Return to Transcripts main page
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Latest Campaign News
Aired February 11, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you.
Tonight Senator Clinton insists her presidential campaign remains on course despite weekend losses to Senator Obama and a major shake up in her campaign. We will have all of that, the latest on the Republican campaign, all the day's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Monday, February 11. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening everybody.
Senator Clinton today declared she remains very confident of winning her battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. Senator Clinton shrugged off her losses to Senator Obama over the weekend. She also down played the sudden removal of her campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle.
Meanwhile, Senator McCain is trying to deflect criticism of his campaign after Mike Huckabee's latest successes. Senator McCain insisting his campaign is doing fine. All the candidates tomorrow face tough primary battles in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
We have extensive coverage here tonight beginning with Jessica Yellin in Washington -- Jessica.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, even in the face of all those losses you mention, Hillary Clinton insists that her campaign is on the right track.
YELLIN (voice-over): After replacing her chief of staff, Hillary Clinton hit the campaign trail saying...
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who would be the best president to be commander in chief on day one, to turn the economy around, to begin to solve our problems?
YELLIN: Yes, the song remains the same. But now campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle is out, replaced by Maggie Williams, who was Clinton's chief of staff when she was first lady.
H. CLINTON: This was Patty's decision. I have the greatest respect and affection for her. She's going to remain as a senior adviser to me. This has already been a very long campaign.
YELLIN: Insiders say the change has been coming since Clinton's loss in Iowa and her late discovery the campaign was running low on money. (INAUDIBLE) inevitable which came to a head when Maggie Williams assumed more control and there wasn't room for both.
H. CLINTON: We had a great night on Super Tuesday. I'm still ahead in popular vote and in delegates.
YELLIN: The rest of the chess pieces have not moved. Mark Penn as pollster and strategist, Mandy Grunwald handling media, and Howard Wolfson as communications director. The question now can Senator Clinton hone her message, which includes...
H. CLINTON: I believe health care is a fundamental human right.
Well I am battle scarred and I'm proud of those scars.
Who will give us the leadership we so desperately need at this moment in our nation's history.
YELLIN: Into a theme that catches fire.
YELLIN: Well Clinton's aides say that they know tomorrow Potomac's primary actually favor Barack Obama. So they are looking ahead to contests in Ohio and Texas that take place early next month. Those are states where she has more demographic and institutional advantages. Both Clinton and Barack Obama are trying to break out of this dead heat they find themselves in and to do that they are courting John Edwards, hoping for his endorsement and trying to work and win over super delegates. Basically they're looking for anything that will give their campaign the decisive edge -- Lou.
DOBBS: And Jessica, it's not as if they weren't already doing that, though, isn't it? I mean they have been trying to win this thing from the beginning.
YELLIN: They have. Both have been trying and neither of them have been able to close the deal, so they are looking for whatever advantage they can get at this point and it's a struggle for both of them.
DOBBS: Jessica, thank you very much. Jessica Yellin from Washington.
Senator McCain today flatly rejected any suggestion his campaign is weakening in the fight against Mike Huckabee. McCain saying his campaign has not been hurt by losses to Huckabee in both Kansas and Louisiana. McCain today won the endorsement of an influential evangelical leader, Gary Bauer.
Dana Bash has our report from Annapolis, Maryland.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No big rally, no music, not even voters here. John McCain's only campaign event ahead of Maryland's primary was as low key as his strategy now. Look ahead and look unconcerned.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're doing fine. We have 700, some close to 800 delegates and the last time I checked, Governor Huckabee has very few, so I think I'm pretty happy with the situation that we're in.
BASH: But he got crushed by Mike Huckabee over the weekend in Kansas by Republican voters not ready to accept McCain as their nominee, lost Louisiana too. Why does he think Huckabee is still winning?
MCCAIN: Because they like him. I never expected a unanimous vote.
BASH: The McCain campaign knows full well he's losing votes from conservatives who don't like him and they rush to trumpet the endorsement of well known evangelical Gary Bauer, who briefly sought the GOP nomination himself eight years ago. Still McCain deflected questions about his lingering tension, outright rebellion among some conservatives, instead making it seem like a broader Republican problem.
MCCAIN: My party is dispirited because of spending and corruption, as we'll all know, and we've got to reenergize our base and also primaries are tough.
BASH: But (INAUDIBLE) conservative leaders warn that if an already depressed GOP base isn't energized by McCain, it will hurt him in November.
DAVID KEENE, CHMN. OF AMER. CONSERVATIVE UNION: If he did nothing, most conservatives would end up voting for him. The question is how enthusiastically would they campaign for him. If he works at it, he will get the great bulk of them I think.
