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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Interview With Mike Huckabee; Primary Preview

Aired March 03, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf. Tonight, four presidential candidates fighting to the finish in four critical primary states. Voting begins in less than 12 hours. Republican presidential candidate former Governor Mike Huckabee among our guests here tonight. We'll have all of that, all of today's news, and much more straight ahead right here.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Monday, March 3. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Senators Clinton and Obama tonight making a final push to win votes in tomorrow's critical primary states. Senator Clinton saying she is just getting warmed up as she put it. The Obama campaign saying Clinton faces an almost impossible task to win the nomination.

In the Republican race, Mike Huckabee appealed to his supporters to vote in tomorrow's primaries in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Huckabee saying he has no intention of quitting this race against Senator McCain. Huckabee will be among our guests here tonight. We have extensive coverage from the campaign trail tonight, and we begin with Suzanne Malveaux with the Clinton campaign in Austin, Texas -- Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, there was a conference call with campaign officials from the Clinton camp. They say do not rule her out that in fact tomorrow is going to be critical contests, critical wins in Ohio and Texas, but they still believe there's an opportunity to blunt Barack Obama's momentum.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): Her own campaign considers make or break Tuesday, Senator Clinton is attacking Barack Obama from all sides.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.

MALVEAUX: She began at 4:30 in the morning, the event scheduled during an early shift change at a jeep assembly plant to underscore the theme she's in it for the working folks.

H. CLINTON: Ohio is key to winning the presidency. MALVEAUX: Having campaigned across Ohio, Clinton tried to sound optimistic about her chances of breaking Obama's streak of 11 straight victories.

H. CLINTON: Obviously this is a very close race. We're still within the margin of error both in, you know, popular vote and delegate count. I feel very good about what's going to happen tomorrow.

MALVEAUX: Not taking Tuesday for granted, she launched yet another TV ad, reminding Ohio voters of the stakes.

H. CLINTON: The wealthy and the well-connected have had a president. It's time the middle class had a president who will stand up for you.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running to be commander in chief on a record of standing up for wounded warriors.

MALVEAUX: Taking a stand in San Antonio, Texas, Senator Barack Obama pledged to fight for military families, a key voting block in the state where 193 delegates are up for grabs. Obama also dismissed a new Clinton ad airing in Texas accusing him of failing to address the threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.


MALVEAUX: And Lou, Governor Bill Richardson, who dropped out of the race, says he believes that the candidate who has the most pledged delegates after tomorrow should move ahead, the other one should bow out gracefully. The Clinton campaign says that is not going to happen. That she will remain in this race. That they are still confident that she will have the delegate count necessary at least to make a strong argument to the super delegates that she should go into this for the weeks ahead -- Lou.

DOBBS: Why the rush to make a decision before the people do? That's why we have these primaries. Why should there be any pressure on either one of them to step back if they don't win tomorrow?

MALVEAUX: Well, that's certainly what the Clinton camp is arguing, Lou. They say they believe they should take this all the way to the very end, at least until Pennsylvania.

DOBBS: All right, Suzanne Malveaux from Austin, Texas, we will see, as the saying goes. Thank you very much, Suzanne.

Senator Clinton today accused Senator Obama of deceiving voters on the issue of so-called free trade. The fight escalated after an Obama aide reportedly said Obama's opposition to NAFTA is simply campaign rhetoric. The Obama campaign said that's simply not true. Candy Crowley tells us what is.


(APPLAUSE) CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The last thing you want in the 24 hours before an election is a story you have to explain. It is where Barack Obama finds himself now. A memo written by a Canadian official obtained by The Associated Press outlines a meeting at the Canadian consulate in Chicago with Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee. The memo says the conversation included discussion of protection of sentiment in the U.S. and Goolsbee cautioned that the message quote "should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."

The Obama campaign says there's nothing in the offending graph which suggests that this refers to Obama's position on the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the Clinton campaign was happy to connect the dots.

H. CLINTON: You know, I don't think people should come to Ohio and tell the people of Ohio one thing and then have your campaign tell a foreign government something else behind closed doors.

CROWLEY: While pointing out that the memo also takes note of Obama's commitment to strengthening labor and environmental portions of NAFTA, the Obama campaign is in a yikes moment. They are trying to douse the flames.

OBAMA: This notion that Senator Clinton is pedaling that somehow there's contradictions or winks and nods has been disputed by all the parties involved. What's not disputed is that Senator Clinton and her husband championed NAFTA, worked on behalf of NAFTA, called it a victory, called it good for America until she started running for president.

