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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Iraqi Government Agrees To Timeline Of New Security Measures; Bush Administration Invited Nearly 40 Radio Talk Show Hosts To White House; Hastert Goes Before House Ethics Committee; Growing Outrage Over Illegal Alien Lobby's Use Of Civil Rights Movement's Language; New Evidence That Electronic Voting Machines Will Jeopardize Integrity Of Upcoming Election; NY Times Reporter Ordered To Reveal Sources on Anthrax Piece, "Exotic Loans" Symptomatic of Economy Inimical to Middle Class; Maricopa County Sheriff Enforces English Language Education

Aired October 24, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, top U.S. officials announce what they call a realistic timetable for success in Iraq as insurgents kill four more of our troops. Iraq tonight is on the verge of all-out civil war.
We'll have complete coverage for you.

And two weeks from Election Day, as many as 10 states now face a voting disaster. Many of them because of persistent unresolved problems with e-voting machines.

That special report tonight.

All of that and a great deal more straight ahead here.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Tuesday, October 24th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

The two most senior American officials in Iraq today tried to dispel rising skepticism that the United States has an effective strategy to win the war. At a rare join news conference, General George Casey and Ambassador Khalilzad said the Iraqi government has agreed to a timeline of new security measures. But there are major doubts about the Iraqi government's ability to meet these no so-called benchmarks.

And the violence continues to rise. Insurgents killing four more of our troops, three in Al Anbar Province, one in Baghdad.

Barbara Starr tonight reports from the Pentagon on our military's increasingly difficult struggle to contain the worsening violence.

Michael Ware reports from Baghdad on whether these so-called new security measures have any chance of success.

Suzanne Malveaux tonight reporting from the White House on the president's latest effort to sell his agenda to skeptical voters.

We turn first to Barbara Starr -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, today there were actually two press conferences by top generals, one early today in Baghdad and one concluded here in the Pentagon just a little while ago. Top generals trying to explain the war yet again two weeks before the election.


STARR (voice-over): At a Baghdad news conference designed to assure everyone that progress is being made to get Iraqi forces to take charge, there was a new timeline.

GEN. GEORGE CASEY, U.S. COMMANDER IN IRAQ: And it's going to take about 12 to 18 months or so until I believe the Iraqi security forces are completely capable of taking over responsibility for their own security.

STARR: Casey's previous timeline for bringing at least some U.S. troops home long ago fell victim to increased attacks.

CASEY: Yes, I said a year or so ago that if the conditions on the ground continued the way they were going, that I thought we'd have fairly substantial reductions in coalition forces.

STARR: Instead, thousands of additional U.S. troops in Baghdad are trying to stem the tide of sectarian violence.

The U.S. is now laying out goals for Iraq that could lead to more security and less need for U.S. troops, such as tackling militias, reconciling with the Sunni insurgency, constitutional reforms, and distribution of oil wealth. But the key challenge remains unchallenged, getting Iraqis to crack down on the militias and death squads.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad acknowledged the U.S. has no direct contact yet with al Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi army, perhaps the strongest of all militias. So for now, it's all political carrots to the militias and no stick yet from Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD, U.S. AMB. TO IRAQ: He believes in an integrated approach. Political, yes. That's the best approach, if you can convince those that control militias to cooperate with the decommissioning, demobilization and reintegration plan.

STARR: At the Pentagon, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs says the majority of Americans no longer support the war because there is no longer 24/7 coverage by the news media.

GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: So the time that's allocated ends up being allocated to the things that go bang, not the schools that are being built, not the girls that are going to go to school, not the highways that are being built, not the crops that are being grown, not the agreements that are being made politically, but the bombs that have been going off is what's being shown.


STARR: And Lou, General Casey, back in Baghdad, left the door open to asking for more troops. Maybe U.S. troops, maybe Iraqi troops, but getting Iraqi troops to show up still remains, of course, a major challenge -- Lou.

DOBBS: The general, General Pace, left out one important element of our reporting, and that is the number of Americans killed and wounded in this conflict.

Did he address that at any other point?

STARR: Well, he certainly has addressed that over time.

DOBBS: No, I mean today, Barbara.

STARR: It was -- I think it's something that he addresses quite regularly. I have to say, the news media didn't particularly ask him about that.

DOBBS: And the militias, demobilization, integration, does that include disarmament of the militias now that we're three and a half years into this conflict?

STARR: Lou, that is the key question, because they are talking about reconciliation, they're talking about political progress, but the question is, will the militias continue to operate just because somebody tells them to disband? Highly likely they will continue to operate.

