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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Deep Divisions Among Democrats; McCain Tries to Gain Political Advantage; FDA Ill-Equipped to Handle Inspections

Aired April 24, 2008 - 19:00   ET

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


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight, Senators Clinton and Obama facing another four months of bitter fighting before the Democratic Convention. Will the Democrats resolve their differences before the general election? Will the Democratic Party lose that election? We'll have complete coverage tonight.

And chaos in the skies, airlines treating passengers like cattle, new and urgent calls to regulate the airline industry. One of the country's most respected airline executives, former American Airlines CEO Robert Crandall will join us here.

And new outrage over the federal government's complete failure to protect American consumers from dangerous drug imports, what, if anything, are the Congress and this administration doing about it? We'll have that special report, all of that, all the day's news, and much more, straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, April 24. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Senators Clinton and Obama tonight are beginning what will be a 40-day battle to win the remaining primary elections. The finally primaries are on June 3, but this fight is likely to continue until the Democratic Convention at the end of August.

Top Democrats are concerned the stalemate could harm the prospects of whoever may be the party's eventual nominee. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today warned, in fact, he may try to force superdelegates to choose between Clinton and Obama if the race continues in June.

Tonight, we have extensive coverage. We begin with Candy Crowley in Washington.

Candy, just how concerned is the Democratic leadership with this continued stalemate?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There is high anxiety. I think you can see that, from not only Senator Reid. We've heard before he's voiced similar concerns, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, here's what they're looking at. It's not so much that the race sometimes gets a little nasty; it is that what we are seeing increasingly from state to state is the hardening of these voters on one side or the other.

So that you get increasing amounts of people coming out of those polls and telling exit pollers if the other person wins, I'm voting for John McCain, or I'm sitting home. So the Democrats are watching all of these new voters come into the process, and then on the other hand watching an increasingly hardened electorate for one side or the other. So that's what's really bothering them at this point, that it has gotten so tight and ugly that it is now really forcing people on either side to say, well, I'm not going to vote for the other one.

DOBBS: And that keeps showing up in polls. But let me ask you, to have Senator Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee suggesting they're going to demand, in effect, that superdelegates declare themselves for one candidate or the other, as their party's nominee, I mean, that's a highly, it seems to me, risky strategy.

CROWLEY: Well, they're talking about after the primaries end. They're talking about by July 1. So that gives everybody time to see how the campaign trail has shaken out and it gives them time to sort of talk to the nominees, listen to the arguments, whatever they may be, pledged delegates, popular votes, big states, little states, number of states.

Whatever the argument is going to be from these candidates, it will give them then another, what, three weeks in June, more than three weeks in June to try to figure this out. Obviously, what they're worried about and what Howard Dean doesn't want, what Nancy Pelosi doesn't want, what Harry Reid doesn't want is to go into that convention with no decision. They just think that would be catastrophic.

DOBBS: Well, if these are the thinkers that the party truly regards as their leaders, that seems to me to be a huge risk for the parties to bet that there is broad support for either Nancy Pelosi or Majority Leader Reid, who is considered by most to be a failure in that role, and of course, Howard Dean, who's a failed candidate who has the chair of the Democratic National Committee. These look like high-stakes risks for the Democratic Party.

CROWLEY: Well, look, these are the people who are the party elders at this point. These are the ones who, if anyone can move them, certainly these are the people that can move the Democrats, the superdelegates. And that is the elected leaders on Capitol Hill and the party officials. They hold considerable sway over the superdelegates. So what they're trying to do and what they believe they can do is to get some clarity in this race. And by that I mean, you know, an actual nominee so that it just doesn't become a disaster in August.

DOBBS: And do you believe, and can the Democratic Party believe, that they will be able to bring the party together behind successfully behind one of these candidates as the party's nominee?

CROWLEY: They do, actually. I mean, I think they think they're right up against that line. At least, most people I've talked to have said you know we are now like in the red zone here, and we really need to move this further, again, because they're watching those exit polls and watching these two sides harden up. But they do believe that in the end the majority of these Democrats will come home.

What bothers them most is that it isn't the popular vote, as you know, in a general election. So if you have a group of Democratic voters, even a small group of Democratic voters in a place like Pennsylvania or in a place like Ohio, they can swing the state. And then all those electoral votes go someplace else. So it's not just the broader look of you know how many Democrats will vote for the nominee. It's a state-by-state look and that worries them.

DOBBS: It's a peculiar thing to hear people, as you mention that, seem to forget that it is an electoral vote and that one could win the presidency of the United States not by 20 or 30 states or 39 states even. All that would be required would be 11 states with 271 electoral votes that would win the presidency this year.

Thank you very much, Candy Crowley.

Senator Clinton tonight insisting she's won a larger share of the popular vote than Senator Obama. Senator Clinton is including votes of course in Michigan and Florida, although the national Democratic Party has declared those results invalid. And for its part, the Obama campaign says the number of pledged delegates is the most important tally.

