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CNN NEWSROOM

Is Bill Clinton Questioning Obama's Patriotism?; Richardson Endorses Obama

Aired March 22, 2008 - 22:00   ET

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


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Unimaginably scary for us mere mortals on earth. Walking in space. It's happening now. You'll see the breath-taking video as it comes in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who love this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: What did he mean by that? Is he questioning Barack Obama's patriotism?

A candidate for president confronting America's imperfections? Too bold? Or is it about time? And did Obama's speech lead to this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL RICHARDSON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I am very proud today to endorse your candidacy for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: A huge Hispanic endorsement. Will it turn the Hispanic tide for Barack Obama?

And sex for a green card? We'll tell you the shocking allegations. The weekend run-down starts now.

Hello again, everybody, I'm Rick Sanchez. I want you to take a look at these pictures that are coming in to us live from literally outer space. This is like something right out of a James Bond flick.

Imagine being tethered to a life support, floating weightless in the middle of nowhere. See that live word that we have at the very top there? That's exactly what this is. This is a live signal that is coming in from outer space.

Roger, let's go ahead and dip into this if we can. See what we can hear.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (OFF-MIKE) sixteenth of an inch delineation at the air. SANCHEZ: All right, that's Michael Foreman and Bob Behnken of the Space Shuttle "Endeavour." And they're involved in a spacewalk right now where they're trying to correct some of the arms that are used by NASA.

Here's what's interesting about this. As you watch this, the spacewalk, we've seen them a million times but we've been doing some research tonight. We're going to be talking to some officials with NASA who will explain to you in detail how difficult it is to do a spacewalk like this one.

How these guys have to be trained to not make any sudden moves and how it's really all about balance up in space. That's what they're up against. Again, we will continue to dip into these pictures. We will bring in some experts from NASA. And we will follow this and monitor it throughout this newscast.

All right now, politics tonight. Clinton versus Obama. It's happened again. Another heated exchange between camps that has one side accusing the other of McCarthyist tactics. Ouch. Here's how it begins. Listen to this speech by Bill Clinton and how he describes the former first lady and John McCain. Then ask yourself, what does this have to do with Barack Obama?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CLINTON: John McCain is an honorable man and as all of you know, he has paid the highest price you can pay for the United States, short of giving your life. And he and Hillary are friends. They like and respect each other. They have big disagreements on foreign policy and economic policy. They have taken reluctant Republican senators all over the world to prove that global warming is real. But there is a way to deal with it that grows the economy and doesn't shrink it.

And we now have a bipartisan majority in the Senate to do something about this. That's the kind of leadership this country needs. And I think it would be a great thing if we had an election where you had two people who love this country, were devoted to the interests of the country, and people could actually ask themselves who's right on these issues. Instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: It would be great if you had two people, he says, who love this country. Now, an Obama aide is calling that McCarthyism. Now, was it? Here's our panel.

Frank Ski says it's like it is on his "Morning Drive" show. We're going to expect to hear the same for few whom is here tonight. Martha Zoller does the same on "Right Talk Radio." She is ready to go. And so is Rocio Woody. She's a past president of a local league of women voters and a member of Latino Women of Georgia.

My thanks to all of you for being here. Was Bill Clinton implying something hicky (ph) about Barack Obama when he said this about his wife and John McCain?

MARTHA ZOLLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think he was -- you know, I love watching this, quite frankly. I mean, this is so much fun to watch all of this craziness back and forth. But I think that he wants to see a matchup between his wife and whoever the Republican nominee is.

He said that was going to be the most civil campaign a few months ago. He doesn't want Barack Obama to get the nomination. I don't think it was McCarthyism. I think that goes a little too far. And in anyway, McCarthy turned out to be right. There were communists in the government.

SANCHEZ: Two people who would be good Americans, Frank?

FRANK SKI, FRANK SKI MORNING SHOW: You know, I think it's directly related to Barack Obama. I think at this particular point in order for his wife to even get in.

SANCHEZ: So it was a swipe at Barack Obama?

SKI: Absolutely, because in order for his wife to get in, Barack has to go down in the numbers or at least in the views of Americans.

SANCHEZ: You're saying mathematically she can't win right now, at least without super delegates?

ZOLLER: She cannot win.

SKI: Not now, she cannot win, no. So this is the only way. So by them to show a full force for her coming up in Pennsylvania and the rest of the states, I think this is what he had to do. But I think it was a really low blow.

SANCHEZ: Isn't this also a problem for the Clintons? Aren't they to a certain extent aligning themselves to an old guard by putting themselves only and exclusively with John McCain?

