Return to Transcripts main page
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
L.A.'s Special Order 40 Criticized; Democratic Debates Likely to Continue Past Pennsylvania; Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection as Method of Execution
Aired April 16, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Wolf, thank you.
Tonight, the Clinton and Obama campaigns are battling over who is the greater elitist as the battle for Pennsylvania votes entering the final phase. We'll have complete coverage.
Also, Pope Benedict XVI meeting with President Bush at the White House, calling upon the United States to be more humane to migrants, as he put it. The Pope, obviously, considering the United States something less than its actual standing as the most welcoming country in the world to immigrants, legal and illegal.
And rising anger at the city of Los Angeles and its sanctuary policy for illegal aliens -- that policy protecting illegal alien gang members from both arrest and deportation. We'll have our special report on all that.
All the day's news and much more coming up, straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. News, debate and opinion for Wednesday, April 16. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Senators Clinton and Obama tonight will face off in Philadelphia and their first debate in six weeks. Tonight's debate comes days after Senator Obama called small-town Americans bitter people, who cling to guns and religion and their views of the world because of their despair. Senator Obama still has not apologized for those comments.
Senator McCain is intensifying his effort tonight to present himself as a populist. Senator McCain today saying the time for partisan debate in America is over.
We have extensive coverage from the campaign trail tonight and we begin with Suzanne Malveaux in Philadelphia -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, not sure what this portends, but there are about 1,000 people around here gathered, anxiously awaiting the debate and we see Clinton supporters outnumbering Obama supporters in this crowd about four to one. This is really the last chance for Clinton and Obama to challenge each other directly before these Pennsylvania voters cast their ballots. The Clinton campaign feels they have had Obama on the defense for a week now over the controversial remarks of his pastor and Obama's own remarks about small-town Pennsylvanians being somewhat bitter, but also what we have seen as well is that lead that Clinton had over Obama is narrowing.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Today, Barack Obama got a nod from the boss. In a letter to his fans, Bruce Springsteen says Obama is head- and-shoulders above the rest. An advocate for the working class, for team Obama, this is a good get. Readying for the big face-off, Senators Clinton and Obama spent much of the day preparing for their Philadelphia debate behind closed doors.
But both spent some time reaching out to key voting groups. Senator Obama, quietly courting Jewish leaders in Philadelphia, Clinton addressing a friendly audience in Washington, made up of mostly white middle-aged union workers, proven to be her most loyal supporters.
After weeks of withering attacks on Obama, Clinton's words today were a striking departure.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running against an incredibly important candidate, with an enormous amount of talent and ability.
MALVEAUX: The last time Clinton expressed such adoration of Obama, she followed up with this.
CLINTON: So shame on you, Barack Obama.
MALVEAUX: Her sweet words today have many wondering what is in store for Obama tonight. Clinton's fire power was reserved for the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, mostly delivered by supporter and anti-war veteran, Congressman John Murtha, who four years McCain senior said the candidate was too old.
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Let me tell you something, it's no old man's job. I mean, the campaign, the stress, so forth.
MALVEAUX: A new poll suggests maybe Clinton should continue to let others deliver the pot shots. Over the past three months, her image has suffered. After her win in New Hampshire, 40 percent of Americans had an unfavorable view of her. Now it's up to 54 percent.
But the same view shows Democratic voters do not want her to drop out of the race. Nearly six out of ten Democrats who are supporting either Obama or Clinton said they want Clinton to stay in the race until one of the candidates wins a clear victory.
MALVEAUX: And Lou, Clinton has no intention of dropping out anytime soon. They still believe that they have a very strong case to make to the superdelegates. The most optimistic scenario they're painting here is that she could capture Pennsylvania, perhaps the high single digits or the low double digits, that they would capture as well as Indiana and then an upset in North Carolina. They believe if all of that were to come together, that perhaps Barack Obama would hit a wall -- Lou?
DOBBS: Suzanne, it's amusing with -- especially with the backdrop there tonight, with, what did you say the ratio, four to one Clinton over Obama demonstrators behind you? Again, we have to remind everybody, the only one calling -- the only ones calling for Senator Clinton to withdraw from this race are Barack Obama supporters. And we can't stress that too often, as we continue to report those calls, right?
MALVEAUX: You're absolutely right. I mean this is coming from Obama supporters.
Senator Obama has not said it himself, that she should drop out of the race. He says they should continue forward. But yes, a lot of Obama supporters are saying that she should get out. It would certainly be in his favor, but Clinton has no intention of doing so. This is going to be ongoing, Lou.
DOBBS: I guess we should remind everyone that former president Bill Clinton suggested that Barack Obama get out of the race. This should be a fun evening for the two candidates and their supporters as they debate tonight on ABC television.
Thank you very much, Suzanne Malveaux.
Well, Michelle Obama today rejected suggestions that she and her husband are elitists, out of touch with working men and women in their families in this country. In a campaign stop in Evansville, Indiana, she said she's a product of a working class background and said there were no miracles in her life, just hard work and sacrifice.