Bill Schneider is in charge of sorting it all out in this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The closest thing to an official scorecard in the Democratic race is the number of pledged delegates each candidate has won so far. After the Pennsylvania primary, Barack Obama still leads by 158.

Neither candidate can reach a majority with pledged delegates alone. The superdelegates will determine the winner. The superdelegates are under a lot of pressure to follow the popular vote. But that's not as easy as it sounds. Here are the vote totals for the 30 primaries that have been held so far, not including Florida and Michigan, which were invalid contests under Democratic Party rules. Obama won the popular vote in those primaries by a margin of 341,000. So how can Hillary Clinton say this?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm very proud that as of today, I have received more votes by the people who have voted than anybody else.

SCHNEIDER: Because she also says this.

H. CLINTON: But if you count, as I count, the 2.3 million people who voted in Michigan and Florida, then we are going to build on that.

SCHNEIDER: Some Clinton supporters argue it would be fair to include the Florida votes, because both candidates' names were on the ballot and no one campaigned in Florida. If we add in the Florida votes, Obama's lead in the popular votes shrinks to 46,000.

In Michigan, Obama's name was not on the ballot, so he got zero votes. Clinton got over 300,000. If you add in the Michigan votes, Clinton goes into the lead. But Obama would argue, what about the caucuses?

He won most of those. If we take the 30 undisputed primaries and add in the number of votes cast in 12 caucus states, Obama leads by more than half a million votes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Now, Obama says he carried more states, and that's true, but Clinton carried states with more electoral votes. Lou, you said it's up to me to sort this out, that's not quite true. It's going to be up to the superdelegates to sort this out.

DOBBS: And if you include the superdelegates, at the last count, we had 135-difference between these two candidates, with more than 30 -- I think it's 3,100 total delegates, pledged and superdelegates. I mean, why can't people contend with the very simple reality -- this is so close it's impossible to call right now.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. It is just that close. You know, a lot of people say, how can Hillary Clinton make up the difference in pledged delegates? Actually, it's a very tiny difference. The problem here is the Democratic Party rules, which don't award the winner a big gain in delegates. She won Pennsylvania by nine points, but she only had an advantage there of about 10 delegates.

DOBBS: And compare two states, Kansas and Pennsylvania, Kansas awarding far more delegates in that victory in a caucus to Obama than was awarded to Senator Clinton in Pennsylvania, a state far larger and far more important strategically than Kansas.

SCHNEIDER: And I'm -- I can assure you that after this election, as they do after most elections, the Democrats are going to revisit those rules. We may not -- we may be seeing the last of the superdelegates in this election, and they're going to try to figure out why this really -- how this can be made to make sense.

DOBBS: Well, one of the things will be required, no matter what new system is put forward, if it is, as you suggest, one is you're still going to have the same, we'll say, degree of intellect trying to understand how a very slim margin is anything but a slim margin. It seems mind-boggling that the Democratic Party cannot accept the fact that they have a stalemate, a photo finish on their hands here.

SCHNEIDER: That's exactly right. And the one thing that they don't allow is any kind of winner-take-all rules. The Republicans though require it, but they allow it even by state. Well if the Democrats are allowed, even by congressional district winner-take-all, this thing would have come to a conclusion much faster.

DOBBS: It would have come to a conclusion and the only estimate I have seen has been if it were winner-take-all, Senator Clinton would be ahead right now by 300 delegate votes.

SCHNEIDER: Depends on whether it's winner-take all-by state...

DOBBS: Right.

SCHNEIDER: ... or winner take all by congressional district.

DOBBS: Congressional district, exactly.

SCHNEIDER: Exactly.

DOBBS: There are geniuses working in both political parties to maximum effect.

Thank you very much, Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

DOBBS: Senator McCain is trying to gain political advantage from the continuing divisions in the Democratic Party. Senator McCain today went to New Orleans to show Democrats he would be a very different type of president than President Bush.

Dana Bash has our report from New Orleans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A walk for the cameras through New Orleans' devastated and still largely uninhabited lower ninth ward. John McCain used these vivid reminders of a stained Bush legacy to try to distance himself.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Never again. Never again will a disaster of this nature be handled in the terrible and disgraceful way that it was handled. Never again. Never again.

BASH: President Bush famously flew over New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina, a mistake McCain said he would not have made.

MCCAIN: In all candor, if I would have been president of the United States, I would have ordered the plane landed at the nearest Air Force base and I would have been over here.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.

BASH: He listed other Bush failures.

MCCAIN: Unqualified people in charge, there was a total misreading of the dimensions of the disaster, there was a failure of communications.

BASH: He also blamed Congress for misplaced priorities, earmarks for bridges to nowhere instead of funding for levees. McCain vowed to restore Louisiana wetlands and build category five hurricane resistant levees, estimated to cost tens of billions. MCCAIN: One of the ways we can find the money is by reprioritizing the public works projects, which are now based too often on the power of individual congressman or senator.