The key question now is whether Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will crack down -- that is the word -- make them disband and make them disappear off the streets. It's going to be tough business. Nobody's quite sure how to make that all happen.

DOBBS: One would think that some measure of understanding about how to accomplish goals that would be necessary to victory would be part of the knowledge base of the Pentagon generals.

Barbara, thank you very much.

Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

The Iraqi government today insisted that it has a very clear strategy to build a democracy in Iraq. However, the Iraqi government is weak. The government depends on groups opposed to U.S. interest for its very survival.

Michael Ware reports from Baghdad on whether the so-called new security benchmarks have any chance of success -- Michael.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, at the end of the day, after sifting through the statements of Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey, what nuggets are we really left with? There's not a great deal.

While on the one hand, this was a statement jointly made by the two most powerful U.S. representatives in this country, reassuring mainly an American domestic audience, but also an Iraqi audience that the U.S. mission here is not only salvageable but can still succeed, and then mapping out this series of benchmarks that should lead to success. On the other hand, in many ways, this is the U.S. just treading water.

I mean, these benchmarks were outlined. We've more or less heard all of them before. Some as -- you know, for over a year, and there's been no development on them so far. The issues of militia, the issues of Iran, the issues of reaching out to the Sunni insurgency, and that's what Khalilzad, for example, has been talking and talking about, rolling back de-Ba'athification, since last year.

Perhaps as a sign, the lights went out in the middle of this press conference, leaving the ambassador and the general in the dark. Let's hope that that won't be the same for the mission -- Lou.

DOBBS: Michael Ware reporting.

The number of Americans killed in Iraq so far this month has risen to 91, the highest monthly total of this entire year and one of the highest monthly totals of the entire war. 2,804 of our troops killed since the beginning, 21,266 of our troops have now been wounded. Of those, 9,603 seriously wounded.

American troops in Iraq are searching for a missing soldier who's believed to have been kidnapped in Baghdad 24 hours ago. Troops have been conducting house-to-house searches trying to find their comrade. The missing soldier is an Iraqi-American who worked as a translator. Officials say he was abducted when he visited a relative without his commander's permission.

Opposition to the Bush administration's conduct of this war is rising within the president's own party. Today, the Bush administration invited nearly 40 radio talk show hosts to the White House to hear the administration's point of view on Iraq and other issues.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a transparent attempt by the White House to rally its Republican base two weeks before the midterm elections.

MARTHA ZOLLER, WDUN GAINESVILLE, GEORGIA: You know somebody important is coming in when the Secret Service are at the doorway and the media is running...

MALVEAUX: A tent was pitched for more than three dozen radio hosts, overwhelmingly conservative, invited to gab with the administration's top guns. NEAL BOORTZ, "THE NEAL BOORTZ SHOW": Republicans in the Senate were perfectly willing to institute an amnesty program.

MALVEAUX: For Neal Boortz of WSB out of Atlanta, it was a chance to mouth off about a flight to the homeland security secretary.

BOORTZ: And wow, what a deal. Just yesterday at Hartsfield, Mr. Secretary, they swiped my deodorant because it was a 3.5 ounce stick.

MALVEAUX: There was a whiff of desperation several talk show hosts described of a White House eager to sell its agenda.

TOM KEENE, BLOOMBERG RADIO: There's an urgency in the city. There's an urgency in the city, and you can just feel it in that tent over by the north portico. They're focused.

MARK DAVIS, "THE MARK DAVIS SHOW": These are guys who know that the political waters are tough, they know the war is not particularly popular, they know the president is not particularly popular. But they are on a mission. They have to stay on message. They know what they've got to do.

MALVEAUX: What they're doing is driving home one message.

White House counselor Dan Bartlett with Boortz.

DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: If Democrats take control of this Congress, it is not going to be in the best interest of the American people.

MALVEAUX: The toughest questions from the hosts and listeners alike were on Iraq. The president's national security adviser tussled with NPR.

STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: There has been enormous progress. There's real profit (ph). There's real politics there, leaders who actually have a (INAUDIBLE) various groups in Iraq, but it's taken a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But in addition to the real politics, there's also real violence taking place, real sectarian violence.

HADLEY: And those are related.

MALVEAUX: Millions of Republicans tune in to talk radio. Their hosts playing a critical role in selling the White House's agenda. But some have been frustrated with the Bush administration over issues like Iraq, immigration and big spending.

The White House is desperately trying to woo them, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And as soon as they tasted the nectar of power in Washington, D.C., all of that just went out the window. And quite frankly, as dangerous as it may be, I'm just kind of fed up with it at this point.


