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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for January 25, 2008, CNN

Aired January 25, 2008 - 19:00   ET

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


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Wolf.
Tonight as the Democratic presidential battle in South Carolina goes down to the wire, Clinton, and Obama and Edwards all fighting until the very last minute. We'll have all that and the latest on the Republican race and much more straight ahead tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Friday, January 25. Live from New York, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.

PILGRIM: Good evening, everybody. Democratic presidential candidates tonight are making a final push for votes in South Carolina. Tomorrow's primary is the last Democratic Party battle before Super Tuesday, on February 5th. Meanwhile, Republican candidates are scrambling to win next Tuesday's primary in Florida. Polls indicate Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney are in a virtual dead heat. Now we have extensive coverage tonight from the best political team on television, covering the last two primaries before Super Tuesday. We begin with Suzanne Malveaux with the Obama campaign in Columbia, South Carolina. Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kitty, South Carolina is really a critical state for Barack Obama; he is working very, very hard to win over the voters here. We've been traveling with him. He's got a jam-packed schedule. He's trying to win over those undecided voters. The polls so far are showing that he is in the lead over Hillary Clinton as well as John Edwards but as they know and as they realize the last two contests, you can't take those polls for granted.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(APPLAUSE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Obama needs this one. Winning South Carolina will put him back on equal footing with Senator Clinton. He needs to prove to voters his Iowa victory three weeks ago was not a fluke.

THOM MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: To maintain a position of rough parity with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama needs to win in South Carolina.

MALVEAUX: Obama is talking issues with the folks he's got to work a little harder for, veterans.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I passed legislation to provide them with services.

MALVEAUX: Women.

OBAMA: A lot of those kids are raised by single mothers.

MALVEAUX: Older voters. His grassroots background has helped him organize college students and young African Americans eager for change. His audiences are usually diverse. While Senator Clinton and her husband the former president have leaned heavily on the black establishment such as civil rights leaders and pastors for support, most polls show Obama beating Clinton for the African-American vote, an important feat considering nearly 50 percent of likely Democratic voters in South Carolina are black.

But some polls suggest even if Obama wins this state, he may discover he has a more formidable challenge ahead. A new poll shows Obama leading Clinton by eight percentage points, Edwards by 19, but broken down by race Obama gets only 10 percent of the white vote while Clinton and Edwards evenly split the rest, a potential problem for Obama looking ahead.

MANN: And the concern all along has been the possibility of Obama in spite of his broad, nonracial appeal, of running poorly among -- among whites.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Now, Kitty, there's something important to note about this poll, and that is 14 percent of white voters are unaccounted for or undecided. So if they decide to move in Barack Obama's camp, this could significantly change the picture for him. Also I spoke with Obama aides who say, look, they don't believe that South Carolina is really an accurate litmus test for how Obama's going to do down the road, say, in New York or California because they say the role of John Edwards here. This is his birth state.

He's put a lot of time and money into this state. That he perhaps is going to perform stronger in this state than some of the others on Super Tuesday. So we'll all have to see how it shakes out tomorrow. Kitty?

PILGRIM: It is an interesting race. Thanks very much, Suzanne Malveaux.

Well as Suzanne mentioned former Senator John Edwards is trailing in the polls in South Carolina. He's determined to carry on fighting. Now Edwards says he's the only grown-up in the Democratic Party contest and he accused Senators Clinton and Obama of bringing big-city politics to South Carolina. Jessica Yellin reports from Columbia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In South Carolina, John Edwards is everywhere. JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was very excited about coming to South Carolina, the state that I was born.

YELLIN: He's in voters' homes, by day with Tyra.

EDWARDS: We've got a big weekend...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.

EDWARDS: ... so we're keeping my fingers crossed.

YELLIN: By night with Dave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has it ever been messed up?

EDWARDS: No, no.

(LAUGHTER)

YELLIN: And all across the state. Insisting he'll do more to fight special interests and now criticizing his opponents' campaigns.

EDWARDS: Senator Clinton and Senator Obama this week have brought their New York and Chicago politics to South Carolina. I was very proud to represent the grown-up wing of the Democratic Party on Monday night.

YELLIN: He's out with a new ad touting his self-proclaimed grown-up performance at Monday's debate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your contributor (INAUDIBLE).

EDWARDS: This kind of squabbling, how many children is this going to get health care?

YELLIN: And telling CNN the other Democrats have taken on a negative tone.

EDWARDS: A lot of the attacks have been nasty, some of the attacks have been divisive.

YELLIN: He's also taking aim at Barack Obama who just weeks ago criticized John Edwards when a special interest group ran an ad on his behalf.

OBAMA: The individual who is running the group used to be John Edwards campaign manager.

YELLIN: Now a similar special interest group is running an ad for Obama and Edwards sees hypocrisy.