BASH: But for all the talk that John McCain's campaign wants to do already about the general election, the primaries and caucuses are still going on, Lou, as you know, and in terms of the caucuses, Mike Huckabee and his campaign are absolutely furious about what happened this past weekend in Washington State.
And what happened was it was incredibly close. John McCain was up by about 240 votes. There were over 1,000 votes outstanding and yet the chairman, the Republican Party chairman in Washington State decided to call the race because he said it was getting late for John McCain. Well Huckabee said that it is absolutely uncalled for and outrageous.
He says that is so-be-it style politics. He sent a lawyer out there, Lou, and because of that, the party chairman out there is now continuing the votes again and he says he is going to come up what might be a final tally eventually. The Huckabee campaign, I should say, they are certainly anxiously awaiting to see what the results are after all of the votes are counted out there -- Lou.
DOBBS: That was just flat ignorant on the part of the Republican Party and the state of Washington. What is the -- what are to the degree we know, what are the Huckabee people learning in terms of that vote?
BASH: They don't know yet. They actually sent a lawyer out to Washington State to try to figure out what is going on. But what they tell us is that they are feeling pretty good about the fact that the Republican Party on a national level. They get it. That they get that this was a big mistake that the state chairman made there by essentially what one Huckabee official said it was going rogue and just calling this before everything was really finished.
So they feel like they are going to wait it out. They're going to see what happens when everything is counted and then they're going to figure out whether or not they are going to actually fully contest this once that's done.
DOBBS: Well the reality is that as Mike Huckabee himself acknowledges, he has a very tough road to hoe, as he might put it himself. But at the same time, he's not backing off here, is that a surprise to McCain? Is there great confidence in the Huckabee organization?
BASH: Confidence in the Huckabee organization I don't think it is confidence. I think defiance is probably a better word to describe what he is doing here. He over and over again, Lou, you've heard him. He says that this is what America is all about. This is what the Republican party from his perspective is all about, to keep soldiering on and if somebody wants to run for president, and somebody has proven, like he has, that he can get votes, that he do very well, especially like he did across the south, that he should keep going. The McCain campaign, as you can imagine, they're putting the best face on this, but the reality is that the more Mike Huckabee wins conservative votes, the more it proves that John McCain has problems with that part of his party.
DOBBS: And voters in both parties, Democrats, Republicans, and certainly all Independents respect defiance and true grit and he's showing that, is he not? Thank you very much, Dana Bash.
BASH: He seems to be, yes.
DOBBS: Thank you.
Senator McCain today also strongly criticized Senators Clinton and Obama for their promise of a quick withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, in Iraq insurgents killed three more of our troops. Sixteen of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month; 3,960 of our troops have been killed since the war began; 29,092 of our troops wounded; 13,013 of them seriously. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on a visit to Iraq today said there may be a pause in the withdrawals of our troops in the summer. Gates said a pause would give commanders an opportunity to assess again the impact of further withdrawals. Secretary Gates left Baghdad, insurgents launched a wave of car bomb attacks, two people were killed, 13 wounded in Baghdad.
New evidence today of another rising threat to this nation from communist China. The U.S. Justice Department today said a Defense Department analyst and a former Boeing engineer have been charged with spying in two separate cases. Two other people, immigrants from China and Taiwan, have also been charged. These arrests just the latest indication that China is stealing American technology and secrets. Jeanne Meserve has our report.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Secrets about the space shuttle, a sophisticated military rocket and U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan, all given to China the government alleges in two espionage cases.
KENNETH WAINSTEIN, ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The threat is very simple. It is a threat to our national security into our economy position in the world.
MESERVE: In New Orleans, the FBI searched a home in connection with the case of Gregg Bergersen, a 51-year-old analyst with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, part of the Defense Department. As recently as this month, court documents say Bergersen allegedly provided a Chinese American businessman with secret information about past and future sales of weapons to Taiwan.
A second case in California involves Dongfan Chung, a former aerospace engineer with Rockwell International and Boeing. He allegedly gave China inside information about the space shuttle radar system, the C-17 military transport plane and more. According to court documents, Chung, a naturalized U.S. citizen, wanted to contribute to the modernization of what he called the motherland. Experts say it is common for China to recruit Chinese Americans.
KENNETH DEGRAFFENREID, FMR. COUNTERINTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: The Chinese intelligence services do it very aggressively through blackmail, through friendships, through appeals to Chinese heritage.
MESERVE (on camera): All of those charged have made initial court appearances but have not entered pleas. Authorities say it is too early to tell exactly how much damage they may have done, but claim these cases are part of a Chinese espionage operation that has now reached Cold War proportions.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: Russia is also becoming more aggressing toward the United States. U.S. fighter air craft intercepted two Russian bombers, bombers that flew unusually close to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Western Pacific over the weekend. In fact, one of those bombers flew over the USS Nimitz, not once, but twice and at an altitude of only 2,000 feet. The other bomber was circling some 50 miles away.