Rocio?

ROCIO WOODY, LATINO WOMEN OF GEORGIA: Well, I think that now, anything that the Clintons will say will be taken against Barack Obama or it will be misrepresented really. Just anything that they might say. So I didn't take it as he was saying specifically, you know, this is, you know...

SANCHEZ: But Bill Clinton is a really smart guy. Isn't he?

SKI: Yes.

SANCHEZ: Do you think...

ZOLLER: He knows exactly what he's saying.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Do you think Bill Clinton says things...

ZOLLER: This is something you and I agree on. He knows exactly what he's doing.

SKI: I think -- yes. I think Bill Clinton knows exactly what he's doing. He's the elder statesman here. He's the one who has been there. He's been through the fight before. He's been through the ups and downs. He's been through the controversy. He's been through every situation you can ever go through.

ZOLLER: Look, he's coming back now because Barack Obama is perceived to be wounded right now. OK? He's perceived to be wounded and the last time he looked, Barack Obama looked bad, was when he sort of was whining about the fact having to run against both of them. And he took a little dip in the polls then because he did that. And I'm not saying he looks bad now but he's wounded in their eyes and they're going in for the kill.

SANCHEZ: So wait let's get this on the table. You're saying that those words were carefully chosen. He knew exactly what the implication was and he knew coming out of the Jeremiah Wright's speech that Barack Obama had to defend himself, again he would be sending a message to Americans, this guy may not be as patriotic and as American as my wife Hillary Clinton?

ZOLLER: Or normal, you know.

SANCHEZ: But do you think that was what he was doing? Frank, do you think that was what he was doing?

SKI: Well, I think the problem, the hypocrisy with America is in the whole word of patriotism to begin with. What is being patriotic? I mean, absolutely, this country was built upon people disagreeing and not agreeing with the status quo. So I mean, whether Barack Obama is on time or not on time, it depends on who you ask. But he took a direct stab, absolutely.

SANCHEZ: But, Rocio, you're here to say you don't think so?

WOODY: No, I don't think so.

SANCHEZ: You think we're making a mountain out of a molehill?

WOODY: Well, I really think that anything now is going to be misrepresented against, you know, what Obama wants to do. Just it's not going to happen the way -- anything's going to be said and misrepresented.

SANCHEZ: So you're saying this is unfair criticism of Bill Clinton?

WOODY: Well, not necessarily unfair. But anything can be taken out of context.

SANCHEZ: I want to move on to something else now. A traitorous act by Governor Bill Richardson. So says James Carville. As a matter of fact, I think we have -- let me find this right here.

First, though, this is what he's talking about. This is the endorsement by Governor Bill Richardson. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARDSON: Senator Obama showed us once again what kind of leader he is. He spoke to us -- he spoke to us as adults. He asks us to ponder the rate of our racially divided past, to rise above it, and to seize the opportunity to carry forward of many patriots of all races who struggled and died to bring us together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: All right, talk about nasty. Listen to this. This is what James Carville says about that endorsement in the "New York Times" today.

Mr. Richardson's endorsement, he says, came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver. Comparing him to selling out Jesus Christ himself. So I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic.

Do you agree with James Carville?

Rocio?

WOODY: Well, let me tell you. I'm a Latina. I'm a first generation in the United States, and what I feel is that if you were going to make the change, you should have done it long time ago. Especially for Texas and Ohio.

SANCHEZ: So why is he doing it now. So why do you think Bill Richardson now is getting in Obama's camp?

WOODY: Might be political games.

SANCHEZ: Do you think he's a turncoat?

WOODY: Well, basically, I think he's looking for the vice presidency.

SANCHEZ: Are you disappointed in him?

WOODY: In a way.

SANCHEZ: Do you think Hispanics are going to follow him?

WOODY: No.

SANCHEZ: No?

WOODY: I don't think so.

ZOLLER: But I think the difference is when you look at this, is that this shows the Clintons and their cohorts think more about the party and winning than they do about the country.

I think what Bill Richardson -- and I love it by the way. I mean, they're going to go down scratching and clawing because they don't care whether the Democratic Party is split at the end of this. They don't care if there's blood on the floor. They want to win. And maybe they can't mathematically do it but they are not giving up.

This is the man that wouldn't resign after he was impeached. This is the man that went through all the things. They're not going to give up until they're absolutely forced to.