EDWARDS: If he means what he says, he ought to be denouncing this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you surprised he hasn't? EDWARDS: I am very surprised because if you really believe something, then you stand behind it. If you're doing it for political reasons and only for selfish political reasons then you do one thing one day and another thing another day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: Kitty, John Edwards is also criticizing Senator Hillary Clinton for leaving this state earlier in the week. He's telling voters, if she abandons you before the Democratic primary, why should you believe she'll be there for you if she's president? Remember, this is the state he was born in. This is the state he won four years ago. He is working exceptionally hard for a strong finish tomorrow to fuel him for more strong finishes on Super Tuesday. Kitty?

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Jessica Yellin. Thanks, Jessica.

Well, Senator Hillary Clinton today shifted her focus away from her Democratic rivals to President Bush. Senator Clinton today blasting President Bush's policies on the economy and the war in Iraq. We'll have much more on Senator Clinton's campaign later including a major endorsement that could do her more harm than good.

In the Republicans' battle in Florida, Senator John McCain today won an important endorsement; Senator Mel Martinez of Florida declared his support for McCain just four days before that primary. Now polls indicate McCain is in a tight contest with Mitt Romney. Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee are trailing behind. Dana Bash reports from Miami.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For John McCain, an urgent rush to make a new, clear distinction between his candidacy and Mitt Romney's.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know how to lead and inspire.

BASH: Leader versus manager.

MCCAIN: You can hire managers all the time, people who do the mechanics. Governor Romney is touting his qualities and his experience and resume as a manager. I am trying -- I am telling the American people and they know it that I am a leader.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And so he's had to come back and flail a bit trying to attack my record.

BASH: Romney fired right back, mocking McCain for insisting his Senate experience qualifies him to tackle the bad economy.

ROMNEY: Being on the Commerce Committee in the Senate, that's what he has the expertise you need to know about how the economy works. Yeah, oh, yeah and I think he's detoured from what was some straight talk. BASH: Grasp of economic issues is one question that plagues McCain, ability to attract conservatives crucial in Florida's primary, another.

MCCAIN: Governor Frank Keating (ph), Tim Pawlenty (ph), Tom Coburn, the list goes on and on of very strong conservatives that are supporting my candidacy.

BASH: Romney is trying to capitalize with this ad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the full spectrum conservative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A supporter of free economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And clearly trying to take what he thinks is your biggest weakness.

MCCAIN: He has changed position on literally every major issue.

BASH: Meanwhile Mike Huckabee took a shot of Cafe Cabana (ph), mining for votes in Little Havana.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you get a foot on dry soil, you should be able to come here.

BASH: Rudy Giuliani courted Florida's potent Cuban vote, too.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The best thing to do is to keep the pressure on the Castro regime.

BASH: Even shook some morocco's (ph).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: But one of the most prominent Cuban Americans in the state of Florida, Cuban born Senator Mel Martinez endorsed a fellow Senator John McCain today and it came as a bit of a surprise, Kitty, because just yesterday Martinez told CNN he had no plans to endorse anyone, he was going to stay neutral. But today he said that the stakes are just too high not to jump in and help his friend John McCain, as you can imagine, Kitty, it came after intense lobbying by the McCain campaign. They are looking for any boost they can get in this primary on Tuesday because his campaign, everybody's campaign knows that this will likely be a game-changer here in Florida for the GOP race -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Dana Bash. Thanks Dana.

We'll have much more on the presidential campaigns later in the broadcast.

Please join Lou at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for a special edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit". You won't want to miss it.

Also coming up, the illegal alien lobby steps up its campaign to impose amnesty on the American people, Louise Schiavone will have the report -- Louise.

LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kitty the nation's mayors want to speed citizenship for millions of immigrants illegally in the U.S., even as Congress is telling them there will be no action of any kind this year -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks, Louise.

Also a major threat to our middle-class already reeling from the mortgage crisis and stagnant wages, we'll have a special report.

Also Rudy Giuliani blasted by the most influence newspaper in his hometown, one of the more powerful newspapers in the nation. We'll tell you why. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: Mayors from around the country gathering in Washington today admitted illegal immigration is a crisis in their communities. It's putting enormous stress on city health, education, police services. But the mayors' solution seems to fly in the face of what the public wants. What the mayors want is simple, amnesty. Louise Schiavone has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIAVONE (voice-over): The nation's mayors say their social services, schools and police are getting hammered by illegal immigration, their proposed solution?

MAYOR DAVID WALLACE, SUGAR LAND, TEXAS: The U.S. Conference of Mayors is calling on Congress to act on some type of a path to clear citizenship.

MAYOR MANUEL DIAZ, MIAMI, FLORIDA: It's inhumane in most respects that we have this many people living in this country that are not being given the opportunity to earn their citizenship.

SCHIAVONE: The mayors say it's time for Washington to not only beef up border security, but also to fork over funding for effective local police, emergency health services and other municipal services and for Congress to make these illegal aliens legal.

MAYOR PHIL GORDON, PHOENIX, ARIZONA: There is a tremendous demand. I have met with small businesses, entrepreneurial businesses and large businesses, and that demand is increasing.

SCHIAVONE: The mayors' agenda, though, is at odds with the results of a poll the conference itself commissioned. Nearly half of those surveyed by Zogby International at the end of last year said stricter immigration laws would help the local economy, and 57 percent of those polled believe that immigrants who are living in this country illegally should get no services from the government.

