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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Gates Speaks on Iraq War; Condoleezza Rice Fires Back;

Aired December 21, 2007 - 19:00   ET

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


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN HOST: Thanks, Suzanne.
Tonight, Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared the war in Iraq is far from over. Gates saying we must protect and build on the gains earned with blood. We'll have all that, all the day's news, much more, straight ahead tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, December 21.

Live from New York, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.

PILGRIM: Good evening, everybody. Defense Secretary Robert Gates today blasted the Democrat-led Congress on the issue of Iraq. Gates said troop withdrawals depend on circumstances on the ground. And he criticized lawmakers for funding the war in fits and starts.

Gates also had some strong words about communist China. He said there is no doubt China is continuing its military modernization. Barbara Starr reports from Washington. Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kitty at an end-of-the- year press conference today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates did not hide his irritation, his annoyance with China. Especially its recent actions to deny port visit to U.S. Navy ships in Hong Kong. Gates, who recently returned from China, noted that Chinese actions may be a protest against U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I was very explicit that our arms sales were consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, and the joint statements, and that as long as they continued to build up their forces on their side of the Taiwan Strait, we would continue to give Taiwan the resources necessary to defend itself. So I think that to a certain extent, I find the -- that argument a little specious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: Now, Kitty, the U.S. military has had two significant disputes with China this year. The port visits and China's test of anti-satellite weapons. Top U.S. commanders say they don't want any miscalculation with the Chinese so things have got to get better. One plan is to establish a new hotline between the Pentagon and the Chinese military. So the two sides can talk during a crisis, but fundamentally, the U.S. military wants to know much more in 2008, about what the Chinese military is up to. Kitty? PILGRIM: Well, Barbara, neither of the incident explained at all by the Chinese, saying very, very little about both of those. Let me move on to another subject, though, what did Secretary Gates say about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

STARR: Well, as you indicated, the secretary was also to say the least annoyed at Congress for failing to give all the money that the administration wants to fund the troops. They gave only about half the money. Secretary Gates saying this is just going to lead to another budget crisis in the spring.

As far as Iraq goes, he said he was hopeful if circumstances continue to improve that some more troops, some additional troops could come home in 2008. But for the troops on the front lines, spending another holiday season in Iraq and Afghanistan, there really is only one issue, Kitty. That 15-month tour of duty on the ground and how very hard it is for them. They're looking for the tour of duty to be cut back to 12 months in 2008. That's the Christmas gift the troops want. Kitty?

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Barbara Starr, thanks, Barbara.

The number of countries in the so-called coalition of the willing in Iraq is falling. Australia today confirmed that it will withdraw combat troops by the middle of next year. Other countries are keeping some troops in Iraq but often in very small numbers. Harris Whitbeck reports from southern Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Georgian troops prepare for a desert battle on the border of Iraq and Iran. Kazakh military engineers gather unexploded ordnance on a U.S. base and ready it for destruction. They are all part of the U.S. war effort in Iraq. All members of George Bush's coalition of the willing.

MAJOR BAKHITSHAN ZHETPISOV, KAZAKHSTAN ARMY: We are supporting anti-terrorism in the world. And this is the basic things which we support.

WHITBECK: But the number of non-U.S. members of the coalition is going down. Australia is the latest member to announce its withdrawal. The new prime minister was in Baghdad on Friday.

PAUL RUDD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: That battle group will come to a conclusion as of June this year. And it will be the last battle group we deploy.

WHITBECK: Leading some to wonder if the coalition is crumbling. From an all-time high of 49 countries fighting alongside U.S. soldiers at the beginning of the war in 2003, the list of those countries still participating has shrunk to 27. Great Britain has slashed its number of troops in Iraq by half. Spain, Italy, and Poland, some of the biggest contributors after Great Britain, have all pulled out or in the process of doing so. As leaders in those countries, supportive of Bush administration policy, have left office, so have their troops in Iraq. More than half the troop units from countries still in Iraq, have fewer than 100 members. Latvia has three soldiers on the ground. Slovakia has two, and they're leaving early next year.

(on camera): But those who've stayed behind, say they are making a difference. The contingent from El Salvador has 280 troops on the ground. Working primarily on providing humanitarian assistance.

(voice-over): Several times a week, the Salvadorans deliver food to outlying villages and visit local sheikhs and supervise projects like the building of schools and clinics. They say they're returning a favor to the United States.

COL ATILLO BENITEZ, EL SALVADOR ARMY (through translator): Now it is time for to us give something back. The U.S. helped us greatly to combat our enemies during our own civil war.

WHITBECK: And a plea for better treatment for Salvadoran illegal migrants in the United States thrown in for good measure.

