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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Senator Obama Loses Momentum; Obama Attacks McCain; Electronic Voting Machines; Your Food Safety; Catholic Church Meddles in Immigration Policy

Aired August 21, 2008 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight, compelling new evidence that Senator Obama's campaign has lost momentum. Many Democrats right now are reluctant to support his candidacy.

And tonight, the Catholic Church is at it again, meddling in the nation's immigration policy pushing its amnesty agenda.

And tonight as well the federal government doesn't know how to protect American consumers from dangerous food imports, so what's it doing? Allowing producers to blast some of our vegetables with high does of radiation.

And we'll be examining a very important issue tonight that presidential candidates simply won't talk about, the population explosion that's facing this country and what it means to all of us; all of that, all the day's news and much more from an independent perspective straight ahead tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, August 21st. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. A new opinion poll showing Senator Obama is struggling to win the support of many Democrats. A "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll shows only half of Senator Clinton supporters are now backing Obama. One in five of those Clinton supporters in fact say they will vote for Senator McCain.

Obama today intensified his attacks against McCain. Trying to revive his initiative, Obama trying to portray McCain as an elitist after McCain acknowledged he's not sure just how many homes he and his wife own. We have extensive coverage tonight. We begin with Bill Schneider on the battle for Senator Clinton supporters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Hillary Clinton's on board.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To anyone who voted for me, and is now considering...

(APPLAUSE)

H. CLINTON: ... not voting or voting for Senator McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider.

SCHNEIDER: Are they listening? The "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll reports that a bare majority of Clinton supporters say they will vote for Obama. Twenty-one percent favor McCain, while 27 percent are still undecided or say they will vote for somebody else.

Another poll shows John McCain has been making gains among white men and working class whites, the same voters who delivered for Clinton in the primaries. How does Obama reach those voters? Same way Bill Clinton did in 1992 and Hillary Clinton did in the primaries, economic populism.

H. CLINTON: If I tell you I will fight for you, that is exactly what I intend to do.

SCHNEIDER: Look who is a born again populist now.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But what I can do is I can say I'm going to wake up every day thinking about you and thinking about how to make your life a little bit better.

SCHNEIDER: Obama even used his new populist edge to slice up McCain.

OBAMA: I guess if you think that being rich means you got to make $5 million. And if you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy was fundamentally strong.

SCHNEIDER: Here's another idea. Put Hillary Clinton on the ticket. It would turn the Democratic Convention into a love in, 4,400 delegates singing "Kumbaya" (ph). Would Clinton add to the ticket? Apparently.

If Clinton were the Democratic nominee for president, the "Journal/NBC poll shows she'd be leading McCain by six points. Obama's lead in the poll, three.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Iraq was the issue that got Obama the nomination. The economy was Clinton's issue. Now if Obama intends to win this election he's going to have to do it on the economy, which means finding his populist voice because you know populism is popular. I think you knew that, Lou.

DOBBS: Yes I did as a matter of fact, Bill. Also the issues here, often ignored. The idea that Senator Clinton would be a difficult choice for Senator Obama, is there truth to that or is it in point of fact becoming obvious to the Obama campaign they might need a little help?

SCHNEIDER: Well I think they're probably realizing it when they look at those polls. You know the supposed negative of Senator Clinton is that it's back to the future. It would be looking backwards to the '90s and the Obama people say they want to change the way Washington works, so there would be a lot of criticism.

They want to change it backwards. But I think they could probably take that criticism because the one thing they need is economic credibility. And to many voters, particularly those white working class voters, that's what the Clintons have.

DOBBS: And if indeed 20 percent or more of Senator Clinton's supporters are going to vote for McCain, I mean that is not good news for Senator Obama under any circumstance.

SCHNEIDER: That's why he's relying on her speech Tuesday night and her husband's speech Wednesday night to try to rally those voters.

DOBBS: That's going be one crowded convention, isn't it? Bill, thank you very much.

SCHNEIDER: It certainly is.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: OK.

DOBBS: Well Senator Obama tonight said he has decided on a running mate, but he is not saying who. Here's what he is saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I'm going to say that I've made the selection. And that's all you're going to get.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: In an interview with "USA Today" Obama said quote, "I won't comment on anything else until I introduce our running mate to the world." To the world. Well the Obama campaign clearly trying to extract maximum publicity, trying to keep reporters writing about guesses on who his running mate might before for as long as possible. That deadline is approaching.

And Senator Obama today trying to deflect charges that he is an elitist. He launched a personal attack instead on Senator McCain. Obama strongly criticizing McCain for not remembering exactly how many houses he and his wife own. The McCain campaign hit back accusing Obama of buying $1 million mansion with the help of a convicted felon. It's getting better, isn't it? Ed Henry has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you for bringing that up.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was an attack John McCain served up to Barack Obama on a silver platter.