PROF. KRIS KOBACH, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI: This is a political organization, taking a very liberal political position on the issue of illegal immigration. But it's completely contrary to the financial interests of the city. It's completely contrary to the rule of law, and to the obedience of federal immigration laws.

SCHIAVONE: Congress has so far failed to adopt a strategy addressing the nation's roughly 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants and they told mayors who knocked on their doors this week don't hold your breath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They all tell me the congressmen and the senators that they'll have to wait until the next Congress. That's not acceptable. It's not tolerable. We can't wait another year. We can't wait another month. We can't wait another day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIAVONE: Kitty, one of these mayor accused Congress of using the issue of illegal immigration for political gain, although it's hard to see how anyone stands to gain from this current impasse. Kitty?

PILGRIM: Louise, what do the mayors say is actually going on in their cities?

SCHIAVONE: We have two ends of the spectrum going on in their cities. One of the things they describe is some very just abject meanness towards people who are illegals or appear to be immigrants, but are not necessarily illegal. So, that's one end of the spectrum. And they hear a lot of petition from this sector of their community, from people who need work. They want the work. They need the jobs.

But on the other hand, they say that there's an awful lot of crime, and they're apprehending illegal immigrants over and over and over again. Some of them are deported. They come back over the border. They have a terrific crime problem. So, what they're saying is Congress, can you please lead the way? Washington, please lead the way is what you're supposed to be doing. And Congress has told them this year, sorry, we're not doing anything this year.

PILGRIM: Both ends of the spectrum, Louise, but one thing is very clear. The system is absolutely broken.

SCHIAVONE: That's absolutely right.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Louise Schiavone.

The escalating wave of Mexican drug violence left more than a dozen people dead last week alone and on this side of our border, a border patrol agent was one of the most recent victims of drug violence from Mexico. Confrontations between the border patrol and smugglers raise new questions about the federal government's commitment to improve security along our border with Mexico. Casey Wian has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A memorial service for border patrol agent Luis Aguilar (ph), run over by a suspected drug smuggler Saturday near Yuma, Arizona. Thursday, a similar incident in eastern Arizona, this time the border patrol says an agent was trying to stop a pickup carrying illegal aliens, as the agent approached the vehicle, it took off, dragging the agent 20 feet before he fired at the driver who was injured and is in the hospital. Violence involving Mexican drug cartels and smugglers continues to escalate.

T.J. BONNER, PRES., NAT'L BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: The cartels are becoming more and more brazen and willing to murder federal law enforcement officers. There's really no consequence for them.

WIAN: Pressure group Judicial Watch has obtained a border patrol report which describes 25 incidents last year where Mexican military or law enforcement personnel crossed into the United States illegally, some allegedly protecting drug loads.

TOM FITTON, JUDICIAL WATCH: They're violations of our law. They're violations of our sovereignty. They place our border patrol at risk and they also place American citizens at the border at risk. They also are involved in drug running, illegal immigration. It's unbelievable to me that our government is not reacting more strongly to these incursions.

WIAN: Perhaps the most disturbing incursion occurred near Arivaca (ph), Arizona, where border patrol agents using night-vision equipment reported being surrounded by Mexican military personnel carrying rifles and driving military-style Humvees. The agents heard a soldier chamber a round into his rifle and observed the Mexican troops fan out in a tactical formation on both sides of the border. By the time air support and additional agents arrived, the Mexican troops had retreated south of the border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: The Department of Homeland Security says it expects attacks against border patrol agents to escalate as the United States and Mexico intensify their fight against drug and alien traffickers. Kitty?

PILGRIM: Casey, you've been reporting on this for quite some time. Is this getting worse?

WIAN: Absolutely it's getting worse. It's gotten to the point where some of the border patrol agents are now talking about that they're expressing skepticism with the arrest of this suspect that was arrested in Mexico and the killing of the border patrol agent Luis Aguilar (ph) on Saturday. They're suspicious because of their past dealings with rogue elements of the Mexican military, Mexican law enforcement personnel. They're suspicious that maybe they don't even have the right guy in custody in the killing of this agent, Kitty.

PILGRIM: Very disturbing report, thanks very much, Casey Wian.

Coming up, the liberal establishment's newspaper of record makes two key endorsements, Clinton and McCain. But it's who the paper didn't endorse that may have a greater impact. We'll have that story.

Also, new concerns the economic stimulus package won't help the economy in the long term. We'll have special reports on rising costs for consumers and also disappearing jobs. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: The proposed stimulus package agreed upon by President Bush and the Congress gives a temporary financial boost to cash- strapped American families. About 116 million households will receive a tax rebate check in a few months while at the same time the Fed is raising inflation fears by hinting at future rate cuts to help revive a sagging economy. As Christine Romans reports, higher prices could put further pressure on our middle-class.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Economy of ours is healthy.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president today on the economy...

BUSH: I am confident in the long-term strength of our nation's economy. I believe that the fundamentals are sound.