SANCHEZ: What if he just did this, Frank. Bill Richardson listened to that speech that Barack gave the other day and said, you know what, I agree with this speech. I agree with what he's saying. And I think Hispanics will agree with this more.

And he just did the thing that's not politically correct, and he went with his gut.

SKI: Well, let's talk about it from the essence. Look at who we're talking about. We're talking about a person who in of themselves might have thought he didn't get the nomination or get as far as he was, because of his Latino background.

You know, so he himself is already thinking, you know, what they didn't give me the nod because they thought, you know, I was too connected to the issue of, you know, the Mexicans coming in to this country, the whole nine yards.

SANCHEZ: But you know, what's interesting. Maybe what I need to ask you is this. Don't most politicians in this situation always go with what the party wants them to do? I'm going to take and swallow the bitter pill. I don't really like John McCain, but I'm going to stand next to him and endorse him. Or on the Democratic side they do the same thing.

ZOLLER: But he's the only left.

SKI: I don't think the party represented him well. I don't think when he was running the party represented him well. Nobody really had faith in him. He was one of the first to come out.

I think at this particular point, he's probably very smart in seeing that Barack Obama can take this and if he goes all the way, he puts himself like Rosario said in a perfect position to be hooked up politically.

SANCHEZ: I'll tell you what I think, I think...

ZOLLER: But according to news reports though, he told Obama two weeks ago, he was going to do this, but he was going to go on vacation first. So I don't think the speech -- I mean, according to reports, I don't think the speech changed his mind.

SANCHEZ: I'll tell you what I think. I think that Hispanics in this country had a nerve struck with that speech, because they are conflicted somewhat about this country.

SKI: Absolutely, absolutely.

SANCHEZ: They remember what happened in Chile. They remember what happened in the Dominican Republic (INAUDIBLE). They remember what happened in Panama. And they say, I love this country dearly, but I can't see beyond some of those imperfections and maybe we should talk about it. I think that's what they heard in the speech. I think Richardson heard that in the speech as well.

We're going to talk more on that topic by the way. We got to pick it up. We want to bring you, the viewer, into this conversation now. And here's what we want to hear. We want to hear what you have to say about Barack Obama's critique on race in America.

This is something that a lot of people are suddenly talking about. That wouldn't have been talking about in the past. And here's the question. Is it right for Barack Obama to point out America's blemishes? Is it right for him to point out America's blemishes? Which seems to be what he was defending when he was defending Jeremiah Wright. That's why we pose this question this week. It's what they're talking about around the country in dinner tables. Send your responses to weekends right now, weekends@cnn.com.

Five years later, the war in Iraq is still going strong. And so is the controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you have the audacity to come out here on the fifth anniversary of shock and awe to demoralize, to besmirch, our troops?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our mission is to end the mission in Iraq. End it now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Strong voices of just regular people. We're going to talk to our panel about the war and its impact on this election right next.

Take a look at this one. It's one of the most dramatic pictures to come out of this week's flooding so far. That's a house, folks. Or maybe I should say, was a house. We'll have more, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Rick's picks and they are back. Flooded streets. It looks like you know that movie, "A River Runs Through It." Well, this is a river who runs through it, all right, head to a downtown Felton, Missouri. That is unbelievable. Suddenly, streets that look like creeks or in some cases lakes. No, that's not a person, it's a bus.

One of many Midwestern towns flooded by the swollen Meramec River. Highest level, by the way, since 1993. And Roger, you know, this next one. Let's loop it so they can see it over and over again. Because I know when I was watching it, I was stunned by watching. Look at this. You see that right there? That's a house. Somebody's house in Calico Rock, Arkansas. And it's going right into the Whitewater, being basically led through the Whitewater River.

The White River I should say, when it smashes up against the bridge. The bridge is damaged but the house is totally gone. This happened, by the way, to not one but seven homes.

Let's go to our severe weather center now to find out more about this. Bonnie Schneider has been watching this all day long.

What's going on with all the flooding all over the country, Bonnie?

(WEATHER REPORT)

SANCHEZ: Sex for citizenship? This is a shocking allegation. A shocking story that we're investigating.

But next, the war in Iraq, five years old now. The controversy certainly hasn't died down among Americans. This is the place to discuss it with our panel and you at home. Stay with us, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Protesters and riot cops clashing in the streets. A CNN I-reporter sent us this dramatic video of an anti-war protest that is in San Francisco this week. Marking the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war.