OBAMA: Somebody asked John McCain how many houses do you have? And he said, I'm not sure. I'll have to check with my staff. True quote.

HENRY: In an interview Wednesday with Politico.com, McCain got that question and seemed to stumble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many houses do you and Mrs. McCain have?

MCCAIN: I think -- I'll have my staff get to you. I can't tell you.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: Condominiums (INAUDIBLE) I'll have them get to you.

HENRY: The McCain camp insists the senator knows the answer. The couple has four homes. Their ranch near Sedona, as well as condos in Arizona, California, and Virginia. But the Obama camp insists the total is higher if you include their investment properties citing a study by PolitiFact.com (ph).

OBAMA: By the way, the answer is John McCain has seven homes. So there's just, there's just a fundamental gap of understanding between John McCain's world and what people are going through every single day here in America.

HENRY: McCain took the day off in Arizona, but his campaign fired back at Obama by invoking his ties to Tony Rezko, who was convicted on federal bribery and fraud charges. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said of Obama, "Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?"

On the same day Obama bought his Chicago home in 2005, Rezko's wife bought a vacant lot next door, meeting the seller's request that both properties sell at the same time. Obama, who later bought part of that lot, has denied any wrongdoing, but expressed regret about the appearances.

(on camera): This may just be a classic campaign blip, but on the other hand, given the shaky economy and the foreclosure crisis, it could also be politically explosive.

Ed Henry, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: New figures tonight on the spending battle between these two senators. The figures show that Senator Obama outspent McCain by a ratio of five to three in the month of July. The Federal Election Commission reporting that Obama spent about $55 million last month; McCain spent about 32 million. Both candidates spending most of their money on advertising, of course. By some estimates this presidential campaign will eventually cost the candidates as much as $1 billion. This will without question be the most expensive campaign in history.

The Help America Vote Act has provided states with more than $2 billion to introduce electronic voting machines. Machines that often simply do not work as it turns out. And today a stunning admission from one of the country's largest voting machines' companies admitting what we've been reporting here now for literally years. That electronic voting machines often make very serious errors. Kitty Pilgrim has our story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ohio has been struggling with flawed voting systems for years, most recently in the March primary when touch screen voting machines dropped votes. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (ph) ordered a top to bottom review of the machines that are used in half of the state's counties.

She is suing the voting machine company for fraud and breach of contract, seeking punitive damages, but the voting machine company, Premier Election Solutions, formerly Die bold (ph), repeatedly denied the problem writing in March the report describes serious flaws in the Premier system which are simply untrue. But now the voting machine company is reversing itself, admitting the system is seriously flawed.

And August 19th letter to the Ohio Secretary of State admits "we are indeed distressed that our previous analysis of this issue was in error. We have today issued a new product advisory notice that provides all Premier customers nationwide with this updated information." Larry Norden has studied the system and has warned about them for years.

LARRY NORDEN, NYU BRENNAN CTR. FOR JUSTICE: This could be potentially a huge problem and the key for election officials in Ohio and everywhere else in the country where they're using these systems is to make sure that they put in the proper steps that they verify what the totals are that the machines are telling them. And if they don't do that then you could be talking about thousands, tens of thousands of votes going missing on Election Day.

PILGRIM: Premier Election Solutions did not respond to our inquiry about how many machines nationally may be flawed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM (on camera): Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (ph) has been calling for converting Ohio to an all paper balloting system, but that was shot down by the state legislator. She does require emergency paper ballots to be at the polling places in November. That's a good thing, Lou.

DOBBS: And will they be able to conduct a speedy verifiable recount?

PILGRIM: It's not entirely sure with what's come out today because it is proven that these machines do drop votes.

DOBBS: Well there would be a problem, wouldn't it?

PILGRIM: It is a serious, serious... DOBBS: I mean good grief. What kind of country do we live in, in which we can't even -- once great democracy we can't even assure voters that everyone going to the polls is properly registered, legal. We can't assure them that the voting machines are working or that we can conduct an accurate, reliable recount or in fact that this democracy can work.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: It's amazing.

PILGRIM: The problem tonight is there's no real indication of how big this problem is. It could be nationwide. There is no real handle on how many machines are affected by this problem.

DOBBS: Well that would make sense, wouldn't it that we -- it's crazy. All right. Thanks a lot. Kitty Pilgrim.

Still ahead, you won't believe what the Catholic Church is trying to do now. It seems that they understand that illegal employers are the magnet driving illegal immigration, so they don't want anybody in law enforcement interfering with the illegal employers. Hallelujah there at the Catholic Church in Rhode Island.