Well, hours after she delivered that speech, Barack Obama and his wife released their 2007 tax returns. Together, they reported an income of just over $4 million last year. Most of that, profits from two books that Senator Obama had written. Barack Obama earning almost $160,000 as a U.S. senator.
And joining me now for more on tonight's showdown between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley who is in Philadelphia.
Candy, the drama is building, I know. Do you expect Senator Clinton to be a little more aggressive tonight?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Actually, I think that really is a tossup, Lou. I mean I could argue both sides of this. I mean one of the things that we've seen is that Senator Clinton's negatives have begun to go up. This tends to happen when she gets very aggressive when she goes negative.
Now, she is up on the air here in Pennsylvania with what we call negative ads, that is assaults against Obama about his ties to -- or his contributions from oil executives, that sort of thing. But people tend to look at ads differently than from the candidates themselves. So I could make a really good argument that she won't go aggressively negative on him, although she will try to draw, as they call it, contrasts in terms of issues.
On the other hand, as you know, it is sort of 101 politics that when you are behind, which she is not in Pennsylvania, but she is in terms of pledged delegates, that you really have to go after your opponent, so there are both sides of it, and I could see either one happening, actually.
DOBBS: The idea that tonight's debate is critically important to the futures of both of these candidates, do you see both the debate and obviously its impact on the election next Tuesday as pivotal for the nomination hopes of both of these candidates?
CROWLEY: I think it adds to it. I don't know that I ever know if something is pivotal until after we move down the road. But the fact of the matter is...
DOBBS: Until it's pivoted?
CROWLEY: Yes, that's right, until we've seen it actually turn. But the fact is that at this point, most people would say that Hillary Clinton is going to win Pennsylvania, that's what it looks like. And people are beginning to look at the margins of it.
But having said that, certainly Barack Obama has a lot at stake tonight, as does she, because this is the last time Pennsylvania voters will be able to see them on a statewide basis, obviously. They have a state audience, because it's being broadcast on local TV. So obviously, every debate is important, generally because one big faux pas can really turn things. So what they both want to do tonight is be a little bit cautious and not make that big mistake.
DOBBS: All right. Candy, thank you very much. Candy Crowley from Philadelphia.
Senator Clinton today blasted the economic policies of Senator McCain. Senator Clinton accused Senator McCain of wanting to dig a big hole to China, as she put it. Senator Clinton declared McCain has failed to understand our trade relationship with communist China, and she said Beijing is dumping steel, exporting tainted, contaminated toys and manipulating its currency to the disadvantage of the United States.
For his part, Senator McCain today stepped up his efforts to sell his new image as, by golly, a populist. In an interview with CNN, Senator McCain said Americans need a break from high gasoline prices. He's proposing a gasoline tax holiday this summer, and he also blasted Senator Obama for criticizing small-town America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I called those remarks elitist and that's my view. Anybody who believes that someone's religious faith or their respect for the Constitution, the Second Amendment of it, and their enjoyment of hunting is shaped by their economic circumstances, I think that's the classic elitist kind of attitude towards hard-working, everyday citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: And for his part, Senator McCain says he's not an elitist. He said he's not lived a life of privilege and luxury and Senator McCain dismissed suggestions he's too old to be president, as Congressman Jack Murtha insisted today.
By the way, Senator McCain is 71-years-old, and four years younger than senator -- excuse me, Congressman Murtha.
Senator McCain remains a strong supporter of President Bush's conduct of this war in Iraq, where insurgents killed two more of our troops. The Marines were killed by a roadside bomb in Al Anbar Province. Twenty-four of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month, 4,036 of our troops killed since the war began, 29,780 of our troops wounded, 13,297 of them seriously.
Coming up next here, rising anger at the pro-amnesty/open borders policies of the city of Los Angeles.
Casey Wians will have our report -- Casey.
CASEY WIANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, there's actually a chance tonight that the city of Los Angeles may be ready to change its policy of offering sanctuary to illegal alien gang members. We'll have details coming up.
DOBBS: Well, that is a surprising development. We look forward, Casey, to your report.
And federal agents arrest hundreds of people in a crackdown of illegal immigration across the country. We'll have a special report.
And the Supreme Court handing down an important ruling on the death penalty.
We'll have that story as well and a great deal more. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: In Los Angeles tonight -- Los Angeles, a sanctuary city -- some city officials are beginning to fight back against that illegal alien sanctuary policy, known as Special Order 40. One city council member is actually fighting for police to be able to question suspected illegal alien gang members and to be able to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
That's right, Los Angeles is part of the United States.
Casey Wians has our report. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
WIANS (voice-over): If you're an illegal alien gang member in Los Angeles and an LAPD officer spots you on the street, you have nothing to fear, unless you're wanted for another crime. The city's Special Order 40 prohibits police from making arrests solely for immigration law violations even if officers know a gang member has been previously deported.
