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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Clinton Reportedly Quitting Race; McCain Challenges Obama to Series of Debates; Are the Drug Cartels Winning?

Aired June 4, 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: Well, thank you.
CNN is reporting that Senator Clinton will drop out of the race by the end of this week.

Also tonight, Senator McCain issues a challenge to Senator Obama. Obama defends his national security policies. We'll have complete coverage.

And, money and politics -- tonight we report on influence of powerful lobbyists and special interests on these two presidential candidates. We'll tell you why you should be concerned, whomever is elected president.

And Americans are facing a national identity crisis. Stunning new evidence of the corrosive effect of group and identity politics and socio-ethnocentric interest groups on our political system.

We'll have that special report. It's one you don't want to miss.

All of that, all of the day's news and much more, from an independent perspective straight ahead, here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Wednesday, June 4. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.

Senators Obama and McCain today opening the general election campaign, launching an all-out assault on one another and their policies. Senator Obama blasted what he called Senator McCain's false choice on Iraq.

Senator McCain challenged Senator Obama to join him in 10 town hall meetings with voters. Meanwhile, Senator Clinton remains silent in public at least on her next move in this campaign, but CNN is now reporting she will drop out of this race by the end of the week.

Suzanne Malveaux has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(APPLAUSE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day after she refused to concede the race to her rival Barack Obama, an apparent olive branch.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It has been an honor to contest these primaries with him. It is an honor to call him my friend, and let me be very clear. I know that Senator Obama will be a good friend to Israel.

MALVEAUX: Hillary Clinton before a pro-Israel lobby group, Obama addressing the same crowd.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to publicly acknowledge Hillary Clinton for the outstanding race that she has run.

MALVEAUX: Aides say the two bumped into each other in the hallway, allegedly by chance.

OBAMA: I just spoke to her today, we're going to be having a conversation in the coming weeks. I'm very confident about how unified the Democratic Party's going to be to win in November.

MALVEAUX: But before that happens, Democratic insiders say Hillary Clinton has to decide what role she'll play now having lost the nomination.

H. CLINTON: A lot of people are asking what does Hillary want.

MALVEAUX: The vice presidential slot on Obama's ticket is one thing she's publicly acknowledged. Clinton's close friend billionaire Bob Johnson is among a group of high-powered supporters who are pushing the idea. Johnson has consulted with Clinton about his lobbying effort and has sent a letter urging the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse the so-called dream-ticket.

BOB JOHNSON, FOUNDER, BET: There's no question that Senator Clinton will do whatever she's asked to do for the party, and she would certainly, as she said to some of the New York delegation, entertain the idea, if it's offered.

MALVEAUX: But Clinton's campaigning for the number two spot, even tacitly, is seen by some as a risky strategy.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANAYLST: It's one thing to signal that yes, I would be interested in talking. It's another thing entirely to pressure on Barack Obama in a public way -- you must take her as the price of getting her voters to support you.

MALVEAUX: And for one of those long time Clinton supporters, there is disappointment.

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC PARTY ACTIVIST: It was hard for me to come to terms with the fact that she's lost. But now that she has, it's time to get on with it. Her voters and supporters are not part of a negotiation with Senator Obama. We're not bargaining chips.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX: Obama aides say that any serious discussions about an offer is premature but today Obama did assemble a new three-member team to begin the vetting process, including Caroline Kennedy and former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder -- Lou?

DOBBS: And Suzanne, how long -- do we have any sense of how long this process is going to take, because there's been speculation, of course by the way -- both for Senator McCain and for Senator Obama that they will choose a vice presidential candidate relatively early in the process.

MALVEAUX: This is going to be a long process. They're talking the end of July, beginning of August, so this is not days, this is really weeks. And it's something that's quite involved. And they realize that the Clintons are going to be vetted like everyone else.

DOBBS: All right. Suzanne, thank you very much. Suzanne Malveaux. We appreciate it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today declared this race for the Democratic nomination to be ended. It's time she said for the party to rally around Senator Obama.

Pelosi said "the people have spoken." She also praised Senator Clinton for what she called a historic campaign. She said "people now have to unwind in their own time."

Former President Jimmy Carter today said it would be a mistake for Senator Obama to choose Senator Clinton as his running mate. President Carter who is I think it's fair to say has no great love for the Clintons said the selection of Senator Clinton as Obama's vice presidential nominee would, as he put it, "cumulate the negative aspects of both candidates."

In an interview with the "Guardian" (ph) newspaper in London, President Carter said opinion poll show 50 percent of voters have a negative opinion of Senator Clinton.

Well a federal jury in Chicago today found a leading fundraiser for Senator Obama to be guilty of fraud and money laundering. Tony Rezko was accused of demanding kickbacks from companies seeking business from the state of Illinois. Senator Obama who was not accused of wrongdoing acknowledged that he received money from Rezko. Senator Obama donated at least $80,000 of those contributions to charity.