The Food and Drug Administration has a new idea to protect us from dangerous food. American consumers can have all of our food radiated. Isn't that a great idea? We'll be telling you about it and a great deal more next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: As we have reported here both extensively and emphatically, the Food and Drug Administration's failure to protect American consumers from food import-borne illnesses is simply ridiculous, the most recent outbreak from salmonella carried by contaminated peppers from Mexico. Now the FDA says it has the answer, it thinks, to keeping our food safe. The solution is not to stop dangerous food from coming into this country, you see. They want to blast it with a lot of radiation once it's already here. Louise Schiavone reports on the latest brightest idea from your FDA.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ... spinach killed three people and sickened 200. The Food and Drug Administration has come up with a prevention strategy radiation.

CAROLINE DEWAAL, CTR. FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: We just think it's kind of a cop out on the part of the FDA to turn to this kind of tired, old solution that doesn't really work rather than do what they need to do to have the authority and the inspectors and the presence out there in the field to prevent this kind of contamination.

SCHIAVONE: Various meats, poultries, fruits and vegetables have been approved for irradiation for years. Still for almost a decade, grocery manufacturers have been lobbying the government to give them the go-ahead to basically atomically purify ready-to-eat foods like luncheon meats at several packaged commodities that you would not cook at home. The FDA decision this week applies only to ready to eat spinach and lettuce, packages of which must be identified for consumers as having been irradiated. This food safety advocate says the jury is still out on the process.

BILL FREESE, CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY: Food irradiation creates unique compounds that aren't found anywhere else in nature. Some scientists are concerned that these compounds could promote cancers, for instance, colon cancer. And we're not satisfied that these safety questions have been answered.

SCHIAVONE: The government insist there is no hazard stating quote, "The FDA has assessed the safety of this use of irradiation and has concluded that it will not adversely affect the safety of these products", end quote.

Consumer groups say there is some question about how well a delicate leafy green will tolerate radiation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIAVONE: Lou, while irradiation can kill insects, parasites and some bacteria, it's not clear that the process can kill all viruses. And both safety advocates and the FDA agree there is no substitute for cleanliness on the farm or in the kitchen -- Lou.

DOBBS: What is the FDA doing? Louise, I mean come on, either irradiation is safe or it's not safe. I mean what's going on? It is safe or isn't it?

SCHIAVONE: Well according to the FDA, there are...

DOBBS: No, no, no, no...

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: I'm not going to listen to the FDA. No one else is either. These are the guys who said BPA was safe. You know the other day your report, I mean these guys are so full of it they can't get out of their own way.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: As a matter of fact, there ought to be a criminal investigation for the leaders of that agency in my opinion.

SCHIAVONE: I can tell you (INAUDIBLE) scientists myself, but there are scientists who say that they have lots of concerns about irradiating our food and...

DOBBS: Then why don't these jerks at the -- who are running the FDA get out of the way and start thinking of the consumer first in this country instead of their nonsense and their trade policies and their free flow of commerce. These guys are irresponsible jerks. SCHIAVONE: Well this analysis is offered by people who are in the food safety advocacy business. They say look, the Bush administration...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIAVONE: ... is on its way out, the Grocery Manufacturers Association has been hounding them since 2000. And now the Bush administration is starting the process of saying OK, you can have this. They've been asking for food -- for irradiation and now the Bush administration...

DOBBS: Is there anyone in Congress trying to bring these people to justice? I mean that's what we need to do here. We need to bring the FDA to justice. They're working against the American people.

SCHIAVONE: Lou, you know Congress is on vacation.

DOBBS: I forgot that. Doggone it. And this was going to be a hard-working Congress, wasn't it? All right, well in other words, we're on our own. Louise, thank you very much. Louise Schiavone from Washington.

This latest plan to combat food borne illness comes as the salmonella Saint Paul outbreak continues to spread. This the one that the FDA said had been handled. This is weeks after we first reported here that the Food and Drug Administration had admitted the source of the outbreak was peppers grown in Mexico.

The Centers for Disease Control now reporting at least 1,400 cases of salmonella since April. The number of unreported illnesses are projected to be as high as 40,000. Cases of salmonella now have been reported in all but six states.

Up next here, Senator Obama adopting a decidedly populist tone, welcome aboard Senator. The Obama campaign scrambling to do damage control in the face of plummeted polling. We'll talk with three of the best political analysts.

