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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Interview With Missouri Governor Matt Blunt; Mattel Announces Another Toy Recall

Aired September 05, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Democratic and Republican presidential candidates are ignoring one of the biggest threats to working men and women to families in this country, even as those same candidates say they're standing up for the middle class. We will have that special report.
Also tonight, the Bush administration and Congress refuse to respond to the Mexican president's insults and threats. We will have that report.

And Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff today declared he will enforce our immigration laws, but many state and local officials aren't convinced.

One of those officials is Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri. He's among our guests here tonight. Governor Blunt says we can't wait for Washington to stop illegal immigration.

We will have all of that, all the day's news, and a great deal more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate and opinion for Wednesday, September 5.

Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

We begin tonight with stinging criticism of U.S. efforts to build up Iraq's police. An independent military commission report due out tomorrow says the Iraqi national police are not only ineffective, but should be disbanded. The strongly-worded criticism comes one year after Pentagon officials declared 2006 to be the year of the police.

The report, due out tomorrow, also declares the Iraqi army has become more effective, while noting it will be unable to operate without U.S. support for at least another year.

Jamie McIntyre reports now from the Pentagon -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the report does say that Iraqi troops are getting better and doing more, but the bottom line is that after four years and $20 billion, they still can't meet their essential security responsibilities and they're not going to be able to any time soon.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): You don't hear that old refrain about Iraqi troops standing up and U.S. troops standing down much around the Pentagon these days. And a new independent commission report obtained in advance by CNN explains why.

It concludes that Iraqi army and special forces, despite progress, will not be ready within the next 12 to 18 months. It's the same doubt expressed this week by the GAO.

DAVID WALKER, COMPTROLLER GENERAL, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: I think there's a serious question as to whether or not they on their own will be able to hold these neighborhoods for an extended period of time. That's probably the $64,000 question.

MCINTYRE: And it's another reason the Pentagon says U.S. troops can't leave.

GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON: I don't know if it takes 12 months. I don't know if it takes six months. I don't know if it takes longer. We're committed to stay as long as it takes.

MCINTYRE: The panel, headed by retired Supreme NATO Commander Jim Jones, reserved its sharpest criticism for the Iraqi national police force which it found was operationally ineffective, undermined by sectarianism, not viable and should be disbanded.

COL. DOUG MACGREGOR (RET.), U.S. ARMY: This is of great concern to our soldiers on the ground, none of whom trust anyone in the Iraqi military or police under any circumstances.

MORRELL: We do not believe it is necessary to disband the national police force.

MCINTYRE: The Pentagon admits there are big problems, but says the bad apples are being weeded out gradually.

MORRELL: Obviously, we would like this stuff to happen sooner than it has, but we do not believe either project or process should be abandoned because it hasn't happened at the pace which we would like.


MCINTYRE: Lou, this is another report in which bad news seems to leap off every page, and while it does note progress here and there it also finds that the rot starts at the top. It calls the Interior Ministry of Iraq a ministry in name only -- Lou.

DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much -- Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.

Congressional Democrats today said the blunt criticism of Iraq's security forces is just more evidence the Bush administration's policies in the war in Iraq have failed.

Jessica Yellin has our report now from Capitol Hill -- Jessica. JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the report has ammunition for both sides in the Iraq debate. Republicans are emphasizing the progress cited in the report. It says that the Iraqi army has made significant advances, and those who support the strategy say it's evidence the strategy is working and the U.S. should stay and support the military in Iraq.

But Democrats say those same advances are evidence that the U.S. should start turning responsibility over to the Iraqis. And Democrats are also making what's been their key argument all along, that the surge was designed to create breathing room for the political process to work and this report shows that hasn't happened.


REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: Every one of these reports, Jones' report, the GAO report, even O'Hanlon and the others who wrote for Bookings, noted the political failure of the Iraqis to find reconciliation, and until that happens, there is no treasure, no blood, no reputation that we can spend that will bring stability to Iraq.


YELLIN: Now, as you have noted, this is one of four reports that is going up to Congress or has gone to Congress. Neither side has real momentum going into this debate over Iraq and it seems that all the decisions could come down to that much-anticipated testimony from Petraeus and Crocker next week -- Lou.

DOBBS: Jessica, thank you very much -- Jessica Yellin from Capitol Hill.

President Bush, while in Australia, rejected Democratic assertions that his surge strategy is failing. At a news conference in Sydney with the Australian prime minister, President Bush acknowledged there is more work to be done in Iraq, but he said what he called military successes are paving the way for political reconciliation.

As the president spoke in Australia, insurgents launched new attacks against our troops in attack. Insurgents killed eight more of our troops over the past two days. Three were killed in an attack in eastern Baghdad. The U.S. military said insurgents detonated a so- called explosively formed penetrator device.

U.S. officials say the bombs are made in Iran; 10 of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month, 3,752 of our troops killed since the beginning of the war, 27,662 of our troops wounded, 12,429 of them seriously.