BENITEZ: It's not that we are asking for something next change but our brothers and sisters who live in the U.S. could be treated better.

WHITBECK: The Georgians and several other of the European contingent hope the U.S. will support their bid to gain membership in NATO. Those who have stayed in the coalition aren't doing it for nothing. Harris Whitbeck, CNN, al Kuts, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today spoke optimistically about the progress of the war in Iraq. Rice said it's been what she called a positive year for U.S. foreign policy. She said she hoped for improved relations with Iran, North Korea and Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm prepared to meet my -- my counterpart any place and anytime and anywhere and we can talk about anything. So let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's see if countries are prepared to take that path. But the United States doesn't have permanent enemies. We're -- we're too great a country for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PILGRIM: Now, Rice also strongly defended the administration's foreign policy, after an attack by presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. We will have a little bit more on that later in the broadcast.

The Bush administration today went to court, to answer questions about the destruction of CIA videotapes. Those videotapes showed CIA agents using harsh interrogation techniques including waterboarding. It was the first time a court has been involved in this case since the CIA admitted destroying the videotapes. Kelli Arena reports from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We know the CIA destroyed interrogation tapes of terror suspects. Now, lawyers representing 11 Guantanamo Bay detainees want to know, was that a violation of a court order?

DAVID RAMES, ATTORNEY FOR DETAINEES: Yes, it's a fundamental matter of trust. If the government is willing to destroy potentially relevant evidence as it's acknowledged doing in this situation, I don't believe that it can be trusted when it says it's preserved all of the other relevant evidence.

ARENA: At issue, a 2005 court order directing the government not to destroy any evidence of possible torture or mistreatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The government argues the detainees on the destroyed CIA tapes were not at the prison when they were interrogated in 2002, and so the order didn't apply.

But the government never said exactly where the detainees were in 2005 when the order came down. What's more, government lawyers told the judge that any hearings could jeopardize a Department of Justice investigation. And promised that if that probe found any evidence that his or any other court order was violated, they'd let him know.

TIM HEAPHY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It's very important for investigators to proceed confidentially and have each person who they interview interviewed uncorrupted if you will by other interviews or hearing about what other witnesses have said.

ARENA: Lawyers for those detainees urged the court not to take a back seat to the executive branch, which destroyed the tapes in the first place.

(on camera): The judge now has to decide whether to delve into the matter. Based on his questions and comments, he didn't seem too eager to do that. Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Still to come -- we'll tell you which jobs are least likely to be outsourced to cheap overseas labor markets. Christine Romans will have the report.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, why off-shoring and outsourcing affect which careers you choose and which jobs are immune. For now, Kitty.

PILGRIM: We look forward to that, Christine.

Also one senator is refusing to be influenced by corporate elites and special interests. We'll have that special report.

And also a local justice in New York just can't accept the will of the people on the issue of giving away drivers' licenses to illegal aliens. We'll have a special report. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: Another example today of an American company shipping high-quality jobs overseas, Boeing has signed a 10-year deal with an Indian government-run company and the deal is reportedly worth about $1 billion a year. Now, the Indian company will develop manufacturing processes need for the production of military hardware for Boeing.

A new report is telling graduates that they should avoid industries with outsourcing potential and consider a blue-collar career. So the best jobs of the future, "U.S. News & World Report" lists beautician, locksmith, security technicians among others. Christine Romans reports on the new areas of job growth in this economy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): Offshoring and automation are sending so many jobs overseas, "U.S. News & World Report" has updated its best careers guide. Consider a career's resistance to offshoring, suggesting, quote, "even college grads might want to consider blue- collar careers."

Among them, firefighter, hairstylist/cosmetologist, locksmith, security technician and biomedical equipment technician. The job market is clearly undergoing a dramatic shift.

LAWRENCE MISHEL, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: Ten years ago we were told we didn't really need manufacturing, that people needed to shift to the information age jobs. But now we see the information age jobs challenged by offshore competition.

ROMANS: Pressure in wages in those job categories, he says, at the same time manufacturing, an important stepping-stone to the middle-class, is moved wholesale overseas. Since 2001, the economy has lost about 3 million manufacturing jobs. But, as the president points out, there have been 51 straight months of overall jobs growth. And the unemployment rate is a low 4.7 percent.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: I fully understand the pinch some of you folks are feeling. Having said that, this economy's pretty good. There are some -- there's definitely some storm clouds. And concerns. But the underpinning is good. And we'll work our way through this period.

ROMANS: But if the economy slips into recession next year ...

PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Either we won't create many jobs or we'll lose them and the jobs that we create won't pay great wages, because we're simply not doing very well in construction and manufacturing and the other areas that traditionally offer good, solid middle-class jobs to working Americans.