Now city councilman Dennis Zine, who spent almost four decades as an active and reserve LAPD officer, wants to allow officers to question gang suspects about their immigration status and require the LAPD to turn over illegal alien gang members to federal immigration authorities.
DENNIS ZINE, L.A. CITY COUNCIL: You've got these ruthless thugs that are gang members that come here from all parts of the world that terrorize the immigrant population.
WIANS: Zine's proposal is in response to the killing of Jamiel Shaw, a star high school football player allegedly murdered by an illegal alien gang member last month.
ZINE: The Shaw killing is one in many. When is it going to stop? And who's going to have the courage to stand up, to say, "If you're here illegally, we understand that." This is not about illegal people who are here, this is about illegal people who are here who are gang banging, who are terrorizing.
ZINE: L.A.'s police chief and mayor both support Special Order 40.
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES: Every chief of police in the city of Los Angeles since Darrel Gates and virtually every big city members of the police, where there are large immigrant populations, particularly large undocumented populations, believe that the only way that we can fight crime is to make sure that people, that witnesses can come forward, you know, when crimes are committed.
WIANS: Zine rejects that argument, saying otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants fear gang members, not the police. At least 10 of L.A.'s 15 city council members say they are willing to consider Zine's proposal.
WIANS: For now, there's little chance of doing anything more than slightly modifying Special Order 40. According to Zine, major changes would have to be approved by a federal judge because the LAPD has been operating under a federal consent decree since the Rampart scandal of the late 1990s, Lou.
DOBBS: You know you're -- the city, from which you're reporting tonight, it's pretty disgusting when you think about it, that Special Order 40 even exists, and that a councilman has to speak with such timidity about what is a critically urgent issue, and that is, of course, gang violence. Where does Los Angeles rank in gang violence in this country?
WIANS: I don't know the exact number, Lou, but I know it's pretty darn high. That's all I can tell you.
DOBBS: And in point of fact, the idea of that sanctuary city status is permitted under federal intervention, I mean, what is that about?
WIANS: Well, it's not that it's necessarily permitted under intervention, it's just that it was -- because the LAPD CRASH unit officers back in the 1990s, the so-called Rampart scandal, part of what they were doing wrong...
DOBBS: Why does that judge have to approve a change of Special Order 40, which is created by the city council?
WIANS: Well, according to the city councilman, anything that's a major change to LAPD policy would have to be approved by a federal judge, because there are very specific requirements about what LAPD officers have to do in terms of interviewing suspects, determining whether they can interview someone based on their race and their national origin. It's a very involved, complicated, very specific consent decree...
DOBBS: So tonight we can conclude by saying to the people of Los Angeles, good luck.
WIANS: You could say that, Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you, Casey. Casey Wians from Los Angeles.
Well, Pope Benedict XVI is in the nation's capital tonight, there to help the Catholic Church and the Council of Bishops push the amnesty agenda. As the pope attends ceremonies in our nation's capital, the Vatican is working actively to help illegal aliens cross our border with Mexico, in fact.
The Vatican has donated directly at least $20,000 to build a shelter for illegal aliens, making their way from Central America, trying to enter the United States. That shelter is in southern Mexico, where Catholic Church officials defend the donations as a humanitarian gesture.
Pope Benedict himself, obviously, supporting that approach and calling upon the United States to ease any enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.
Our poll question tonight: Do you care what the leaders of the Catholic Church have to say about illegal immigration, border security, or any other U.S. political issue?
We'd like to hear from you on that. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.
And later, I'll be joined by Father John Parish of Boston College. We'll be talking about Pope Benedict's historic visit to this country and the implications of that visit on U.S. policy.
Federal immigration officials today raided businesses across the country, those officials arresting nearly 300 people. The charges include immigration violations and multiple counts of identity theft.
Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Immigrations and customs enforcement crackdown on 12 different work sites in nine states Wednesday, the biggest immigration aimed at Pilgrim's Pride's plants in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida. In all, more than 280 arrests made, more than 60 of those on criminal charges of identity theft.
JOHN RATCLIFFE, U.S. ATTY., EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS: We are intent on stopping immigration fraud and identity theft, and we will aggressively prosecute anyone who uses another person's name or Social Security number for the purpose of working illegally in this country.
TUCKER: A spokesman for Pilgrim's Pride says the company knew in advance of the enforcement actions and cooperated fully with authorities. No charges have been filed against the company.
In the northeast, federal immigration agents working with state and local law enforcement officers shut down Mexican restaurants in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Georgia. Forty-five people were arrested on immigration violations. The owner of the restaurants and 10 of his managers were arrested and charged with harboring illegal aliens.
The U.S. attorney says the illegal aliens had been abused.
TERRENCE FLYNN, U.S. ATTY., WESTERN DISTRICT OF N.Y.: They were living under difficult conditions, possibly working up to 72 hours a week, making, as I stated earlier, minimum money, which directly went back to Mr. Bandis and his family members to pay for the smuggling fee and pay for the charges they impose against these individuals.