BASH: But his carefully scripted imagery was interrupted by a voter's question about Pastor John Hagee, who endorsed McCain and said things like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God.

MCCAIN: When someone endorses me that does not mean that I embrace their views.

BASH: And on his bus, a dig at Barack Obama.

MCCAIN: I didn't attend Pastor Hagee's church for 20 years. There's a great deal of difference, in my view, between someone who endorses you and other circumstances.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: That despite John McCain's pledge to run an above-the-fray campaign. Now meanwhile, Lou, Democratic Chairman Howard Dean issued a statement blasting McCain saying that he is, "hiding from votes that he cast against several pieces of Katrina legislation", things like unemployment assistance and emergency health care for survivors.

McCain responded by saying that those particular pieces of legislation were nothing more than pork-laden projects -- Lou.

DOBBS: And I think it's probably incumbent upon us too, Dana, to point out, as Senator McCain put it, that money that could be reprioritized in Washington, he is the only candidate running of either party who can say that in point of fact, he has never taken an earmark or pork in his entire career in the Senate.

BASH: That's right. And he says it, Lou, over and over and over again. Any chance he gets. One thing that's interesting is that he says that he would approach Katrina by having essentially a cost/benefit analysis, no not just in dealing with Katrina, but government spending across the board in order to figure out the right priority. As you said, what should be spent and in what way, and obviously Katrina would be pretty high on the list no matter what kind of analysis he would do.

DOBBS: Right. OK. Dana, thank you very much.

Dana Bash reporting.

One of the biggest foreign policy challenges facing the next president, whomever he or she will be, is the spread of nuclear weapons. The White House today said North Korea's work on a Syrian nuclear reactor was, "a dangerous and potentially destabilizing development for the world." A senior American official said that reactor could have been only weeks away from being functional when Israeli aircraft destroyed it last September. The Bush administration said Syria tried to bury all evidence of that reactor after it was destroyed.

Still ahead here, new questions about the president's faith-based economic policies, including so-called free trade.

Casey Wian will have our report -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the president says NAFTA is creating prosperity on our southern border. The evidence says otherwise. We'll have details, coming up, Lou.

DOBBS: Looking forward to it, Casey. Thank you.

Also, a rapidly increasing number of states have apparently had a bellyful of the federal government's failure to secure our borders. They're taking action. We'll have that report.

And the system to protect American consumers from dangerous drug imports is utterly broken. We'll tell you what the Bush administration and this Congress are doing to assure your safety. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: President Bush was in New Orleans this week. He met there with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Those three leaders vigorously, and some might say vacuously, defended NAFTA. President Bush even claimed NAFTA created a new era of prosperity along our border with Mexico.

Well as Casey Wian now reports, the reality, as it often is with this president, is very different.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN (voice-over): Don't mess with NAFTA, proclaims the leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico at their summit in New Orleans this week. They claim the 14-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement has benefited all three North American nations. President Bush even said NAFTA is responsible for an economic boom along the border.

BUSH: I wish people could remember what the border looked like between Texas and Mexico before NAFTA. I mean, it was poor, really poor, on both sides of the border. If you go down there today there's prosperity on both sides of the border, and that's in our nations' interests.

WIAN: Post-NAFTA personal income in counties along the border has grown slightly faster than income in other counties in the same states. But overall the region remains impoverished. According to the advocacy group, Border Counties Coalition, 22 of the 24 U.S. border counties have unemployment rates that are double the national average. Without prosperous San Diego County, border counties would rank last in per capita income and last in unemployment if they were considered a 51st state. The group also says more than half a million children or 27 percent of the youth population in border counties live in poverty.

BUSH: People who say let's get rid of NAFTA because they flow away a political line must understand this has been good for America.

WIAN: The president warned that scrapping NAFTA would increase illegal immigration, a threat echoed by Mexican president, Felipe Calderon.

FELIPE CALDERON, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): It would be a sudden loss of economic opportunities that would lead to even greater migratory pressure with the United States.

WIAN: Supporters of NAFTA say it's needed to remain economically competitive with Asia and Europe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: But opponents point to the rapid increase in illegal immigration in the years following NAFTA, plus the loss of four million manufacturing jobs in the United States during the past decade is clear evidence that NAFTA is not working for U.S. workers -- Lou.

DOBBS: Absolutely not. I suppose that's a little embarrassing. I shouldn't say that. It wouldn't be embarrassing to this White House to see that statistic that those border counties would represent the 51st -- as the 51st state would be the poorest state in the union. I mean, how can this administration, this White House -- isn't there anyone in this administration who has the intellectual integrity to meet or at least approach the level of their ideological fervor?

WIAN: Perhaps their definition of prosperity is a little bit different than yours and mine, but given these economic statistics we just reported on, and given the drug cartel violence that's spilling across both sides of the border, it's hard to, you know, to support the argument that the border region is prosperous by any stretch of the imagination, Lou.