Coming up next here, President Felipe Calderon of Mexico meddling in U.S. presidential politics again and the White House I'm sure will have a very, very important statement about that, but we aren't going to be holding our breath. Bill tucker will have our report -- Bill.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, President Calderon choosing to snub our own president, skipping a meeting with him, and choosing instead to comment on our illegal immigration policy from outside the beltway while meeting with pro-amnesty groups -- Lou.
DOBBS: I wonder why he is snubbing this president who has been such a good friend, in fact, a better friend than Mexico in many cases than to the American people. Bill, we'll look forward to your report. Thank you.
Also Venezuela's lofty strong man, Hugo Chavez, well he is a little upset and is now threatening to cut off his oil supplies to the United States. We will have a special report on his latest threats and of course the remarkable response from the U.S. government.
And more local communities fighting against a harsh impact of illegal immigration, law professor Kris Kobach is helping some of those communities. He is among our guests here tonight. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, is on a five-day visit to the United States. President Calderon is not planning to meet however with President Bush. Some people may consider that to be bad public relations. In fact, he is skipping Washington altogether, but he will be meeting with Mexican nationals and local officials in this country. President Calderon comparing the fence on our southern border to quote, "the Berlin Wall", saying that Mexicans in the United States are what he calls symbolic hostages of the illegal immigration issue. Bill Tucker has our report.
TUCKER (voice-over): The president of Mexico began his visit to the U.S. in New York meeting with the head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, the editorial board of "The Wall Street Journal". He dropped by the United Nations for a brief visit and he also met with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. No word on whether Governor Spitzer's failed attempt to grant drivers' licenses to illegal aliens came up, but illegal immigration is clearly on Felipe Calderon's list of items to discuss.
He has expressed his pleasure with the leading U.S. presidential candidates' views on immigration reform and the amnesty they support and his displeasure to "The New York Times" about what he calls immigrant bashing in America.
Quote, "I'm very worried because this has generated an atmosphere full of prejudice, an anti-immigrant atmosphere with certain themes that are also anti-Mexican that benefits no one."
Critics insist Calderon has a clear agenda.
PROF. GEORGE GRAYSON, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY: I think what you would call this operation dual sovereignty. He is really here to expand Mexico's sovereignty and influence in the United States.
TUCKER: In addition to New York, Calderon will visit the home of Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, cities which take pride in their sanctuary policies designed to try and grant illegal aliens shelter from the law.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: President Calderon should be concerned about his own immigration policies. I think he should be more concerned about security at the border rather than talking with sympathetic governors about an amnesty program for his citizens.
TUCKER: Officially the trip is billed as an encounter trip, although he won't be encountering any officials from Washington. But he will be back.
TUCKER: In fact, President Calderon will be back in the states for meetings with President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in New Orleans in late April. The topic then will be the security, prosperity partnership or Lou, the North American Union as we like to call it on this show.
DOBBS: Oh, don't say that. "The New York Times" says the North American Union doesn't exist.
TUCKER: Doesn't exist.
DOBBS: Yeah, I am watching this and I frankly say, you know, welcome, Felipe Calderon. It's wonderful that have you can have time to come by and visit all of the citizens that you've expelled from your country through rampant corruption, incompetence and just widespread poverty. I would think that he would be here with a sack cloth and ashes and embarrassment and shame for the failure of the Mexican government.
And this man parades like some popinjay who is proud of what his country has done, his government has done? The man should be apologizing to the Mexican people, certainly to the America people for their in just, just shameless act of expelling his people through all of -- whether it be through poverty, these misguided policies. I mean it's just a -- it's a shame and a sham.
TUCKER: No sign of contrition today, Lou.
DOBBS: Well I don't suspect we're going to see one very one. Bill Tucker, thank you very much. We'll of course be counting on you to keep us up to date on where the good president travels. I'm sure that he will meet wondrous and thunderous applause and approval wherever he goes.
Time now for our poll question. Do you believe that we in this country are witnessing the onset of a campaign by corporate America and special interests to again push and push hard for amnesty and open borders? Yes or no. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results for you here later in the broadcast.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is stepping up his anti-American rhetoric and threatening to cut off our oil, Chavez threatening to stop selling oil to the United States, saying that his country is in what he calls an economic war with the United States, but as Kitty Pilgrim reports, one American oil company is fighting a battle with the Venezuelan dictator in court and kicking -- well he's winning nothing.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ExxonMobil says it has been ripped off by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and isn't going to take it. Last year Chavez demanded foreign companies surrender at least part of their investments in operations in Venezuelan oil fields to the state oil company. Other companies negotiated with the Venezuelan government and continued as minority partners. But ExxonMobil went to court.
