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Russian Troops Remain in Georgia; Pakistan's President Resigns; E-Verify Revolt; FDA Fails Again

Aired August 18, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you.
Tonight this country's foreign policy is in crisis on at least two fronts. Russian troops remain dug in deep within Georgia and Pakistan's pro-American president has abruptly resigned.

Tonight vested interest on a teacher's union, trying to limit one of the most innovative programs in public education. That fight could be a huge embarrassment for the Democratic Party in Denver, Colorado.

And tonight corporate America and special interest groups trying to dictate this nation's policy on illegal immigration, business elites putting their interest ahead of the American people and the national interest, all of that, all 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 Monday, August 18th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

The Pentagon, tonight, saying there's no evidence of any significant withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia. In point of fact, Russia has now deployed ballistic missile systems on Georgian territory. That a new challenge to the United States and Europe.

At the same time, the Bush administration faces a dangerous political vacuum in Pakistan. Pakistan's pro-American President Musharraf has resigned raising new questions about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and the threat from radical Islamist terrorists. We have extensive coverage beginning with Michael Ware in central Georgia.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ... soldiers pulling back. Indeed, this checkpoint is the furthest line of Russian advance, 15 kilometers east of the Georgian city of Gori. Indeed, in some of the Russian positions in the surrounding hills there are signs of the soldiers digging trenches and camouflaging their tanks and armor with fresh cut foliage.

(on camera): Russian withdrawal from Georgia or not, according to the cease-fire, standing here as dusk approaches in the Georgian city of Gori, still under Russian occupation. (voice-over): Hundreds of Russian soldiers and their armored vehicles surround me. In this town square, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, a statue looms high above. At the town hall, desperate Georgians are registering for food rations as the Russian troops still maintain patrols and checkpoints around this city.

While most of the city appeared to remain intact, the destruction (INAUDIBLE) can still be seen in buildings brought down like this one, but according to locals was destroyed by a Russian rocket. Discards of the war are also seen in the eyes of the jittery hands of the few Georgians who still remain.

(on camera): Gori is an almost vacant city. Shops, homes and apartments all shattered. It is a town of the old and the infirm and but a few sparse families. Russian checkpoints still man the streets like this one over here. The troop is telling us that they have orders to withdraw at dusk. Everyone now waits to nightfall to see whether those orders are carried through. Russian armor still firmly inside Georgia as the last night begins to fade, an act of defiance or a precursor to departure.

(voice-over): By the way, both sides to this conflict are reluctant to give ground.


DOBBS: Michael Ware filing that report from Gori, Georgia.

Russia, tonight, insisting that its troops have begun withdrawal from Georgia, but the Russian military's concept of withdrawal apparently differs sharply from that of the West. In an interview with CNN, a Russian military spokesman described what he says the Russian army is now doing.


LT. GEN. NIKOLAI UVAROV, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY: The complete withdrawal meaning just you left it forever. Are pulling out, it means that we do not withdrawal from the whole area. We are pulling away, pulling out from the territory of Georgia back to the territory of South Ossetia. And the main force that was enforced our peacekeepers there will get back in Russia. That's the meaning of those words.


DOBBS: At least 15,000 Russian troops are now inside Georgia. Along convoys, Russian military equipment and troops continue to spill over the border into Georgia.

U.S. officials say those Russian convoys include SS-21 ballistic missiles and their launch vehicles. The missiles expand Russia's ability to bombard targets across the whole of Georgia and to inflict damage on anyone approaching South Ossetia.

Russia used those missiles in the war in Chechnya nearly a decade ago. And Russia's nuclear threats against Warsaw now are hardening anti-Russian attitudes in Poland. A Russian general last week threatened Poland with a nuclear strike after Poland agreed to allow a U.S. missile defense base on its territory. But the Polish people refused to be intimidated by Russia. A new opinion poll shows support for the U.S. missile defense base has risen sharply to almost 60 percent.

The Bush administration tonight also struggling to deal with the abrupt resignation of President Musharraf of Pakistan. Musharraf's departure raises questions in some quarters about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weaponry. Musharraf's resignation also raising concerns about the influence of radical Islamist terrorists within Pakistan. Barbara Starr has our report from the Pentagon.



BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pakistanis cheered in the streets.


STARR: Faced with overwhelming opposition, Pervez Musharraf avoided impeachment and stepped down.

PRES. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTAN (through translator): Now I have decided that I will resign from the post of president.

