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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Senator Obama Denounces Racially Charged Remarks; John McCain Unveils His Health Care Plan; Consequences of U.S. Government's Failure to Protect Consumers from Dangerous Drug Imports
Aired April 29, 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.
Could it be that Senator Obama has finally had a belly full? Today he declares his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, does not speak for him. Are Obama's criticisms of Wright's inflammatory remarks too late? Is Obama in danger of losing the Democratic presidential nomination? We'll have complete coverage tonight.
And emotional testimony today on Capitol Hill about the devastating consequences of our government's failure to protect American consumers from dangerous drug imports, those imports originating in communist China. We'll have that special report.
And an astonishing statement by a U.S. attorney charged with upholding this nation's laws, the U.S. attorney, Christopher Christie declaring it's not a crime to be in this country illegally. There are calls for his resignation tonight, 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 Tuesday, April 29. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Senator Obama today blasted his former pastor Jeremiah Wright in some of the bluntest language of this entire presidential campaign. Senator Obama said he was angered, shocked and surprised by Reverend Wright's insensitive and outrageous statements made yesterday.
Senator Obama called on -- called Wright's speech to the National Press Club a bunch of rants as he put it. Senator Obama acknowledged that Wright's comments on race and politics have caused great damage one week before the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.
We have lots of coverage tonight from the presidential campaign trail.
And we begin with Suzanne Malveaux in Hobart, Indiana -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, it's really a chance for Hillary Clinton here in Hobart to talk to families and talk about issues that really matter while Barack Obama essentially is trying to define himself once again to the voters. I have been speaking with people who are close to the Obama family and those who are privy to what is going on behind the scenes. They say this was a very personal decision between Barack and Michelle Obama to denounce their pastor and they also say that they're unofficial surrogates that are speaking on behalf of the campaign to establish what they're calling a day taunt (ph), so that this feud, this public feud does not go any further.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Barack Obama ended his relationship with his controversial Pastor Jeremiah Wright following Wright's three-day media blitz aimed at redeeming his reputation, Obama had had enough.
OBAMA: His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.
MALVEAUX: Wright did a sit down on PBS, preached in Dallas and addressed the NAACP, but it was his appearance at the National Press Club that put Obama over the top after Wright insisted he was simply defending the black church.
REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT, BARACK OBAMA'S FORMER PASTOR: If you think I'm going to let you talk about my mama and her religious tradition and my daddy and his religious tradition and my grandma, you got another thing coming.
OBAMA: Yesterday, I think he caricatured himself and that was -- as I said, that made me angry, but also made me sad.
MALVEAUX: Obama rejected Wright's theories from the U.S. government's involvement in AIDS to Minister Louis Farrakhan's role as a great leader.
OBAMA: There wasn't anything constructive out of yesterday. All it was, was a bunch of rants that aren't grounded in truth.
MALVEAUX: Obama especially took issue with Wright's assertion that he was distancing himself from his pastor for political gain.
WRIGHT: We both know that if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected.
OBAMA: That's a show of disrespect to me. It is also, I think an insult to what we have been trying to do in this campaign.
MALVEAUX: Now, Lou, the speech back in March about race in Philadelphia was really meant to put this issue, this controversy to rest. That did not work, since then Hillary Clinton, as well as the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, both of them calling into question the judgment and the character of Barack Obama over his association with his pastor. So far today neither one of those candidates is saying anything about this today -- Lou.
DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you very much.
Well as Suzanne suggested Senator Obama's speech today sharply different in both tone and content from the speech that he gave on race in America on the 18th of March. Last month Senator Obama offered only mild criticism at best of Reverend Wright, today Senator Obama was outraged at Reverend Wright's remarks.
Let's compare what Obama said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It contradicts everything that I am about and who I am. And anybody who has worked with me, who knows my life, who has read my books, who has seen what this campaign's about, I think will understand that it is completely opposed to what I stand for and where I want to take this country.
He contains within him the contradictions, the good and the bad of the community that he has served diligently for so many years. I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Senator Obama with two contrasting statements. Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, was at Senator Obama's news conference today.
Candy, very strong words from the senator this afternoon, but can he shake off the seething anger of his former pastor and the problem that he has, which is immense?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, we'll see, I guess we'll see next Tuesday. What they are hoping to do here and frankly what Obama's been trying to do on the trail, but he hasn't been so direct about it. He's on the trail now saying, if you want to know who I am, let me tell you who I am.
And then he goes back to how he feels about patriotism. He talks about his upbringing and that kind of thing. But it clearly was not direct enough. And then he watched the performance as he called it yesterday of Jeremiah Wright at the National Press Club and again made this decision with his wife he said to come out and be much, much stronger on this now, you know the political timing is everything here.
We are less than a week away from Indiana and North Carolina where Obama's ability to attract working class white votes has been under question. So clearly he could not let this simmer any longer and they made this decision, he made this decision to walk out there and go very, very hard on Reverend Wright.