Senator McCain today challenged Senator Obama to a series of town hall meetings with voters all across the country. Senator McCain wants the first of those town hall meetings to be held as soon as next week. Senator McCain said voters deserve a debate that excludes big media, reporters and spin rooms.

Joe Johns with the McCain campaign now reports from Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Barack Obama's linking John McCain to President Bush every chance he gets and McCain is saying enough already. McCain's argument is the voters know who he is and one of his hallmarks is his independence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): Will the real John McCain please stand up? Is he the man who walks in lock step with the president as the Obama campaign would have you believe or is he the independent minded maverick unafraid to break with the White House over and over again.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've disagreed over the conduct of the war in Iraq and the treatment of detainees, over out of control government spending and budget gimmicks, over energy policy and climate change. Over defense spending that favored defense contractors over the public good.

JOHNS: All of that is true. McCain takes it a step further, asserting that Barack Obama is closer to Bush on energy policies than he is.

MCCAIN: In fact, he voted for the energy bill promoted by the president and Vice President Cheney, which gave even more breaks to the oil industry.

JOHNS: That's a remarkable line, a Republican attacking a Democrat by tying him to a Republican president. While the Arizona senator may argue he has asserted his independence from the White House, on the big defining issues of campaign '08, the war, the economy, and health care, Obama will try to make the case that the president and John McCain are joined at the hip.

OBAMA: While John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign. It's not changed when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time as he did in the Senate last year.

JOHNS (on camera): And that will probably be one of the Obama campaign's signature lines just as long as President Bush remains so unpopular in the opinion polls -- Lou.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Joe, thank you.

Joe Johns reporting there from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Senator Obama today blasted Senator McCain's policies on Iraq, as well. Senator Obama said Senator McCain wants to keep our troops in Iraq, as he put it indefinitely and that would strengthen Iran, he said. Senator Obama and Senator McCain also criticizing one another on the issue of whether the United States should be talking with Iran's leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Contrary to the claims of some, I have no interest in sitting down with our adversaries just for the sake of talking. But as president of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principle diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leaders at a time and place of my choosing, if and only if it can advance the interests of the United States.

MCCAIN: Senator Obama repeatedly stated his commitment to meeting with the president of Iran, he was specifically asked and said he would meet without any preconditions with the president of Iran because he thought it was good to have face to face conversations with our adversaries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: That exchange demonstrating national security and the war in Iraq will certainly be among the top issues in this campaign.

In Iraq today, insurgents killed three of our soldiers in an attack near the city of Kirkuk. Six of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month; 4,090 of our troops killed since the war began; 30,180 troops wounded; 13,427 of our troops wounded seriously.

Up next here more on the presidential campaign and Senator Clinton's apparent plan to quit this race at the end of the week.

Also rising concerns tonight about the influence of special interest on our presidential candidates.

Louise Schiavone will have our report -- Louise.

LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the theme for 2008 has changed, but is the swirl of lobbyists past and present around the candidates along with big-time campaign fundraising too much like business as usual?

DOBBS: Thanks, Louise, looking forward to your report.

And America faces a national identity crisis, a crisis that none of these presidential candidates has been talking about. Will they? We'll have a report.

And American officials calling for urgent action as Mexico's war with its violent drug cartel escalates and threatens this country. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: And they say you can't buy the presidency. Well, this is already the most expensive presidential campaign in our nation's history. Senators McCain, Obama, and Clinton have raised and spent half a billion dollars since January of last year; that includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions of course, from lobbyists, and Senator Obama and Senator McCain they're publicly trying to distance themselves now from lobbyists.

But as Louise Schiavone reports, lobbyists are involved with each of the campaigns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIAVONE (voice-over): Change is the driving theme of this year's presidential contest.

OBAMA: We've got to end the dominance of the special interest who are setting the agenda, the oil companies, the banks, the insurance companies, the drug companies.

SCHIAVONE: But in Washington's world of political insiders and revolving doors, analysts say even with attempts by the Obama and McCain campaigns to distance themselves from lobbyists and their money, concerns remain.

SHEILA KRUMHOLZ, CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: There's an effort of late to excise the campaigns of these people. But there are still senior advisers who are either former lobbyists or who are acting as volunteers but still currently registered lobbyists.

SCHIAVONE: The issue of lobbyists has been a high profile one for John McCain who has declared:

MCCAIN: We have enacted the most comprehensive and transparent policy than any presidential campaign in history.

SCHIAVONE: McCain has purged several registered lobbyists from his campaign, but his campaign is led and advised by former lobbyist Rick Davis and Charles Black (ph). A spokesman for the McCain campaign has stated quote, "John McCain has an unmatched record of fighting the influence of special interests in Washington." And the Obama campaign, there are some unpaid informal advisers associated with lobbying firms.

