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McCain Versus Obama on Drilling; Russia's Defiance

Aired August 19, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Wolf, thank you very much. We're going to get a screen saver here on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT I guarantee you. Thank you very much, Wolf.
Tonight two new national polls mean trouble for the Obama campaign, voters saying they prefer John McCain 2-1 when it comes to foreign policy issues.

And tonight, Russia defying the world. Russian forces take 20 Georgian troops prisoner, commandeer American Humvees, and tonight there is no sign of a promised Russian withdrawal from Georgia.

Also tonight, the do-nothing Congress earning a title or two. This Democratically-led Congress has passed fewer laws than any Congress in two decades. You won't believe how they've been spending their time and your money. We'll have that report for you; 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 Tuesday, August 19th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening everybody. Two new national polls mean trouble for the Obama campaign. These polls show voters believe Senator McCain to be more qualified than Senator Obama to be president by a margin of 2-1. Senator McCain today trying to highlight his differences with Senator Obama on foreign policy and energy policy, Senator McCain again calling for expanding offshore oil drilling, a position nearly three-quarters of the American people support.

We begin tonight with Bill Schneider reporting from Denver where the Democratic National Convention begins this coming Monday.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The race is getting tighter. Last month Barack Obama led John McCain by nine points nationally in the Quinnipiac University poll and now Obama is still ahead but his lead has narrowed to five points. Here's one reason. We've had a 3:00 a.m. moment, an unexpected international crisis. The Soviet threat may be gone but a Russian threat has emerged.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And in matters of national security, good judgment will be at a premium in the term of the next president as we were all reminded 10 days ago by events in the nation of Georgia. SCHNEIDER: McCain saw his opportunity and he took it, vigorously denouncing Russian aggression and warning of the consequences. Obama was more measured in his response.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The next commander in chief is going to have to exercise the best possible judgment in getting us through these difficult times.

SCHNEIDER: Which candidate do voters believe is better qualified to deal with Russia? McCain, by better than 2-1, more experience in military matters and foreign affairs. Obama argues that judgment matters more than experience. He claims the Bush administration's bad judgment led to this crisis.

OBAMA: We failed to head off this conflict and lost leverage in our ability to contain it because our leaders have been distracted, our resources overstretched, and our alliances frayed.

SCHNEIDER: The sudden emergence of an international crisis is one reason Obama is underperforming. How do we know he's underperforming? Asked whether they would rather see a Democrat or a Republican elected president, voters nationwide give the Democrat a 12-point lead, more than twice Obama's five-point lead.


SCHNEIDER: Stop the presses. A new "Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg News" poll shows a near deadlock, Obama just two points up. The biggest difference? Experience. Do voters think McCain has the right experience to be president? 80 percent say yes. Only 14 percent say no.

Obama? Voters are split -- 48 percent say Obama does not have the right experience. Forty-four percent say he does -- Lou.

DOBBS: Bill, what are the implications for the upcoming convention? Obviously, Senator Obama has not been able to close the deal with the American people and this polling. Is Hillary Clinton now a likely, likely consideration for vice president?

SCHNEIDER: Well, she does fill a gap, you know. One of the big problems Obama has is his inability, really, to get the traction he should be getting on the economy. In all these polls, he is ahead on the economic issue, but by just single digits. He ought to be much further ahead.

Well the Clinton name is associated with Democratic management of the economy in the 1990s. They knew what to do. Voters have a lot of questions about whether Obama can really manage the economy. The convention can try to answer that. Hillary Clinton on the ticket might be a big advantage.

DOBBS: With a disadvantage on domestic issues and foreign policy issues, where does the Obama campaign go?

SCHNEIDER: Well, they have to make the case for change. Right now the election is becoming a referendum really on Barack Obama. He needs it to be what it started out to be months ago, namely, a judgment of the status quo. People are very unhappy. They want change. He says, I'm the candidate of change. Now the question is, can he make that argument stick through the rest of the campaign?

DOBBS: All right. Bill Schneider. Thank you. Bill, just one point before we go. We've just received word, as you know, this Congress, this Democratically-led Congress over two years has now turned in the worst performance since records have been kept on the passage of legislation.

This Congress came in, the Democratic leadership came in, in both the Senate and the House because the Republican, the previous Republican-led Congress became known as the do-nothing Congress. Now it turns out this Congress is doing even less. Would that have some impact, do you believe, on the presidential campaign?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it certainly could. You know what the latest approval rating in that Quinnipiac poll is of Congress? Sixteen percent approval. That's about half of President Bush's rating. Yes, the Democratic Congress is very unpopular. Congress is very unpopular, but this is a presidential system and in a presidential race people see the record of the incumbent president as being the central focus.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. Bill Schneider.

