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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Clinton Fights for Needed Victory in Texas; Can Obama Hold on to his Momentum?; Department of Homeland Security Approves Virtual Border Fence
Aired February 13, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight, Senator Clinton at a critical point in her bid for the White House following losses in yesterday's Potomac primaries, Senator Obama showing new momentum, his victories putting him ahead in the delegate count. We'll have all of that, the latest on the Republican campaign, all the day's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Wednesday, February 13th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Senator Clinton today stepping up her criticism of Senator Obama, calling him in her words to meet me in Texas. She's counting on a victory there to energize her campaign. A total of 2,025 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. Senator Clinton needs 814 more delegates to reach that number.
Senator Obama swept the Potomac primaries yesterday giving him the edge over Senator Clinton. He campaigned today in Wisconsin as the new frontrunner. Senator Obama needs 772 more delegates to clinch the nomination.
We have extensive coverage tonight, and we begin with Suzanne Malveaux in San Antonio, Texas -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, this is big and it really is a Texas-sized showdown between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Advisors are saying that everything is riding on her getting Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. That is critical to getting the nomination, but something else has to happen. She's got to gain momentum in the three weeks leading up to the first race.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): If you are going to lose three primaries and the delegate count overnight, one way to do it simply ignore the results.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't think of any better place to start our campaign for Texas than right here in El Paso.
MALVEAUX: With no mention of a recent string of losses, Senator Clinton burst forward in an all-out blitz to win Texas. She's leaning heavily on Hispanics traveling to Latino strongholds like El Paso, Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley. She's also sharpening her attacks.
H. CLINTON: We're going to give our young people not only confidence and optimism, but real results.
MALVEAUX: Advisors call Texas the last stand, the Alamo. In the weeks to come Clinton will campaign heavily in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Her husband, the former president, will, again, emerge as a regular presence on the trail. Senator Clinton is baiting Obama for more debates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe he'd prefer to give speeches than have to answer questions.
MALVEAUX: Despite Clinton's recent campaign staff shake-up, she's denied she was running a joyless campaign.
MALVEAUX: Lou, she says that's not what is going on. There's a tremendous amount of energy and focus and support. We should also note that today she made herself available to the press. It was the first time after 12 hours from her defeat that she acknowledged it, saying that she congratulated Barack Obama on his series of victories and then she challenged him saying I'll meet you in Texas -- Lou.
DOBBS: She'll meet him in Texas and Wisconsin and quite a few other places. In point of fact, only 40 delegates separate the two candidates. The idea that Senator Clinton is making herself available to the press, that's something of a change in approach as well, is it not?
MALVEAUX: Well, it certainly is to her benefit to make herself more available to the press. We've seen that. We are also seeing kind of a back drop change with these candidates. All of the American flags in the background obviously trying to look presidential.
What you are going to hear is really her attack against Barack Obama, going to the issue of leadership and electability. That is the one thing that they are going to make their case saying that he does not have the capabilities or the leadership to win this thing. We'll see how it goes.
DOBBS: Maybe beginning now the American people and, particularly on the Democratic side, the Democratic voters will start hearing real positions on real issues for a change from these candidates. It's probably much too early to expect that to happen on the Republican side just yet.
Suzanne, thank you very much. Suzanne Malveaux from El Paso.
MALVEAUX: Thank you.
DOBBS: Senator Obama fresh from his streak of victories in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, today campaigned in Wisconsin. Senator Obama attacking his Democratic rival and Republican John McCain as well over their support of the war in Iraq.
Candy Crowley has our report from Racine, Wisconsin.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barack Obama campaigned his way through Wisconsin Wednesday, courting modest income, working class voters in the towns buffeted by factory closings and a downward economic spiral.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should not be giving tax breaks to corporations that make their profits in some other country with some other workers. Before she started running for president, Senator Clinton actually voted for this loophole.
CROWLEY: He is going after Hillary Clinton's base.
OBAMA: Good to see you.
CROWLEY: Touring a GM assembly plant in Jamesville, he hits Clinton in places that resonate in living rooms. Her early support for the North American Free Trade Agreement, her support for a bankruptcy bill seen by many as pro big business, her support of the war.
OBAMA: John McCain and Hillary Clinton voted for a war in Iraq that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged. A war that is costing us thousands of precious lives and billions of dollars a week that could have been used to rebuild crumbling schools and bridges, roads and buildings. That could have been invested in job training and child care and making health care affordable or putting college within reach.
CROWLEY: He is leading now in a number of states won in the overall tally of votes and in pledged delegates, so it's a two-front battle. Obama also has an eye on John McCain.
OBAMA: He took me on, on economics because he has admitted -- and by the way, John McCain is a great American hero, a war hero. We honor his service.
