicans in the early voting state of South Carolina. In the Democratic race, more evidence that senator Hillary Clinton's campaign is stalling. A poll in the critically important state of New Hampshire showing Senator Barack Obama is now leading Senator Clinton. We have extensive coverage tonight. We begin with Dana Bash who is on the campaign trail in Des Moines, Iowa. Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Mike Huckabee has been relying on a small, loyal group of aides befitting an insurgent campaign, not one that is surging here in Iowa and in South Carolina. He had constantly downplayed the challenge of getting to the next step until today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): Bolting from asterisk to front-runner in key early contest states brings as much strain as it does excitement and Mike Huckabee is turning to an old hand from the Reagan years for help.

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today I'd like to make an announcement that I believe will help to fill in many of the gaps that we've had up until this point and will help us in that vast, national infrastructure and movement.

BASH: Ed Rollins is best known as an architect of Ronald Reagan's historic 49 state landslide re-election in 1984 and sees parallels. ED ROLLINS, HUCKABEE ADVISER: I was with Ronald Reagan from the day he couldn't win as governor to the day he couldn't win as president. Democrats were lined up, God, please God give us Ronald Reagan so we can beat him like a drum. And at the end of the day he has that ability to connect with people. Mike Huckabee has that ability to connect with people.

BASH: Tapping Rollins as his national campaign chairman is not a choice without risks. He has also overseen presidential campaigns that have not fared well like Jack Kemp's 1988 run and Ross Perot's 1992 independent bid.

ROLLINS: And, obviously, as you may know by my reputation of the past, I have sometimes have been too candid.

BASH: Several GOP strategists said Rollins strong-willed, outspoken style has been known to cause internal campaign turmoil.

SCOTT REED, FORMER DOLE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He ran President Reagan's re-election and it was the Cadillac of all operations and quite successful. Since then he had a different track record where history shows he has ended up turning on most of his candidates when they don't agree with him 100 percent.

BASH: Some differences between Rollins and the former Baptist preacher were on display immediately, stylistic ones.

ROLLINS: And this is going to be unique campaign for me. This is the only campaign where there is no doughnuts and no booze. So it is going to be a real struggle for me to basically, you know ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH (on camera): All jokes aside, picking a veteran Republican strategist like Ed Rollins tells us something new about Mike Huckabee. Beyond his nice guy, man of God image, he is also somebody willing to engage in a good, old-fashioned campaign street fight. Lou?

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Dana Bash. Later here I'll be talking with Ed Rollins about his plans for the conduct of Mike Huckabee's campaign and what he sees as the prospects. The latest CNN opinion polls in South Carolina suggests that Mike Huckabee is soaring ahead and Senator Hillary Clinton losing momentum. Huckabee's support among South Carolina Republicans has risen from three percent in July to now 24 percent.

Meanwhile, Senator Barack Obama is gaining on Senator Clinton, who remains the front-runner. Bill Schneider has our report from Columbia, South Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South Carolina is all about the base. African American Democrats and conservative Republicans. Mike Huckabee has surged into the lead among South Carolina Republicans. Rudy Giuliani is slipping. Huckabee hopes the base vote in South Carolina will nail the nomination.

HUCKABEE: Because when the South Carolina primary comes, we need to be able to nail something down after coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire with great success.

SCHNEIDER: In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton's lead over Barack Obama has been cut in half. Sixteen points in July, eight points now. Obama's biggest gains have been among black voters. Oprah Winfrey's Obama rally was a major cultural event for African Americans.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I remember some quotes saying, oh, no, black man can't win. I remember that. But, you know, when folks tell me I can't do something. That's when I like to do it.

SCHNEIDER: But Hillary Clinton also has a way to reach out to southerners.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted to be here with a lot of my friends who are supporting my wife for president.

SCHNEIDER: Right now black voters in South Carolina are split. If Obama wins Iowa and New Hampshire, there could be a wave of excitement among African Americans.

PROF. SCOTT HUFFMON, WINTHROP UNIVERSITY: So, if he can pull a surprise in Iowa, show a lot of momentum, suddenly he's in the forefront of people's minds because of big appearances like Oprah Winfrey.

SCHNEIDER: Could Huckabee's surge have something to do with Hillary Clinton's problems?

HUFFMON: If he wasn't getting a full look before because people were thinking, who's most likely to beat Hillary? But now that Hillary is seeing a challenge within her own party, they're more willing to look at Mike Huckabee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (on camera): We're seeing the same pattern in South Carolina that we're seeing in other states. Voters say Obama and Huckabee sound the least like typical politicians while Clinton and Giuliani have the best chance of winning. So their heads are with Clinton and Giuliani but their hearts are with Obama and Huckabee. Lou?

DOBBS: Bill, it's very interesting that the numbers for Senator Clinton are basically unchanged. The percent slide over the last polling period.

SCHNEIDER: That's right.