DOBBS: I'll give Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada a pass. But to see President Bush and President Calderon laughing about the state of the quality of life along that border when we have a State Department warning out on the border for Americans, when we have still Mexico sending across that border the largest -- the highest percentage of our methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin coming into this country.

That is an ugly and disgusting attitude on the part of those two -- those two leaders. Thank you very much for straightening the record out, Casey, as we will continue to try to do with this administration no matter what.

WIAN: Absolutely. DOBBS: Casey Wian, thank you.

State governments across this country are tonight taking action to fight illegal immigration. State legislators, in fact, have introduced hundreds of new measures to crack down on illegal immigration and illegal employers who hire the illegal aliens.

Bill Tucker has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): States are actively treading where Congress fears to go. More than 1,100 pieces of immigration legislation have been introduced in 44 states in the first quarter of this year. Groups favoring tighter immigration control say the trend should not be surprising.

MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: Because the federal government is unwilling to enforce the immigration laws, the state governments that bear most of the costs of illegal immigration are taking matters into their own hands.

TUCKER: Law enforcement legislation has attracted the most attention. Thirty-five states introduced nearly 200 bills, a large majority seeking to require state and local police to work with federal immigration authorities to determine immigration status of those in jail. Stricter guidelines for IDs and driver's licenses were equally as popular.

The majority of the bills deal with creating stricter guidelines for obtaining an ID or driver's license. And 31 states are weighing stricter guidelines on employment, with many of those bills calling for sanctions for employers hiring illegal aliens and addressing the use of the federal employment eligibility verification systems such as e-Verify. Why are states more willing to act, according to one state legislator proximity.

DON BALFOUR (R), GEORGIA STATE SENATE: It makes a huge difference went you're going home every night and you're going to that grocery store, that barbershop or that movie theater, and Balfour, what are you doing? What are you -- and when they're adding what are you doing on immigration? Well, it makes you think more when you go in the next week. What are we doing on immigration?

TUCKER: He notes that when you're in a senator in Washington, you don't typically get that kind of feedback.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: Now, the activity at the state level doesn't seem done. Legislators in five states have not had the regular sessions yet so far this year. Arkansas and Oregon have had special sessions to deal with immigration issues in those states, Lou. So they're hard at work out there in the states.

DOBBS: They're trying to do something, because this Congress lacks the guts, the courage to simply deal -- we could have had, in my opinion, illegal immigration as an issue could have been resolved in this country if three years ago instead of the Kennedy legislation, the Kennedy/Bush/McCain -- you name it legislation, comprehensive immigration reform legislation, if they'd simply secured the border, which is totally within the power of this government, this administration to do so, we could be done.

We could be done with the issue of how to reform immigration law. Now we are in precisely the same place. We cannot control our borders and our ports, therefore we can't control immigration. And therefore we cannot reform substantively or meaningfully immigration laws. And it's almost -- it's -- I don't know whether it's ironic or it's tragic or what, but to hear my friends at the Hispanic -- Congressional Hispanic Caucus talking about referring to their Democratic leadership as bad as the Republican leadership they replaced, it's -- I mean, it's ridiculous because they're talking as though nothing has happened.

What has happened is the American people have expressed their will on this issue. Senator John McCain acknowledges it. That border must be secured before anything is done to change immigration policy.

TUCKER: Exactly.

DOBBS: I tell you, it's -- a little common sense would go a long way in that town, Washington, D.C.

Bill Tucker, thank you very much.

TUCKER: You're welcome.

DOBBS: Coming up here next, your government at work. Why the FDA is desperately ill-equipped and ill-staffed to protect our food and drug supply. We'll have a special report.

And are the Democrats simply doomed in '08, bitter-end fighting threatening to cost the Democrats the general election. I'll be joined by three of my favorite political analysts here next.

Stay with us. We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: For years on this broadcast we have been reporting the FDA has simply and utterly failed to protect Americans from contaminated food and drug imports -- the most recent example the Chinese-made drug Heparin, which is responsible for dozens and dozens of deaths. And now, a new government study finds that the Food and Drug Administration doesn't have enough resources to inspect drug plants in other countries, as is now required.

Lisa Sylvester has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Doses of the blood-thinning drug Heparin made in China, tainted with a contaminant that initial tests failed to show, just the latest example of what a former FDA commissioner says are ticking time bombs -- foreign-made drugs.

WILLIAM HUBBARD, FORMER ASSOC. FDA COMMISSIONER: Just imagine if these counterfeiters, instead of trying to make a buck, wanted to simply kill or injure Americans. And I suggest you -- it wouldn't have been all that hard.

