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Barack's Battle; Personal Attacks; Democracy at Risk; Food Contamination Solution

Aired August 24, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a stunning admission illustrating the threat to our democracy from e-voting machines. A leading maker of those machines finally admitting what we've been reporting to you for years; those machines make very serious errors.
Tonight, the Catholic Church at it again. A bishop meddling in the nation's immigration policy, talking morality when what he means is amnesty.

All of that and much more from an independent perspective tonight, straight ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK;" news, debate and opinion. Here now, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Senator Obama tonight hoping his choice of a running mate will boost his poll ratings; Obama's momentum stalling this week. Most polls showing he's now in a statistical dead heat with Senator McCain; one poll giving Senator McCain a five-point lead among likely voters over Obama.

Obama also facing some considerable skepticism about his leadership qualities and campaign direction from many Democrats now, particularly the supporters of Senator Clinton. A "Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows only half of Senator Clinton's supporters are now backing Obama. 1 in 5 of those Clinton supporters, in fact, now say they will vote for Senator McCain.

Bill Schneider has our report.



SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: To anyone who voted for me and is now considering 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. 21 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 '92 and Hillary Clinton did in the primaries, economic populism.

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

SCHNEIDER: Look who's a born again populist now.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: 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.

SEN. OBAMA: I guess if you think 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."

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.

Iraq was the issue that got Obama the nomination. The economy was Clinton's issue. If Obama wants to win the election, he's going to have to do it on the economy. That means finding the populist touch, because face it, populism is popular.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Denver.


DOBBS: The Obama campaign this week stepping up its personal attacks against Senator McCain, trying to lift his ratings. Obama strongly criticizing McCain for not remembering exactly how many homes he and his wife own. The McCain campaign hit back accusing Obama of buying a million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon.

Ed Henry has the report on attack ads.


ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was an attack John McCain served up to Barack Obama on a silver platter.

SEN. 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, McCain got that question and seemed to stumble.

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

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think -- I'll have my staff get to you. I can't tell you. Condominiums ... 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.

SEN. 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 is 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 mansion 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.

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.


DOBBS: New evidence tonight of the dangers to this democracy posed by e-voting machines. One of the country's largest voting machine companies admitting what we've been reporting here now for literally years; that electronic voting machines often make very serious errors.

Kitty Pilgrim with our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ohio has been struggling with flawed voting systems for years, most recently in the March primary when touch-screen voting machines dropped votes.

Ohio's Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, 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 Diebold, 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. An August 19th 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 Norton has studied the systems and has warned about them for years.

LARRY NORTON, NYU BRENNAN CENTER 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. If they don't do that, then you could be talking about tens of thousands of votes going missing on Election Day.


PILGRIM: Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has been calling for converting Ohio to an all-paper balloting system. That was shot down by the state legislator. She does require emergency paper ballots to be at the polling places in November and that's probably necessary at this point.

DOBBS: You know, good for Secretary Brunner. Thank goodness she's got this kind of focus and this kind of courage and commitment to her responsibilities.

Also in California, a number of other states, we're seeing secretaries of state stand up and, if you will forgive the expression, be counted here because they know darn well they're not going to be able to do a recount given in many cases the use of these machines.

PILGRIM: That's absolutely right, Lou. This is a national disgrace. Many of these machines have not been tested at all and on a federal level, the testing is way behind the technology.

DOBBS: And then the election boards that outsource the administration, the election to the very companies that make the machines that don't work. It just gets better and better.

Kitty, thanks a lot. Kitty Pilgrim.

Well, some states have begun to scrap those e-voting machines all together, as Kitty has been reporting, because of the concern about the flaws of those machines. But a third of the country will still be using e-voting machines come November. And more disturbing, a new report shows election officials are outsourcing their responsibilities to those very companies making the machines; even trusting the companies to actually count the votes. says state officials have to trust those results because e-voting companies refuse to share their proprietary software.

Coming up next, the Catholic Church pushing its amnesty agenda. A bishop in Rhode Island, has he lost his mind? We'll be reporting to you on that.