STARR: The Bush administration had long ago embraced the new government in Pakistan elected earlier this year. Within hours of Musharraf resigning, U.S. officials said they weren't even worried about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. But a key priority hasn't changed. Washington wants Pakistan to crack down on Taliban and al Qaeda militants in the tribal region. The Bush administration believes Pakistan's intelligence service still is full of al Qaeda and Taliban loyalists.

ROBERT GRENIER, FORMER CIA STATION CHIEF, ISLAMABAD: There's a great deal of frustration on the part of the U.S. government with Pakistan's inability to follow through on what the U.S. sees as its clear commitments.

STARR: As a result, the United States has stepped up missile strikes inside Pakistan. Dozens of militants have been killed. General (INAUDIBLE), head of the Army, now the U.S.'s closest ally in power, just as General Musharraf was after 9/11. Many doubt Pakistan civilian leaders can challenge al Qaeda.

GRENIER: It remains very much to be seen whether this new democratically elected political leadership is really going to be able to follow through in a sustained and coherent way. They haven't demonstrated an ability to do that.

STARR: Experts caution U.S. pressure could go too far. RICK BURTON, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTL. STUDIES: The U.S. military has to be extremely cautious. It could actually be setting the torch to the kindling inside the country.

STARR: The Bush administration has poured more than $10 billion into Pakistan to fight the war on terror. A lot of people are now asking what the U.S. got for the money. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


DOBBS: Later I'll be talking about the crisis in Pakistan and other issues with one of the nation's former national security analyst, former Assistant Defense Secretary Bing West, the author of an important new book, "The Strongest Tribe."

The Bush administration tonight also focusing on Russia's refusal to withdrawal from Georgia. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is now in Brussels, Belgium for an emergency meeting of NATO tomorrow. The White House today repeating its demand that Russia withdrawal from Georgia without delay. Kathleen Koch is near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas tonight and has the story for us -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, needless to say, the White House was certainly very skeptical when Russia announced that it was going to begin pulling its forces out of Georgia at noon today, so the administration has been watching and hearing the same reports we have that Russian forces indeed are not leaving.

Indeed, that they have placed these SS-21 missiles and launchers in South Ossetia. Now White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe would not comment directly on the presence of those missile batteries. But he simply said that whatever Russian military equipment rolled in after August 6th, he's to roll back out.


GORDON JOHNDROE, W.H. DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I would say that we have a number of reports from the ground. The Russians have said that they are beginning their withdrawal. We are going to closely monitor this. It's hard for me to say standing right here right now exactly the state of the withdrawal. But regardless, the Russians have committed to withdrawing and they need to withdraw. And so that is what we are looking for.


KOCH: Now obviously the United States is keeping the pressure on, as you mentioned, sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Brussels for that emergency meeting with NATO foreign ministers that will take place tomorrow. And Rice said that they are basically looking for ways to punish Russia which she says is playing, quote, "a very dangerous game" that is not, quote, "cost free".

So there will be case by case votes on canceling activities with Russia that had been planned like military exercises. Ministers are also going to be looking for ways to increase aid to Georgia, not only to help refugees but to begin funneling money in to help rebuild its infrastructure and its military.

So right now the goal, Lou, really is for the West and its allies to present a united front. The U.S. is not, yet, though taking a position on some of the stronger measures. Some have suggested such as kicking Russia out of the G-8 or refusing it entry into the World Trade Organization -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. Kathleen Koch.

Well still ahead here, the Food and Drug Administration failing in its responsibilities again to protect the American consumer, unelected corporate elites, special interests trying to dictate our immigration policy in this country. It turns out that some business organizations stuff like regulation, taxes, laws, that sort of thing you know. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: The biggest business lobby in the country, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, once again trying to dictate U.S. immigration policy and doing pretty well so far, I must say. President Bush has this year ordered federal contractors to verify the legal status of their employees using the federal E-Verify system.

It's a proven success. It requires employers simply enter a Social Security number on the part of a perspective employee to find out whether or not he or she is legally in this country. And by the way, it's 99.5 percent effective and that's driving a lot of people crazy including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce apparently.

In spite of that effectiveness, the Chamber of Commerce, ethnocentric interest groups, and did I mention the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill, are all trying to either block E-Verify or eliminate it. Lisa Sylvester has our report.



LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a matter of seconds, companies can confirm if a perspective job applicant is legally allowed to work in the United States. The Bush administration wants all federal contractors and subcontracts to use the program known as E-Verify. But big business is pushing back.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the proposed regulation "contravenes the intent of Congress and will affect every employer and employee to the tune of $10 billion per year." Other groups like the American Civil Liberties Union are also speaking out.