MALVEAUX: And Lou, President Bush also getting into the act today, traveling to Florida, granting a couple of radio interviews to network -- mainstream networks, as well as one that serves a predominantly African-American audience. But the bottom line here is the focus certainly is on the Republican base -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

Suzanne Malveaux, from the White House.

On Capitol Hill, the investigation into the Mark Foley scandal continues. House Speaker Dennis Hastert went before the House Ethics Committee, there to answer questions about a possible cover-up by the Republican leadership.

Andrea Koppel reports from Capitol Hill -- Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, ever since the scandal broke, Hastert has insisted over and over again that the first he learned of Foley's inappropriate e-mails exchanged with underage pages, teenage pages, was late last month. And he said he would fire any staff members who were found to have covered anything up.

But two top Republican -- two top Republican leaders, Majority Leader John Boehner and Congressman Tom Reynolds, who testified before the committee earlier today, contradicted that story and said they told Hastert about the matter months earlier back in the spring of this year. It's just that kind of inconsistency that the House Ethics Committee is investigating.

After questioned for two and a half hours, Hastert emerged from behind the House Ethics Committee doors and said he had urged the committee to get to the bottom of the matter as quickly as possible.


REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), HOUSE SPEAKER: I answered all the questions they asked to the best of my ability. I also said that they needed to move quickly to get to the bottom of this issue, including who knew about the sexually explicit messages and when they knew about it. So they needed to make sure that they asked all the questions of everybody.

Thank you very much.


KOPPEL: Now, Hastert's testimony and that of Tom Reynolds, and also the testimony that's taking place right now behind closed doors that you see right there with one of Hastert's top aides, could signal now, Lou, that the investigative part, at least the questioning part of this, is wrapping up. And as you know, we are now two weeks to the day from Election Day. The question is whether or not the committee will want to release a report between now and November 7th -- Lou. DOBBS: Thank you very much.

Andrea Koppel, from Capitol Hill.

Still ahead, rising fears of disaster come Election Day. New warnings about the threat to democracy from e-voting.

And more and more middle class Americans using their homes as ATMs because they can't pay for basic living expenses.

We'll have that story.

And outrage over the illegal alien lobby's efforts to hijack the civil rights language and its rhetoric, trying to promote its amnesty agenda.

We'll have all of that and a great deal more straight ahead.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Growing outrage tonight over the illegal alien open borders lobby's use of the civil rights movements language and its legacy. The illegal alien lobby is co-opting the legacies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, incredibly comparing the civil disobedience of those Americans to the millions of illegal aliens who are breaking American law and living in this country illegally.

Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. now emblazoned on a banner reading, "We also have a dream." Holed up in a Methodist church, defying a deportation order, an illegal alien who compares herself with Rosa Parks.

Illegal aliens and their supporters increasingly invoking American's civil rights movement.

FRANK MORRIS, CHOOSE BLACK AMERICA: The inappropriate comparisons of the movements of illegal aliens with the civil rights movement really denigrates the civil rights movement.

ROMANS: Morris says it's offensive, especially since illegal immigration threatens any hard-won civil rights gains.

MORRIS: Those who originally hoped to benefit by the civil rights movement, especially African-American men and women, are in grave danger of once again slipping -- many slipping further behind.

ROMANS: This weekend outside this Methodist church in Chicago, charges that the legacy and symbols of the struggle of black Americans to achieve equal treatment under the law are under attack. Ted Hayes is an activist for the homeless.

TED HAYES, ACTIVIST FOR THE HOMELESS: It's just down right disrespectful what's going on.

ROMANS: He calls it disrespectful, but civil rights is not the only movement co-opted by the open borders lobby.


ROMANS: "Yes, we can!" the rallying cry of Cesar Chavez. Yet Chavez famously opposed illegal immigration because he knew it meant a downward spiral of wages and working standards.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Chicago, an awareness that there's much for all workers to lose and for the elites to gain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But should black or brown be fighting each other over slave wages?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should be fighting the people who are slaving (ph) them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So who are those people? Why are we hear fighting each other, brother?


ROMANS: It's one reason it's been so sticky for Democrats. They dream of a black-Hispanic political alliance. At the same time, many leaders have been careful not to offend anyone in the immigration debate, while ignoring some very troubling realities about race and exploitation in this country -- Lou.

DOBBS: And it shows you the level of contrivance here on the part of the illegal alien lobby, the open borders lobby manufacturing slogans that are -- that obviously are resonant with the civil rights issues and the civil rights movement in this country. The idea, first of all, that the Mexican government is hiring Rob Allen (ph) and his P.R. firm, the same folks boosting the Bush administration, the use of American culture and its history, pretty well strategized, I think, by the folks working on open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens.

Christine, thank you. An interesting report.

Christine Romans.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. The question is: Are you offended that illegal alien amnesty advocates compare their agenda to that of the civil rights movement?

Cast your vote at We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

Up next, there's new evidence tonight that electronic voting machines will jeopardize the integrity, at least in some states, of the upcoming election. We'll have that special report.

And Americans tonight who have all of their cash tied up in their homes losing ground in the war against our middle class. We'll have that.

And the Democrats fighting more than the Republicans this fall. They're also fighting a common perception of what the party stands for. We'll have a special report on the Democratic Party's identity crisis.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: More evidence tonight electronic voting machines threatening the integrity of our upcoming elections. Many states are simply unprepared to deal with e-voting machines, and new procedures and lack of properly trained staff may likely create confusion and chaos at the polls.

Kitty Pilgrim has the report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten states are on election watch for potential trouble with voting for various reasons.

DOUG CHAPIN, DIRECTOR, ELECTIONLINE.ORG: Where will the next election controversy be? And you can't predict that. But what you can do is identify places where there's the potential for the two major ingredients to come together. One, a close election, and, two, some kind of problem that puts the result in doubt.

PILGRIM: Electronic voting has turned into a giant problem across the country.

JOAN KRAWITZ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VOTETRUSTUSA: In this election there are tight races all over the country. One of the biggest problems that we'll face is that so many counties, so many states have new and virtually untested equipment that has been rushed into place this year.

PILGRIM: One third of all voters will cast ballots on systems that have never been used in general elections. Poll workers find the new technology baffling and sometimes inoperative.

In Colorado, for example, the August primary generated problems. A lawsuit challenged the use of electronic machines, but the court ruled the same models would be used anyway. The report questions, "Will voters be confident in machines that need to be re-certified after the election?"

Connecticut, with the high-profile race of Senator Joe Lieberman running as an Independent against Ned Lamont, the report finds, "Will high turnout for the Senate election, coupled with new voting technology, lead to problems at the polls?" The Florida September primary had massive problems with the touch-screen system.

In Indiana, voting machine company ES&S had to pay the state $750,000 to compensate for mistakes, including late delivery of equipment and problems with tabulating votes.

Ohio is under scrutiny because an independent report questioned if the Diebold voting machines could be ready for on onslaught of general election voters, also putting it on election watch.


PILGRIM: With so little time before the election, some states are suggesting voters use absentee ballots. And another suggestion is to check in advance that your registration is still listed. There have been massive problems with the new electronic poll books, and people have found when they go to vote, their voter registration is not there -- Lou.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you.

Kitty Pilgrim.

An election watchdog group claims it's discovered a serious flaw in Chicago's online voter registration database. According to the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, the personal information of Chicago's 1.5 million voters was ready accessible. The group said hackers could easily meddle with the registration status of voters. That didn't happen, however, and the site was fixed immediately.

The Chicago Election Board has hired an outside consultant to double-check its efforts.

Time now to look at some of your thoughts.

Charles in Connecticut, "Regarding the border patrol injustice, this is clearly a case of the inmates taking over the asylum. Sadly, there was more justice in the old days of Dodge City."

Dan in Ontario, "Illegal aliens, immunity to drug smugglers, war on the middle class -- I'll tell you guys, this is one Canadian who loves America, but I have to ask, what the hell is going on down there?"

And Stan in Tennessee wrote in to say, "Lou, we know that our government is not working when we have to donate money for our disabled vets, border patrol agents, Minuteman projects, Katrina victims, body armor for our troops, local police benefits, et cetera. Don't we pay taxes to allow our government to do the right thing? I give up!"

Send us your thoughts to More of your thoughts are coming up here later.

Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "War on the Middle Class".

And tonight I want to recommend a new book to you, "The Joke's Over: Memories of Hunter S. Thompson," by Ralph Steadman. Steadman (INAUDIBLE) the creation of gonzo journalism, and he's written a book chronicling what was a unique relationship, sometimes a friendship, as the two covered the civil rights movement, the Nixon administration, Watergate, and much more.

Kurt Vonnegut likes Ralph Steadman. That's all you or I really need to know about it.

Coming up next, our middle class under siege like never before. Many working families are now using their homes as cash machines simply trying to pay for their basic living expenses.

That special report, and the Democratic Party struggling to shake off its image as a bastion of liberals ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. We'll have that story on an identity crisis.