And corporate elites trying to dictate this nation's immigration policy; putting their interests ahead of the national interests. We've seen that movie.

We'll have complete coverage as we continue here in one moment. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The Catholic Church in this country is one of the strongest and 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.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In raids like this at a meat packing plant in Postville, 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 worksite immigration enforcement raids. More than a thousand 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 "unjust, unnecessary, and counterproductive." The Bishop goes on to urge federal agents to consider the morality of their actions.

BISHOP THOMAS TOBIN: I'm not suggesting that everybody who works for ICE is immoral in some way. I'm not suggesting that that it's 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 "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.

MICHAEL CUTLER, FORMER INS AGENT: The intention behind the immigration laws is to protect the country and 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.


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

DOBBS: Absolutely. 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. That's offensive.

Why isn't the good Bishop Tobin offended by the morality of a stinking government that behaves and conducts itself so duplicitously and so selfishly and 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 prelate calling upon people to violate the law? Because it would be a violation of the law not to enforce it if you are wearing that badge.

You know what else? You may not think it's an unreasonable question to ask as you so pompously ponder 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.

The biggest business lobby in the country, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, once again trying to dictate U.S. immigration policy and doing pretty well so far, I must say.

President Bush has this year ordered federal contractors to verify the legal status of their employees using the federal e-verify system. It's a proven success, it requires employers simply enter a social security number on the part of a prospective employer to find out whether or not he or she is legally in this country.

And by the way, it's 99.5 percent effective and that's driving a lot of people crazy, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce apparently. In spite of that effectiveness, the Chamber of Commerce, and did I mention the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill, are all trying to either block e-verify or eliminate it?

Lisa Sylvester has our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a matter of seconds, companies can confirm if a prospective job applicant is legally allowed to work in the United States. The Bush administration wants all federal contractors and subcontractors to use the program known as E-Verify.

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

TIMOTHY SPARAPANI, ACLU: The president has not done the things he needs to do to fix this program, to make it work right. It's going to be a huge burden on America's workers.

SYLVESTER: But Dan Stein with the Federation for American Immigration Reform says national security is at stake here. Illegal aliens have been caught working in sensitive areas from airports to military bases. He says that's unacceptable in a post 9/11 world.

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

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

Stein says the Chamber of Commerce is fiercely opposing E-Verify because it works.

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

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

Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.


DOBBS: Next, why the race for the White House is a dead heat with just about three months to go until Election Day. I'll be joined by three of sharpest political minds.

And the FDA has a new bright idea to protect us all from dangerous food imports. American consumers can have all their food hit with a lot of radiation. Now there is a terrific idea.

We'll be right back.


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.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two years after an e-coli outbreak in spinach killed three people and sickened 200, the Food and Drug Administration has come up with a prevention strategy, radiation.

CAROLINE DEWAAL, CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: We just think it's a copout 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 meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables have been approved for irradiation for years. But 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 and 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 insists there is no hazard stating "The FDA has assessed the safety of this use of irradiation and has concluded that it will not adversary affect the safety of these products." Consumer groups say there is some question about how well a delicate leafy green will tolerate radiation.


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, come on. Either irradiation is safe or it's not safe. I mean, what's going on? Is it safe or isn't it?

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

DOBBS: No, no, I'm not going to listen to the FDA. No one else is either. These are the guys who said BPA was safe. I mean, these guys are so full of it they can't get out of their own way. There ought to be a criminal investigation for believers of that agency in my opinion.

SCHIAVONE: I can tell you, not being a scientist myself but there are scientists who say that they have lots of concerns about irradiating our food.

DOBBS: Then why don't these jerks 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 the 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 is on its way out. The Grocery Manufacturers' Association that hounded them since 2000, and now the Bush administration is starting the process of saying, okay, you can have this. They've been asking for irradiation and now the Bush administration is --

DOBBS: Is there anyone in Congress trying to bring these people to justice? That's what we need to do, 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? Well, in other words, we are -- we're on our own.