MELANIE SLOAN, CITIZENS FOR RESP. & ETHICS IN WASH.: There's a lot of concerns by Americans about the improper use of lobbyists and that lobbyists may have too much access and too much influence.

SCHIAVONE: A campaign spokesman tells CNN that its policy reflects the quote, "Barack Obama shares the urgency of the American people to change the way Washington operates."

The Center for Responsive Politics estimates registered lobbyists have contributed roughly half a million to John McCain and about $33,000 to Barack Obama. With its policy against contributions from Washington lobbyists, the Obama campaign believes this is money from non-Washington lobbyists.

And while that is small compared to the $270 million raised, the Center for Responsive Politics reports that the campaigns are recipients of big contributions from employees and their relatives and big businesses. A spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics tells CNN quote, "over two decades of observing trends and campaign contributions, we've concluded that the company's interest could be a major motivation for employees and family members to donate to a campaign", end quote. For example, both the Obama and McCain campaigns have received thousands and in some cases hundreds of thousands from financial firms, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIAVONE: Lou, no one person can donate more than $2,300. And while the First Amendment to the Constitution does assure the right quote, "to petition the government" in the minds of many voters, questions about fairness arise when the petitioning and big money overlap. Lou?

DOBBS: Absolutely. Louise, thank you very much.

I want to do one thing right now. I want to challenge both of these candidates, Senator Obama and Senator McCain, if they're serious about limiting the influence of lobbyists, how about this idea? No one who serves in your administrations in any capacity appointed by you will be permitted to lobby for five years after their service to this country in your administration.

How about pledging to the American people, Senator Obama, Senator McCain, precisely that. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. No lobbying by any member of your administration for five years from the time they end their service with the United States government.

Love to hear from you on it. Hope you'll agree. Love to have two candidates absolutely serious about the influence -- ending the influence of lobbyists in Washington.

Well, the amount of money lobbyists spend buying influence in Washington has simply doubled over the last decade. In 1998, corporations, unions, and other special interest groups spent $1.4 billion lobbying Congress and, of course, the executive branch.

In 2007, those very same special interests spent almost $3 billion lobbying our government. It is no wonder that the middle class working men and women in this country can't find representation in our nation's capital.

Now, the biggest spender when it comes to buying influence in Washington, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Over the past 10 years, the Chamber has spent almost $400 million on lobbying. That's more than twice the nearest competitor for lobbying influence, The American Medical Association.

Well, Americans don't think highly of lobbyists. And according to our recent Gallup poll that rated ethics and honesty in different professions, lobbyists actually rank below lawyers, car salesmen, and even lower than Congress. We know Congress is enjoying its lowest approval ratings in fact, ever in history.

Up next, what the national media isn't telling you about detainee deaths in this country. And a war is raging right here on our own southern border with Mexico, deadly Mexican drug cartels spreading more violence deeper into this country. Tonight, we'll have that special report.

And what the candidates, the presidential candidates have to say about the single most important issue for middle class families. We'll have that for you next.

We're coming right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The drug cartel wars have killed more than 4,000 people in Mexico over the past 18 months. In fact, more than 300 people a month are being killed in Mexico so far this year. Now, U.S. law enforcement officials are warning that they must take quick action to stop that violence from spreading further into the United States.

Casey Wian has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under this sheet is the head of one of the most recent victims of Mexico's drug wars. Two decapitated bodies were found lying in the street Monday in Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso. On the bodies a warning note from one warring cartel to followers of another.

As Mexican cartels fight each other and 30,000 federal troops, President Felipe Calderon admitted Sunday his government has lost control of some Mexican territory, and U.S. law enforcement officials say the violence is already crossing the border.

JOHN WALTERS, OFFICE OF NATL DRUG CONTROL POLICY: The shocking character of some of this violence, the viciousness of these groups is not going to respect borders. It already doesn't. This violence spills across both borders. And it will come more aggressively to wherever it feels it can survive and brutally take money and power.

WIAN: The Bush administration is pressuring Congress to approve the Merida Initiative, which would provide $1.4 billion in military equipment to help Mexico fight drug cartels.

PRES. FELIPE CALDERON, MEXICO (through translator): I reiterate the urgent necessity to form joint strategies at the international level, to combat the drug cartel whose actions clearly extend beyond borders.

WIAN: The White House accuses some U.S. lawmakers of attempting to quote, "sabotage the aid by insisting on conditions that would require Mexico to change its Constitution". At stake is what the DEA calls historic cooperation from Calderon's government in the war on drugs.

MICHELE LEONHART, ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, DEA: We have had an opportunity since President Calderon came into power, to really make an impact on the drug cartels. And it is working. And it's working like never before. The cartels are on the run.