TUCKER: The head of ICE called the treatment deplorable and promised, quote, "employers who exploit illegal alien labor to reap greater profits for themselves can expect to pay a high price for their greed."
Back in Texas, acting on a tip, ICE arrested 30 suspected illegal aliens, working at the Shipley doughnut factor in Houston. Some of the workers were living in housing on the factory property.
TUCKER: Now there's no word on whether Mr. Bandis, owner of those restaurants, has an attorney. Down in Atlanta today, in a separate action, 10 employers at an employment agency were indicted on charges that they recruited and exploited illegal aliens to work in Chinese restaurants and then in warehouses in six states. Officials say that the illegal aliens -- were paid in cash and then charged fees for the housing that the company provided -- owned and provided to them, Lou.
DOBBS: What -- you know, the number of people who are protesting these raids and...
DOBBS: ...and action against illegal employers on the part of an immigration and customs enforcement. It's hard to imagine how they justify that resistance, that opposition. It's -- what is being done to these people and the way in which these people are exploited -- and Julie Myers, the head of ICE, saying that they're going to be tough on anyone who is trying to add to their profits by exploiting these people, that's every single person involved in the hiring of an illegal alien.
DOBBS: And the idea that they're going to be tough on people who forge on documentation -- you know, as I've been saying here on this broadcast for years, I don't use the expression undocumented immigrant, because there's nothing undocumented about these folks. They have fraudulent documents galore. And if they're going to get serious about document fraud, identity theft, it's more than about time.
TUCKER: Exactly. And there are a lot of people who are applauding this action, including, Lou, businesses that we've profiled on this program who've tried to compete against...
TUCKER: ...those people who hire illegal aliens, saying that they're put at a disadvantage.
DOBBS: And while -- you know, my heart goes out to every one of those illegal aliens working in those conditions, but if ICE and these other organizations and agencies who are supposed to be supporting U.S. immigration law don't throw the book at these employers -- I mean, it will be a contemptible failure of duty to me. They've just simply got to throw the book at these employers, these illegal employers.
TUCKER: Well, this man is being charged with harboring, Lou, and we're seeing that increasingly, and that is interesting, because that is a new development.
DOBBS: All right. Bill, thank you very much. Bill Tucker.
A follow-up to a story we reported to you here last night. The State Department issuing a new travel alert for Americans in Mexico or traveling to Mexico because of an escalation in deadly drug cartel violence. The State Department, however, stopped short of issuing a formal travel warning, which would recommend Americans not travel to Mexico.
As we reported last night, dozens of Americans have been kidnapped or killed in Mexico over the last year. Other nations where comparable numbers of Americans were kidnapped or killed include Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Haiti.
Now the State Department has issued formal travel warnings for each of those countries plus two dozen others, but not Mexico, which has an equal level of violence against Americans.
Up next, the Supreme Court rules on execution by lethal injection. We'll have a special report on the court's decision.
And most Democrats want the Clinton/Obama race to continue well past Pennsylvania. We'll discuss that and a lot more with three of the nation's best political analysts.
Stay with me. I'll be right back.
DOBBS: The Supreme Court today upheld the nation's most common method of execution. The high court ruling execution by lethal injection is not cruel and unusual punishment. The high court ruling turns back a challenge to the so-called free drug method used in Kentucky. Similar methods of lethal injection are used in more than 30 states.
Kelli Arena has our report from the Supreme Court.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just outside this Kentucky grocery store, a sheriff and his deputy were ambushed and shot dead. The killer, Ralph Bays, sentenced to death by lethal injection.
His lawyers argued if the three-drug cocktail used to execute him was not administered properly, Bays could suffer excruciating pain, a violation of the constitution. But the Supreme Court didn't buy it, and in a seven-to-two decision ruled lethal injection is an acceptable method of execution.
TED CRUZ, TEXAS SOLICITOR GENERAL: Today's 7-2 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court makes clear that the method of execution that virtually every state uses is consistent with the United States constitution.
ARENA: While the justices were considering the case, there was a virtual moratorium on executions around the country. Just hours after the ruling, Virginia was the first state to lift its temporary ban, and some legal experts expect others to follow quickly.
But death penalty opponents argue the ruling still leaves them room to fight executions in other states. GEORGE KENDALL, CAPITAL INMATE DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Kentucky has had one execution and there's no evidence of that execution went awry. In other states that have executed, there's been a pattern of executions going awry, where things have gone wrong. I think in those states, particularly, I don't think this decision today is going to clarify all remaining questions.
ARENA (on-camera): The Supreme Court ruling was very much in line with popular opinion. A recent CNN opinion research poll shows that 70 percent of those asked believe that states should be allowed to execute prisoners using lethal injection.
Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: There are more than 3,300 people on death row across the nation. About two dozen executions were put on hold because of the Supreme Court review. Oklahoma and Mississippi, in addition to Virginia, those states saying they will now seek execution dates for convicted murders on death row awaiting execution.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
Randy in Indiana wrote in to say: "I was for Barack Obama as a senator, but now have another reason to be an independent. This man is just way out of touch with the real world."