Louise, thank you very much. Louise Schiavone from Washington. DOBBS: Next, a growing threat to the country. What no one wants to talk about, we will. The makers of a troubling new documentary about this nation's national debt and debtor status in perpetuity.

An important new book about the war in Iraq, "The Strongest Tribe;" the book that the liberal media establishment doesn't want you to read. I'll be joined by the Bing West, the author of "The Strongest Tribe" next.

And the national media in the tank for Senator Obama just about all the way. Well the race is still a dead heat despite all of that. I'll be talking with the best political analysts in the country.

Stay with us.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN "NEWSROOM" ANCHOR: I'm Rick Sanchez here at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We'll go back to Lou in just a little bit.

First, let me try to catch you up on what's going on.

Breaking political news to tell you about on the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. CNN has learned that Hillary Clinton will release her delegates, fleeing them -- freeing them -- I should say, pardon me I misspoke -- to Barack Obama. Now, this is going to happen Wednesday. Also, the Democratic Party has restored full voting rights to all the delegates from Florida and Michigan, which were initially punished for holding their primaries way too early.

Politics of protest as expected. About 1,000 anti-war protestors marched through Denver today chanting "Stop the torture, stop the war." There they are. We've heard from them.

Now I want to hear from you. Reach me at And you can also shout out through Facebook, MySpace and CNN's I- Report. I'm going to share your responses tonight at 10:00 eastern about the convention, about the potential rift between Hillary Clinton supporters and Barack Obama and also about the fair tax.

And then there's this story. It's a horrible plane crash today in the former Soviet Union. Not far from the Chinese border, the 737 bound for Iran went down shortly after takeoff from the capital city of Bishkek. 90 people onboard, at least 60 of them were killed.

More rain forecast for the southeast. It's the remnants of tropical storm Fay, which became a tropical depression last night. Fay is blamed for at least 11 deaths in Florida, one in Georgia and one in Alabama. And flooding still a problem across northern Florida. I'm Rick Sanchez. Thanks so much for being with us. I'll see you tonight at 10:00 for that special on the fair tax and live coverage from the convention in Denver. Let's go back to Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Joining me now three of the best political analysts and CNN contributors in the country, in our D.C. bureau is syndicated columnist Diana West. Diana, good to have you with us. Here in New York with me, syndicated columnist Miguel Perez. Miguel, welcome. And democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. Good to see you, Hank.

Diana, let's start with you. How many houses should a presidential candidate have, what should they cost, and how much should he or she have made in the previous year?

DIANA WEST, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I actually loved this exchange. This was, of course, the housing gaffe where John McCain didn't know about his number of houses he had because his spokesman came back and threw everything at Senator Obama and his $4 million yearly take last year. His housing sweet heart deal, you know, with the unsavory Tony Rezko, and he's on vacation. I love this rapid response with gang busters. It was great.

DOBBS: What do you think, Hank?

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that McCain won the argument. I think that McCain back was pretty quick. I think people are going to wonder why it matters at all. What does come out of this is Obama made $4 million and that he got some help from an unsavory fellow. That's not so good.

DOBBS: I mean, I don't know who wrote this response to this nonsense. First, let's show you what the Obama campaign is doing on its ad on this issue and I should say very quickly the issue was McCain was asked by how many houses he had. He says I don't know, my staff will get back to you on that. This is how Barack Obama spokesman is trying to make hay with it.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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.


DOBBS: I would hope it's a true quote. My goodness. Well, here is - and this is one sentence. This is how the McCain campaign responded. "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 mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?" What do you think, Miguel?

MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: If you live in a glass house, you cannot throw stones.

DOBBS: Very good.