German police arrested three radical Islamist terrorists suspecting of plotting to kill American troops and others in Germany. Officials said the suspects were planning what they called massive and imminent attacks against U.S. military bases and other installations. The German officials said the suspects are dangerous and highly professional.

Paula Newton reports from Frankfurt.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): German officials say the would-be bombers nurtured a deep hatred of Americans and were under direct orders from al Qaeda, the targets, potentially U.S. military facilities in Germany and anywhere Americans gather here, restaurants, shops and bars. Another possible high-value target, Frankfurt International Airport.

JOERG ZIERCKE, GERMAN FEDERAL POLICE (through translator): The leading motive of the group in Germany is the profound hatred of U.S. citizens. Potential targets, therefore, are U.S. military facilities, but also at those locations where one can meet normal citizens meaning discotheques and restaurants.

YELLIN: The alleged plan to explode simultaneous car bombs is what German police say would have been a massive amount of explosives. Hydrogen peroxide was being prepared to deadly effect.

MELANIE BUCKLEY, AMERICAN LIVING IN GERMANY: It's things like this, this vehicle, that is a van, that could be carrying anything.

YELLIN: Earlier this summer, Melanie Buckley, the wife of a U.S. soldier based in Germany, told CNN that she feared military families could be sitting ducks for terrorists. Some American living quarters here are open to the public. Anyone, just as CNN did, can just drive in.

BUCKLEY: I just think it leaves us vulnerable to any type of extremist that may have a grudge against America.

YELLIN: And that is precisely the profile of a bomber that so worries U.S. officials.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It is a sobering reminder of the fact that six years after 9/11 the intent of al Qaeda and its allies to wage war on the West remains very much unabated.


YELLIN: This latest plot really does bring to life all those intelligence reports that we have had over the last few months that say that the threat of an attack in Europe against Americans and others remains quite high, maybe as high as it's ever been since 9/11 -- Lou.

DOBBS: Paula, thank you very much -- Paula Newton reporting from Frankfurt.

Elsewhere in Europe, Danish police tonight are questioning eight terror suspects who were arrested yesterday. Danish officials say the suspects are radical Islamists with links to al Qaeda. Six of those suspects are Danish citizens. The other two are foreigners with permits to live in Denmark. Denmark, of course, is a close ally of the United States in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

New concerns in this country tonight about the security and safety of U.S. nuclear weapons. Those concerns are rising after the U.S. Air Force said it mistakenly loaded a B-52 bomber with six nuclear warheads. The bomber flew those warheads attached to cruise missiles from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana.

The Air Force says the nuclear warheads should have been removed from the cruise missiles before the B-52 took off. The Pentagon says the public was never in any danger, but lawmakers on Capitol Hill, they're saying the incident is deeply disturbing.

Coming up here next, the Bush administration struggling to defend its immigration policies.

Lisa Sylvester will have our report -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Secretary Michael Chertoff weighs in on denying funds to sanctuary cities and whether Mexican trucks pose a security risk. We will share with you what he told lawmakers coming up.

DOBBS: Looking forward to it, Lisa.

Also tonight, Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, they're ignoring one of the biggest threats to middle-class Americans. We will have the report.

And another massive recall of dangerous toys imported from communist China. Are more recalls to be expected? We will have that special report.

And Senator Larry Craig, well, he's flip-flopping. He may not resign from the Senate after all. We will have a live report for you from Capitol Hill and a great deal more.

We will be right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff today faced a barrage of tough questions on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers upset about a wave of Mexican trucks that are about to roll across our wide-open borders, and that's just one of their concerns, as Lisa Sylvester now reports from Washington.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff sees nothing wrong with allowing Mexican trucks into the heartland of the United States, a program that could begin as early as this week.

CHERTOFF: From the standpoint of the security of the cargo, allowing Mexican drivers to drive into the interior does not change, does not relax or in any way modify the existing security standards.

SYLVESTER: Some members of Congress strongly disagreeing with the secretary, saying the chance of smuggling drugs or weapons will increase if cargo no longer has to be transferred to American trucks.

REP. VIRGINIA BROWN-WAITE (R), FLORIDA: I don't think that a lot of Americans have a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings about the trucks coming in through Mexico as to what the contents may very well be.

SYLVESTER: Chertoff took a range of questions from lawmakers including whether DHS funds should be held from sanctuary cities, localities that have a policy of not questioning a person's legal status.

CHERTOFF: I don't know that I have the authority to cut off all Homeland Security funds if I disagree with a city's policy on immigration.

SYLVESTER: Representative Dan Lungren shared a pressing concern of his constituents.

REP. DAN LUNGREN (R), CALIFORNIA: The one thing they kept asking me is, the fence, the fence, the fence. I know there's a lot more than the fence, and I argue that, but that has become a symbolic icon.

