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LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK

Outsourcing Defense; Border Security Lacking; Reviewing the Presidential Candidates; Examining the Trade Deficit

Aired March 9, 2008 - 19:00   ET

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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: Tonight: Seething anger on Capitol Hill over the Pentagon's decision to give a huge defense contract to Europe. We'll have the special report: Outsourcing Defense.
And: Our borders and ports are still not secure, five years after the government created the Department of Homeland Security.

We'll have all of that and much more, straight ahead tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK: News, debate, and opinion. Here now: Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Good evening, everybody.

Democrats tonight are struggling to end the deadlock over the Michigan and Florida primaries. Senator Clinton won both contests back in January. But the Democratic Party's national leadership says, those results don't count because local officials broke the rules.

Senators Obama and Clinton are now fighting for every single delegate. The outcome of this battle could influence who wins the Democratic nomination.

In a moment, three of the best political journalists anywhere will join us. But first: Bill Schneider has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Suppose the credentials committee decides to seek the Florida and Michigan delegations at the Democratic convention. Those delegates could put Hillary Clinton over the top. It sounds OK to her.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESDIENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that it would be a grave disservice to the voters of Florida and Michigan to adopt any process that would disenfranchise anyone. And, therefore, I am still committed to seating their delegations.

SCHNEIDER: Chairman Dean sees trouble.

HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We've got to play by the rules. If you don't have that, then half of the people in the Democratic Party whose candidate doesn't win this nomination are going to go away believing they've been cheated.

SCHNEIDER: He wants to avoid an angry split at the convention, possible walkouts by Barack Obama delegates. Republicans wouldn't mind that. The governor of Florida is a Republican.

GOV. CHARLIE CRIST, (R) FLORIDA: Ideally, we want the votes that were already cast to be counted. I mean, that's just the logical thing to do. On January the 29th, we had a record turnout.

SCHNEIDER: Well, yes. But there was something odd about the Florida and Michigan results. More Republicans than Democrats voted. In 24 of the 29 primaries that have already been held this year, the opposite was true. More Democrats voted. Apparently, a lot of Florida and Michigan Democrats stayed home because they were told the primary wouldn't count.

Now, Michigan and Florida are talking about holding new primaries. That costs money. Who's going to pay?

DEAN: We hope they can comply with the rules. But they're going to have to figure out how to pay for it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Howard Dean there, ending that report by Bill Schneider.

Bill joins me now for more on this showdown and all the campaign news along with two other members of the best political team on television: Dana Bash, who's with the McCain campaign, and Jessica Yellin, who's following the battle between Senators Clinton and Obama.

Welcome, everyone, to the program. First, Bill, how do we resolve this? Is there any simple solution?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, there is a simple solution. Well, maybe not so simple. Make a deal to settle the nomination before the convention. Then, it won't matter how Florida and Michigan vote or how they're seated. But who's going to do that and how it's going to happen, not so simple.

ROMANS: How likely would that be?

SCHNEIDER: Right now, it doesn't look too likely. But as this drags on and as it gets tougher and nastier, which is likely they do, there may be a hue and cry of from Democrats saying, let's get this thing resolved.

ROMANS: What it shows, Bill, I think, is that you are in a food fight here among the Democrats for every single delegate. Is that something that we could have possibly foreseen, you know, a year ago, six months ago, when some of these decisions were being made in the local level?

SCHNEIDER: No. That's why everybody moved their primaries up. They said: Who wants to hold a late primary?

Well now, if Michigan and Florida hold late primaries in June or July, they could actually determine who wins. Which I think is what they were trying to do in the first place.

ROMANS: Dana and Jessica, I want to turn to you guys and find out what the campaigns - or what they're saying on the campaign. Dana, what are you hearing?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I'm going covering Republicans and in one way, they're sitting back and they're saying: "Bring it on. Keep on fighting, bloody each other up, get as bloody as you possibly can, for Senator McCain to really face you that way, whomever you are, either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton for the fall.

On the other hand, what are we talking about? What did we talk about in the first couple of minutes here? The Democrats, not John McCain.

So, there is a struggle. The McCain campaign, already, they're seeing it. Senator McCain admitted himself: To keep in the narrative, to stay in the headlines, as this exciting, gripping story continues to take place between the Democrats.

ROMANS: Jessica, imagine political journalists across the country talking about making sure every vote counts in Florida. We've never heard something like that.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. It's like a flashback. I'll tell you, I've talked to people who are involved in these discussions and one of the things you hear is that the -- the presidential candidates are saying publicly, these are the Democrats, that they want this to be resolved. That they want to do whatever the Democratic National Party agrees to.

But one person who's involved in the talks in Michigan has told me that the campaigns are not being communicative with the actual people who are negotiating what will happen. They just don't know what the candidates want and this really can't move forward until they have full agreement from the candidates.