DOBBS: But the numbers for Senator Obama have risen and risen substantially. But does not appear, certainly hasn't come from Senator Clinton nor Senator Edwards. Where is that support coming from?

SCHNEIDER: Undecided voters and some of the minor candidates, some of the candidates who are continuing to slip. But a lot of voters in South Carolina were undecided to begin with and now they seem to have gone to Barack Obama.

DOBBS: All right, thank you very much. Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst.

Senator Clinton today declared there is no predictability in any political campaign. Senator Clinton said she will work hard for every vote and she promised to visit all 99 counties in Iowa over the coming days. Jessica Yellin has our report from Johnston, Iowa. Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, after a few weeks of bad stumbles, Senator Clinton has kicked off this final push to the Iowa caucuses by driving home the message that she is the Democrat who can win in November.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice-over): Over and over, Senator Clinton made the case she is the most electable Democrat.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have an opportunity here in Iowa and then in the succeeding contest to nominate the person we think is best able to win and battletested. I can withstand what is going to inevitably be the Republican attacks on whoever we nominate.

YELLIN: From the same stage, a key Des Moines congressman endorsed her, echoing that message.

REP. LEONARD BOSWELL, (D) IA: We endorse Hillary because we want to win.

YELLIN: It's an appeal to frustrated Democrats whose desire to take back the White House might override their urge to choose the candidate they like the best. And a new ad works to soften her image, portraying her as a warm person who understands voters' problems.

CLINTON: My mom taught me to stand up for myself and to stand up for those who can't do it on their own.

YELLIN: Clinton aggressively distanced herself from a former campaign official's comments about Barack Obama's past drug use, but she also insisted if she's the nominee, there will be no surprises.

CLINTON: I am a known quantity. I'm tested and vetted.

YELLIN: She insists that's not a veiled criticism of Senator Obama.

(END VIDEOTAPE) YELLIN (on camera): And Senator Clinton brought with her two farmers from New York State who are going to travel Iowa on her behalf. It's part of a new effort by the campaign to bring out real people, including the senator's family members to sort of testify about the difference she's worked to make in their lives. Lou?

DOBBS: Jessica, Jessica Yellin reporting.

Turning now to an issue that is likely to be a major point on the presidential trail. The CIA's harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists. Attorney General Michael Mukasey today refused to disclose any information about the CIA destruction of videotapes of those interrogations.

The attorney general said providing that information to lawmakers would create an impression that he's bowing to political influence. Some members of Congress have demanded that Mukasey turn over any material that they want and appoint a special prosecutor.

Coming up next here, a new battle in the campaign to stop states from giving illegal aliens the same driving privileges as American citizens. Christine Romans has our report. Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, too Arizona lawmakers want to make drivers' licenses from states that issue them to illegal aliens invalid an idea in their states. Just the latest in state action across the country to tighten up rules on licenses, Lou.

DOBBS: Thanks, Christine.

And a major legal victory for one state that is trying to deal with the impact of illegal immigration. That ruling being studied by states now across the entire nation. And working men and women in this country are furious with our lawmakers who are doing virtually nothing to help Americans survive the war against our middle class. We'll be talking about that and more with some of the finest political minds in the country.

Stay with us, we're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight, individual states, Oklahoma, Arizona and Virginia each taking action to deal with the crisis caused by illegal immigration. These states like many others forced to find solutions because of the federal government's refusal to solve this crisis.

In Oklahoma, a challenge to that state's government new law was dismissed by a federal judge. Bill Tucker has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The lawsuit challenging Oklahoma's crackdown on illegal aliens was dismissed for a very simple reason. The plaintiffs are illegal aliens. In legal terms they lack standing. In his ruling Judge James Payne of the U.S. District Court for Oklahoma writes, "The court is convinced that the proper remedy for the injuries alleged by the remaining plaintiffs, all of whom were in violation of federal immigration is not judicial intervention, rather, simple compliance with federal immigration law."

In other words, the plaintiffs don't need the court to grant them relief. All they have to do is leave the country or go through the process of becoming legal. Judge Payne also was clearly troubled that the plaintiffs, because of their admitted unlawful status wanted to sue anonymously.

Quote, "These illegal alien plaintiffs seek nothing more than to use this court as a vehicle for their continued unlawful presence in this country." It's an observation that pleased supporters of the legislation.

KRIS KOBACH, IMMIGRATION REFORM LAW INSTITUTE: This judge correctly recognized that if a federal court gives that anonymity to these illegal alien plaintiffs then the federal court is stopping federal law enforcement officers from figuring out who these people are. And he said that is not the proper role of a federal judge to assist you in violating federal law.

TUCKER: Judge Payne admits in his ruling that if the plaintiffs had been illegal alien children, whose presence here is involuntary, he might have reached a different conclusion.

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy, who were the lead party in the suit say there will be an appeal and the fight is far from over.

REV. MIGUEL RIVERA, NATIONAL COALITION OF LATINO CLERGY: And yes, we're going to continue fighting this fight against HB 1804 in Oklahoma.

