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LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK
Ending the Connection Between Lobbying and Lawmaking; Candidates Begin to Square Off
Aired June 7, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Rick Sanchez here at the CNN Center in Atlanta. These are the headlines that we are following right now.
First of all, she spent nearly 18 months trying to defeat Barack Obama. Now, Hillary Clinton wants her supporters to help him win the White House. Senator Clinton suspended her presidential campaign today and officially endorsed her one-time rival. She said it's time for Democrats to unite and restore the ties that bind them.
It was already wet in central Indiana, but look at it now. Ten inches more have fallen on that area. The White River is off its banks in part of Indianapolis. It sent rescue crews house to house -- house to submerged house we should say bringing older and handicapped residents to higher ground. Look at that. So far no injuries, no deaths reported but we're following this story very closely.
And no Triple Crown for Big Brown. The colt lost to a long shot, Da'Tara, at the Belmont stakes. Big Brown finished last after spending much of the race in third place. Da'Tara had started the race as a 30-1 long shot. Think of the odds. Think of the money you would have made if you have picked her.
I'm Rick Sanchez. LOU DOBBS starts right now.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight: It is time to end the culture of corruption in Washington and to end the influence of lobbyists on presidential administration. This week, I've challenged Senator McCain and Senator Obama to end the revolving door in Washington between politics and lobbyists.
And: Communist China is outmaneuvering the United States and Europe in almost every quarter of the world. China has now established economic dominance over the rich resources and minerals of Sub-Saharan Africa. We'll be examining the threat from communist China with the editor and reporter of "Fast Company" magazine and an important, compelling article.
All of that and much more from an independent perspective, of course -- straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK: News, debate, and opinion. Here now: Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
The general election campaign is now under way. And the latest poll shows senators Obama and McCain in a virtual tie. Senator Obama said the American people are ready for something new, saying McCain wants to continue the policies of the Bush administration. Senator McCain declared Senator Obama is weak on national security, challenging Obama to a series of town hall meetings.
We begin tonight with Jessica Yellin reporting from Bristow, Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our friend, Senator Barack Obama.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Obama kicking off his general election bid in Virginia.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: There's a reason why the first event, the first public event to be had after having obtained the nomination is right here in southwest Virginia. Because -
YELLIN: He hopes to take this one-time Republican stronghold in November. Here he was before the Virginia primary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 10)
OBAMA: We won north. We won south. We won in between. And I believe we can win Virginia on Tuesday if you're ready to stand for change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: He did win in a landslide. Obama insists he appeals to voters from the other side of the aisle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 11)
OBAMA: Because of the tone I take where I try not to demonize others, we're able to attract independents and disillusioned Republicans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: They plan to do the same in the general election. Expect Obama to compete aggressively in purple states that went for George Bush in 2004 but show signs of turning blue. These include Virginia, Missouri, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Nevada, Colorado and Florida -- possibly even Montana and Arkansas where Bush won by big margins.
At the same time, they'll work to hold on to swing states that John Kerry narrowly won and that John McCain is now eyeing -- including Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and Oregon. The Obama campaign even talks about going after some red states like North Carolina and Georgia. Bush won here by huge margins.
But the campaign is hoping that Obama's appeal to upper income liberals and his ability to turn out African-Americans could give him a shot at turning these once safe red states blue. GOV. TIM KAINE, (D) VIRGINIA: Everything I see across Virginia makes me believe that Obama can win in November. He's still got to consider himself the slight underdog and then work a little bit harder than the other guy. But if we do that, and I know we will, I think we've got a great chance of winning.
YELLIN (on camera): The last Democrat to win Virginia in a general election was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. But Barack Obama swept this state, winning almost 30 percent in the primary and his campaign believes that that bodes well for November.
Jessica Yellin, CNN, Bristow, Virginia.
DOBBS: Senator McCain is stepping up his attacks on Senator Obama particularly on the issue of national security. McCain is blasting Obama for setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and for his willingness to meet with anti-American leaders. Senator McCain also challenged Obama to 10 town hall meetings before the Democratic convention in August.