The McCain campaign says it has the edge on domestic issues chiefly energy policy. Senator McCain today toured an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico calling for an increase in offshore drilling. More than two-thirds of all Americans support Senator McCain's position to expand offshore drilling and as I predicted weeks ago Senator Obama had to reverse himself on the issue, his position against offshore drilling, and he now says he would support drilling offshore at least with conditions. Ed Henry has our report.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Images are crucial in any campaign, so for better or worse, John McCain has now attached himself to this massive oil rig, 150 miles off the coast of New Orleans.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A whole lot of oil and natural gas, as we speak they are producing 10,000 barrels of oil a day.

HENRY: A dramatic way for McCain to lambaste Barack Obama's skepticism about boosting offshore oil and gas drilling.

MCCAIN: Senator Obama opposes new drilling. He said it won't solve our problem and that it's, quote "not real". He's wrong and the American people know it.

HENRY: Obama has said he is open to such drilling but only as part of a broader energy fix that includes electric cars and other alternatives to oil and gas.

OBAMA: We have to fundamentally change how we use energy in this country, fundamentally. We have to do it because we're sending $700 billion to foreign nations. It's a huge transfer of our wealth.

HENRY: McCain also wants to boost alternative fuels but does not want to wait to move forward on offshore drilling and the American public seems to agree. A CNN Opinion Research poll last month found 69 percent of Americans favor an increase in offshore drilling. But the poll also found only 51 percent believe more drilling will reduce gas prices in the next year, a point environmental groups have jumped on to defend Obama.

GENE KARPINSKI, PRES., LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS: Senator McCain's plan is a shameless hoax and he should know better. New drilling in protected areas offshore is going to do nothing to reduce gas prices.

HENRY: McCain insists an all of the above approach is needed to deal with the current crisis.

MCCAIN: We all know that conservation will not put us, will not be sufficient to put us on the road to energy independence.


HENRY: And the McCain campaign is very direct in saying they think this energy issue is one of the key reasons why they've been gaining steam on Barack Obama. They say it's because of their ads, first of all, questioning his effectiveness as Bill Schneider was saying, whether or not Barack Obama is ready to lead, but they also feel he's been gaining a lot of ground on this energy issue by being out ahead of the curve on the drilling issue -- Lou.

DOBBS: And there is -- let's look at the empirical evidence. There are facts here in which we can make an independent, objective judgment. The fact is McCain did say first even before President Bush that he wanted offshore drilling. And now since last July 11th when President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling we've seen crude oil prices drop.

There are a number of other considerations. But that was also an important factor, dropped by more than 20 percent. That's just straight forward.

HENRY: John McCain has made that very point but also you've seen the fact that the Democratic leadership in Congress who we were just talking about for weeks now has been saying they will not have a vote on offshore drilling after the president lifted that executive ban, as you know, also have to lift the congressional ban but Nancy Pelosi over this August recess as lawmakers and both parties have heard an earful from their constituents, Nancy Pelosi now saying she is willing to have a vote on offshore drilling, so there is evidence to that effect, Lou.

DOBBS: She tiptoed to that in a conversation with our colleague Larry King today moving farther. And by the way, just for the record, I predicted at the same time that Barack Obama would have to reverse his position. I said Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi both would have to reverse theirs. It may be that I'm getting lucky here. What do you think, Ed?

HENRY: You could be lucky. You've got a lot of talent as well, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Ed. Appreciate it.

HENRY: Have a good night.

DOBBS: Ed Henry.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today said Russian forces will pull back to South Ossetia by this Friday, but tonight there is no sign whatsoever that Russian troops are withdrawing from any part of Georgia. As they agreed to do under the terms of a cease fire agreement signed last week. Russian troops today in fact re-entered the key Black Sea port city of Poti. There Russian forces took 21 Georgian troops prisoner, blindfolding them and holding them at gunpoint.

The Russians also commandeered American-made Humvees in Poti, where U.S. Marines have been training Georgian military forces. NATO ministers today holding an emergency meeting as well. They called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Georgian territory and immediately. Secretary of State Rice today said Russia is playing what she called a dangerous game.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: It is time for the Russian president to keep his word to withdraw Russian forces from Georgia back to the August 6/7 status quo ante and to return, in fact, all forces that were not in South Ossetia at the time of the outbreak of that conflict.


DOBBS: The NATO secretary general called Russia's military action disproportionate, a word that we've heard a number of times in association with the Russian invasion and also said there will be no business as usual with Moscow until Russia honors the terms of this new cease fire agreement.