JIM ROBERTS, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Chavez was hoping that they would -- going to turn tail as some of their competitors from Europe did and just take whatever Chavez ordered -- offered on the table and Exxon is refusing to do that. Exxon invested billions of dollars and they want their money back and Chavez and his regime have tried to basically rip them off.
PILGRIM: So far, Exxon is winning, court orders in the U.K., Europe and the United States have frozen $12 billion of Venezuela's state oil company assets.
DANIEL ERIKSON, INTER-AMERICAN DIALOGUE: It really puts him on warning that not only is ExxonMobil serious but it's able to find backing and legal justification for its claims in courts outside of Venezuela.
PILGRIM: Chavez's usual act is to rail against the United States to boost his own image at home and he has often threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States. Venezuela provides about 10 percent of U.S. oil and he's our fourth largest supplier, but it can't afford to cut off oil exports to the United States.
It's too valuable a market earning Venezuela well over $100 million a day at current prices. And Chavez's attempts to find new markets in Latin America and Asia have not yet succeeded.
(END VIDEOTAPE) PILGRIM: Now the court rulings tie up many of the assets of the state oil company of Venezuela. That's why Chavez is threatening the United States but his threats come empty and often. A year ago, he made the same threats saying the U.S. government should know that if it crosses the line it will not get Venezuelan oil -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well I love the, you know the leftist menace. This country right now is confronted by so many leftist menaces that both external and internal and righteous menaces, again both internal and external. The menaces abound at the extremes of politics.
But my question is if Hugo Chavez were to cut off all that oil, does that mean Joe Kennedy would be of a job? I mean what would happen? It would be a shame to break up that wonderful alliance between Hugo Chavez and Joe Kennedy.
PILGRIM: Yeah. Well of course that was for political reasons that alliance.
DOBBS: You don't say. You don't say.
PILGRIM: I guess it was.
DOBBS: All right, Kitty, thanks a lot.
Coming up here next, cities and states winning more support from the courts and federal agencies in their battle to enforce our immigration laws. We will have that report and we will be talking with a leading authority on local enforcement efforts across the country.
By the way, bad news, President Bush, Ted Kennedy and Jon Kyl -- who's that other senator from Arizona, oh, yeah, Senator John McCain. That stuff about amnesty, it isn't working. American people are really serious they don't want it.
America's middle class, by the way, is also struggling through this economic crisis, how long can it last? I'll be talking with one of the nations leading economist. He's among our guests here tonight coming right up. Stay with us.
DOBBS: A raising number of communities all across the country are now taking aggressive measures to combat the impact of illegal immigration. Prince William County in Virginia one of those communities, it is working with U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement to train their local police to enforce immigration law. Louise Schiavone has our report.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These police officers in a Virginia county just outside Washington are learning the requirements and the limits of a new policy to frustrate illegal immigration.
CHIEF CHARLIE DEANE, PRINCE WILLIAM CO. POLICE DEPT.: Their policies are going be targeting those people that are criminal aliens. Those people that are here illegally, they commit a violation of law that would make them deportable. That is the ultimate goal of this policy.
SCHIAVONE: Right now, 222 suspects are held in the county jail on federal immigration detainers. An influx of illegal immigrants to Prince William County has prompted a county crack down. Six county officers are enrolled in a month long formal training with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one of 37 public safety departments in 16 states that have signed up with ICE. And starting next month, all officers in the 500-person force have new marching orders.
BILL REID, IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: In the course of their normal law enforcement activity, they will -- they have been directed by the county board to determine whether an individual may be undocumented.
SCHIAVONE: But it won't be simple. The ACLU and others have warned that they will be watching police enforcement every step of the way. Officers have been reminded that every turn that the policy does not call for racial profiling and every detention must be fair, lawful and reasonable.
ANGELA HORAN, PRINCE WILLIAM CO. ATTORNEY: (INAUDIBLE) and you've got somebody in your custody. You can answer the question, why, why, why do you still have the person. Well I'm investigating this. I'm trying to confirm (INAUDIBLE) suspicion of act.
SCHIAVONE: The police chief says the county is taking this action in the absence of a national immigration strategy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The federal system has failed in this. There is no question about that.
SCHIAVONE: Lou, policies like the one in Prince William Country are significant steps in the effort to crack down on illegal immigration. But sources who know the system say that any crack down is bound to be limited by short staffing at the federal level, overflowing prisons and the sheer magnitude of the problem of illegal immigration -- Lou.