SYLVESTER: That's because the U.S. Food and Drug Agency is ill- equipped to do foreign inspections. A Government Accountability Office study found the FDA will spend just $11 million this year to inspect foreign drug manufacturing sites, a mere fraction of what's needed. The study found to inspect all the foreign drug plants would cost at least $70 million. But the FDA's budget and staffing for inspections has been slashed over the last eight years.

JANET WOODCOCK, FDA CTR FOR DRUG EVAL & RESEARCH: The FDA was staffed and configured to regulate a domestic industry. And times have changed. We haven't changed. We've shrunk our inspectional capacity has shrunk.

SYLVESTER: More responsibility has fallen on U.S. drug manufacturers to ensure quality of imported products.

GERALD MIGLIACCIO, PFIZER: We have standards and we insist that we achieve those standards.

SYLVESTER: But self-regulation is not enough for many lawmakers who want to see more robust federal oversight.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Senator Sharon Brown questioned why U.S. drug manufacturers were moving offshore to countries like China. The FDA's Janet Woodcock said, according to analysts, it's to save money, and she acknowledged, in some cases, to skirt U.S. environmental laws -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, what are the little darlings going to do about it? I mean, we've heard this story year after year after year. Eighty-one people have died as a result of those heparin contaminants, and we have this kabuki dance that goes on in Washington. We've got retired official after retired official. Why aren't people being fired? Why aren't resources being added to the FDA and to other agencies who have regulatory responsibilities? And why in the world is anyone seriously taking self-regulation as some sort of reasonable approach when lives are at stake?

SYLVESTER: Lou, those are all excellent questions. In fact, we had a meeting a few days ago in which the FDA commissioner had asked for only for a fraction of the money that everybody acknowledges is necessary in order to go and effectively do these screenings at these foreign sites. So, in some cases, they just have their head in the sand and they just are not really fully acknowledging that there is a major problem on their hands. DOBBS: Well, it seems to me that perhaps a criminal penalty should be available for executive branch folks who are not doing their jobs to protect the American public, because these are criminal consequences of these thoughtless acts. It doesn't make any sense.

SYLVESTER: Yeah, Lou, there are lives on the line here, 81 people, 81 deaths, as many as 81 possibly linked to heparin. So, for those families, they want answers. And for the public, everyone's wondering, where is the FDA on this issue?

DOBBS: And this gutless administration -- and I also might add, brainless -- simply allowing the communist Chinese to -- their government to say, we're going to inspect your factories if you want to inspect ours and not even respond to it. The sooner these fools in this administration get out of the nation's capital, the safer this nation and all consumers will be, I hope. Thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester.

Time now for some of your thoughts. Jack in Virginia said, "Hi, Lou, this Democratic-led Congress is just as much to blame for our credit crisis, housing crash, increased gas prices, deflated dollar, and very soon, a huge spike in commodities as Bush is. It's time that all of our government starts to own up to its failures and stop the finger-pointing and fix the problems." I couldn't agree with you more.

And Charles in Maryland, "Lou, perhaps if Congress gets it through their heads that voters will not re-elect them if they don't handle illegal immigration and border control issues, maybe then they'll follow the state's lead and enact legislation to deal with the issue."

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 local listings for THE LOU DOBBS SHOW on the radio.

Up next, top Democrats concerned about the long and bitter fight between senators Obama and Clinton, three of the smartest political analysts and strategists join me.

And airlines treating passengers like cattle. Is it time to reregulate our airline industry? Former American Airlines CEO, Robert Crandall will join me.

And the U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus is being promoted. General David Grange will tell us what that means for our troops and their mission. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the best political analysts in the country. Here in New York with me, Democratic strategist, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT contributor, Robert Zimmerman. Robert, also a supporter and superdelegate for Senator Hillary Clinton. Thomas Edsall, political editor of the "Huffington Post," professor, Columbia School of Journalism. Good to have you with us. And in Washington, D.C., Roger Simon, chief political columnist, politico.com.

Well, what do you make of the math, Roger Simon? Was it a 10- point win, or was it a 9.4 percent win?

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO.COM: Well, I guess, mathematically, it was a 9.4 percent win, but still, it was a good win, I mean, 10 percent is a technical landslide. Don't forget, she got a 9.4 percentage point win in the face of sort of relentless media coverage saying a vote for Hillary Clinton is a wasted vote because Barack Obama has this thing sewed up, so I think Pennsylvania was a very good win for Hillary Clinton.

DOBBS: And by the way, rounding up, it is 10 percent, if you want to round up. I mean, it depends on who you want to -- whose view, I guess, you want to take, here. Tom, your thoughts on it -- I mean, we're down to a candidates talking about a 10-point or nine- point or nine-point-something win, when we're talking about a race that is, with over 3,100 delegates at stake, separated by 135 delegates, the popular vote, separated by anywhere from 46,000 all the way out to a half million on 28 million votes. This is as narrow, as slim a margin, as any contest we've ever seen.