WIAN: Perhaps, but a recent poll found by a margin of more than two to one, Mexicans believe the cartels are winning the drug war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: The Bush administration says it has made progress reducing the supply of drugs coming into the United States from Mexico and the supply of illegal weapons heading the other way. Now, the DEA says the Mexican government needs more tools such as helicopters, communications equipment, and training to do its job. Lou?

DOBBS: And with John Walters' comments, it is important that we all understand clearly that Mexico remains the largest source of methamphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin into the United States and that this administration under whatever guise, whether the DEA, the border patrol, the National Guard simply has not been able to respond and to secure that border and to stop that deadly traffic and illegal drugs.

It's inexcusable, and now this administration wants to talk about aid packages, which I happen to agree are absolutely desperately needed. But at some point, this administration must come to terms with what's required at that border.

WIAN: The administration admits that the border is obviously not secure, Lou. But Homeland Security officials say they have made a lot of progress in recent years adding 4,500 border patrol agents, the National Guard helped while it was down on the border. Of course as we've reported, it is being pulled off, which a lot of people don't like, Lou.

DOBBS: All right. Casey, thank you very much.

Casey Wian reporting.

Today the House Judiciary Committee held a second hearing in less than a year on the issue of immigration detainee medical care. That hearing was prompted by reports in both "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" that as many as 83 immigration detainees had died in custody.

And certainly each death is a tragedy, and it should not happen. These hearings, however, shed light on some facts left out of those reports by "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post". Facts that were left out inexcusably, 1.5 million people have in fact passed through detention centers over the course of the past almost five years.

The average stay in those detention centers 33 to 37 days. Each detainee, by the way, receives a taxpayer funded health screening. And Immigrations and Custom Enforcement spent more than $100 million on detainee health care last year. That's more than double the funding five years ago.

Julie Myers, who is the assistant secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, defended her organization's record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIE MYERS, IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: And those of the ICE detainee population has increased by more than 30 percent since 2004, the actual numbers of deaths in ICE detention has declined from 29 in 2004 to seven for the last calendar year. There have also been no suicides in the last 15 months.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Thirty-four percent of detainees in custody are diagnosed with chronic illness and frequently it is the first time those individuals had received any medical care in their lives. The deaths in custody have occurred because of a variety of reasons.

Those reasons range from preexisting conditions to natural causes. Congressman Steve King questioned the need for this hearing largely motivated by the coincidental reports in both "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE KING, (R), IOWA: I would submit that the constituents of the members of this committee would be better served if our focus was on the higher risk of being murdered and violently victimized on the streets of their own cities and their own communities rather than focusing on a media event that doesn't have the data to back up the necessity for this hearing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: And according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, none of the reporters from either "The Washington Post" or "The New York Times" made a request for to tour a single detention facility.

A legal setback for the state of Oklahoma, a victory for big business tonight, specifically the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a U.S. district court has now delayed enforcement of part of Oklahoma's tough anti-illegal immigration law. The district court blocked part of that law penalizing employers for failing to comply with the federal e- verify system. That decision comes after a lawsuit by several special interest groups, including of course the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

Doris in Montana said: "I've had it with the Democratic National Committee and their self-serving rules and party members. I am soon to become an Independent and hopefully Hillary will be our Independent candidate in November."

Well Darlene in Arkansas said: "My husband and I have joined the Independent Party and hope Hillary will do the same. I don't think people will forget how the Democratic Party has treated its voters."

We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.

And as for our poll tonight, now that CNN is reporting Senator Clinton will drop out of the race by Friday, the end of the week, we'd like to hear from you on this question.

The question tonight is: Do you believe that Senator Hillary Clinton should run as an Independent candidate for president?

We'd like to hear from you on this. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

And a reminder to please join me on the radio Monday through Friday for "The Lou Dobbs Show", Robert Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines, Robert Roach of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers join me. We'll be talking about the airline industry and how to fix what is an economic disaster.

And journalist Rich Behar from "Fast Company" magazine joins me to talk about a fascinating important new article that he wrote in "Fast Company", "China Storms Africa". Join us for all of that, loudobbsradio.com for local listings. We'll see you on the radio.

And up next, the latest on what appears to be Senator Clinton's decision to end her presidential quest.

Also the slowing economy, the number one issue in this campaign, we'll tell you what independently minded voters need to know about these candidates' policies and whether they will help working men and women and their families.

And the federal government is, of course, utterly broken as we've been reporting to you for years, failing the American people. My guest tonight is author Paul Light. He has both a plan and a book to fix all of that.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Coming up next, gasoline prices in this country are soaring. Prices even higher in Europe. Some experts here are saying that's why you should be grateful for $4.50 gasoline.

We'll tell you why they're nuts. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. News, debate, and opinion. Here again, Mr. Independent, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: CNN tonight has learned that Senator Clinton plans to quit the presidential race this Friday after Senator Obama won enough delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination last night.