Brian Todd has our report from Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president of the United States -- John McCain.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Right out of the primary gate, John McCain tries to set the tone for the fall campaign, not with big media productions, McCain says, no spin rooms -- just two Americans running for the highest office on earth responding to the concerns of the people.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: This morning, I sent Senator Obama a letter inviting him to join me in town hall meetings around the country.
TODD: Ten of them would do, McCain says, once a week between now and the Democratic convention in late August. He proposes having a few hundred people at each, chosen by an objective organization. McCain pointed to a deal between John F. Kennedy and Barry Goldwater to hold those kinds of debates for the 1964 campaign. Kennedy was assassinated before any of those events could take place.
In a statement, Obama's campaign welcomed the idea in principle but suggested a different format, quote, "Less structured and lengthier than the McCain campaign suggests, one that more closely resembles the historic debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas."
In those debates, the candidates had seven or eight minutes to argue their points. Obama's advisers say they'll discuss all of this with the McCain campaign.
But one analyst says this may not be ideal for Obama right off the bat.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He doesn't need to rush out and continue to do arena-like events around the country or even to answer this call by McCain to start doing town halls. He shouldn't be doing town halls in the summer anyway. He needs to now become a much more serious candidate about where he wants to take the country.
TODD: For his part, McCain was asked if this challenge was an effort to nullify Obama's speech-making ability.
MCCAIN: We do fine. We're very happy with the kind of campaigning we do. I just prefer a town hall meeting. I prefer that, because that gives me the chance to hear people's hopes and dreams and aspirations.
TODD: Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: The primary season demonstrated, among other things, that the age of voters will be one of the factors in the outcome of this general election. Older voters strongly support Senator McCain. Younger voters tend to support Senator Obama. And that creates tremendous challenges and opportunities for both candidates.
Bill Schneider has our report.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Barack Obama wants his candidacy to define a generation as John F. Kennedy's once did.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: You know in your hearts that at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation, we can not afford to keep doing what we've been doing.
SCHNEIDER: Obama's call for change has rallied younger voters. In South Dakota on Tuesday, Obama got 2/3 of the vote among Democrats under 30. Seniors were not so enthusiastic. Two-thirds of seniors voted for Hillary Clinton.
That age gap is likely to become even bigger in the general election. John McCain is 25 years older than Barack Obama. That's the biggest age difference ever between two presidential candidates.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: I have a few years on my opponent.
MCCAIN: So I'm surprised that a young man has bought into so many failed ideas.
SCHNEIDER: Obama's message of change is likely to intensify the age divide.
OBAMA: This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past.
SCHNEIDER: Change resonates with young voters. In South Dakota on Tuesday, 2/3 of young voters said the top quality they were looking for in a candidate was the ability to bring about change. Among seniors, the figure was 40 percent.
MCCAIN: The American people didn't get to know me yesterday, as they're just getting to know Senator Obama.
SCHNEIDER: Still, the idea of change is appealing to so many voters this year that McCain is also trying to run as a candidate of change. Obama's response?
OBAMA: There are many words to describe John McCain's attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush's policies as bipartisan and new, but change is not one of them.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
SCHNEIDER (on camera): In 1984, when Ronald Reagan ran for reelection, he was 73 years old. His opponent, Walter Mondale, was 17 years younger. Reagan's age became an issue when he made a confused and uncertain statement in a debate.
In the following debate, Reagan turned the issue to his advantage. "I am not going to make age an issue in this campaign," President Reagan quipped. "I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience."
Bill Schneider, CNN, New York.
DOBBS: Still ahead here, much more on the battle between McCain and Obama. Lobbyists and special interest groups are dominating Washington now for decades.
This week, I issued a challenge to both presidential candidates to end the culture of corruption.