DOBBS: We always hear in any moment of crisis in any campaign that it is always the candidate's decision. But can you give us any sense of what the staff or the campaign staff around him was thinking and how urgently they felt it was necessary to deal with the man they referred to -- Senator Obama referred to as "the crazy uncle"?
CROWLEY: It is fair to say that people who are supporting Barack Obama, some big name superdelegates were watching this with high anxiety. It is also fair to say that inside the campaign, they too were seething at Wright. They looked at it yesterday and said, look, right now Reverend Wright is in this for Reverend Wright. They knew it was a problem.
I asked Obama directly if the super -- any superdelegates had called him, any supporters had called him and said, hey, you have to do something and he didn't answer it directly. He just said, well I think the politics of this are pretty obvious, so obviously there's political content to this, how can there not be in the middle of this primary?
DOBBS: And what is not obvious is how the campaign will handle Reverend Wright and whatever his next extemporaneous, if you will expressions?
CROWLEY: Absolutely. I mean I think one of the things that they have to be fearful of at this point is that as you know there were some in the black community that defended Jeremiah Wright that said you know this is about, you know a long history of preaching social justice, that sort of thing, so on the one flank they have that.
On the other, they you know are worried obviously that he will come out and speak whenever he wants to. They kind of tried to draw that sting today when Obama said, look, he doesn't speak for me, I don't speak for him. He may say things in the future. It does not have anything to do with this campaign. So they know it's quite possible that he will go out and talk again and so they're trying to sort of say, listen, whatever he says, it has nothing to do with us.
DOBBS: Candy Crowley, as always, thank you very much.
While Democrats are fighting over gender and identity and group politics, Senator McCain is pushing an agenda on the campaign trail. Senator McCain today unveiled his health care plan, a plan he says would sharply cut the power of insurance companies.
Senator McCain says his plan would give Americans more choice and at the same time cut costs.
Dana Bash with our report from Tampa, Florida.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Health care, a top issue for voters and John McCain made clear one of his most dramatic differences with Democrats who want to mandate insurance coverage.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This will accomplish one thing only. We will replace the inefficiency, irrationality and uncontrolled costs of the current system with the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of a government monopoly.
BASH: Instead McCain's idea is classic Republican credo. Move away from employer based health care to let the market and consumers decide. He would offer families a $5,000 tax credit to buy insurance, individuals, $2,500, the estimated cost, $3.6 trillion. To pay for that, McCain would eliminate the tax breaks employers get for offering insurance.
MCCAIN: The health plan you choose would be as good as any that an employer could choose for you. It would be yours and your family's health care plan and yours to keep.
BASH: McCain advisers insist that would drive up competition and drive down sky high costs. But Democrats like Elizabeth Edwards who has cancer say millions with preexisting conditions would lose insurance.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF FORMER PRES. CANDIDATE JOHN EDWARDS: If you are not healthy or wealthy, if you have a chronic condition, if you have a preexisting illness as he does and as I do, you're going to find this a very uncompassionate market in which to try to get coverage.
BASH: For high risk patients with trouble getting insurance, McCain would create a so called gap program, a non profit pool, which would get federal dollars and ideas from states. He also pushed prevention.
MCCAIN: Watch your diet. Watch your diet. Walk 30 or so minutes every day. Take a few other simple precautions and you won't have to worry about these afflictions.
BASH (on-camera): Democratic critics point that for people with chronic diseases like cancer prevention doesn't always do the trick and that's why insurance companies should be required to cover them. But McCain vowed not to create what he called a new entitlement program that Washington would control. It's a striking difference for voters to choose from -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you, Dana.
Dana Bash reporting from Tampa, Florida.
President Bush today also went on the defense against the Democrats, the president blasting congressional Democrats for what he called consistently blocking his economic proposals. President Bush admits the economy is facing tough times, but he would not say it's in recession. As President Bush and Democrats fight over who's to blame for this economic slowdown or recession, there is new evidence of the housing crisis facing this nation's middle class. Home foreclosures increased by a staggering 112 percent over the past year.
RealtyTrac (ph) said that one out of every 194 households has received a foreclosure notice in the first three months of this year alone. We'll have much more on Senator Obama's divorce from Reverend Wright here later in the broadcast.
Also ahead, seething anger over dangerous drug imports from communist China.
Louise Schiavone will have our report -- Louise.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Washington saw the face of the bureaucracy's failure to ensure drug safety today in heartbreaking family accounts of heparin tragedies. The drug companies meanwhile are suggesting they themselves were victims of foul play. Lou?
DOBBS: Thank you Louise. We look forward to that report.
And military veterans have had a belly full of the Bush administration's failure to pay the full cost of their college education, whatever happened to the G.I. bill? We'll have that report.
And you won't believe what one U.S. attorney is saying about illegal aliens. Incredibly, he says illegal aliens aren't illegal.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The CEO of Baxter today told Congress that doses of heparin imported from communist China may have been contaminated intentionally. Eighty-one people died in this country after taking doses of the tainted blood thinner. Members of Congress today blasted the FDA and Baxter for failing to protect American consumers.
Louise Schiavone has our report.