Also, Senator McCain today challenging Senator Obama to join him in a series of town hall meetings before the national convention. Senator McCain wants the first town hall meeting to take place as soon as next week in New York.

And a federal jury in Chicago today finding a leading fundraiser for Senator Obama guilty of fraud and money laundering. Tony Rezko convicted of demanding kickbacks from companies seeking business from the state of Illinois. Obama himself not accused of any wrong doing.

Senator Obama has been under fire for months for his flag pin flip-flopping as they put it. Today on the first day of the rest of this election, Senator Obama wore not one flag, but there you see it, two flags -- the American flag and the Israeli flag.

Of course, he was giving a speech to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC. And when Senator Obama spoke at the AIPAC policy forum a year ago, guess what? As you see there, he wasn't wearing a flag pin.

And just to refresh everyone's memory, Senator Obama first said he would not wear an American flag pin in response to a reporter question in Iowa back in October.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest, instead I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and, you know, hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Well, obviously, Senator Obama has changed his mind, now wearing a lapel pin. And by the way, I just want to say congratulations, Senator. You don't have to be, you know, silly about it. But by golly, there it is. I think it's a good thing to do.

Of course, I wear one.

Back in April Senator Obama appeared at a veterans' event in Pennsylvania there wearing an American flag pin. And Senator Obama said he put that pin on after a veteran at the event, David Turman(ph), asked him to wear it. Since then that flag pin appears to come and go. But it's sticking around a little longer, I believe, this time.

The Bush administration has done, by the way, absolutely next to nothing to help this country's struggling middle class deal with rising food and energy costs.

Kitty Pilgrim now reports on what senators McCain and Obama are proposing to do to help those very people.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After the cheering and the campaign rallies, Americans go home to pay the bills.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke admitted what most consumers already know -- the economic picture is not improving, adding that economic activity during the current quarter is also likely to be relatively weak. BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Households continue to face significant head winds, including falling housing prices, a softer job market, tighter credit, and higher energy prices.

PILGRIM: Two presidential hopefuls have starkly different views on how to fix the economy. Senator Barack Obama is drawing a contrast to the Bush administration, saying he knew the war was a mistake. He says ending it will bring prosperity.

OBAMA: I want to end this war. I want to invest that money in America, in our roads, and our bridges, and our ports, and our schools. I want to invest in millions of green jobs so that we finally develop renewable energy and our addiction to foreign oil, bring those gas prices down.

PILGRIM: Senator Obama also wants medical coverage for the uninsured and an end to tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Senator John McCain, who early in the campaign admitted, "The issue of economics is not something I have understood as well as I should," now describes himself as a free trader and supports trade agreements like NAFTA.

MCCAIN: The global economy exists and is not going away. We either compete in it, which Americans can do, or we lose more jobs, more businesses, more dreams.

PILGRIM: McCain also proposes a variety of tax cuts aimed for entrepreneurs and corporations -- a move he hopes will generate more jobs.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: But if senators McCain and Obama speak out about helping middle class Americans, it is not clear what real impact their proposals would have in this kind of economic climate, Lou.

DOBBS: Or whether or not or even, in fact, practicable. But I do want to do one thing. I want to help out Senator McCain, because, obviously, he is being tutored by abject retrograde free traders who don't care about the millions of jobs who have been lost to these stupid policies. Perhaps he hasn't noticed.

And Senator McCain, and all of you working for Senator McCain, I'd like to help you here. There's a reason that the treasury secretary Henry Paulson is out in the Middle East touring, amongst other places, the United Arab Emirates, looking for, quote, unquote, "foreign capital."

That's because there's not enough money left in this country to add capital -- capital infusions to struggling institutions, financial institutions in this country because, in part, of the stupid policies in which this administration has refused to regulate financial institutions, financial markets, and trade policies that are basically bankrupting this great nation. So if I may, Senator McCain -- you said you've had a little issue with economics, we'd be glad to help you here, because I've got to tell you, you're listening to abject fools who were not learning from history or from the evidence that was mounting from the very policies that President Bush and President Clinton have followed for the past almost 20 years.

We can do that. We can be generous. We can help out wherever possible. Absolutely. We're that kind of generous people here.

Kitty, thank you very much. And excellent report.

Kitty Pilgrim.

Well, gasoline prices are taking an enormous toll on this country's middle class, our working men and women. There are dramatic differences, of course, in the cars that we drive in this country and those in Europe. But nonetheless, a few sort of snarky little experts think that it'd be fine for gasoline here to go to $9.

So let's take a look at the little differences between Europe and here and why the little geniuses that would have you believe that $4.50 a gallon is a bargain are complete buffoons.

Here, let's look at some facts.

The average engine size in this country is 3.5 liters. In Europe, it's 1.7. Just about half the size of most engines in America. In America, 70 percent of our cars and trucks have six to eight cylinders. In Europe, nearly nine out of 10 cars are only three to four cylinders. And more than half of the cars and trucks on the road here are SUVs and pick-ups. In Europe, those vehicles account for only 10 percent of the vehicles.