One of the big problems is who is going to pay for it all? $20 million for a redo in Florida, $10 million in Michigan: The state parties can't afford it. They have to find a way to pay if there will be a redo.

ROMANS: But Jessica, I guess, it goes all back to what I said earlier, which is that these two senators who are vying for the nomination for the Democrats are in such an absolutely tight race here.

YELLIN: It's enormously tight and one of the dangers the Democratic Party is running is that it will get so dirty and so bloody, that one of the candidates will be not in the best position to run against John McCain. Now, I have to say both parties, both campaigns are very conscious of this, saying they're doing their best not to say anything on the record that could be used against a candidate by John McCain. But, boy, are they inching close to that line. And they have a ways to go now where they have to keep their tempers cool, but still sharpen those contrasts.

ROMANS: I want to switch gears here and talk about the economy, because that is something that's going to play out on the campaign trail. Today, we got this news that the jobs market actually lost -- this economy (ph) lost jobs last month, for two months in a row and lost quite a few jobs. Things are looking pretty bleak there.

Bill, let me ask you. When we keep moving here month by month, we get closer to McCain and him getting a running mate and also finding a Democratic nominee. How important is stewardship of the economy going to be as we get closer to November?

SCHNEIDER: Absolutely crucial. The worse the economy gets or the worst people believe it's getting, the more it will matter as an issue. When the economy is bad, the economy is the issue. That's the rule.

When the economy is good, something else is the issue. But the economy is bad, it washes out all other issues. It always hurts the president's party, the incumbent party, even if, like this here, the president is not running for reelection. It will hurt the Republican Party.

And since almost every recession since the 1930s has happened under a Republican president, it is a devastating issue for Republicans. That's why Democrats are so frustrated. They think they're facing a tremendous victory here if only they could settle their nomination.

ROMANS: Dana, how does -- go ahead.

BASH: I was just going to say, Christine, John McCain knows that, knows exactly what Bill Schneider just said is 100 percent true. I was with him at a town hall on Friday here in Atlanta.

And when he said was that -- a voter asked him, you know, what do you think the top issue is? He said the economy. This is a man that's running on national security. That's his answer.

Of course, that was at a time when this jobs report, this new bleak job reports came out. He also admitted that, you know, that he said that the term recession is something that economists use. It doesn't really mean much to the average person.

But, he admitted: You know what? The economy is in a recession. And this is something that he understands is a fundamental huge challenge for him, especially because he also conceded, Christine, that he is an expert on national security, not so much on the economy. At least not as much on the economy, and he and his campaign, they're going to be coming out pretty soon, I think, with an economic plan in order to try to combat that, because they know, this could be a big problem for him.

ROMANS: And Jessica, among these two Democratic senators, Obama and Clinton, we know they have pages and pages of economic plans, you know, foreclosure freezes and all kinds of things. How do they make -- stand apart from each other and then use their -- use that to the advantage against whoever wins, against McCain later in the fall?

YELLIN: Well, look. For them, this is pure political opportunity. These numbers show in their view that the Bush policies have failed average Americans. They keep saying on the stump: "You don't need Washington to tell you we're in a recession. Americans already know that."

And what they will do, both of them, is to try to tie John McCain to George Bush as much as possible and say we'll have more George Bush economy if McCain is the president. This is exactly what they want to be campaigning on.

ROMANS: All right. Jessica Yellin, thank you so much, Dana Bash, also, Bill Schneider: some of the best political minds in television. Thank you so much everybody.

Still to come: Outrage over the Pentagon's decision to spend tens of billions of taxpayer dollars on European tanker aircraft.

Bill Tucker will have that report. Bill?

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, the idea of $40 billion worth of taxpayer money and the lost of thousands of jobs here in America isn't going over well with many in Congress, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you, Bill. We look forward to your report.

Also: Gaping holes in border and port security, more than six years after the 9/11 attacks. We'll have that special report.

And: Rising opposition to NAFTA, a treaty that has been a boon to big business, and a devastating blow to working men and women and their families. We'll have a special report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Lawmakers this week let the Air Force know how they feel about the outsourcing of its tanker aircraft contract. The Air Force gave European consortion, EADS the $40 billion deal. That leaves American aircraft workers out in the cold as Bill Tucker reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER (voice-over): The Air Force's decision to pass up Boeing and give its new aerial refueling tanker contract to European EADS with partner Northrop Grumman sparked anger and outrage in Congress.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY, (D) WASHINGTON: With this contract, we can say bon voyage to 44,000 United States jobs and bon voyage to $40 billion of our taxpayer money.

TUCKER: In the House Defense Appropriation Subcommittee, the Air Force tried to defend a decision that was indefensible in the opinion of many on the committee.

REP. TODD TIAHRT, (R) KANSAS: The American public is rightfully outraged by this decision. I'm outraced by this decision. It's outsourcing our national security.

REP. NORM DICKS, (D) WASHINGTON: This is a crown jewel of American technology. We are now giving away to the Europeans one of the most significant things we as a country can do and that is build these aerial tankers.