THOMAS EDSALL, HUFFINGTON POST: That's why, I think, personally that the important thing here was not the outcome as much as what the outcome meant for Hillary. And if you look at the media coverage since then, it has all basically accepted her argument, or at least partially accepted it, that Obama may be a flawed candidate in the general election. There's been a striking flip in the media in a matter of two days. So, this thing has real consequence in the sense that the atmosphere has changed more than the -- any delegates. All she got out of it were 10 delegates, it's nickel/dime poker, in effect. But the tone and tenor of the campaign has shifted so that she can now make her case and be reinforced by the media, whereas before she really could not do that. And the media...

DOBBS: Let's come back to that issue, because I'd like to hear everybody weigh in on that, as well. I know this has got to be music to your ears, Robert Zimmerman, as a superdelegate committed to Hillary Clinton. But at the same time, how far has the process moved? And substantively, in her favor?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, that's the real point. You know, one of the few benefits of supporting Hillary Clinton, is I don't exactly suffer from overconfidence. And by that I mean very simply, Thomas is correct, the narrative for the moment changed, but the reality in this new cycle, every 10 minutes that we live in, is that it could change quickly yet again and of course, Indiana is still the tiebreaker no matter how either side wants to spin.

DOBBS: You're making me nervous. Every time you refer to Indiana as the tiebreaker, it makes me feel like we're getting inside information. ZIMMERMAN: Well no, Barack Obama says it's the tiebreaker, and we agree with them. And in North Carolina, she's going to have do better than the pundits are saying she's doing.

DOBBS: Can she win in North Carolina?

ZIMMERMAN: I don't know that, yet. I think she's going to be very competitive there, I think she's going to be closer, and from what I've heard and seen from both sides, they expect a closer race than they're predicting.

DOBBS: The last time I heard the words "competitive" were from all of the networks, as we covered this thing, Tuesday, all saying "competitive," those exit polls came out, and by the time the voting was done, we saw a -- let's call it a double-digit margin.

SIMON: I predicted that. I used my words deliberately.

DOBBS: When you said it, you had it right. You said between nine and 10, and that's where we are. We can argue very little about that.

Roger Simon, all of the talk, all of the discussion has changed just as Tom suggested. But did it change because that 10-point victory validated the concerns that were being articulated, for better than a week, about the man who referred to Pennsylvania working people as clinging to religion, guns, and who had antipathy for people who did not look like them, which is one of the most bizarre statements, by the way, because Pennsylvania is one of the most diverse states in the union.

SIMON: It was a combination of her sizable win, at 9.4, if you want to call that double digits, go ahead.

DOBBS: Feel free here, you're on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, you can let that roll out. A 10-point rounded up win.

SIMON: A 10-point win, and a combination of a series of a poor debate performance by Barack Obama. You can criticize the moderators more, but he did not have a good night, regardless of the moderators, and the comment you just cited, where he seemed, once again, to be a cultural elitist, supercilious, I believe, as "The New Yorker" called him, and the continuing problem of the Jeremiah Wright story. This has not been a good series of weeks for Barack Obama.

The best thing he has going for him, which is a very powerful thing, is the fact that he's leading in the pledged delegates, probably unassailably, and the best thing, the most success Hillary Clinton has had is not getting pledged delegates, but selling the media on the notion that somehow the popular vote counts when in fact it doesn't count.

ZIMMERMAN: Actually, the popular vote is going to become even more decisive as we go forward, because as long as we don't have a revote in Florida and Michigan, we're going to have a situation that whoever the nominee is will get it on a technicalities, and that undermines the credibility of the nominee going forward.

SIMON: I think she can beat up Barack Obama and damage him in a general election. The question is, whether she can take the nomination away from him.

DOBBS: We're going to let Tom Edsall sort this all out when we come back and we'll be back with our panel here in just a moment. And the question is, and we'd like to hear from you on this, do you believe reregulating the airline industry is the best way to protect the interest of passengers? Yes or no, cast your vote at loudobbs.com, we'd love to hear from you on this. We'll have the results here later.

And Robert Crandall will join me, he's the former CEO of American Airlines. We'll be talking about the Northwest Delta merger, the chaos in the airline industry and whether or not we need to re- regulate this airline industry that is treating passengers more like cattle. All of that and much more, when we continue. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: We're back with Robert Zimmerman and Thomas Edsall and Roger Simon.

Tom, your point about the shift in media. Do you think it's appropriate or do you see it as simply another shift in bias within the national media?

EDSALL: I think, in fact, you have to look at the media as one of the political actors. You can't look at it so much as an independent entity, as a force in elections and force in policy. And to treat them as somehow separate or above the political process is a real mistake, and I think you can argue correctly that the media was very pro-Obama for a long time, and I think you can look at the media coverage today -- which I spent a lot of time doing for a story -- and it clearly has adopted the Clinton argument, or at least incorporating it now into stories, which is crucial to her, because she needs that added credibility -- verification that the media gives to her for that narrative that she wants to carry across, now.