And according to the Environmental Protection Agency, our cars average just over 26 miles to the gallon. You may be surprised it's that high. But in Europe, the average is 35 miles to the gallon, in part, because of much easier emission standards.

Diesel in Europe is far more popular and more available, and it's roughly a third more fuel efficient. Just 2 percent of the cars in this country, by the way, have diesel engines while more than half have diesel engines in Europe.

The diesel engine has slightly higher gas emissions, but in the trade off between mileage and emissions in Europe, mileage wins. And as for the price of fuel, taxes make it much more expensive in Europe. For example, taxes here amount to just about 10 percent of the cost of a gallon of fuel, whether gasoline, high grade, or low.

In Europe, particularly in Germany, 60 percent of the cost of fuel is taxes. As for diesel, taxes here about the same but account for about half of a cost of gallon for diesel in Germany.

Think about that the next time you hear that we all should be grateful for $4.50 a gallon gasoline. Coming up here next, Senator Clinton expected to drop out of the race Friday. Will she endorse Senator Obama? Will she, perhaps, chart her on course? I'll be talking to three of the most astute political analysts here next.

And it's no surprise that our government needs reform. I'll be talking with the author of a very important new book about his plan to fix Washington. All I can say is, hurry up.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: As we reported the onset of the broadcast, Senator Clinton will drop out of the race by the end of the week. Joining me now with all the latest developments, three of the very -- the most astute political analysts in the nation.

Republican strategist Ed Rollins -- Ed, former White House political director for President Reagan and recently serving as campaign chairman for Governor Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the "New York Daily News," Michael Goodwin, and Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman, who is also a National Democratic committeeman and Senator Clinton's supporter.

Good to have you with us.

Again, Robert, you get to be the lead-off, because your candidate is, again, leading the news here. Well, will she drop out of the race? Will she endorse Barack Obama?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I can't confirm the day she's going to drop out. But I think when she concludes her campaign, there's no question she's going to endorse Barack Obama and work very, very hard for his election.

DOBBS: Michael, it's taken a while. You think it's going to be love and kisses? And that's it?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": No, I think the question really is what's going on with Hillary Clinton. What is she trying to do? And I thought last night in particular the -- getting her supporters to write to her campaign. I looked at her Web site today and they're asking for zip codes.

So they're clearly -- also they're still raising money, so the question is what does she intend to do with all that support that she's still trying to gen up. Is she trying to make her V.P. or is she trying to keep the campaign alive?

DOBBS: You know, John Fund of "Opinion Journal" reported today that she is -- that her campaign had, in effect, told the Obama campaign they had a week to decide whether or not they wanted her to be vice president. I mean, that's sort of straightforward even in the most bleak fashions. ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It is. I give them six and a half days back, because I would have already made the decision. You know -- it's now Barack Obama's party. He can do whatever he wants. He has this party until November. And if he wins the presidency, he's got it for the foreseeable future.

DOBBS: Party goes on.

ROLLINS: Party goes on. He doesn't have to do what she wants. And they're yesterday's news. And I think she ran a great campaign. I think she was a more significant candidate in the last three months, but it's his call now. He gets to put his team together. And one of the questions that none of us know, who are the Barack Obama people?

DOBBS: Right.

ZIMMERMAN: You know what, I think it's important to remember -- first, I don't want to be cynical to this very idealistic group I'm with. But just because it's been reported that she's given his campaign 6 1/2 weeks by John Fund, doesn't necessarily mean it's true.

DOBBS: A week. A week.

ZIMMERMAN: A week to make a decision, doesn't mean it's necessarily true.

DOBBS: That's why I gave attribution.

ZIMMERMAN: I appreciate that. And the other point is, it's also important to remember, it's -- while Barack Obama clearly is going to be the nominee, Hillary Clinton has received more votes than any Democrat who's ever sought the president -- Democratic nomination for president.

There's a powerful constituency...

DOBBS: Including Florida and Michigan? Or just Florida?

ZIMMERMAN: I'm including Florida. And the point here is -- I wasn't taking the bait. The point here is, she represents a constituency that's going to be critical to any Democrat winning in November.

DOBBS: Well, I mean, another way to look at it. Just about 17.5 million votes apiece. Is that a compelling case, Michael, for Barack Obama to sort of put his hands to his temples and say, OK, I want Hillary Clinton to be on the ticket with me?

GOODWIN: Well, look, I think Ed has it right, that she gets -- he gets to pick whoever he wants. And if it's Hillary Clinton, by all means then, he should consider that. But the notion that she brings these many voters automatically, I don't think that's correct.