TUCKER: The point was made that the Airbus-built refueling tanker would only be assembled in Alabama. After the tail, fuse lodge and wings were all built in Europe by a company which is subsidized by European governments. The Air Force by law couldn't answer all of the questions because the bidders haven't been fully briefed, further aggravating committee members. But they did have an answer to the concerns about the contract going to a foreign company.

SUE PAYTON, ASST. SECY. OF AIR FORCE: I view Northrop Grumman as an American company. I view General Electric who has jobs from this, in Ohio and North Carolina as an American company.

TUCKER: General Electric will build the engines for the tanker. Not a good enough answer for one of the congressmen who's posted a petition on his Web site against the deal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(on camera): Now, committee members were also not shy to note that this contract rewards countries who did not support us in Iraq, mainly France and Germany. And the question that absolutely baffled most of the committee members is: Why the Air Force would award a contract to the parent of a company Airbus for which we are suing for being in violation of trade policies under the World Trade Organization? It just doesn't make sense.

ROMANS: OK. Let me ask you about the number of jobs we're talking about here. How many jobs would have been created if this could have gone to Boeing? How many will be created in this country? And I know that the press in Europe, they're all talking about how we're not going to lose any jobs here.

TUCKER: Oh, you know, it is amazing. The difference in dialogue is amazing. First, Airbus is out in Europe, the day this contract was awarded, saying it will not cost a single job in Europe. And they took great pride in that. Whereas supporters here thought that was OK. It's part of globalization, Christine, that we would give away the jobs, give away the military technology.

As for claims, Boeing says that if they had won the contract, 44,000 jobs would have been created in the States. EADS has said, 25,000 jobs will be created as a result of it getting the contract here in the United States. So, we're a net loser any way you want to look at it.

ROMANS: And we know from the jobs report earlier this week that indeed, every single job matters here at this point, especially in manufacturing.

TUCKER: Exactly.

ROMANS: All right, Bill Tucker. Thanks you so much, Bill.

American aerospace workers and their unions are up in arms over the Air Force decision. Lou sat down with one leading union official. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, they are absolutely outraged over this idiotic Air Force tanker deal. The union represents almost 40,000 Boeing employees. Tom Buffenbarger is the international president of the union and he joins us tonight.

Tom, thanks for being here. I know that you've been working hard with your union, your membership. I assume you've been lobbying at the Air Force, the Department of Defense. How in the world could something like this happen?

TOM BUFFENBARGER, MACHINIST AND AEROSPACE WORKERS ASSN.: Lou, I'm as baffled as anybody, that we could allow a procurement officer in the Air Force to give away $40 billion of U.S. taxpayer money to a company headquartered in Toulouse, France, a nation that's an erstwhile ally, at best.

I think many of us remember we made fun of freedom fries just a few years ago when we entered the conflict in Iraq. How we could turn over the crown jewel of support for our nation's Air Force to foreign manufacturer is beyond me. And everybody in America needs to be outraged about this.

DOBBS: Well, I couldn't agree with you more, and yet, across America right now, people are sort of breathing in and breathing out over this issue, going, well, what's the big deal? You know, the worker just got screwed again, this time by the government, to whom they're paying taxes, to one of its most illustrious service branches represented by that assistant secretary with the -- frankly, I find the arrogance to respond to a United States Congressional hearing in the way in which she did, asking whether or not, you know, General Electric is an American company, United Technologies.

What in the world is going on that this could happen?

BUFFENBARGER: What's going on, Lou, is the transfer of American technology and with it, the American jobs to foreign nations under the guise of -- you know, this is really, Lou, an economic deal. It's the military industrial complex at its worst. Remember President Eisenhower...

DOBBS: Oh, sure.

BUFFENBARGER: ... warned us about this.

DOBBS: Well, he warned us, but you know, Tom, I've got to be honest, we've had some warnings about unions. We've had warnings about lots of things, but what's going on flat in our face is we're being told by this administration, this government, this Congress, that the American worker can go to hell. What in the world is it going to take to say, you know, work in this country should be respected, it should be valued and the people who work day in and day out and raise families, by God, are going to be the primary focus of what we do in public policy? BUFFENBARGER: Lou, I couldn't agree more. Jobs are part of our national defense. Jobs are part of our economy and our future. All good things in America begin with a good job. And if we start giving and continue to giving those good jobs away to the rest of the world without taking any consideration what it's doing to hollow out our great country, something is wrong, and there's going to have to be a revolution, Lou.

Whether it's a revolution at the ballot box or where, I don't know. But the people of America have to start contacting their elected leaders and screaming about this. This is wrong to steal the jobs, the hopes and the futures of American workers and give it away to nations around the world.

We built this country, Lou. We built it and we're proud of it and we love it. And what's happening at the hands of our government and the hands of the corporations is just plain wrong. And, you know, we're going to fight. We're going to take this on tooth and nail and get this decision turned around.