CROWLEY: But this is not just about NAFTA. It's about the core of a campaign that promises a different kind of politics. No Washington speak. The story first surfaced more than a week ago on Canadian TV. It was shot down then across the board by the Canadian embassy and the candidate.

OBAMA: The Canadian government put out a statement indicating that this was just not true so I don't know who the source is. It wasn't true.

CROWLEY: The meeting did take place. Top Obama officials say the candidate was not denying the meeting but the gist of the story that his opposition to NAFTA is political. Still, several officials asked repeatedly over the last few days if a meeting took place, certainly implied it had not.


CROWLEY: Lou, this afternoon the Canadian embassy put out a press release saying, anything in that memo from the Canadian consulate in Chicago and anything that happened in the Canadian embassy should not be taken as a suggestion that Barack Obama is saying anything in private that he is not saying in public. The Canadian embassy says that is simply not true -- Lou? DOBBS: Well, bully for the Canadian government. Square up a few things for us.

CROWLEY: There you go.

DOBBS: Did they or did they not meet?

CROWLEY: They did meet, yes. An economic adviser to Barack Obama and some officials in the consulate in Chicago. They did meet, yes.

DOBBS: And they admitted the meeting.

CROWLEY: They did, yes. We had a couple of denials for about a week, but, yes, the Obama campaign says, well, it wasn't so much a meeting as it was a tour. The consulate called him up and said, come on over you know and see the embassy.

DOBBS: So basically -- so either there was misinformation or somebody was lying about whether that meeting occurred for about a week.

CROWLEY: One of those two, yes.


DOBBS: And how is this different from politics...

CROWLEY: ... say he didn't know.

DOBBS: And how is this different from politics as usual in this country?

CROWLEY: Well, I think that that's, you know, Obama's problem at this point, is that it very much, despite the explanations, despite what they say it was, it looks like that this is the same old thing. This is a man that has campaigned against Washington speak saying, you know, I'm going to run a transparent government, I'm going to say what I mean.

So when you look at this and you have less than 24 hours before voters go to the polls, it's really hard to clean up because from the -- you know, you step back and look at the big picture, it sounds like old Washington, and that's certainly what the Clinton campaign is pushing.

DOBBS: All right, thank you very much, Candy Crowley.

The latest CNN poll of polls show Senators Obama and Clinton in an extremely tight race in both Texas and Ohio. In Texas, these candidates are in a statistical dead heat, Obama 47 percent, Clinton 45 percent. In Ohio, Clinton with a narrow lead over Obama 48 percent against 43 percent.

In the Republican race, John McCain comfortably ahead of Mike Huckabee in Ohio by a margin of more than two to one. McCain also has a commanding lead in Texas, McCain 57 percent to Huckabee's 30 percent. Senator McCain tonight, confident he can win enough votes tomorrow to clinch the nomination, McCain stepping up his criticism of his Democratic rivals, Senator McCain insisting he's the candidate who is best prepared to deal with a national emergency. Dana Bash has our report from Waco, Texas.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John McCain's main event of the day was in an airport hangar, an appropriate venue for a campaign in a holding pattern.

MCCAIN: Obviously, we are guardedly confident that we can get a sufficient number of delegates with victories in Vermont, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Texas tomorrow and move on to the general campaign.

BASH: According to CNN's count, McCain now has 1,047 delegates, very close to the 1,191 to clinch the Republican nomination. To get that McCain only needs to win about half the 256 delegates at stake Tuesday. Until then he's trying to use world events to show how things will be different under a McCain presidency, tougher talk than President Bush about Russia elections, calling them rigged.

MCCAIN: It's obviously an election that would not pass the smell test.

BASH: And the 71-year-old running on his experience couldn't resist jumping into the Democrats' debate over who voters want responding to a middle of the night crisis.

MCCAIN: If the phone rang at 3:00 a.m. in the White House and I was the one to answer it, I would be the one most qualified to exercise the kind of judgment necessary to address a national security crisis. I've been involved in every major national security challenge for the Last 20 years.

BASH: Meanwhile, McCain's last viable GOP rival, Mike Huckabee, campaigned intensely, five Texas cities in one day, tried to stoke conservative skepticism about McCain.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm the only candidate left in this race who believes in the human life amendment. The only one in this race left who believes in the federal marriage amendment that would say that when you get married it has to be somebody of the opposite sex, not the same sex.