I mean many of them are going to vote for the Democratic nominee in any event. Another V.P. will also bring different strengths so it's not an... DOBBS: Do you have an idea for -- first, for Senator Obama, who do we think here on this, I guess, panel should be his vice president?

ROLLINS: Well, I think it's a very important question. Add their 17 apiece, together you get 34 million, another 40 million votes and you can be president. That's what it's going to take. And so the bottom line is any...

DOBBS: Some people would point out that's a head start on the Republican.

ROLLINS: It may very well be at the end of the day. You know, we've got a long -- a lot of catching up to do. The bottom line here, though, is still going to be a very close election. And I think the rule that I've always operated under is don't create controversy, don't upset your own base.

If she could heal the base, that might be positive. Go get somebody that basically takes you some place that you wouldn't get by yourself. Meaning a state...

DOBBS: Wait, one of the things that's going to be interesting is the way in which they deal with the issues, because none of these candidates has really dealt with the issues nor has the national media shower glory upon itself in insisting that they deal with substantive issues.

One of the things I challenge tonight, both senators -- both Senator McCain and Senator Obama to simply deal with this issue of almost $3 billion being spent on lobbying in Washington. Let's see how serious they are. I said both candidates, challenging Senator Obama and Senator McCain.

A pledge, straightforward, that no one in your administration will serve as a lobbyist within five years of leaving your administration. I think it would have an impact, a significant impact.

ROLLINS: Both buses would be empty tomorrow.

DOBBS: Well, you know what? Let's (INAUDIBLE) those kinds of people because this revolving door in Washington has created the culture of corruption with the -- which the Democrats denigrated in 2006, and appropriately so, the Republicans have an opportunity.

So both candidates a real opportunity, I would hope, that they will respond to that challenge in the affirmative.

Where do you think this goes now? With the vice presidential -- who's on the vice presidential short list for both the Republican and the Democratic nominee?

GOODWIN: Well, I would just add one more qualification about Hillary Clinton, and that is Bill Clinton. I think that's got to be an important consideration for the Obama's...

DOBBS: Robert...

GOODWIN: Robert fell off of his chair right now.

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, I mean the idea of an administration that represented peace and prosperity for the nation for eight years...

DOBBS: I'm going to say...

ZIMMERMAN: I mean that's a real...

DOBBS: I've got to say this out loud right in front of everybody. The Democratic Party has acted like the most petulant and petty, spiteful people toward President Clinton and Senator Clinton.

I can't believe it. You talk about -- you know, I understand the cross-occurrence here at work between -- amongst the Carter clan, the Gore clan, the Clinton clan, the Obama clan, but, my gosh, this has been an ugly, ugly spectacle.

Don't you think?

GOODWIN: Well, actually, I think Bill Clinton brought a lot of it on himself. And I thought it was interesting, Bob Johnson, the former head of B.E.T. network...

DOBBS: Right. I know Bob.

GOODWIN: ... who's trying to really create a, you know, a force for Clinton to get the V.P., basically said that Obama -- they'd have to promise Obama there'd only be one V.P., not two Clintons who both (INAUDIBLE) for V.P.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: (INAUDIBLE) We're out of time. Who do you think should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? Got an idea?

ZIMMERMAN: Politically I think Hillary Clinton's the strongest. If she's not available for it, is not a good fit, Joe Biden.

DOBBS: Joe Biden.

ROLLINS: I think the same thing. I think he's so weak in foreign policy that Joe Biden would be great.

DOBBS: Interesting, interesting.

I'm going to throw out Jim Webb's name. I think he would be outstanding.

ROLLINS: He -- would agree. Might give...

DOBBS: How about for McCain?

GOODWIN: McCain -- I think Romney's his best choice.

ROLLINS: I think Romney's a terrible choice. I'm prejudice about Huckabee so I think Huckabee would be a great choice for him.

DOBBS: Robert?

ZIMMERMAN: Romney could deliver Michigan, and that's a critical swing state.

DOBBS: Why are you worried about Michigan? You're a Democrat. You dismissed all of those votes.

We want them back.

DOBBS: Thanks very much, Robert Zimmerman, Michael Goodwin, Ed Rollins.

Thank you.

At the top of the hour, The "ELECTION CENTER" with Campbell Brown.

Campbell, tell us all about it.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Lou, we're going to pick up right where you were leaving off with the breaking news tonight here on the CNN "ELECTION CENTER."

Multiple sources now telling CNN Hillary Clinton is ending her campaign this week. We're looking at Friday. We're going to have all of the details on that. Plus, we will talk about the veepstakes, whether she wants it, what she really wants, and who else he may be looking at. All that ahead and more at the top of the hour -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, Campbell.

And a reminder to vote on our poll here tonight.

The question is: Do you believe Senator Clinton should run as an independent candidate for president?

Yes or no? We'd like to hear from you, cast your vote at loudobbs.com.

Robert Zimmerman is throwing out his ballot now.