TIMOTHY SPARAPANI, ACLU: And the president has not done the things that he needs to do to fix this program to make it work right. It's going to be a huge burden on America's workers. SYLVESTER: But Dan Stein with the Federation for American Immigration Reform says national security is at stake here. Illegal aliens have been caught working in sensitive areas from airports to military bases. He says that's unacceptable in a post-9/11 world.

DAN STEIN, FED. FOR AMER. IMMIGRATION REFORM: In this case we're talking about real jeopardy to national security if federal contractors are not required to use all the tools available to make sure the people working on their job sites have the right to work in the United States.

SYLVESTER: And the Department of Homeland Security balks at the notion that the program will cost $10 billion. Quote, "The Chamber's assertion that E-Verify will cost billions is nonsensical. E-Verify is free, takes seconds and it saves employers money by doing their due diligence on the front end." Stein says the Chamber of Commerce is fiercely opposing E-Verify because it works.

STEIN: We finally have a program that is taking this country on track toward actually starting to solve or cut off the magnet that attracts illegal immigrants here. And what's the Chamber trying to do -- stall, stall, stall, delay, delay, delay.


SYLVESTER: Now we asked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for an interview, but they declined. The Department of Homeland Security has a 60-day comment period on the proposed rule and then will review those comments, but it is expected that E-Verify will take effect for federal contractors this fall -- Lou.

DOBBS: The American people, it seems to me, Lisa, if I may offer an opinion here, really need to try to understand why the U.S. Chambers of Commerce has U.S. in front of it because they're not working for the United States. They're working for large corporate employers without any regard to the well being of this country or working men and women and their families and the very idea that this organization, now, with all of its amazing lobbying success, and we should point out, it is the largest, most well-funded and highest spending lobbying organization in Washington, D.C., that they would object to the E-Verify program because it's 99.5 percent effective and because they don't believe employers should be responsible for following the law or looking out for the rights of their -- and the welfare of their employees and their communities in which they live. This is absolutely appalling on any level.

SYLVESTER: And behind the scenes, Lou, they are actually -- the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is actually fighting to get rid of E-Verify. It's up for renewal this fall. It expires in November and they are trying to defeat that. They're working very hard so that E-Verify doesn't exist at all.

DOBBS: And by the way, they have some very consistent help from the ethnocentric interest groups, the advocates on the left, including as you pointed out the ACLU. You name it. All of these groups align with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. You wonder why they have U.S. in the title. By the way, I just like to offer Tom Donahue, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the opportunity to come on this broadcast, sit down and talk with me and perhaps explain why he thinks his organization and its members should be above regulation, should be above the law and shouldn't have to pay taxes. Just exactly what do they do that would give them this kind of exalted position in our society? It's sort of amazing, remarkable, really. Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester.

Well that brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is now claiming that the E- Verify system is misguided, premature and unwarranted -- those are its words -- precisely because it is 99.5 accurate and effective? We'd like to hear from you. Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll have the results upcoming.

And the city of Hartford, Connecticut is now the latest city to ignore the nation's immigration laws and offer sanctuary to illegal aliens. As expected, Hartford's mayor, Eddie Perez, today signed that ordnance passed last week by the City Council. The law bars police officers from arresting or detaining illegal aliens and prohibits city employees from asking anyone seeking government services about their immigration status.

There are now more than 70 sanctuary cities in this country including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and all are receiving federal money despite the fact that they are breaking federal laws.

Time now to update our count on the number of illegal aliens who have turned themselves into immigration authorities for the program of voluntary deportation -- that's right -- voluntary deportation. Now two weeks into that program and we're going to bring you the official count now. The count remains at six. There have been -- it's been quite a program so far. There are four days left in the pilot program. And we will continue to update you each night on the level of success that it is achieving.

Former border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean tonight remain behind bars because the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to overturn the most serious convictions against them. Today attorneys for those agents filed a motion for re-hearing by the three appellate judges who upheld those lengthy prison sentences. They've also asked for a review by all 21 Fifth Circuit judges. Ramos and Compean have now spent 577 days in prison.

A stunning example tonight of our government putting the interest of corporate America ahead of that of the American public, a new draft report from the Food and Drug Administration says the chemical known as BPA is not dangerous, despite dozens of studies that link BPA to various illnesses. And as Louise Schiavone now reports, products containing BPA are widely used throughout this country.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From baby bottles to sippy cups to food can liners to water bottles hydrating the youngest athletes, consumers have been exposed to a root chemical called Bisphenol A or BPA, an artificial sex hormone used as a core building block in close to seven billion pounds of plastic on the market today because of its strength and resiliency.