PEREZ: The thing is, I mean, you know, look, Obama has his own problems, he should have never raised the housing issue. But you know, we should all be so lucky that we don't know how many houses we own. This is the American way. When did it become a problem for you to be rich to run for president? DOBBS: Well, let me ask a question. Because what really is being implied here, if not outright in bold subtext at least, is that if you are successful, if you are wealthy, you can't represent the national interests, you can't represent working men and women in this country. You know, John F. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, all, they should have been - why isn't the democratic party invalidated them because it's precisely the same situation. Anybody want to guess how many house does Ted Kennedy has?

PEREZ: If that's the standard, both candidates have to be disqualified.

SHEINKOPF: If that's the standard, Franklin Roosevelt wouldn't have been president of the United States.

PEREZ: What's going on here -

DOBBS: Teddy Roosevelt.

SHEINKOPF: Franklin Roosevelt, the great defender of blue collar people in this country. Look what is going on here is that Barack Obama is trying to become the populist. And he figures, this is a way of attack. What they're trying to tell you, Lou, is they're not going to have a discussion about issues, they're going to just bang McCain's brains in and that's how they intend to win. And I don't think it's going to work necessarily.

DOBBS: You know, it's really not working because the fact is we have a tied race here. You know, with all the national media, as I've been saying here for months, in the tanks. My colleagues in the national media are absolutely biased, in the tank supporting the Obama candidacy while claiming the mantle of objectivity. Whether they're in the front page of "The Washington Post," "The New York Times," whether it's any one of the news casts, I mean, it's ridiculous.

Now we have a situation where everything is tied up here, Diana. Is it possible, however, for Senator McCain to actually gain a significant lead here?

WEST: Well, I think it is possible. I mean, it's really, it's really hard to say exactly how these things are going, but this kind of superficial attack from the Obama campaign is not helping him at all. You have to remember that this particular attack came within 24 hours of another Obama ad that was trying to link McCain to Ralph Reed, to the convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

DOBBS: They have 527s. They've got 527s all over the town -

WEST: Exactly, and the McCain campaign came back with another huge response talking about if you want to play guilt by association, let's talk some more about former weatherman -

DOBBS: What happened to the post partisan lofty elevated discourse we're going to have, Miguel?

PEREZ: I'm still waiting for it, unfortunately. WEST: But who wants it?

PEREZ: Look, what the media has failed at here is putting pressure on Obama, especially, because McCain wanted to do those meetings together with Obama, those public forums.

DOBBS: The town hall meetings.

PEREZ: Yes, and Obama has really evaded the issue and the media has not been after him for it. And I think that's disgraceful.

DOBBS: Well, I think the way the national media in this country right is performing, is disgraceful. And I mean, when we - "The Washington Post" had the courage to admit that it - Deborah Howell, the public editor, the ombudsman for the "Washington Post" ran a piece this past Sunday acknowledging that "The Washington Post" has put Barack Obama on the front pages of the Washington Post three times as many times as Senator McCain. "Time" magazine has run seven covers with Obama. McCain two. I mean, this is not close, folks. And it is ugly. It is nasty. And I guarantee you, we are watching a shift in the way in which the media in this country, which is already reviled by the public, I believe it's going to be even worse.

I'm an advocacy journalist. I'm an independent populist. When I speak, people know where I'm coming from. When these news organizations are doing this and trying to pretend cloaking themselves in the mantle of objectivity, you know, they're silly, (trulish), absolutely in my opinion, despicable phonies. They need to step out, they need to be objective or get their opinions out where it can be examined. We're going to be right back. Next, Hank Sheinkopf. He'll tell us about what he thinks of media bias. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Well, we're back and I want to take a look at the "Time" magazine cover. Seven times, seven times in the past year, Barack Obama has been placed on the cover of "Time" magazine. Now, John McCain twice. Hank Sheinkopf, that is rather typical of the inundation of affection, the inundation of Barack Obama with the affection of the national media. What is your reaction as a democratic strategist?