Joining me now is Michael Dobbs, a veteran reporter for "The Washington Post" and the author of the new book "One Minute To Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War" joining us tonight from Washington, D.C. Michael, great to have you with us. Let me...


DOBBS: Let me say first of all, your book is extraordinary. I think it's a wonderful chronicle of a frightening period in our history. In the look at the personalities involved, primarily Khrushchev and Kennedy and Castro, what did -- what struck you most about these personalities and the ultimate resolution?

M. DOBBS: Well, I think having got into, you know, really the worst conflict that the world has ever got into we came close to nuclear war in October, 1962 than ever before. Kennedy and Khrushchev actually ended up on the same side. They both made mistakes getting us into this, but then without really knowing it they were allies in trying to get us out of it. And I think the crisis shows how much you owe sometimes to individual leaders. This was certainly the case with the Cuban missile crisis.

DOBBS: As we turn to the situation that is faced today in South Ossetia, actually throughout Georgia after the Russian invasion, do you see any parallel, particularly the dynamics among world leaders, whether it be President Bush or whether it be Medvedev or Vladimir Putin?

M. DOBBS: Well one parallel is that great powers don't like other powers meddling on their own door step. We certainly didn't appreciate it when the Soviets deployed nuclear missiles to Cuba in 1962 and the Russian leaders haven't appreciated the U.S. offering NATO membership to its former Republics particularly Georgia and the Ukraine.

DOBBS: But at the same time, that's certainly within the prerogative of sovereign powers, which the Ukraine and Georgia are. There's no parallel in terms of the United States putting missiles into Georgia, certainly.

M. DOBBS: Well, we haven't put missiles into Georgia obviously, but the Russians regard the offer of NATO membership as an aggressive, potentially aggressive act. Of course, we consider NATO to be a defensive organization, but that's not how they see it. And really the question is, can we defend countries like Georgia and Ukraine and the events of the last few days have shown that we don't have either the will or the ability to defend Georgia.

DOBBS: At least without going straight to war with Russia. And the role of the European nations here, the E.U. has been rather hesitant, to say the least.

M. DOBBS: Well, certainly, you know, they have joined the U.S. in rhetorical denunciations of the Russian action, but I don't think the U.S. has gone much further either. The most we've done is to agree to station Patriot ground-to-air missiles in Poland if they accept American ballistic missile defenses, so probably the real line in the sand is going to be drawn around Poland and the Baltic states rather than around Georgia and Ukraine. There are things we can do to help Poland. It's going to be very difficult to bring Georgia into NATO in my judgment.

DOBBS: All right. Michael Dobbs of "The Washington Post" and author of "One Minute To Midnight", an extraordinary book. Michael, we thank you for being here. Good to talk... M. DOBBS: Thank you very much.

DOBBS: Up next, one state voting not to offer illegal aliens admission to their community colleges. Will other states be following the lead of North Carolina?

And the do-nothing Congress, I'm talking about this Congress, not the previous Republican Congress that we've also called the do-nothing Congress. This one is the worst performing Congress since records were kept. That starting two decades ago. Judging by what they've accomplished, we might well be better off. We'll have that report and a great deal more. Stay with us.


DOBBS: On this broadcast we've often criticized the do-nothing lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the previous Congress and this one. This Democratically-led Congress, the 110th Congress, was elected because the previous Congress became known as the do-nothing Congress. It turns out this Democratically-led Congress has done less than any Congress since records were kept over the past 20 years.

And the members of this Congress have actually been busy, but they've just been busy voting on resolution after resolution. In fact, 2,000 resolutions on such pressing matters as authorizing "Watermelon Month", "National Funeral Directors", and "Morticians Recognition Day". Louise Schiavone with our report.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Job worries, energy woes, wondering if Social Security will be there for you when you retire? The 110th Congress so far has few answers for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they're doing a horrible job.

SCHIAVONE: Lawmakers this session have passed less than 300 public laws versus an average of more than 400 in recent Congresses and almost one-third of the measures this time were to name post offices. The calculations come from government watch dog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

RYAN ALEXANDER, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: The minority in Congress wants to thwart the new majority. The majority wants to do things that give them political points.

SCHIAVONE: But if you're a cowboy or a watermelon lover the 110th Congress has not overlooked you. Considering almost 2,000 resolutions with no force of law tipping a congressional hat to Americana. Among the resolutions proposed in this Congress, a call for "Dutch American Friendship Day", a resolution recognizing soil as an essential national resource, "National Watermelon Month", "National Corvette Day", "American Cowboy Day", and a call for a "National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doesn't bode well that they've established a funeral director when they should be doing preventative care to make people live longer.