PETE MYERS, ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES: This isn't a weak contaminant. This is a powerful contaminant and it's striding right at the core of American public health.

SCHIAVONE: From the National Institute of Health to independent scientists, researchers say BPA could be a factor in cancer, infertility and behavioral disorders. But for now the Food and Drug Administration is not ready to sound the alarm, telling LOU DOBBS TONIGHT quote "At this time FDA is not recommending that anyone discontinue using products that contain BPA while the agency continues its safety assessment process. However, if concerned consumers wish to avoid or limit their exposure to BPA, alternatives to PC baby bottles, such as glass bottles are available." Say health and environmental advocates...

LOIS GIBBS, CTR. FOR HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT & JUSTICE: Yeah but that's not fair because the American public needs more of the government to say, there is a risk associated with this. Not just worried about the risk go buy something else. It should be taken off the market.

SCHIAVONE: California is one of 13 states trying to take matters into its own hands.

CAROLE MIGDEN (D), CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE: Get rid of it. Let's not do more to jeopardize the potential healthy development of our babies and infants.

SCHIAVONE: State Senator Carole Migden wants BPA out of all products for children three years of age and younger.


SCHIAVONE: While the FDA believes for now that BPA migrates into human food at levels that are safe, industry is taking its cue from public concern, recalling bottles containing BPA and replacing some products without it -- Lou.

DOBBS: The -- the FDA had reported that there were issues with BPA previously. What's going on here?

SCHIAVONE: There was a report from the National Institutes of Health about a year ago that raised alarms because this is something that is used as -- this was originally an artificial sex hormone. And there are concerns about prostate cancer, breast cancer, infertility, issues about ADD in children. And the chemical industry, as you can imagine, is very concerned about these reports so the FDA said, look, we're just going to review all of these reports and today I've had several exchanges with the FDA today and they stand by their assertion that as long as they cannot demonstrate in their view that harmful levels of BPA migrate into the human body they're not going to advise people to stop using products that contain...

DOBBS: So they would not err on the side of safety for the American consumer is what they basically are saying -- all right.

SCHIAVONE: It's just so amazing because they took down the entire tomato industry for several months and they never had a single tomato, but they do have demonstrations of BPA in several plastic containers, concerns among parents, adults and so on.

DOBBS: Absolutely. All right, Louise Schiavone thank you very much. Well as Louise just reported, BPA is widely used in baby bottles, compact discs and medical devices of all sorts. Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control detected BPA in 93 percent of the people they tested.

That indicates obviously a widespread exposure to BPA throughout our society. The National Institutes of Health warning that BPA could cause quote, "neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children at current exposure levels" -- where is the FDA?

Canada has declared BPA to be, quote, are you ready, are you ready FDA? Quote, "hazardous material", end quote. In spite of all of that, the FDA is standing by its decade's old approval of bottles that contain BPA as safe. The FDA cites two studies both of them funded by -- are you ready -- both of those studies funded by the plastics industry -- shocking. I bet that surprised you greatly.

Up next, our democracy at risk, why our government is either unwilling or unable to ensure the integrity of our voting system before our presidential election, we'll have that report.

And God and politics converging as both candidates, well, they are seeking those evangelical votes. We'll tell you how they're doing; we'll be talking with Tony Perkins and Father John Paris next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: We report here a lot on this broadcast about the unreliability of the electronic voting machines without a paper trial that have been dispersed around the country in many parts of the country. In fact nearly a third of this country will be using those very machines to vote this November. The federal government now admits it will not be able to test or to certify the millions of electronic voting machines in time for the presidential election. As Kitty Pilgrim reports, those machines, well, you guessed it, they're going to be used anyway.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York State is voting in the presidential election the old-fashioned way by lever machine. The co-chairman of the New York State Board of Elections says they are so disturbed by the lack of testing on electronic voting machines the state will not purchase electronic voting equipment until federal testing is reliable. DOUGLAS KELLNER, NY STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS: The simple fact is that there is not a single piece of election equipment on the market today that complies with all of the current federal standards.

PILGRIM: States like California, Florida, Maryland, Tennessee, and Iowa are in the process of replacing electronic voting machines for November, often with paper ballots. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is going one step further, suing the voter machine company Diebold to recover the millions the states spent on the machines. Most voters in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, and Virginia will use touch screen machines that don't have a paper trail.

SUSAN GREENHALGH, VOTER ACTION: Machines are going to be used in this election that never should have been qualified, never should have been passed through the system because they actually don't meet the standards and they're out there now and going to be voted on in November.