SHEINKOPF: Good for democrats, not so good for the nation in the long term. Barack Obama is interesting, he's new, therefore he is news. OK. The fact that a black man can reach that pinnacle of success, raise the amount of money, run this kind of organization, beat Hillary Clinton is big news. At some point there has to be some fairness in the discussion. The problem here from the beginning is from day Obama showed up, I was wondering when the reporters will start chiseling his face on to Mt. Rushmore and the guy hadn't even won the nomination yet. That's the danger here, Lou. And people know it and they're not stupid. Average guy says wait a second, I want news and he isn't getting it.

DOBBS: He's not getting it. He's not getting it for a lot of reasons, and she's not getting it. We're not getting it, because budgets have been cut by corporate, main stream media. We have fewer people making any point of fact, in many cases, making less money to do even bigger job in a more complex society. Miguel, your reaction?

PEREZ: Oh, look, in reaction to what both of you are saying, and what Hank just said about what's new. I went to journalism school. I teach journalism. You have to put aside what's new in terms of, when it comes to fairness. And when you're covering an election, you definitely have to be fair to both sides. And what's new is not a valid argument for the media. So you know, as a member of the media, I can tell you it's wrong to be doing that, you know, absolutely wrong.

DOBBS: I mean, I've said for some time, Diana West, that I believe, because I issue from time to time, like you, a few strong opinions. But as I say, everyone knows where I come from and I'm making no bones about what I'm doing. I'm an advocacy journalist. But I truly believe, Diana West, that every - I like you all to think about this, maybe every reporter on television, every editor, every reporter in the newspapers and magazines and on the web, there ought to be a little identification like we put on the lower third of the screen for an elected official, D or republican from Iowa or Des Moines or whatever, put that under there, we're journalist, declare yourself.

PEREZ: That's why newspapers have an opinion page.

DOBBS: Right.

PEREZ: It should be, opinions should be left to that page, not to the front page.

DOBBS: Right. Well, you and I know that. The editors of "The New York Times," "The Washington Post" and "The Los Angeles Times," it's a crying shame. "The Washington Times" as well, Diana West.

WEST: Well, you know, "The Washington Times" is - certainly has been covering news from a more conservative angle. But in terms of the -

DOBBS: I think that's a gentle way to put it. That's like saying "The New York Times" has a more liberal angle.

WEST: Well, yes. I mean -

DOBBS: Come on, you're -

WEST: If you actually - No, no, no. I don't actually work for "The Washington Times" anymore.

DOBBS: I know that. But you should have an independent view.

WEST: I do. I have a very independent view.

DOBBS: Go get them.

WEST: I would say if you had a tally of that news room, you would find that it probably represents a conservative democratic split that's much closer to the national average than any other of the other news rooms you're talking about. That said, what we're seeing with the Obama - I think it will eventually ricochet on Obama. I think that people are getting very distressed and irritated about it. But the bias continues and, you know, it even came out with the coverage of these back and forth on gas this week in terms of the heirs connection, because most of the papers was reading, "USA Today," "The Associated Press," they were not covering the challenge that the -

DOBBS: We got to wrap this up very quickly. Diana, let me interrupt. Give us your thought real quickly on will Obama get a significant bounce out of the Democratic National Convention.

PEREZ: He will. But then McCain will name his VP and it will go back to the republicans all over again.

DOBBS: Hank Sheinkopf.

SHEINKOPF: Six to nine points but it depends who McCain names as the VP, whether he gets the bump or not.

DOBBS: Hank, thank you very much. Miguel, thank you. Diana, thank you. Appreciate it.