ROMANS: He praised policymakers for working quickly to counter, quote, "uncertainty". But there's a growing view that it might be better to take a small recession now rather than stoke inflation and a bigger recession later.

MARVIN GOODFRIEND, ECONOMIST, CARNEGIE MELLON UNIV.: It's right to be concerned about the Fed over doing ease on monetary policy in the short run for fear of stoking inflation because that's been the mistake that the Fed has made over the years.

ROMANS: Consider these traditional inflation signals. Gold hits a record high. Oil and food prices are rising. The consumer price index last year jumped 4.1 percent, the biggest one-year gain in 17 years and the dollar has plummeted. Meanwhile the economy is slowing. A combination that hearkens back to the bad old days of the 1970s and a condition the former Fed chief noted last month.

ALAN GREENSPAN, FMR. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: We are beginning to get not stagflation but the early symptoms of it.

ROMANS: So current Fed policymakers are walking a tightrope between recession and inflation.

MARTIN FELDSTEIN, NAT'L BUREAU OF ECON. RESEARCH: What the Federal Reserve did earlier this week was a very good thing.

ROMANS: But, he says, the Fed's fund rate should not go too much lower.

FELDSTEIN: Because of the continuing inflation pressures that we see. And because, in fact, actual inflation is now up significantly.

ROMANS: The trick -- to revive the economy without triggering crippling inflation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Tuition, health care, food and energy prices, they're all rising. About the only price inflation consumers are not seeing and feeling right now, the price of their home. Housing typically benefits from lower rates. Experts say this time around probably not Kitty.

PILGRIM: Absolutely. An incredible week, the stimulus package, the Fed moved, the market volatility. What are we looking at going forward?

ROMANS: We started the week with a market holiday, remember? We get all of this in just a week. A lot of folks have been telling me that this is once in a lifetime almost all the things we saw and the Fed meets again next week. So there could be another rate cut next week. Some are saying half a percentage point.

That means interest rates will go even lower and that's why you have some economists saying we have to be real very careful what happens from here on out. Easy money has gotten us in trouble before. Some blamed easy money after the tech bust for the problems that were caused subsequently by the housing boom. So you know every single step here is very, very important for the middle-class and for the economy.

PILGRIM: A lot of moving parts in this economy right now.

ROMANS: That's right.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Christine Romans.

That brings us to our poll tonight -- now do you believe the proposed stimulus package is a short-term fix designed more for political gain than long-term financial relief for the middle-class? That's a yes-or-no vote. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll bring you the results a little bit later in the broadcast.

We have time for some of your thoughts right now and Kia in Indiana wrote to us. "Lou, I am a 28-year-old African American woman. I am very proud of Hillary Clinton as a woman running for president and Barack Obama as an African American running for president. Nevertheless, my physical characteristics do not determine who I am as a person and they will not determine who I will vote for this November."

We had an e-mail from Carol in Maine. "Lou, Bush's economic stimulus package is like putting a Band Aid on a gaping wound, just about as useless."

And Shirley in Arizona wrote, "Lou, about President Bush's stimulus package, you can't put lipstick on a pig." We'll have more of your e-mails later in the broadcast.

Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of Lou's new book, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit". This is a book that corporate America, the Democrats and the Republicans Parties don't want you to read.

Coming up, our beleaguered middle-class faces a major new threat to survival. We'll have a special report on that.

Also, Democratic showdown in South Carolina goes down to the wire. We'll have the very latest on the final hours of campaigning. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: Well, it will take much more than tax rebate checks to fix the ailing economy. Especially since this economy is not just losing manufacturing jobs. Just this week alone, car companies, financial institutions announced big layoffs. Bill Tucker reports that this trend is evidence of a worsening economy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More layoffs and buy-outs at Ford, General Motors, Chrysler as the automakers struggle with sluggish car sales. More layoffs on Wall Street and at financial institutions as banks reel under staggering losses while hinting of more to come. For some economists, unemployment is the big problem that suggests we are already in or headed for a recession.

GARY BURTLESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Last month's job situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a three-tenths of a percentage point jump in the unemployment rate. The job market is weakening and may be weakening fast.

TUCKER: The unemployment rate rose to five percent. The increase came because the economy in December only created 18,000 jobs. Nowhere near the 115,000 the Labor Department says were need to keep the jobless rate from rising. It's enough to concern even those who are optimistic about the economy.

JAY BRYSON, WACHOVIA: In a job market like today, while we're not having mass layoffs but we're not having real strong hiring either. Those folks lose their job and they can't find another job right away.

TUCKER: In fact, many people are simply not finding work at all and they've given up. And while the numbers of discouraged workers has risen, the quality of jobs has deteriorated.

JOHN SCHMITT, CENTER FOR ECONOMIC AND POLICY RESEARCH: We're 70 percent richer than we were 30 years ago and we can provide no more and, in fact, fewer people with a job that has health insurance, a pension and a decent pay level.

TUCKER: In the opinion of many economists, the employment situation won't improve until the trade deficit is addressed.

PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Without fixing the trade deficit, we don't get those jobs back. We don't get Americans in good-paying jobs and we can't get the economy growing again.

TUCKER: They say sending a tax rebate check and asking consumers to buy themselves out of a recession won't work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER (on camera): As evidence that the trade deficit has already hurt employment, Morici points out that the number of adults looking for work has fallen since President Bush took office.

The adult participation rate is what is called, and if it were the same as when Bush came to office, the unemployment rate would be much higher now. It would be more like 6.8 percent, Kitty, so there is a little bit of an illusion in these numbers and the economists are saying they're actually higher than what we're seeing in terms of the official rate.

PILGRIM: That's interesting. We are really in a unique situation in regard to wages, aren't we, Bill

TUCKER: We really are. Because typically a recession is one of those things that comes in and moderates the economy and holds wages down. Yes, people get laid off but the cycle brings them back. We've never had a recessionary cycle, especially in a deep one, in a globalized economy. Globalization has taken over the role. The threat has been we need to work for less or we can go over to the other country and work for less. We've got the competition and now we've got the pressures of a recession. Economists don't know what that dynamic is going to look like.

PILGRIM: It's very frightening. Thanks very much, Bill Tucker.

The economic downturn is a major issue on the campaign trail. Senator Hillary Clinton today blasted President Bush and his economic policies. Senator Clinton's attack came one day before the South Carolina primary. Candy Crowley reports from Rock Hill, South Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we have some immediate problems.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They think she wins if voters are convinced she understands their lives.

CLINTON: The failed approaches of President Bush are now coming home to roost. We've got to begin by recognizing people are hurting. This is not an abstraction. This is not a conversation for some kind of talk show.

CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton is all business now. Moving her focus from Barack Obama to George Bush. Ticking through her agenda in the final hours in the battle for Carolina. More money for veterans' health care, lower interest rates on student loans, universal healthcare insurance, an end to the war.

CLINTON: And that's a big difference between us and the Republicans. You hear them talk, they say they're happy to leave troops in Iraq for 100 years. Well, that is not going to happen. Because we're going to elect a Democratic president.

CROWLEY: Leaving voters with positive impressions is campaign 101, even Bill Clinton didn't let up.

BILL CLINTON, HILLARY CAMPAIGNER: I love this country, because it looks like an African American man or a woman, and they are not losing votes because of their race or gender. They are picking up some because of it but that's to be expected.

CROWLEY: Friday morning in a state where the blacks made up half of the Democratic primary votes she went to historically black campus with two major league African-American politicians from New York making her case.

CLINTON: And I particularly pleased to have two of my friends come down to witness for me.

CROWLEY: In fact, since late last year, before Obama won Iowa and Clinton, New Hampshire, Obama's support among whites in South Carolina has been cut by about half, while Clinton's black support has dropped considerably.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: (on camera): Current polls show Barack Obama has a single-digit but comfortable lead. The problem is, nobody knows whether those polls are right, kitty, because election eve is the tensest of times.

PILGRIM: That's exactly right. Candy, we've had a tough week economically, financially, we had the stimulus package, we had the Fed cut. We had market volatility. How much of what happened this week factored in the came pan rhetoric.

CROWLEY: Well, certainly the economy totally dominates if not completely is the only thing they're talking about at this point. There is a little Iraq if there, but I have to tell you, everything's kind of connected to the economy. They've talked a lot about the stimulus bill. Obviously, none of the stimulus bills that these candidates are proposing would come in time since they wouldn't take office until January. But their political documents sort of designed to show people where they differ from each other and from George Bush.

In general, there is also a push about making the economy stronger, kind of in the long run. They all say, look, the stimulus plan would be fine for right now, but we have to find ways, for instance, to make more green jobs, that is put some money in a big pool, make it so that people are looking for new energy technologies, therefore, the green jobs. So, there's sort of a short-term on the economic stimulus and then a long-term component to all of their -- all of their talks here.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Candy Crowley. Thanks, Candy.

Senator Clinton today also won an endorsement from her home state newspaper, "The New York Times." Now, "The Times" also picked a Republican, although interesting enough, not the hometown candidate. As Bill Schneider reports, that may be good news for Rudy Giuliani.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The "New York Times" editorial page is the voice of the liberal establishment. On Friday, "The Times" endorsed Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Good news for them? Maybe not. The newspaper used its endorsement to take a swipe at president bush. "Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only republican who promises to end the George Bush style of govern from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe." McCain's response was guarded.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I appreciate anyone's endorsement, because I received the endorsement of anyone does not mean that I necessarily share their views.

SCHNEIDER: McCain needs to win votes from republicans and conservatives. "The Times" has never been beloved in that constituency. As this 2006 interview on Fox News suggests.

REP. PETER KING, (R) NY: And "The New York Times" is putting its own arrogant elitist, left-wing agenda before the interests of the American people.

SCHNEIDER: One of McCain's rivals was proud of not getting "The Times" endorsement.

RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I probably never did anything that "The New York Times" suggested I do in eight years as mayor of New York City and if did I would not be considered a conservative Republican.