And a sheriff on the front lines of illegal immigration and border security crisis wants his prisoners in his jail to speak English and English only. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, among our guests here tonight.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The "New York Times" reporter who linked Stephen Hatfill to the anthrax scare following by 9/11 has been ordered by a judge to reveal his sources. Columnist Nicholas Kristof named Hatfill, a former government scientist, as a person of interest in the case.

Hatfill denies any connection to the anthrax mailings. He has sued the "New York Times" for libel. His attorneys say he needs the names of those sources to pursue the lawsuit. The "New York Times" plans to appeal today's rulings.

The Bush administration issued new rules to allow segregation on the basis of sex in public schools. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings says some boys and girls learn better when they're separated. Research shows this may be particularly true in classes such as mathematics and foreign language. Critics, however, say this is a violation of the landmark Title 9 anti-discrimination law. That rule goes into effect next month.

Comfort for parents on another front tonight. A new study indicates flu shots are safe for toddlers after all. Doctors monitored 45,000 children who received vaccinations between the ages of six months and 23 months. Researchers found very few problems among the toddlers, not one of them serious. Parents are urged to get their youngsters immunized as they're particularly vulnerable to complications from the flu.

Sony has announced a new record recall of batteries that power its laptop computers. The massive recall involves almost ten million batteries worldwide, 340,000 of them in this country. Sony says in rare cases, the batteries could overheat and catch fire. Laptop brands using the batteries include Fujitsu, Gateway, Sony, and Toshiba. Sony says it will replace those batteries free of charge.

A new example tonight of a worsening war on our middle class. More and more people are taking equity out of their homes simply to pay for basic living expenses. As a result, Americans own less of their homes than ever before.

Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Americans have been using their home as an ATM, cashing out more than $500 billion in home equity from 2001 to 2005 to cover expenses like health costs, student debt, repairs and credit cards. That's left many middle class homeowners house poor.

In 1973, the average homeowner's equity was 68 percent. That's dropped to 55 percent today. One reason is the explosion of so-called "exotic loans" that require little or no money down.

TAMARA DRAUT, DEMOS: Interest-only loans, adjustable rate loans, no down payment options. What we know is that a lot of new homeowners are much more vulnerable than they would have been prior to the housing boom.

SYLVESTER: Interest rates have climbed. Middle class families with first and second mortgages with adjustable rates are finding that they take a bigger chunk of their paycheck.

ANN ESTES, CLEARPOINT FINANCIAL SOLUTIONS: We're seeing more clients every day that very sadly, they've gotten into a debt hole that is very difficult to dig out of.

SYLVESTER: Those adjustable rate mortgages are now coming due.

BRUCE GOTTSCHALL, NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSING SVCS. OF CHICAGO: We anticipate there's going to be more and more people, the adjusting arms are getting greater and greater. We've heard that over the next 18 months or so, up to a trillion dollars of arms will be resetting.

SYLVESTER: New Census Bureau figures show that home owners across the country are spending about half of their salaries on home expenses.


(on camera): And these exotic loans, like interest only loans, have exploded in the last three years. In 2000, they made up only about 2 percent of all loans. In 2006, they made up about a third of those homeowner loans -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester reporting from Washington. Well, middle class Americans may be suffering, but they're not rushing to support the Democratic party, apparently. Name association may be the biggest problem the Democratic faces in its efforts to take over Congress and the Senate come election day.

Candy Crowley joins us now from Washington, D.C. -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, just what is a Democratic? It is one of the problems, that identity crisis that has been plaguing Democrats. So that giddiness bubbling up from Democrats these days is laced with fear the party might, as one Democrat put it, embrace its inner defeatist.

We set out to look at the party's legacy of loss through the prism of a North Carolina race between an eight-term Republican Congressman and a neophyte politician, Democrat Heath Schuler.


CROWLEY: Are you a Nancy Pelosi Democrat?

HEATH SCHULER (D-NC), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: You know, I don't like to classify.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Washington liberal does not play well in North Carolina conservative. It is part of why over the past three decades southern and rural, mostly white Democrats have looked inside the national Democratic party and gone elsewhere.

BRUCE REED, DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Our biggest problem is that of late we've been losing elections.

CROWLEY: What is wrong with these people? From Virginia to Montana to Georgia, crack open a Democrat and they'll tell you it's the wussie factor.

MAX CLELAND (D), FMR. U.S. SENATOR: You've got to lance that bubble. I mean, you know, it's been a narrative for the Republicans for decades now, kind of an underlying narrative against the Democrats, that they're soft on communism and now it's soft on terrorism.

CROWLEY: It's the culture.

DAVID "MUDCAT" SAUNDERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The culture is the reason the Democrats have been losing elections. It has nothing to do with policy. It has to do with culture.