And: America is facing a national identity crisis -- the corrosive effect of group and identity politics on our society. That story is next.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The next president will have an historic opportunity to end the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups in Washington. And this week, I challenged both candidates, a challenge which is posted on our Web site: LouDobbs.com. In that challenge, I ask Senator McCain and Senator Obama to declare that anyone in their administration will not be allowed to serve as a lobbyist for a period of at least five years and the next president should also make that a legislative priority in his first 100 days in office. The Obama campaign responded by directing us to their Web site where the Obama campaign says, "No political appointees will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years."
Now, that's good. It isn't good enough by a long measure. But it is a beginning.
And the Obama campaign also said, "No political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration."
As I say, a good start but far from sufficient.
And Senator Obama clearly has not yet accepted my challenge. But I've got to give him great credit for going at least this far in the initial stages. We hope, senator, you will go all the way for the benefit of the American people.
As for the McCain campaign, they said they would, quote, "pass on my challenge."
So, let me be very direct to Senator McCain. With your record, with your background, that is a very lousy position to take on an issue that is a -- that you understand -- very important and critical to changing the direction of what has been God-awful government in this country for three decade.
So, a good beginning, Senator Obama. Senator McCain, please, get real.
Senator Obama and Senator McCain both are publicly trying now to distance themselves from lobbyists but lobbyists are involved in both of those campaigns.
And as Louise Schiavone now reports, each has accepted donations from lobbyists.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Change is the driving theme of this year's presidential contest.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: We've got to end the dominance of the special interests 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 RESPONSIBLE 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...
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: We have enacted the most comprehensive and transparent policy of 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.
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 that, 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 $500,000 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. While that is small compared to the $270 million raised, the Center for Responsible 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 in campaign contributions, we've concluded that the company's interest can be a major motivation for employees and family members to donate to a campaign." For example, both the Obama and McCain campaigns have received thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands from employees of financial firms including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.
(on camera): No one person can donate more than $2,300. And while the First Amendment to the Constitution assures the right to petition the government, in the minds of many voters, questions about fairness arise when the petitioning and big money overlap.
Louise Schiavone, for CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: Coming up next, deadly Mexican drug cartel violence is spreading into this country. We'll have that report.
And: America for sale. A shadowy foreign company is trying to take control of a critical American asset.
That and a great deal more: still ahead. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
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.
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 lost control of some Mexican territory. And U.S. law enforcement officials say the violence has already crossing the border.
JOHN WALTERS, OFFICE OF NAT'L. DRUG CONTROL POLICY: The shocking character of some of the 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 will 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 cartels 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 requires Mexico to change its Constitution."
At stake is what the DEA calls historic cooperation from Calderon's government in the war on drugs.
MICHELLE 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 wars. (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 reported. It's been pulled off, which a lot of people don't like, Lou.
DOBBS: All right. Casey, thank you very much.
Casey Wian reporting.
I have to tell you, you may be surprised that I received the support of a liberal newspaper, surprised especially when it comes to my reporting on the issue of illegal immigration. But the rather liberal "Washington Post," this week defended me, and found that Senator Obama had issued what it calls a whopper when referring to me in his third attack on me on the issue of illegal immigration.
This controversy began with some outrageous comments by the senator at a fundraiser in Florida last month. Senator Obama attacking me for the third time as I said in this campaign said, quote, "There's a reason why hate crimes against Hispanic doubled last year." He said, "If you have people like Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh ginning things up, it's not surprising that would happen."
Well, as we reported at the time, the senator's facts were hardly facts. In fact, they were utterly and completely wrong. The "Washington Post" has a fact-checker column. And this week it reported that Obama's statement on the issue was, quote, "wildly inaccurate." So inaccurate in point of fact that "The Post," the "Washington Post" gave Senator Obama four Pinocchios in its Pinocchio test.
That is its worst rating possible on the issue of -- as my friend, Stephen Colbert would say, truthiness. In spite of the fact Senator Obama was simply and plainly wrong, some apparently don't care whether he was right or wrong.