OBAMA: But economics is not his strong suit. I mean, he said I don't understand economics very well. And after what he said, it shows because his main economic philosophy is to continue the same tax breaks.
CROWLEY: As Obama tries for his ninth straight election victory in Wisconsin, his campaign is busy building up his inevitability. The top campaign advisor telling reporters the math in the primaries ahead makes it, "all but impossible for her to beat him in pledged delegates."
(on camera): Obama has campaigned much more extensively in Wisconsin than Clinton has, but she's tried to corner him with a new ad up on the air here challenging him to a debate. The Obama campaign says thanks very much. There have already been 18 debates. He has agreed to two more, and right now he just wants to meet the voters of Wisconsin -- Lou.
DOBBS: Candy, thank you. Candy Crowley reporting from Racine, Wisconsin.
The two Democratic hopefuls busy with their campaigns missed a key Senate vote last night. The Senate approved a bill that would expand the government surveillance powers of victory for the White House. The Republican frontrunner, Senator John McCain, was in attendance to vote. He did vote for the act.
But Senator McCain has missed other votes. In fact, Senator McCain has missed 55 percent of Senate votes over this session. The most of any senator with the exception of Senator Tim Johnson who suffered a brain hemorrhage in December of 2006.
Senator Obama has missed almost 40 percent of the votes. Senator Clinton has missed 26 percent of the Senate votes this session, a model of attendance and vigorous participation in the Senate's business, wouldn't you say? Senator McCain virtually assured of the Republican nomination today also won support from Republican leaders in the House.
The senator attacked Democrats over taxes and health care issues in what promises to be a preview of the general election campaign. Dana Bash has our report.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the Republican presidential candidate desperate to rally his party behind him, this helps.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: Clearly I have had some disagreements with Senator McCain over the years, but I've got to tell you I've watched this presidential race unfold, and I have watched John McCain be a strong advocate for the principles that I believe in.
BASH: So does this.
REP. ROY BLUNT (R), MINORITY WHIP: This contest is over, and I think it's produced the best possible nominee for us to take back the House.
BASH: A show of support from formerly skeptical House GOP leaders on the heels of the Potomac primary sweep, and John McCain's patience for Mike Huckabee is wearing thin. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course, I would like for him to withdraw today. It would be much easier, but I respect and have repeatedly said I respect his right to continue in this race.
BASH: But McCain has moved on test driving his general election message.
MCCAIN: For the Democrats who want to raise your taxes or me I want to lower your taxes. Whether it will be a health care system run by the federal government or whether families in America will make their choices about health care.
BASH: In an effort to convince GOP lawmakers maverick McCain is a team player, CNN is told behind closed doors a supporter read data on how much he has campaigned for House candidates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next election is going to fought in the middle.
BASH: The congressman in charge of electing House Republicans this year says McCain topping the ticket will help.
REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: I think Independent voters are going to be the most important voting block going forward. I think John McCain has a demonstrated appeal to that group.
BASH: But some are still wary of McCain on issues like immigration. Congressman Tom Price wants to hear...
REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: That border security first is the paramount importance to this nation. I need to look him in the eye, shake his hand and get that assurance from him as well.
BASH: And we're told that issue of illegal immigration did, in fact, come up in today's closed door meeting with McCain and House Republicans. GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher asked McCain what his position is on imprisoned border patrol agents Ramos and Compean. Now we're told McCain said he wanted to and would study the facts of that case, but then it turned into a broader discussion about McCain's intense disagreement last year with many of those House Republicans on the issue of immigration. And McCain said what he has repeated over and over on the campaign trail for months now, and Lou that is that he got the message, and if president, he would secure the border first -- Lou.
DOBBS: OK. Thank you very much. Dana Bash, appreciate it.
BASH: Thank you.
DOBBS: While Senator McCain is fighting to prove to Republicans he is sufficiently conservative, there is no speculation as to whether Senators Obama and Clinton are sufficiently liberal. That's for good reason. Senator Obama now ranks as the most liberal senator, according to rankings for the "National Journal." Senator Clinton ranks 16th. Incidentally The American Conservative Union gave Senator McCain an 82 percent rating as a conservative.
Coming up next, the federal government unable to handle a rush of green card applications. It's taking what could be a very dangerous step.
Bill Tucker will have our report -- Bill.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the Department of Homeland Security has more people than it can handle waiting for green cards. Their solution, wave them on in -- Lou.
DOBBS: I look forward to that. This administration, this government never, never, ceasing to amaze.
Also, the federal government is pushing ahead with a plan for a virtual fence that simply may not work. We'll have a special report on how there's so much discussion on a 2,000 mile border over 28 miles of fencing.