ROMANS: Wages have been falling for years now. According to the Economic Mobility Project, median economic for men in their 30s dropped 12 percent over the three decades beginning in 1974. Jobs growth in the past few months has not kept up with growth in the working-age population.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (on camera): This the first time that "U.S. News & World Report" editors have considered what they called offshore resistance in their best careers categories. Why? The magazine says at the same time we're sending ever-more students to college, corporations are offshoring and automating jobs that require the college degrees.

PILGRIM: It's interesting because the shifts occur so quickly in this global economy. It takes a while for the knowledge of society to catch up where you get an article like this.

ROMANS: It's absolutely right. And what about the ladder to the middle-class that people have climbed through those, you know, manufacturing jobs and the like for so many decades in this country? Are we replacing them? As Larry Mishel pointed out, you know, we were told information technology jobs were going to replace those. Now we're told that those can be offshored, think of something else. People's education and careers don't move as quickly as this global economy seems to be moving.

PILGRIM: It would certainly help if we don't have administration officials denying the trend as it is actually happening.

ROMANS: And trade policies that actually exacerbate it in some cases.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Christine Romans.

A new provision in the new government spending bill would bar the awarding of federal government contracts to companies that set up offshore headquarters to avoid paying federal taxes. Now, this bill is on its way to the president to be signed into law.

Louise Schiavone reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stashed in a half trillion dollar spending plan for 14 different Cabinet projects and a war in Iraq, a torpedo for certain American corporations hiding behind flimsy foreign addresses for the purpose of evading U.S. taxes. A key packer, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, says, quote, "For the vast majority of American companies who play by the rules, this is a matter of fairness. They should not have to compete with tax dodgers to win federal contracts." Critics of the accounting strategy including the consumer oriented Center for Corporate Policy, say while it's not illegal, it is unethical. CHARLIE CRAY, CENTER FOR CORPORATE POLICY: You know, Benedict Arnold, tax trader companies are the ones that set up, you know, brass-plate shell companies. They just on paper decided that they are now a Cayman Islands company or a Bermuda company or some other place.

SCHIAVONE: A different view from researchers at the nonprofit Tax Foundation of Washington. It says, "If the United States didn't have the world's second highest statutory corporate tax rate, firms would not jump through the illegal and accounting hoops in desperation to minimize their tax liability." End quote.

Three years ago, the General Accounting Office reported that, "Large tax haven contractors in both 2000 and 2001 were more likely to have a tax cost advantage than large domestic contractors."

At that time, the GAO named major federal contractors who reported having a subsidiary incorporated in a tax haven country, including Halliburton, BearingPoint, Incorporated, the Boeing Company, Foster Wheeler, Limited, and McDermott International.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIAVONE (on camera): Kitty, Senator Levin's provision in no way outlaws the corporate strategy of evading corporate taxes by using an offshore address nor does it recoup the billions lost to federal revenues. So far Congress has rejected efforts to make those changes. Kitty?

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Louise Schiavone. Thanks, Louise.

Time now for some of your thoughts. And G.G. in Florida wrote into us, "I think it's great that you are doing what you are to help lead us in the right direction with all of the information you dig up and report. What our government is and isn't doing for us."

And Vera in Michigan wrote, "Happy Holidays, Lou. Thank you for opening our eyes to the truth, we're proud to rank among nationally recognized Lou Dobbs independents."

And Robert in Massachusetts wrote, "Thanks, Lou, for your dogged determination at exposing corporate chiefs and the government. You are a true public servant. I hope you have many years of energy left because your constant spotlight on their activities is so needed in these times."

We will have more of your e-mail later in the broadcast. Each of you whose e-mail who is read here receives a copy of Lou's new book "Independents Day, Awakening the American Spirit." It's the book that corporate America, the Democrats and the Republicans don't want you to read.

Coming up, is a local New York justice subverting the will of the people in a decision over illegal aliens and driver's licenses? We'll have a report on that.

And a day after President Bush said he wants to steer clear of the presidential campaigns, a top member of his administration. We'll ask one of the Republican candidates. We'll tell you why. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: Congress has delayed new passport rules that were due to go into effect next June. Now, these rules would require passports for people traveling by land or sea who enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. Air travelers already are required to have passports.

Congress now wants the rules to go into effect in 2009. The rules are part of the Western Hemisphere Initiative proposed after September 11th.