Up next, the war in Iraq, the success of the surge, combat veteran, author Bing West joins me. And "I.O.U.S.A.," a revealing new documentary about this country's soaring national debt. Debt in nation in perpetuity, we'll be talking with the creator, Patrick Creadon and David Walker. The former head of the Government Accountability Office. Stay with us. We'll be right back. If you can handle it.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Denver. You're looking at live pictures of Parker, Colorado, about 20 miles west of Denver. That's where we are. We're getting ready for the Democratic National Convention. There is a tornado there. And take a look at these live pictures courtesy of our affiliate KUSA. It's a really scary shot, this tornado we've been monitoring now for the past several moments and you can clearly see how strong and powerful this tornado is. It's unclear how much of a residential area there is there, although Anderson Cooper, who is here with us - I understand we've seen several homes in some of the closer shots of this tornado, and if you've ever been anywhere near a tornado or any kind of severe weather like this, that could be frightening and more importantly, it could be very, very dangerous.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We've seen some very large homes in this area that the tornado seems to be very close to. We are told this tornado is not heading toward downtown Denver, Denver, Colorado is of course, where a large number of people have already gathered today for the Democratic National Convention, which officially kicks off tomorrow morning. This is certainly the last thing anyone here wants to see. These pictures again from KUSA from Parker, Colorado, we are told about 20 miles from Denver. And again, important to emphasize that this is not heading toward the city of Denver. But clearly damage is being done on the ground in Parker. You can see homes there on the right side of the screen, just a little bit and a few scattered on the left side of the screen. We've been watching this funnel cloud now for probably at least five minutes and it does not seem to be dissipating at this time.

BLITZER: And we're just getting this in, Anderson, from the National Weather Service. It says that a funnel cloud was spotted two miles north of Castle Rock here in Colorado, about 22 miles southeast of Denver. Just a little while ago. I assume that this National Weather Service report is this funnel cloud, this tornado that we're seeing live here on CNN right now. So far, no reports of the tornado touching down. But this information from the National Weather Service may be outdated even as we're getting it, courtesy of the "Associated Press." We do know, Anderson, that a tornado warning has been issued for northeastern Elbert County and northeastern Douglas County, obviously very, very close to Denver. And as you say, this is the last thing anyone needs here as we get ready for this Democratic National Convention.

COOPER: Clearly a residential there, a residential area there off to the left. It does seem to be breaking up somewhat. You can see a helicopter in the sky overhead. That helicopter has actually been circling this tornado for some time now. It does seem as if the funnel cloud that the top of the uppermost portion of it seems to be breaking up, kind of dissipating and the effect on the ground dissipating as well. But this - we were watching this funnel cloud a few minutes ago. It was just a straight up, Jacqui Jeras, CNN meteorologist, is standing by. Jacqui, what do you know about this storm?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Wow, incredible rotation, incredible pictures unfolding here. Yes, we saw this starting from KUSA as a funnel cloud. We saw it intensify. We saw this drop on the ground. And then also, possibly do a little bit of damage. There you can see those pictures. This was taped, probably taken about six minutes ago. But when you see that kind of puffy cloud around the bottom of a tornado, you know there's some type of debris going on there. We've seen it move just behind some incredibly huge homes but we actually haven't seen it hit just yet.

You know, if you live in the Denver area, you know where this is. Castle Rock just to the south of there, along i-25. And the location of this tornado was roughly about halfway between kind of Castle Rock and into the Parker area. It's really slow moving. In fact, it's nearly stationary. And so it's not moving at a very fast clip, which is good news in the sense that hopefully these people were able to take shelter and get inside. We have not heard any confirmed reports of damage, but certainly this is capable of causing an incredible amount of destruction.

These are live pictures now that you're looking at here, and looking a little bit more difficult to kind of tell what we've got going on there. Looks like the tornado was starting to rope up a little bit. As we zoom in, maybe we can see some of that debris and still see if this thing is on the ground. There you can see that a little bit behind. Look at those homes. Huge homes here in this area south of Denver. And by the way, guys, if you're worried there in Denver right now, these storms are well to your south and east and we don't think they're heading into the Denver metro area at this time.

BLITZER: Well, that was what I was going to ask you Jacqui because a lot of people have arrived here. You know, I don't have a whole lot of experience with tornadoes but this tornado, according to the weather service now clearly on the ground. Not very far away from Denver. And these are live pictures the we're seeing right now. This is actually taped of what we saw a couple or three moments ago. But it was a beautiful day here in the Denver area. It was hot and it's sunny. Is this unusual to see a tornado as a result of spectacularly beautiful warm, sunny weather?