Under fire for alleged steroid use pitching star Roger Clemens faces his accuser and the U.S. Congress. If this Congress has so much guts and interest in this issue, why didn't they bring in the commissioner of Major League Baseball and the owners? We'll have that report. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Our federal government is just a wonderful organization. The Department of Homeland Security tonight has come up with a solution to a massive backlog of green card applications. The Department of Homeland Security now says it will grant green cards and dispense altogether with the completion of those just really, really tiresome background checks that it has to take -- undertake with each applicant.
As Bill Tucker now reports, this is just the latest example of our government putting expediency ahead of national security, and I don't know what ahead of just good judgment.
TUCKER (voice-over): The Department of Homeland Security is reversing its long-standing policy and will begin granting green cards to tens of thousands of applicants whose background checks are incomplete. Eligible immigrants are those whose fingerprints have cleared the FBI database of criminal convictions and arrests, but whose names haven't.
DHS defends the practice, noting that all applicants for green cards are people who have been in the country for several years and who have already undergone one background check when they initially entered the country. It's a move, though, that has alarmed agency critics. MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: The whole point to doing these security checks every time a foreigner changes status is to give us a second, third, fourth chance to find out if they're really supposed to be here.
TUCKER: The policy change is intended to clear up a backlog of 150,000 applicants, some of whom have been waiting for more than three years. Critics say the policy reversal smacks of expedience trumping security.
MICHAEL CUTLER, FORMER INS AGENT: If we can spend so much time, money, and effort screening passengers getting onboard airplanes, wouldn't it only make sense that we similarly subject aliens seeking to enter the United States, especially permanently, through a similar process of scrutiny?
TUCKER: In 2006 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it had lost the files of 111,000 people waiting to become naturalized citizens. The agency then admitted it had granted citizenship to 30,000 of those people anyway.
TUCKER: Bottom line, say the critics, is that we are not taking responsibility for our immigration policies. Congress doesn't provide the necessary staffing, funding, or resources to do the job right, and the critics say that leaves us with two very simple choices.
Either Congress does provide the resources, or we reduce the number of legal immigrants that we allow in every year so that we can do the job right. Lou, compromising on security shouldn't be an option here.
DOBBS: Well, it shouldn't be necessary to reduce the number of people who want to come into this country lawfully. It shouldn't be even a consideration as to not providing a security and background check, a complete background check, on every person who wants to come into this country. Citizenship and Immigration Services run by Emilio Gonzales (ph), this man is a complete idiot.
He has an administration -- he is working in an administration that is filled with idiots, so his idiocy is not by any chance a rare or unusual occurrence in this administration, but the fact that Congress is compounding the absolute neglect and -- I can't even tell you -- the buffoonery of this administration by not insisting that we give greater resources to citizenship and immigration and demand that they operate like a responsible agency of this super power is -- it's unconscionable.
TUCKER: Well DHS's response when I talked to them for a while was that USCIS is a feeder (ph) of an agency. In other words, they're self-funded and they're hiding behind that excuse rather than saying we want to step in...
(CROSSTALK) DOBBS: Forgive me for interrupting you, Bill. I don't want to hear any more lamebrain concepts from DHS any more of their lame excuses. These people are absolutely irresponsible and they're unconscionable in their conduct of their constitutional responsibilities to the American people, and to those who want to become citizens of this country.
We talk about an immigration issue, an illegal immigration issue. Part of the reason is that we have a government that is absolutely acting in disregard and how about a little respect for the people who want to come here? We are -- we should be setting standards that by god every immigrant to this country lawfully has to meet, but we should treat them with respect when they do meet those standards.
DOBBS: And we should treat that -- this nation with some respect. None of the above is occurring, of course. Thank you very much, George W. Bush, great work, what a great administration. I know you must be profoundly proud.
Well, the Department of Homeland Security today also said it would approve a 28-mile virtual fence along our southern border. You know the one with Mexico. If you are listening Mr. Bush, last year the government withheld part of the payment for that project after a failed test run.
Now, remember, we're talking about 28 miles of a 2,000 mile long border and, yes, this is 2008. As Jeanne Meserve now reports, critics say the virtual fence is an actual failure.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The goal was an integrated high-tech system to secure the border, but the $20 million Boeing project blending cameras and sensors enhanced communications and upgraded patrol vehicles has fallen short.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's fair to say at this point in time it is a boondoggle.
MESERVE: The first 28 miles of the high-tech system in the Arizona desert has been bedeviled by equipment that didn't work. Radar, for instance, that mistook raindrops for illegal aliens. Some has been replaced or fixed, but according to border patrol agents in the field, there are still problems.
T.J. BONNER, NAT'L BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: One officer reported that he saw a group of 80 illegal aliens moving northward and then after the end of shift went back to see if the technology had spotted it. It had not.