SCHIAVONE (voice-over): The makers of the blood thinner heparin now have an explanation, someone, somewhere contaminated their product.
ROBERT PARKINSON, JR., CEO, BAXTER INTERNATIONAL: We're alarmed that one of our products was used in what appears to have been a deliberate scheme to adulterate a life saving medication.
SCHIAVONE: Who, they don't know except it wasn't them. This from Scientific Protein Laboratories, which built the Changzhou China plant that makes heparin's active ingredient. DAVID STRUNCE, SCIENTIFIC PROTEIN LABORATORIES: The recent worldwide contamination appears to be the result of a deliberate act upstream in the supply change. The contamination was not SPL or Changzhou SPL specific.
SCHIAVONE: But there's been no ruling on whether the contamination was deliberate or accidental. And the Food and Drug Administration inspector who visited the Chinese factory could not understand how parent company Scientific Protein Laboratories could have inspected the plant and its processing tanks and given the all clear.
REGINA BROWN, FDA FIELD INVESTIGATOR: I scratched stuff off the inside of the tank and this was a tank that was marked clean. A second tank I turned over and liquid fell out of the handle.
SCHIAVONE: But the FDA was on the hot seat too with lawmakers incredulous at the agency's overall approach to Chinese imports.
REP. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: Can you imagine what we would do if al Qaeda had put some foreign substance in heparin? Can you imagine what the threat level would go to?
SCHIAVONE: Meanwhile, the real life consequences of the bureaucracy's breakdown were heartbreakingly apparent.
LEROY HUBLEY, LOST WIFE AND SON: My wife Bonnie died in December from receiving heparin that was later recalled by Baxter. My son Randy died a month later under the same circumstances.
COLLEEN HUBLEY, LOST HUSBAND: As a nurse, I thought that I would be there to save my husband from any errors. But I guess I was naive. I never thought the life saving medication we were relying on might be contaminated.
SCHIAVONE: Committee Chairman John Dingle declared it was impossible for citizens to trust their food, drugs or medical devices.
SCHIAVONE: There's an import alert out now for all heparin products from the Changzhou plant. But the FDA concedes that at the nation's 321 ports, inspectors are posted at only 90 -- Lou.
DOBBS: Unbelievable. It seems like a clear case of in this case of an absolute failure on the part of this president and this administration to manage this government. What in the world is Congress saying about the administration of both the Food and Drug Administration and the responsibility of this White House?
SCHIAVONE: Well, basically the FDA seems to be asleep at the switch. They told Congress they need more than a quarter of a billion dollars to do the kind of inspections they need to do both domestically and abroad and you know what the administration asked for an additional nine million for the 2009 budget. So a huge disparity in what's needed and what they're asking for. DOBBS: It's incredible this administration's irresponsibility in protecting American consumers on a host of fronts. It's just unthinkable, it's unconscionable.
Thank you very much. Louise Schiavone from Washington.
Time now for our poll. The question: Do you believe this country's free trade agenda has jeopardized the health and safety of Americans?
Yes or no? Please cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results upcoming.
Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today rallying on Capitol Hill, those veterans demonstrating, calling upon Congress to bring the G.I. bill into the 21st century, the legislation is supposed to pay for a college education for our troops.
But as Lisa Sylvester now reports, the government is failing to live up to its promises.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Todd Bowers served his country in Iraq as a Marine, but when he came back from his second tour he felt his country had failed him.
TODD BOWERS, IRAQ & AFGHAN. VETERANS OF AMER.: I came home proud, very proud of my service with a Purple Heart on my chest and a Navy Commendation Medal with "V" for Valor. But I didn't come back to the education that I was expecting. I came back to three different types of student loans, two of which had gone to collections.
SYLVESTER: Like other vets, Bowers says the recruitment promise of a paid education through the G.I. bill is hollow. A group of veterans is now lobbying Congress to increase the G.I. benefit. In past years, it was enough to pay for an undergraduate education, even graduate school. But today it barely covers public college tuition.
STEVEN HENDERSON, VETERAN: I couldn't use the G.I. bill and pay tuition for month to month for my school so I had to get loans. And the G.I. bill, it covers my rent.
SYLVESTER: The current G.I. bill pays an average of only $600 a month. Under proposed legislation it would be raised to cover the highest instate tuition rate. The bill has the support of Democratic leaders, but critics balk at the upfront cost of $2.7 billion and the Pentagon worries that it will make it harder to retain service members who might leave the military for higher education, but veteran's groups say these young men and women were willing to pay the ultimate price.
ERIC HILLEMAN, VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS: If you're willing to send young men and women into harm's way, you should be willing to pay the price of caring for them when they return, to fulfill that promise. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SYLVESTER: Now while the G.I. benefit is only about $600 a month, members of the Guard and Reserve may receive much less. That's because they're restricted from counting multiple tours in calculating their college benefit. They're only allowed to count their longest continuous service -- Lou.