A rather disturbing little fellow by the name of Reuben Navarrette -- disturbing because he knows nothing about the issue of illegal immigration and nothing about journalism wrote a piece about me in the "San Diego Union Tribune." And he said and he wrote it with a title, "Stirring up Anti-Latino Sentiment." Isn't that lovely?
In the column, Navarrette conceded that Obama probably had his facts wrong but went on to say Obama was on the right track. This is the kind of idiocy that is going on in the closed loop of radical left- wing open-borders amnesty advocates. Navarrette went on to say some cable hosts and radio talkers grow their ratings by pandering to the anti-immigrant crowd. Navarrette calls it pandering.
What's he doing to -- let's say all of the open-border advocates, all of the amnesty advocates -- that closed loop that has created the network of self interest. And that self interest has nothing to do with the national interest. It is only a socioethnocentric interest.
And a reminder -- join me on the radio from Monday through Friday for the "Lou Dobbs Show." Among my guests: Jonathan Martin from Politico.com; Justin Wolfers from Freakonomics. We'll be talking politics and economics. Go to LouDobbsRadio.com to find the local listings for the "Lou Dobbs Show" on the radio.
Up next: The secret of hedge fund trying to take control of a critical part of our national transportation system. We'll tell you why it could jeopardize our national security and why the Bush administration is actually encouraging it.
Also: Communist China looting Africa of its rich resources and minerals, outmaneuvering the United States and Europe and Africa. We'll be examining China's economic dominance of Sub-Saharan Africa and what that portends in a scarce resource world.
Senators McCain and Obama are launching their general election campaigns. We'll be talking about that with three of the very best political analysts in the country.
DOBBS: We've been reporting here for years about the threat of foreign governments buying critical American infrastructure and national security assets. This broadcast, the first, in fact, to report on the Dubai Ports World deal that eventually was blocked.
Tonight, there is a new threat to national sovereignty and security, a foreign hedge fund trying to take control of CSX. CSX is a major railroad that does sensitive work for nuclear facilities and the Department of Defense. It is without question a national security asset.
Kitty Pilgrim has our report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CSX railroad stretches 21,000 miles in 23 states. It connects 13 military bases and 70 ports, shipping military equipment, more than any other railroad in the country.
But now what appears to be a shadowy investment group called The Children's Investment Fund or TCI, has teamed up with another investment group and together they currently have eight percent of the shares of CSX and a $5 billion investment. They're trying to gain five of the 12 CSX board seats. Six members of the Senate Banking Committee wants to know who these investors are and if any for governments are involved in this transaction.
SEN. EVAN BAYH, (D) IN: We've asked the company about these things, which governments are investing in you. They refuse to answer. They say it's innocuous but refuse to actually answer the questions.
PILGRIM: A spokesman for TCI says they don't name their investors but one percent of the funds are sovereign wealth funds. They're not saying which foreign governments are investors. The spokesman for The Children's Investment Fund says it was founded to fund a charity "focused on improving the lives of children living in poverty in developing countries."
But the investment fund is also known for its aggressive management restructuring and severe cost cutting. The senators claim TCI wants to cut costs to the bone and are asking the treasury department for review which can limit foreign ownership and investment strategic assets in the United States.
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ, (D) NJ: We need the CFIUS review, the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States to review this to make sure a critical asset in the United States isn't undermined in terms of our national interests and our national security.
PILGRIM: CSX is fighting TCI in court saying it acquired shares in a non-transparent way and did not properly disclose their ownership. TCI denies the allegation.
PILGRIM (voice-over): The Securities and Exchange Commission late today said they don't agree with the CSX lawsuit that says TCI violated securities law by buying shares but the senators aren't arguing about securities law. They say it's a national security issue and any limits on any U.S. railroads growth or capital expenditures will hurt U.S. infrastructure.