SCHNEIDER: But "The Times" is Rudy Giuliani's hometown paper. "The Times" endorsed him as mayor in 1997. That man is not running for president, "The Times" says now. "The Times" anti-endorsement could hurt Giuliani in New York. Imagine if Giuliani loses his own state? "The Times" did say nice things about Barack Obama, but concluded, Mrs. Clinton is more qualified right now to be president. But Obama is running an anti-establishment campaign. And getting the endorsement of "The New York Times" could make Senator Clinton look even more like the insider's favorite.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Many years ago a candidate for mayor of New York failed to carry her own precinct. Now, asked to comment, a rival candidate said, her neighbors know her. Now, that's why the endorsement or the opposition of your hometown newspaper can be important. They know you. Kitty?

PILGRIM: Bill, how do liberals sit with "The New York Times" endorsement of Senator McCain?

SCHNEIDER: Horrified. Horrified. He's the embraced the president's troop buildup policy in Iraq and they are wondering how can "The New York Times" do it? There's a lot of eyebrow raising among both liberals and conservatives.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much, Bill Schneider.

Please make sure that you join Lou Dobbs at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for more on the presidential campaign. We'll have a special edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, "Independents Day, Awakening the American Spirit."

We'll tell you about the critical issues facing working men and women and their families. And we will tell what, if anything, presidential candidate are doing to help that. That's just in a few minutes, so stay with us.

Also coming up, more on the Obama/Clinton race for South Carolina. Three of the best political analysts in the nation will be here.

A GOP showdown in Florida may leave at least one of the leading contenders out in the cold. Stay with us for that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: Joining me now are three of the best political analysts in the country. Here in New York, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the "New York Daily News," Michael Goodwin, and syndicated columnist, Miguel Perez, and in our Washington bureau, Jeanne Cummings, senior political correspondent for politico.com. Thank you all for being here.

Michael, I'd like to start with you from "the New York Times" endorsement of Clinton and McCain. You are an alumnus. You worked for the "Times."

MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": I did my undergraduate work at "The New York Times."

PILGRIM: What do you think of the endorsement and the report that bill just came out with?

GOODWIN: A couple of things. Obviously "The Times" can endorse on its editorial page anybody it wants. It will not help McCain much, I think, certainly in Florida or places like that. I mean, it's such a liberal paper now that nobody who is not a liberal even reads it anymore, particularly the editorial page.

But as far as the attack on Giuliani, it was so vindictive and personal as to be, I think, unprofessional. And this follows a pattern of "The Times" now. When it -- when it likes or doesn't like somebody, it's front-page, second-page, third page, all the way to the editorial page, it's worse -- it's as bad as Rupert Murdoch in his bad days.

PILGRIM: Do you think it's getting worse? Let's ask Jeanne. Jeanne?

JEANNE CUMMINGS, POLITICO.COM: Do I think it's getting worse? No, I don't think I would endorse all of his thoughts but I would agree with him on some, that is I don't think it necessarily helps McCain. You could see his own awkwardness when he was asked to speak about it and the blowback towards Giuliani was strong enough that it did send a signal.

And if you're a conservative Republican, and they feel that strongly about you, then, in fact, he may be the candidate you want to consider. So, that may have backfired in some way.

PILGRIM: Let's read "The New York Times" quote. They had very harsh words for Mr. Giuliani. "The real Mr. Giuliani, who many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust is a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man who saw no need to limit police power. Mr. Giuliani's arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking."

And, Michael, this sort of goes to your point that they don't pull their punches on this, Miguel

GOODWIN: There's nothing about substance. There's no policy there. There's nothing about the presidential campaign. It's all about the mayoralty. The verdict is has been in on his mayoralty, Rudy Giuliani in many ways was a great mayor, as most New Yorkers they are still alive. The real estate values have increased in part because of public safety.

If I can add one more thing quickly on the thought that this being New York's hometown newspaper. "The New York Times" is no longer a local newspaper. It's a national paper that sells 200,000 papers in the five boroughs of New York. Both "The New York Daily News" where I work and "The New York Post" sells double or triple that number every day.

So "The Times" is no longer representative of New York. It's at best a Manhattan newspaper.

PILGRIM: All right. Miguel?

MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The attacks on Giuliani were vicious. It was uncalled for. I didn't think they needed to go that far. But the question is how much does the editorial help McCain? I don't think it helps that much. They had two editorials, they had an editorial favoring Hillary Clinton and it was obvious from reading the two of them that they are for Clinton and not McCain. They reluctantly endorsed McCain because they said he was the best of the pack among the Republicans.

But it's very obvious three don't like McCain either.

PILGRIM: As Bill Schneider reported, McCain's turf isn't exactly "New York Times" turf. Let's go to Hillary Clinton. She has come back to South Carolina after doing a lap through some of the Super Tuesday areas. If she trails Barack Obama boy about six to eight points in the latest polls in South Carolina, where are we here with this? And by -- is she managing expectations a bit, by saying, oh, perhaps it's not so important?