And we're going to see that America gets what it deserves in the form of economic justice and fairness for American workers.

DOBBS: Well, that would be a refreshing about-face over the course of the past quarter century in this country. Tom Buffenbarger, thank you for being here.

BUFFENBARGER: Thank you. It's been a pleasure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: There are new attacks on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement over its impact on our embattled middle class. The Democratic presidential candidates say the treaty is unfair to some American workers. And lawmakers from Mexico, Canada and the U.S. say the treaty favors big business and hurts workers in all three countries.

Louise Schiavone reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heard on the campaign trail: renegotiate NAFTA.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have said repeatedly that I believe that NAFTA needs to be modified.

SCHIAVONE: That amid mounting concerns that the North American Free Trade Agreement has been a losing proposition for American workers and a windfall for transnational agriculture giants.

JEFF FAUX, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: This was a deal between the rich and powerful of all three countries leaving the ordinary people of all three countries out. SCHIAVONE: That's the consensus among U.S., Mexican and Canadian academics and farm industry representatives meeting at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Most opposed NAFTA.

KAREN PEDERSON, NATIONAL FARMERS UNION, CANADA: Those agri-business corporations are making record profits. And they're doing it on our backs.

SCHIAVONE: Said one of those giants, Tyson Foods, quote, "These comments are absurd since our company just returned to profitability after a net loss of $196 million in 2006."

U.S. trade representative Susan Schwab says, in an era of turmoil in other sectors like housing, NAFTA and trade in general has been good for Americans.

SUSAN SCHWAB, U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: Exports really are a shining picture in the economy. Last year, 40 percent of U.S. economic growth was attributable to our growth in exports.

SCHIAVONE: But the figures show that the U.S. has some catching up to do, importing globally last year $1.9 trillion in goods while exports hit $1.16 trillion, a third of which go to Mexico and Canada. The Commerce Department notes between 1994 and 2007, the U.S. registered a net gain of 25 million jobs and a 4 percent growth in manufacturing every year. Nonetheless, last year's trade deficit hit $711.6 billion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIAVONE: Christine, exit polling from the March 4th primaries found that most voters believe that U.S. trade with other countries does indeed cost U.S. jobs. The view held most strongly in Ohio where 80 percent said that trade loses jobs. Christine?

SCHIAVONE: All right, Louise Schiavone in Washington. Thank you, Louise.

Up next: Five years after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the government still hasn't secured our borders and ports. We'll have a special report.

And: Which one of the presidential candidates is best qualified to be commander in chief? Three former U.S. generals tell us what they think.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: New charges that the Department of Homeland Security is failing to secure our nation's borders and ports. A government watchdog told a House committee there has been some improvement, but the Department of Homeland Security has mostly failed to implement measures aimed at safeguarding the public.

Casey Wian has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Government Accountability Office reports to Congress that the Bush administration has improved border security but challenges remain.

RICHARD STANA, GOV'T ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: Vulnerabilities still exists and additional actions are required to address them.

WIAN: Five years after its creation, lawmakers are losing patience with the Department of Homeland Security.

REP. HAROLD ROGERS, (R) KENTUCKY: So, there's no more excuses. We all know the stakes. You know our expectations. It's time to succeed where others have failed.

WIAN: Failures are still plaguing the Customs and Border Protection according to the GAO include weaknesses in travel inspection procedures have hampered the CBP's ability to inspect travelers thoroughly and detect fraudulent documents. Also, despite spending $250 million, Homeland Security still hasn't demonstrated how it will verify that travelers have left the country.

And though there is, quote, "Fairly pervasive fraud" in the use of temporary border-crossing cards for Mexican citizens, officers at ports of entry were not able to use the available fingerprint records of BCC holders to confirm the identity of travelers.

Then, there's the border fence.

ROGERS: Bottom line, can you meet the deadline we've set for you on building the fence and the virtual fence for the end of the year?

GREG GIDDENS, EXEC. DIR., SECURE BORDER INITIATIVE: By the end of the year, we are on track for the 370 miles of pedestrian fence and 300 miles of the vehicle fence. And on the technology side, we'll be in a production mode that we'll have the configuration of operation capability ready to move forward.

WIAN: Even border security progress has brought challenges.

RALPH BASHAM, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION COMM: Our success is putting pressure on smugglers of illegal aliens and drugs. Since 2001, the number of assaults on Border Patrol agents has tripled. The bad guys will adapt, and we must also adapt.

WIAN: The report also disclosed: Border Patrol officials are concerned about their ability to provide sufficient field training for 6,000 new agents.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: To paraphrase Congressman Rogers, lawmakers have appropriated billions of dollars to secure the border and held countless hearings on border security. Now, he says, it's time to get the job done. The Customs and Border Protection spokesman says, the agency is working urgently to address the issues raised in GAO report. Christine? ROMANS: So, Casey, why aren't they getting the job done? I mean, what are the excuses here: A relatively young agency after creation of Department of Homeland Security, integrating different corporate cultures? I mean, what is the holdup?