DOBBS: All I can say is, good for Senator Bayh, good for Senator Menendez and the others who are taking this on seriously. The idea that the SEC would even begin to discuss this, that this administration which has been absolutely irresponsible in every single instance in which national security assets were at risk of being purchased by foreign investors who would then have control of those assets, I mean, I can't even imagine one taking this administration seriously. This has to go immediately to CFIUS and the idea that TCI would not respond to the U.S. Senate, the heck with them. Dismiss them. Who the heck to they think they are?
PILGRIM: The senators want it investigated. Treasury says they received a letter, they are reviewing it right now.
DOBBS: And let's do it quickly. And the idea that -- you know, the arrogance of this. And by the way, I want to remind everybody that Henry Paulson, the treasury secretary, is in the Middle East right now trying -- trying to get foreign investors to bring their capital here so that they can bail out the very institutions who are in trouble because of the policies of this administration. It is an absurdity. And the sooner these incompetents leave Washington, DC and government the safer the nation will be. Kitty, thanks very much. Kitty Pilgrim.
An alarming new report tonight finding that the United States is now in danger of losing our national identity. The study warns that identity politics and the influence of socioethocentric special interest groups are simply overwhelming our common identity as Americans first. Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The report is titled "E Pluribus Unum," from many one. It warns that we are becoming the opposite, from one, many.
It is the work of the Bradley Project, a nonprofit group based in Wisconsin, dedicated to what it calls America's national identity. Its survey of 2400 Americans contains some troubling findings.
PROF. JIM CEASER, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: There's apprehension, too, about the debt of current division with 80 percent of Americans registering concern about the amount of division between ethnic and cultural groups in the United States.
TUCKER: Sixty three percent of Americans believe our identity is weakening. Twenty four percent believe we're so divided that a common identity not possible. The report lays the blame on our failure to teach and understand our own history, noting America is not a nation founded on a common ethnicity but an idea. And ideas must be actively carried forward noting, quote, "knowing what America stands for is not a genetic inheritance. It must be learned both by the next generation and by those who come to this country."
To nurture and develop our sense of ourselves as Americans, the report makes a series of recommendations. Because as the study's authors make clear, many Americans are historically illiterate pointing in one example to a question to a survey of fifth graders.
JAMES REES, EXEC. DIR., MOUNT VERNON: Only seven of 100 could explain why the date of July 4, 1776 is a significant one.
TUCKER: The loss of our identity is not merely an academic issue, note the authors.
(END VIDEOTAPE) TUCKER (on camera): National identity, citizenship is the seat of governance. And we seem to be a nation torn between nationality and globalization. Forty-five percent of the Americans asked between the age of 18 and 34 responded, Lou, that international law should trump when there's a conflict with the U.S. Constitution.
DOBBS: What were their ages?
TUCKER: Eighteen to 34.
DOBBS: They're complete idiots. And they are dangerous idiots.
TUCKER: They're not being taught. And that's the point of this report. We're not being taught our history. It's not something psychically transferred from generation to generation. You have to learn it. It has to be taught.
DOBBS: And we don't even teach civics in our elementary schools in this country anymore because we have a bunch of fools also now involved in education where half of the Hispanic students in the country, half of the black students in the country are dropping out of high school. And we have -- it is a disaster and not a single one of the presidential candidates over the course of the primary season was dealing with those two specific issues and what should be done about it. We still have not heard from either Senator Obama or Senator McCain what they would do about those two critical, critical issues in the general election.
I mean, it's -- it should be disturbing to every American, everyone who cares about the direction of this country, about its people. It's astounding. Bill, thank you very much. Bill Tucker.
Up next, Communist China's threat in Africa. The author and editor of a stunning new article on China's growing dominance in Africa will be with us. And a head-to-head battle for the white house. Senators McCain and Obama now headed toward the general election. We'll be joined by three of the best political analysts here next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Communist China is the most aggressive investor in all of Africa. The critics say the Chinese are simply pillaging Sub-Saharan Africa's vast natural resources, and the United States partly to blame while also derelict in pursuing national interests. All of that part of the subject of an important and provocative new article in the June issue of "Fast Company" magazine. "China Storms Africa," a 20-plus page analysis of Communist China's, quote, commercial invasion of Africa. Author Richard Behar magazine editor. Bob Safian joining me now.