And Debbie in Pennsylvania: "I live in a rural community in Pennsylvania. Mr. Obama is correct. I am not insulted, nor do I feel looked down upon. I think he has seen the truth, even if most of you don't want to hear it."
And Jerry in Florida: "Mr. Dobbs, you're the only newsperson that has been willing to confront the media's love affair with Senator Obama. Could it be that Senator Obama's Teflon cover is starting to wear thin? I've been a lifelong Democrat and right now you have me considering registering as an independent."
And Brandon in Illinois: "I'm working class and I'm clinging to my ideals because that is all that current administration has left me with. I think you will find the same for people all across the land."
We'll have more of your thoughts here later. And please join me on the radio each afternoon Monday through Friday for "The Lou Dobbs Show." Go to loudobbs.com to find the local listings for "The Lou Dobbs Show" on the radio.
Up next here, some congressmen are finally paying attention to the dangers of outsourcing this nation's national security.
Also, Michelle Obama defending her husband. Three top political analysts and strategists give us their assessment.
And the pope mixing religion and politics on his first day of his visit to the United States. We'll examine the most pope's political agenda while he is on this tour of this great land. Stay with us, we'll be right back.
DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the best political analysts in the country. Here in New York, contributors to LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, New York Daily News, Michael Goodwin; Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf; in Philadelphia, Roger Simon, chief political columnist, politico.com.
Thanks for being here. Let me turn to you, since you're at, I guess we could say, ground zero, Roger. What do you expect? Do you expect to see risk-taking, some adventurism, if you will, on the part of both of these candidates tonight?
ROGER SIMON, POLITICO.COM: No, we always predict fireworks, we usually get fizzles. I think both have passed the stage of throwing the kitchen sink at each other. I think they're both happy to grind it out on the stump and watch the daily tracking polls rather than to try for a kill in a debate format.
And debates have never been Barack Obama's favorite format anyway. So I don't really expect much from him.
DOBBS: Do you not think that -- irrespective of anything else, do you not think that Senator Clinton would be absolutely an irresponsible candidate not to shove those words of "bitter," "clinging," right down the throat of Senator Obama?
SIMON: I think she'll let the moderators do that. I think the candidates have become adept at using the media as the attack point so that voters don't blame them. And I think she can pretty well count on...
DOBBS: Thank goodness this thing is on ABC tonight, Roger. Well, let me turn to you, Hank.
DOBBS: I'm sorry, go ahead, Roger.
SIMON: No, that's OK, Lou.
DOBBS: Hank, do you agree with Roger on that?
HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: She has no option but to make sure it gets raised. What we are finding here, which is really surprising, is that John McCain has a better understanding of how blue-collar people in this country are feeling than Barack Obama does, and that's pretty amazing, if you look at the populist economic plan, whether it's going to work or not. And that Hillary Clinton's job is to somehow make sure she stays in that discussion.
DOBBS: Folks, I've got to say to you right now, I'm as shocked as you are. We're listening to these laudatory words from a Democratic strategist.
SHEINKOPF: It's a brilliant tactic, brilliant tactic, get in the middle of it, and confuse the enemy. Take their arguments away so what they look like are two children who are arguing while big daddy makes his big move, very smart. Very smart and...
DOBBS: And do you think that John McCain is now -- as of now a committed populist in this campaign?
SHEINKOPF: Oh, absolutely not, but it sure is good rhetoric and rhetoric wins campaigns. He has no choice but to be there.
MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: I think one of the things that is going on, as the Democratic campaign has gone on so long and gotten so nasty and so personal, all the issues have kind of fallen off the table now. It's about things they've said or done that are not really relevant, it's about character and personality.
And as a result, I think both of them are coming off as pretty much unelectable in the general election. So I think it is a good time for McCain. I think he is rebranding himself, he is making himself more of a populist. And he has got kind of the sunny side up disposition compared to the other two right now, which is bizarre.
DOBBS: Think what you're saying here.
GOODWIN: I know.
DOBBS: Sunny disposition?
GOODWIN: And you know what? He has become kind of the safe choice right now, because the other two are kind of running off the rails.
DOBBS: Ah, that's a very interesting point right there. That is a very interesting point.
SIMON: I'm having a hard time buying that both of them are unelectable.
DOBBS: I thought you were going to say you were having a hard time hearing. You just weren't buying any of it.
SIMON: I was hearing it, I just couldn't believe it. You know, we have an unpopular president, a bad economy, an unpopular war, an historic reluctance of the American people to elect the same party to power in the White House for 12 years in a row.
I don't know a Republican analyst who really feels sanguine about Republican chances in November, and also not a lot of Republican voters are going to be flocking to the polls in November to elect Republican senators and members of the House. This is going to be an uphill fight for John McCain.