TUCKER: The ruling by Judge Payne in the Northern District Court of Oklahoma stands in sharp contrast to the ruling by a federal judge in the Hazelton, Pennsylvania, case.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER (on camera): In the Hazleton case the judge pointedly allowed illegal aliens to sue the city. He, in fact, directed the court to protect their identity, even from the lawyers for Hazelton of knowing the identity of those illegal aliens who were suing him. That case is currently on appeal.

Kobach, who we just heard from in the piece, Lou, is of course the lead attorney in Hazelton's defense.

DOBBS: Well, that's an amazing statement by the federal judge, Judge Payne saying the problem here is that you're in this country illegally and you have two solutions that are both perfectly reasonable remedies, either leave the country or become citizens.

TUCKER: Well, exactly. He said I can't grant you any relief because at the end of the day, even if I rule in your favor, you're still in violation of federal immigration law and I can't fix that. Only you can.

DOBBS: Who -- I have to say it, who would have guessed that there is a federal judge anywhere in this country that had that kind of intelligence and common sense and the courage to speak straightforwardly about a reasonable response to this issue?

TUCKER: It is a very interesting ruling and I am sure we're going -- it's going to have much bigger impact than just this case.

DOBBS: Absolutely, thank you very much. Bill Tucker.

Well, Arizona is taking stronger measures to deal with the impact of our illegal immigration crisis, as well. As a matter of fact, Arizona at the forefront of that the movement at this country. A tough new law goes into effect next month that cracks down on businesses that hire illegal aliens. And, now, a new proposed bill would limit the use in Arizona of drivers' licenses from other states, states that give away drivers licenses to illegal aliens. Christine Romans has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Arizona, two House Republicans have drafted House Bill 2012. It would make drivers licenses from the states that give them to illegal aliens invalid for use as identification in Arizona. It is not clear if there is broad support or other states might refuse to accept Arizona's licenses in retaliation. But it's the latest in the trend of state action on drivers' licenses for illegal aliens, action some say driven by concerned citizens.

NEIL BERRO, COALITION FOR A SECURE DRIVER'S LICENSE: The driver's license is the most important form of identification that the American people carry on a day-to-day basis. The message that they are sending is that you elected officials need to keep us safe.

ROMANS: Officials in some states are listening. Oregon has issued an emergency rule to stop giving licenses to illegal aliens while Utah grants driving certificates, a state law in Tennessee this year ended the practice there.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, five states enacted laws this year limiting drivers' licenses to legal residents of their states. Delaware, Indiana and North Dakota will now tie license dates to visa expiration dates, effectively ending drivers privileges for anyone overstaying a visa.

Visa overstays account for an estimated 45 percent of illegal immigration. The homeland security director, again this week endorsed a more secure license to combat identity theft and terrorism.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The current patchwork of rules and standards are inconsistent and, therefore, make it very easy for somebody to game the system, phony up a drivers' license and then exploit that to commit a crime or an act of terror. ROMANS: In all of 31 states have enacted 42 laws this year regarding all kinds of licenses and IDs for illegal aliens. Everything from liquor licenses to pharmacy licenses and driving privileges.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (on camera): The National Conference of State Legislature today forecasts that states will grapple with illegal immigration and tighter driver's license standards again next year ranking those the second and third most important issues for states in 2008, Lou, after budget concerns.

DOBBS: And it is going to be very interesting if the Democratic Party at both the state and the presidential level continue to ignore the issue of illegal immigration. They seem to take, they're taking a major risk in attempting to ignore that issue that's so important to so many citizens.

I have to say, I was amused by Secretary Chertoff talking about gaming the system to get those fraudulent licenses and so forth. When much of this problem would be considerably smaller, in my opinion, had President Bush and Secretary Chertoff not gamed the system and, instead forced the law and secured our borders and our ports. Christine, thanks.

Christine Romans.

If you're outraged by the struggles that Oklahoma and Arizona State governments face, wait till you see what's happening in the state of Virginia. We'll have that report for you in just a moment, but, first, let's take a look at some of your thoughts.

Sheila in Tennessee wrote in about our poll last night asking whether English should be the official language for all businesses across this country. She wrote, "That you even have to ask this question shows that we lost control of our country, thanks to these do-nothings in Washington." I couldn't agree with you more.

And Patricia in Texas, "Lou, I'm always totally baffled. Why I'm asked to press one for English when calling business numbers, this has always been an English-speaking nation. And why should anyone need to press anything for English? If you want to know the influence and the power of corporate America in the issue of illegal immigration and open borders all you have to do is think about it each time you're asked by a business to press one for English."

Carrie in Florida, I just bought a T-shirt today that says, "For English press one. Para Espanol move to Mexico and press two."

Mike in Maryland. English in the good old U.S. of A? Imagine that. While we're at it, Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

And Ivan in Puerto Rico, "Someone help me understand this, an employer can require potential employees to speak a foreign language in order to be hired but cannot require that they speak English? You got to love America."