And the Catholic Church -- boy there at something -- they're up to something interesting in Rhode Island. They're trying to advance their amnesty agenda for illegal aliens by asking the United States government not to enforce the law against illegal employers of illegal aliens. There's got to -- there's got to be something more here than religion at work. We'll tell you what next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The Catholic Church in this country is one of the strongest and the most outspoken advocates -- that is the Council of Bishops is the strongest advocate for open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens. Tonight a Catholic bishop in Rhode Island is not only calling for an end to immigration enforcement. He's calling for federal agents to have the right not to enforce the law. Now we're getting deep. Bill Tucker has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In raids like this at a meat packing plant in Pottsville, Iowa, at a factory with defense contracts in Massachusetts, a manufacturer in North Carolina, across the country since the beginning of the year, more than 5,000 illegal aliens have been arrested in work site immigration enforcement raids. More than 1,000 of those face criminal charges.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has spoken out against those raids and one of its members, Bishop Thomas Tobin, of Providence has condemned the raids and says they should be stopped. In a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement he calls them quote "unjust, unnecessary and counterproductive." The bishop goes on to urge federal agents to consider the morality of their actions.

BISHOP THOMAS TOBIN, PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND: I'm not suggesting that everybody who works for ICE is immoral in some way. I'm not suggesting that it is impossible to take a moral approach to this participation. I don't necessarily have the answer to that question. But I think it's a fair question to ask.

TUCKER: A spokeswoman for ICE responds saying quote -- "while we have great respect for Bishop Tobin and his colleagues, we believe their congregations and communities would be better served by helping individuals to comply with the law or working to change those laws rather than asking law enforcement agents not to enforce it." A now retired immigration and drug enforcement agent says there were times in his career when he sympathized with the illegal aliens he arrested, but...

MICHAEL CUTLER, FORMER INS AGENT: The intention behind the immigration laws is to protect the country, protect our citizens. That's a noble, honorable, reasonable, mission.

TUCKER: He and other law enforcement officials note that illegal aliens, by definition, are people who have broken the law. And their decision was one made deliberately and consciously.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER (on camera): And some law enforcement officials even wonder now about the moral responsibility of the country that the illegal aliens fled. And they wondered to me today why the Catholic Church isn't calling on those countries to improve the plight of their citizens -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well absolutely. I mean Mexico is incompetent, it's corrupt, its government. They encourage their citizens, the least educated, the least skilled of their citizens, the most impoverished, to as they put it, migrate to this country, to break our laws and to send back what amounts to about $25 billion in remittances each year to Mexico.

You know that's offensive. Why isn't the good Bishop Tobin offended by the morality of the stinking government that behaves and conducts itself so duplicitously and so selfishly and so -- so in such disregard for half of its citizens?

TUCKER: I can't answer that question, Lou.

DOBBS: I didn't think you could. But I'd sure love to hear the Mexican government respond and Bishop Tobin, what is the morality of a prolix (ph). Calling upon people to violate the law because it would be a violation of the law not to enforce it if you're wearing that badge. And you know what else? You may not think it's an unreasonable question to ask as you so pompously pondered there Bishop.

The truth of the matter is you're advancing an agenda. Have the guts to say it out loud. Don't play those silly little games. And get back to work, do God's work. Don't do the work of the amnesty and ethnocentric advocacy groups. They're quite capable of their own propaganda without your help, in my opinion. Thank you, Bill Tucker.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe the Rhode Island bishop would be better served by calling on the Mexican government to exercise morality in providing for its citizens rather than encouraging them to break the law and enter the United States? We'd like to hear from you on that, yes or no. We'll bring you the results here later in the broadcast. I would love to hear from the bishop on that as a matter of fact.

By the way, I want to compliment Julie Myers, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, my gosh, a federal agency with a leader that has the guts to tell basically somebody to stick it when they need to be told stick it. Good going.

Just one more day to go in our, well you know what we give, we could take back. ICE also has this really interesting program called Self-Deportation and we've been making a little fun of it here. As a matter of fact, we've been making a lot of fun of it.

This is the 17th day of the so-called scheduled departure voluntary program, in which illegal aliens can turn themselves into immigration authorities for voluntary deportation. The official count tonight is -- are you ready -- it's eight! That's right. Two more illegal aliens have turned themselves in. We're going to have the final tally for you tomorrow. Final, because tomorrow is the last day of this program, but as you can see, is just overwhelming the senses with results.

Up next, a very important issue these presidential candidates aren't talking about. We'll be talking about the huge population explosion facing this country.

And Senator Obama, well he's stalling in the polls. Some Democrats are questioning his leadership qualities. Three top political analysts join me. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: These are grave issues. Two political candidates running for president. But you got smile because it's getting at times almost absurd and occasionally a little scary. Joining me now to sort some of this out for us are three of the best political analysts. In Nashville, CNN contributor, Vanderbilt University Law School professor Carol Swain. Good to have you with us, Carol.

CAROL SWAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hello, Lou.

DOBBS: In Washington, D.C., Beth Frerking, senior editor, Politico.com. Beth, good to have you back.

BETH FRERKING, POLITICO.COM: Hi, Lou.

DOBBS: And here in New York, Democratic strategist, CNN contributor, Hank Sheinkopf.

Well, I've got to start with - I love this. McCain doesn't know how many houses he's got. And Obama is making fun of him about that. Let's hear that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Somebody asked John McCain, how many houses do you have? And he said, I'm not sure, I'll have to check with my staff. True quote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: A true quote. The true quote responded to by the McCain campaign pointing out that perhaps, as they put it, a man who made $4 million last year and has a million-dollar mansion of his own that he bought with the help of a convicted felon probably shouldn't be bringing this up. What do you think, Beth? I think this is good stuff, by the way. I'm enjoying this.

FRERKING: In fact, Politico broke that story. I have to put in a push for us. Basically I think that the Obama campaign very quickly took advantage of something that McCain probably should have known how to answer very quickly. Regardless of, the McCain campaign coming back and saying, hey, wait a minute, you've got your own problems on this.

The fact is as you know Lou, there are certain symbolic things that happen. We had the first George Bush president who didn't know what a grocery scanner. We had John Kerry on his wind surfing. And those got made fun of. And whatever the response is, you don't want to be on the defensive on something like that.

DOBBS: Well, let me ask you this, Beth. I'll turn to Hank. Frankly I thought the McCain campaign shoved it right back in his face.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think it was a very smart response. I think it's a dumb issue. Never pose a question you don't have the answer to that's tight as a drum. And they didn't.

DOBBS: You know, if Obama's going to do that, there's something about that. Maybe he should be living in like a $150,000 house. He should be wearing Sears suits instead of Italian suits and perhaps make something south of $4 million last year before starting this stuff.

SHEINKOPF: Hardly a populist, Lou. Doesn't look like a populist trying to be one, not working out well. And also make an older fella look dumb in that way, and making it personal, which is what that last clip we saw seemed to do is not the smartest way to get older people to vote for you.

DOBBS: Professor Swain, your thoughts?

SWAIN: I think it's a non-issue that the average American doesn't care how many houses that Senator McCain owns. For Senator McCain's side, I think it was wise for him not to misspeak. If he doesn't know, say I don't know, let me check. If he had said two when it was actually six, that would be the issue. That would be the headline.

DOBBS: Or eight and it's only seven. Well, in the latest CNN poll of polls, Obama has a one-point lead over Senator McCain. Beth, this is going the wrong direction for Senator Obama, isn't it?

FRERKING: I don't think anyone is surprised at these poll numbers given the performances at the Saddleback Forum this past weekend. I think the reviews were generally favorable for John McCain. But I don't really think - I think this race is tighter -- I think it's been tight all along. I think we've seen it go up and down three and four points. It's going to be interesting to see what happens when Obama chooses his vice presidential candidate. We'll probably see a bump for him coming out of the Democratic Convention and then we'll probably see a bump for McCain out of the Republican Convention. I really don't think we're going to see this get steady until after Labor Day and after the Republican Convention.

DOBBS: What do you think, Hank?

SHEINKOPF: I think Beth's exactly right. But the good news here is as it tightens up, it tends to always tighten up. The Obama campaign's argument will be to go after McCain probably after the convention and try to beat him to death. And that would not be the best move. The best move would be to have an economic plan that works that you continue to sell while casting distance between him and McCain. That's Obama.

DOBBS: Carol, the idea that these two candidates are locked up on issues. The issues, on the Russian invasion of Georgia, the surge strategy in which McCain right now is being proved to be right is to be a strong and very early advocate of the strategy.

You look at the issue of drilling for oil and natural gas offshore. Going with in advance of any polling on it that I'm aware of, calling for offshore oil drilling. He's coming down on the right sides of these issues. It's got to have some impact right down the polling. Don't you think?

SWAIN: I think so. And I think Senator McCain's advantage comes from his age and experience. I think at the end of the day, we do, many Americans, we do respect gray hair and Senator Obama is still too much of an unknown for a lot of people. We're not sure who he is, what he stands for, what he believes. He's changed his mind once too many times.

DOBBS: What do you think, Beth?

FRERKING: Well Lou, I wanted to add, there was a "New York Times" poll out today where it did show that tightening. But what was interesting about that poll if you look into it is that four out of 10 people named the economy as the biggest issue, the most important issue to them. Only 16 percent said that the Iraq war was.

And of those polled, two thirds thought that Obama was better on the economy. About 54 percent thought that McCain was. On the other hand, it was flipped, almost exactly flipped on Iraq. I think a lot of this is going to boil down to after Labor Day, again, where are we on the economy? Because if that becomes the bigger issue, then I think Obama probably is going to benefit from that.

SWAIN: If he has programs and ideas that he can put forth that are concrete and people believe he really cares about people like them.

SHEINKOPF: On this show, we said a year ago, the economy would be the issue. Obama's got to grab hold of that economy and whip John McCain to death with it instead of just using the normal negative campaign tactics. That's not going to work this time. It didn't work against Obama. It's not going to work against McCain.

DOBBS: And listening to Obama start talking as a bit of a populist, as an Independent populist myself, I'm kind of pleased by that. McCain, I think, in order to win, has to at least begin to focus on the needs of working men and women in this country. And in abstract economic trickle down economics ain't going to get it. All right, thank you very much, all of you. Carol, thank you, Beth, Hank, thank you.

And a reminder now to vote in our poll. Do you believe the Rhode Island bishop would be better served by calling on the Mexican government to exercise morality in providing for its own citizens rather than encouraging those citizens to break the law and enter the United States to send back remittances? Yes or no, we would like to hear from you. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results here in a few moments.

Up next, America's population could soar by nearly 50 percent in just the next 30 years. Can this nation handle that increase? Where will we find the resources? Three leading authorities on population growth join me here next.

And the U.S. and Iraq are near an agreement on the withdrawal of our troops. One of our most respected former military commanders joins me next, General David Grange.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Some good news, the United States and Iraq moving closer today to an agreement that could well lead to the withdrawal of large numbers of our troops from Iraq after the success of the surge. In Baghdad, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States and Iraq have agreed to what she called aspirational timetables. Do you love this use of language? Aspirational timetables. Nonsense.

She didn't give any details. What she means is they're trying hard and getting closer. But U.S. and Iraqi officials say our troops could be withdrawn from Iraqi cities by June of next year, depending on security conditions of course. The officials not giving a date for complete withdrawal of our troops. Joining me now, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT military analyst General David Grange. Great to have you with us.

GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: What do you think? That's super, don't you think?

GRANGE: Oh, absolutely. Nothing the United States Army would love better than to get out of the Iraqi cities, believe me. Tough duty, on the street, soldier cop type mission.

DOBBS: The mission for which we don't have trained personnel, the mission that is not really that for a U.S. Army at any time. And 15-month tours and three and four-month tours alone. It's time. Let's hope, let's pray that this can happen soon.

GRANGE: I think it will and the military is trained for that, but only specifically because of the type of fight that we're in right now. That's not their major mission.

DOBBS: No way am I minimizing the training of the troops. What I'm saying is it's hard to train for 15-month tours, repeated three times. And the army made that decision. The Marine Corps doesn't follow that process. Somebody ought to have a little discussion about how we got this that mess and not repeat it, don't you think?

GRANGE: Sure. The 15 months is for continuity, face to face with the Iraqi locals. The shorter tours like the Marine Corps goes with is really better for the soldiers and their families.

DOBBS: Can I tell you what I think? I think that's rationalization and I think they did it because we don't have enough people who are ready to serve in Iraq.

GRANGE: We don't have enough people to serve in the armed forces, period. But this whole thing about the cities.

DOBBS: You're Army to the bone, aren't you?

GRANGE: Thirty years, Lou.

DOBBS: By the way, I'm thankful that you are and were, how about that?

GRANGE: OD Gray (ph), all the way. DOBBS: As we look at what's happening there, if it is possible to make a substantial withdrawal by next June, that would be absolutely amazing. Is it your sense that the surge strategy is not only successful, but sustainable at this point?

GRANGE: It is successful and it is sustainable if we don't yank things out too quick. And that's what Ray Odierno is going to be concerned with. He says look, I'm on a path now for success.

DOBBS: The general in charge of Iraq.

GRANGE: The new guy going to take over for Petraeus. Don't yank it out too quick. I know Afghanistan is barking up the tree here and we have to do something about that, but just make sure that we don't go too fast. Let's make sure that we keep the momentum for success.

DOBBS: All right, success, it's nice to hear the word.

GRANGE: It's a great word.

DOBBS: In the same line, in the same sentence with Iraq. Isn't that's amazing? I love it.

GRANGE: That's the way I look at it.

DOBBS: Outstanding.

GRANGE: All right.

DOBBS: General Grange, thank you very much for being here. Up at the top of the hour, "THE ELECTION CENTER" and John King in for Campbell Brown. John, tell us all about it.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Lou, at the top of the hour, we know Barack Obama has made his choice. He knows who his running mate will be. We'll check in wit hour correspondents, also with our analysts.

And we want to look behind the curtain at the secrets of picking a running mate. We'll talk to an insider who was with Al Gore on both ends of that secretive phone call tonight.

Also, some Democrats call it the August curse. Even in years where it looks like they'll win, August seems to be the month where it is the Republicans picking up ground.