It was one of a dozen that was held in cities large and small all over the country this Wednesday. And there is some of the video as it was coming in. Now, the war has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 members of the U.S. military, as we know, nearly. It's cost the U.S. half a trillion dollars. But still, President Bush signaled that he does not plan to pull more troops out at all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable, yet some in Washington still call for retreat. War critics can no longer credibly argue that we're losing in Iraq. So now they argue the war costs too much.

In recent months we've heard exaggerated amounts of the costs of this war. No one would argue that this war has not come at a high cost in lives and treasure. Those costs are necessary when we consider the cost of a strategic victory for our enemies in Iraq.

Five years into this battle, there is an understandable debate over whether the war was worth fighting, whether the fight is worth winning, and whether we can win it. The answers are clear to me. Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision, and this is a fight America can and must win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Back to our panel. So why is the president still talking about Saddam Hussein? It almost makes you ask, is that all you got? I mean, he's not talking about WMDs. He's not talking about democratizing the region. He's not talking about stabilizing oil prices.

SKI: And he's not talking about getting Osama Bin Laden.

SANCHEZ: And he's not talking about al Qaeda in Iraq prior to the war.

SKI: Absolutely.

SANCHEZ: So if all we got left is, we took out a bad guy, that's not a strong argument.

ZOLLER: Still, there's a lot more to that speech than that. And if you look at what happens with al Qaeda around the world, we've got Osama Bin Laden with a tape about something that happened two years ago. That's all he has. Talking about cartoons, about the prophet.

Look, this is a war if you've been there. I've been to Iraq twice. I went in '05 and '07, before the surge. Everybody I've talked to feels like that it's something that's worth winning and that we have to. We cannot back down.

SANCHEZ: Here's a perfect question that I think a lot of Americans are asking themselves and it's an important question. Are Americans -- are we as a nation better off for having invaded and occupied Iraq?

ZOLLER: It's all part of the global war on terror. And did anybody think on the 12th of September 2001, we wouldn't be hit again in that time period? I don't think anybody did. And I believe this is all part of that.

SANCHEZ: All part of it.

Rocio, are we better off?

WOODY: I don't think we are. I really think we have lost more lives and more money in terms of treasury than for the Vietnam War, for Korean War and all the wars that I know combined. And I don't think we have got anything from that.

SANCHEZ: We have pictures of John McCain in Iraq this last week. He is without question hitching his wagon to the Iraq war. And in so doing is he also then hitching his wagon to the Bush administration, and is that a winning strategy? Guys?

SKI: I think he believes that. He really believes that.

SANCHEZ: Do you believe that? SKI: I think he thinks it's going to work. I think it's the worst thing he could ever do. I mean, you're right. This country is divided on the war. I agree. A lot in the war. But I totally disagree with what my panelist said about the war being necessary or anything coming out of the war.

I think it was the worst thing we could have ever done. First of all, we went there with one reason in hand. Then we're still there five years later, even after your general that you sat in front of the whole world to say, this is why we have to go, quit, because he knew he was wrong.

SANCHEZ: Let me tell you this. Three-quarters of the American people tend to now agree with you.

SKI: Right.

SANCHEZ: Conservative and liberal. And that question came up in a conversation with the vice president of the United States and Martha Raddatz of ABC news. I want you to listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting. And they're looking at the value gain versus the cost in American lives, certainly. And Iraqi lives.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So?

RADDATZ: So? You don't care what the American people think?

CHENEY: No, I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. Think about what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had paid attention to polls, if they had had polls during the Civil War. He never would have succeeded if he hadn't had a clear objective, a vision for where he wanted to go, and he was willing to withstand the slings and arrows of the political wars in order to get there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Is it fair for him to compare himself to Abraham Lincoln?

SKI: No.

ZOLLER: Well, I don't think he compared himself to Abraham Lincoln.

SANCHEZ: All right, he compared his answer to Abraham Lincoln.

ZOLLER: Well, look, I don't think that was the best answer. But when you look at John McCain and whether he's hooking himself to this policy that's what he did back when everyone counted him out back in April. That's what brought him back was the fact he turned out to be right. This surge was the right way to go. No, I don't -- you know, as far as I'm concerned, Dick Cheney is a lame duck at this point in time. So is George W. Bush a lame duck at this time. They've got less than a year to go. But they have to continue the policy. And the truth be told whether it's Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John McCain, it will be at least 18 more months in Iraq, regardless.

SANCHEZ: Frank?

SKI: I think he stands to gain a lot of money through Halliburton. So let's keep it real.

SANCHEZ: So is that the difference between him and Abraham Lincoln?

SKI: Here's a problem...