PILGRIM: In six years of federal testing, private labs did the testing for certification, but those tests were often commissioned by the voting machine companies themselves. In early 2007, the Election Assistance Commission was set up to tighten up testing, but since that time, no new equipment has been certified. Now they're out of time to certify any new equipment before the election in November.


PILGRIM: Now the Election Assistance Commission says they have had a lot of problems with the voting machine companies in the testing labs not complying with their testing requirement. That's why the pace has been so slow in testing election equipment, Lou.

DOBBS: Well, darn. Those darn manufacturers of these things. Those darn testing companies. It's still the United States -- can't they require this before they invest taxpayer money and put everybody at risk for this?

PILGRIM: I think New York State has the best idea. Hold off until you can get the right machine. It's not required, it's not mandatory.

DOBBS: What's not mandatory?

PILGRIM: Testing is not mandatory.

DOBBS: It is mandatory you go, but it isn't mandatory that they work. It's sort of becoming the American way. What we have here is a situation just about half the country will be voting without knowing whether or not they're just throwing that vote out without any way to prove otherwise.

PILGRIM: That's what voter activists tell us; it's a tough, tough call.

DOBBS: Combine with that the fact that no one knows who's registering to vote and no one's enforcing voter registration laws in any state in this country, we could have quite a result this year.

PILGRIM: It's a little disheartening yes.

DOBBS: Disheartening, it's infuriating. What's great, of all of the political activists in this country, where are the people says, we've got to control who's registering to vote or who is voting, who isn't registered or who is registering but improperly. To my knowledge, maybe you can correct me, not a single, single barrier against just rampant broad voter fraud.

PILGRIM: These machines have been routinely hacked by scientists. These machines are unreliable, flat out unreliable.

DOBBS: We have unreliable registration procedures. We have unrealizable voting procedures, and so we're just supposed to expect whatever happens.

PILGRIM: That's what it looks like for this November, yeah.

DOBBS: That's democracy in action, as they say. Thanks a lot, Kitty Pilgrim.

Up next, Senators Obama and McCain pandering to conservative Christians? We'll examine god and politics. Why aren't they pandering to liberal?

And the liberal media's outright bias in favor of Senator Obama; a stunning acknowledgement by one of this country's leading newspapers about the fact that it has put Senator Obama on its front pages by quite a large margin, over, say, Senator McCain.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: A stunning acknowledgement by the liberal "Washington Post" newspaper about its coverage of this presidential campaign. Now, you've probably heard me say more than a few times, well, I believe that the national media is simply in the tank for Barack Obama. I have that throughout the predominantly liberal national media has lost any sense of objectivity in this race.

The "Washington Post" admits what's been obvious to many voters for many months now, that Senator Barack Obama has been given significantly more coverage than Senator McCain. The Post's, Deborah Howl, its public editor, said Senator Obama has, in fact, appeared far more on its front pages than Senator McCain. In fact, three times as many page-one stories on Obama than McCain over the past ten weeks. The public editor writing, "The disparity is so wide that it doesn't look good." She also wrote, "Numbers are everything in political coverage, but readers deserve comparable coverage of the candidate." I've got to give credit to Deborah Howl and the "Washington Post" for acknowledging the bias.

It's not only, of course, the "Washington Post" biased in favor of Obama. The highly Respected Project for Excellence in Journalism says that for the eighth time in the past nine weeks, Senator Obama has received significantly more coverage in the national news media than senator McCain.

The differences between McCain and Obama on social issues, the central focus of Pastor Rick Warren's faith forum over the weekend. Now both campaigns are trying to capitalize on the event, spin a bit and pander as best they can to win evangelical voters.

Joining me now, Family Research Council president, Tony Perkins. Tony, great to have you with us. Tony is the co-author of the book, "Personal Faith Public Policy." Also tonight with us from Boston, Father John Paris. He is the Walsh professor of bioethics at Boston College and father, it's good to have you with us.

Let me start, Tony with you. First, your take on who won or who lost if we can be that crude about it. I will be. The forum, can you win a forum?

TONY PERKINS, PRES. FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: I thought it was the closest look at what we've had a contrast between the two candidates so far. I think John McCain did exceptionally well. Many thought this was an opportunity for Barack Obama to gain ground, but in fact it was John McCain gaining ground. I have no doubt based on his concise answers and the way he handled himself, I'm sure the straight talk express picked up a few passengers.

DOBBS: Because Tony Perkins, you have said here on more than one occasion you're very skeptical about John McCain and you sound, if I can use the religious expression and the political one, you sound like a convert.