All of that, Lou, with the Democratic Convention just a few days ago, at the top of the hour here in "THE ELECTION CENTER."

DOBBS: All right, John, sounds exciting.

And a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Friday for "The Lou Dobbs Show." Friday's guests including Katherine Skiba of "U.S. News & World Report" on the race of the White House now a dead heat. Also Pat Choate, one of the country's most respected economists, author of the important new book "Dangerous Business: The Risks of Globalization for America." And Michael Holland, chairman of the Holland Balanced Fund on what is happening in this economy. What can you and I expect? Please go to LouDobbsRadio.com to get the local listings for "The Lou Dobbs Show."

Up next, why the population explosion expected for this country poses a real threat to everything this country stands for. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The population of this country is expected to grow, get ready, by 135 million people in just the next 40 years. That growth is driven principally by immigration, both legal and illegal, and not by birth. There are serious concerns whether this country's national resources can keep up with and support such an outright explosion in our population.

Joining me now are three experts on population growth. From Washington, D.C., Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. Norm, great to have you with us. Norm is co-author of "The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get it Back on Track."

Robert Engelman is vice president for programs at the Worldwatch Institute. Good to have you with us. Robert is the author of "More: Population, Nature and What Women Want."

And that is one of my favorite titles. And here in New York is Jane Delung, president emeritus of the Population Resource Center. Great to have you with us.

Let's begin. We're talking about an outright explosion. Almost 50 percent increase in our population over the course of the next four or five decades. That's crazy.

JANE DELUNG, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, POPULATION RESOURCE CENTER: It is an explosion. For every two people that are in the United States today, there will be a third person. And this explosion is occurring both because of immigration and descendants to immigration. All respective experts say that it's between 60 and 75 percent of that growth will be driven by immigration. No one talks about this.

This is the hidden elephant in the room in the United States. We will have immigration reform discussions and debates next year. And it is beyond me why the American public is not willing to talk about what size do we want to be and how fast are we going to get there? We're growing from 300 million people to almost 450 million people in 40 years. Three million additional people a year.

DOBBS: That's incredible. To put that in some context, that growth rate is in excess of 10, 15 percent greater number than the entire number of people living in this country in 1940. That's nuts.

DELUNG: It's double the population in the 1960s. We hit 200 million in 1967. We're going to hit 450 million in 2040. It's an extraordinary growth rate. DOBBS: Robert, let me ask you this. The environmental impact -- at a time when this country is being criticized for consuming so much of the world's resources. At a time when we are finding ourselves running into limits in terms of this country's resources whether it be for building, for the production and manufacture of products and goods, whatever it may be, what is the environmental impact?

ROBERT ENGELMAN, WORLDWATCH INSTITUTE: Well, first of all, it's probably worth pointing out that these projections sometimes change. This is actually an increase in what the census was projecting just a few years ago. Probably more because of increases in births than actual increases in immigration.

But let's assume the number is more or less accurate, it's going to be fairly close to that. It's interesting that this discussion is occurring at a time when everyone from President Bush on down has recognized that one of the reasons Americans are paying more for gasoline, more for food, is increases in demand. Demand matters and we're starting to lose confidence that I think we used to have that we can always produce more, we can always find more of everything we might need, so it doesn't matter how many people are consuming.

It clearly does matter and what we're seeing in America is a high consuming country that will need to consume about 50 percent more of the energy of housing. Whether it's John McCain's numbers or our own individual houses. We're going to be consuming more living space and more transportation. All of these things that we're worried about right now will need to find a lot more of.

DOBBS: So where is - where are the environmentalists on this? The impact is tremendous on the environment, on water supplies, on air. It's extraordinary and we're not hearing any discussion at all of what is a critically important issue from the environmental sector.

ENGELMAN: I think the whole topic of population has become very sensitive. It's scary, it's very difficult for the environmental movement as a movement to take on. And it's one of the difficulties with a lot of things we face.

DOBBS: Sensitive and scary. Why should any American in any quarter ever be scared?

ENGELMAN: People like to have safe conversations at least when they're not on television.

DOBBS: On this broadcast, we would like to have honest conversations. We want to tell everybody in this country who watches the broadcast, it's OK talk straight. We don't have to be politically correct. We don't have to be bound up with some silly orthodoxy on the left or right, some partisan nonsense. And it is all nonsense, coming from the right or left in this country. Feel free.

ENGELMAN: Fine, I do. But for those who are trying to raise funding, for those who are trying to gain members, when you're looking at a phenomena that's basically about births and immigration, it has a lot to do with sex. It has a lot to do with contraception, touches on abortion.

DOBBS: You mean life itself?

ENGELMAN: Yes, it can sometimes be sensitive and that's one of the difficulties of population. It's not like technology in just saying if we put up enough windmills, we'll be OK.