SYLVESTER: Chertoff says the administration is on schedule and expects to have 145 miles of fencing by the end of this month, meeting their fiscal year target.

But the administration acknowledged setbacks. The virtual fence program, known as SBInet, has missed key deadlines. And a federal court has temporarily halted a planned crackdown on employers who hire workers with phony Social Security numbers.

Still, Chertoff promised to press ahead with enforcing immigration laws.

CHERTOFF: The root of the problem we have had over the last 20 years is for us to simply close our eyes to the problem and get everybody off the hook by not enforcing the law.


SYLVESTER: But don't think Secretary Chertoff has given up hope for the administration's so-called comprehensive approach. That includes an amnesty for illegal aliens in the United States and a guest-worker program to bring in even more foreign workers.

He says that's up to Congress and says he's disappointed that has not happened yet -- Lou.

DOBBS: He may be disappointed but one has to wonder how disappointed Congress is that the secretary of Department of Homeland Security hasn't been enforcing those laws and securing our borders. Any direct questions from the panel today on those two issues? SYLVESTER: One of the things that he did take up is he says that this is a new policy and he acknowledged that the administration has essentially not been following or at least enforcing the law in this case, and he hopes to have that changed.

DOBBS: As I believe most Americans indeed would like him to do.

Thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester, from Washington.

The Bush administration and Congress are refusing to respond to Mexico's latest insults and threats to this nation. Mexican President Felipe Calderon said -- quote -- "Where there is a Mexican, there is Mexico," and accused the United States government of persecuting Mexican citizens living and working in the United States illegally.

As Casey Wian now reports, the Bush administration apparently agrees with the Mexican president's declaration that Mexico does not stop at our southern border.


FELIPE CALDERON, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I have said that Mexico doesn't end at the border, that where there is a Mexican, Mexico is there.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mexican President Felipe Calderon's state of the nation speech Sunday could be interpreted as a direct challenge to U.S. sovereignty, but the Bush administration doesn't see it that way.

TOM CASEY, SPOKESMAN, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: That's the same thing as me standing here saying the United States cares very greatly about U.S. citizens living abroad and believes that it has an obligation to ensure that they receive appropriate treatment and protection under the laws of the countries where they reside. And, frankly, based on my limited reading of his remarks, that's how I would view those comments.

SYLVESTER: Calderon's remarks came near the end of a long speech focusing mostly on Mexico's domestic problems, a day after nearly half the Mexican Congress boycotted his address.

Calderon is struggling to win opposition support for fiscal reforms and a new budget. Some political analysts say his accusation that U.S. immigration law enforcement efforts are persecuting and humiliating undocumented workers is an effort to capitalize on nationalist and anti-American sentiments.

GEORGE GRAYSON, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY: You have got about two-thirds of Mexicans who believe that they have a right, a God-given right, to cross into the United States and that that frontier is no more than just a surveyor's line. So, we're going hear a lot more intemperate rhetoric coming from Felipe Calderon and other Mexican leaders.

WIAN: Mexico's influence in the United States is spreading; 47 consulates now serve 10 million Mexican citizens living north of the border, and according to the latest government figures released last week, 6.6 million of them are illegal aliens.

Calderon and his predecessor, Vicente Fox, have both pushed hard for an amnesty plan that appears doomed for the foreseeable future. Still Calderon says his government will continue to firmly insist the U.S. enact so-called comprehensive immigration reform.


WIAN: Meanwhile, the Bush administration seems content to ignore Mexico's accusations. As one analyst puts it, the White House is so fixated on the Middle East, I'm not sure it even knows that Mexico exists -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, perhaps they should watch this broadcast, and they would be reminded.

The idea of that State Department spokesman offering an explanation for what the Mexican president really meant to say, I mean, this is really an absurdity. This is a pitiful excuse for a State Department, if I may say.

WIAN: Well, and something else he said yesterday, if I can just read it to you, Lou, he says, "We want to make sure that we respect the dignity of those involved," meaning illegal aliens, "and that our efforts don't put anyone under any kind of undue pressure."


DOBBS: Well, I want to revise what I said about the State Department spokesman. His comments are idiotic, and would be better suited to maybe -- well, perhaps a -- I was going to probably denigrate a smaller organization than the State Department, so I won't do that. They're not worthy of the United States State Department.

Casey Wian, thank you very much.


DOBBS: Time now for some of your thoughts.

Joseph in California said -- quote -- "Lou, Calderon made that statement because he doesn't want the illegals back in Mexico. All he wants is the money they're sending back," more than $25 billion a year.

And Mark in California said: "Hi, Lou. I think our president should tell Mexico's president that fences really do make good neighbors. Thanks for all you do."

And Keith in Tennessee: "Lou, with all the vacant positions in the Bush administration, are these the jobs that President Bush refers to that Americans won't do?"