JERAS: Not really, you know there are atmospheric conditions were unstable in that area. We knew some storms are going to be around but you know, I don't think the threat of tornadoes, believe it or not, overall are not all that high today. And we don't even have a watch issued in the area. But there is that strong line of storms, there's more than one storm to the southeast of Denver that's looking for you nasty right now. It looks like they just extended the tornado warning as well.

Let me grab this off my computer here. There's Arapaho County and Eastern Adams County are under the tornado warning as well. So this storm is certainly capable of causing some major destruction. They're still reporting that this is nearly stationary. So that thing is not moving a whole heck of a lot. These are live pictures again. So you can see the situation certainly changing from that violent funnel that we saw maybe seven to 10 minutes ago. But the parent cell, the upper part of the storm, is still rotating very violently. So we could certainly continue to see tornado or a funnel drop out of this cloud. So people need to stay in their homes, on the lowest level, away from doors and windows.

We've got trained spotters who are tracking the storm as we speak. They're telling us the storm is about 20 miles now southeast of Denver. It looks like it's picking up a little bit of forward motion, too, moving eastward at six miles per hour. That's according to some trained weather spotters out there watching this storm as we speak.

COOPER: On tape, when the funnel cloud seems to be touching down on the ground when it was at its most - what are we looking at? Exactly what is going on here? I mean, describe what that - how that funnel cloud is created.

JERAS: Well, it's created by the rotation in the upper levels of the atmosphere and it's in that updraft part of the thunderstorm as we call it. And you can see how it's kind of bowed out, just a little bit, which can happen at times but you know, the thing that you really notice on this storm here as it's touching the ground, you can see all the brown cloud like that around it but doesn't look like the defined funnel. That's the debris cloud as we call it. So even though we're not seeing it in these pictures, damaging those homes in the forefront, we really can't see what's behind there. So I suspect there could possibly be some other homes or certainly trees, maybe power lines behind this area that certainly are getting damaged or obliterated, possibly. We just can't exactly see what's behind there. COOPER: Well what kind - you talked about the slow-moving nature of this storm. What about the actual speeds of the rotation? What kind of speeds can winds get at?

JERAS: Well, you know, well over 200, 300 miles per hour in a tornado. You know, we don't really get the intensity idea until after. Tornadoes are rated by their damage. We look at the damage and then we estimate how strong their winds are. So it's really tough to tell just when you're looking at a picture like that, Anderson.

BLITZER: And Jacqui, a lot of our viewers are watching right now. They're wondering about all of us who are in Denver at the Pepsi Center, getting ready to cover the Democratic National Convention. People have flown in from all over the country. You're saying it doesn't look like this storm or this tornado will is going to be moving toward the city, even though it's only about 20 miles away from Denver?

JERAS: That's correct. The storm is just east of i-25 right now. It is to the south of i-70. So at this time, it's staying clear of the major interstates and highways throughout the area. It's closest to the town of Castle Rock. And it's moving eastward at a pretty slow rate. So it is moving away of Denver. However, that said, we've got some new developments that has been taking place west of town and so we'll continue to watch that very closely. Nothing severe at this time. But if that changes, of course, we'll let you know right away.

BLITZER: Jacqui, John King is here. We're all covering politics. We're covering the convention but he's got the magic map over here as well, John. Show our viewers the area, how close it is to Denver, this area that we're talking about where this tornado has now touched down.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We'll take you in on the map, Wolf, and you'll see some of the counties, some of the area Jacqui was talking about. This, the state of Colorado, right down here. Let me enlarge Colorado and pull it out. You see this circle, I've drawn here. This right here is Denver county. This is obviously where we are. And I'm going to shrink it back down for you for just a second. And just come south, you heard, Jacqui talking about Douglas County, the town of Parker where those picture were originally from is here in Douglas county. And then you heard Jacqui talk about the other counties under watch, Elbert County is here, Arapaho county is here.