WIAN: All of those things and more. One of the big problems that's cited in the report is the lack of personnel to inspect people coming across our borders. You know, lack of communication that virtual fence we've heard so much about. They didn't even talk to the Border Patrol agents who would actually be using the fence, to get their input on how best it would work for them.

So, there are a lot of different problems. In fairness to Customs and Border Protection, they say things are getting better and they're working hard to trying to fix them, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Casey Wian. Thank you very much, Casey.

Time now for some of your thoughts: Lenny in Iowa: "Lou, if the government wants to give away jobs, why doesn't it start with government jobs?" Armena in Texas: "Lou, I am proud to say that I'm 16 and I love to watch LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. Keep up the good work."

Each of you whose e-mail is read here will receive a copy of Lou's new book, "Independence Day" and remember to catch Lou's new radio show every weekday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. You can log on to LouDobbs.com to find local listings to the Lou Dobbs show on the radio.

Lenny and Armena, check it out.

Coming up: Which presidential candidate would be the best commander in chief? Lou will ask three leading retired generals about the candidates they support.

Also: Two highly regarded religious leaders from opposite ends of the political spectrum will be here to discuss religion and the presidential campaign.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: The war in Iraq remains one of the leading issues in this presidential campaign. Earlier, Lou talked with three former generals, each one supporting a different presidential candidate. General Paul Eaton, supporting Senator Hillary Clinton. General Scott Gration, supporting Senator Barack Obama. And General David Grange, supporting John McCain. Lou asked General Eaton why he's supporting Senator Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAJ. GEN. PAUL EATON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, the first part, I had to admit that the last administration, the current administration here, the republican party, has prosecuted this war with such great incompetence that I could not possibly align with a republican candidate, which put me into the democratic field. A great field this time, by the way. And when you boil it down to the two remaining, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, Senator Clinton, the weight of her experience, 35 years. She is prepared to execute right now. Senator Obama if he were here would say, but she voted for this war.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS SHOW": She voted to -- you know if you're the --

EATON: I understand the distinction. If you want to tie the military arm behind the back of the president, that's a bad idea. And she did what I would have done and a lot of other people in fact did. And you've heard that -- that it was for the war. It wasn't for the war. It was an authorization for the use of military force.

DOBBS: I abide by the distinction and apologize for the shortness. You're quite right. General Gration, what are the reasons for your support of Senator Obama?

MAJ. GEN. SCOTT GRATION, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): I'm supporting Senator Obama because I believe he has the right experience. Experience is really an indicator of how much time and how much insight and how much judgment do you have? And when you come right down to it, Senator Obama has had the right experience that has given him the ability to have insight. The ability to make the proper judgments. And we saw it in the 2002 decision where he said this would be a war of undetermined cost and undetermined length and consequences. We've seen it in other decisions that he's made. Talking to our friends as well as our enemies with proper preparation. The use of nuclear weapons against --

DOBBS: Well, if I understand you correctly, I think Senator Clinton if she were here might point out that you're saying six years of experience is sufficient.

GRATION: No, I'm saying he's had experiences that go back his entire life. That his growing up understanding other cultures has been an important piece. And I think his experience as a community organizer, his experience in the senate in Illinois are very positive experiences that have contributed to his judgment.

DOBBS: All right. General Dave Grange, your candidate has, I would think, a considerable advantage on life experience.

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, he does have the experience. And I believe -- agree with Paul that if you look back, especially in the years when Paul served in Iraq, there were a lot of mistakes made. No fault to Paul. But they were mistakes made. And I would say right now that their strategy is working and that's Senator McCain's position, that we are now support that effort if we're there to win, which I hope as Americans we are, we ought to support him in that effort. And that this sustainment of this effort is necessary. And he has the experience to -- to carry it through.

DOBBS: Yeah. Does it bother you, General Gration, that Senator Obama has not held a single oversight committee in Afghanistan? Isn't that his responsibility as -- has been his post for 13 months by his charge while criticizing the conduct of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan? Does that bother you?

GRATION: No, it doesn't. I don't know all the reasons why he hasn't held one, but I do know that he's been very active on the campaign and he's been - and his committees have been looking at this. I know that Senator Kerry cares.

DOBBS: But it doesn't bother you that he didn't call a single oversight hearing as the leader of that committee for 13 months.

GRATION: No, because I've been looking at all the things he has done. When I take a look at -- first of all his deep respect for our military and admiration for our military and I see what he's done for our wounded warriors. What he's doing for the --

DOBBS: What are you saying? Are you saying that his respect and attention to our wounded warriors is greater than that of either Senator Clinton or Senator McCain?