DOBBS: And a dysfunctional and frankly conflicted federal administration, Bush administration that has -- that absolutely abysmal and derelict in its responsibility to enforce the law. And as you report, Louise, communities across the country and in some cases, states taking action to avoid what has happened to us nationwide. Thank you very much, appreciate it, Louise Schiavone from Washington.
Let's take a look now at some of your thoughts. Bob in Florida wrote in to say, "Lou, I see El Presidente of Mexico is visiting his citizens (aka illegal immigrants) this week in the USA. He will also be talking with the business elites and ignoring the politicos in D.C. El Presidente knows where the power is, doesn't he?" That's an interesting point.
And Tami in New York, "It's interesting when people who call for the law to be enforced are called racists. That's how we know we're winning. They have nothing else but name calling and political correctness (censorship)."
Robert in Texas, "Dear Lou, unfortunately we have Billery Clinton, John McBush and Barack O'Kennedy as our choices. Big money and the old regime power has won again. Keep on swinging, Lou. After all the change hoopla, it is same old, same old." And I'm afraid you're exactly right.
We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit". Let's hope that spirit does awaken and soon.
Up next, more on local communities' efforts to uphold U.S. immigration laws, a law professor helping those local communities fight back against the powerful socio ethnocentric special interest group and corporate America among our guests.
And working men and women and their families reeling from this economic downturn. Is this a recession? What can we expect? I'll be talking with one of the country's leading economist and the leading authority on recessions, Harvard economist, Martin Feldstein.
And Mike Huckabee refusing to recede to McCain defying calls to quit. Three of the best political analysts and strategists join me to talk about that and what in the world are Obama and Clinton all about?
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: The federal government's failure to resolve our illegal immigration crisis has lead many of our cities and states to enact their own legislation. Now courts are upholding those efforts. Attorneys in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arizona recently fighting off challenges to their new laws. Kris Kobach is professor of law at the University of Missouri; also, attorney in two of those recent cases representing the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania as well in its appeal of what had been an unfavorable court decision. Good to have you with us, Kris.
PROF. KRIS KOBACH, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI: Great to be back.
DOBBS: All right professor. Let's ask right off the bat. Are we going to see the federal courts begin to uphold more of these ordnances at the local level?
KOBACH: I think so. It's been a great two weeks for the rule of law in America. In the past 14 days, we have seen the federal court coming out of Valley Park, Missouri, a district judge in St. Louis as well as a federal court in Arizona, uphold a state law there and those judges rejected every single claim that the ACLU and Maldef have been bringing against these local or state laws.
DOBBS: What is that central claim?
KOBACH: The central claims is that that they are somehow pre- empted by federal law, that congress has pushed the cities and states off the field and the judge said, not only are the cities and states allowed on the field. Congress has invited them onto the field and they can take away business licenses from companies that employ unauthorized aliens.
DOBBS: I am fascinated with Michigan where Michael Cox, the attorney general, there has prevailed by putting forward a straightforward statement, we're not going to do illegal alien driver's licenses because that, the federal government has already, has rendered them illegal and we cannot make them legal at the state level.
KOBACH: Right and in his line of thinking is exactly what these federal judges have said and this is the right way to look at it. As long as the cities and states are trying to get in line with federal law, what they are doing is permissible and so now you've got a situation where you have three final orders by federal district judges, these two decisions in Arizona, Missouri, plus the decision earlier in Hazleton last summer, two out of three federal judges saying it's a green light for the cities and states. I think you are going to see a lot more cities and states coming online in the next 12 months.
DOBBS: All right. You think that my guess that you're talking with some people. Can you give us some sense of the breath of that effort?
KOBACH: Well, I know that a number of states are hoping to follow the law that was just upheld in Arizona. For example, that bill is being considered in Missouri, Kansas, I believe Indiana is also considering it and there's probably a number of states I'm not aware of and then you've got cities across the country that are considering it. Farmer's Branch, Texas, that city is restarting its ordinance and we may see that a federal court soon.
DOBBS: Do you think the Valley Park decision will be favorable to the appeal efforts of Hazleton, Pennsylvania?
KOBACH: I think so because now the case in Hazleton is just coming to the court of appeals in Philadelphia and now that court of appeals is seeing that federal judges across the country are coming to a different conclusion than the judge who saw that Hazleton case in the trial.
DOBBS: Some people might even say awakening, if you will.
You assisted Arizona in its court battle. I just want to read something that ACLU, Immigrants' Rights Project attorney Omar Jadwat says about that law in Arizona and if we could put this up so all of our viewers can read this. "Arizona is shooting itself in the foot by aggressively pursuing this drastic and unprecedented sanctions regime that will harm innocent workers, close down businesses and increase discrimination against people of color." Wow.