DOBBS: I just asked this question to Louise Schiavone. Where is the commander-in-chief? Where is the sense of responsibility? Where in the world is a Democratic leadership? Why in the world is this even a discussion? This administration should be embarrassed.
It asks what its legacy is? Its legacy is an embarrassment that will last for decades. If this administration does not step up for these young men and women, I -- how can this administration begin to rationalize this.
SYLVESTER: Well you know Lou, they are making these promises and this is not like in previous generations, the World War II generation, for instance, there are members on Capitol Hill who took advantage of the G.I. bill, went to great private colleges and now they are in the Senate and in Congress. Now with these same members of the service, what they're asking for is at least the same type of benefit and they're not getting it, Lou.
DOBBS: And let me ask one other question, where in the world are the business leaders, the corporate leaders in this country, leaders who in previous generations stood up and made themselves accountable for the direction in which this nation was going and made certain that we took care of those to whom we have an enormous obligation, especially our veterans? Lisa, I appreciate it.
I tell you, it is absolutely a shame what that town does to people who want to be, they say, leaders.
Lisa Sylvester, thank you.
Coming up here next, a top federal law enforcement officer says it is not a crime to be in this country illegally (INAUDIBLE) it's a crime for some people to be acting as U.S. attorneys. We'll have that special report.
And Senator Obama says Reverend Wright no longer speaks for him as the senator tries to distance himself from his former pastor. Is the damage, however, already done? Is it irreparable? Three of my favorite political analysts join me here next.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: One of the country's top law enforcement officers is out of his mind. He says it isn't a crime to be in this country illegally. U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie of New Jersey says the simple act of being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime -- his words. In point of fact, illegal aliens in this country are violating dozens of criminal laws.
Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. Attorney Chris Christie is the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey. So when he tells an audience at a community gathering that being an immigrant living in the United States without documentation is not a crime, just a civil offense, people listen and some people become outraged.
The mayor of Morristown is now calling for his resignation. Christie's office has since issued what it calls a clarification saying that he was responding to a direct question and that, "The U.S. attorney responded that the simple act of being in the United States without proper documentation is not a criminal act under federal law."
That clarification invited this response from a former Justice Department attorney.
KRIS KOBACH, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: Mere presence, just standing in the country illegally is not in itself a crime, that's correct. But that's you know kind of a silly statement. Illegal aliens are not just standing here being present and doing nothing else. There are a multitude of crimes associated with the life of an illegal alien in the United States. That's just the way our laws are written.
TUCKER: There are more than 50 criminal offenses in immigration law ranging from illegal entry to helping others do so, a crime to help illegal aliens stay, a crime to work without authorization, a crime to use and carry false documents, a crime to fail to carry your registration documents. The list is long, but one is enough. Even Christie admits being here illegally or without proper documentation as he puts it is an offense that will result in deportation.
TUCKER: Now it's perhaps worth noting that Christie doesn't have a strong record on prosecuting immigration violations. From 2002 through 2007, we could only find 13 cases of immigration cases that were prosecuted.
We called Christie's office; they would not help us with a better count. They told us they have got 150 lawyers; they don't have the time to track all of this. So we withdraw their press releases and got 13. Compare that to the U.S. attorney in Kansas who was much more helpful. That office provided us with a list of their immigration case load in that same time period and Lou, 597 cases in Kansas from 2002 to 2007.
DOBBS: A little difference. Chris Christie, this fellow is really kind of interesting, isn't he? He's just about as cute as they get. Why would he be saying it's not a crime? Why would he then be saying one could be deported? When did he say one could be deported, at the same event?
TUCKER: At the same event...
DOBBS: Where he was pandering...
DOBBS: ... to a Latino activism...
TUCKER: To a mostly Latino audience. It was an open community gathering. Most of the people though there were from the Latino community.
DOBBS: You know, why don't we call -- why don't we call the attorney general tomorrow and just see how Mukasey is getting along. He's got a department that is just really showering the nation with honor in the way it has pursued warrantless wiretaps, the way in which it has found a way to rationalize torture, the way in which it has prosecuted law enforcement agents in preference to that is of course illegal alien drug smugglers.
This is the kind of arrogance, incompetence, and cuteness that we really need a lot of in federal government. This man is an utter embarrassment. I just can't imagine why they would want him to hang around.
TUCKER: They're letting him hang around and there's some people, as you know Lou, who think what he's doing in dancing around this issue like he is preparing himself for a political future as perhaps governor of New Jersey.
DOBBS: That would be a wonderful thing for the people of New Jersey to contemplate, Chris Christy, G-man, unbelievable.
Thanks very much. Bill Tucker, appreciate it.
An ominous warning tonight about an explosion of our population over the next nine decades. Arthur Nelson who's the co-director of the Metropolitan Institute of Virginia Tech, his study projecting the population of the United States could more than triple to one billion people by the year 2100.
The United States population currently rates at just over 300 million behind China and India and of course the European Union. Nelson says the growth in the population of this country will come from a lengthened life expectancy and higher immigrations levels into the United States.
Time now for some of your thoughts. Thousands of you e-mailing us about the Supreme Court decision that allows states to require a photo I.D. for voter registration.