GRATION: No, I'm not saying that but I'm saying that there is demonstrations that number one he's going to use our forces in an appropriate way. Number two, he's going to take care of the military and the honors of the sacred trust that America has with the men and women in uniform. This is very important. We need somebody who has the judgment to use our forces correctly and we need somebody who will take care of our forces. And right now, to be honest with you, they're very tired. They're exhausted. And we need a break so that we can rebuild, retool, and get ready for other contingencies around the world.

EATON: The point of that subcommittee really is to unweight our troops in Afghanistan and to put pressure upon Europe, to get NATO to cough up the additional forces to support our guys in Afghanistan.

DOBBS: Senator Clinton's prescription for a remedy in Iraq, it is -- is it substantial enough to warrant serious consideration?

EATON: Senator Clinton clearly understands the value of soft power. And what has been truly absent under this republican administration is the State Department and the rest of national power, economic power, to bring to bear on the problem in Iraq.

DOBBS: Senator McCain's success depends on the success of the surge. Is that correct, General Grange?

GRANGE: Well, that and also if you take the other candidates, they're talking about using the United Nations to take more of a lead. They've already left Iraq. They're not dependable. And then to find Al Qaeda, Senator Obama's plan, he'd continue the effort to go after Al Qaeda in Iraq. You can't do that if you don't secure the neighborhoods where they hide. So I don't understand how you can do this piecemeal. I would say forget the last administration. We're voting for who is going to take the country forward and win this thing and I understand about giving the troops rest and taking care of the equipment. But you've got to do that after you win. DOBBS: Yes. And I guess you have to consider when you can win if your army is broken. One of the many questions we have to face and one of the questions that each of these candidates will have to, one hopes, be a part of the resolution. General Paul Eaton, thank you very much for being with us today. General Gration, thank you very much. General Grange, thank you.

GRANGE: My pleasure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Coming up, god and politics in this presidential campaign. Lou will talk to two highly-regarded religious leaders about the role of faith in politics.

The contests between Senators Obama and Clinton turns nastier and nastier. Are democrats on the road to self-destruction? We'll hear from three of the nation's leading political analyst. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Two highly-regarded religious leaders from opposite sides of the political spectrum, in fact. Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Counsel. It's good to have you with us. And Bishop Harry Jackson, the chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition. Good to have you with us.

BISHOP HARRY JACKSON, CHAIRMAN, HIGH IMPACT LEADERSHIP COALITISON: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: You guys have written a terrific book. A very important new book. It's called "Personal Faith Public Policy." And both obviously here to talk about the book, the role of religion, and this presidential campaign and indeed our society. Let me talk first with you, Bishop. The idea of coming together here, would you describe yourselves as evangelicals?

JACKSON: Absolutely. We are evangelicals who believe in a born-again experience. But we also believe that the Bible is god's final authority on what we should think and how we should act in the world today.

DOBBS: And so you're devout right-wing republicans then as a result, is that correct?

JACKSON: That is not correct.

DOBBS: Opss.

JACKSON: One thing that we had to say in the opening chapters of the book is that perhaps the evangelical movement has erred in being too closely associated with one party. We need to be a conscience to the entire nation based on what the scriptures say and we have to be advocates, I should say, of a position that would honor and elevate the scriptures and empower people. DOBBS: This book, I've -- if I may, I just want to share this. I think this is one of the most interesting covers. I'm going to say this. I'm very serious about this. Seven urgent issues that we as people of faith must come together and solve in focusing the value of life, immigration, poverty and justice, racial reconciliation, religious liberties, rebuilding the family, rebuilding the family. We know what that's about. We've got to be against gay marriage because that threatens heterosexual families. You know, all of the pressures against the family in this country.

TONY PERKINS, CO-AUTHOR, "PERSONAL FAITH PUBLIC POLICY": We take it a step further and this is not a prescription just for politicians. This is to prod the people in the pews to be a part of solving some of those pressing issues facing our nation. And it's personal responsibility. We start, for instance, let's take the issue of poverty. We take on that issue here because we believe it's a real issue in our society and it should be addressed. But it begins as individuals and working. And I don't think -- and Bishop agrees, that the socially conservative Christians have not done a good enough job in letting people know that we actually care about those issues and we're doing something about them.

JACKSON: It's a positive book. You mentioned about being anti-gay marriage. Thank kind of thing.

DIBBS: Well, I was being facetious. So many people in this country right now think of the right-wing evangelical as the greatest threat to heterosexual marriage in this country is gay marriage. As I've said many times in this broadcast, I can't figure out the physics of that one. And the reality is, I mean, the family is so precious our society.

JACKSON: That's it.

DOBBS: And I'm delighted that you're focusing on it.

PERKINS: And it takes us back to the personal responsibility, down to the very level of people's individual marriages and what fathers should be doing for their children. Harry and I come from very different backgrounds. And so what this -- what Harry described in the beginning is that what we do is we use as Christians, we believe the scripture is actually unifying. It's not divisive. It's not dividing but it unifies us and it brings us together where we put aside our personal preferences and we come to what we believe are some policy solutions, personal solutions for some of the most pressing issues in our nation.