A local justice in New York upset that Governor Eliot Spitzer abandoned his outrageous plan to give driver's license of illegal aliens has taken outrageous action of his own. The justice not only dismissed charges against an illegal alien arrested for driving without a driver's license, the justice declared any New York law depriving illegal aliens of a driver's license is unconstitutional. Bill Tucker has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Never mind that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer abandoned his plan to grant drivers' licenses to illegal aliens, a village justice on Long Island, New York, has declared illegal aliens are being unjustly denied their right to drive. Westbury Justice Thomas Liotti has found that the laws denying illegal aliens a drivers' license unconstitutional, in the case of an illegal alien charged with driving without a license in his court.

JUDGE THOMAS LIOTTI, VILLAGE OF WESTBURY, NY: There's no question that this guy violated the law. My question is, is the law constitutional? I don't believe it is. I am very angry about the fact that I had to go to this length to try to find a remedy to this problem.

TUCKER: The illegal alien defendant before him had three prior convictions of driving without a license. And that, Justice Liotti says, goes to the heart of his frustration, unless illegal aliens are granted driver's licenses, they will continue to violate the law, and continue to come before his court, because they can't get a license. So, Liotti reasons, give them the licenses.

JOHN FLANAGAN, (R) NEW YORK STATE SENATE: It is judicial activism at its worst. It represents exactly why the legislature and the executive are supposed to make the laws, and we are supposed to debate this policy. The judges are supposed to interpret the law fairly and evenhandedly.

TUCKER: State Senator Flanagan said the judge should be removed if he's not capable of upholding the law. For a simple driving without a license case the case is lengthy, 26 pages. And at its conclusion the judge dismisses the driving without a license charge as unconstitutional.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER (on camera): Now, Judge Liotti fully expects that his ruling will be appealed by the Village of Westbury to the New York State Court of Appeals. He's not making any bets on whether it will stand on appeal, but he is hoping that will revive the issue whether illegal aliens should be granted the privilege of driving in New York, Kitty, or any other state, for that matter, because he believes it is a right that they should be accorded.

PILGRIM: So he single-handedly wants to grandstand this issue by taking this.

TUCKER: Exactly.

PILGRIM: He admits that this person violated the law and it's in his job description to uphold the law, is it not? As a justice? How can he justify his action?

TUCKER: Well, because he says also part of his job is interpreting the law and what he has sat down is done is a 26-page, an extensive review. Remember, this is a driving without a license charge. Not a complex legal case. And he has created a rather lengthy justification of why they should be given them and why they are protected and why these laws are unconstitutional. It will be very interesting to see what effect, if any, this has. It obviously has the intended affect, we're sitting here talking about it and that's what he wanted.

PILGRIM: Yeah, well he's also fairly tone deaf about what the American public wants, because when the issue came out, the overwhelming polls pointed that the American public did not approve of giving drivers' licenses to illegal aliens.

TUCKER: Right. And he's offended about by that. He thinks the American people are wrong, they are being emotional about it, that they are reacting on a emotional basis for it and that he has created a clear rationed reason on this and the judge, I might point out, is rather passionate about this issue himself so ....

PILGRIM: Well, he not only doesn't uphold the law, he ignores the will of the American public. It seems not a defensible position. But we'll follow it closely. Bill Tucker.

That brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. Do you believe that driver's license should only be issued to U.S. citizens and legal residents? Yes or no. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll bring you the results a little bit later in the broadcast.

Coming up, the Iowa caucuses are too close to call. Presidential candidates face an extremely busy Christmas and New Year holiday and we'll have a special report.

Also, Senator Hillary Clinton tries to soften her image, but are the voters convinced? We'll have that story and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice fires back at presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. We'll explain all of that when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: The Bush administration today fired back at Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice blasted the candidate's characterization of the president's, quote, "bunker mentally foreign policy." Dana Bash has our report from Des Moines, Iowa. Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kitty, you know, frustration and really anger has been simmering inside the Bush administration all week about this now famous or perhaps infamous line, depending on your perspective, that Mike Huckabee gave referring to the president's foreign policy as an arrogant bunker mentality approach. The secretary of state, she was initially asked about this. She took a pass at first, but then after just one follow-up, she launched.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The idea that somehow this is a go-it-alone policy is just simply ludicrous and one would only have to be not observing the facts, let me say that, to say that this is now go-it-alone foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, our John King actually spoke with the former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, today, and he said he has great respect for Condoleezza Rice, but he also said that he does have very real policy differences with the president on his foreign policy approach, especially the way he executed the Iraq war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Places not only where we're similar but places where we're different. And what I'm specifically referencing when you engage the military, you have to be careful when you but the battlefield commanders on the ground, you listen to them. When they say, you need 300,000 troops, you say I'm sorry, you're only going to get 180,000 troops and that's all you're going to get.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: In retrospect would Huckabee have used different language to talk about his view on foreign policy, he said the cow was out of the barn. That's sort of not up for discussion.