Could be. And for more of my thoughts on the Mexican president's comments and the Bush administration's lack of a response thereto, please go to our Web site,,

We will have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.

Up next, another massive recall, almost a million more dangerous toys made in China exported into the United States and sold through some of your favorite retailers. We will have that special report.

Americans want more jobs, but presidential candidate want more visas to give jobs to foreign workers.

And, Fred Thompson, he's making it official. He's trading in viewing for voting. He would like your vote.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: There is a new recall of dangerous products made in communist China, tonight, car fuses, 35 million fuses being recalled because they could cause fires. The auto fuses were sold by the California-based retailer Harbor Freight Tools.

The Chinese-made fuses are sold in the United States under the brand name Storehouse. The recalled fuses were sold from August of 2005 to August 2007.

This latest recall comes as American toy maker Mattel announces another recall of its own, Mattel pulling hundreds of thousands of toys off store shelves. This is Mattel's third recall of Chinese imports this summer. The company now says it's investigating its Chinese manufacturers.

Kitty Pilgrim reports on the worsening problem of dangerous toy imports from communist China.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mattel today struggling to salvage its reputation, taking out ads in major newspapers, pledging increased vigilance.

Mattel's Web site boasts it makes the world's premier toy brands, but the U.S. company today admitted in an e-mail they produce nothing in the United States; 65 percent of Mattel toys are made in China and millions of those toys have been recalled. This recall of 848,000 toys includes Barbie accessories and three Fisher-Price brand toys.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Companies that want to outsource and go oversee seas have a newfound responsibility. American consumers are looking at made in China as a warning label.

PILGRIM: The Consumer Product Safety Commission finds fault with the company, saying Mattel has been fined twice for not notifying the agency about defective products.

JULIE VALLESE, CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION: Mattel, Fisher-Price had the largest civil penalty of a toy manufacturer levied against them at $1.1 million, a second one earlier this year at $975,000.

PILGRIM: Some in Congress say it's not just one company. The problem is epidemic.

SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: What has happened to Mattel has happened to many other companies. They outsource production and then ship the product into this country, and there is no determination of whether those products are produced under the same conditions that we would require in this country.

PILGRIM: The CPSC today saying China needs to put procedures in place so that products exported to the United States are lead-free.

Mattel today saying several Chinese contractors are no longer manufacturing for the company.


PILGRIM: Now, the Consumer Product Safety Commission today says it fully expects more toys to be recalled in the coming months. It says the lead paint on the toys is not isolated to Mattel -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, if they can say that definitively, Kitty, why aren't they dealing with the issue?

PILGRIM: Yes. They're holding a safety summit with the Chinese manufacturers next week.

DOBBS: Unbelievable, one more bureaucratic, idiotic approach to a critical issue for American consumers.

PILGRIM: It seems we're past the discussion phase on a safety summit at this point.

DOBBS: And I love the fact, Mattel describing itself as the world's leading toy brand. You're talking about its integrity and its concern for the American consumer, and they don't even have American manufacturing, for crying out loud.

PILGRIM: Sixty-five percent of their toys are made in China. They do not produce in the United States.

DOBBS: Unbelievable.

When is everybody going get a bellyful of this nonsense? The American consumer is being played for an abject fool. It goes -- I mean, to even talk about a company as a brand before talking about a product or a service, it's just galling to me.

PILGRIM: It seems that safety is being very much overlooked. DOBBS: Well, whether by the regulators, the brand companies who can't seem to do much more than market the wares produced by other countries.

Thank you very much. Appreciate it, Kitty Pilgrim.

There are also concerns tonight about another product imported from communist China. This time, it's condoms. Tens of thousands of Chinese-made condoms provided free by the District of Columbia are being returned to D.C.'s Health Department. Reports say the condoms have fragile packaging and they have expiration dates that are illegible.

Well, another problem -- and I'm often criticized, by the way, for calling the People's Republic of China a communist nation. Some of my pinheaded, dolt critics say the term communist is inaccurate and unfair.

Coming up, we're going to, well, take a step toward settling the issue. I will be joined by two of the world's leading authorities on the People's Republic of China. They have opposing points of view on the issue of communism and China.

And we want you to know what they have to think. And, more importantly, we want to know what you think about the term communist China. In tonight's poll, our question is: Why do you believe the Bush administration and our national media refuse to refer to the People's Republic of China as a communist nation? Is it a matter of idiotic political correctness, corporatist propaganda, sheer and utter ignorance, or all of the above?

We would love to hear from you. Cast your vote at We will have the results here later in the broadcast.

Coming up next, charges the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates are selling out the middle class to boost their election prospects. How does that work? Well, first, they assume you won't figure it out. They are wrong. We will have the special report.

And Senator Larry Craig, he's flip-flopping, backing away apparently from his promise to resign from the Senate. We will have a live report.

And Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri defying critics, taking action to stop illegal immigration in Missouri. He's among our guests here tonight.

Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: Middle class Americans won't find many friendly faces among the presidential candidates. Oh, they'll tell you they're friendly to our middle class. But with rare exception the current candidates in both parties for the White House have caved in to the demands of corporate interests.

Senator Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John McCain -- all campaigning for an increase in the number of visas that would bring in more foreign workers into this country.

And as our Bill Tucker now reports, it's all at the expense of hard working middle class Americans.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): High tech companies want all the presidential candidates, regardless of their party affiliation, to understand one simple desire -- they want more H1-B visas. They need more H1-B visas. The U.S. currently limits them to 65,000 per year. Some of the leading presidential candidates seem in a mood to comply.

Skeptics say there's a simple reason why.

JOHN MIANO, PROGRAMMERS GUILD: Among the major candidates, it's clear that they all are supporting the H1-B program because that's where the money is. There are many industry groups and lobbying groups that can afford to drop lots -- millions of dollars into the campaign for this visa program.

TUCKER: Worker groups are not so well funded. Senator Hillary Clinton supports expanding the program, saying so on her Web site: "I am reaffirming my commitment to the H1-B visa and increasing the current cap."

Senator John McCain supports more H1-Bs and he blames failure to expand it on the immigration issue. "The H1-B problem," he says, "is caught up in this larger, emotional, traumatic national debate we've been having on immigration."

Former Senator John Edwards also supports the program, within limits saying: "H1-B visas are an important tool where businesses can't find qualified American workers."

But groups opposed to expansion of the program argue there is no demonstrable lack of talented Americans to fill the jobs. They point out that our colleges and universities are graduating almost 600,000 students a year with bachelors, masters or Ph.D.s in science and engineering, according to the National Science Foundation.

ART PULASKI, CALIFORNIA LABOR FEDERATION, AFL-CIO: Before you begin to bring people in from other countries on the H1-B program, hire Americans. Hire Californians. We have a lot of kids looking for jobs and that should be the priority.

TUCKER: The high tech lobby says they need the H1-B program to attract the brightest and the best.


TUCKER: Ah, but the visas are not awarded on the basis of degree held or qualification. They're awarded in a completely random lottery. In other words, the luckiest wins the visa.

And, Lou, of all the major candidates that we contacted today, Edwards was the only one who called us back to issue us a clarification.

And the only candidate that we know of who is absolutely opposed to the H1-B visa program being expanding is Tom Tancredo out of the Congress.

DOBBS: You know, this is, again, it is astonishing. Senator Clinton trying to position herself as a friend of the middle class but buying into these -- this -- basically Indian corporate nonsense.


DOBBS: What percentage of those H1-B visas are going to Indian companies?

TUCKER: Six out of the top 10 users of H1-Bs are Indian companies.

DOBBS: Let's say that one more time for Senator Clinton's benefit.

TUCKER: Six out of the top 10 of the top users of H1-B visas...

DOBBS: So it isn't about bringing in the most qualified workers.


DOBBS: Maybe we can tell Senator Clinton just a little bit about -- how much less do these H1-B visa holders make than the American worker in the same job?

TUCKER: Well, that would be $12,000 -- the same job, the same location, Lou. That's not like you're looking at somebody in St. Louis and New York.

DOBBS: Right.

TUCKER: That's side by side.

DOBBS: Twelve thousand dollars less. So, please, presidential candidates, Republicans and Democrats keep buying into this nonsense. And Senator McCain, please talk about the highly emotional issue of immigration when we're talking about H1-B visas, because, Senator, you don't know what you're talking about. And it's about time you started talking about facts and empiricism. As a matter of fact, that would be a great idea for all of you candidates in both political parties to remember, perhaps, that facts count, reality counts and so does our middle class.

Bill Tucker, thank you very much.

Presidential candidates, unfortunately, aren't the only ones at war with the middle class. Our lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are also pushing to bring even more foreign workers into this country, irrespective of the impact on American labor.

Some in Congress want to raise that limit on H1-B visas with the so-called STRIVE Act. That is an acronym for -- it's very clever, stay with me on this -- Security Through Regularized Immigration and Vibrant Economy Act of 2007.

I don't know about you, but I just get so excited when I think about the genius in our Congress, on Capitol Hill, that comes up with things like the STRIVE Act.

It's one of the many bills, part of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill, that fell apart back in June.

Now, as we've reported here before, Congress is trying to revive that failed legislation piece by piece, one bill at a time, but still with the same aim -- amnesty, open borders and to shove it all down the throats of American citizens.

Debate in Congress resumes tomorrow on the STRIVE Act.

And you know what?

We're going to be there just to let you know what 's going on and to watch the geniuses at work behind that effort.

Well, is he in or is he out?

First, Senator Larry Craig announced he would resign at the end of this month. Now, he's trying to keep his Senate seat, apparently, and that is infuriating his fellow Republicans. They fear Craig's conviction for allegedly making sexual advances in an airport restroom in Minneapolis with a cop will damage the Republican Party, perhaps, even more.

Dana Bash has the report.


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Larry Craig may be having second thoughts about resigning, but his own Republican leadership sure isn't. First they pushed, now a shove.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: My view remains what I said last Saturday. I thought he made the correct decision -- the difficult, but correct, decision to resign. That would still be my view today.

BASH: Senate Republican leaders have been boasting about their swift success in pressuring Craig to resign. Now GOP leadership aides tell CNN top Senate Republicans are furious that Craig is keeping the tabloid-like scandal alive.

DAN WHITING, SPOKESMAN FOR SENATOR LARRY CRAIG: He's innocent and he believes that there's a good chance that he eventually will have this charge overturned. BASH: Craig may now reconsider resigning on September 30th if he is able to overturn a guilty plea by then, one he signed admitting to disorderly conduct in a men's room.

Most legal experts say clearing his name will be extraordinarily hard.

TIM HEAPHY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: And it almost never works. It's an extremely high uphill climb for Senator Craig.

BASH: But Craig's change of heart was prompted by GOP Senator Arlen Specter, who encouraged him to fight.

Craig discussed his decision on a voicemail message obtained by "Roll Call" newspaper left shortly before his news conference on Saturday.


SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R), IDAHO: Arlen Specter is now willing to come out in my defense, arguing that it appears, by all that he knows, I've been railroaded and all of that. Having all of that, we've reshaped my statement a little bit to say it is my intent to resign on September 30.

BASH: Meanwhile, Craig's attorney asked the Senate Ethics Committee to dismiss a request by the Senate Republican leadership to investigate Craig's conduct. He argued that there is no precedent for looking into a misdemeanor that has nothing to do with the senator's abilities and performance here in Congress.

But late today, Lou, the Ethics Committee rejected that. They say they have a right and a responsibility to look into Craig's conduct and they're going to continue to do so -- Lou.

DOBBS: You know, Dana, I really do love that place where you work. It's got to be fascinating for you, as it is for all of us -- breathtaking, amazing, disgusting.

And we thank you for bringing us all of the twists and turns that is our Congress.

We thank you very much.

BASH: Thank you.

DOBBS: Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.

Well, a former senator, Fred Thompson, now wants to star in a new role as a spoiler. In just a few hours, the actor in the crime series, "Law and Order," former senator from the State of Tennessee, will officially announce his candidacy for the White House. The former senator's poll numbers could upset the race for the Republican presidential nomination, now led by former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

As our Candy Crowley reports, his announcement overshadows tonight's Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Say this for actor/politician Fred Thompson -- he's running second in national polls without breaking a sweat and he knows how to steal a show.


FRED THOMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I invite you to take a look and join us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fred Thompson, Republican for president.


CROWLEY: The ad is titled "Debate," kind of an inside joke, since it airs around the New Hampshire debate this evening and Thompson isn't coming -- at his own peril.

ANDREW SMITH, UNH SURVEY: I think if you look back to 1999, the beginning of the end for the Bush campaign was when he skipped the Dartmouth debate. There became a sense that he wasn't ready for prime time and his campaign staff was trying to keep him out of the media light. There's -- that story line is already starting to develop in New Hampshire. Earlier this week, "The Manchester Union Leader" had an article that was questioning why Thompson wasn't showing up.

So I don't think it's a good thing for him to do it.

CROWLEY: Instead of the debate of Durham, Thompson will be shooting the breeze in Burbank -- echoes of another actor/politician.





CROWLEY: "The Tonight Show" has an audience roughly twice as big as the one likely to see the debate. It may be no coincidence that Team Thompson, in a constant state of flux, has recently hired a couple of people who worked for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Shortly after midnight this evening, an hour-and-a-half after the debate, Thompson announces his presidential campaign via Web cast. Tomorrow, when the morning news might be expected to feature debate highlights, he begins a maiden campaign voyage through the early primary states.


CROWLEY: Top Republicans here in New Hampshire say they really doubt Thompson can make much headway here, not just because he's skipping the debate. But they say he has no real infrastructure and they don't believe he can catch up in just 16 weeks -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, they may not believe it, they may not like it, but this fellow -- without being in it -- is already in second place.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And, you know, with that kind of -- you know, after the poll numbers come, the money comes. And with the money, you can put an infrastructure in there. So this may just be wishful thinking on the parts of a lot of candidacies.

But the fact is that he's a real player in this.

DOBBS: I can't imagine there being wishful thinking on the part of politicians, even those seeking the presidency, at least the nomination for each of their parties.

Candy, thank you very much.

Candy Crowley.


DOBBS: From New Hampshire.

Tonight, a wealthy benefactor of Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party -- those Democratic candidates, by the way, include Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- he's in trouble with the law again.

A California judge today issued a warrant for the arrest of Norman Hsu after he failed to show up in court. Last week, Hsu turned himself in after spending 15 years evading a felony theft conviction.

Up next here, a governor accused of discrimination and harassment who is trying to enforce immigration laws and public safety in his state. We'll be talking with him.

Also, for decades it's been called Red China or Communist China.

But have you noticed the White House doesn't call The People's Republic Communist China?

The president doesn't, the Congress doesn't, the national media doesn't.

We do, and we'll be debating the issue here tonight.

Stay with us for that and a great deal more.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri has launched a new crackdown on illegal immigration in his state. The governor ordering state law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of anyone arrested in the state. Even people stopped for traffic offenses could be checked.

Governor Blunt joins us tonight. Governor, first, why did you take this action at this time?

GOV. MATT BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: Well, I think the failure of the federal government to provide a secure border means that states have to do more. We want to do more in Missouri. This has been a part of an ongoing effort to be involved in rooting out illegal immigration.

We began with the state contractor. We worked with the ICE to coordinate a bust on a state contractor that was using illegal workers. We've now taken decisive actions to ensure that anybody that's presented for incarceration is -- always has their immigration status checked, to help ensure that what happened in New Jersey, where three promising African-American students were killed in a brutal murder by somebody that should have been detained because they were an illegal immigrant that had committed a terrible crime in our country -- a child rape -- to ensure that doesn't happen in my state.

We also want to be deputized, essentially, deputize all of our state law enforcement personnel to help the federal government enforce our immigration law. And this is a multiplier. There are about 50 ICE agents in the State of Missouri

DOBBS: Right.

BLUNT: ...well over 1,000 state law enforcement personnel that could help in that effort.

DOBBS: Are you surprised that there is -- there are those who criticize vehemently actions like yours, working with the federal government, when, you know, on the issue of immigration law, when there is cooperation between the states and local and federal government all of the time on such issues as drug and narcotics investigations?

Give us your perspective on that.

BLUNT: Yes, I am perhaps not surprised that there are some -- some fringe elements that all of that view. The vast majority of Missouri families I've talked to before and after I've made these announcements and issued these directives are very much in favor of our efforts as a state to do everything we can to stop illegal immigration. They understand that we're a people that welcome legal immigrants. They add to our culture and to our economy. But there have to be controls and people have to go through the proper regulatory and legal process.

DOBBS: And what has been the reaction in the state by the media there -- television, radio and, of course, the leading newspapers in your state -- to your directive?

BLUNT: Well, you know, the leading newspapers are no surprise and are generally in opposition. But that's -- their viewpoint is a rather, I think, radical viewpoint on a number of issues. This would be one.

Most people that I talk to across the state are very much in favor of what we're doing. Certainly those outlets that are mainstream are in support of our efforts to stop illegal immigration. They understand that our tax dollars shouldn't go to companies that use illegal immigrants. And that's another directive that I've issued recently, to help take unprecedented steps to try and ensure that our tax credits and tax incentives aren't being used by contractors or companies that knowingly and negligently employ illegal immigrants.


DOBBS: We should point out -- Governor, our time is up.

But we should point out you've done this with a directive, without great fanfare and without a political battle in the state legislature.

Governor Matt Blunt, we thank you for being here.

We appreciate it.

The governor of Missouri coming to us tonight from Jefferson City.

Up next, is the People's Republic of China a communist nation?

Two experts on The People's Republic of China have different views.

Join us for what should be a very interesting debate on what seems to me to be a very obvious conclusion.

Stay with us.

We're coming right back.


DOBBS: President Hu Jintao's China is almost unrecognizable to anyone who remembers the China of Mao Zedong. Some say The People's Republic of China has changed so much, you can't even call it a communist nation anymore.

Joining me tonight is Gordon Chang. He's author of "The Coming Collapse of China."

Frank Neville, former diplomat, now at the Thunderbird School of International Management.

Gentlemen, thanks for being here.

Let me start with you, Mr. Neville.

Is The People's Republic of China a communist nation? FRANK NEVILLE, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT DIPLOMAT: No, I wouldn't describe it as communist. You know, the Chinese government, over the past 25 years, has greatly increased social and economic freedoms, has done everything it can to stimulate private wealth creation and has really staked its political legitimacy on its ability to help the Chinese people get rich, as Deng Xiaoping famously said. That doesn't sound very communist to me.

DOBBS: Gordon Chang, how does that sound to you?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "THE COMING COLLAPSE OF CHINA": Well, they call themselves the Communist Party of China, so I don't think we should rename them.

When my wife and I moved to Shanghai in '96, I can remember her getting on the phone and saying, "Mom, China is not communist anymore."

And I have to admit, I agreed with her.

But as we lived in China, as we traveled around the country, talked to people, worked with the government, we realized that the Leninist political institutions hadn't changed very much.

DOBBS: Well, let me ask you, Frank, I mean, as Gordon says, they call it -- it's the Communist Party of China.

How many parties are in China?

NEVILLE: Well, I would call it authoritarian.

CHANG: Right.

NEVILLE: You know, the reason they have communist is in there is historical.

I lived in China for a long time myself and I didn't see very much that was communist. I saw a lot that was authoritarian and certainly they want to maintain political control. But...

DOBBS: Well, can we go back to my question, though, Frank?

NEVILLE: Certainly.

DOBBS: How many political parties are in China?

NEVILLE: There are a number of political parties.


NEVILLE: There's only one that matters, though.


DOBBS: And they are what?

What are they called?

NEVILLE: Oh, they have various different names.

DOBBS: But they are generally called the Communist Party, are they not?

NEVILLE: Well, again, the one party that matters calls itself the Communist Party. But there is...

DOBBS: So what is -- I'm trying to understand this aversion to referring to China as a communist government.

CHANG: Well, you know, from day to day, you know, as Frank says, it sometimes doesn't look that way. But, you know, we want to look at what's going on with the Olympics. In order to stage the game, they're reverting to vast mobilization techniques, which are the tool of totalitarian governance.

So, you know, this is the old China.

DOBBS: What do you think, Frank?

NEVILLE: Not at all. Not at all. The personal freedoms, the individual wealth, the pluralism of the society, it's entirely different. Anybody who saw Mao's China saw real communism. Anybody who saw China today knows that it's not communism.

DOBBS: Anybody who does knows that, yet Gordon has lived in China, as you have. Many of the leading geopolitical strategic experts in this country refer to them as communist. But interesting, Lee, our corpocracy does not. It shuns that word communist.

Do you know why, Frank?

NEVILLE: I think that -- that's a very interesting observation, Lou. And there are certainly political issues there. You know, communist is such a loaded word in our society. It's such a loaded word in our political lexicon that it's not surprising that people would -- would not -- would not use it frequently.

DOBBS: Is democracy -- is freedom a loaded set of terms in The People's Republic?

NEVILLE: It certainly is. It certainly is. There is tremendous freedom to speak your mind in China, but there are certain words like that that are...

CHANG: But, you know, I can't...

NEVILLE: ...that are lightning rods.

CHANG: I can't believe you're saying that, because, you know, we're in the midst of a five year crackdown. And I'm not talking just about democracy advocates or newspaper editors. They're cracking down on the writers of karaoke songs.


CHANG: You know, if you look at the regime in 2007, it's worse than the regime in 1987 or 1997.

So I don't see how you can say that, you know, there's...

NEVILLE: That's absolutely not. In 1987, people were afraid to -- to talk to foreigners. Now, you know, there's...

DOBBS: Let me...

NEVILLE: ...there's nobody looking over your shoulder going to throw you in jail because you talked to a foreigner.

DOBBS: Let me quickly turn to another issue, because the APEC meeting is coming up. We're sitting here spending over $300 billion in deficit. The Chinese hold over a trillion dollars in our hard currency in reserves as a result of our idiotic trade policies, Frank.

I'd like you both to respond to how long we can continue this insanity, live with the fiction that it's free trade and that we are not entirely dependent on The People's Republic of China.

What say you, Frank?

NEVILLE: Well, I would say that the Chinese government and the Chinese economy is more dependent on the U.S. economy than we are on the Chinese economy. I mean we're looking -- we're seeing the ramifications of that right now with the all of these recalls. You know, 35 percent of the China's GDP is wrapped up in exports. And they're supremely concerned because those are at risk.

DOBBS: Gordon, do you agree?

CHANG: You know, at the end of day American consumers are going to stop buying Chinese goods because no one's going to want toothpaste with antifreeze. You don't go into a store saying I want to buy a charm bracelet for my daughter which contains lead. So there is going to be a change.

DOBBS: But the retailers are more than willing to put that out at a very low price, aren't they?

CHANG: They are. But, you know, the American consumer is pretty smart.

DOBBS: Well, and I think getting a lot smarter, and, perhaps, a belly full, as well.

Perhaps there will be changes on both sides of the Pacific in this relationship.

Frank, it doesn't sound like you think they're need.

Gordon, it sounds like you think they are needed.

NEVILLE: Well, I think...

DOBBS: We thank you both for sharing your views.

CHANG: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Frank Neville, thank you very much.

NEVILLE: Thank you.

DOBBS: Gordon Chang.

CHANG: Thanks.

DOBBS: Up next here, we'll have the results of our poll. We'll know what you think for sure.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight -- 78 percent of you responded that all of the above was the correct answer to our question on why the national media and the Bush administration will not refer to The Republic of China as a communist nation.

By the way, second place was 16 percent saying it was corporatist propaganda, and sheer ignorance, of course, to buy (INAUDIBLE) for the Bush administration, just to round out the list.

We thank you for watching.

Please join us here tomorrow.

For all of us, good night from New York.

"THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.