DOBBS: The presidential campaign, how is it playing out for you? God and politics here as we wrap up.

JACKSON: Well, I think that both sides need a message that they can deliver to the people of faith. Right now, a 60 million-person voter block may decide who becomes the next president. Are they hearing things that would encourage them? What do you think, Tony?

PERKINS: I think it's very important that the political establishment, the candidates know that there are people of faith out there that are motivated not by party establishments and party affiliations, but rather by the commitment to the issues and the values. And we're seeing that increasingly among socially conservative republican leaning are moving away from their allegiance to the party and unless the candidates reach out and assure them they care about those issues, they're not going have to that support.

DOBBS: You're not saying evangelicals are becoming independents?

PERKINS: They're moving closer to being those Lou Dobbs' independents.

DOBBS: Yay! I may not be the most religious fellow in the country, but to that I can say hallelujah. And I can say also that this book -- and let me show this one more time. When I say this, this book is written in such a way as - whether you're evangelical or you're a single mother trying to deal with life's challenges and putting it so gently for the brutal force that is striking so many young people trying to get through this, it's a very important book. I can recommend it too highly. "Personal Faith Public Policy," Harry Jackson, Tony Perkins, two great Americans, two great soldiers in the war for truth. It's kind of nice to step away from ideology and partisan politics. You gentlemen have certainly made me happy. I appreciate you being with us.

JACKSON: Thanks, Lou.

PERKINS: Thanks.

ROMANS: Up next, will the democrats showdown over convention delegates lead to new primaries in Michigan and Florida? Three of the best political analysts in the country join me next. For more on those stories and other campaign issues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Joining me now, CNN contributor Hank Sheinkopf, democratic strategist; Errol Louis, a columnist for the "New York Daily News" and a CNN contributor; and Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow Push Coalition. He joins us from Chicago. Reverend Jackson, thank you for joining us. Everybody, let's talk first about what is, I guess, a food fight for delegates down to the very last delegate. How are we going to resolve or how is the party and the political process going to resolve what's happening with Florida and Ohio? Errol.

ERROL LOUIS, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": With Michigan. I think there's going to be a strong push to get them both seated and possibly by having redone elections that would be paid for by the respective states. That's a little controversial. None of this makes the democrats look particularly smart. But that looks like the kind of compromise that both sides will be a little bit happy with and a little bit unhappy with. The idea being to sort of get off the table this question about whether or not over 1 million people came out and voted in vain for democratic candidates. HANK SHEINKOPF, CNN, CONTRIBUTOR: The democrats have no option but to run these races again, this time count them, make sure the rules fit. Why? Because if they don't, both sides in the democratic primary contest for president will feel that they have not been treated fairly. It's even worse if Barack Obama appears that he's not getting a square deal. Because if that's the case, the democratic party will have long-term problems.

ROMANS: Let's talk about Reverend Jackson what this means for the democratic party. I mean, how does it look? Those critics within the party and outside the party have said that you know it makes them look like kind of their own worse enemies.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: Well, you have three options. One is the written rules that lock out two million people who did vote. The other is let the Michigan delegation sit ceremoniously. figure out some revote process, where the states are willing to fund it or the candidates willing to do it. But I tell you, locking two million people out is high risk. And just how the candidates work out a common agreement is their challenge. If they do it between now and June, it can -- be resolved. If not, and then it will be a train wreck.

ROMANS: Let's talk about Ohio and Texas. You just made a very good point in the break before I came to you that the Iowa caucuses were seven weeks ago and with seven weeks -- I mean this is playing out now day by -- it feels like Texas and Ohio were ages ago to me.

JACKSON: Sure.

ROMANS: So much has happened since then.

LOUIS: Well, it's really interesting. Control of the calendar or the perception of the electoral calendar is actually an important political tool that both sides are trying to use to their advantage. For example, the Clinton camp is saying, well, Pennsylvania is the next big stop which conveniently overlooks Wyoming this weekend, Mississippi on Tuesday, North Carolina hasn't gone yet. And those are states where Obama is expected to do well. So, you know, rather than I think let the candidates dictate it, we in the media should probably be doing more to sort of lay out that, you know, this is a process. There's still going to be this slow accumulation by both sides of delegates. Nobody wins all of the states' delegates. They're splitting them all up. And then this big ugly question that's hanging out there. What to do when neither candidate can possibly get to 2,025, the required magic number. How do we -- how does the party figure out how to get them to that number?