We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast. Each of you whose e-mail was read here receives a new copy of my new book "Independents Day, Awakening the American Spirit." We encourage you to purchase it immediately in quantity.

Coming up next Mike Huckabee brings in a big gun it run his presidential campaign. A familiar face to the viewers of this broadcast. Ed Rollins will join me to talk about his new role in presidential politics.

And Virginia's Crime Commission and its governor. Well, they have a little dispute going over who should be enforcing U.S. immigration laws. We'll have that report, a great deal more still ahead. We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: On a personal note I can't tell you how excited and happy I am that we were able to report to you tonight that a federal judge has actually employing good, old American common sense, straight forward honesty and reason in applying U.S. law.

The very idea that a federal judge would rule that an illegal alien has two choices rather than suing the U.S. government, that is, either leave this country in which he or she is in illegally or to seek citizenship. That just excites me. I hope it pleases you as much as it does me.

Well, let's turn to the state of Virginia now, where the Virginia State Crime Commission wants federal assistance to train state police to enforce immigration laws. But the state's governor has to approve that request and Governor Tim Kaine has long been on record opposing any such action. The Democratic governor saying illegal immigration enforcement is only a federal responsibility, but it is clear that the federal government is unable or unwilling to enforce those laws, leaving many states struggling to find a way to deal with the crisis.

Louise Schiavone has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOUISE: SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like other meccas for illegal immigration, the state of Virginia often finds itself legally outgunned in the battle against serious crime. The problem of gang violence in Northern Virginia is a classic case in point, cording to the chairman of the state's Crime Commission.

DAVID ALBO, (R) VIRGINIA DELEGATE: You can't idly by and see a guy you know who is in a gang and knowing he is illegal and not be able to get him and get out of his country. They are like time bombs waiting to happen. And what we're trying to do is go out and get the criminal illegal aliens.

SCHIAVONE: But right now state and local police have no authority to detain suspects on federal immigration charges. Virginia's Crime Commission is calling on the governor to authorize the appropriate federal police training authority that would change that. Training that, in turn, would grant them the authority to make immigration arrests. So far, the state's Democratic governor, Tim Kaine, has said no way. Said Governor Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey, quote, "There is no reason the state should step in when the federal government does not do its job."

ALBO: Yeah, I agree that the federal government has totally dropped the ball. But we cannot not do anything, we need to get out there and try to save our communities.

SCHIAVONE: Notwithstanding whose responsibility technically is, 34 public safety departments, most of them county and local across 15 states have signed up for the federal training.

JAMES CARAFANO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: So, really, Virginia, I got to tell you, is really being, if that's the direction they're going in, which is we're not going to cooperate with the federal government, boy, they're really out a step with the trend of law enforcement in this country.

SCHIAVONE: The Department of Homeland Security says thanks to the roughly 600 local officers across the nation with that federal training, tens of thousands of suspected immigration violators have been identified in a little more than a year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIAVONE (on camera): Lou, the message to Governor Tim Kaine from federal immigration officials and the State Assembly, yes, Virginia, there is an illegal immigration overload and the states have to get involved in the crackdown. Lou?

DOBBS: Governor Kaine, it's very clear, that's a complete cop out. We've seen it by other governors and other state governments across the country, mercifully not too many, but the reality is that this, would this governor say the same thing about enforcing U.S. drug laws. Would this governor, say the same thing about all of those billions of dollars and federal homeland security funding that the state of Virginia receives? Of course not. It's simply a cop out and it's one of the issues that Democratic Party is going to have to deal with straightforwardly.

And that is the position that the Democratic Party nationally and at all levels of our government has taken up. And that is, their refusal to deal with the impact of illegal immigration. Louise, thank you very much. Louise Schiavone.

Let's turn to our poll tonight. The poll tonight question is, "Do you think it is reasonable and appropriate for American citizens to expect that local, state and federal governments work together to enforce all U.S. laws including immigration laws? Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'd love to hear from you on this. Well, bring the results later here to you.

The Senate today passed a $286 billion farm bill and, as I've said before, this measure is simply an exercise in corporate welfare and pork.

Lawmakers granting billions of dollars in subsidies to the corporate farm lobby, but there is one plus to note in all of this, and that is what is not in this bill. The so-called Ag Jobs Amendment, which as you have also heard on this broadcast many times before, a key part of congressional efforts to give amnesty to million Americans. In this instance, a way to make it legal for big farms, particularly corporate farms to hire cheap illegal alien labor.

Senator Dianne Feinstein is a major proponent of ag jobs and she promised to find some other way to pass the amendment this year. However, Senator Feinstein should be reminded that before today's vote in the face of overwhelming opposition she would not attach any amendment on this bill to this farm bill.

Well, we'll be watching to see whether all of these good lawmakers who say we can trust them try instead to slip across an ag jobs piece of legislation when the bill goes to conference or in any other piece of legislation. We'll all be watching to see whether Senator Feinstein is true to both her word and her forecast.

Turning to another congressional debacle. This time promoting the faith-based free trade agenda. President Bush today signed the U.S-Peru free-trade agreement. It is just the latest trade agreement that cost this country millions of jobs. After signing the president noted that Peru's economy expanded last year more than seven and a half percent, then he added his wish that Peru would, quote, "lend us a couple of percent.

Imagine that. The president of this great nation suggesting that Peru should bail America out.

Coming up here next, republican strategist Ed Rollins, tapped by Mike Huckabee to head up his election campaign as national chairman. Why does Huckabee need a new political guru when he's surging? We'll talk about that with Ed Rollins and what he plans to continue the momentum for Huckabee.

And what's ahead for Senator Clinton after what has been a brutal week? A key staffer's resignation, an apology it Barack Obama and some disappointing poll numbers. We'll be talking about all of that and much more straight ahead.

We're coming right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee rising in the polls chose a new national campaign chairman today. Ed Rollins has long been a republican strategist, well-known to viewers of this program as a long-time contributor here. Previously, Rollins political director in the Reagan White House, serving three presidents, now Ed taking on the job of Huckabee's national campaign chairman. Ed, first congratulations on your new role.

ED ROLLINS, HUCKABEE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Thank you. DOBBS: At this point, what do you, what do you intend to bring to the Huckabee campaign?

ROLLINS: First of all, I will try to stay out of the way of a great candidate who got to the front of the pack by himself and what I want to say, Lou, this all came together, I have been talking about him for a number of weeks on your show and I had not made any kind of contact or deal. About four or five days ago I sent him an e-mail and I said, Mike, I really like you, I like your message, you're a great candidate and I'd like to help you. And he sent me an e-mail saying he would love to have me be part of his campaign. So it's gone together in about a week. Obviously, I want your viewers to know that any of my comments about him or against anybody else in the past was not because I was in his camp. I think he's a unique candidate. Go ahead.

DOBBS: I was just going to say, nonetheless, Ed, I won't ask you for an objective analysis of the problems of the Mike Huckabee campaign either tonight.

ROLLINS: I don't know what the problems are, being perfectly honest. This is a guy who's moved to the front of the pack, not a millionaire like Romney and hasn't been able to spend millions of his own money. Not a guy who is nationally known like Giuliani who has his great day in September 11th. This is a man who is a governor for 10 1/2 years picked as one of the top five best governors in the country by "Time" magazine and I think to a certain extent he was underestimated and I think he's moved to the forefront.

DOBBS: Ed, I can tell you, you've taken on a new role here and let me, let me turn to ...

ROLLINS: Go ahead.

DOBBS: The national review endorsing one of your candidates' opponents. Mitt Romney and the national review said that point of fact, "Mike Huckabee," your candidate now, "would pull apart the conservative coalition from opposite ends." What's your reaction to that?

ROLLINS: The reality is, if Ronald Reagan was running today, the national review and these various puritan groups, puritan conservative groups, he wouldn't pass the litmus test. He had to come in and raise taxes when he had a multi-billion dollar deficit. He had to pass a welfare reform bill. Lots of things a governor has to do, if you're going to be a good governor to make the state function better. Mike spent money to fix schools. Mike spent money to fix roads. Mike spent money to fix parks. At the end of the day, he took a state and left it a $500 million surplus, nobody bothers to talk about that.

DOBBS: You didn't mention the fact that he also supported the Dream Act and that is giving illegal aliens rights superior to those in many instances of U.S. citizens.

ROLLINS: No, the act wasn't successful and I think his immigration bill today is one that you would certainly approve. You probably wrote it. It's very, very much in line with what we've talked about over and over again.

So, the good part is he obviously is a guy who understands that there's different times and different problems and I think to a certain extent what he has, though, he's connect would voters and like Barack Obama. They don't want the Washingtonians. They don't want the Wall Street types. Just as your show has over and over again talked to ordinary people out there that want change, I think these are two candidates of change and two different parties.

DOBBS: Candidates of change. A number of them making claim to that, that mantle. But at the same time, something that is consistent, it seems, across both parties and all the candidates seeking their party's presidential nomination is, like I have never, perhaps you have, but never in my experience have I seen so many candidates talking about god in a primary campaign and in a general election, I presume and it will remain there. How comfortable are you with that and is it appropriate for god to be in religion and faith to be this prominent in a secular campaign for president?

ROLLINS: You go back to the signing of the constitution I think 26 of the people that signed it were ministers. At the beginning of this country, we began with a nation under god. We began with prayer and the first prayer is before the congress were hours, not moments.

I think the bottom line is that these are who these people are and one of the critical things about a candidate is you have to be true to yourself. If you didn't go to church, if you weren't religious, you should never talk about it. Then you're a hypocrite. But I think to these people, this is something that is important and to the people out there in the country, it's important. To some, it's not so important. At the end of the day, you have to talk about things that are matter to people and that's fixing schools and that's making roads work and that's keeping our borders sealed and the things you talk about all the time.