BRIAN DARLING, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The American people are upset about high gas prices and it's upsetting to them when they see members of Congress wasting time.

SCHIAVONE: Republican leader John Boehner tells LOU DOBBS TONIGHT that the majority has delivered only, quote, "broken promises and empty rhetoric". Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office responds that Congress has raised the minimum wage, approved mortgage relief and an economic stimulus bill and much more adding, quote, "the question remains whether Republicans will continue to obstruct and side with the president", end quote.


SCHIAVONE: In the meantime, Lou, Congress is still on vacation with just a few weeks to go before members break for elections and so far members have not yet sent to the president a single appropriations bill -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, it's really -- it's remarkable. As Bill Schneider just reported here earlier, the latest poll showing Congress with an approval rating of 16 percent. That is less than -- well that's half of an unpopular president's approval rating, President Bush's approval rating all the way up to 32 percent.

SCHIAVONE: And seriously, who's surprised? But the funny thing is a lot of these tip of the hat resolutions that they offer are designed to sort of cozy up to their constituents to acknowledge for instance the watermelon growers and the cowboys and so on and so forth...

DOBBS: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I happen to be absolutely pro cowboy and I love watermelon, so just stay out of that, Louise, all right? Thanks. Louise Schiavone...

SCHIAVONE: I'm with you on that...

DOBBS: I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. The question is, are you the least bit surprised that this Congress has seen fewer bills become law than any other Congress in the past 20 years? Yes or no, cast your vote at We'll bring you the results here later in the broadcast.

Well there's disturbing new evidence tonight the FDA knew that Mexican peppers were a serious health risk to American consumers long before one of this country's largest ever salmonella outbreaks. An Associated Press investigation of FDA records finds that federal inspectors repeatedly turned back cases of Mexican peppers and chili's because they were, quote, "filthy and disease ridden", end quote.

Over the past eight months 88 shipments of fresh and dried chili's were turned away. Ten percent of the shipments were contaminated with salmonella, but the FDA insisted as recently as last week that it had no idea that Mexican peppers were a health threat before the salmonella outbreak, even though we reported here that Mexico was the likely source as early as the 3rd of July.

Officially there are more than 1,400 reported cases of salmonella all across the 43 states and Washington, D.C. that were affected. The actual number of salmonella cases could be as high as 40,000.

Straight ahead tonight I'll be joined by a leading economist Pat Choate, who sees extreme danger in the Bush administration's so-called free trade policies and the devastating impact on American workers and this country.

We'll have a full report on a possible challenge to one state's action to keep illegal aliens from attending some of its colleges. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Well North Carolina is quickly becoming a new battleground on the issue of whether or not illegal aliens should be allowed to attend public colleges. Last week North Carolina's community college board voted to not allow illegal aliens to attend its schools, but as Bill Tucker reports the debate is far from ended.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Community colleges like this one in North Carolina are caught in a debate centering on illegal aliens. Should illegal aliens be allowed to attend community colleges in the state? The state board of community colleges has changed its mind four times in the last seven years on whether they can or they can't.

In May, it voted no. And last week it voted to stand by that no for now. North Carolina Congresswoman Sue Myrick welcomed the vote saying, quote, "common sense and rule of law have prevailed". A group advocating on the behalf of illegal alien students is predictably disappointed.

CHRIS FITZSIMON, NC POLICY WATCH: Just try to imagine a child brought here when he or she was 3 or 4 by their parents, went to elementary school, middle school, high school, graduated with honors from high school, and then are being told, whoops, you can't go to community college.

TUCKER: Most states don't allow illegal aliens to attend their colleges. Ten states do and only charge them in-state tuition rates. Ironically, in North Carolina, illegal aliens can enroll in the state university system, but they are charged out-of-state tuition. One lawyer who represents a group of students suing California for allowing illegal aliens in-state tuition rates calls those policies wrong-headed.

KRIS KOBACH, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: Federal law says that these students cannot work legally in the state of North Carolina or in any state once they graduate, so why in the world would the state want to spend the public resources providing an education to someone who can't work in the state?

TUCKER: For now, when it comes to community colleges in North Carolina, the board agrees.


TUCKER: However, the board also is saying that it might change its mind once it studies how other states are handling the issues. Now we did ask for an interview with the board president so that he could explain why all of the indecision on the issue. But, Lou, both he and his spokesperson were busy and unavailable for interviews today.

DOBBS: I know this is a difficult issue for a number of states as you've reported previously. North Carolina, taking this position, is an intelligent one and as the Congresswoman said, I mean this is common sense. This is rule of law. We have an issue to deal with here and to do so within the context of actually enforcing U.S. law and common sense makes some well, sense.