But he also really stuck to his guns. He was quite unapologetic, Kitty. He said he believes that people out there, voters, those are the people that matter most to him, of course, they want to see a leader who really says what he believes, and this is something that he believes and he's not backing down. Kitty? KITTY PILGRIM, CNN ANCHOR: You know Dana, Huckabee is really getting hammered not just by the Bush administration but by his rivals also.

BASH: He sure is. You know, this week, his rivals just opened up on him on this issue. They saw an opening on two fronts, Kitty. Number one is they think that this is a test of party loyalty and that he basically failed it by criticizing a republican president. And also, they are making it pretty clear that they think his particular world view is simply naive and that he's just sort of hitting the experience card, if you will.

And it's interesting to watch Huckabee, I've been with him this week, the way he responds to that, he's trying to turn it on its head and tell the Iowa voters, the republicans that come to see him in these events here, this is just a Washington establishment that really doesn't like it and what he's trying to do is look out for their best interests. It's an interesting dynamic and it will be interesting to see how it plays out in 13 days when these Iowa voters go to the caucuses.

PILGRIM: And you have a front row seat. Thanks very much, Dana Bash.

The Christmas holiday usually is a time of rest for family and most Americans except, of course, for our presidential candidates. But for these candidates, the meaning of Christmas is Iowa is less than two weeks away. Bill Schneider reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Iowa, New Hampshire campaigns have been going on for nearly a year. And look at how many voters are still undecided. In Iowa, 34 percent of likely democratic caucus-goers and 34 percent of likely republican caucus-goers say they are still trying to make up their minds. The numbers are even higher in New Hampshire. 38 percent of democrats and 45 percent of republicans still haven't decided who they are going to vote for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know it will be democrat, but I haven't made a final decision.

SCHNEIDER: And talk about procrastinators. Consider this, as of weekend, according to an online survey, two-thirds of Americans had not finished their Christmas shopping. Retailers say over the past few years, people have been waiting longer and longer to do their Christmas shopping. Some stores are staying open all weekend to capture those last-minute shoppers.

Campaigns can't shut down either. They need a sales pitch to catch the late deciders. Who are they? They are more likely to be strong partisans than independents. Partisans know what they are looking for. Independent voters not much, they don't do much shopping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm an independent voter and I think I'm either going to go for Ron Paul as a democratic candidate or else Dennis Kucinich as a democrat.

SCHNEIDER: Voters are taking longer to make up their minds for the same reasons shoppers are waiting until the last minute. Not because they are lazy, but because from all the candidates to pick from, nobody's been able to close the sale.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a lot of the candidates have good ideas, but I'm not 100 percent sold on any of them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: More and more Christmas shoppers are now buying gift cards which is a way of saying, hey, I can't make up my mind. Let somebody else decide. Can voters do that? If they just stay home, they let others decide for them. Kitty.

PILGRIM: That's never a good idea. Thanks very much, Bill Schneider.

Ohio could be taking a huge gamble with its own presidential election. Cuyahoga County, the state's largest county, is switching to an entirely new voting system, barely 2 1/2 months before its primary election. Ohio Secretary of State has been pressuring the County Board of Elections to scrap the $21 million touch-screen voting system citing security flaws. The new system will be the third voting system in three years and it could cost the taxpayers as much as $9 million.

Coming up, with the Iowa caucuses approaching, Hillary Clinton tries to prove that she has a gentler side and that she is electable. But the question remains, is she likable?

And later, "HEROES," tonight we introduce you to an award-winning combat photographer. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: The Clinton campaign today moving to firm up support among independent and female voters, and demonstrate that she's electable. Senator Clinton told New Hampshire voters her experience means she can work with political opponents with positive results and she brought some republican backers along to make her point.

Mary Snow is following the Clinton campaign and she reports from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Call it Senator Clinton's likability plan. With her daughter Chelsea and her mother, Dorothy Rodham, making their first appearance in New Hampshire, meeting and greeting voters trying to win over their support.

SCOTT SPRADLING, WMUR POLITICAL DIRECTOR: This is the Hillary Clinton, love-me, soft sell advance. She bringing the testimonial. She's bringing the family into New Hampshire. This is totally intended to show a softer side of her.

SNOW: But it's not all about family. Senator Clinton is also trying to portray herself as the politician that can work across party lines.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As president I will do something that George Bush has failed to do, work with the other party to get things done.

SNOW: Getting accessible health care is among the major issues she stresses along with energy independence and ending the war in Iraq.

Reporters covering her in this state say she's been resonating with voters on issues, but ...

SPRADLING: The problem is the believability and the likability and the trust factors which is exactly what this type of event is focused on.