Deborah in Virginia said: "If we have to use a photo I.D. to drive, use a credit card, withdraw money from our bank account or to get on a plane, why does the ACLU have a problem with a photo I.D. to vote? Isn't that just as important?"
And Yvonne in Florida said: "Dear Lou, I retired to Florida from Michigan. It seems that the Democrats want to take away my rights as an American. When I requested how the Democratic Party had the right to do this, they asked for a contribution. Guess what I told them!"
I could imagine. I want to imagine.
We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.
And a reminder to please join me on the radio Monday through Friday, each afternoon. My guests tomorrow include Michael Eric Dyson, Tony Perkins and Doug Shone. We'll be talking race, religion and politics and the rising number of independents registered in this country. Also joining me, Don Cresitello, the mayor of Morristown, New Jersey, who as Bill just reported is calling for the resignation of the U.S. attorney who has apparently lost his legal cotton picking mind.
Go to loudobbs.com to find the local listings for the Lou Dobbs Show on the radio.
Coming up here next, stunning new details of the scandal over Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. I'll be joined by three leading talk radio show hosts.
Senator Hillary Clinton wins a key endorsement in her battle to win North Carolina. And Senator Obama struggling to convince voters his former pastor isn't speaking for him. We'll be talking about that with three of the best political analysts in the country.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the best political analysts in the country; Republican strategist, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT contributor, Ed Rollins. Ed recently served as chairman of Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign, also White House political director under President Ronald Reagan.
Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, "New York Daily News," LOU DOBBS TONIGHT contributor, Michael Goodwin.
Democratic strategist, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT contributor, Robert Zimmerman. Robert is also a supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton and a member of the Democratic National Committee.
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That's the one.
DOBBS: Chaired by that fellow Howard Screaming Dean, is that it?
ZIMMERMAN: I'll have to check on that one.
DOBBS: By the way, we were talking earlier today about who was the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Not a single one of us could even come up with the name. So what does that tell you? I don't know if that's better or worse.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I have to stop and think.
ZIMMERMAN: Mike Duncan.
DOBBS: Mike Duncan, you're quite correct. We looked it up and I don't know what that means, but that's the correct answer.
Let's turn to Senator Obama. He came out today and said, that's it. He gave a denunciation, I think, again, is the way to say it, of his former pastor.
Michael Goodwin, was it enough?
MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": No. I think it's a good start for Senator Obama. But there are a lot of questions still about his relationship with Reverend Wright.
For example, Reverend Wright just himself said the other day that Obama secretly prayed with him in the basement of the Illinois state house before he went out to give his announcement of the launching of his campaign on February 10 of 2007. Now the significance of that is, Obama rescinded the invitation for Wright to give the invocation, but secretly prayed with him in the basement so nobody would see them.
So this relationship is not clear and I think it's going to be hard to disentangle it so quickly. I think Reverend Wright himself is not going to go quietly.
DOBBS: What do you think, Ed?
ROLLINS: I think it was a very necessary first step. This guy was grinding Obama yesterday and Wright had this 200 pound cement bag on his head. Whether he resurfaced or not is going to be a hard question.
I think the key thing here is what else is out there with Wright and is Wright going to go gently into the night? I don't think so. I think Wright is a narcissist, whatever he's done in his past, the last 48 hours has proven that he likes the limelight and my sense is he'll strike back.
DOBBS: That's what Michael just said. I mean if that turns out to be the truth, I mean, that's as damaging as it could possibly be. And again, originating from Reverend Wright, for crying out loud.
ROLLINS: And there's been some exaggeration, he didn't come from a poor ghetto, he was a very bright student.
DOBBS: I'm sorry, who?
ROLLINS: Reverend Wright and even Obama -- he came from a very white affluent, Philadelphia. He was the valedictorian. He went in the Marine Corps. He did a lot of interesting things in his early life and it wasn't like he basically grew up in Anna Costa.
DOBBS: He's comes from a family of pastors. ZIMMERMAN: But in respects, the issues of -- the challenge Barack Obama is facing is even much bigger than Reverend Wright. His comments today were long overdue, and they were powerful. But the bigger problem that I see amongst my superdelegate colleagues, I'm supporting Hillary Clinton, but we all talk together, the bigger issue is whether Barack Obama in light of this problem, his comments about small town America, his staff's comments about white working class voters, whether he can connect. That's going to make these next primaries so critical and raise the important debate ...
DOBBS: And I know you're deeply concerned about whether he can do so.
ZIMMERMAN: I'm very deeply concerned about that for my own agenda but also I'm more concerned about who can win in November and that's the big debate going on in Democratic circles.
DOBBS: Who do you think could?
DOBBS: Senator McCain today coming up with a different approach to health care. It's going to be interesting. And to tell you how interesting I think it will be, we'll come back to you all in just a moment with that question and some others.
And racy text messages at the center of Detroit's mayor's sex scandal, those are released. The question now is just how long does this guy get to stay in office?