BASH: Now Lou, John McCain just began his first and only event of the day here in Texas. You probably see him over my left shoulder. He's beginning the kind of event that he likes to do the most and that is a town hall meeting here in Waco, Texas. Now with regard to Mike Huckabee, he will not say this publicly, in fact, I assume he will say what he always says, which is that he respects the fact that Mike Huckabee is in this race. But privately what McCain advisers are hoping is that if Huckabee does lose Texas and the other primaries tomorrow that he will quit the race. Now Huckabee over and over again today he was asked what if, and over and over he said he will not even entertain the idea of losing right now -- Lou?

DOBBS: Well, I'm going to be talking with Mike Huckabee here later, Dana. We'll explore that. In part, explore it because I don't see what the point is of him dropping out one way or the other if they can keep a debate, a dialogue going in this country, that's good for the people.

Let me ask you this because it just occurs to me when you talk about McCain jumping into the conversation, if you will, between Obama and Clinton over that 3:00 a.m. phone call -- wouldn't one of them be upset if they were actually the ones answering that phone call at the White House? Shouldn't they have somebody at the White House who will answer the phone for them? I'm just curious.

BASH: You know what, technically, I think you're probably right. I think somebody answers the phone for them. I think that's probably a bit of a metaphor. That it would probably be a chief of staff of some sort calling them to let them know the news. That's a very good point.

DOBBS: Dana, thank you very much, appreciate it, Dana Bash.

Much more on the presidential campaign here ahead, including I'll be talking with Mike Huckabee as I said. He'll tell us why he's determined to stay in the race, what he hopes to achieve.

Also -- law enforcement agencies stepping up their efforts to crack down on violent criminal illegal aliens. Casey Wian will have our report -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Los Angeles is the nation's illegal immigration and gang violence capital, we'll have details on a new international effort to fight both, coming up, Lou.

DOBBS: Thanks, Casey, looking forward to it.

And the open borders amnesty crowd declaring Lou Dobbs is over. Wow! We'll have that special report on the -- what is it, looking like a vast, weird, left-wing, right-wing, socio ethnocentric conspiracy. We'll explore that.

And Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez threatening to use military force against a key U.S. ally, that special report and a great deal more coming right up. Stay with us.


DOBBS: New international efforts tonight to hunt criminal illegal aliens who belong to violent street gangs, Los Angeles police meeting with officials from eight nations to focus on violent international gangs such as MS-13. This as Immigration and Customs Enforcement completed a major round up of criminal illegal aliens in southern California. Casey Wian with the report.


WIAN (voice-over): Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, and federal officials signing a deal bringing new cops to town from El Salvador's national police force. They're coming to help track down thousands of illegal alien members of the notorious MS-13 street gang.

SALVADOR HERNANDEZ, ASST. DIRECTOR, FBI: The scourge of gang violence continues unabated in American cities and in countries around the world. Here and abroad we continue to see the news of rampant drug trafficking, shootings, robberies, extortions, and most tragically the loss of innocent life.

WIAN: Four police officers from El Salvador and four from Los Angeles will trade places to train and share resources as part of a unique pilot program. At a summit meeting on transnational gang violence, chiefs of police and other law enforcement officials from eight nations promised closer cooperation.

WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE CHIEF: To deal with local crime, we have to have a global response.

WIAN: Officials say gang violence is declining in Los Angeles, but several recent high-profile killings have outraged the public and refocused the attention of local leaders. Even the mayor under fire for his frequent absences to travel with Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign returned home in time for the summit.

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), LOS ANGELES: These gangs recognize no border or boundary and it's going to take a shared international commitment to stop them.

WIAN: Gang members just some of the 345 fugitive illegal aliens arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement during a week-long roundup in five southern California counties. The sweep targeted foreign nationals from 17 countries who have ignored judicial orders of deportation. About 20 percent of those arrested have criminal records beyond remaining in the United States illegally. Nationwide, ICE says its fugitive operations teams have now apprehended more than 72,000 illegal aliens during the past five years.


WIAN: Though there are 585,000 immigration fugitives still at large throughout the United States, ICE says the number is now declining for the first time in history -- Lou.

DOBBS: Five hundred and eighty-five thousand fugitive illegal aliens, criminal illegal aliens, that is those who have committed crimes in this country?