SNOW: And it's not just likability but electability. Senator Clinton touts experience. Her main democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, told the New Hampshire crowd he's the one most electable against republicans.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not going to mention names. But the notion that a viability or an electability argument is being made by somebody who starts off with almost half the country not being willing to vote for them. Doesn't make much sense.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now, Senator Obama made those comments last night here in New Hampshire. He didn't name names, but it was obvious, he was referring to Senator Clinton. Senator Obama is trying to make the case that he is the candidate who can beat republicans in a general election and the fact that both of the candidates are stressing their electability factors really speaks to the fierce competition for independent voters here. Kitty?

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Mary Snow.

Joining me are three of the best political analysts in the country. Here in New York, we're joined by Pulitzer Prize winning New York Daily News columnist, Michael Goodwin, and syndicated columnist Miguel Perez. Joining from Washington is Mike Allen, chief political correspondent for the online publication Politico.com. Gentlemen, thanks for being with us. You know we have Obama and Clinton in New Hampshire already while the fight is still going on in, you know, out west.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iowa.

PILGRIM: Yeah. I knew that. Why strategize them moving on so quickly, why not duke it out in the first state? There are five days in between, so conceivably they could ... MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: I suspect they are doing both. I was struck by Clinton's bringing some republicans along as Mary Snow said in that piece. Because in New Hampshire, independents can come in and vote in either primary as long as they register in that party for the day. So, her bringing republicans along suggests that she may think she's losing among democrats and needs to bring in the independents and so by bringing republicans in, it's an unusual strategy in a primary, but she's in a really tight fight and she will need all the help she can get obviously.

PILGRIM: And the New Hampshire independents are a considerable block?

GOODWIN: A very big block.

PILGRIM: Miguel?

MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: On the flip side of the coin, you have McCain bringing in Lieberman, who used be a democrat but now an independent. It's very similar to what's going on. They want to try to appeal to the general audience now instead of just the political party.

GOODWIN: Just in New Hampshire. That's the odd part, because in Iowa, they will go back to rock-ribbed, hard left democrats.

PILGRIM: Let's look at the polls. Mike, I will bring you in a second. Let's look at the polls. It's a dead heat in New Hampshire. And we have Hillary Clinton at 32 percent, Barack Obama at 32 percent, John Edwards at 18 percent and Bill Richardson at 8 percent. Mike, your thoughts on this? It's an absolute dead heat.

MIKE ALLEN, POLITICON.COM: Well, it is. And those are going to change overnight as soon as there are Iowa results, and that's part of why you see Senator Clinton, spending a little time in New Hampshire, starting to build some insurance.

Today, Politico's reporting her staff in Iowa has been told, don't claim that Senator Clinton is going to win. You know, normally campaigns want to project strength. But today they're sending the message, trying to convince reporters, for her to come in second, if she's close is fine in Iowa. It's going to be tough for her, because Senator Obama at that point will be such a huge story. He'd been on the cover of every magazine. He'd be the one our TV show, not Senator Clinton.

PILGRIM: It's an interesting strategy. While we're at it, let's look at the republicans in New Hampshire. It's a surprise surge from John McCain. He's actually really come up. So we have Mitt Romney at 34 percent, John McCain at 27, Rudy Giuliani 11 percent, Mike Huckabee at 9 percent. Could McCain upset really change the whole equation in this group, Michael?

GOODWIN: He certainly could. He's winning a lot of endorsements. He won the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe, a very unusual combination. Miguel mentioned Joe Lieberman from Connecticut, but it sort of reaches into New Hampshire. So McCain is on a roll. And I think for Romney, the danger is should Huckabee win Iowa and McCain win New Hampshire, Romney would be in real trouble real fast.

PILGRIM: For the republicans there's the really high stakes game going on right here.

PEREZ: Absolutely. And we're going to find out real soon before the Super Tuesday in February, we're going to have a very good idea. And the question that remains here is what ever happened to Rudy Giuliani. He's getting lost in the shuffle here.

PILGRIM: Yeah, and we even had reports this week, he had medical issues, he had to be hospitalized and then return back to New York. And that's, you know, that sort of news buzz that goes around the candidate getting ill is not positive, is it? Mike, weigh in here a little bit on this.

ALLEN: Yeah, well, tonight Mayor Giuliani is back on the campaign trail. He's doing a fund-raiser. But, you're right, he really lost momentum. And that's going to be a big problem in these first states where he's weak. He'll be strong later, but in the meantime, he is going to be like look at me, look at me, while the other story is going on.