CROWLEY: It's the guns.

GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: People ask me how many guns I have. I tell them, none of your damn business, and I tell them, not as many as I'd like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This used to be an awful problem (INAUDIBLE) Democrats right here. SCHULER: I think it still is. I think it still is.

CROWLEY: If his journey is to end in Washington, Heath Shuler needs 11th District Democrats to come home.

SCHULER: Well, that's why we have to do a good job of being in the district, a place where they can talk, and they can spread the word and say, you know, he's not like some of the national Democrats, you know, he's one of us.


CROWLEY (on camera): Democrats insist they've learned from their history, but they also know this race is not about their getting it together, but about Republicans falling apart.

Look no further than our new poll, Lou, which asked Democrats -- which asked Americans whether Democrats have a plan for solving the country's problem. Fifty-eight percent of Americans said no -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, with only two principal parties, we're in a world of hurt, aren't we, Candy?

CROWLEY: I mean, the only good news for Democrats is Republicans did worse on that question.

DOBBS: Exactly right.

Candy, thank you very much. Candy Crowley.

Please join Candy here tonight for our "CNN America Votes 2006 Special", Candy's special report, "Two Left Feet" airs tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time here on CNN, part of our "Broken Government" series that's being broadcast throughout the week on CNN. Tomorrow night, I'll be reporting from San Antonio, Texas, a city certainly on the frontlines of our border security and illegal immigration crisis. Join us for that live town hall meeting, coming to you from San Antonio.

The upcoming election will be the most expensive midterm election in our history. The estimated price tag, $2.6 billion. Business interests will contribute three fourths of all of that money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Actor Michael J. Fox, who's battling Parkinson's Disease, is now under fire for making another campaign ad, this ad supporting Maryland's Senate candidate, Democratic Ben Cardin. The ad, in which Fox is seen visibly shaking, advocates the benefits of stem cell research. Radio talk show hosts are criticizing Fox for politicizing the disease.

And Hillary Clinton's Republican challenger, John Spencer, told a New York newspaper that Clinton is unattractive, or at least she was as a young woman, and had spent millions on surgery to make her pretty. Spencer denied making those remarks. Senator Clinton said she thought her high school picture was cute. And Vice President Dick Cheney says he thinks Hillary Clinton could win the presidency. Speaking on a conservative radio talk show host, Cheney said she would be a formidable candidate, even though he disagrees with her on almost every issue.

Ohio's new voter identification law is under fire tonight. That law requires voters to produce a voter I.D. to prevent voter fraud. Labor and poverty groups have filed suit in an effort to block the law, saying inconsistencies and enforcement of the law make it unconstitutional.

Coming up here next, college costs soaring. Tuition aid is up as well, just not enough. When it comes to paying for quality education in this country, many of our students are losing ground in the war on the middle class. We'll hear from the author of a major new study on college funding, student aid and need.

If you go to jail in Arizona's Maricopa County and don't speak English, get ready for a new experience. You'll taking two weeks of mandatory English instruction, and there is a test. We'll be talking with Sheriff Joe Arpaio here next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: He calls himself the toughest sheriff in the country. And I have to tell you, I've never heard anyone argue with him about that. He lives on the front line of our battle against illegal immigration.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio doesn't coddle his inmates. He's had prisoners living outdoors in tents, he's banned coffee, cigarettes and most television programs. And they dress rather interestingly there in his jail. The Maricopa County sheriff wants to make certain his inmates know how to speak English. And if they don't, he'll help them out.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio joins us tonight from Phoenix, Arizona. Sheriff, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: It's good to see you. The idea that 26 students yesterday started English classes at your jail in Arizona, how did that come about?

ARPAIO: Well, we have 3,000 in jail, not all from Mexico, the majority. And 1,000 out of the 3,000 are illegals. And that's out of a 10,000 population. So we're locking up under the new law, we're the only ones enforcing that law. Put 360 in jail already.

They don't speak English. So now they are listening to God Bless America and the national anthem. I started that July 4th. Now they should learn the lyrics, they sing it before the class. And they volunteer. I'm not telling them to forget their own language, but they're on the United States of America. And they are going to learn English.

DOBBS: So it's sort of a self-help program in your view?

ARPAIO: That's right, because now they can communicate with our officers if they have some health problems. When they go to court, they'll know how to say judge in English. So it's helping them and it's also helping our officers.

DOBBS: Are the classes mandatory for English?

ARPAIO: They don't have to be mandatory. I have a lot of volunteers waiting in line. But when that dries up, they can sit in the classroom and listen to God Bless America and they'll still listen to the class whether they pass the test or not.