SHEINKOPF: I couldn't agree more. I don't agree with Michael, which is very unusual, but I will say this, the populist argument gets McCain in the game. Hillary's job is to make sure that she has that populist argument and is able to build on what Barack Obama did this week, very bad.
DOBBS: What we have here is another little problem. We've got Michelle Obama today defending her husband, the Obama family that made over $4 million last year, saying they're not elitist and trying to cast aspersions on the Clintons as being elitist because they made $109 million over seven years. This is getting downright silly, isn't it?
SHEINKOPF: People don't mind if you make money, what they mind if you try to say you didn't make money. It's a different issue. Be truthful, tell the truth, don't say, I don't like -- don't say, I love you, but your faith's wrong and you can't have guns. Bad news.
DOBBS: And what's funny about this is the Clintons, who Obama had been haranguing for months and months, they managed to get their numbers out before he did. So...
DOBBS: Let's turn to this idea that this debate tonight is going to have no real -- what do we call it, risks taken. What is the point of it, Roger Simon, if they don't take risks? Because this candidate, Senator Clinton, is definitely behind.
SIMON: She is definitely behind, but the risk she runs in an all-out attack on Barack Obama is that once again she gets booed in the debate hall, which has happened before when she has gone for all- out attacks, and also primary voters don't really want to see two Democrats beating up on each other. They want to see Democrats beating up on Republicans.
And the general populace is not where Hillary wins this election -- wins this nomination, she has to win among superdelegates, who really aren't swayed very much by debate performances. They're swayed by what's in it for them if they back Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama.
DOBBS: Is there a aspect here that Hank Sheinkopf is right, that we basically have seen two Democratic candidates put themselves very near the line that says "unelectable," Roger?
SIMON: No, I don't think either one of them is unelectable. I think both of them, or either one of them would go into the fall a slight favorite for the reasons I listed. The Republican Party has not been having a good eight years. And the Democratic nominee is going to ask the question that Ronald Reagan once asked. Are you better off than you were four years ago? And I'm not sure how many members of the voting populace will answer, yes, I'm better off, and I want another Republican.
GOODWIN: Well, I think the difference here, though, of course, I think that is the default argument, that a Democrat should win this year, but I think what we're seeing, for example, with the favorable/unfavorable ratings, McCain has got like 53 percent favorable, 45 percent unfavorable, both the Democrats, Obama's 49/49, Clinton has got 54 unfavorable.
So right now I think that's looking like a good thing for McCain. The other thing I would say about tonight, just quickly, Lou, in terms of the -- what Clinton will do, she is ahead in Pennsylvania, so she has something to lose by throwing the kitchen sink, which is why I think she won't do it.
DOBBS: All right. We'll be back with our political analysts.
And lawmakers finally admitting the dangers of outsourcing national security. How about that? We'll be right back, stay with us.
DOBBS: I'm back with Michael Goodwin, Hank Sheinkopf, and Roger Simon in Philadelphia. Roger, Jack Murtha today saying that John McCain's just too old to be president. Are we going to see a backlash, or are we going to see a lot of columnists and editors go after Murtha for being an ageist?
SIMON: Well, John McCain, I heard say, you know, Jack Murtha may be too old, he'll take his age against Murtha's, he's a few years younger. But I think most people react to how the candidates look and act and talk and behave on the stump. If they look vigorous and look like they can do the job, I think most voters are going to go with that.
DOBBS: Do you agree, Michael?
GOODWIN: I do. I think McCain can prove that he's not too old if he acts as though he is too old, than he will be. So it's really in his hands.
DOBBS: And the idea -- Roger Simon, I want to go back to your writing about the "bitter" comments and the relationship of guns. Do you think, basically, going into next Tuesday there in Pennsylvania that Senator Obama has escaped unscathed, despite his -- what are they being called, "arrogant and elitist" remarks?
SIMON: No, I don't think he has escaped unscathed at all. I think it will hurt him. But I think he never had much of a chance to actually win in Pennsylvania. It's all a matter of how close he comes. If he does win, I think it would be a terrific upset. But I think he has hurt himself. I think he has hurt himself in the general election also, especially on the issue of guns. Guns are a very potent force in American life and American politics and it's an issue that the Democrats have been nervous about since 2000 when Al Gore blew three winnable states, Tennessee, Arkansas, and West Virginia, largely on the gun issue.
If he had won any one of those, he would be president -- or would have been president.
DOBBS: Yes. And I love the sort of arrogant idea amongst the national media, Michael Goodwin, that guns somehow are just for hunting, you know, for those country people who really don't know what else to do with their lives but pray and go shoot something.
You know, guns are important to a lot of us in this country for lots of reasons. And it seems just -- as Roger, by the way, also documented on politico.com, I mean, this is a powerful, powerful, powerful issue. And Barack Obama is playing with it like he doesn't know that it is a highly explosive element that he has in his hands.
GOODWIN: Look, I think, Lou, what's happening against Obama, really, in the last -- it's less than six weeks now since the Jeremiah Wright thing first came out. And I think that was the high water mark of his campaign. And the longer the campaign goes on, the more we get to know him, and things like this statement reveal parts of him that somehow escaped scrutiny before.
And I have to say, I think Hillary Clinton was right. He has not been vetted and he is getting vetted now, and it is taking a lot of starch out of his campaign. The question is, can she keep it going long enough, and if there's anything more, can she turn the tide? So time is of the essence here for her.
SHEINKOPF: The comments he made this past week show not insensitivity, that's not the issue here. It is a mass misunderstanding of American culture and mores. That is different. And the states that are coming up, absent North Carolina, those kinds of comments are going to take him and make his life very difficult.
DOBBS: All right. The idea that it could be more difficult than what he has experienced here over the last week is hard to contemplate, but...
SHEINKOPF: The best is yet to come, Lou. It ain't over yet.
DOBBS: OK, from your lips, Hank Sheinkopf, to our audience's ears and all of us. Roger Simon there in Philadelphia, you've got a big, busy evening ahead of you. We'll see you -- we'll be watching carefully to make sure that your forecast is 100 percent, as usual. Michael Goodwin, thank you very much for being with us. Hank Sheinkopf, as always. Thank you, gentleman.
Coming up next, at the top of the hour, the "ELECTION CENTER" and Campbell Brown.
Campbell, what are you working on?
CAMPBELL BROWN, HOST, "ELECTION CENTER": Hey there, Lou. Well, we have an "ELECTION CENTER" special coming up tonight at the top of the hour. "Politics, Prayer, and Passion."
We've got breaking news, the pope's admission today that the pedophile priest scandal was very badly handled by the church. And I'll ask our Vatican insiders why those words are so significant.
We'll go to one of the hardest-hit cities to see if the pope's apology really is enough. Also, ordained Baptist minister Mike Huckabee, weighs in on who John McCain should pick as a running mate. We've got that too at the top of the hour -- Lou.
DOBBS: Politics, passion, and...
DOBBS: Prayer. All right.
BROWN: The three Ps, Lou.
DOBBS: The three Ps. And with a subset of pedophiles and populism, I believe we've got.
BROWN: There you go. Why didn't I think of that? Thanks, Lou.
DOBBS: Thanks, Campbell. Campbell Brown.
A reminder to vote in our poll tonight. Do you care what the leaders of the Catholic Church have to say about illegal immigration, border security or any other political issue? Yes or no. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results, upcoming.
Up next, Pope Benedict XVI mixing religion and politics on his first trip to the country. Also, his first trip -- the first day of that trip. We'll be talking about the Vatican's pro-amnesty policy and all of its other issues. Some of those Ps of Campbell's we'll delve into.
And outsourcing our national security, new concerns about the threat to critical American defense technology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: Irrational fear or veiled protectionism. This is a real national security concern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Congressman Duncan Hunter there. We'll have a special report. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Joining me now for some analysis of Pope Benedict's visit to this country, Father John Paris, professor of bioethics at Boston College. Father Paris joining us tonight from San Francisco.
Father Paris, good to see you. Thanks for being here. I'd like to, if I may, go straight to the meeting between the president and the pontiff today, and this is -- at the White House, this is what the pope had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE BENEDICT XVI: As a nation faces increasingly complex political and ethical issues of our time, I'm confident that the American people will find in their religious beliefs a precious source of insight and an inspiration to pursue reasoned, responsible, and respectful dialogue in the effort to build a more human and free society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Is he talking about illegal immigration, is he -- what is he talking about there, if I may ask, Father?
JOHN PARIS, BOSTON COLLEGE: Oh, I don't think he's talking about illegal immigration at all. I think he's talking about the human community and how we can best reason together out of spiritual motives and reason to achieve peace and justice and equity in a society.
DOBBS: Peace, justice, and equity in a society, six archdiocese have gone bankrupt in the Catholic Church. Thousands of victims of sexually -- sexual predators, priests, what in the world -- why did it take so long for this pontiff to address this issue as he basically set foot on the airplane to take off to come to this country?
PARIS: Well, he has addressed the issue before, but he hasn't addressed it to the American public, because he wasn't in the presence or about to be in the presence of the American public, and as he said, he's deeply ashamed by what happened and is willing to undertake whatever measures are necessary in order to guarantee that such a horrendously awful, sinful form of behavior does not occur in the Catholic Church again.
DOBBS: And the Vatican has made much of the fact that the pontiff is going to take up the issue of illegal immigration with President Bush and obviously with the leaders of church in this country. Do you think that's a mistake?
PARIS: Oh, not on the part of the pope at all. His view transcends individual nations, and he's concerned with what he calls a human family. As he said in his address today, we're brothers and sisters in one family at the same table, and he's concerned about the poor, the weak, the downtrodden, the most vulnerable members of the community, and that's part of the entire Judeo-Christian tradition.