Good to have you both here. Richard, I have got to say this straightforwardly. A wonderful piece of reporting. Important, important reporting. My congratulations.
RICHARD BEHAR, "FAST COMPANY" EDITOR: Thank you. DOBBS: The idea that we are being -- and permitting the outmaneuvering of the U.S. government in Africa, Europe doing the same thing, the Chinese make us look like absolute fools and dupes when it comes to carrying out their strategy there.
BEHAR: We're absolutely asleep at the switch and have been for years as china has aggressively moved into one country after another scooping up long-term deals. Oil, timber, copper. You name it.
DOBBS: You report from Mozambique, Zambia, the Democratic Republic. Let's put up this map from the article, from the magazine. Equatorial Guinea, the places where Communist China -- there's the number. Communist china's exports from Africa have risen 2, 126 percent since 1998. That little sliver on the right side representing the growth of the U.S. during the same period. My gosh, I mean, how could people not notice?
BEHAR: America's been busy, right? We had a war in Iraq. And we have been sending eight, of course, to Africa. But where's the investment? Where's the trade? It's just not happening at the level it should be.
DOBBS: And I've got to turn to Bob Safin, the managing editor. I mean, the longest -- this is the biggest article in the history of the magazine.
BOB SAFIAN: Yes.
DOBBS: I mean, that's a courageous thing for any editor to do. But to go after this story, what set you on the scent of it?
SAFIAN, "FAST COMPANY" EDITOR: Well, the idea actually came from executive editor Will Borne (ph) who brought rich to us and had the idea are to the story. The starting point was that we are potentially on a course where there are not enough resources across the globe to meet the rising needs of our planet and of our people and where could we look at that potential showing its face. And China's activity in Africa was a way for us to point a spotlight at that. And it's a globally important issue.
DOBBS: A globally important issue. And what you've just said is critically important for everyone to understand. That this is now a contest, a critical contest -- it's more than a competitive contest. Let's hope it remains only that -- for increasingly scarce resources, minerals, commodities across the world. And in China, as you point out, Richard, it starts with a war chest of $1.65 trillion compared to $62 billion for the United States. Hardly a fair fight, would you say?
BEHAR: Hardly a fair fight today. We also have to keep in mind that China has such a corrupt business culture at this point in its development. And so does the Sub-Sahara for all sorts of reasons. When you combine that recipe, it can be pretty explosive. We're seeing that today with a lot of the minerals going to China, oil going to China. SAFIAN: When American companies try to do deals in china, we set rules. We want certain quid pro quos on human rights and other things that the Chinese are just not asking for. And it becomes very easy for the African countries to do deals with China. They just make it very easy.
DOBBS: In places where you examine, document and report, like Equatorial Guinea, for the United States has sort of with a wink and a nod accepted a less than ideal human condition -- human rights conditions -- and that's being very nice -- the Communist Chinese have shown everybody how to do business. And as you suggest likely will overtake the United States in Equatorial Guinea, have already done so in the Congo, in Zambia and Mozambique.
BEHAR: Mozambique with the timber most leaving for China is moving out illegally. Most of the copper out of the Congo to China moving out illegally.
SAFIAN: One of the great things about Rich's story, he points out that a lot of the timber going to China is ending up back here in America in our floorings, in our walls. That there's a certain complicity that we have as well in all of this.
DOBBS: And of course our furniture.
SAFIAN: Our furniture. Yes.
DOBBS: As our brilliant trade policies continue to create consequences. Richard Behar, Bob Safian. Thank you very much.
This article, I want to say to you, is without question deserving of your time and attention. "China Invades Africa." "Fast Company," magazine, June issue. I urge you to reed it. It's very, very important. Thank you gentlemen. Appreciate it.