DOBBS: Sheriff, the funding for this, this has got to be expensive, I would think. Where does the money come from?

ARPAIO: It comes from the inmates. They're paying for it when they make a phone call, we get some money back. That's in our inmate funds for education. So this is freebie, no money to the taxpayers.

DOBBS: And where in the world is the ACLU? I can't imagine that you haven't gotten a phone call.

ARPAIO: I wish they would. My polls go up every time they zap me, so I don't know where they're at. They'll be there.

DOBBS: I would think. Thursday the president is going to sign the border fence bill. Do you believe this will help stem the tide of illegal immigration, at least where it is actually constructed?

ARPAIO: I hope so. I don't know if they will be selling more ladders and shovels. But I think -- you know how to solve the problem? Lock them up as they come across. It's a federal violation. Why don't they put them in jail right away as they come across the border, very simple.

DOBBS: You have extensive experience, you're highly respected throughout the country in law enforcement. Maybe you can give us all some insight. Why in the world is the federal government not enforcing the law at our border for the purpose of border security, not enforcing immigration law at our border, not enforcing immigration law in the interior of the country?

ARPAIO: Well, the border patrol is trying to do a good job. You have to prosecute these people. I'm tired they keep saying, we have no room. They're going to spend $3 billion on a fence. Can't they put up some tents and put them in tents for six months under the federal why? I don't know why they're not doing. They should have started this 20 years and now it's a big political issue as of now.

DOBBS: Sheriff Joe Arpaio, we thank you for being here and for leading the way in showing some folks how to innovate and be effective in law enforcement. We thank you.

ARPAIO: Thank you.

DOBBS: Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Join us tomorrow evening on 7 p.m. Eastern for another of our series of special reports, America Votes 2006, "Broken Borders." We'll be holding a live town hall meeting in the city of San Antonio, Texas where we'll hear the concerns of American citizens. We'll hear from the advocates and the opponents of illegal immigration and open borders. We'll try to get to some answers. Tomorrow night at seven Eastern following our regular broadcast.

Up shortly here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.

Fourteen days before the election, we're covering all sides including one of the hottest races in the country. That would be in Tennessee. Harold Ford Jr. versus Bob Corker, it's turned into a very nasty campaign. They're both standing by to be in the "THE SITUATION ROOM" in the next hour.

Also, stem cell politics. Michael J. Fox in an emotional appeal to voters. And hack the vote. Find out if it's possible to rig an election. We have the Princeton video and a hard look at electronic voting machines. And ugly politics in New York. Did Hillary Clinton's opponent put his foot in his mouth over her looks? Jeanne Moos is on the story. Lou, all that coming up in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf, looking forward to it.

And a reminder to vote in our poll tonight. Are you offended that illegal alien amnesty advocates compare their agenda to that of the civil rights movement? Cast your votes at Those results coming up here in just a few moments.

Up next, middle class Americans facing skyrocketing tuition fees in our public colleges and many simply can't afford those fees. The author of an explosive new report on the cost of a college education in this country will be our guest here next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The College Board's report on the cost of college came out today. It paints a bleak picture for middle class Americans who are struggling to pay higher tuition fees for their children. The average price for tuition and fees at public colleges has skyrocketed, up 35 percent over the past five years, much faster than the rate of inflation.

And for the first time in six years, total funding for federal Pell Grants, lower than the preceding year, down nearly $1 billion. And over the last academy year, those Pell Grants represented 26 percent of all grants going to college students. Joining me now, professor of economics at Skidmore College, Sandy Baum. She's a senior policy analyst, as well, at the College Board, one of the authors of the report.

Sandy, good to have you here.


DOBBS: Your report shows total student aid did increase by almost four percent last year, but the increase didn't keep up with inflation. What in the world is going on in our publicly funded universities?

BAUM: Well, actually, total student aid did keep up with inflation, but federal grant aid did not. And there are two issues here. One is what is happening to the student aid with which students pay the price of college, and the other what's happening to tuition at our public colleges and universities.

DOBBS: OK, why don't we slow down, Sandy. You said it didn't -- inflation running about four-and-a-half percent, aid increased by 3.7. So that doesn't sound to me like it kept up.

BAUM: No, actually, it's 3.7 after inflation.

DOBBS: Oh, OK. Thank you. I wanted to make sure I understood that.

BAUM: OK, that's right. That's right.

DOBBS: And what is -- and in terms of the rising prices, in some state universities in this country, we're watching 35 and 40 percent increases in one year alone. For example, in Ohio, those tuition rates have been skyrocketing.