Ninety-four percent of the community wants him out. The city hall wants him out and he's being prosecuted by the county prosecutor. I'll talk about that with three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country later in the broadcast.
We're coming right back.
DOBBS: I'm back with Ed Rollins, Michael Goodwin, Robert Zimmerman.
Let me turn to, if I may, just to the $2.3 billion in earmarks being sought by Senator Clinton. Do you think that will be enough to tied the state of New York over through the difficult times we expect in 2009?
ZIMMERMAN: It shows what a great job she's doing for the state of New York and let me be clear about it.
DOBBS: She hasn't got it yet. She's just asking for it.
ZIMMERMAN: We'll see what the Bush administration does because they would rather spend the money in their own fashion.
DOBBS: The Bush administration will be out of office by that time.
ZIMMERMAN: That's encouraging. Hopefully we're going to have a Congress that's going to make sure that we have earmarks that are transparent.
DOBBS: It will be a lot like this one that's done so much for all of us.
ZIMMERMAN: Greatest ethics reform since Watergate.
DOBBS: Since when?
DOBBS: You've got to be kidding.
ROLLINS: Ex-members can't use the gym.
DOBBS: Robert, you can't say things like that.
ZIMMERMAN: I'm going to say that and I'll tell you why, because for the first time now, unlike the Republican Congress, when members of Congress seek earmarks, they've got to do full disclosure.
DOBBS: It's such a burden I can't tell you, that ethical backpack on the backs of the poor members of Congress and the Senate.
ZIMMERMAN: I'm not saying it's perfect, but it's progress.
DOBBS: We can agree that it's not perfect. I think we can leave it there.
The idea that Senator McCain has come out with a real approach on national health care, what does it mean, if anything?
GOODWIN: Well, I think he's recognizing each one of these steps that he takes separates him from the Bush administration a little bit. I think that's the key thing that he's trying to do in this period. While the Democrats bloody each other, he's trying to put some distance between himself and Bush so that they can't legitimately argue against that he's a third terms of the Bush administration.
DOBBS: The third term, at this point is there any way in the world ten points behind in North Carolina. Can Senator Clinton close that deficit in your judgment?
ROLLINS: I do not believe so.
DOBBS: Robert Zimmerman?
ZIMMERMAN: I think she can make it in single digits. Realistically, I think the same standards should be applied that was used in Pennsylvania. This was considered a solid state for Barack Obama. He was up by 20 points. And now he was up by 20 points at one point in most polls. And now in North Carolina, he's up by ten. I think she's closing the gap. DOBBS: Are you going to play the same tawdry, petty, silly game of expectations?
ZIMMERMAN: No, I'm just saying the same standards in Pennsylvania should be used in North Carolina.
DOBBS: How about this? How about a win is a win.
GOODWIN: You know, one of the things that's interesting about Pennsylvania, she won by just about 10 points. She only picked up a net of about 10 delegates as well. The rules make it very difficult.
DOBBS: I read your column. I read your column, Michael. I understand the math makes it difficult. It makes it impossible for either Obama or Clinton, let's get this out there on the record, folks, it makes it impossible for them to win sufficient delegates to get the nomination.
So let's get ready, tell Howard Dean to pack a little suitcase, should he require that, and get himself ready for Denver. Let's go.
ZIMMERMAN: We should get out of the way. We don't need Howard Dean or Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid telling us when to decide or which candidate should be in the race. We can all make that decision as to who to support on our own.
DOBBS: And you Democrats are doing an adult job if I have ever seen one, a bang up, adult job.
ZIMMERMAN: Record registration. Record voter turnout. Nothing to be ashamed of that.
DOBBS: Is that to the credit of Senator Barack Obama?
ZIMMERMAN: I think it's the credit of both candidates. I'll give you that. I'll give Obama credit for that.
DOBBS: All right. Well, good, because there's got to be some credit somewhere and we have got to get to the end of this. Are we going to see as Howard Dean has suggested, now as the latest brainstorm from on high in the Democratic National Committee, one of you please just say goodbye?
ROLLINS: It's not going happen and it's certainly not going to happen because of what's happened the last couple of days. You know, Obama was the one who had the opportunity to wrap it up early and he didn't do it. Mrs. Clinton is not going away and there's a lot of people that encourage her and say she's got to stay in here.
DOBBS: I'm going to ask this question and I'm not going to ask it of you. Forgive me Robert. You gentlemen, Ed, first you. Is it likely in your judgment that Obama wins the nomination?
ROLLINS: I think it's likely. I think there's still a potential of something else to come out.
GOODWIN: It's likely, but less likely today than it was three days ago.
DOBBS: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
A reminder to you, please, would you vote in our poll? The question is: Do you believe this country's free trade agenda has jeopardized the held and safety of Americans?
Yes or no? Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results upcoming.
And coming up at the top of the hour, the "ELECTION CENTER" with Campbell Brown.
Campbell, tell us all about it.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Lou, we're going to have a lot more on what you have been talking about, another fascinating day on the campaign trail. Senator Barack Obama denouncing his former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, calling his comments outrageous, divisive and destructive but is this out and out rejection enough to reassure voters in the upcoming primaries?