MESERVE: The secretary of homeland security says parts of the project do expand border patrol capabilities, and he expects to accept the system from Boeing in a matter of days, but not all of it. He compares it to having a house inspection. MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: There's some stuff you say I'm not taking the house until you fix it, and then there's some stuff you say you know what I'll live with it, but give me credit and that's what we're doing here.
MESERVE: Some members of Congress still have serious questions.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), CHMN., HOMELAND SEC. CMTE.: It's eight months overdue, but I want to make sure that when it's finally accepted it's what originally was requested.
MESERVE: The head of the Border Patrol Union says some agents would prefer to do their job without the high-tech bells and whistles, but the Department of Homeland Security is asking for $775 million in its '09 (ph) budget to fence the border, some of it to refine and expand the virtual fence -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well Jeanne, it's -- I'm pretty clear. And I'm on the record of what I think of DHS and the way it's approaching security at both of our boarders and all of our ports. But Jeanne, there's some concern that there are wires within this fence that are being used now to target our border patrol agents. What can you tell us about that?
MESERVE: That's right. As you know, in some parts of the border there's a double fence, and the border patrol patrols between them. Near San Ucidro (ph) in recent days they found a wire strung from the northern most fence across and through the southern fence.
What they think this was, was a booby trap. They think that when the wire was pulled taut, it could have beheaded any border patrol agents patrolling on ATVs.
DOBBS: And what is the border patrol doing about that?
MESERVE: Well, they're very concerned about this new technique that they found. I'm sure they'll be keeping an eye out for other wires to see if this has been replicated elsewhere along the fence.
DOBBS: All right, Jeanne, thank you very much for that report. It's an absurdity that we're sitting here just about approaching seven years now since September 11th talking about securing our borders and the discussion is over 28 miles of virtual fence to the South.
Jeanne, thank you very much. Jeanne Meserve.
Up next here, the Bush administration is fighting for the rights of truckers in this country, the rights of Mexican truckers and the hell with American truckers, the latest efforts to put Mexico's interests ahead of our own. This administration will continue to surprise and delight just about everyone who is fascinated by incompetence and dereliction of duty.
And fireworks on Capitol Hill over steroids and baseball, Roger Clemens was there and a trainer accusing him of using steroids, but not the real folks who actually run baseball.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what to believe. I know one thing I don't believe, and that's you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: We'll find out what they do believe, what they're thinking, and why they're not getting to the bottom of things. We'll tell you who those harsh words were directed at here next. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: One of baseball's greatest pitchers, Roger Clemens, today faced questioning by a Congressional panel that seemed -- many of its members seemed intent on proving how tough they were to taking on the alleged use of steroids. It didn't really work out so well. Clemens is named in last year's Mitchell report on steroid use in baseball, and today under oath the baseball star and future Hall of Famer once again denied his former trainer's accusation that he used steroids.
Louise Schiavone has our report now on this latest chapter in baseball's ongoing steroid scandal.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Baseball, the nation's favorite distraction, lived up to its billing on Capitol Hill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear...
SCHIAVONE: As pitching superstar Roger Clemens repeatedly told Congress he never took banned substances to play the game.
ROGER CLEMENS, MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHER: How do you prove a negative? No matter what we discuss here today I'm never going to have my name restored, but I have got to try to set the record straight. I'm not saying Senator Mitchell's report is entirely wrong. I am saying Brian McNamee's statements about me are wrong.
SCHIAVONE: Seated dramatically at the same table a man who swore to investigators that he injected Clemens with the drugs.
BRIAN MCNAMEE, CLEMENS FORMER TRAINER: I told the truth. I told the truth about steroids and human growth hormone. I injected those drugs into the body of Roger Clemens at his direction.
SCHIAVONE: It was a made for TV drama. Unlike most committee sessions, the hearing room was bursting with lawmakers, public, and media.
REP. CHRIS SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: And he is here because everyone in this audience knows he is the icon in baseball. He is what brings all these cameras and all those people out there. In my judgment we're lining up like you are going to a Roman circus.
SCHIAVONE: The hearing was convened against the backdrop of new testimony by former Clemens teammate Andy Pettitte.
VOICE OF REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Mr. Clemens, do you think Mr. Pettitte was lying when he told the committee that you admitted using human growth hormones?
CLEMENS: Again, I think Andy has misheard.
SCHIAVONE: In general antagonism against accuser Brian McNamee was heard mostly from Republicans.
REP. DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA: This is really disgusting. You are here as a sworn witness. You are here to tell the truth. You are here under oath, and, yet, we have lie after lie after lie after lie.
SCHIAVONE: Democrats generally wondered aloud if the rocket, known as a friend of the Bush family, was telling the truth.
SCHIAVONE: Lou, Committee Chairman Waxman announced this would be the last such hearing even as most lawmakers and spectators left that five-hour session still uncertain whose account they should believe -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, and it's really interesting to me. I can't understand at all why if baseball is so interesting in cleaning up the sport, they don't have all of the owners, Bud Selig, the commissioner, all of the folks who know what's going on in baseball up there in front of Congress.
Wouldn't that be a more interesting and perhaps more comprehensive, because Congress, we know, likes comprehensive approaches, a comprehensive approach to this ugly, nasty business of steroid use?
SCHIAVONE: Lou, this was just, as I said, a made for TV drama. It was pitting the trainer against the player and it's still a real who done it.
DOBBS: It's a who done it and a silly -- and a bunch of silly nonsense because Congress isn't going to get anything accomplished here when there are real issues to take care of, but if they're going to do it they need to get, as I said, comprehensive.
Let's see if they have the guts to do that or if they would just rather pose -- posture for those television cameras.
Louise, thank you very much. Louise Schiavone from Washington.
Make no mistake Major League Baseball is a big, big business. Major League Baseball's revenues have skyrocketed since the 1994 strike shortened season. In 1994 Major League Baseball made a modest $676 million. In the course of just about 13 years, well, they were very, very lucky, very fortunate. All those home runs being hit by ever bigger, ever more powerful sluggers and the next thing you know their revenue is just about 10 times larger over the course of that period. That's pretty good. Ten times more, up to over $6 billion.
They still have that anti-trust exemption that Congress gave them, but Congress doesn't seem to want to look into that. I wonder why. In November, baseball commissioner Bud Selig is going to talk about the growing revenue saying if we just keep doing our work, stay out of controversies, at least keep the focus on the field, we'll get to numbers someday that will be stunning. End quote. Buy golly, he turned out to be a regular prophet.
That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe Congress has the guts to investigate Bud Selig and the owners and managers of Major League Baseball in the same fashion as they have a relative handful of players? Yes or no. We would like to hear from you. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have results later in the broadcast. Time now for some of your thoughts.
Todd in Florida said "Lou, all the pressing issues facing our country today and our Congress is most worried about steroid use by Roger Clemens. Give me a break. I have been an independent since 1992. Keep fighting for us, Lou!"
Jerry in Texas, "It is sad that with serious immigration issues, a failed public education system, a housing foreclosure crisis and massive U.S. debt, our Congress is spending time on steroids in baseball. Maybe Congress should be taking performance enhancement drugs."
I have to say that sounds like a reasonable option for them. We'll have more of your thoughts. On the other hand, I'm not sure at their talent level whether we want them to make any greater effort to accomplish things. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit."
And coming up here next, a House effort and the president's call to quickly pass a bill falls short. We'll have that report.
And a new Democratic frontrunner, Senator Obama sweeping three primaries putting him ahead in the delegate count. I'll be talking about what will be an interesting Republican race with three of the best political analysts in the country.
Stay with us. We're continuing next.
DOBBS: Another major victory for the Bush administration today. The House of Representatives failed to pass a measure that was intended to give lawmakers more time to negotiate with the senate on a controversial surveillance law. Yesterday, the senate approved a white house piece of legislation, approving a version, of the eavesdropping bill expanding the federal government's powers to spy.
Elaine Quijano has our report from Washington.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From the oval office President Bush delivered an urgent but vague warning.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At this moment somewhere in the world terrorists are planning to attack our country.
QUIJANO: One day after the senate overwhelmingly handed him a victory, voting on a surveillance bill that would give retroactive legal immunity to telecom companies. The president pressured the house to follow suit.
BUSH: The House's failure to pass the bipartisan senate bill would jeopardize the security of our citizens.
QUIJANO: For some Democrats the senate's approval acknowledges the Democrat's Achilles heel, fear of being painted this election year as being weak on national security.
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: Under intense administration pressure, marked by inaccurate and misleading scare tactics, the senate has buckled. We are left with a very dangerous piece of legislation.
QUIJANO: With the surveillance legislation set to expire Saturday, the president threatened to veto any temporary measures.
BUSH: The time for debate is over. I will not accept any temporary extension.
QUIJANO: But House Democrats tried digging in their heels and pushed for a 21 day extension to the so called Protect America Act.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: It is a question of our nation's security and it is a question of our values. We should not be stampeded into action when there is no need.
QUIJANO: That extension ultimately failed, 229 votes against and 191 for, giving the Bush White House yet another victory.
QUIJANO: Now, if the national security debate sounds familiar, that's because it parallels the rhetoric from the 2004 presidential contest. You'll recall back then President Bush successfully campaigned on a platform that included a strong emphasis on national security as well as numerous references to 9/11 -- Lou?
DOBBS: A clear victory for the white house and a clear failure for the House Democratic relationship, correct?
QUIJANO: That would be one way to look at it, and certainly this would be the second victory for the Bush white house in just two days. DOBBS: The politics are going to get increasingly interesting as the presidential sweepstakes move into their final stages. Elaine Quijano from the White House. Thank you.
President Bush today signed the $170 billion economic stimulus package that Congress passed last week. President Bush says he believes this package will provide a booster shot for our economy and help either avoid or soften a recession.
The Bush administration also proposing a new plan to help struggling homeowners facing foreclosure. Kitty Pilgrim now reports that plan may help only a fraction of the number of Americans who now face foreclosure.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Bush talked up Project Lifeline, the new housing foreclosure plan.
BUSH: Many Americans are worried about meeting their mortgages. My administration is working to address this problem.
PILGRIM: Many major banks support Project Lifeline which calls for a 30 day freeze before any foreclosure. The plan does not include homeowners in active foreclosure process, like Diane Swigonski who we profiled recently on this broadcast. She was supposed to lose her home yesterday, but is still in desperate negotiations with the bank.
DIANE SWIGONSKI, FACING FORECLOSURE: It's extremely frustrating. It's been a nightmare.
PILGRIM: And under the voluntary program, banks aren't required to offer refinancing or any new terms on loans.
ERIC HALPRIN, CTR. FOR RESPONSIBLE LENDING: At the end of the day a voluntary initiative just isn't going to ensure that lenders are providing loan modifications that allow homeowners to say in their homes for the long-term.
PILGRIM: Only homeowners that have missed more than three months payment are eligible for Project Lifeline. Theoretically that could amount to at best 400,000 homeowners. Most analysts expect far fewer to be offered better terms.
JOHN TAYLOR, COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT COALITION: It's going to be a significant minority of the loans. Even using the best estimates, it's not going to put a serious dent in the problem.
PILGRIM: It's a real crisis. 86 out of 100 metropolitan areas are reporting higher forever closure rates in the last year.
PILGRIM: Homeowners are not getting the loan modifications they need to stay in their homes. The Mortgage Bankers' Association estimates 40 percent of homes in foreclosure have already gone through a process similar to the one the president is proposing and they failed to find a solution with their bank. Lou?
DOBBS: So what we are continuing to see is more public relations activity, more just hollow promises to people who are desperately in need of help?
PILGRIM: It really is not. It's a very short-term fix, and it's not going to help. It's going to help a fraction of people who need it.
DOBBS: I will say this. The relationship of this Congress, Nancy Pelosi, Senator Reid, this president, this administration is on record as being a dismal failure at economics, but my god, they have got to understand they've got to do something real and wait for these idiots. This economic team and this president to come up with some sort of bailout for money centered banks while they let families go through immense pain.
PILGRIM: Well, this program is voluntary. Banks don't really have to do anything.
DOBBS: The regulatory agents, the FDIC, the Federal Reserve, comptroller of currency, they're sitting on their hands doing literally nothing proactively to change the direction.
At the same time, the fed is making dramatic cuts in interest rates. It's an absurdity, and at least we have a fiscal stimulus package, but it's not nearly enough to get us where we need to be, particularly for millions of Americans facing, as you reported, foreclosure.
Kitty Pilgrim, thank you very much.
Well, Detroit has the highest number of foreclosures in the country, the highest number in 2007. Nearly 5 percent of all Detroit households were in some stage of foreclosure last year. That's almost five times the national average. Stockton, California, in second. Cleveland, a city whose mortgage crisis we reported on extensively here, has the sixth highest foreclosure rate in the nation.
And coming up here next, the fight over Mexican trucks on highways going to court. The legislature and president can't seem to agree. We'll have a special report.
Despite last night's big losses, Mike Huckabee says is he going to stay in the race for president. I'll be joined by three of the best political analysts in the country. We'll find out what he is thinking about.
Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: The Bush administration's Department Transportation program allowing Mexicans trucks to operate on American highways now rests with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the most liberal court in country. As Casey Wians report, the Teamsters protesting in San Francisco saying those Mexican trucks simply aren't safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No less, so let's hope we get some justice out of this building today.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Teamsters and the Sierra Club protested outside the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco demanding an end to the federal government's pilot program allowing Mexican trucks unfettered access to U.S. highways. They claim, among other things, that Mexican trucks are dangerous, polluting, and destroy American jobs.
CHUCK MACK, TEAMSTERS UNION: The only people that I concede of supporting in the United States and the Department of Transportation and George Bush, the public opinion is against it. The Congress and United States is going against it, so we expect the courts to also rule that cross border trucking is wrong and it's improper and it has to come to an end.
WIAN: The court battle centers over the transportation department's refusal to abide by legislation passed by Congress in December seeking to stop the program.
The Bush administration says it's obligated under the North American free trade agreement to lift restrictions limiting most Mexican trucks to a 25 mile region near the border. The transportation department says the expanded cross border program helps U.S. truckers by giving them greater access to Mexican highways.
A top official criticized the Teamsters saying, "Ironically, Mr. Hoffa is spending truckers' hard-earned money in an effort to deny them these opportunities for new earnings, to inflate the cost of goods and services families depend on and to perpetuate an inefficient shipping system along the border that spews needless pollution into states like Texas, Arizona and California."
The transportation department says during the first five months of the program, the 42 Mexican trucks from 12 companies have a better safety record than their American counterparts. The Bush administration's defense of the program has only intensified the Teamsters' anger. They've started a campaign calling for the job of Transportation Secretary Peters.
Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.
DOBBS: And a reminder to vote on our poll tonight. The question is do you belief Congress has the guts to investigate Bud Selig and the owners and managers of Major League Baseball in the same fashion they have a relative handful of players? Yes or no. We would like to hear from you. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.Com. Results upcoming.
Coming up at the top of the hour, the Election Center, Campbell Brown.
Campbell, what are you working on?
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very much, Lou.
We have a lot to talk about tonight. As we move from last night's primaries, some key questions are front and center now. Is Barack Obama unstoppable? Are women deserting Hillary Clinton? Does John McCain have a Huckabee problem? We'll have all the answers, so join me and, of course, the best political team on television in the Election Center. That's all coming up at the top of the hour -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Campbell.
And next here, will your vote count, or will a few key power players within the Democratic party decide the nominee?
And Huckabee hanging on, despite the overwhelming odds against his winning the nomination. All of that and more. I'll be talking with three of the best political analysts in the country. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Senator McCain may be the presumptive nominee in the Republican party, but he is still running two races. One against the Democrats and one against a fellow Republican.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While it may be mathematically impossible to see how it could play out right now, I know this. Right now nobody has the 1,191 delegates, and, therefore, it would be a little premature to quit until the game is actually come to a conclusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Joining me now LOU DOBBS TONIGHT contributor Errol Louis, columnist "New York Daily News" Keith Richburg, New York Bureau Chief "Washington Post," and Jonathan Martin, senior political reporter Politico.com. Gentlemen, good to have you here.
Let me start with you, Keith. Why in the world is Huckabee staying in this thing if it's mathematically impossible?
KEITH RICHBURG, WASHINGTON POST: Well, number one, he probably doesn't have anything else to do right now. I think is he probably a little bit of fun, and he is kind of -- it's a polite campaign. They're not really attacking each other. He is not attacking McCain. He seems to have this sense, if you believe what he says, that voters should have a choice. It shouldn't be a coronation, and let these conservatives in these rural areas that don't like McCain have a say in it.
DOBBS: Well do you expect to see the same kind of fun descend upon the Democratic contest as well?
RICHBURG: That's not quite as much fun. I think we're seeing that is turning really bitter. I think there's a good question whether as to Hillary Clinton, she's on the road, she has to win these remaining contests. Will she go negative?
DOBBS: The calculus right now there's 40 delegates difference between the two. Obama has taken the lead. Is this thing really as over as many are suggesting?
ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: I don't know if it's over. It's certainly tight. To the extent it stays tight, there's going to be something other than a straight forward vote and collection of pledged delegates that's going to decide this thing, and those X factors are floating out there, and there's going to be a lot of controversy about those X factors.
Is it going to be delegates that were under Democratic rules not supposed to be included from Florida and Michigan? Is it going to be super delegates for whom nobody in the populous really selected in order to have them make the final decision? Is it going to be the popular vote? Is it going to be the pledge delegate vote? It's not clear right now.
DOBBS: What makes those delegates so super?
LOUIS: It's the name I think they have acquired as slang, but let's just call them unpledged delegates who can vote which way they want.
DOBBS: And thwart the will of the people, right, Jonathan?
JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO.COM: That may be how it comes out, but I have a feeling it might not get to that point, Lou. I think that if you see Obama rack up big ones next week in Hawaii, Wisconsin, and then follow that up on March the 4th with victories in Ohio and Texas, it's going to be a very difficult for Senator Clinton to even get to the point we're talking about, super delegates, when she's got some of her most prominent supporters, folks like James Carville saying that if she can't win Ohio and Texas, it's time to pack it in. You know that we're getting down to crunch time.
DOBBS: In terms of having to win Texas and Ohio, do you doubt there's any truth to Carville's assessment?
MARTIN: No. I mean, I think those states are critical. Her whole pitch, Lou, is that she's winning these big states, these states that are representative of the country, that are critical for the general election, and if she falls short in those two states after putting all of her chips there, it's difficult for her to continue, especially given the demographic strengths, Hispanics, women, Democrats, in those two states that she'll have.
DOBBS: And that's one of the things we saw Obama do is blow through the demographic categories in the Potomac primaries, Keith. That's impressive. RICHBURG: If I were the Clinton campaign, I would be nervous about some numbers out of Virginia where he was able to take the white vote. He was able to take the Hispanic vote for the first time, and he has even sort of made inroads with women.
DOBBS: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. What happened to all the pundits who said, and some of the operatives who said, you know, they're not sure. You know, white men are ready to vote for a black man and, you know, all of that nonsense.
LOUIS: Unfortunately, the demographic assumptions, the conventional wisdom that the campaign built itself on, which was supposed to yield some sort of smashing victory on February 5th, failed to materialize.
DOBBS: I want to repeat this. This conventional wisdom, this nonsense about what this country is ready to do and is not ready to do is built in the national media and on the part of these political candidacies, their campaigns, their strategists, and the nonsense rests with the elites, not broadly with the American people.
Is everybody willing now to say balderdash to all of that nonsense?
LOUIS: I signed up after New Hampshire when all of the polls were wrong. All of the national polls were wrong.
RICHBURG: I would say absolutely. I think, you know, Obama's appeal is that he is gaining this momentum. As he wins, he answers questions about his electability. He answers questions about can a black county get white votes in the south? He answers questions about is he experienced enough because he stands with her.
DOBBS: Again, those questions rested primarily, if not entirely in the minds of those campaigns, those driving these campaigns, analyzing, and selling the American people really, really short. Yes.
MARTIN: Lou, I do think that you raise an important point, and I think if Obama does go on to win this nomination and win the general election in the fall, we're going to look back at the Commonwealth of Virginia as a sort of decisive place where the very matters that you are bringing up were emphatically answered. He can win white men. He can win women. He can win Hispanics.
DOBBS: See I think, Jonathan, I really truly -- we're going to have more on this. Well, not too much because I think the American people have already filed the answer but I truly believe the answers we got from the Jump Street and that's in Iowa and it hasn't changed appreciably at least in my view.
We're going to come back in just one moment with our panel. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm tested. I'm ready. Let's make it happen.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This movement won't stop until there's change in Washington, D.C., and tonight we're on our way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: We're back with Errol Louis, Keith Richburg, and Jonathan Martin.
Jonathan Martin, Huckabee is -- well, what's going to happen?
MARTIN: Well, I think Huckabee is going to stay in this race as long as he has change in his pocket and a tank of gas in the van to get him where he is going. Why the heck not? Look, he has had a heck of a ride, and he has really established himself in a way that nobody expected one year ago or so. He is going to have great opportunities after this race is all over.
DOBBS: I want to ask you. Errol, let me ask you this and everybody but Errol, I want to ask you. You've got Romney's delegates. You have Huckabee's delegates. Any possibility those could come together should Huckabee make a surprise move here?
LOUIS: Unlikely. The movement conservatives that were behind Romney didn't really care for the likes of Huckabee, but let's keep in mind Huckabee's day job as a Baptist minister, that's a whole other world, and he is fighting, in part, I think, for status in that world to become the head of major denomination, major university, to have a commanding voice among the social conservatives who, as we've seen in Virginia, are still with him.
DOBBS: How is this going to play out as we move into now everybody sort of dismissed very quickly the Potomac primaries, up next Wisconsin, Hawaii next week. Keith?
RICHBURG: I think on the Democratic side you could end up seeing Obama will win Hawaii. It's his home state. He was born there. Wisconsin, you know, Hillary seems to be trying to decide if she wants to play there but not really hard.
DOBBS: She says she is going back.
RICHBURG: She's going to go back from Texas now. He's been on the ground. He's got that advantage.
DOBBS: He has campaigned the dickens out of that.
RICHBURG: You can drive there from Chicago so if he gets that college crowd that drove into Iowa.
DOBBS: He is not going to be driving.
RICHBURG: Not him but his college friends help organize, he could get another 60 percent blowout.
MARTIN: The danger in Wisconsin though, Lou, is if she really does try hard and spend a lot of time in that state and then sees another loss to the likes of what she had last night, it could be an embarrassment for her. That's a danger.
DOBBS: We're back to it. Senator McCain waiting for Huckabee to step away, showing some frustration with it now, Jonathan. As we move - I mean we basically are looking at frustrated John McCain and an uncertain fate on the Democratic side. Everyone keeps talking about momentum, but let's be very straightforward here.
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