Now, this movement by Senator McCain that you were talking about is very real. There's lots of evidence of it. In addition to the polls, the people traveling with him, say they're starting to feel the exuberance, the pep rally feel that they did in 2000. What I love about this story, it's like the Huckabee story. It shows that these guys don't need the money, don't need the big campaigns. These are guys that are rising just because people like them. What an amazing concept.

PILGRIM: Yeah. It's the story line that's interesting.

You know, we looked at the New Hampshire McCain poll statistics, but let's take a look at Iowa, because you know he still really is not doing that well in Iowa. We have Huckabee at 33 percent. And then Romney, then Giuliani at 11 percent and McCain at 9 percent. So, this is the New Hampshire phenomenon none, isn't it?

GOODWIN: Right. I think in Iowa it's a fight for third place. In addition to fight for first, it's a fight for third, between Giuliani, Thompson and McCain and I think the further down you finish there, the harder it gets later. So you don't want to be embarrassed in Iowa. So there's a kind of a back-of-the-pack scramble not to be embarrassed.

PILGRIM: The other thing in Iowa that's interesting is Edwards is doing very well because he spent so much time on the campaign trail there and you have almost a statistical dead heat with Clinton and Obama and Edwards in Iowa. It's almost too close to call, isn't it?

PEREZ: It leads you to wonder what would the scenario be like without Edwards? Would the people go with Obama because they dislike Hillary? Is that as far as Hillary can take it? PILGRIM: That's an interesting point. Mike, anything on this?

ALLEN: Senator Edwards is doing better than it looks like, because he has a firmer floor than the others. As you guys know, the people that were with him, were with him in '04. They've been with him to caucuses. There's a huge uncertainty about how many of Senator Obama's people are going to come. He has the amazing crowds, these amazing number of fund-raisers, but will they turn out? Nobody really knows. The Hillary Clinton in numbers we've already seen turned out to be softer than we thought. That's why her numbers and polls have come down. These people that like the idea of the Clintons and they remembered Hillary Clinton, but as it got closer, they're just not committed to her.

PILGRIM: You know, we --

GOODWIN: I think it's fascinating that she's doing a likability tour.

PILGRIM: Yeah.

GOODWIN: I mean if there's ever a poll-driven tour, it's the likability tour because she clearly is finding that people don't like her, so she's trying to be sweeter. She cried a little bit the other day. Mom is around. Daughter is around. You know, this is a warm- and-fuzzy Hillary Clinton.

PILGRIM: But it must be hard to be likable when you're fighting this hard in a political ...

PEREZ: People aren't stupid. They see that it's orchestrated.

PILGRIM: Let me move on to something else. The Bush administration argued in federal court today that the destruction of the CIA videotapes did not violate a court order, basically saying they weren't Guantanamo tapes, so, therefore, no problem. What do you think of this, Michael?

GOODWIN: Well, I don't know the facts. None of us do really. All we know is supposedly several, I guess, hundred hours of tapes were destroyed. There are many angles yet to be explored. There is an investigation. I'm prepared to see what it is. I mean I think that ultimately, I'm afraid this country is too obsessed, though, with how we treat detainees. I just think that it is in my mind very clear that we're in a war. And I think the obsession with how we treat these detainees, we don't want to torture. We don't want to violate Geneva Conventions but at the same time I just wish the press would spend as much time on what is going on in Iraq as what the lawyers are saying here about the tapes.

PILGRIM: Do you agree with that, Miguel?

PEREZ: We also have a responsibility to our soldiers to make sure they are not tortured so there's a concern by many people in this country about who we are torturing because we don't want the enemies to turn around and do that to our guys. PILGRIM: Americans do like to be seen and do like to be humane people, especially in war. Mike?

ALLEN: The problem the administration made here though is the same mistake they made with the U.S. attorneys issue and that was, they didn't put out a story they could stick with. And so now they look like they're changing what happened, when, in fact, I think most people would probably be fine with how the administration handled this. So at the time the president has won huge battles with Congress and he wants to be turning the page going into 2008, the news in Washington is dominated by a story that reminds people of some of the worst things about the administration.

GOODWIN: Let's not forget it's the democrats who are driving the story.

PILGRIM: Right.

GOODWIN: They know they've lost on Iraq in general. They know they've lost the budget stuff, so this is what's left to them now.

ALLEN: But my point of view, the administration helping them is abetting them by not making clear what happened, and presenting it in a way the people would buy.

PILGRIM: Fair point, Mike. We have to wrap it here. But gentlemen, thank you very much. And have a Merry Christmas. Michael Goodwin, Miguel Perez, and Mike Allen.

ALLEN: Merry Christmas.

PILGRIM: A reminder to vote in tonight's poll. Do you believe that driver's license should only be issued to citizens and legal residents? Yes or no? Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll bring you the results in just a few moments.