You didn't want to run. I waited for you for six months and you didn't want to run. You've got a day job.

DOBBS: Well, I think you've, well, I appreciate your patience. And your sense of humor in even thinking that I might do that. I wish you all --

ROLLINS: You have too good of a day job.

DOBBS: I have one that, obviously, as you know, we all take very seriously and I know that you're going to take your new job very seriously to the advantage of Mike Huckabee. We thank you very much and wish you well.

ROLLINS: Well, thank you to all your great people there, too. I love them and I'm going to miss them terribly.

DOBBS: Well and same back at you. Everybody has expressed exactly that sentiment. Ed Rollins, thank you very much.

Coming up next here, a tough week for Senator Clinton in the polls; also, a top adviser quit, a Clinton apology to Senator Barack Obama, this is the stuff of which I'll speaking with democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman.

And President Bush and Congress deadlocked over funding our government. More gridlock in Washington, you don't say. Three of the countries best political minds join me to assess all of this and more.

Stay with us. We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Turning it the democratic race for the White House, a slump for Senator Clinton in the polls in key battleground states. Can Senator Clinton stop the slide? Joining me now democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman. It's good to have you with us, Robert.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Great to be with you.

DOBBS: How concerned is the Clinton campaign, how concerned are you with the surge by Senator Obama in New Hampshire, in South Carolina and in Iowa?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, first and foremost. I think that all the candidates from both parties ought to be concerned seeing Ed Rollins back on the scene. He is a great patriot and a brilliant political strategist and I think it's a great tribute to Mike Huckabee that he got in the general chair. Quite a distinction.

DOBBS: Nice of you to say that coming as you do from the other side.

ZIMMERMAN: I can still be objective and proud of it. But I think realistically looking at the situation, anyone who's been watching the LOU DOBBS TONIGHT political round table shouldn't be surprised by what's transpiring because the polls initially that had Hillary Clinton far, far ahead I thought were false. I thought they were misleading.

DOBBS: And I have to say this, now, Robert is a supporter of Senator Clinton.

ZIMMERMAN: That's true.

DOBBS: But said at the time, these polls cannot possibly hold up and so we've got to give you props where they're appropriate.

ZIMMERMAN: I admit when I'm wrong.

DOBBS: Appropriate props.

ZIMMERMAN: And I know you'll remember too when I'm wrong so.

DOBBS: Indeed, we will.

ZIMMERMAN: But the point here is this is a real race and no short cut around that. It's going to be a real dog fight and I think it's actually very healthy and very important for the Democratic Party. You're seeing the candidates emerge with messages they're comfortable with and the real debate will come down to who I believe can show they're most electable.

DOBBS: The impact of having to say she's sorry to Senator Obama for what one of her campaign people said concerning drug use. Your reaction?

ZIMMERMAN: It was appropriate, it had to be said immediately.

DOBBS: Did it hurt her?

ZIMMERMAN: Her apologizing, no. Did Billy Shaheen's comments hurt her? I think in the short term, it can hurt her without question. What's important to know about all these polls we're witnessing now and all the discussion is that traditionally New Hampshire makes up their mind in the last 48 hours and in Iowa in 2004, 40% of the caucus voters decided within the last week.

DOBBS: And we had up there the poll for South Carolina, also showing Barack Obama surging. Senator Clinton's numbers falling off only slightly and point of fact, the reality is that her numbers have held for a while and Obama's numbers have risen.

ZIMMERMAN: That's absolutely true and this is very significant in many respects. He's gaining certainly amongst those who are independent. But the real test is going to be who is going to be coming out to vote. Among traditional caucus voters in Iowa, Senator Clinton is holding a significant lead.

DOBBS: Does she have to adjust anything in her campaign in order to prevail?

ZIMMERMAN: I think she has to keep focused on running for president and not focus on worrying about running against anyone else. She needs to focus on her message. And I think Barack Obama, John Edwards and keep an eye on Joe Biden, as well. They have messages they're comfortable with. They are resonating with the electorate, as well, and I don't think that should be diminished.

DOBBS: The democrats -- let's go it the issue of illegal immigration, which we talked about before on the round table over the years. But it's striking to see the democratic presidential candidates not even discuss illegal immigration. When, as we have reported here and as every viewer on this broadcast knows and everyone living in this country knows, it's one of the most important issues. Is that a mistake?

ZIMMERMAN: It's a missed opportunity and I think democrats, because we're talking about, when we discuss the issue, is border security, national security and that's the issue here. And even though you have many of these candidates who are running as democrats supporting defense along the Mexican/American border they have to highlighting the steps they're going to take to make America more secure and to protect jobs in America. DOBBS: I have said that no democrat can win the presidency, no matter who he or she is, so long as they support current free trade policies, do not roll back NAFTA and completely revise it, if they don't end it entirely, and deal with the relationship with the World Trade Organization and China. I've said further that no one can be elected president from the Democratic Party if they continue to behave as if they are in the same corporate lineup as the Republican Party.