DOBBS: Roger Simon, do you feel better with that analysis of Tom's, or do you feel comfortable with it, or does it make you uncomfortable?

SIMON: I find -- there's no definition of the media anymore, I mean, anyone with a laptop is the media, now. If you're talking about the mainstream media...

DOBBS: I love it when you're modest, Roger Simon.

SIMON: Well, it's true. If you're talking about the mainstream media, I think it strives pretty hard not to be a player, to be a fair broker, it doesn't always succeed. But I don't buy into the notion that the media is inherently biased and always, you know, goes for one candidate or the other. Although, there is... DOBBS: How do you sort out, on the day after, the morning after, that 10-point victory on the part of Senator Clinton, the "New York times" had an editorial just devastating her, certainly trying to devastate her. I think it was the low road to victory, I mean, this is a candidate they had endorsed.

SIMON: Well, probably that shows you exactly my point. They're not trying to be partisan one way or another, they're trying to call them the way they see them. They endorsed her because they thought she would be a better president, but on the other hand, they didn't like her behavior in the weeks leading up to the Pennsylvania primary and they had enough independence to say so.

ZIMMERMAN: But here's the point though, Roger. Pennsylvania's not an isolated state. You saw similar votes for Hillary Clinton in Ohio, in Texas, and of course in Pennsylvania. You saw her constituency, the Clinton campaign would argue, expand in certain quarters among certain constituencies. Why all of a sudden the media is now making that case is an interesting point to consider. I truly believe at the end of the day, "Saturday Night Live," their spoof on the media really changed the dynamic.

DOBBS: Tom, you get the last word here tonight.

EDSALL: I agree about "Saturday Night Live," but I will also add that the whole case that Hillary had been making has been built up by the further stuff on Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, the Jeremiah Wright and then Barack's answer to the flag pin question during the debate was really was a 380-word curveball and it just invited this kind of critique of him that, again, reinforcing Hillary.

DOBBS: For all of us in life, right now, Senator Obama can comfortably say the fault is his, it's not in the stars, whatever is transpiring in this media and body of politic. We thank you very much for being with us, gentlemen. Tom Edsall, Roger Simon and Robert Zimmerman.

Up at top of the hour, the ELECTION CENTER and Campbell Brown.

Campbell, what are you working on?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ELECTION CENTER ANCHOR: Well Lou, we are doing something special tonight. At the top of the hour, we're going to take a long look at one of this year's biggest political surprises. Despite all the attention on the Democrat's fight for the nomination and all of the voters' bad feeling about the economy, the war, even the Bush administration, John McCain could actually win this thing. And you're going to see the numbers, we'll game out the strategy, all of that coming up in the CNN ELECTION CENTER -- Lou.

DOBBS: Look forward to it. Thank you, Campbell.

Up next, hear chaos in the airline industry. Passengers are suffering as never before, being treated like cattle. The former CEO of American Airlines, who believed in consumer service when he was running that airline, says he thinks it will take reregulation to fix this industry's problems, now.

And a day of deadly violence in Baghdad. I'll be talking with General David Grange about the challenge facing our troops and our military leadership in Iraq. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Robert Crandall is the former chairman and CEO of American Airlines. He is certainly, in my opinion, the most distinguished of all the airline leaders in this industry over the last 30 years, and he says the solutions to the airline industry's problems now are less consolidation and more government intervention. Those are words that a lot of people thought they would never here Robert Crandall utter. He joins us tonight from Florida.

Bob, good to have you with us. You and I have known each other a long time. A lot of people would never guess that Bob Crandall would be calling for a reregulation of the airline industry.

BOB CRANDALL, FMR CEO, AMERICAN AIRLINES: Well, I was opposed to it in the beginning, Lou.

DOBBS: Right.

CRANDALL: I mean, when the hearings were held, there's all sorts of legendary stories about the abuse I happied on Fred Cahn (ph) and others, but then we went on to use the new rules and we were quite successful. But I think the status or the state of the airline industry, today, pretty clearly shows that the government has no plan for transportation systems, and certainly no plan for the aviation transportation system and we are losing an enormously value economic asset, and it's just nonsense.

DOBBS: Bob, I have said to a number of people that I considered the CEOs, the current CEOs in the airline industry in this country to be, at best, shadows of the capabilities demonstrated by previous CEOs from the 1980s on. Do you disagree with that, or would you -- would you like to argue for them?

CRANDALL: Oh, I don't know that I'd argue for or against, Lou. I think there's a lot -- there are some very bright people there, and they live in a different world than I lived in, and you have to keep in mind that if they criticize the government, they can be very badly punished.

DOBBS: All right, well I'll...

CRANDALL: The consequences -- I think they have to stay out of it.