We're going to have all the day's reaction and find out what Senator John McCain thinks about it as well. We've got an interview with him.
All of that at the top of the hour -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you, Campbell.
Up next here, Senator Obama says he's all about bridging gaps. We'll find out how many people believe that. I'll be talking with three of the most popular radio talk show hosts in the country about that and a lot more.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country. Here in New York with me, Warren Ballentine, Syndication One, good to have you with us.
WARREN BALLENTINE, SYNDICATION ONE: Good to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: And in Detroit, Mildred Gaddis, WCHB, Mildred great to have you was.
MILDRED GADDIS, WCHB: Hi, Lou.
DOBBS: And in Chicago, Steve Cochran, WGN in Chicago, great to have you as well.
STEVE COCHRAN, WGN IN CHICAGO: Thank you, my friend.
DOBBS: Let's get it started, Warren. Obama, he cannot, it seems for a man who has been given so much cred for rhetorical skills, oratory skills, this man is explaining and couching and rationalizing nearly everything he says. What's going on here?
BALLENTINE: Well, Lou, I think this whole Reverend Wright thing has been a red herring. I mean I call deaf Teflon don. Everything that's been put on him that he's a part of has fallen off of him and rightfully so in my opinion because I am an Obama supporter. I put that out there.
But I think this Reverend Wright issue is not Barack Obama. It's Reverend Wright, and I think that Barack is clearing this up today.
DOBBS: You think it's done as of today? You don't think the fact that it took him 20 years to figure out who the heck he was associating with isn't going to be questioned?
BALLENTINE: Well, Lou, this is my answer to anybody is asking about the 20 years. For the first three years, he was in law school at Harvard. So he wasn't there every Sunday. He was in the state legislator in Illinois for eight years. He was in the U.S. Senate for four years. Fifteen of those 20 years, he was not there every Sunday.
But anybody else, anybody else, if we go back and trace people in our family, we can find people in our family that have done disgusting things. They may have been slave owners. They may have been racist but we cannot group us with our family members.
DOBBS: You have people like that in your family?
BALLENTINE: I'm Irish, Lou.
DOBBS: You know that's the reason I never go back and check my family genealogy. I figure I have gotten this far, I'm lucky. I'm going to stick with it.
I'm sorry, Steve, you were saying.
COCHRAN: Well, I think that's partly true, but I think he -- they are inexorably linked now. And I'm here in Chicago, and I'm here to tell you that because of the way the 24 hour news cycle works and because of the way the video and the radio and the newspaper works, people are absolutely associating them together and I think Reverend Wright is only going to help Obama at this point if he never speaks another word until the day after the election and that's not going to happen.
DOBBS: Mildred, what do you think?
GADDIS: Well, I'm not sure. I think with Steve that it's certainly not going to be over. But I think, Lou, what the media have done for some time now is to have held Barack Obama accountable for deeds and words that have not truly been his own. It really should end today. No one else has been asked to denounce their relationships with anybody other than this consistent effort by the media and by his opponents to ask him to denounce Jeremiah Wright. I find it interesting. COCHRAN: Honestly though --
GADDIS: Let me finish. I find it interesting that the media has not challenged Hillary Clinton on the fact that it was Jeremiah Wright was one of the ministers they invited to the White House to help them during their crisis concerning Monica Lewinsky and the former president.
Barack Obama said today he put it as clearly as it could have been said, he is not affiliated with Jeremiah Wright and he has denounced it. That really should be enough.
DOBBS: Let me say this Mildred. I think at that point President Clinton probably would have invited anybody into the White House. Anybody is welcome.
GADDIS: My point is that Hillary has not been challenged on that and some of her other relationships.
BALLENTINE: I think Mildred is making a good point in this sense. And I want to say this, shame on America.
DOBBS: Shame on America? This is how we got started.
BALLENTINE: Let me tell you why I'm saying this. We are not talking about the real issues anymore, we're talking about these red herrings and we're not talking about the fact that this is about race.
DOBBS: What do you want to talk about?
BALLENTINE: This is about race -- 60 percent of the American public find Hillary Clinton untrustworthy, that she's a liar. But they're still voting for her. Are they voting for her because they believe in her or because she's white and a woman? We're not talking about that.
DOBBS: Wait. You're the Democrats here. You're the ones who are supposed to be so big on group and identity politics and I see the whole party coming apart on this issue of gender and race. You folks need to get together a little bit.
GADDIS: Lou, some time ago when I was --
COCHRAN: Here's the problem.
DOBBS: First Steve, then Mildred.
COCHRAN: I get completely offended by this and this is where the Reverend Wright stuff started. Just because you're questioning Barack Obama, his associations and the fact that he wants the most important job in the universe, doesn't make you a racist if you're not black. So this idea that any time Barack Obama is questioned makes me or anyone else that brings up the questions a racist is ridiculous. He's a big boy, this is politics, it's a dirty business and he needs to answer the questions like everybody else does. GADDIS: Well, you know what? Barack Obama has answered the question. He's answered the same question consistently. And he's still being asked that question. But it is true that his opponents have race baited with this Jeremiah Wright issue. I don't expect you to see it from that perspective.