ZIMMERMAN: That's why you're seeing democrats focus on what we're referring to as the Lou Dobbs voter, that voter who is committed to making sure that we have fair and equitable trade policies in America, rebuild our manufacturing base and I think what is going to be interesting is watching the democratic message stack up against a Mitt Romney, for example, or Rudy Giuliani. Because when it comes to these issues, they have been so hypocritical so engaged in such hypocrisy and flip-flopping on the issue, that I think they are going to have a very hard time making their case, especially when they run on the record of the Bush administration.

DOBBS: Do you think they will?

ZIMMERMAN: I think they're stuck with it. We'll remind the public of it, too.

DOBBS: All right. I thought you might. Robert, thank you very much. Good to see you. Robert Zimmerman.

ZIMMERMAN: Thank you.

DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in our poll. The question tonight, do you believe it's reasonable and appropriate for American citizens to expect that their local, state and federal governments work together to enforce all U.S. laws, including immigration laws? We'd love to hear from you. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com and the results coming up here in just a matter of moments.

Just ahead, more on the presidential campaign beyond Senator Clinton. The winners, the losers who stumbled, who succeeded on the campaign trail and they're about to take another break. What has Congress done this year? Three of the country's best political minds will assess what is very little.

Stay with us. We'll continue in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Joining me now to assess the week's political developments, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Michael Goodwin, New York Daily News columnist, syndicated columnist Miguel Perez. Good to have you gentlemen here in New York. Politico.com and, Mike Allen, chief political correspondent at Politico.com and Mike, thank you for joining us and it's good to have you with us.

MIKE ALLEN, POLITICO.COM: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Let's begin with your assessment first, Mike. The slippage of Senator Clinton, the resurgence, the surging, Senator Obama, what do you make of it?

ALLEN: Well, the Senator Clinton's campaign is really started to look like the house that was built upon the sand. People were for her because other people were for her. And as soon as there was one thread pulled on the sweater, the whole rationale of her candidacy started to be rethought. Now, she's part of the toughest, meanest, if you want, want to think smartest team in politics and starting this Sunday, she's going to be hitting every county in Iowa aboard what she calls a Hillacopter and making that last stand and doing what she did so successfully, as you know, in upstate New York meeting people individually.

DOBBS: The listening to her, which worked so well for her in New York. Your reaction, do you think Mike has got it right?

MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yeah. I'm very impressed by what Senator Obama has been doing. I think that it began to crumble for Senator Clinton over the issue of drivers' license for illegal immigration. Remember when that debate in Philadelphia.

DOBBS: Yes, I do remember.

PEREZ: And she has not been able to recover since. But let me tell you, there are two sides to that story. People that say, look, trying to you know please us you know trying to take a harder line with illegal immigrants and there are those of us who are saying, look, she deserted us because we wanted her to take a strong position and she backed down. What she should have said was, look, we could avoid this whole problem over drivers' licenses if we legalized illegal immigrants who are already in the country. She didn't do that. She betrayed her Hispanic base.

DOBBS: Miguel, you know ...

PEREZ: Now she has nobody.

DOBBS: Now Miguel, I've got to respond to you.

PEREZ: Okay.

DOBBS: Hispanic base, my goodness. The fact of the matter is Hispanic citizens in this country are as concerned about border security, and law and order in this country as anyone.

PEREZ: Absolutely.

DOBBS: She also could have said that she's firmly for securing or border and ports before illegal immigration reform because it's impossible to in any way reform meaningfully immigration law, if we cannot control immigration, which can only be controlled if we're in control of our borders and ports. I'll shut up.

PEREZ: And I'll shut up after I say that I'm all for enforcing the borders. I'm all for controlling for security, but we have to deal with the reality of those 12 million people who are here. DOBBS: Another reality and that reality is, as Miguel pointed out, this was a presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party a month ago or so and, now, people are talking like it's the end of the road for Senator Clinton. Is it possible that neither perception is correct?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: She has to fight her way through state-by-state battles. That's the issue. She's probably going to lose Iowa by the way it stands now. She's got her lead in New Hampshire has been cut in half. South Carolina, if Obama should win Iowa, for example, you would assume South Carolina would tend more towards him and then there's Nevada and then there's Florida. So, right now she's got a real fight on her hands. The same thing has gone on, interestingly, Lou, in the Republican Party. You had Clinton and Giuliani as the presumptive nominees for about the last year, really. Look at the polls, they were both way up.

DOBBS: Giuliani had been appointed by the powers at be, if you will.

GOODWIN: Yeah, they were both inevitable, it seemed. Now both struggling for their political lives.