Up next, "A Government Ill Executed," that's the title of an important new book. Can one of these candidates help out? We'll find out. I'll be talking with the author here next.

And our national identity is at risk. A blunt warning tonight on the threat from socio-ethnocentric special interest groups and those who favor group and identity politics.

We're seeing how that works out. Stay with us. We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: An important new book on how to fix our broken federal government. I'll be talking with Paul Light, the author, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: I'm joined now by the author of an important new book on how to fix our government. The book is "A Government Ill Executed." The title of the book comes from Alexander Hamilton, who famously warned the government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory must be in practice, a bad government.

Good to have you with us, Paul. Unfortunately, Jefferson had it right all the way through. I mean Hamilton had it right all the way through, so did Jefferson for that matter.

PAUL LIGHT, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Well, they agreed on some things.

DOBBS: The idea that we have a government that is not functioning. About the only department I know that's working well is the Internal Revenue Service.

LIGHT: Well, you never know where the next breakdown is going to occur. And it's kind of a guessing game. I keep my top 10 possible targets for the next meltdown, you know, so we have counterfeit heparin one day and then we have toxic trailers the next. And you just have to stay on top of it.

DOBBS: Right. You say that our government has suffered from three decades of benign and deliberate neglect. At whose hand?

LIGHT: Well, you know, it's been Democrats and Republicans. It's been Congress and the president. We keep adding new missions to the federal agenda. We never get rid of anything. We just keep putting pressure on government to do more with less. And there's a good case to be made that we're near doing everything with nothing.

DOBBS: Right. And we are spending a -- an inconceivable -- incomprehensible amount of money to do that.

LIGHT: Yes.

DOBBS: It makes no sense at all. We have needs to build infrastructure, we have needs to create public education, which is not, of course, a federal problem. But, I mean, as we look across the expanse of government responsibility, it's as if nothing is working.

LIGHT: Well, we've got a lot of problems. There are big structural problems in the federal government. We don't address them. We're just kind of adrift in terms of reform in the government as an operating entity.

DOBBS: I say that Washington, D.C., as I describe it now, is where problems go to be perpetuated, not solved. And it -- when you think about it, we go through this exercise every four years of electing presidents from one of these two principal parties as if they're going to back and fix something when they are constantly the source of the problem, aren't they? LIGHT: Well, I'd like to see one of the town halls if they do them set aside to talk about managing government. And the key question for them is: can the federal bureaucracy deliver on the promises that they make? And I think it's an open question right now.

DOBBS: You -- and talk about solutions. You say there are three things that need to be done right away. Cut the number of appointees, get more resources down into the hierarchy, and get control of contractors.

LIGHT: Absolutely.

DOBBS: How quickly do you think it could be done? How reasonably well?

LIGHT: McCain had legislation in the 1990s to cut the number of political appointees by a third. That can be done overnight. In terms of pushing resources down, we've got all these baby boomers retiring from the federal government. Take their jobs, take a hard look at them, and push the resources down to the front lines where we've got all these delays and backlogs. Get some more border patrol agents, for example.

DOBBS: That would be an interesting idea.

LIGHT: Well, we've got a broken pyramid here.

DOBBS: As you heard earlier, I challenged both Senator McCain and Senator Obama tonight to -- to insist that anyone in their administration cannot serve as a lobbyist for five years, can't be employed by a lobbyist. And within the first 100 days to make that that's a legislative priority to put it into law.

Do you think that works?

LIGHT: Why not do it right now? Why not --

DOBBS: Because this administration has done nothing for seven years responsibly.

LIGHT: You can (ph) get Obama and McCain to join hands right now and introduce an amendment to the 1978 Ethics Act, and get it done before the conventions --

DOBBS: That's even better.

LIGHT: -- make it law. Why not reach across the --

DOBBS: They could show some leadership, couldn't they?

LIGHT: They absolutely could.

DOBBS: All right. Paul Light is joining me in this challenge, Senators. Let's do it. How about it?

Thank you, Paul. (CROSSTALK)

LIGHT: .. you're welcome.

DOBBS: The book is, "A Government Ill Executed." I urge you to read it. It is an important book, and I hope that Senators Obama and McCain are looking at that book as we speak.

An alarming new report tonight finding the United States is in danger of losing its national identity -- 80 percent of Americans say they are concerned now about the amount of division between ethnic and cultural groups in this country. That, according to a new study by the nonprofit Bradley Group.

Tomorrow, we will have much more on this report. Interviews, reports, and -- including recommendations, how to protect and to develop, at the highest standards and levels, our national identity.

Tonight's poll results -- 61 percent of you say Senator Clinton should run as an Independent candidate for president.

How about that?

Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow. We'll be talking with the authors of a brilliant new piece of journalism, exploring Communist China's looting of an entire continent of its natural resources -- Africa.

Tonight, we wish you good night from New York.

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

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