SANCHEZ: Did Abraham Lincoln in any way making money off the civil war?

SKI: Here's the problem with the whole Abraham Lincoln thing. First of all, the civil war was a totally different war. We were fighting somebody else's civil war. We're not fighting our own. That was the worst case to put back to saying the civil war.

First of all, the civil war was about states who wanted to break away from the United States. That's a whole different situation than what's going on the other side of the world.

ZOLLER: It was a bad comparison, but...

SANCHEZ: Well, how about when he said so? When he said so, did something go, wait a minute.

ZOLLER: I do agree that when you're talking about war policy, that you cannot go strictly by public opinion. Because of course people are not going to want to go to war. Nobody wants to go to war. But I think it sounded, you know -- it sounded the wrong way.

SANCHEZ: So if you were his adviser you would have said Mr. Vice President I would...

ZOLLER: You shouldn't have said that.

SANCHEZ: I shouldn't have said that.

ZOLLER: I would have said that.

SANCHEZ: OK, thank you. We're going to get back to you, guys, in just a little bit. Talk about the wrong place at the wrong time. What happened that led up to this unbelievable collision?

Also, she wanted to become a citizen. He allegedly wanted something else. Sex for a green card, offered up. It's an outrageous story. We have the tape and the investigation and you're going to hear it. Right here. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rick Sanchez. The power of a green card or in this case, the alleged abuse of power of a green card.

A 22-year-old woman from Colombia is saying that an immigration official demanded special favors or he wouldn't process her paperwork. I think you've got a pretty good understanding of what he means by "special favors."

CNN's gotten hold of some of these taped conversations. We want you to hear them for yourself. Here's Jim Acosta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how hundreds of thousands of immigrants entering the United States normally get their green cards. They take a number.

But investigators say this man, Isaac Baichu, a Federal Immigration official who interviews green card applicants had other ideas. Last December, authorities say Baichu met with a woman from Colombia and her new American husband to go over her application at this Long Island immigration office. That's when Baichu allegedly asked for her cell phone number.

According to local prosecutors, Baichu later called the woman and asked her to meet him here, in the parking lot of this diner. What Baichu did not know is she was recording the conversation on her cell phone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. Just tell me we're going to be friends, or?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be friends. I want sex. One or two times. That's all. You get you green card. You won't have to see me anymore.

ACOSTA: What prosecutor alleged happened next is detailed in the criminal complaint. The woman told prosecutors she attempted to leave the car but that Baichu grabbed her by the arm and told her he expected her to perform oral sex upon him then and there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a nice guy. I'm an honest guy. I'll do it for you. I'll order my green cards. You're nice to me, I'll be nice to you. All right? Don't worry. Just lean over, I'm going to be one second.

ACOSTA: At that moment, the recording, obtained by the "New York Times," goes silent.

SALLY ATTIA, ATTORNEY FOR ISAAC BAICHU: We have pled not guilty and we deny any wrongdoing. ACOSTA: Baichu's lawyer Sally Attia claims her client was entrapped and that the woman wanted something called a "U" visa, which offers temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants who are the victims of a crime.

ATTIA: My understanding now is the alleged victim in this case is eligible to apply for this visa.

ACOSTA: Baichu is not the first immigration official accused of taking advantage of the undocumented. This I.C.E. agent in Miami is scheduled to stand trial on charges he raped a woman in his custody. In 2006, this former high-level immigration official testified before Congress on what he described as rampant corruption in the agency.

MICHAEL MAXWELL, FMR. U.S. C.I.S. OFFICIAL: Charges including soliciting sex for citizenship.

ACOSTA: The Department of Homeland Security released this statement. "The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has absolutely no tolerance for employee misconduct." Advocates for undocumented immigrants argue the potential for abuse is enormous.

MICHELLE BRANE, WOMEN'S ADVOCATE: Because this is a population that's very vulnerable and they're at the mercy and disposal of people who hold a lot of power over them. So this woman was very brave to come forward, if you think about it. She was taking a chance.

ACOSTA: Isaac Baichu, himself an immigrant from Guyana, knows a green card is gold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got my green card just like you. I became citizen just like you. I know how hard it is for you, OK?

ACOSTA: Earlier this month, prosecutors say Baichu was arrested after he once again allegedly propositioned that Colombian woman for sex. That time, prosecutors say, they were listening in too.

Jim Acosta, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: It's a story that no doubt we're going to keep tabs on for you.

Some people drive better than others. It comes easier to some. And I think we can all agree that this should never happen. Story behind the pictures when we come back.