DOBBS: Speaking of struggling, Mike Allen, the democratic leadership for the house and the senate seems at various points at war with one another cannot advance a political approach to this White House for themselves. What in the world is going on in the fair city of Washington, D.C.?

ALLEN: Well, Lou, this was one of the probably the least predictable development of this year. President Bush, the lame duck, has a strut this week. He's won on nearly every important issue with Congress. The democrats are eating each other up. They're fighting among themselves. They have not found an effective strategy and he's winning on issue after issue, including funding for the war. They made attempt after attempt to stop and they're not able to and that resulted in these very low approval ratings because, as your viewers may know, the reason their numbers are so much lower than his, democrats now don't have either democrats or republicans for them. But the president has a republican for that's always for him. Almost no one now is for this democratic leadership.

DOBBS: An interesting point. Mike, we're going to be back in just a moment, talking with Michael Goodwin, Miguel Perez and Mike Allen of Politico.com. We'll have more with our panel in a moment. First, Rick Sanchez has an update on what is coming up on "OUT IN THE OPEN." Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hey Lou, always good to see you.

There are two shootings that we have been following this week. There's the one in Houston that we've all been talking about that's gotten real intense about this man who shot two illegal aliens who were burglarizing his house and there's a controversy there but when we started looking into this, we found that there was another one in Long Island and this is about an African-American man who has people in front of his house, Lou, who are screaming and saying they're going to attack his wife. They're going to kill his son, according to some of the 911 tapes. In fact, we've now gotten our hands on some of the 911 tapes. What you're about to hear here is the young men who were fired at by this homeowner moments after the shooting took place. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dano was shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to the (EXPLETIVE) hospital.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: We go on to tell the rest of the story. We are going to bring you the latest on that as we get the details and we've also got an investigative report tonight, Lou, on whether the military should actually have casinos that they're running and making millions of dollars on, some say, to the detriment of some of these soldiers who are getting hooked. We even sadly enough have the story of one of those soldiers who got so hook he committed suicide. So through their eyes, we'll bring it to you right here.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Rick. We'll have more here with our panel as we assess the week's political developments.

Stay with us. We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: One of the political developments this week, of course the worst scandal in baseball since the Black Sox. Mike Allen, your thoughts on the impact of the steroid use and the Mitchell report.

ALLEN: Lou, I'm watching all of this hindering this week and we've got to remind people that you really have to question baseball's commitment to do anything about this. As you know, they were the last sport to have any kind of a testing program. Senator Mitchell did not have subpoena power. Almost all the players stiffed him and now you have them all saying that everything is going to change quickly. All of us have to remember, fans also are culpable here. It was during the big - it was all the power hitting that brought fans back to the ballparks after the strike. The Sosa McGuire homerun race was when everybody said baseball is back but Lou, one thing this is good for, is college players, younger players, who are coming up in the game.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Your thoughts, Michael, as an old - an ex.

GOODWIN: An ex. In one of my former lives, I was a sports writer for the "New York Times." And ...

DOBBS: Before the Pulitzer Prize.

GOODWIN: Yes. And one of the things I covered, oddly, in those day was the cocaine use among professional baseball players back in the 80s. I covered the big Pittsburgh drug trial that brought in so many players and what struck me then and what strikes me now is the similarity. Everyone had to know then and did nothing about it. Everyone had to know and did what -- they wait until they're caught and baseball, as Mike Allen just says, oh my, what's going on right under our noses?

DOBBS: Miguel?

PEREZ: The question now is how you penalize these players when we know that Major League Baseball was so responsible for ignoring the situation. The owners so responsible for ignoring the situation. How much do you decide that someone should not go to the Hall of Fame for example? That is a major decision I wouldn't want to make.

DOBBS: The Mitchell Report contains a lot of foundation for a lot of asterisks for a lot of people who have played this game and played it superbly.

And I think that that all of you are making a very important point which is, let's not kid anybody here. The owners knew about it. The players' association knew about it. Broadcast television networks knew about it. Everyone associated with the game knew it. It's a black mark for not only baseball, for everyone associated with us.

Thank you very much. Mike Allen, thanks for being with us here from politico.com.

ALLEN: Happy weekend.

DOBBS: Thank you. And Michael Goodwin, "New York Daily News," Miguel, thank you for being with us.

PEREZ: Thank you.

DOBBS: Miguel Perez.

The results of our poll, 98 percent of you responding that it is reasonable and appropriate for American citizens to expect that local state and federal governments will work together to enforce all of U.S. laws including immigration. How about that?

Time now for one last thought. Sue in California. Said Lou, "My son got me watching your show and now I'm mad as hell. I started reading your book 'War on the Middle Class' this morning on my way to work and then will read "Independents Day.

"I just reregistered as an independent. Keep up the good work."

You to and welcome aboard. Each of whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "Independents Day, Awakening the American Spirit."

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow. For all of us here we hope you have a great weekend. Thank you for watching. Good night from New York. OUT IN THE OPEN with Rick Sanchez begins right now.

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