KOBACH: You know, that statement is -- was exactly what was rejected by the federal judges because in each of these cases, the plaintiffs argued that somehow these laws were discriminatory and in all of the cases even in Hazleton the judge said there is no factual basis and there is no legal basis for the claim that these laws discriminate. On the contrary, they have been written in excruciatingly neutral nonracial non-ethnic terms and they have safeguards built in so that discrimination can not give rise to any enforcement.
DOBBS: Kris Kobach, professor of law at the University of Missouri, we thank you very much for being with us.
KOBACH: Thank you.
DOBBS: Up next, are we in a recession? The white house says no. I will be talking with the nation's leading authority on recession and Professor Martin Feldstein of Harvard University joins me here next.
Courting John Edwards, Senators Obama and Clinton kind of think John Edwards is pretty cool now. They want his endorsements and his delegates. We will talking with three of the brightest political minds in the country here next. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Well, the white house today released a new report that projects our economy will avoid recession this year. My guest tonight disagrees that that should be the conclusion, at least at this point. Professor Marvin Feldstein, President of the National Bureau of Economic Research, those are the folks that officially track and determine when the economy is in recession. Harvard economics professor, one of the leading thinkers in the country, Martin Feldstein joins us here. Good to have you with us, professor.
MARTIN FELDSTEIN, PRES., NATL. BUR. OF ECON. RESEARCH: Good to be here.
DOBBS: I know it's far too early to make a judgment but the pain that is already being felt in this economy feels like a recession to literally millions and millions of Americans. Give us your best judgment of the forces that are working in the economy, how severe they are and how much they can contribute to a recession or perhaps even worse?
FELDSTEIN: Well, I think we don't know yet whether the economy is actually turning down but if you look at the data for the last month, for December, it looks like an economy that is stalling out and could be the beginning of a downturn. We see consumer retail sales are flat. We see private sector employment down a little bit. We see personal incomes not growing. Of course, housing is in terrible shape.
DOBBS: It's a disaster.
FELDSTEIN: So we've got an economy that is weak and that maybe heading down.
DOBBS: Now there are folks right now out there watching you and me saying, my gosh. Economics, I know who it feels like when I'm at the store or the bank or paying bills or trying to get a job or a raise. The reality is here that we have a serious economic, I think many people are describing it as to crisis, whether we're talking about housing, whether we're talking about the credit markets, whether we're talking about the general economy. You called for a cut in interest rates. The Federal Reserve has responded positively and has cut rates now in terms of the fed funds rate down to 3%. You call for economic stimulus package. Congress and the president have responded, approximately $150 billion, about one percent of GDP. Give us your sense, Martin Feldstein's sense, of just how serious the problem is and whether more steps are necessary to avoid the stall, the downturn that none of us wants to go through.
FELDSTEIN: We don't really know. We don't really know. I think the fed has done the right thing in bringing rates down. They're not at a stimulative level. I think the fiscal package that the president will sign any day now, I think was a good thing also. I think that also will reduce both the risk of recession and if one comes, the severity but it could get worse and I think the reason it could get worse is the credit markets. What's happening now in credit markets seems to me without precedent. It's not just about banks. It's about the whole range of players in the credit markets, not stepping up, not being able -- not wanting to lend because they don't have confidence in the folks they would be lending to. They don't have confidence in the value of the assets that they're trading.
DOBBS: And the situation you're describing, is not simply domestic. It is now becoming international in which participants and parties in these transactions are unwilling to in many cases, let's say some cases right now and hope it doesn't become many, not willing to honor their obligations in the debt market.
FELDSTEIN: That's right. That's right. It is primarily at this point still a U.S. problem. But these markets, the hedge fund markets, the credit derivative markets, those are international markets. So they're going to have similar effects elsewhere and we are seeing the European economy slowing down month after month. So and the Japanese economy has never really taken off.
DOBBS: There was a time I think that people could comfortably say the dollar's decline was a good thing for this economy, because we would be exporting more goods and services because of the lower prices, but in point of fact, what we witnessed over the last eight months and which frankly Professor I warned against on this broadcast now for since the administration started suggesting that the wand be delinked with the dollar is because there is such -- there is no elasticity in demand and price here for imports from China. We have seen prices go up eight consecutive months in imports from China.
FELDSTEIN: But look at the overall story of the dollar. The main move of the dollar has been against the European currencies. It's been against Canada. It's been against Japan even and that has made a big difference. Our exports are up 25 percent in the last two years. The trade deficit is down a full percentage point of GDP. So one of the few positive things out there is the fact the dollar is getting more competitive.
DOBBS: Can I brush a little reality about the surface of the current account deficit? And that is that it's still just about 6 percent of GDP that our deficit continues to rise. We will set again another record deficit against China in 2007.