DOBBS: Let me put this in an expression of one of my daughters. Is the environmental sector about ready to man up on this issue?

ENGELMAN: I don't know if I would put it that way. But I think we're going be forced more and more to examine where we're going demographically, because it is so important. At some point, we're going to have to decide whether we're going to cap our greenhouse gas emissions. Then it will get very interesting as our population keeps growing.

DOBBS: To me, it's already interesting, Robert, to be honest, and troubling. Let me turn to you, Norm. The idea as Jane just pointed out that we're not having a conversation. We don't hear from John McCain or Barack Obama, despite all of their nonsense on the campaign trail, we're not hearing from either of them about what the country will look like, how should our country function. What should we be thinking about in terms of the resources we will demand for the population one or two generations out? We're talking about finances on some levels at the margin. But we're not talking in any real terms about population growth, environmental impact, scarce resources, all of the tough issues.

NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTUTITE: You know, it's almost inevitable in a political campaign that you look at short-term driving things. Right now, it's $4 a gallon gasoline. You mentioned the word that I think is an absolutely critical one, Lou, which is water. There will be an international water shortage. Safe potable drinking water, for other purposes that will make the oil crisis look pale by comparison.

And we really need to have a discussion of this. It's not going to happen in a political campaign, I'm afraid. We're going have to have a discussion about transportation. As more and more people move to exports, how are we going to afford to or find the vehicles or ways to get them around? And it's certainly great to have this conversation now.

You know, I might add one other thing, though. Keep in mind that as we look at our projections, in Europe the projections are exactly the opposite. They're going dramatically falling birth rates. They're actually going to have fewer people. They're going to have a whole lot more older people with very few young people to pay for the services that they've grown used to having. There's going to be crises in a lot of different ways and a lot of places, Lou.

DOBBS: We're going to don't talk about just exactly that when we continue with our panel here. Stay with us, we'll be right back. We're going talk about how in the world is the planet going to support over 9 billion people in the next four decades. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Jane, let me turn to you first quickly. The projections here for population growth. Do you believe that we're going to be growing faster than the rest of the world? Is it possible that it would even be growing even faster than these projections?

DELUNG: I do not think we're going to be growing faster than the rest of the world. But as Bob said, there's a real possibility that we will actually grow faster than these projections. I believe we will. The last population projections were in the mid-1990s. These projections have us with 45 million more people than they did in the mid-1990s.

DOBBS: So we continue to underestimate.

DELUNG: The growth has accelerated. We are underestimating the population that we're going have.

DOBBS: That's even more troubling. Robert, the environmental impact here, the political correctness issue, the sensitivity if you will as you described it here, there's a point of which, when we look at the issues of clean water, the energy demand that is resulting, natural resource demand. Why in the world would the environmental groups not now coalesce around this issue and start dealing with political issues that are going to have to be made in this society?

ENGELMAN: Well I think one of the things that we need to communicate better is there are reasonable choices to make. One of the big factors in this that doesn't get talked about is the high level of unintended pregnancy in this country. If we had universal health care, and I might say if we had health care that was accessible to people who are not documented here as well as people who are undocumented here so that everyone, whether you're legally here or not, could at least get access to good family planning service, we could eliminate a large proportion of the pregnancies and thus the births that are occurring in this country. That's something we don't tend to talk about, environmentalists.

DOBBS: So it's politically incorrect to discuss illegal immigration, but it's politically correct to talk about substituting the national birthrate for immigration.

ENGELMAN: I'm not sure which is politically correct.

DOBBS: We'll have that debate later. I want to turn to Norm very quickly. Norm, the choices that are here. We're talking about political choices. How do we get the political choices involved with exploding population growth on the national agenda?

ORNSTEIN: You know, we're going to have to among other things hope that we can have more than three structured presidential debates. Have a different way to focus on all of the policy implications that flow from larger population. Some are positive. We're going have young people who at least can pay into a social security system and perhaps provide some of the resources to pay for health care for the elderly population and a whole lot of others that aren't.

DOBBS: You make them sound like social security slaves that we can bring in for the great entitlement plantation.

ORNSTEIN: For our age, that's something we've got to think about, Lou.

DOBBS: Well, I didn't dismiss it out of head. Norm, thank you very much. Robert, thank you. Jane, thank you. So much, all three of you for being here to help us examine this. Come back soon, please.

Tonight's poll results: 98 percent of you say the Rhode Island bishop would be better served by calling upon the Mexican government to exercise morality in providing for its own citizens rather than encouraging them to break the law and enter the United States.

We thank you for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow. For all of us here, thank you for watching. Good night from New York. "THE ELECTION CENTER" with John King begins now -- John?

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