DOBBS: It is, and what is troubling for some, though, who are not Catholic, and who are interested in the issue of illegal immigration, border security, it's one thing to say that the pope transcends governments and these secular interests, but the reality is that he is talking very specifically about secular interests and the very borders that he seeks to transcend, which, frankly, puts, it seems -- it seems to me, at least, the pope in a difficult place to be talking about this country, its immigration policies, laws, and the way in which it enforces laws when we are the most welcoming society on the face of the earth and the pontiff doesn't take note of that, nor does the Vatican or the U.S. Council of Bishops.
PARIS: Well, he focuses on what he sees as the problems. The problems he sees are women and children, women being separated from their children. And he says, this is not a humane way to deal with the issues. And so he focuses on what he sees as the problematic.
Now he comes here saying, I come with three purposes, I come as a friend of America, I come -- and this is the important part, as a preacher of the Gospel, and it's the Gospel that he's preaching on this issue, and he comes as one who protects the secular society of America and its pluralism.
But it's the second part that's the real issue with regard to the pope who sees himself as a pastor to these vulnerable people.
DOBBS: So it would be too much to hope, for example, that perhaps there was some fact-finding in the pope's mission here?
PARIS: Well, he's not interested in the politics of individual issues, he's interested in the broad issue of how we respect the dignity of human beings.
DOBBS: You know what, those are -- that's a pretty lofty mission for all of us. And as always, Father Paris, we thank you for being here.
PARIS: Good. Thanks, Lou.
DOBBS: (INAUDIBLE) talking with you. Father John Paris of Boston College.
Still ahead, some members of Congress calling for the end of the outsourcing of our national security. We'll see what the Bush administration has to say about all of that. Stay with us, we'll be right back.
DOBBS: Congress today finally taking up the issue of the security risk posed by outsourcing our nation's defense. The U.S. Air Force's $35 billion tanker aircraft project and even machine guns and pistols for our troops are being contracted out to foreign manufacturers. This is raising some new concerns that the United States may not be able to meet its own defense needs in the event of a major crisis.
Lisa Sylvester has our report.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some in Congress are worried that sensitive defense knowledge is leaving the United States. What's raising the alert? The outsourcing of defense jobs, like the Air Force's new refueling tanker contract going to the European manufacturer of the Airbus instead of Boeing, or Marine One being built by an international coalition.
Foreign companies are offering to buy American corporations that do sensitive work for the Pentagon, and unknown investors are using hedge funds to buy into U.S. defense companies.
HUNTER: This is not an irrational fear or veiled protectionism. This is a real national security concern.
SYLVESTER: Globalization has made it easier for U.S. contractors to move defense manufacturing offshore. So instead of finding sensitive military equipment made in the USA, the Pentagon is having to shop in foreign markets.
MICHAEL WYNNE, AIR FORCE SECRETARY: I think right now I worry about the industrial base of the future. I think we have started to decay our industrial base in 1990, and I think our market doesn't support a large industrial base right now.
SYLVESTER: Even more troubling, classified technology could end up in the wrong hands. It's the job of the Pentagon's Office of Defense Security Service to make sure that doesn't happen. But according to the Government Accountability Office, that defense office is woefully understaffed, uses and antiquated computer system, and its personnel lacked the knowledge to follow complex financial transactions.
ANN CALVARESI-BARR, GOVT. ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: I would say right now the larger safety net of programs that we have in place to protect what is critical, that safety net looks like Swiss cheese.
SYLVESTER: The Pentagon's Defense Security Services director says the agency has made improvements in the last two years, identifying high-risk companies, but acknowledges there is still a lot of work to be done safeguarding the flow of classified defense information.
(on camera): To get perspective on just how much work they have cut our for them, the Pentagon's Office of Defense Security has only 350 full-time employees to monitor 8,000 contractors and 12,000 defense facilities for classified breaches.
Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: And now the moment everybody has been waiting for, the results of tonight's poll -- 89 percent of you replying that you do not care what the leaders of the Catholic Church have to say about illegal immigration, border security or any other political issue.
Just 89 percent.
Time now for a few of your thoughts.
Terry in Michigan wrote in to say: "Lou, this spiral to the bottom has now become a runaway train to the bottom for the middle class. You seem to be the only one we can rely on for the facts. Our government continues telling us how good we have it. I wonder how long it will be before they offer the Kool-Aid?"
And Jan in Missouri: "My husband and I now watch your program during our dinner hour. I must say that you are assisting me with my diet because the things we learn on your broadcast makes me lose my appetite. Keep informing us. We are now Independent voters."
And Bruce in Colorado: "Lou, where except Washington, D.C. can you find this many fools on the Hill who think that bailing out corporations and homebuilders is the answer to the foreclosure issue? Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't they the ones that caused the problem?"
Marilyn in Arizona: "Lou, loved your comment about our nation needing real leadership now, I'm sorry but I don't see any of the candidates filling this spot."
We thank you for sharing your thoughts. We thank you for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow.
For all of us, thank you for watching. Good night from New York.
The "ELECTION CENTER" with Campbell Brown begins right now -- Campbell.