PERKINS: Well, not quite although I will say that that contrast -- I mean, I'm not on board the straight talk express. I do believe that John McCain has the best record attractive to social conservative voters. I think he highlighted that record. He made stark contrast between him and Barack Obama on key issues such as life. I mean John McCain's response to when does life begin, he said at conception. Barack Obama that's above my pay grade. Pretty, pretty stark contrast there.

DOBBS: Father Paris, your thoughts, first, your sense on who benefited most by this forum. That first, then I'll turn to something else that's a burning question.

REV. JOHN PARIS, BIOETHICS PROF., BOSTON COLLEGE: Oh, I think John McCain was by far the stronger personality at that meeting with Rick Warren. He gave straight answers. Very sharp, very crisp and to the point. You may or may not have agreed with him, there's no ambiguity where he stands on these critical issues.

DOBBS: It's also, I think, going back to what I began with here in reporting that this national media bias toward Obama within it seems a matter of hours the spin was that John McCain had secret inside information on this so the news cycle's been dominated -- was John McCain privy to the secret information or the questions that were being asked? What's your reaction? PERKINS: I think it was a mistake where they made a big deal about the cone of silence that John McCain was supposed to have been in. And, in fact, it turns out he was and he was on his way to the church.

I mean, John McCain spoke from the heart. He spoke -- as best as we could tell and spoke very direct.

I would agree with Father Paris. I think the other winner in this was Rick Warren. I think Pastor Warren handled himself very well asking probing questions and very thoughtful questions. He's been called the Billy Graham, the new Billy Graham. Billy Graham avoided talking about policy and political issues. Rick Warren in a very personal way that, you know, allows him to cross the aisle.

DOBBS: Where in the heck is the catholic Billy Graham here, Father Paris? You guys need help here too, right?

PARIS: One of the real arguments in the Catholic case is it's a wide variety of issues we spell out what the belief faith is but then the church takes a very strong position that priests really don't belong in direct political involvement. And I think that's a good position to take. And, of course, the example was Robert Rinen (ph).

DOBBS: All right. And a more recent ones comes to mind by the name of Cardinal Mahoney in Los Angeles who's been extraordinarily active. I take your point.

Father, let me ask you this. If there is this connection, I mean, Tony Perkins and no one here speaks for all Catholics or all evangelicals. What I'm hearing you say even though this was an evangelical forum that McCain's appeal was broader than that as a result of that forum.

PERKINS: I would say that's true. Social conservatives -- the evangelicals is sometimes misapplied. One-third of my staff or more are Roman Catholics who share the same social convictions and views and so, yeah, I think clearly he spoke beyond the evangelical ranks in the forum on Saturday night.

DOBBS: Father Paris, your thoughts?

PARIS: I think he spoke, a, to that audience, but he spoke to a broader audience and he was very effective at it.

DOBBS: Let's turn to a couple of comments if we may. If you would -- let's just listen to Rick Warren ask the question and the response from these two candidates on the decision. I would like to get both of your reactions to it.


RICK WARREN: What point is a baby entitled to human rights?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At the moment of conception. I have a 25-year pro-life record in the congress, in the senate, and as president of the United States I will be a pro-life president and this presidency will have pro-life policies. That's my --

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v Wade. I come to that decision not because I'm pro- abortion but because ultimately I don't think women make these decisions casually. I think they wrestle with these things in profound ways.


DOBBS: Father Paris, your thoughts.

PARIS: Well, my thoughts are these men represent vastly different assessments on the issue of life. They've taken public positions on them and to their credit, neither backed off from the position he has taken in public on this question for the audience.

PERKINS: I think Barack Obama's gotten caught up in a controversy since then following the forum he was with CBN's David Brodie. There's been a controversy over his opposition to a born alive protection act which he said was different in the state of Illinois versus the federal aversion. He's been denying that the -- he said the two were different. In fact, they were the same and called number of pro-life organizations that have challenged him on that as liars. Well on Sunday, they had to come back out and the campaign corrected and said he was mistaken. The language was the same.

That's a radical position. When that came before the United States senate, 99 senators voted for that. Senator Boxer, Senator Kennedy who have been on the side of abortion voted for that bill because it's really an issue of infanticide.

I think the father is right when you look at the differences between these two candidates it is striking on this issue of life.

DOBBS: Father Paris, you get the final word here.

PARIS: I think that that forum was a good opening in the debate on the country allowing each of the candidates to put his position forward and let the American public hear it and decide.

DOBBS: All right. Father Paris, as always, great to see you. Tony Perkins, great to see you as always.

Up next the threat of a strike; a teacher strike in Denver over a performance for pay. A walkout could come ahead of next week's Democratic National Convention in Denver.