FELDSTEIN: But over all, our deficit has actually come down. Our current account deficit has come down about a percentage point of GDP. But it's enormous and the fact that it's enormous tells me that the dollar, the market pressures, are going to push the dollar down further, make it more competitive and that we shouldn't think of the dollar coming down as a bad thing about America. It's giving us a greater competitiveness in world markets.
DOBBS: I would accept competitiveness. I hope that you're right. You have a great track record but I have to say I'm enormously skeptical of the impact that it's going to have particularly visa vi China. Professor Feldstein, we thank you very much for being here. We can certainly wait on the decision as to whether or not this is a recession. The pain is sufficient without putting an official perimeter.
FELDSTEIN: Good being with you.
DOBBS: Professor, thank you. Always good to talk with you.
Up next at the top of the hour, the Election Center with John Roberts. John has a preview. John, tell us about it.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Lou, thanks very much. CNN Election Center coming up at the top of the hour; if last Tuesday was super, tomorrow is going to be huge. We'll take a look at what the voters in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. may do to Senators Clinton and Obama. On the republican side, Mike Huckabee isn't giving up. We'll ask when he goes from being an annoyance to doing some major damage to John McCain. Lou, all that coming up. We'll see you at the top of the hour.
DOBBS: Look forward to it John. Thank you.
Up next, what is Hillary Clinton doing now? We will discuss that and Mike Huckabee vowing to say in the race. What does he know? We talk about that and more with three of the best political analysts in the country. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the best political analysts in the country. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, New York Daily News columnist, Michael Goodwin; democratic strategist, Hank Sheinkopf, and Keith Richburg, New York Bureau chief, "Washington Post." Good to have you all here. What in the world is Hillary Clinton doing? KEITH RICHBURG, WASHINGTON POST: Trying to get her campaign back on track, trying to get the wheels back on again.
DOBBS: Maggie Williams takes over. Is she the right selection?
RICHBURG: Well, we'll see. Is there a right selection at this state? From what we here this was in the works after the big surprising loss in Iowa and she came back and won New Hampshire and they see the campaign lacks energy. It's lacking the energy you see.
DOBBS: Is that on the campaign or is that on the candidate, Michael Goodwin?
MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: It's the candidate. Particularly against Obama. It's amazing Lou that if Obama weren't in the race, Clinton would be cruising. That was the plan. She would be coronated on February 5th. And everything's that's happened this last six months is because Obama has upset their calculations. So it's not Clinton per se. It's Obama.
DOBBS: One of the things that's being left out of this entire discussion it seems to me has been the reversals of fortune that we've seen in already the relatively short time of this primary election season. Obama was Mr. I'm going to take it off and then obviously early on she stumbled and now has again. What is going on here?
HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Momentum changes everything. When you start to win, you start to collect dough. When you win, you collect more dough. When you lose, the dough stops and you get stopped and that's what this is all about. Right now, she has lost momentum. Can she get it back? Not probably tomorrow, not this week but potentially as we go to Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania is maybe where it comes to an end.
DOBBS: The idea that Huckabee is staying in the middle. He is starting to be something in folklore, don't you think?
RICHBURG: McCain's got over 700 delegates. He needs about 450 to make it work. He's got a good argument. He's saying until someone has got the magic eleven hundred and some to actually get the nomination, he wants to people to have a choice.
GOODWIN: I was struck, Lou, by a couple things. I mean first of all the way Huckabee rolled up Kansas is you know a huge margin like that. I think if you're McCain, even though it's a caucus it's a little scary and your story earlier on out McCain. He did no events today. You know there was no energy in that room at all. This is a guy who has a lot of convincing to do and he seemed like he just got out of bed and walked out to a press conference. There wasn't much fire there. Huckabee's got something going.
SHEINKOPF: Huckabee is hurting McCain by his very prescience every day because he is making sure the fissions in that party remain very real and very raw and that's the problem.
DOBBS: What happened to the stories that Huckabee was really simply almost a surrogate, a stalking horse, if you will for McCain and they were big buddies?
RICHBURG: The idea he is going to be the running mate, we can drop that now. but one of the biggest victims of this have been the media. And the pundits have gotten it wrong. We said it was a two man race between Romney-McCain race. Remember that?
SHEINKOPF: This program, we never said that.
GOODWIN: We never said it here.
SHEINKOPF: Lou never said it.
RICHBURG: This also hurts Obama because you have the open primaries in Texas and Ohio. The independents might go in and vote for McCain and not switch over to vote for Obama.
DOBBS: Obama hit a home run this weekend. He is knocking them over what is Hillary Clinton going to have to do or can she did? Is this an irresistible force, this Obama candidacy?