DOBBS: We'll give them a pass on that, with but what I won't give them a pass on is the way airline passengers are being treated in this country. The number of people that have to line up like cattle to go through TSA security, who have to go through the nonsense in the way in which these airlines treat their passengers, I mean, it is disgusting. If they're not going to be in the consumer service business, let's reregulate it. Let's put together a mass transit service that can be effective and fair and at least treat human beings with the respect they deserve, rather than what they're having to be -- having to endure now.

CRANDALL: Well, I do think, Lou that the circumstances in the industry are dreadful, but I do think there needs to be some government intervention. Look, you can't have a system where a company can go bankrupt, hive off all kinds of costs, then come back into the marketplace, cut prices, thus destroying the economics of the people who have not gone bankrupt. That doesn't work, you can't have labor laws where the unions can back the airlines into a corner and compel them to accept uneconomic labor agreements.

You can't have a situation where an airline can schedule 100 flights an hour into an airport that can only handle 50. There needs to be -- if not reregulation, at least government modulation of some of these behavior patterns. And Lou, only the government can create the air traffic control system. We are still using 40, 50-year-old technology, radar systems instead of GPS. We could move a lot more people, a lot more airplanes, if we would simply use the technology we have.

DOBBS: Right, and that's another...

CRANDALL: ...it won't play and that's ridiculous.

DOBBS: And there's another nightmare that you just articulated, awaiting us. We're at the fingers of it now, but as the privatization of air traffic control is a nightmare I don't believe any one of us wants to experience at any time.

What do you think the likelihood is, because when I -- you talked about what is happening to labor, working men and women in these airlines, which is outrageous. I mean, when you look at the experience of Northwest alone, that airline is the basis, I would think, for labor actions for decades to come. But look at what's happening to the passenger? The outsourcing to foreign countries, beyond inspection of the FAA, of maintenance of these aircraft, we are playing with huge, tremendous amounts of risk here, as well as simple disrespect for the air traveler.

CRANDALL: Well, I think that's all true, Lou. And I'll tell you something else, you know, we talk about trade. I don't consider a trade when you simply export jobs for the purpose of getting lower wage rates in another country. I don't think we should allow people to outsource maintenance. And to be honest with you, I am very, very tired of talking to people in India whenever my computer breaks. That isn't the way the world is supposed to work.

DOBBS: Yeah. Well, Bob, one last thought here, one thought you want everybody to take home to their congressman or their senator. As I say, we want to see the Bob Crandall reregulation of the airline industry.

CRANDALL: I certainly -- I think we need -- should expect the government to step in, I think we should expect a better air traffic control system, I think we should expect no more flights in an airport than they can handle, I think we should expect a moderation change in our bankruptcy laws and our labor laws, all of which would move the aviation business back towards a higher standard of service.

DOBBS: Bob Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines, great to have you here. Thank you very much, Bob.

CRANDALL: Good to see you, Lou. Thanks and good luck.

DOBBS: Thank you.

Up next, a shake up in the U.S. military expand in Iraq. What does it mean for our troops and their mission? General David Grange joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Joining me now to talk about the latest shakeup in the military command in Iraq and other issues, with us tonight military analyst General David Grange.

General, good to have you with us. General Petraeus now in charge of CentCom as well as everything else. He's got two wars to lead. The impact and the wisdom of that decision?

GEN. DAVID GRANGE, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's a good move only because you have -- General Odierno back filling Petraeus. If that wasn't the case, I would say, don't switch out commanders in the middle of the fight, in the middle of the surge. But since he's being back-filled by Odierno, with the experience that General Petraeus has for the region, with a grand commander, great move.

DOBBS: And does the -- Odierno, as I recall, he's been there since 2003, with a brief break. He's well-regarded by the general staff, as well as by his men. He has a terrific reputation.

General Petraeus, do they -- does this addition of these two men in their new commands, in their roles, does it mean staying the course, to put it in political terms?

GRANGE: It means staying the course. It means more than ever, though, the continuity, the relationships that have been established, will not be broken. And Odierno was the one who fought the war. He's a fighter. And so -- him moving up in that position is great.

And by the way, here's a guy not only that's been there for awhile, but so has his son.

DOBBS: His son who lost, as I recall, a hand in combat, there as well.

Quite a general. As I said, well-regarded, highly regarded.

The -- all this information that's coming out about Syria, North Korea, the Israeli strike last year on that reactor, all of the discussion now about Iran and its role in Iraq. Is this the beginning of a hardening position toward Iran?

GRANGE: I hope so, because all these countries in this area did pursue nuclear activity, as well as other means of biological, radiological, chemical warfare. And so yes, I believe so, Lou.

DOBBS: General Dave Grange, as always, thank you, sir.

GRANGE: My pleasure.

DOBBS: The results of our poll -- 83 percent of you say reregulating the U.S. airline industry is the best way to protect the interests of passengers.

And those passengers are what it's all about.

Thanks for being with us tonight. For all of us, good night from New York.

The "ELECTION CENTER" with Campbell Brown begins right now -- Campbell.

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