Also, lots of political speeches are important but Barack Obama's speech on race was perhaps the most talked about of the campaign season. Talking about the things that blacks and whites only say in private, about others. Straight talk from our panel. Real issues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America. To simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. Hot night. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Senator Barack Obama touched a nerve in this country by talking about race in America from the perspective that no other presidential candidate has ever been able to confront. He carefully but clearly criticized blacks for not moving past racism and then he told whites that they need to direct their anger at their government, not at blacks and new immigrants.

If it was a courageous speech, here's why. It spoke about the things that blacks and whites usually only talk about when they're in the safety of their own company. All this in what was expected to be a mea culpa for the fiery sermons of his former minister the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

So, if nothing else that's why it made news. Listen now to the part of the speech where he talks about the black experience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist between the African-American community and the larger American community today can be traced directly to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were and are inferior schools. We still haven't fixed them, 50 years after Brown versus Board of Education.

(APPLAUSE)

And the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps to explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.

Legalized discrimination, where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property; where loans were not granted to African-American business owners; where black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages; where blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or the fire department, meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations.

That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between blacks and whites and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persist in so many of today's urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family contributed to the erosion of black families.

A problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened and the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods. Parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage picked up, building code enforcement. All helped to create a cycle of violence, blight, and neglect that continues to haunt us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Let's go back to our panel. Frank, is he saying, look, this is what black people feel but never tell you white folks?

FRANK SKI, FRANK SKI MORNING SHOW: No, I think he's saying, this is what black people feel that white folks never listen to. I think black folks have been saying it for a long time, but it's hard for people to listen to it.

And here's the interesting thing. I wanted to give you an example. If you have an argument with your wife, I'm married, so you know you have a little squabbles.

SANCHEZ: Right.

SKI: What happens if you never put it to rest? What happens? It keeps coming up.

SANCHEZ: It festers.

SKI: It festers. It keeps coming up. And it could have been something really simple. But for years later you will both go back to that same issue. This is the problem that's been happening in America because we've never had the true conversation about what really happened.

And when we do touch the surface, many times, whether it's affirmative action or anything that takes place where you see situations like that happened last year in Jena, Louisiana, or other places. You look at things and you say, OK, there's a reason why this is still happening.

SANCHEZ: So as long as that's the undercurrent, we'll never be able to move forward?

SKI: We'll never be able to move forward.

SANCHEZ: Martha, Rocio, get in on that.

MARTHA ZOLLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: But let's be honest here, Barack Obama had a very similar experience to mine growing up. He didn't grow up in the conditions that he's talking about. He's talking about them secondhand also. Now, later on in his life...

SANCHEZ: But doesn't his background make him more qualified than you to get that though?

ZOLLER: And I don't know if this is a case of qualification but I think that speech right there, while most of it was accurate and I agree with, I think it separates him from the immigrant community because the immigrant community, in general, especially the Latino immigrant community comes to America and in half the time becomes a median income of most Americans than any other immigrant group. They come in. They don't have that experience.

SANCHEZ: But at this particular point in time, the immigrant community is suffering from radio stations that are essentially saying, get the hell out, we don't want you here.

ZOLLER: Well, but still, the numbers don't lie as far as the work is concerned.

SANCHEZ: Rocio?

ROCIO WOODY: From my perspective, what I see is that bringing this issue, and I agree with Frank and with you as well, bringing this issue of race in America, once again, polarizes us, Latinos and other minorities, because it becomes a black and white issue. What I'm thinking we go back to black and white...

SANCHEZ: So you think we shouldn't talk about it?

WOODY: No, no, we should talk about it. It's that we should talk about it, we should be inclusive of everyone else as well and everyone else's experience.

SANCHEZ: But what does that mean, inclusive? Isn't that what he's doing though when he says understand both perspectives. Understand the white -- in fact, let's do this.

He's also saying with a very direct message to white Americans, you need to stop misdirecting your blame for your problems at immigrants and African-Americans. Here, let's listen to that part of the speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pensions dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and they feel their dreams slipping away.

And in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear an African-American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: He also mentioned political correctness, which seems to be code speak for what many white Americans in this country are angered about, but don't want to say. Is he talking truth to power there?

Martha?

ZOLLER: I thought he actually laid that out very well. Because he wasn't criticizing white folks, he was saying, look, I understand what you're saying. From your position, you've worked hard, you've played by the rules, and you feel that there's something unfair going on.