SHEINKOPF: Two problems here, young voters never calculated belief that they would not show up the first time and they certainly wouldn't show up for the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth times. That is part of problem. The war is not the issue. It's the economy. And Barack Obama has energy and in times of crisis people tend to look to more charismatic figures. Note in American history during the depression we had charismatic movements and moments.
DOBBS: We have a momentum of some kind here, a moment of where we watch a democratic party controlling the house and the senate. And base of war and the call for change and this leadership is frustrated everyone and there's no question the republican leadership, it's frustrated everyone, almost. What standing does it give these candidates, these democratic candidates in this example? Are they going to be hurt by the fact the democrats have done very little if anything in congress? Are they hurt by the fact they're suddenly just ignoring the war in Iraq? These are sort of stealth candidates in a way as they seemingly try to move through the issues without taking a position.
GOODWIN: One of the problems I think that the democrats in congress are having is that they have having is they run on anything. It was basically an anti-Bush campaign. What happens this fall? Without specific, you don't have a man date and without a mandate, you don't have the public behind you.
DOBBS: We are going to come back, and first if I may, Congressman Tom Lantos, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has died of cancer. The California democrat, a Holocaust survivor died earlier today of cancer. Congressman Lantos recently appeared on the program after making a controversial trip to Damascus. The Hungarian born Lantos, he had the guts to do exactly what he thought was the right thing to do. He called himself an American by choice, came to the United States and survived a Nazi labor camp. Congressman Tom Lantos, 80 years old.
DOBBS: I'm back with Michael Goodwin, Hank Sheinkopf, Keith Richburg. Keith, Potomac primaries, I love that, tomorrow.
RICHBURG: I think the "Washington Post" came up with that name.
DOBBS: I'm sure you came up with that.
RICHBURG: It's a great name. It's looking pretty good for Obama. You know we don't to predict these but he is very strong. The demographics favor him obviously in D.C. He has the young popular mayor. Maryland, he's got a lot of demographic favorites.
DOBBS: Another bad day for Senator Clinton you're saying?
RICHBURG: She is hoping Virginia is able to bring a victory.
GOODWIN: The fact is though Lou that almost all these democratic states are apportioned according to your vote and congressional districts and so it's very hard (CROSSTALK) democrats don't like to reward winners too much.
DOBBS: Republicans obviously love to reward winners.
GOODWIN: But one of the results is going to be these super delegates. Nobody right now, neither Clinton or Obama can win a majority without counting on super delegates so however this comes out, the super delegates are going to decide.
DOBBS: In favor of whom?
GOODWIN: Well I mean they're going to break the tie. I think unless Obama has a clear lead, it's going to go to Clinton.
SHEINKOPF: Well let me put it a different way, if that's the case ...
DOBBS: And you notice that Michael left us with a problem of defining clear lead.
SHEINKOPF: If it appears that Barack Obama was denied in any way the ability to be the nominee because of some fix brought in by a super delegate of some kind and that isn't worked out before the fact, the Democrats will have a very, very serious, serious problem.
DOBBS: If they don't already. Because the frontrunner now emerging is basically -- you have two choices, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, in the Democratic Party -- both are defined as very liberal; Senator Obama the most liberal according to the "National Journal," in the U.S. Senate.
RICHBURG: Ultimately, the superdelegates, the party leaders, they are going to look at see who's got the best chance to win. Because if you just say it should be who gets the most popular votes, the most votes, what do you look at? Do you look at across the country? Do you look at the states she won -- New York, California -- which are larger? I mean, how do you do this?
GOODWIN: I think that's optimistic. I think there are no rules, so I think you may have 800 different ways of approaching this. That's how many superdelegates there are. There is no requirement that they look at anything other than what they want to do or the deal they made.
SHEINKOPF: No one expected it to be this way. I just hope as a Democrat, that gets decided without having (inaudible) all the superdelegates. It's not good for Democrats if that's the case.
DOBBS: Well, I will tell you, as an independent populist without a dog in this hunt, I'm delighted with the way this race is going.
SHEINKOPF: Michigan and Florida, it's going to come to that.
DOBBS: I can't wait for that. It gets better and better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be blood.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Hank, Michael, Keith, thank you very much.
And we want to give you the results of our poll here real quickly. 97 percent of you say we are witnessing the onset of a campaign now by corporate America and special interests to again start their push for amnesty and open borders.
Time now for one last email -- and by the way, we'll be watching that new push very carefully here. Vince in Pennsylvania said -- "Doesn't it tick you off that the idiot presidential candidates of either party are in favor of amnesty? No matter who wins, we lose."
Well, it's not entirely the case yet, but you're awfully close.
Each of you whose email is read here receives a copy of my new book, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit." Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow please. For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. CNN Election Center with John Roberts begins right now.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxantshop.com