GOODWIN: Well, that could be. But I think it's extremely important for Obama. And I think the expectations are that he would win and win pretty handily. So, if he makes it narrow, a narrow defeat even or should pull it off, I think he's severely damaged going forward.

PEREZ: No question about it. He has -- Obama has to do really, really well in South Carolina, otherwise he's doomed because from here on out, I mean, she's really getting ready for February 5th. She's been going around to all the states and she's really getting ready for that. So he really has to make a huge impact now so he can carry the momentum into February 5th.

PILGRIM: It's clear from the travel schedule that she's putting her focus. Jeanne?

CUMMINGS: I think the six to eight margin in the polls is not necessarily good news at all for Barack Obama. Because we've seen the polls. They are pretty volatile this year. But I do think his campaign learned a searing message in New Hampshire, when they were ahead in their polls, very much ahead in the polls, and got perhaps overconfident. Her people came out in bigger numbers than expected. They were disappointed with some of the turn-out from their own troops.

I don't think we're going to see that mistake again. But it could be that Barack Obama gets a little bit lucky in South Carolina with the continued candidacy of John Edwards. Because he will peel some of the white votes away from Hillary Clinton.

PILGRIM: Uh-huh. You know, I should point out that in national polls Hillary Clinton's ahead of Obama in the CNN poll of polls, by about 10 points. So, we have Clinton at 43 percent. Obama, at 33 percent. And Edwards at 13 percent. But, Jeannene, going back to what you mentioned, now, Senator Edwards is -- has remained in third place in this race. He's trying to stay out of the fighting that's been to going on this week. The comment about being the only grown-up wing of the Democratic Party. Let's take a listen to what he said in South Carolina today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And my own view about this is that this New York and Chicago style of politics of personal -- the personal attacks and trying to tear down politicians, that South Carolina deserves better than that. And I am about building up the people of South Carolina. Not about tearing down politicians.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PILGRIM: Taking the high ground, but the old rule if A attacks B, C benefits. Is that true?

CUMMINGS: Well, this is ...

PILGRIM: Go ahead, Jeanne.

CUMMINGS: It's just amazing to me, when you think back to the fall, when John Edwards was clearly the attack dog, to the degree that a Democratic audience booed him in Nevada, and it was then that he stopped being the attack dog. So, to come around now at the end, you go with what works for you. And in that last debate, he got a bump because he didn't engage and so he's going with it now. If he needed to go the other way, he'd probably be doing that, too.

PILGRIM: What would a third-place finish mean for John Edwards?

GOODWIN: Well, you know, to pick up on something that Jeanne said, though, they're not going after him, because he's not a threat. I mean, that's the he's the odd man out here. He's not pulling anybody. So to the extent that he's not hurting them, then why attack him? It's wasted ammunition.

PILGRIM: Yeah.

GOODWIN: I do think what's most worrisome for Obama and should actually be for the entire Democratic Party is the vote in South Carolina now is largely dividing along racial lines. With Obama getting as few as ten percent in some of the polls among white voters.

This really undercuts his biracial appeal that he's been projecting and that really has been the basis of his candidacy. If the Clintons have succeeded in making him the black candidate only, then this really could be the end of his candidacy. But I think it's going to hurt them down the road.

PILGRIM: Well, but the black voters in South Carolina are nearly half the voters, correct?

GOODWIN: Yes.

PILGRIM: So, this will translate into what ...

GOODWIN: Turn out if everything else will matter, too. So, it's the white vote you have to watch. How much of the white vote does Obama get will be really significant.

PILGRIM: Any thoughts before ...

PEREZ: Bill Clinton that is clearly the problem here. He's demonstrating he's not the first African American president in the country and he's turning African American voters off, I think. And I think come the general election what's going to happen is he's going to hurt his wife. Because a lot of people will not want to vote for Hillary if it's -- if it's the team that's coming to the White House.

PILGRIM: We'll pick it up there. We'll come back and pick it up with our panel after the break.

And also "Heroes" a severely wounded Iraq War veteran has new power legs. We'll show you the amazing technology that makes it possible. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: We're back with Michael Goodwin, Miguel Perez and Jeanne Cummings. Last night in Florida, the Republican candidates had their debate about the Super Tuesday primaries. This is the last debate before that. There was a common theme. Let's - we've strung it all together and listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Clinton.

RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill Clinton.

MCCAIN: Senator Clinton.

ROMNEY: Hillary Clinton.

GIULIANI: Hillary Clinton.

ROMNEY: The last thing America needs is sending the Clintons back to Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PILGRIM: Now, I guess the operative question, are the Republicans banking on the fact that she's going to be the Democratic candidate? And is there an advantage in that in some way? Michael?

GOODWIN: Well, that's for McCain, there was, in terms of the military. As I recall McCain started it last night with the issue of Iraq and saying Hillary Clinton wants to surrender. It came out of the last debate where the question to her was, what's more important? Winning or getting, you know, getting out? She basically said getting out.

So McCain has jumped on that, you know, that she wants to surrender. So he kind of set the table, so she is winning in the Democratic race, it looks like anyway. And she's -- and she's an easy target. I mean, everyone kind of enjoys beating up on her.