Coming up at the top of the hour, "What Would Jesus Really Do" with Roland Martin. Roland.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hey Kitty, how are you doing?

All kind of talk, Mike Huckabee and commercials and crosses and McCain is Obama a Muslim or a Christian, and that's all kind of talk about faith and what would Jesus really do. But also this assault on Christmas. Why are people saying in Florida you can't say the word Christmas? We'll also deal with what's happening with the troops in Iraq as it relates to them being Christians in a time of war dealing with the whole issue of whether they should kill or not kill. Coming up next on "What Would Jesus Really Do" the holiday edition or I'd rather say the Christmas edition.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much, Roland. We look forward that.

MARTIN: Thanks. PILGRIM: Still ahead tonight, the story of an air force sergeant's story whose job it was to shoot with his camera, but it was shooting with his weapon that won him an award for bravery. So we'll tell you all about it. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: Tonight, in "HEROES", our tribute to the men and women serving this country around the world, U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Jeremy Lock. Lock, an award-winning combat photographer, receives the bronze star for bravery in valor in Iraq. Philippa Holland has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPPA HOLLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As Technical Sergeant Jeremy Lock explains it, he lucked into photography. After years of processing images for the air force, he taught himself how to take pictures and developed a passion of his own.

TECH. SGT. JEREMY LOCK, U.S. AIR FORCE: I have a photojournalist document in the war. Even though I wear the uniform, I go in with an open mind. I like for it to unfold before me, whether it's good or bad.

HOLLAND: Lock's assignment have included two separate deployments to Iraq and a deployment to Afghanistan in the search for Osama Bin Laden.

LOCK: I got dropped in Bora-Bora, landed half on the mountain, half off and the reason we were there, it was one of the last places that Bin Laden was supposed to be. Talk about an adrenaline rush thinking that you will be the photographer that comes across and sees him. Amazing.

HOLLAND: Lock is also integral to the success of a mission.

LOCK: Not only are we out there actually documenting the war, but we also go out as an asset to that team. Meaning that I can put down my camera and I can pick up a weapon. Or I can put down that camera, become a vehicle driver, or I can put down my camera and I can conduct a raid.

HOLLAND: Once a patrol with the platoon, Lock had to put down the camera to help save the life of an Iraqi policeman.

LOCK: We ended up pulling the guy in, and he had a bullet wound through his chest and out his side. We're trying to stop the bleeding. Then when I get tired and cramp up from holding him for so long, the platoon leader he'd take over and do it for a while.

HOLLAND: For this action, his leadership and documentation of more than 90 missions, Technical Sergeant Jeremy Lock earned a bronze star.

LOCK: I'd do it over and over and over again for my country. I strongly believe in that. I believe what we do over there. I don't want my kids over there. I'll do whatever it takes to do that.

HOLLAND: Philippa Holland, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Technical Sergeant Lock is one of 40 combat-trained photographers jointly deployed by the air force and Marine Corps to Iraq and just the second person to become a three-time winner of the military photographer-of-the-year award.

Still ahead, the results of tonight's poll. More of your thoughts. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: Now the results of tonight's poll. 95 percent of you say that driver's licenses should only be issued to U.S. citizens and legal residents.

Time now for some more of your thoughts. We've heard from Jack in Massachusetts. "After 44 years as a registered Republican and 5 years as a Democrat, I have now concluded that neither party represents my interests or the interests of the population as a whole. I have just reregistered as an independent."

And thousands of you are e-mailing about our report last night on United Airlines outsourcing the maintenance of its aircrafts.

Priscilla in California writes, "What a joke our government is! We pretend to be hard on homeland security! As you know our borders/ports/air cargo are all open to anyone! They put us through hell at the airports! Yet our commercial airplanes are serviced outside of the USA, even in China! What kind of joke is that!"

Gary in Indiana, "Lou, I love your show, keep up the good work. I heard about United Airlines' outsourcing major maintenance checks to a facility in China. I am sick to death of companies outsourcing to other lands to save a few bucks at the expense of our American workers. Now I know why they closed their maintenance base here in Indianapolis. United can kiss my business good-bye."

And Jean Louise in California, "I absolutely believe the majority of American citizens want a federal government that will secure our ports and borders and enforcement immigration law. The problem is, for some unknown reason, the majority of our elected officials do not want what we want. They promise the moon, get elected and suddenly believe they are the upper echelon of American and the people that sent them to office are of sub standard class."

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at LoyDobbs.com. Each of you whose e mail is read here receives a copy of Lou's new book, "Independents Day, Awakening the American Spirit," the book that corporate America, the democrats and republicans don't want you to read.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "What Would Jesus Really Do?" hosted by Roland Martin is next.

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