And again, I'm going to take the telestrator off. So people are not confused and bring this back out a little bit. Here, roughly is the big area circling right here with this crooked little map right there. That's Denver county. Now, if you pull it back out, you will see again, Denver is where we are at the convention. And it's south of us as Jacqui said. This is where those pictures were, Douglas county. Parker is here, Denver is here. If you just want to do it this way. Denver is up here and Parker is right down here in Douglas County and the other counties that Jacqui just mentioned that are under tornado watch would be in this area here, in south and east of the city of Denver where the convention is tonight as we follow this storm. You see those pictures on your screen and they're quite stunning.

COOPER: Notice people on the ground might have had about this tornado? Jacqui Jeras, I'm wondering if we have any word on, any advance word that the people on the ground might have had, how much time they might have had as a warning? Do we know?

JERAS: Well, this warning was issued, it looks like 5:23 p.m. and we started seeing the pictures at 20 till the hour. So, you know, it looks like they had plenty of advance warning on this one. Although this is kind of a rural area, it's the weekend. So people are probably out and about doing their thing. I'm not sure whether or not there are sirens in this area. That they're going to be able to hear them. Of course, if they have their NOAA weather radio or if they have their TV on, certainly they were alerted about this storm.

BLITZER: As far as the - Jacqui, the amount of time in which the storm, it poses a danger to folks not far away from where we are in Denver, is it - can we assess that right now?

JERAS: Can we assess whether or not this storm is a threat to Denver?

BLITZER: How long? Yes, no not to Denver but to the folks who live outside of Denver where we see these funnel cloud and we see this this horrible weather?

JERAS: Well, right. Well, we'd be worried about the people in the town of Parker right now. This is just to the south of them at this time. So, you know, they certainly need to be seeking shelter as well. You know, we have a slower moving storm, certainly have a little more time to seek shelter and, of course, as you start to see these pictures on national television as well. it's a local affiliate that's helping to cover that for us as well, they certainly know that. You guys are also welcome to take, if you like, to GR-114 in our control room. I just want to take that picture, it will show you our Doppler radar and also help put this in perspective to where this is from the Denver area. And you can see the center of rotation as well and the warnings that have been stacked up here.

Here we're seeing the pictures from just minutes ago, maybe 10, 15 minutes ago from KUSA of that funnel right there on the ground and the debris that's being kicked up. I'm watching our reports coming in here. Out of the Denver area from our storm spotter. They're telling me the latest here is that they're still seeing that tornado on the ground. These are pictures, of course, from earlier today. Do you guys want to go to the live picture? I think I might see the funnel on the bottom there. There we go. There's the live pictures that we're looking at. And there you can see -

COOPER: There's still a funnel cloud on the ground? Is that what you're saying?

JERAS: Boy, it's hard to tell. Well the storm spotter reports that I'm seeing are saying that the tornado is still on the ground. As I look at the pictures right there in the middle your screen, it's tough to tell if that's the light kind of shining through the clouds or if we actually have a funnel. The shot is a little bit far away to actually be able to see some of that debris. But reports that I'm getting here from our spotter is that there's still a tornado on the ground in that area.

COOPER: How common is it for multiple tornados to hit, you know, concurrently?

JERAS: Oh, you know, it happens all the time. In fact, you know, sometimes we'll get reports of 15, 20 tornadoes and it's coming out of the same parent cell. So, you know you have one rotating thunderstorm and each time one drops down and picks back up, you count that as a singular tornado. So we can sit a thing go up and down many, many times as the storm continues to move.

BLITZER: This is a live picture that we're seeing right now. It looks like that funnel cloud is still on the ground, Jacqui. It obviously poses a great danger to the folks who live around there. And you see there are homes in this area. This is not completely, completely rural. And so there is a considerable danger, although the good news for those of us who are here in Denver and thousands of people have gathered here and have come in for the Democratic National Convention -

JERAS: Did you see that lightning flash?

BLITZER: Yes, we just saw that. You see the severe weather just outside of Denver. And it's not looking very good right now.

ANNOUNDER: This is CNN's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention.