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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Nationwide Crackdown on Criminal Illegal Aliens?; Hurricane Dean Hits Mexico Again

Aired August 22, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: yet another recall of dangerous imports from communist China. Once again, those products violate our ban on lead paint and threatened our children.
Also, will the brutal schoolyard murders in Newark, New Jersey, lead to a nationwide crackdown on criminal illegal aliens? New Jersey took action that could set an example for the entire nation.

And the death toll from the deadly floods in the upper Midwest and Plains continues to rise. Some areas are reporting the worst flooding in almost a century.

And three of this country's best political analysts will be here to discuss President Bush's speech today comparing the wars in Iraq and Vietnam.

All that, all the day's news and much more straight ahead tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Wednesday, August 22.

Live from New York, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Lisa Sylvester.

SYLVESTER: Good evening, everybody.

President Bush today invoked the aftermath of the Vietnam War to defend his conduct Of the war in Iraq. The president warned that a hasty withdrawal from Iraq could lead to a repeat of the killing fields in Indochina. During his speech, the president also clarified apparently critical remarks he made about Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki yesterday.

President Bush today declared he supports al-Maliki and called him a good guy.

White House correspondent Ed Henry reports.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lisa, with critics charging that there's no hope for victory in Iraq, the president tried to use historical comparison to make the case that experts can be wrong. But he got sidetracked a bit by a new controversy.

(voice over): Damage control from the commander in chief one day after expressing frustration with Iraq's prime minister.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Prime Minister Maliki is a good guy, a good man with a difficult job. And I support him.

HENRY: The clarification came after Maliki lashed out at what he called petty politics from the American administration. And President Bush is clearly sensitive to criticism over U.S. interference in the Iraqi government, which could undermine his claim the war has brought freedom to that nation.

BUSH: And it's not up to the politicians in Washington, D. C. , to say whether he will remain in his position. That is up to the Iraqi people, who now live in a democracy and not a dictatorship.

HENRY: The Maliki controversy took the president off message from his effort to tout early success from the surge in advance of a crucial September progress report.

BUSH: And as they take the initiative from the enemy, they have a question. Will their elected leaders in Washington pull the rug out from under them just as they're gaining momentum and changing the dynamic on the ground in Iraq?

HENRY: Before the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, the president argued the nation now needs the same perseverance that won World War II and the Korean War.

BUSH: The shadow of terror will never be lifted from our world and the American people. We will never be safe until the people of the Middle East know the freedom that our creator meant for all.

HENRY: After previously running from comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq, the president tried to draw an analogy, claiming a quick pullout from Baghdad could bring a familiar slaughter.

BUSH: One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like boat people, reeducation camps, and killing fields.

HENRY (on camera): Democrat John Kerry said the real lesson from Vietnam is that the U.S. needs a new strategy, not just new rhetoric. But Mr. Bush gets a chance to frame the debate again next Tuesday when he addresses the American Legion.

Ed Henry, CNN, Kansas City, Missouri.


SYLVESTER: Many other Democrats joined Senator Kerry in criticizing President Bush's speech. Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid said the president ignored key differences between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Senator Hillary Clinton, a presidential candidate, became the latest Democrat to call for the resignation of the Iraqi prime minister.

Jessica Yellin reports.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a familiar message from President Bush.

BUSH: Our troops are seeing the progress that is being made on the ground.

YELLIN: Democrats are pouncing on those words. While they acknowledge the surge has had some military success, they insist the president is missing or avoiding the larger point.

Says Senator Hillary Clinton, The surge was designed to give the Iraqi government time to take steps to ensure a political solution to the situation. It has failed to do so.

Senator Ted Kennedy agrees, "Political reconciliation continues to elude Iraq's leaders."

And Majority Leader Harry Reid adds, "It's time to change direction in Iraq and Congress will again work to do so in the fall."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we pull out now, everything I have given in sacrifice will mean nothing.

YELLIN: This comes as a new conservative action group unveils a series of ads targeting wavering Democrats and Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're starting to see results. The price is being paid. Don't give up.

YELLIN: Part of an effort to stymie Democrats' chances of building a consensus for a drawdown.


YELLIN: Senator Hillary Clinton underscore the Democrats' discontent with the political situation in Iraq. In a statement released this afternoon, she said the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is nonfunctional and cannot produce a settlement because it's too beholden to religious and sectarian leaders. She is the second Democrat this week to call for al-Maliki's removal -- Lisa.

SYLVESTER: Jessica, thank you very much for that report from Capitol Hill.

In Iraq, 50 more of our troops have been killed, 14 of them in a Black Hawk helicopter crash north of Baghdad. The military says it believes a mechanical fault caused the crash. One other soldier was killed in combat west of Baghdad; 64 of our troops have been killed so far this month; 3,722 of our troops have been killed since this war began, 27,506 wounded, 12,340 of them seriously. Meanwhile, the military today said it will not send as many new mine-resistant vehicles to Iraq as originally planned. The Pentagon had planned to ship 3,500 vehicles. Now they will send just less than half of that. They will send only 1,500. Officials blame the shortfall on production difficulties at defense contractors.

U.S. military commanders in Iraq are expressing rising concern about the weakness of the Iraqi government. The government of Prime Minister Maliki is on the brink of collapse, and many believe Iraq is a failing state. Some U.S. generals are now asking whether democracy is the best way forward for Iraq.

Michael Ware in Baghdad has a special report -- Michael.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lisa, for President Bush, victory in Iraq means a successful democracy and nothing less. But, with the government in Baghdad ailing, the realities on the ground are forcing his diplomats and commanders to soften expectations of just what this democracy might look like, with some generals even warning that, for now, it may not even be the solution at all.

(on camera): Two years after the euphoria of historic elections, America's plan to bring democracy to Iraq is in crisis. For the first time, exasperated front-line U.S. generals talk openly of non- democratic alternatives.

BRIG. GEN. JOHN BEDNAREK, U.S. ARMY: The democratic institutions is not necessarily the way ahead in the long-term future.

WARE: Iraq's institutions are simply not working. It's hard to dispute that Iraq is a failing state; 17 of the 37 Iraqi cabinet ministers either boycott the government or don't attend cabinet meetings. The government is unable to supply regular electricity and at times not even providing running water in the capital.

And thousands of innocents are dying every month. The government failures are forcing the Bush administration to curb its vision for a democratic model for the region, the cornerstone of its rationale for the war.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and commanding General David Petraeus declined to be interviewed, but issued a joint statement to CNN.

In it, they reiterate Iraq's fundamental democratic framework is in place and development of democratic institutions is being encouraged. But Crocker and Petraeus concede they are now engaged in pursuing less lofty and ambitious goals than was the case at the outset.

And now in the war's fifth year, democracy no longer features in some U.S. commanders' definition of American victory.

GENERAL BENJAMIN MIXON, U.S. REGION COMMANDER IN IRAQ: I would describe it as leaving an effective government behind that can provide services to its people and security. There needs to be a functioning and effective government that is really a partner with the United States of America and the rest of the world in this fight against these terrorists.

WARE: This two-star general is not perturbed if those goals are reached without democracy.

MIXON: We see that all over the Middle East.

WARE: Democracy, he says, is an option, the Iraqis free to choose it or reject it.

MIXON: But that is -- the $50,000 question is, what will this government look like? Will it be a democracy? Will it not?

WARE: But Iraqi government officials say, the democratic government could work better if it was actually allowed to run things.

"We don't have sovereignty over our troops. We don't have sovereignty over our provinces. We admit it," says the head of the Iraqi parliament's military oversight committee. "We don't say we have full sovereignty."

For example, while the Iraqi government commands these army troops, they cannot even send them into battle without U.S. agreement.

"We think sovereignty means the ability of a government to be elected and make its own decisions."

He may not be wrong, but a senior U.S. official in Baghdad told CNN, any country with 160,000 foreigners fighting for it sacrifices some sovereignty.

The U.S. has long cautioned a fully-functioning democracy would be slow to emerge. But, with U.S. senators calling for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ouster, some senior U.S. officers suggest the entire Iraqi government must be removed, by constitutional or nonconstitutional means, and they're not sure a democracy need replace it.

Michael Ware, CNN, Baghdad.


SYLVESTER: Still to come: a new recall of dangerous imports from communist China.

Christine Romans has the story.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lisa, some of the most well-known name in your toy box are being recalled tonight, another 300,000 products. We will tell you which toys are being recalled -- Lisa.

SYLVESTER: Thanks, Christine. That story is straight ahead. Also, will the cold-blooded murders of three students in Newark, New Jersey, lead to a nationwide crackdown on criminal illegal aliens? We will have the story.

More deaths in the Midwest, after some of the worst flooding in nearly a century. We will have a special report.

And Dean slams into Mexico for a second time. We will have a live report from Mexico.


SYLVESTER: There is another recall of dangerous children's products from communist China tonight, this time hundreds of thousands of books, jewelry and toys decorated with popular television characters are being pulled from stores.

As Christine Romans reports, once again, children's goods contain excessive levels of lead.


ROMANS (voice-over): These products are in violation of federal lead standards. The Consumer Product Safety Commission announcing the recall of 250,000 SpongeBob SquarePants address books and journals. They may have excessive levels of lead paint on their metal bindings. These tin pails from Thomas and Friends and Curious George, paint on the wooden handles contains excessive levels of lead.

Also recalled, spinning tops featuring the same characters and thousands of pieces of jewelry, Divine Inspiration charm bracelets, and these TOBY & ME jewelry sets, sold at TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

JULIE VALLESE, CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION: First and foremost, just take it away from your child. A product like that may be at the bottom of the toy box. And, so, parents really should do inventory on a regular basis of the products that the CPSC recalls.

ROMANS: All of these recalled products were made in China. The Toy Industry Association says, of the $22.3 billion in toys sold in the U.S. last year, 80 percent come from China.

LORI WALLACH, GLOBAL TRADE WATCH: The idea is to make sure that, number one, wherever a product is produced, it's done safely, and, number two, if there's an unsafe product, it doesn't get into our markets A recall is a situation of the horses being out of the barn, the danger already in our homes.

ROMANS: The CPSC has recalled 86 million toys this year, toys that companies have manufactured or imported.

VALLESE: It is their obligation to consumers and to the federal government to make sure that the products they are producing, regardless of where they are being manufactured, meet U.S. safety standards. ROMANS: According to the Centers for Disease Control, there's no acceptable level of lead exposure for children. Lead can lower a child's I.Q. and cause brain damage.


ROMANS: Toy industry insiders say recalls show their system is working. But, keep in mind, the 66,000 spinning tops recalled today were sold more than five years ago, five years ago in specialty stores. And the SpongeBob books and the journals, they have been on store shelves for a year.

SYLVESTER: Why did it take so long to get these products off the shelves?

ROMANS: The Consumer Property Safety Commission says they have an internal investigation into the timeline of this. I put out calls to all these companies. The company that makes the spinning tops, they say that they have severed their relationship with that company. They are, frankly, sort of surprised that this has -- this has come to light, and, as a precaution, they have taken all the 66,000 off the market. But they had no idea there was lead. That is what they say.

SYLVESTER: Yes, it's not much comfort for the parents who might have had these toys in their home for all those years.

ROMANS: And, think, your child -- if you bought that for your child when he was 2, your child now could be 7 years old. You have no idea if there was any lead exposure, and it's been five years.

SYLVESTER: All right, Christine, thanks for that report.

And that brings us to tonight's poll: Do you believe China should face severe penalties for exporting hundreds of thousands of toxic toys to the United States, yes or no? Cast your vote at We will bring you the results later in the broadcast.

And yet another new product scare from communist China. A factory in China is accused of recycling hundreds of thousands of used chopsticks. Officials in Beijing say the factory recycled and sold up to 100,000 pairs of chopsticks a day. But those chopsticks were not disinfected. It's not known if any of those chopsticks were exported to the United States.

And, if that is not enough, after months of recalls of dangerous products, communist China is now questioning the quality of American exports. China says there are problems with U.S. soybean exports, including pesticide, poisonous weeds and dirt. Beijing is also shifting the blame in the recall of millions of Chinese-made Mattel toys. Chinese says both Mattel and the Chinese manufacturer are responsible for the lead in the contaminated toys.

At the same time, more counterfeit goods from communist China are flooding into the United States. Customs official say U.S. ports are being swamped by fake products ranging from designer bags to medicine.

Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From counterfeit coach bags to fake Viagra, U.S. ports are awash in phony imported products.

KEVIN WEEKS, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: Simple toy can bring laughter and joy to a young child. It also can bring tears and grief to that child's parents if it is full of lead paint or has small parts that can cause that child to choke. That is why CBP is so committed to stop counterfeit dangerous toys and other counterfeit goods from entering the country before they can take a life.

WIAN: During the first half of fiscal 2007, Customs and Border Protection reports it seized more than 7,000 shipments of counterfeit goods worth $110 million, more than double the value seized the same period the previous year. CBP attributes the growth to improved counterfeiting technology, the spread of Internet sales, and increased enforcement efforts; 81 percent of the counterfeit goods come from communist China.

CAROLINE JOINER, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Seven hundred and fifty Americans lost their jobs because of counterfeiting and piracy. And, globally, trade in counterfeit and pirated products is as high as 5 percent of worldwide trade. This illegal trade is putting billions of dollars into the elicit economy, giving rise to criminal enterprises, breeding corruption, and feeding terrorism.

WIAN: While shoes are the most popular fakes, customs officials say at least 600 counterfeit shipments each year are classified as health and safety risks to American consumers, such as this fake diabetes testing kit or this counterfeit surgical mesh.

JUDGE RONALD LEW, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE: This is not a victimless crime. There is harm to be done, whether it be economic or health and safety harm that is done to the public.

WIAN: A public often more than willing to participate in the fraud, like this woman, who admits her coach bag is a knockoff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know it's illegal. It's just like buying the DVDs and the movies. So, it's the same thing.

WIAN: In June, Customs and Border Protection signed an agreement with communist China to share information about the sources of seized counterfeit goods.


WIAN: In return, China says it will communicate within 90 days the status of its efforts to track down counterfeiters. A Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman could not say how much information has been shared so far or if China has actually prosecuted anyone -- Lisa.

SYLVESTER: Pretty amazing stuff. Thank you very much, Casey Wian, for that report.


SYLVESTER: A massive drug bust on the high seas. Customs and Border Protection officials arrested four people and seized $352 million worth of cocaine after they spotted a self-propelled submarine in the Eastern Pacific. Authorities say the submarine was designed to avoid detection. But it was detected by a patrolling P-3 aircraft. The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted the sub and found 11 bails of cocaine. That's about 1,210 pounds of cocaine.

Coming up: The Newark schoolyard murders leads New Jersey to a crackdown on criminal illegal aliens. We will have a report.

The death toll from floods in the Midwest continues to rise. And we will have the very latest.

And Hurricane Dean isn't going away quietly. It struck Mexico for a second time today. We will have a report on the damage.

Stay with us.


SYLVESTER: New developments today in the grisly murders of three college students in Newark, New Jersey. Newark's mayor, Cory Booker, said he believes the killings were not planned. The attackers, he said, just decided to unleash this evil. The mayor also said the fourth victim, who was seriously wounded in the attack, helped police identify the suspects. She will have permanent injuries from the shooting.

And one of the suspects has waived extradition in Virginia. He could be back in New Jersey as early as tomorrow. Another suspect is fighting extradition in Maryland. The other four suspects in the brutal murders are in custody in New Jersey.

New Jersey officials today took strong action requiring police officers to inquire about the immigration status of crime suspects and then inform immigration officials as necessary. Newark officials have been criticized for not informing federal authorities of the status of one of the suspects. He is an illegal alien from Peru who was out on bail for a serious crime when the murders occurred.

Deborah Feyerick reports on the new orders from New Jersey's attorney general.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new rules stem from the murders of three college students in Newark early this month. Rather than decide case by case or county by county, from now on, all police in New Jersey must contact federal immigration agents when someone who may be in the U.S. illegally is arrested for a serious crime. ANNE MILGRAM, NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I will require local law enforcement, local county and state officers to notify ICE, as well as to notify the prosecuting agency and the court, after the arrest of an undocumented immigrant for an indictable offense or for the offense of driving while intoxicated.

FEYERICK: Lack of a uniform policy has raised questions throughout the country, with many wondering whether the schoolyard murders could have been prevented.

Jose Carranza, an illegal immigrant considered one of the key suspects, was out on bail when the three students were killed execution style. He had been involved in a bar fight and was preparing to stand trial on child sexual assault charges, to which he had earlier pleaded not guilty.

MILGRAM: After the first arrest for the bar fight -- that was an aggravated assault arrest -- that notification would have been made to ICE, to the county prosecutor and to the court. The same is true of the two subsequent arrests for sexual assault of a minor.

FEYERICK: Newark prosecutors say they thought they were to notify ICE only after a criminal conviction. ICE maintains that's never been the case and that the agency has always been able to detain an illegal immigrant charged with a crime during court proceedings.

MILGRAM: When I stepped back, I did come to a very strong conclusion that there is a need for a uniform state policy.


FEYERICK: Immigration and Customs Enforcement responded to the new guidelines, saying, -- quote -- "We welcome the newly expanded cooperation throughout the state of New Jersey."

And ICE says an illegal immigrant convicted of a crime will serve the time. But, if the charges are dropped, and there are no outstanding violations, then a judge gets to decide whether deportation is warranted.

And the one thing police can't do under the new rules is ask the legal status of victims, witnesses or whoever it is who called for help -- Lisa.

SYLVESTER: So, this new policy also will -- it will apply to first-time DUI offenders as well?

FEYERICK: First-time DUIs.

SYLVESTER: Mm-hmm. OK. Thanks very much for that report, Deborah.

Coming up: The death toll rises, after the massive flooding in the Midwest. More rain is on the way.

Also, Dean just won't give up. It slams into Mexico for a second time. We will have a live report.

And rising controversy after President Bush compares the war in Iraq with the war in Vietnam. Three of this country's best political analysts will be here to discuss that and much more.

Stay with us.


SYLVESTER: Mining operations are closing down at the Utah coal mine where six miners remain lost and presumed dead deep underground. Three additional miners were killed and six injured during rescue attempts in the mine last Friday.

Despite drilling five bore holes into the mountain, there has been no sign of the missing miners since the roof collapsed on August 6th. The CEO of Murray Energy said the mine will now become a monument.


BOB MURRAY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MURRAY ENERGY CORPORATION: It will not be reopened. We're already discussing how we might go about to honor the trapped miners and to make this a site for perpetuity.


SYLVESTER: Murray said the men who risked their lives in the mine trying to rescue the missing miners were heroes.

Death toll in the flood-ravaged Midwest today rose to 22. Two powerful storm systems, including the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin, dumped heavy rains on the region. And now dozens of communities are under water.

One of the hardest hit states -- Ohio.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): In Findlay, Ohio, the worst flooding in a century. Residents are fleeing as water continues to rise. Homes, roads, businesses, even cemeteries, are all under water. Floodwaters have been ravaging the Midwest for days -- states of emergency declared in dozens of counties. Minnesota's governor says it is the worst his state has seen in more than three decades.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA: There's thousands of homes that have been impacted and lives and families, some of which are destroyed entirely, some of which are severely damaged. It's very dramatic and traumatic for so many Minnesota families.

SYLVESTER: In Minnesota City, this was a trout fishing river. It turned into a raging torrent, destroying property and homes on its banks.

CHERYL KIRS, MINNESOTA CITY RESIDENT: It sounded almost like a raging river. It sounded like a waterfall. It was loud. And then the next thing I know, everything -- just it -- just big chunks. Four foot, five foot sections just started falling off.

ALYSSA MILLER, MINNESOTA CITY RESIDENT: We don't know where we're going to go, what we're going to do. This is not just our house -- our home. I've lived here for 30 years.

SYLVESTER: In neighboring Iowa, the residents are fighting back the rising Des Moines River.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if that -- if that levee goes, this -- a lot of these houses are going to be under water.

SYLVESTER: One Des Moines family spent the night building a makeshift dam, sewing pillow cases and filling them with sand.

TIM BARLETT, DES MOINES RESIDENT: We've got a river running through my parents' backyard.

SYLVESTER: For now, their dam is holding.

In Wisconsin, flooded roads are cutting off supplies to people stranded in their homes.

In Ohio's Richland County, homes and cars are completely submerged. In Shelby, a dramatic rescue. A Coast Guard helicopter rescued two men stranded in a downtown furniture store. The Midwest flooding taking a toll on residents and livestock.

In Watonga, Oklahoma, one lone llama stands in what just days ago was a pasture, as everyone wonders when the waters will recede.


SYLVESTER: The Midwest could be hit by as much as four more inches of additional rain this week.

Record heat has also been a problem in parts of the Midwest. The heat wave is blamed for at least 49 deaths in the Midwest and Southeast. Heat advisories continue from Atlanta to Nashville. Temperatures are in the high 90s, but the heat index is in the triple digits. Memphis and Atlanta have broken records for most 100 degree days this summer. The heat is expected to continue in the South for the next few days.

And Hurricane Dean smashed into Mexico today for the second time in two days, before weakening to a tropical storm. The hurricane slammed into the Mexican coast near Tuxpan, with 100 mile an hour winds. Dean became the third most intense Atlantic hurricane to hit shore in recorded history when it blasted across the Yucatan Peninsula a day earlier.

The hurricane regained strength as it crossed the Bay of Campeche and closed down Mexico's biggest oil fields.

Ed Lavandera is near Tuxpan -- Ed. ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Lisa.

Well, by all accounts so far, as the reports continue to come in -- but many of the towns and villages throughout the State of Veracruz here, northeast of Mexico City, appear to have done pretty well in weathering this second round of Hurricane Dean as it roared ashore earlier this afternoon.

But what officials here in the City of Tuxpan are worried about is if you look out here, this is the river, which normally should be employing out toward the Gulf of Mexico. But it continues to flow inland. So officials here are concerned that as the rains move inland and continue to fall on the mountains there, that when it starts raining and that comes downstream, that at some point it's going to start coming back into town here. And perhaps tonight or tomorrow morning, they're concerned that flooding could be a concern in various low lying areas throughout this area of Tuxpan and the State of Veracruz.

So they will continue to monitor that. And they've buses around the city here waiting to evacuate more people if need be.

If it gets really out of hand or very dangerous, the mayor here says that some 13,000 people would have to be evacuated. He doesn't think that that will ultimately happen at this point. But that's what they need to be prepared for so far.

In some places, power is starting to come back on. But the good news is here, is that there have been no reports of injuries or deaths because of the second round of Hurricane Dean -- Lisa.

SYLVESTER: But you're really concerned about the mudslides at this point, as you mentioned, right Ed?

LAVANDERA: Right, they are.

And as you mentioned, you know, we drove -- as we drove in here yesterday to get to this location, we drove through the mountains. And there are many villages and just kind of makeshift homes that are staggered throughout these mountains. And it's very easy to see where the rain continues to fall and downpour for hours and hours, that some of these places could be easily wiped away.

SYLVESTER: Thank you very much, Ed Lavandera, for that report.

Karl Penhaul is south of Tuxpan and reports from Nautla, on the Mexican coast.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hurricane Dean made its second landfall in Mexico around the town of Tectolutla on the Gulf of Mexico coastline. (INAUDIBLE). The strong winds that we saw rip the tin roofs off some of the homes here and also destroyed some of the traditional buildings made of wood (INAUDIBLE). But authorities in this area say by far the bigger risk is the rains -- the driving rain that this hurricane system is also bringing with it. Not only is there a risk of flooding and the battering waves, but there's also a risk of landslides. In contrast to the area of the Yucatan, where Hurricane Dean first (INAUDIBLE) that is a flat area. But this area (INAUDIBLE) from sea level up to 3,000 foot mountains in a very short distance. And that, the authorities say, as the hours go on, could be the problem.

As the storm system move across those mountains, it could bring further rain water flushing off the mountains, along with mud and predicted mudslides.

As the winds die down, authorities and police will make their way around some of the small towns up and down this coastline. And they will check the damage and see if there were any casualties. At least 10,000 people evacuated, according to authorities.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Nautla, Mexico.


SYLVESTER: Coming up, we follow up on a story we brought you two weeks ago -- the problems legitimate businesses face when competitors hire illegal alien workers.

Some say Michelle Obama took a verbal swipe at Hillary Clinton. We'll hear what Senator Obama had to say about that.

Stay with us.


SYLVESTER: The failure of the government to address the illegal alien crisis has led to rising frustrations and to individuals sometimes taking action out of that frustration.

About two weeks ago, we told you of a lone protester in South Carolina who claims to be losing business as he tries to compete with businesses which higher illegal aliens.

We looked further into the story and we're told his protests have sparked threats. The people who say they are the subject of the threats say the lone protester has it wrong.

So we went back to Columbia to investigate further.

Bill Tucker has the story from Columbia, South Carolina.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the Internet he's known simply as "the lone protester." Terry Funderburk gained the nickname after being arrested for disorderly conduct while staging a protest in front of this job site, where he lost a bid for work to what he believed were illegal aliens. But Funderburk now concedes his protest came out of anger at losing work.

(on camera): You didn't know these folks were illegal, you suspected that these folks were perhaps illegal?

TERRY FUNDERBURK, CUSTOM COPPER: Yes. That's -- I'd just like to say that it's -- because I expected to have that job because I've done two jobs for that homeowner before.

TUCKER (voice-over): But subcontractor thought won the job, Jo Dell Pickens, didn't. Funderburk had seen a newspaper article that said Pickens admitted to hiring illegal aliens. But Pickens now vehemently denies she ever said that.

In an interview with CNN, Pickens goes on to deny any knowledge of the job and says she never bid on it and has never even met Terry Funderburk.

JO DELL PICKENS, J.D. SERVICES: Never passed -- crossed paths with him, seen him, spoken to him, know of him. I don't know his business, nothing about him.

TUCKER: Funderburk's protest and story have drawn a lot of attention on the Internet. The homeowners and the contractors say they've been the targets of threats and harassing phone calls. They call the attention unwanted and frightening, and based on misinformation. They say no illegal aliens have done work on their house.

MARY MCDANIEL, HOMEOWNER: It was our understanding that everybody working on our site -- and still is our understanding -- that they were legal.

TUCKER: The general contractor insists the company abides by the law and is sensitive to the issue of illegal workers taking the jobs of those legally eligible to work.

BETH FLETCHER, M&H DEVELOPMENT: We acquire the appropriate documentation from our vendor that we need for our records. Absolutely, they were legitimate workers. They were legal workers.

TUCKER: She says they are clear in relaying their concerns to the subcontractors that they hire only legal workers, but adds it's the subcontractor's responsibility to do so.

The subcontractor who won the roofing work that Funderburk was seeking on the McDaniels' home was International Construction Services.

International Construction Services declined our request for an interview and to review their worker documentation, but did issue the following statement: "International Construction Services does not have in its employment and has never had in its employment an illegal alien."

As for the threats against the homeowner and the contractor, Funderburk wants them to stop.

FUNDERBURK: For sure, I regret them receiving threats like that. I never meant that. But I just wanted to stand up for my rights as a small businessman in a big city.

(on camera): Verifying worker documents is difficult and not required of employers. All that is required for a worker to be legally hired is for them to present work documentation like an I-9 or a Social Security card which appears legitimate.

Bill Tucker, CNN, Columbia, South Carolina.


SYLVESTER: Border Patrol agents arrested 54 illegal aliens they found stashed in a recreational vehicle. Agents stopped the motor home Sunday near Sonoita, Arizona, about 17 miles from the Mexican border.

The Border Patrol tells that us smugglers have taken to using R.V.s in an attempt to blend in with tourist traffic in the area. But this particular vehicle caught the attention of agents because it did not look like a typical tourist vehicle. For one, it had wool blankets covering the windows in the middle of the desert.

The illegal aliens have been sent back to Mexico.

A reminder now to vote in tonight's poll -- do you believe China should face severe penalties for exporting hundreds of thousands of toxic toys to the United States, yes or no?

Cast your vote at

We'll bring you the results in just a few minutes.

Still ahead, for the first time President Bush today compared the war in Iraq to the war in Vietnam. We'll ask top political analysts whether Iraq is another quagmire.


SYLVESTER: Democratic presidential contender, Senator Barack Obama, today said his wife was not aiming at Senator Hillary Clinton in remarks she made last week.


MICHELLE OBAMA, SENATOR BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: So our view is that if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House.


SYLVESTER: Senator Obama said his wife was not referring to Senator Clinton, but simply about the importance of keeping their family values intact while on the campaign trail.

Joining me now are three of the best political strategists and analysts in the country.

From Washington, Republican strategist and former White House political director, Ed Rollins.


SYLVESTER: and here in the studio, "New York Daily News" columnist Michael Goodwin and Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf.

Thank you gentlemen for joining us.


SYLVESTER: First, let's start with you.

What do you make of the Obama/Clinton remarks?

I know there are a lot of people saying that that was at least a sideswipe.

GOODWIN: Yes. I mean I like to take these people at their word, but this one, I think, doesn't pass the smell test. I don't see who else she was talking about and it doesn't -- the senator's defense doesn't make sense. It's not logical when you applies it to the sentence that she said.

So I have to think it was a swipe at Hillary Clinton.

SYLVESTER: And, Hank, this seems to be getting to be quite a messy sort of thing, when you've got spouses essentially jumping into the fray here.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it gets worse for Barack Obama. His numbers have not been good. The last polls on CNN have shown him neck and neck with Hillary Clinton in Iowa. Not so good.

He's got to lash out somehow, he's got to try to close the gap. He flunked the foreign policy test and now he's got a new problem to deal with.

SYLVESTER: OK, Ed, I want you to comment.

The big story today, of course, President Bush. He's drawing parallels between the Iraq War and the Vietnam War.

Of course, this is something that the White House has been very reluctant to do, in fact, trying to beat back comparisons between the two wars.

Why the linkage now, Ed?

ROLLINS: I have no idea why the linkage. You know, obviously it was a group, many of whom had fought in Vietnam, that he was speaking to today. But at the end of the day, you certainly don't want to be compared to one of the great failures. The public didn't support that war. In the end, a lot of brave, courageous people fought in it and gave up their lives and their limbs. And same thing is happening here.

But I think there's a much better opportunity to end up with a democracy in Iraq than there certainly was in Vietnam many years ago.

SYLVESTER: Hank, do you think that they were out on a limb here trying to draw this comparison?

ROLLINS: I can't understand the strategy myself. I mean, obviously, the only similarity is that the public is not supporting either one of these wars and the Congress is, obviously, on a path to cut off funding.

SHEINKOPF: Ed, it's worse than that. Frankly, what's going on here is we're hearing old drumbeats of American patriotic ideals -- that if we export democracy, somehow things will work.

It's over. It's done. No one believes it. And this war is costing American lives.


GOODWIN: Well, I thought it actually was quite a -- a quite powerful speech. And I thought the his -- a lot of the historical references to World War II and Korea were very compelling, how nobody thought Japan would be a democracy or South Korea would survive, South Korea would be a democracy.

It does get dicier with Vietnam. And I think, particularly, if you're using this to say we shouldn't leave -- which is how he was using it, because the slaughter followed our leaving -- there's where I think the analogy really breaks down, because there are all kinds of differences in how long we stayed and what we achieved.

But I think fundamentally the problem with Iraq right now is the Iraqi government. And he didn't have much to say about that.

So I think, ultimately, the speech failed. It will not succeed in persuading anyone who wasn't already on his side.

SYLVESTER: Let's actually listen.

We have a clip from that in which he was talking about the ideological struggles.

Let's, if we can pull up that clip.


GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are many differences between the wars we fought in the Far East and the war on terror we're fighting today. But one important similarity is at their core, they're ideological struggles.


SYLVESTER: Democrats were quick to jump on this. And they have said that basically the president has got this all wrong.

We have a statement. This is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This is what he had to say.

He says: "Instead of providing the country with a history lesson, the president should be re-evaluating his flawed strategies that have led to one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our nation's history. The president's strategy is still failing to deliver the political solution necessary for Iraq's stability."

And in some ways, that sounds like what you were saying, Michael.

GOODWIN: Right. And I think, also, looking forward, the president knows September is going to be a big event. Petraeus and Crocker are coming. Petraeus will testify before Congress's report on progress.

And so I think one thing that the president was trying to do today is push back in advance. And he's letting everyone know this is where I stand. I'm not giving in yet. And I'm still supporting Maliki, the government in Iraq.

So I think he was sending a message today about what's -- how -- what his strategy is going to -- what his opening gambit is in September. That's how the game will be played in Washington.

SYLVESTER: Ed, I want you to comment on this, because a lot of people think that it's only a matter of time before the administration pulls its support from al-Maliki.

We've heard the comments yesterday from President Bush. Of course, there was some backtracking. But even Ambassador Ryan Crocker has said that there's some concern here, because they are not making political progress.

Your thoughts, Ed?

ROLLINS: I think there's concern because he hasn't provided the leadership. It's a new democracy and obviously it's very splintered entity.

I think the more critical thing is that the military hasn't stepped up to relieve our men and women of the command. And I think the quicker that happens, the better it is.

But my sense today is the president made a very clear message -- as long as he's the commander-in-chief, which is another 14, 15 months -- he's going to keep our troops there and he's going to support our troops and he's going to support this government as long as he can.

SYLVESTER: I want to turn now to another subject, the Security and Prosperity Partnership.

We saw the summit that was being held earlier this week in Mexico -- rather in Montebello, Canada.

Do you think that there is actually going to be some kind of agreement?

There is such an outrage, Hank, over this whole issue in all three countries. It's hard to imagine that the Bush administration will continue going down this road, trying to get this through, perhaps, as some lasting legacy.

SHEINKOPF: The president doesn't have much to look back on. He's got a war no one likes. He's got an economy that looks good, but really has a lot of problems. This would be a way for him to say, look, I'm as good as the Clintons. They did NAFTA. I can do this. I can bring the whole thing together.

The facts are our policy in the hemisphere and in the region, in the Southern Hemisphere, has been largely a disaster, because we none. It's his way to trying to get something done. Not likely it will happen.

SYLVESTER: Michael, you know, he -- when -- there have been many people, including on this broadcast, we have talked about the North American Union, if you connect the dots.


SYLVESTER: There has not been a lot of transparency here as far as what's been going on with these meetings. But all three leaders seemed to brush aside concerns, essentially saying it was comical.

What is your reaction?

GOODWIN: Well, it's not comical. I think it is a serious issue and I think, look, there are arguments to be made for a more open and free flowing of goods and people.

But I think that, obviously with security being the prime issue, and trade sort of being the secondary one, American jobs and the American economy. So I think there's a -- it's a serious debate. But -- so it can't be brushed aside as comical. That won't work in this country.

SYLVESTER: And, Ed, what are your thoughts there?

ROLLINS: My thoughts are it's a very important long-term goal. I think the country has to get to this point, all three countries. Right now, with the immigration issues and the terrorism threats, I think it's far more difficult than when they started.

But I would certainly think the president wants to get it accomplished and he will make every effort he can to get it done. I'm not sure the Congress is going to totally cooperate with him.

SYLVESTER: Well, speaking of the Congress, their approval rating is now a lousy 18 percent, according to a recent Gallup Poll. You can see there, their approval rating 18 percent. Seventy-six percent disapprove of the job that the Congress has been doing.

Hank, really, quickly, your thoughts.

SHEINKOPF: Not so good for the Congress. Not so good for the American government. People, they don't like the president. They don't like the Congress. And when people do that, strange things happen in voting booths.

GOODWIN: Right. It's a very unhappy electorate.

ROLLINS: It's back to the level where they were bouncing checks out of the House bank. It's the worse it's been in modern times and I think, to a certain extent, it's the lack of hardship in both the House and the Senate.

SYLVESTER: It might be time for an independent third party at this point.

Thank you, gentlemen.

SHEINKOPF: Thank you.

SYLVESTER: Appreciate all of your time very much.

And coming up at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER" -- Wolf.


We're following the breaking news out of Ohio right now. A town is under water from a record flood and a river that runs through that town is cresting right now.

Also, barring a last minute stay, Texas only minutes away from executing its 400th inmate since reinstating the death penalty. We're going to be following that.

We're also going to tell you about some choice words the state's governor, Rick Perry, had about a European Union appeal for clemency. He even mentioned the American Revolution.

Plus, the owner of that collapsed mine in Utah now saying there's one last chance for the six miners trapped inside. You'll see his interview with our Carol Costello.

And Baltimore is in the midst of a murder epidemic. Now the city's mayor is asking a convicted felon for help.

All of that, Lisa, coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

SYLVESTER: Thanks, Wolf.

Still ahead, some of your thoughts and the results of tonight's poll. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SYLVESTER: Now the results of tonight's poll -- 96 percent six you believe China should face severe penalties for exporting hundreds of thousands of toxic toys to the United States.

And we'll also check now with some of your e-mail.

Many of you wrote in about President Bush when he said our reporting on the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership, or the North American Union and the new NAFTA superhighway, was comical.

Hiram in Georgia: "This new Security and Prosperity Plan will do nothing but transfer some more of our security and prosperity to other countries, and there is nothing comical about that."

Willie in California: "What I see is comical is President Bush making a fool of himself. That's his legacy."

Tony in North Carolina: "The "S" in SPP stands for security. Our nation's security should never be dependent on another nation's will."

Kenneth in Nevada: "Mr. Bush finds Lou Dobbs' reports comical. The American people aren't laughing."

Each of you whose e-mail is read will receive a copy of the Joseph Califano's book, "High Society."

Thanks for being with us tonight.

Please join us tomorrow.