Up next, the presidential race is now between two candidates and two parties. Three of the best political and brightest political minds join me to tell us what we should expect over the next, are you ready, five months. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: New poll numbers show Senator Obama and Senator McCain in a tight race for the presidency. For more on those numbers now and all the week's political news, turning now to three of the best political analysts and LOU DOBBS TONIGHT contributors, in our DC bureau syndicated columnist Diane West. Here in New York, "New York Daily News" columnist and Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. Let's start with something Senator Obama said about Iraq. That's right, Iraq is back in discussion. Here's what he had to say. So if we could, let's roll the tape with Candy Crowley doing the interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's no doubt that we've seen significant improvements in security on the ground in Iraq and our troops and General Petraeus deserve enormous credit for that. I have to look at this issue from a broader strategic perspective, though. In terms of long-term strategy, I am absolutely convinced that the best thing we can do is to set a clear timetable.
DOBBS: A clear timetable. Hank, is there any change in his position, as you can perceive it?
HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he was a lot more strident about ending the war more quickly, doing it now, now there's a clear timetable. He's certainly moving to the right. Perceptually on defense matters, why? Because he has to do it to be competitive with John McCain, quite frankly.
ERROL LOUIS, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": While he's going to compete with john McCain, he's also going to clearly take the position the fact it's not a catastrophe is far too low of a bar and that his original position remains. And we know from polls and we know from the general trend of the election that this is where the public wants to be. They want to be out of Iraq. He's going to give it to them.
DOBBS: You agree, Diana?
DIANA WEST, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes, I do. I think we've also seen some movement in John McCain, at least in an effort to get away from that 100-year occupation that he had once mentioned. There is a sense that this can be brought to a close. And I think both candidates are going to be trying to hit on that in a more measured way.
DOBBS: A more measured way. I guess that's a good way to put it. I think we're seeing a little more measured tone from both candidates as they're moving now obviously into the general election campaign.
But no surprise here that when I made a challenge this week, I issued a challenge to both of these candidates. Namely, that they should basically ban lobbying from those in their administration. Put a five-year ban on any lobbying for anyone who is employed by the administrations of either President McCain or President Obama, and put that into law as one of the priorities in the first 100-day legislative priorities. What do you think?
SHEINKOPF: Dwight Eisenhower on the way out of his door in his administration said beware of the military industrial complex. We rely on them too much for money to run political campaigns. We rely on them to pay people that have access. Five years in that kind of setting, very important. Cut the tie now, get American politics more independent of the military industrial complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned us about.
DOBBS: The military and industrial complex, we're talking about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We're talking about big pharmaceuticals. We're talking about the energy industry. What do you think of the idea?.
LOUIS: I think it's a great idea. I think you may have to amend it a little bit if you'll accept a friendly amendment.
DOBBS: I would be delighted.
LOUIS: Make sure it includes members of Congress themselves. I'm sure they'll pass it to impair the future earnings of Hill staffers and White House staffers. For themselves, that's the real question because it's the revolving door between Congress, I think, and K Street causing the most problems.
DOBBS: We'll amend that. The reason I put it squarely on the administrations is that's the one area in which they will have influence. And I think it would be an embarrassing Georgia, if you will, between the executive and the legislative. Diana?
WEST: I think it's a great idea. I can't imagine them signing on to it. It would be very fascinating to see their responses.
DOBBS: So far, we're going to be -- we'll be talking about their responses here next. We'll be right back with our panel. When we do, we'll have the difference between Senator Obama and Senator McCain on this very issue. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: I'm back now with Diana West, Errol Louis and Hank Sheinkopf. I was just talking about my challenge of both campaigns to my challenge to them on the issue of getting rid of lobbyists and their administrations. Here's what Senator Obama basically has said, that they're going to -- they're not going to accept PAC money, lobbying money and encourage the DNC to do so, which this week did. So I want to congratulate Senator Obama for taking a first step. An absolutely terrific first step. I commend and congratulate the senator and his campaign for doing so but let's be clear. It's only a tiny step. We have to go all the way here, if this senator is indeed serious about reform.
Senator McCain, I have to tell you, is -- tremendously disappointing response from that campaign saying they'll take a pass on my challenge on lobbying and ethics. You know what, I think all of America will take a pass on Senator McCain if he doesn't change that position. And I think they should. Senator McCain, it's time -- it's time for you to get serious about reform. You've done it before, right, Hank?
SHEINKOPF: No question about it. John McCain has special stricture on him this issue. He's the guy that took on big tobacco and campaign finance reform and he's the guy who paid real political price for taking on special interest. If you're serious about it and in a position to really do something about it, do something now. Tell the American public you're going to clean up Washington. You're going to take the first steps again.
LOUIS: I can't what the conversation must be like in the McCain camp given all the lobbyists basically running his campaign. They have to make a decision ...
DOBBS: Charlie Black, Rick Davis. Let's be clear, Senator Obama also has a number of lobbyists, ex-lobbyists at the top of his campaign as well.
LOUIS: Again, it's a step in the right direction. He has lobbyists who happen to be state lobbyists in the Obama camp as opposed to federal. It's important distinction but it's not enough of a distinction. They need to go further. The McCain camp, I think they have to make a decision. This is leadership. This is where they have to make a decision between how they make a living and the future, not only of this client but of the country. It will be very interesting to see how they figure that out.
DOBBS: Diana, as Errol puts it, taking a pass isn't exactly leadership when it comes to a challenge of this sort that's in the interest of the nation and, actually, the important reform of the way in which this government has been doing business.
WEST: Right. Will, I think I want to see -- I want to hear more about this from both candidates because what you're talking about is something that could revolutionize the way businesses conducted in Washington. And so this becomes a very extraordinary opportunity. I just don't know if either candidate is really up to the challenge.
DOBBS: Well, the American people, if they want to have more than a vote, if they actually want to have influence over the direction of this government, which has been subsumed by corporate America and special interest, this absolutely has to happen. More than 41,000 lobbyists now in Washington, DC, 77 lobbyists for each and every one of our senators and congressmen serving in Washington, DC, 77. And corporate America and special interests spending almost $3 billion a year to lobby the people sent to Washington to represent you and me.
Is it any wonder that we're not being represented?
A historic week. Senator Obama, first African American to head a ticket of a principal party. Your reaction.
SHEINKOPF: I think this is an extraordinary statement about this amazing country that 50 years -- a little bit more than 50 years after Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education we can proudly look and say, whether we agree with him or not, hey, this is pretty amazing.
LOUIS: Yeah, absolutely. This is what everyone's parents were telling their kids in black communities and in households for generations. And it's very interesting the way it came about, that it comes about in almost a kind of a Jackie Robinson sort of way, the notion being, look, if you pull the barriers down, you'll get a Michael Jordan, a Tiger Woods in the realm of business you'll get a Dick Parsons. And in the realm of politics you'll get a Barack Obama, an extraordinary politician, who never would have had a chance were it not for decades of struggle and reform and change. Win or lose, that is an important milestone that I think everyone is going to recognize.
DOBBS: Diana, you have the last word.
WEST: Yes. I agree with both Hank and Errol. What happens next, this is a fascinating conference that could begin, does this spell the end of affirmative action policies based on race and perhaps as some people have asked Senator Obama, I think of Stewart Taylor (ph), the journalist does it spell affirmative action for economically disadvantaged rather than looking at skin color? Are we at the point now where we can start losing those policies? And I think that Senator Obama's candidacy is a big answer that says maybe we are.
DOBBS: And whatever happens, history made this week and now we're down to the campaign part. It's going to be interesting. Most candidates talking about elevated discussion and discourse and debate. We'll see. Diana, thank you. Errol, thank you very much, Hank thank you.
And thank you for being with us. Please join us here tomorrow for all of us, good night from New York.