SANCHEZ: But then he goes on to say you're misdirecting the anger, it should be based on what the government is taking away from you, what corporations are taking away from you, not what the Mexicans or the blacks are taking away from you. That's what he was saying, wasn't it?

ZOLLER: He was saying that, but he also was saying, I understand your pain. That's what he was trying to do. He was saying, whether you're black or white or brown...

SANCHEZ: Which is a good thing.

ZOLLER: Absolutely. The discussion is a good thing. However...

SANCHEZ: But what about the end of the enthymeme, though.

Frank?

That he's basically saying, start looking at the corporations who are ripping you off and not the people who live next to you who have different color of skin.

ZOLLER: But corporations create jobs.

SKI: Yes, absolutely.

SANCHEZ: I'm not saying they do or don't. I'm just saying is that the message he was trying to get across?

SKI: That's the absolute message. And that's what he's been trying to say for the longest time. You know, it's interesting, we can spin this any way you want. You can spin it that, you know, Mexican immigrants are taking your jobs. You know, at a lower wage. Or you can spin it another way and say that the corporations that are hiring them illegally are the ones to blame. You know?

ZOLLER: Unless the government is not the problem.

SANCHEZ: You got 15 seconds.

ZOLLER: You know, the laws are equal. It's the application of the laws. And human beings and on this Easter weekend, we should understand that even more. It's human beings that are not the ones that are applying it evenly. And that's where we need to have the dialogue.

SANCHEZ: Is that why the oil company has $400 billion in profits or something like that?

SKI: Right.

ZOLLER: That's oranges and apples.

SANCHEZ: Is it?

ZOLLER: Yes, it is.

SANCHEZ: OK, we'll come back to it in just a little bit. You guys are great.

It's been wet and cold all week. Even Bambi had some trouble with the floods. Take a look at this.

And also, parallel parking done all kinds of wrong. The story behind the incredible picture. Stay with us, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. You want pictures, we've got pictures. Heavy flooding in Missouri. As a matter of fact, look at the deer. The one on the left side of your screen there. He's trying to navigate through some of the deep waters. Eventually, he gets out. Hooray, says the panel, and to safety.

Also, a farm truck stuck near St. Louis. In that case, he wasn't able to move at all. Unlike the deer, it can't jump. So finally, he's got to get one of those big trucks that comes to the rescue and gets him out of there.

And now let's go to this some aerials from Fete (ph), Missouri along the Meramec River. Highest level there now in 15 years. Forget about trying to cross that bridge because the water has beat you to it.

Also, this car versus a house. You know who's going to win. The train versus the car. And more of our best pictures that you don't want to miss. Stay with us. We're going to be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Well, there we go. More of the "Rick Picks" that we've been telling you about. Atlanta, Georgia area, car smashes into the front of a Dekalb County. A house now has a one garage and one car living room. Some injuries, nothing life-threatening though or else we wouldn't be kidding about a story like that. The driver, by the way, has been charged on this case.

Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Left side of your screen please, bang. Police dash cam video. Pickup truck parked on the railroad tracks. High-speed train smashes into the truck. Police were chasing a stolen truck driver. The stolen truck and the driver bailed out after stopping on the tracks. The driver in this case was arrested and he was charged as well. We haven't finish yet, by the way. We're getting some of the e-mails that we asked you to send. Unbelievable how many e-mails we've been getting throughout the night. As a matter of fact, should we read these now? So we go through some of this. We've got a couple of them here that are no's and a couple of them here that are yes's about whether Barack Obama should accept and talk about America's blemishes. Stay with us. We'll have them for you on the back side. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Here we go. Before we get going, I want you to know that these have been coming in hot off the press. These are the responses that you've had to the question we posed: Should Barack Obama talk about America's blemishes?

Some are saying, yes, he should talk about them. Others are saying no, he absolutely should not be talking about America's blemishes, it is unpatriotic. But we'll read a couple of them to you.

Before we do that, though, let's talk about something that we're committed to here at CNN. And that's the idea that there are a lot of people amongst us of all stripes and colors and political leanings who are just darn good people. We call them heroes. Here's one example.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT SILVERMAN, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: When you are ready to say goodbye to the world that is a clear bottom. I didn't think of myself as depressed. My drinking at the end got so bad I felt my life was over. The windows open, it's the 44th floor. I'm thinking, you know what, if I could just push myself back, the pain will be over. And this guy walks in his office and says, "God, what are you doing?" And I started to cry and the next day I checked in to a treatment center. Everything after that was sobriety.