PILGRIM: Yeah.

GOODWIN: Stow there's no harm to them.

PILGRIM: Bill Schneider points out the political disadvantages of being perceived as the front-runner. So are they, in fact, setting her up as the front-runner to take the disadvantage? Let's ask Jeanne.

CUMMINGS: They've been looking to run against her since this race started. President Bush even signaled and Karl Rove signaled that they thought that she would be the one to win the nomination. And it's funny for the last couple of weeks, they were suddenly asked about Barack Obama, and they all looked pretty uncomfortable, because they didn't have full talking points on him. So, they're back on message, you know, the message that they've been preparing for quite some time.

PILGRIM: All right, Miguel?

PEREZ: I think they want to run against the Clintons, because obviously, they see that there's a lot of problems in this team work that we were discussing earlier. But, you know, the whole -- the whole thing last night, you know, reminded me of the Democratic debate in Myrtle Beach, when all the Democrats singled out McCain as the guy who they think they're going to be running against. So, if we were to take a poll of all the Democratic -- the Democratic candidates, it's obviously McCain. And if we were to take a poll -- we took a poll of the Republican candidates in this debate, it's Hillary. So obviously, if we were to go by what they think, we know who's going to run in November.

GOODWIN: The only exception I would have to that is the notion that I think they love to beat up on Hillary in front of Republican audiences. In fact, she beats most of them head-to-head in the polls right now.

PILGRIM: Uh-huh.

GOODWIN: So, using her as kind of red meat for Republican audience is one thing. Really wanting to run against the Clintons, I'm not sure.

PILGRIM: Yeah.

GOODWIN: It's a pretty powerful team and Obama confuses them more is more difficult but ultimately probably is a weaker candidate. I think that's how they see it now.

CUMMINGS: One last thing I would add on that, I think part of the choice that republican voters are making is which one of these guys can beat Hillary Clinton? And so to start, you know, displaying what they're going to use against her, what kind of language, how tough would they be, that might move some Republican voters their way, if they're convinced, ah, that's the one that can beat her.

PILGRIM: Let's put up the national CNN poll of polls for Republicans, just equal opportunity, McCain has a 26 percent. Huckabee 19 percent, Romney at 18 percent and Giuliani at 14%. And there it is. So, we just want to let our audience know what they are doing nationally.

GOODWIN: I think that will change, depending on what happens in Florida. PILGRIM: Yeah. So, South Carolina is not the focus for you or for many people, it's the Florida.

GOODWIN: Well, South Carolina is tomorrow. That's the big one for the Democrats. But just in terms of the Republican poll, I think Florida is going to determine who comes out of there, you know, with a head of steam, and more delegates. There's a lot of delegates at stake now in Florida.

PILGRIM: OK, we have to hold it there. We'll be back, though, with more of this, I'm sure.

Stay with us, "Heroes" is coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: And now "Heroes," our weekly tribute to the men and women who serve this country in uniform. Tonight we introduce you to Marine Lance Corporal Josh Bleill. Corporal Belisle was seriously wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

As Barbara Starr reports, wireless technology is helping this young Marine regain his independence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lance Corporal Josh Bleill had been in Iraq for just three weeks when in October, 2006, his Humvee hit a bomb in Fallujah.

LANCE CORPORAL JOSH BLEILL, U.S. MARINE CORPS: It went off directly underneath my seat. I was back right. It took everything off that was hanging off the edge of the seat, my legs, killed my sergeant in front of me, killed my good friend next to me.

STARR: Bleill is now one of only two double amputees from the war using these experimental high tech prosthetic legs, powered by BlueTooth -- yes, the same devices millions of people use every day for wireless connections like cell phone calls.

BLEILL: Both have a transmitter and receiver, and just like that phone in that blue tooth piece you're talking back and forth, that's what these legs are doing.

STARR: He turns on the legs, waits for the beep and starts walking. With these legs, amputees can walk for longer periods of time without tiring, giving them a more independent life.

BLEILL: After one or two steps, it recognizes that it's starting to walk. So these legs start moving on their own. They mimic each other for stride length, amount of force going uphill, down hill and such, they can vary speed and they -- to stop them, I put resistance with my own thigh muscles to slow them down so I can stop walking which is always nice.

STARR: He says he's no hero and with his girlfriend at his side through tough times, he has a plan for the future.

BLEILL: Just carry on a normal life. Go home, see my girlfriend, see my family and just carry on and give back. Going through this process, you get outreach from everyone, community people that don't know you and it touches you. You just want it pay that back.

STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

PILGRIM: We wish him the best. We also said there were two amputees trying out these legs. The other is lieutenant colonel greg gadson who has been profiled on this broadcast. Here are the results of our poll. 96 percent of you believe the proposed stimulus package is a short-term fix designed more for political gain than long-term financial relief for the middle class. Stay with us for a special edition of "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: INDEPENDENCE DAY - AWAKENING THE aMERICAN SPIRIT."

That starts right now.

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