TUCKER: And it makes sense in the context that Kobach put it. Why are you investing in kids and giving them an education when they complete it they will not be legally able to work in the United States.

DOBBS: And that is to me the difficult part of the issue, and that is the parents who have made a decision to break our laws, to bring children into this country, who in many cases were brought here as suggested by the North Carolina watch spokesman, you know, at a very young age. It's beyond their control.

And I think we probably ought to be coming to some terms with a way to deal with those young people who have conducted themselves both responsibly and well in school and as citizens in terms of citizenship, if not an actual fact of citizenship. So you know we're going to have to do something there, I think, in time. But first I think we ought to learn how to enforce laws and talk straight about the issues that confront this country.

TUCKER: Exactly.

DOBBS: That would be refreshing, wouldn't it? Bill, thank you very much. Bill Tucker.

Well this nation's public school system is failing an entire generation of students. Tonight, there's more disturbing news about the number of students who are dropping out of high school each year. More than a million students drop out of high school nationwide and in the Los Angeles unified school district, the nation's second largest school district, one out of three students drops out. Jefferson High School, in fact, in that district has the worst dropout rate in the entire district. Nearly 6 out of 10 students quit high school there before graduating. The deputy for the school district says the dropout rate at Jefferson High School is, quote, are you ready? Unacceptable. He says the school has a year to lower the rate or the staff and administration will be replaced.

Now, why in the world, if I may offer my opinion, would you give people who are conducting themselves and performing their duties a year to fix that? What about those 6 out of 10 students who didn't make it?

Well, there are just three days to go in the government's self- deportation program. We promised you we'd keep you up to date on this. This is day 15 of a program that allows illegal aliens to turn themselves in voluntarily to immigration authorities for deportation. Tonight the official count of this extraordinary new program in which illegal aliens can turn themselves in, that number has reached, you guessed it, still just six. We'll continue to update you on the progress of the program each night here.

Up next, days before the democratic national convention new national polls show very serious problems for Senator Obama. I'll be joined by three of the nation's top radio talk show hosts.

And finally, solutions to some of our biggest problems in this country but you won't be hearing these independent ideas from the presidential candidates. You will hear them from my next guest. Stay with us.


DOBBS: We reported extensively as you know on the devastating impact of this administration's so-called free trade policies on our economy, on our workers, and on generations of Americans to come. One of the most important new books is by one of this country's leading economists offering solutions to this threat. Pat Choate is the author of the book "Dangerous Business, The Risks of Globalization for America" and Pat joins us now here. Good to have you with us.


DOBBS: Let's start with the discussion that John McCain wants to be the biggest free trader of them all as he declared in the primaries. With 32 consecutive years of trade deficits, a $6.5 trillion trade deficit why is there any discussion at all about the failed policies of this administration and previous administrations?

CHOATE: I do not understand it. And moreover, when one takes a look at the American people, the American people get it. 77 percent of the American people oppose the economic policies of President Bush. Those are these globalization policies that John McCain is endorsing.

Now, part of the problem is the democrats are not really doing their job in making the economy the issue that it should be. When you take a look at polls, one finds very quickly that economy, trade, and jobs are the thing that the American people are most concerned about. The democrats have not yet laid out what their program should be. I do not think that Barack Obama has a real chance at the presidency unless he tells the American people what he's going to do about trade, what he's going to do about jobs, what he is going to do about these massive trade deficits that we have. DOBBS: We've got McCain traveling to Canada for crying out loud, down to Mexico to talk about his position on NAFTA and international trade, which is about as repugnant an approach as you could have taken, and these are all politicians. He's looking at the polls, too, but just looking at the facts, the debt, the three million lost jobs, nearly a million jobs lost just as a result directly of NAFTA.

CHOATE: Well, then you move to the health issue for example. You were talking earlier about the importation of the bad jalapenos from Mexico.

DOBBS: Oh, yes.

CHOATE: We now wind up with 75 million people a year getting sick off of tainted food. 350,000 go to the hospital and 5,000 die. That's a direct result of globalization and trade policies where we've cut the FDA inspections, where we can no longer guarantee the safety of our food supply. We find in the military that we're unable to supply out of our own domestic suppliers the weapons and the components that we need even for these limited wars that we're fighting.

DOBBS: And you include in that ammunition, for crying out loud, conventional ammunition, not fancy --

CHOATE: In 2004 we were running out of ammunition. We literally had to do emergency contracts with England and Israel to get it. We have a supply policy that says we're going to stockpile enough for a war. We've been in this war longer than World War II. It's a limited war. We can't even supply the ammo.