I got into volunteerism quickly and I hung out with people who are now in shelters, had lost their homes, and come out of jail and they couldn't find a job. I had to find a way to help people get back on track.

My name is Scott Silverman. Everyday, I offer anyone who wants one a second chance. Second chance was started to provide jobs and housing for the chronically unemployed. We help get them placed and we follow them up for two years. Because we know what they're trying to do takes time.

We go into the jails. Introduce ourselves to inmates. Then when they transition out, we like to actually pick them up and bring them into our program and put them in our housing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been to prison four times. My longest time is five years. I was inside and I found a flier. I waited for my home boys to go to sleep to read it. I didn't know what was going to be different. But I got there and I was like, wow, I almost feel like I know these people, because they were there. They were just like me. And that's what kept me there. Thanks to second chance. I know I'm going to make it in life because I believe in myself more than ever.

SILVERMAN: We think we have a model to stop recidivism as we know it. Tell me no, I dare you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. You heard Barack Obama's speech earlier this week. Right? It got us to thinking about whether a candidate for the presidency should basically give a speech where he points out or accepts some of the people and their concerns about America's blemishes. Essentially saying, look, there are some things we got to fix in this country.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? We ask this question of you. We've been getting a bevy of these e-mails. Let's start with one.

This is Judy from Florida. She says "Absolutely. Obama should open a discussion about what needs fixing in this country. Until a person or a nation admits and addresses these problems, there will be no solutions. Let's get it out on the table," she said.

Who's this one from? This is Belver Ladison? He says "I don't think Obama should be pointing out America's blemishes when the question at hand was why he chose to overlook the outrageous blemishes and statements made by his pastor. Interesting point.

Let's go now to the next one. This one is from John. He says, "You can't change what you do not acknowledge. That's right out of a Dr. Phil episode. Come one, America, the truth is the truth and what's right is right.

Let's do one more before we go back to the panel on this. This is from Joyce. She says "But when you attend a church whose pastor preaches God D*** America, and you come out with a racial speech try and change the subject and cover it up, pointing out blemishes just becomes smoke and mirrors.

Panels, start us off. What do you think of these comments?

ZOLLER: Well, I think they were inflict, you know, the difference of opinion. It's great for him to talk about it, but I really did want to hear more about the issue at hand regarding his minister. Because I know a little bit...

SANCHEZ: Did you want him to castigate Jeremiah?

ZOLLER: I don't want him to castigate, but I know a little bit about Black Liberation Theology. I've been to a lot of churches. I've heard the passion. I've heard the excitement. But I never heard those kinds of statements. And I think what Jeremiah Wright, what people have talk to...

SANCHEZ: But he repudiated the comments, Martha. He do repudiated the comments.

ZOLLER: Yes. But then he went right on to throw his grandmother under the bus and I think he didn't spend enough time on Jeremiah Wright.

SANCHEZ: Rocio, did you see it that way after you listened to his speech?

WOODY: Well, I listened to his speech and I really thought his speech was healing somehow. Healing and bringing America back -- or bring at least his campaign back together and trying to refocus.

But I did feel like also he should have addressed a little bit more of the issue of Jeremiah Wright, his pastor, and also issues of Black Liberation Theology.

SANCHEZ: What was in your gut, Frank, when you heard this speech?

SKI: I think he handled it, just the way he should have handled it. The bottom line, if he would have disowned him and said, I disagree with him. I'm walking away. I want to have nothing to do with it, he would have really upset a lot of African-Americans that believe what Jeremiah really is saying. And that's the bottom line.

SANCHEZ: So he straddled the line well?

SKI: You have to. In this situation, you have to. The unfortunate part is, well, I hope they never go back and get, you know, people that I've been involved in my life and get their speeches of things they've said, because we've all been around people who said things that we disagree with. But I do want to say that...

SANCHEZ: Everybody's getting vetted these days. Down to 15 seconds.

SKI: I do want to say this. It's amazing to me, Martha, how you can say you've been to a black church and you can relate to what's going on in the church. And I don't understand how you can. I mean, just because you hear it and you hear the excitement, you think you somehow relate, I think that's really an insult.

SANCHEZ: Well, but she's entitled to have an opinion on that.

(CROSSTALK)

ZOLLER: But I had a good spiritual experience and you can't deny that I had that because you're not me.

SANCHEZ: And her comment was benevolent on that. Guys, we're out of time. We've got to go. Men, you guys, are a great panel. We spend a great newscast. I'm glad we can bring America's perspective. I'm Rick Sanchez. See you tomorrow night at 10:00.

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