SHEINKOPF: Now we know what combat feels like. Every day is a new drudgery and everything goes on and on and on. And no one's paying attention if where the state of Pennsylvania, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania is really about. Normally, the western Pennsylvania portion is more significant in terms of voting ratio. Pittsburgh. But now the action shifts easily in this particular contest. Lots of African-Americans in the city of Philadelphia, and they're going to be hotly contested and fought a over. ROMANS: Do you think, I mean, some people within the party still talk about the dream ticket. You know, that they shouldn't carve each other up too much on the campaign trail because maybe these two together are something special. Is that just, you know, pie in the sky among people in the party or is that even remotely a possibility?

SHEINKOPF: Dream when you're feeling blue. It's a great old line from an old song. And that's kind of what's going on. What Hillary Clinton did this week, Senator Clinton very smartly put it out there. Why? If someone says no, and that someone being the Barack Obama campaign, they look kind of amateurish - for lack of a better word. That's not a good position to be in. It also helps to emphasize her gender issues. Why? Because it shows she's willing to compromise, woman compromise strong versus Barack Obama who is not necessarily not so helpful.

ROMANS: Reverend Jackson, what do you think about that?

JACKSON: Well, you know, I have one eye on -- on reconciliation and one eye on competition. These remaining campaigns will determine the primary votes window of -- plus that Florida and Michigan situation. But this is the playoff game. The real super bowl is in November and of course, in '68, when Humphrey and Johnson could not reconcile, it enabled Nixon through. And sometimes in 1980 when Kennedy could not embrace Jimmy Carter won that contest, and he helped Reagan so that the burden upon Senator Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is to keep one strong eye while competing on the issues and reconciliation and the big super bowl in November. But let me say this please. This weekend more than three years ago, the march across the bridge in Alabama fought the right to vote. And during that period, 43 years ago, (inaudible) killed a white mother. Jamie Lee Jackson was killed. (inaudible) All these terror about the right to vote. Here, 43 years later, Hillary and Barack as conduits for a new America. So the hope that we've realized is that we cannot lose the sheer hope expansion and new possibilities.

LOUIS: And Reverend Jackson is right. It's a high point in American political history. Sort of a turning point in a lot of ways. Unfortunately what we've gotten in this gritty political campaign is a situation where neither campaign seemed to be willing to rise anywhere near those heights and try to push the country in that direction. I don't think there will be a dream ticket. I don't think either candidate wants the baggage that the other brings.

ROMANS: OK. We're going to talk more about this right after the break. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. Joining me, Hank Sheinkopf, Errol Louis and Jesse Jackson. I want to start of course with the economy, gentlemen. Because we learned at the end of the week that the economy lost jobs in February after losing jobs in January after creating very few jobs in December. The president issued a brief statement saying that he recognizes that there is pain in the economy, but the good news is that they expected it and there's a stimulus package coming. How does the economy and what's happening complicate what's happening on the campaign trail and complicate it for the rest of this year for the president?

LOUIS: I don't know if it complicates things. I think it makes it simple. I mean, it makes very clear for everyone dealing with national politics whether as a candidate or an incumbent in the case of Bush.

ROMANS: But does this have the issue?

LOUIS: But this is the issue. This is the issue and it is linked to Iraq. A lot of times you get this kind of false duality. Well, are voters more concerned about foreign policy, national security or they're more concerned about the economy? If this nation is spending $10 billion a month indefinitely, on this Iraq adventure. That's part of your answer as to why jobs are dipping, investment is not where it should be, the sub prime mortgage crisis has taken away a lot of the security that people could fall back on in the way of home equity. So, you know, you a full-scale disaster that's unraveling. Everyone including the Fed chief has acknowledged this. And yet you get a White House that's curiously in denial and we've got six months until we get a new president.

ROMANS: It was the middle of December when the president said there were storm clouds in the economy. Much of last year he was on record saying the economy was strong, the underpinnings were good. So, it's been quite recently that he's acknowledged this. Part of that is you've got to be the cheerleader in chief. You can't walk up the microphone and say we're in big trouble.

SHEINKOPF: Welcome to the real world. Well, look it's a perfect negative campaign commercial. He says, well we expected it. Thousands of job loss then he shakes hands with John McCain. Good night, McCain. That's the issue.

ROMANS: Quickly, Reverend Jackson, I know you've done a lot of work on the mortgage crisis, the sub prime crisis.

JACKSON: Well, I kept saying that the issue has been driven by the home foreclosure crisis. Mr. Bush offers an economic stimulus with some tax certificates to buy some product made from China in Wal-mart and it has nothing to do with some intervention that will stop foreclosure and to choose reconstruction loans and not repossession of homes. This is a huge snap bleeding of course the entire economy. And it's driven in part by the banks being unregulated, without transparency and homeowners not being protected by federal lending laws. So, I think what (inaudible) and Mr. Bush's own track.

ROMANS: All right. We're going to be talking about the economy for many, many weeks to come, gentlemen. Thank you so much for joining us, Reverend Jackson, Errol Louis, Hank Sheinkopf. Thank you, all three of you.

And thank you for joining us. Please join us tomorrow. For all of us, thanks for watching.

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