COCHRAN: Wait a minute. I bring it up. I bring it up on my show in Chicago all the time. Am I a racist because I bring it up?
BALLENTINE: I don't think anybody's saying that, though, Steve, I don't think anybody's saying that at all.
DOBBS: I want to go back to shame on America again. Talk about the difference, the issues here. Here's where I -- I say shame on us in this sense, not on America, but shame on us in the national media.
Because the issues of public education, investment in public infrastructure, foreign policy, free trade, I mean you have two Democratic candidates and let me be really honest with everybody in case this hasn't evolved down to the obvious so that even a television journalist like me understands it. There isn't enough difference between these two candidates on the issues to shake a stick at.
BALLENTINE: I agree with you.
DOBBS: So what we have here is what they're giving us. And what they're giving us is a glimpse into their character, into their experiences, their judgments, their values and frankly, I think most of America's finding all of them a little wanting.
We'll be back with our panel in just a moment. Stay with us.
DOBBS: I'm back with Warren Ballentine, Mildred Gaddis and Steve Cochran.
Warren, let's go to this - well, actually I promised Steve I'd ask him a brilliant question that he had just given me about energy. Will any of these candidates - do they have - do you think they have a proposal, a solution for energy in this country? Any one of you.
COCHRAN: I don't think they have a proposal for anything and here's my great question for all three of them and I know we're a little far down the road on this but with Congress approval ratings sitting at about 30, 35 percent, that means the company we call Congress has six to seven customers who think they're doing a terrible job and now these three, all from the Senate, want to run the whole company.
There's no other business other than politics where you can have that business model. It makes no sense.
DOBBS: I think you're right.
And Mildred, I mean I heard Barack Obama today say this wasn't about where he wanted to take this country and I mean I hit the brakes. I haven't got a dog in this hunt. I'm an independent. I just have no dog, never been prouder of this in my life but I said wait a minute.
I'm not sure I want a fellow taking this country anywhere when he can't even manage the issues he says are important within his own relationship with his pastor and his church. I mean this is scary stuff.
GADDIS: Well, you know something, Lou? I think that the media for the most part for all of the candidates have clearly defined what their issues are. We were talking during the break and even before the show about how we've not heard a clearly defined agenda from any of them.
DOBBS: You bet.
GADDIS: They tend to respond to whatever is out there.
We've seen McCain flip back and forth and going with the wind either way that he goes --
DOBBS: You know, I think you're right.
We're running -- I want to ask one other question. You said it was race, Warren. And this is what I wanted to get to at the outset.
We have Reverend Al Sharpton here in New York on the Sean Bell trial jumping all over Barack Obama for saying he -- because Barack Obama was trying to say be constrained, be responsible, be --
BALLENTINE: Well, let me say this, Lou, in all fairness. I was with Reverend Sharpton this morning and I talked to Reverend Sharpton about this situation. "The New York Post" did not report this the right way. In fact, Reverend Sharpton --
DOBBS: Well, to be fair with you, we talked directly with Al Sharpton's people and we got the same story about after -- they said they had a good talk after that.
BALLENTINE: Let me tell you though, my show is on right before his on Syndication One.
BALLENTINE: And the Reverend came on and called for calmness in the street the same way that Barack Obama did. So I don't know how accurate that source is over there that's coming out of Reverend Sharpton's camp.
DOBBS: Well, the good reverend better do some checking out.
BALLENTINE: But, Lou, I will say this. I challenge you and everybody else in the media, all of us --
DOBBS: Challenging me? BALLENTINE: -- all of us, to put this about the issues again, because this Reverend Wright thing is a red herring. Let's put it about the issues --
DOBBS: OK. Let's take a vote.
Mildred, you want to do the issues?
GADDIS: Let's do issues.
COCHRAN: I've been trying to do the issues since they said they wanted to play.
BALLENTINE: I'm all about the issues. But I don't want a convention.
DOBBS: I'm sorry?
BALLENTINE: I don't want a convention.
DOBBS: You don't want a convention?
BALLENTINE: Not any more. Because if we go to a convention then I'm sure McCain is going to be the new president.
DOBBS: So you want only the issues, and you -- also want Senator Clinton to step out of the race, is that right?
BALLENTINE: That's my personal view.
DOBBS: OK, we're on the -- here we are, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT -- we're on the issues.
Mildred, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
GADDIS: You're quite welcome.
DOBBS: Steve Cochran, Warren Ballentine, thank you.
BALLENTINE: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: I have to say, we tried. I think we failed. But we tried.
Ninety-eight percent of you, by the way, say this country's free trade agenda is jeopardizing the health and safety of Americans. We thank you for voting.
We thank you for being with us tonight, and we promise tomorrow to do even better.
The "ELECTION CENTER" with Campbell Brown begins right now -- Campbell.