What is happening to middle class Americans? We're watching Pell Grants actually decline. What are the prospects for middle class families and, of course, importantly, their children, the students who are going to be saddled with heavy loans as well?

BAUM: Well, what's really important about this issue is that we hope that everyone would have a chance to enter the middle class and remain in the middle class. And a college education is really necessary for that.

Over the past few years, public college tuitions have been rising incredibly rapidly, and that has a lot to do with state appropriations, that state governments have not been generous enough to institutions, and they've turned to tuition and fees.

The real problem, however, is that the people in the bottom half of the income distribution are much less likely to go to college. It's really low and moderate income people for whom finances are an insurmountable barrier for going to college. DOBBS: An insurmountable barrier. But I thought the reason for a state university was to make a quality higher education available to a state's residents.

BAUM: That's absolutely true. And I think that there are big public policy issues. One of them is that public colleges and universities are giving more and more of their grant aid to students from affluent families who could actually afford to enroll without those grants.

But it's very important to understand that the taxpayers are paying for those institutions, and you have to make sure that it's not the taxpayers who don't even go to college themselves who are paying for the higher educations of affluent Americans. So middle Americans are sometimes caught in the middle. But, again, it's really lower income students who are having the biggest problems.

DOBBS: It may be the lower income, but the vast number of students are middle class students in this country.

BAUM: That's absolutely right.

DOBBS: And they're walking out of colleges, Sandy, saddled with $70,000, $80,000 in student loans from state universities, for crying out loud.

BAUM: Well, a student with $70,000 or $80,000 of debt is certainly in trouble. The average student who borrows for a Bachelor's degree graduates with about a $20,000 in debt. And that $20,000 in debt is a good investment and is pretty management if the students get a good job when they graduate. But borrowing anything like over $50,000 for undergraduate school, that is a big problem.

DOBBS: So what should we be doing? I mean, you know, we talk about the problems of the middle class. We know that students are being saddled with debt. It's the only way many -- either their parents make enough money that they're not qualified for other aid and then have to turn to loans. I mean, what in the world are we doing and what should we be doing for those parents and for those students?

BAUM: What we should be doing is we should be funding institutions adequately. We should be giving students very good information about financial aid. We should make sure that when they do borrow, they borrow on good terms so that they're not paying exorbitant interest rates.

DOBBS: And I didn't hear you once say that one of those colleges should to be holding costs down.

BAUM: Oh, absolutely colleges and universities should be holding costs down. That's clearly very important. But student aid is really critical.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Again, I'm going to end it by just adding one more time, the management of those state universities is atrocious and costs are out of control. And it's not fair to our middle class students and those who aspire to the middle class to be saddled with that kind of mismanagement and that kind of financial burden.

Thank you very much, Sandy. It's an important report. We thank you.

BAUM: Thank you.

DOBBS: The results of tonight's poll, more of your thoughts coming up next.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight, 96 percent of you are offended that illegal alien amnesty advocates are comparing their agenda to the civil rights movement. Time now for more of your thoughts.

Sharon in Pennsylvania: "What country am I living in where the criminal gets immunity and can sue the government for $5 million, and the Border Patrol officers protecting our country from such criminals get prison sentences? This can't be the country that I grew up in, can it? Protecting our southern border now has become a bad joke played on the American public."

Susanne in New Jersey: "Lou, maybe the sentencing of the two Border Patrol agents can be used as a recruiting slogan. Come protect your country's borders and get 10 years in jail. It would be hard to list the five most ridiculous things that have happened during the Bush administration, but this would have to be one of them."

Thomas in Texas: "My youngest son is about to complete a second tour in Iraq with the 4th I.D. out of Fort Hood. He has been fighting for America. My question: What is America today? The countries our factories have moved to, the countries where American jobs are outsourced to, the illegal immigrants taking jobs and holding down wages for jobs some of these troops might need when returning home? Or is it the Spanish gentlemen who recently brought up a string of banks in Texas? Just what are our soldiers fighting for? Is it the big corporations that are starving out the middle class? I wish someone would define the America he has sweated and fought to maintain."

Mike in Oregon: "Lou, what happened to just being an American citizen rather than being a Republican or a Democrat?"

Send us your thoughts at We love to hear from you. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "War on the Middle Class."

We thank you for being with us tonight, and ask you to join us tomorrow for our special report and town hall meeting, America Votes 2006, "BROKEN BORDERS." We'll be coming to you from San Antonio, Texas, a city on the frontlines of our border security and illegal immigration crisis. That town hall meeting special report 7:00 Eastern tomorrow night, here on CNN, right after our regular broadcast. Please join us.

For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.