DOBBS: Some of these policies that are being pursued border on the dangerously stupid don't they?

CHOATE: Yes they do, almost malfeasance, almost criminal malfeasance if you want to get down to it, but both candidates are still trapped with advisers who are elite opinion and elite opinion is for unfettered globalization. They've got to break away from that.

DOBBS: And, you know, I just -- democratic do-nothing congress, the worst approval rating in history, following a republican-led congress that had the worst approval rating.

CHOATE: I think what's going to have to happen is this is a circumstance where the American people have to lead, where the American people are flat out demanding a different trade policy. That's what it's going to take. But let's say this. We as a country can come back. We are not necessarily being forced to liquidate our economy.

DOBBS: Even though foreign ownership, sovereign well funds and foreign direct investment now just about one-quarter of the economy. We'll talk about that next time.


DOBBS: And we'll hear what Pat Choate says. I'd like you to come back soon if you can and talk about those solutions.

CHOATE: Look forward to it.

DOBBS: Maybe McCain and Obama will listen.

CHOATE: Hopefully.

DOBBS: Thank you, Pat Choate. The book is "Dangerous Business" and I can't recommend it too highly.

Still ahead, the future of U.S.-Pakistan relations, the war on terror now that Pakistan's pro American President Musharraf has resigned. We'll be talking with the author and former secretary of defense Bing West about Iraq, Pakistan and Iran.

Up next, new poll numbers show John McCain's attacks on Barack Obama at least in the view of the Los Angeles Times are the reasons that Obama can't achieve a 10, 20 percent lead over John McCain. We'll be talking about objective national journalism with three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Joining me now three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country. In Washington, D.C. bureau, Tom Marr WCBM good to have you with us. In Kansas City, Chris Stigall, of KCMO, Chris, good to have you. And here in New York, John Gambling, WOR.

JOHN GAMBLING, WOR IN NEW YORK: Glad to be back. Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Let's start with, we have just, let's get to the Obama vice presidential sweepstake right away because it just happened. Joe Biden being touted as the favorite. Here's the latest development.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: I'm not the guy. He is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know that for sure?

DOBBS: Not the guy. Joe Biden. Tom, what do you think that means to Barack Obama's chances?

TOM MARR, WCBM IN BALTIMORE: Well, he definitely, Lou, needs someone -- remember when the word gravitas was in the last election? Barack Obama on the most important issue to all of us, our national security, and foreign relations, he has none. He showed that in Georgia when the Russians were guilty of naked aggression. That was silly to go to the U.N. He is going to face a major or the next president will with the communist Chinese. They are the butchers of Beijing, not these people we've seen in all this propaganda for the last couple of weeks. And Barack Obama is in over his head. He's going to need a Biden-like person with him on the ticket even more so than the red and the blue, it's very important he has someone strong in the area or perceived strong in national security.

DOBBS: What do you think, Chris? CHRIS STIGALL, KCMO IN KANSAS CITY: Lou, I'd say they need somebody to pop. A Biden, a Bayh, a Nunn, a Kaine. None of these people pop.

DOBBS: I do now but I was wondering about that for a second.

STIGALL: None of them seem any more to, none of the four at least those four, it was mentioned this morning on my show, those four. But none of those do it. If he wants to get back in the lime light and make that, I don't mean to black helicopter you, Lou, but I still think Hillary is an outside shot. I do.

DOBBS: My goodness. John Gambling is sitting over here having fits.

GAMBLING: I certainly don't believe Hillary Clinton is a viable candidate for the vice presidency. I don't think Barack Obama needs her anywhere near his presidency. But I will agree with Chris that all of the names that have been thrown out and are being speculated about on the democratic side, I agree, do not have the gravitas that was mentioned before. Barack Obama needs somebody but I think both of these candidates, McCain and Obama, need somebody in my view that can deal with the economy because the economy is, as Pat Choate was just talking about, neither one of these guys have the info and the experience when it comes to the economy which is the number one issue.

DOBBS: Go ahead.

MARR: a great point that he makes about the economy and being able to deal with it. But even before that is national security so I think you need a combination of both and right now there isn't anybody that really grabs what Barack Obama needs. He needs someone with credibility and foreign policy and on the economy and I just don't see it there in the names we're hearing.

DOBBS: Well Chris, I can't even think, you know, there is a lot of discussion about Tom Ridge, who I've known for a long time, a wonderful public servant, but he is absolutely anathema to the base of the Republican Party. The idea it would be Joe Lieberman, one can see a great deal of problems with that.

STIGALL: That's a disaster. I actually floated that one out too. That's a pop factor.

Again, I'd love to believe that all the time it's always about who brings the most credibility on a subject matter with these gentlemen but at the end of the day, this is showmanship, Lou. You know this. They need attention and they want headlines and right now John McCain needs someone to grab the headlines. That's why the Lieberman factor could be real but I think at the end of the day he'll miss the boat if he doesn't pander to the conservative vote.

DOBBS: You mentioned on your show today, Chris, Senator Claire McCaskill. What about her?

STIGALL: For McCain or Obama? McCain. DOBBS: I would recommend that she stay in the party.

STIGALL: Well, you know, I think she'd do it. In fact, she has said before I'll be one of the few people that won't be coy. I'd be honored to be asked but she said definitively no. She also said by the way definitively no on Hillary but she would not rule out Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas our neighboring state.

GAMBLING: That's an interesting one. I agree on Ridge and Lieberman. No way. I think that Mitt Romney is McCain's guy. Again, I go back to my economy. He's attractive, he brings a younger vision to John McCain which has the age issue going for him. Or against him. And so I think that's a viable candidate.

MARR: I agree with John 100 percent on that. I think Tom Ridge would make a great president of Penn State but not the United States. I'm serious about that. He did not back the strategic defense initiative. He was against our key weapons system. He has a tendency to stumble. He wasn't impressive as homeland security chief. It would be an absolute disaster. Romney lives in, we're in a video democracy, Lou, and George Romney also has the ability to be a jugular candidate. Somebody has to go after Barack's jugular and Romney can do it with a smile and help us with our economy as well.

DOBBS: I wish somebody would help us with the economy. We're in sort of an interesting position here if not frightening position in which we have John McCain saying he doesn't understand the economy and Obama sort of demonstrating that he doesn't understand the economy. Both of these candidates desperately need, I think John is exactly right. I agree, Tom. We need some help in terms of domestic policy.

STIGALL: Lou, may I point out that today, what are we talking about? What is this entire segment about? This possibility Obama picks a VP as early as tomorrow. That's been floated out purposely. Claire McCaskill said there is no intention of him landing on a VP pick this week in her opinion. We're talking about this because they'd like us to be talking about this rather than saddle back.

DOBBS: Well you know what? That's because the national media is in the tank, as I've been saying for literally months here, is in the tank for Barack Obama.

By the way folks, now we have documented proof. We have "The Washington Post" and next will come "The New York Times" but "The Washington Post", 3-1, acknowledging, 3-1, the number of times that they have kept Barack Obama on their front pages over Senator McCain. It's extraordinary. Now we've got this new poll from "The L.A. Times" and Bloomberg showing a dead heat between Obama and McCain. If we could, I ask you to put up a full screen of exactly how they opened their lead paragraph here and remember what I said about in the tank for Obama. Here's the way it goes. "Barack Obama's public image has eroded this summer amid a daily onslaught of attacks from republican rival John McCain, leaving the race for the white house statistically tied." Did somebody bury the lead, for crying out loud? I mean "The Los Angeles Times" is in all sorts of trouble but when its editors permit that nonsense I don't want to hear from them about objective journalism.

MARR: There is very little objective journalism from the three major networks including this network too, CNN. They're so far in the tank for Barack Obama it's obvious in their work but it's not going to work with the American people over the long haul. This guy is hopeless without a prompter. He is not going to have one. He is not going to have people telling him what to say.

DOBBS: You do acknowledge that John McCain, in nearly every piece of video, by the way, Tom, I'm not sure I agree with you about this being a video society. I think it's a big audio society too but I think every time McCain's got a card, as well.

GAMBLING: He does.

DOBBS: Which may be a smart thing.

GAMBLING: A piece you showed earlier about him being on the drilling rigs he had all the perfect pictures and is reading off a card. But the democrats are apoplectic. They have all of the networks in the tank for them and Barack Obama still can't get any traction.

STIGALL: Lou, look where he's placed as well? Look when he's done very well, exceptionally well at Saddleback over the weekend and exceptionally well with the veterans when he speaks from the hip. This is local media, too, by the way, when they come through the show me state and they want this state bad you wouldn't believe the local media coverage in the tank. In a big way for Obama.

DOBBS: Really.

MARR: Listen, in the middle, in the state I'm from, in Pennsylvania, and in New Jersey, New York, all of them, "The Baltimore Sun", I mean, I can run up the coast. They are so far in the tank you can't find them but in the long run I think we're going to see a different campaign and that's why you need a Romney to go after Barack's jugular.

DOBBS: You and John are pushing your candidates here tonight. We'll come back and take a new vote here later. Thank you very much for being with us. Chris Stigall, thank you very much. Tom, thank you very much. And John Gambling, thank you.

And a reminder to vote in our poll. The question is are you the least bit surprise that this congress has seen fewer bills to become law than any other congress in the past 20 years? We'd like to hear from you on that. Yes or no, the results we'll send straight over to Nancy Pelosi I promise. We'll be back in just a few moments with the results and a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Friday for the Lou Dobbs Show. Tomorrow my guests include Robert Crandall, the former CEO of American Airlines, John McIntyre, co-founder of Real Clear Go to to get the local listings for the Lou Dobbs Show in your community.

Straight ahead, a key ally in the war on terror stepping down. I'll be talking with former assistant defense secretary Bing West about what that means for this country's security and about his new book, "The Strongest Tribe." We'll be right back.


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Campbell Brown in the ELECTION CENTER where we've got breaking news tonight in the guessing game of Barack Obama and John McCain's running mates. We have the very latest on who just said "I'm not the guy."

Also, the secrets behind the McCain and Obama marriages. Stuff you didn't know about how both couples met.

Plus, you're going to meet a third grader who cannot get aboard a plane with his family because his name is on the government's terrorist watch list -- a third grader. There are dozens more like him. That's coming up. No bias, no bull, in just a few minutes in the ELECTION CENTER.


DOBBS: We're joined by one of this country's foremost national security experts, Bing West, the author of a new book "The Strongest Tribe, War, Politics and the End Game in Iraq."

Bing, great to have you here.

"The Strongest Tribe," there are moments during this war we obviously didn't feel like the strongest tribe. What has -- you make it very clear you believe we're succeeding now in Iraq. What has been the turning point?

BING WEST, AUTHOR, "THE STRONGEST TRIBE": Well, there wasn't any one turning point. This was a bottom-up war. It wasn't a war fought from the top down. And what happened was that our soldiers and our marines persisted year after year in those tough towns and cities and gradually the Sunni population that had been in revolt looked at our soldiers and our marines and looked at al Qaeda and said we're going with the strongest tribe. Those are the Americans. That was the swing that began in 2006 and so in my book I try to explain what they did on the ground, city by city, so that we know what we're doing before we get involved in Afghanistan.

DOBBS: Even Senator Obama who has been for immediate withdrawal initially from Iraq of our troops is now saying that more troops are need in Afghanistan. If we do now, indeed, Bing West and others are correct, that we have succeed and that is sustainable and we move troops, more troops into Afghanistan, what lessons do we take in your judgment from the war in Iraq to Afghanistan to be successful there?

WEST: The first question is, immediately started building up the Afghan army. That means that you have to partner them with Americans so they can learn it the right way. The second lesson which is tougher, is that you have to deal with the police and the Afghan police are as corrupt as they were in Iraq. And that means that you have to have your advisers all the way down to the village level. Now, when you do that, you better provide them fire support. So the third lesson you take from Iraq is you're going to have to figure out a way of using your unmanned aerial vehicles so you can patrol the areas and then having either aircraft on station or artillery to help your people when they get attacked.

DOBBS: How many tours have you been to in Iraq?

WEST: Fifteen times over there, spent about 18 months.

DOBBS: And also combat veteran from Vietnam, author of the basic manual on counterinsurgency, "The Village," which has been taught in our war colleges (inaudible), what, 40 years.

WEST: 40 years.

DOBBS: 40 years. So when he starts talking about taking it to the police level with the villages, he brings back experiences from Vietnam, which you lived that combined action plan.

So, Bing, I know that the "New York Times" has decided not to review your book. Why is that, Bing?

WEST: Well, I guess the "New York Times" has a little bit of a problem, because for a few years they've been on this policy of immediate withdrawal, a policy of quitting, and my book indicates that we turned the corner two years ago and we're now prevailing. And why would you quit when you're prevailing? Why wouldn't you withdraw with honor? So I'm afraid the "New York Times" has a bit of a problem with my book because it goes against their policy.

DOBBS: We might consider a subtitle of a subtitle. It might be "The Strongest Tribe," by Bing West, an inconvenient truth. To some. A welcome truth for most of us, I would hope all of us in this country.

Bing West, thank you very much. A terrific book. "The Strongest Tribe." We appreciate you being here.

Our poll results tonight -- 94 percent of you are not the least bit surprised that this Congress has seen fewer bills become law than any other Congress since records were kept starting 20 years ago. I wonder why their approval rating is half that of President Bush.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Good night from New York. "The Election Center" with Campbell Brown begins right now -- Campbell.