And tropical storm Fay over the Florida Keys headed for the mainland. We'll have a live report for you. Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: The deadly tropical storm, Fay, today, pounding the Florida Keys. It's headed to the mainland of Florida tonight. The storm is expected to hit as early as six hours from now near Ft. Myers on the western coast of Florida. Winds of around 70 miles per hour just below hurricane strength are predicted when Fay hits the mainland.

John Zarrella has a report from Key West.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, a dreary, quiet night here in Key West, Florida. That Duvall Street there behind me usually packed with tourists going into the restaurants and the salons up and down to street. Not happening here tonight. Tropical storm Fay came through here earlier this afternoon with wind gusts of 40, 50, 60 miles an hour, pounding torrential rain for several hours today. But all of that, of course, passed us by now.

The sheriffs department and local authorities report there were scattered power outages as well as a report of one tornado in the marathon area. Did some minor damage and a lot of localized flooding. The street where I'm standing now was under about three to four inches of water for several hours earlier today as Fay made it through this year. The storm moved north up toward the southwest Florida coast. A lot of heavy rain a lot of potential for flooding and perhaps hurricane-force winds as the storm makes its way to the Florida west coast of the peninsula perhaps as a hurricane but certainly bringing a lot of rain, wind and the potential for tornadoes.

DOBBS: John, thank you very much. John Zarrella, from the keys, we appreciate it.

Deep inside the Grand Canyon, tonight, rescue workers are continuing their search for nearly a dozen people who are still unaccounted for after heavy rain destroy an earthen dam. Some stranded boaters were forced to spend Saturday night on a rock ledge along the Colorado River before they could be rescued. About 170 tourists were pulled out by five helicopters in a rescue operation throughout the day yesterday.

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

Campbell, what are you working on?

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi Lou. We are going to keep tracking that storm as well and we'll update everybody as things develop through the course of the night.

But Lou lots of buzz tonight about when Barack Obama might announce his running mate and who it might be. We're going do talk to our panel of insiders, political hot shots about that.

We're taking the lead in an exciting CNN initiative called the league of first-time voters. From now until the next elections, we're giving first-time voters a chance to ask any question they want about politics. We've got some special guest celebrities answering those questions. You'll be surprised I think by who.

You're going to see the world premiere of the brand new music video in honor of this made just for us by Daughtry. And I know you're a Daughtry fan, Lou.

DOBBS: Absolutely. I'm a fan of everything. Everything musical. Thanks very much. Campbell Brown.

Join me for my radio broadcast each Monday through Friday, the Lou Dobbs Show. Tomorrow my guests include legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens. We'll be talking about the man's plan to reduce this country's reducing dependency on foreign oil. And we ask you to go to to look for local listings for Lou Dobbs Show on the radio if you don't already have it.

American swimmer Michael Phelps made history over this weekend winning an unprecedented eight gold medals in a single Olympic games. Phelps eclipsing fellow American Mark Spitz' 1972 record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics in the process. Phelps and his American teammates have seven world records. Michael Phelps now stands alone as the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, 14 gold medals.

The U.S. equestrian team, we want to congratulate them, defending its show jumping gold Medal today in impressive fashion in Hong Kong. Three of our American riders going clear in the jump off defeated the Canadian team in the jumpoff to win the gold. Madden aboard Authentic also competing on the 2004 gold medal team for the United States. To them and to their coach, George Morris, we say congratulations.

Still ahead, our failing public schools, why a dispute over performance pay for teachers could embarrass democrats at their national convention.

And the crisis in Georgia, we'll be discussing the role of the United States in this war with former assistant defense secretary, Bing West, the author of the important new book "The Strongest Try."

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: This country's troubled public schools are considered subjects on one frequently touched on this broadcast. Public schools are failing an entire generation of students in fact. The Denver school district and teacher's union are fighting over a contract that would pay teacher's according to their performance. The teachers call the proposal and this new contract unfair. The teacher's union is threatening to walk off the job. Bill Tucker has our report.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Denver teachers are threatening to strike. The teachers in the school district at odds over one of the most pioneering contracts in the country. A pay for performance contract that expires this month. It's a contract that pays incentives for teachers to take jobs in troubled schools and bonuses for math and meeting targeted improvement objectives. It is being watched closely by the education community.

MATTHEW SPRINGER, NATL. CTR. ON PERFORMANCE INCENTIVES: Denver frequently is frequently recognized as the natural model for pay for performance. It's the one district in the country that's modeled it and been successful in pay for performance.

TUCKER: In the latest contract offer, the incentives are dramatically increased, nearly tripling the incentive for taking a teaching job to poor performing school districts to $2900. The incentives are more attractive the union says and they offer greater opportunity to younger teachers, essentially capping the earning potential of a teacher with more than 13 years experience.

KIM URSETTA, DENVER CLASSROOM TEACHER ASSN.: The district is asking for us to make a significant shift between salary building and bonuses. It is capping the salaries of teachers.

TUCKER: Officials for the school system argue at least one bonus would be available for 90 percent of all teachers and that some 60 to strength percent would be eligible for at least two bonuses.

MICHAEL BENNET, SUPT., DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Almost every pay system in the country, when it comes to schools at a certain level is capped. The fact is under what we proposed, 80 percent of veteran teachers would receive double digit increases.

TUCKER: The school district that says contract offer is the largest in the state's history with the average salary expected to rise by 16 percent.


TUCKER: Both the teachers and school superintendent say they're close on many issues and the teacher's union agrees, the pay for performance model is creating a more cooperative environment for teachers and administrators. What is lacking here interesting enough is objective empirical data, Lou, that student performance is improving under this system.

DOBBS: The customer.

TUCKER: That's right.

DOBBS: It will be interesting to see any teacher's union be implacable and defiant on this issue, if there is going to be any progress at all. I truly believe we have to go to pay for performance in our schools. This is just not working and the influence of the teacher's union is not helping. All right. Bill Tucker, thank you very much.

Both presidential candidates support merit pay for public school teachers. Obama says teachers who are willing to work in underserved districts such as rural areas and inner cities should be paid more money. McCain says he wants to find bad teachers another line of work.

Still coming up, a combat author who witnesses our troops stunning success in Iraq at very close range. He is this author of an important new book. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Joining me now is Bing West. Bing is the author of the compelling new book, "The Strongest Tribe, War Politics And The End Game In Iraq." Bing is also a marine combat veteran, former assistant secretary of defense. Good to have you with us.

Thank you.

DOBBS: Amongst the many fascinating things that you report on in your book, I want to turn to this quote which I just absolutely love, if we can show this, comparing mistakes of World War II to today. In world war -- well, we'll take that one, since they've got it up. I guess we won't. There it is. "In World War II, our nation highlighted courage and quietly accepted mistakes. Today, we highlight mistakes and quietly accept valor." That rings so true. Why is it?

BING WEST, AUTHOR, "THE STRONGEST TRIBE": I think we're spoiled, just to put it out there. We're used to somebody doing our fighting for us, while we can sit back and decide what we like and don't like and change our minds in the midst of a war. I think all of us should think very carefully when we say, I support the soldier but I don't support his mission. No, you don't because you gave him that mission. And to say halfway through it, well, I don't like it anymore and I can change, but he still has to be out there -- all we do is hammer at the mistakes and we don't recognize the valor of what we're asking from these soldiers and Marines.

DOBBS: I take your point. But at the same time, when Donald Rumsfeld was running this war, I wanted to puke. And I'm going to separate Donald Rumsfeld and the way he conducts a mission from a mission, a war, and those troops, who I fully support.

Donald Rumsfeld was a complete, in my opinion, irresponsible, arrogant madman. To continue policies that were failing, to refer to the insurgency and the civil war and the sectarian violence as bitter- enders, dead-enders, thugs was a colossally arrogant, ignorant thing to say, and it reflected and drove American public policy.

WEST: Well, I spent six years going over there, 15 different times with 60 different units. It was pretty tough, because any sergeant, any colonel could have told the president, Mr. President, there are two different strategies here. You have the generals and Rumsfeld wanting to get out and just hand this war to the Iraqis to win or lose. And you, Mr. President, want victory, which means you have to stay and get out in the neighborhoods. And Condoleezza Rice, who was the national security adviser at the time, they never reconciled. And the president, unfortunately, never did the study to understand that he had two contradictory strategies.

DOBBS: And you believe we've won in Iraq?

WEST: Well, I believe that we have prevailed for our goals in Iraq. Yes, I do.

DOBBS: The book is fascinating. And we recommend it highly. The book is "The Strongest Tribe." Bing West, on war, politics and the endgame in Iraq. Hallelujah for the end game.

WEST: Amen.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Bing. Come back soon. Appreciate it.

WEST: Thank you.

DOBBS: Tonight's poll results -- 85 percent of you say that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is now claiming that the e-verify system is misguided premature and unwarranted precisely because it is 99.5 percent accurate and effective.

We thank you for being with us tonight. Good night from New York. "THE ELECTION CENTER" with Campbell Brown begins right now -- Campbell.