WIAN: Not all of them are people who have committed crimes other than immigration violations, but they are all people who have failed to appear after they've been ordered deported from this country by a judge -- Lou.

DOBBS: So beyond simply crossing our borders and having gone through a legal proceeding, they are either criminal illegal aliens in the sense that they've violated a felony law of some sort or simply disappeared from their deportation process.

WIAN: Absolutely, 585,000 is the current estimate by ICE. About a year and a half ago the number was well over 600,000, so they have made some progress...

DOBBS: How much over 600 I wonder? I mean 585, 600. I mean this is close enough for government work, but the question I have, Casey, is really this. What percentage of those are criminal illegal aliens in the sense that they have committed serious crimes in this country?

WIAN: During the most recent sweeps that ICE has done with its fugitive operations teams, about 20 percent of the people apprehended are criminal illegal aliens in that they've committed some other crime besides being in the country illegally or ignoring a deportation order.

DOBBS: And when I watch Chief Bratton and a number of others there, eight countries show up and then make a hullabaloo out of -- did I understand correctly? Four officers will exchange, is that correct?

WIAN: Yeah, you absolutely understood that number correctly...


DOBBS: So in other words, half as many officers as heads of law enforcement agencies in that summit meeting will be in the exchange program?

WIAN: Right and...


DOBBS: And so we have a big press release and a big -- I mean what kind of idiots do they think we are that we would cover something like this and act like it's somehow important?

WIAN: Well, they say it's a pilot program, Lou, and they expect to expand it to other countries and to expand the number of officers participating in this program. They say they have high hopes for increased cooperation between these countries.

DOBBS: Let me say this particularly to the FBI -- you know why don't you do your jobs and cut it with the press releases, the photo ops and instead trying to focus on public relations, focus on law enforcement and be a little bit more help perhaps to local law enforcement across the country because this frankly ain't getting it. You need J. Edgar Hoover apparently in your resume to get something done at the FBI. I mean this is really -- I have to say it, Casey, I mean this is embarrassing that we would see law enforcement agencies put on this kind of public relations show, this P.R. stunt on something so serious.

WIAN: Well, I guess in defense of them a little bit, this is the second time they've held a big gang summit like this. They didn't go after a lot of publicity when they did it last year. They say they've actually had quite a bit of success. They weren't specific about how much success...

DOBBS: We wouldn't want to quantify anything. All right and 20 percent -- we're throwing numbers around like 600,000. And 20 percent are felony fugitives amongst those illegal aliens. I think we need to be clear which are which here because when we say 585,000 and only 20 percent are committing serious felonies, I mean, it changes the whole tenor of the discussion, don't you think?

WIAN: Absolutely and just to be clear, Lou, that 20 percent number is not based on the 600,000. That's on those most recent sweeps in southern California. I don't have the number in my head of the percentage of the 600,000.


DOBBS: I apologize.


DOBBS: Obviously neither did I, and I should have or I wouldn't have had had to ask. And I appreciate that, Casey. Thank you very much.


DOBBS: Pro-amnesty and open borders groups in Washington today, they were there demanding the federal government stop raids that target illegal aliens. And for the second time in a week open borders advocates used the term Gestapo-like to describe federal law enforcement agents. Please remember these are the same people who want to talk about appropriate language in this debate on illegal immigration and border security. Gestapo-like, great -- Louise Schiavone has our report.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Angry activists are demanding federal immigration authorities stop the crackdowns.

EMMA LOZANO, PUEBLO SIN FRONTERAS: We demand that you take responsibility and legalize the estimated 13 million undocumented in this country.

SCHIAVONE: Their demands range from a suspension of law enforcement to ending the Iraq war to what they call...

BEATRICE AMBERMAN, HISPANIC COMMUNITY DIALOGUE ORG.: Under restoration of the rule of law in America by passing comprehensive immigration reform. SCHIAVONE: The state of Arizona portal to more illegals than any other state has a different view.

BARNETT LOTSTEIN, MARICOPA COUNTY ASST. ATTORNEY: The rule of law has been bent, fractured by these illegal immigrants. I mean, they have violated the law by coming into our country illegally. They are being employed illegally.

SCHIAVONE: A statement by a coalition of self-described immigrant rights groups criticized what it called Gestapo-like police actions targeting illegal aliens and their employers. Defenders of immigration law rejects such characterizations.

KRIS KOBACH, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: You're continuously violating the law every minute that you're in the United States unlawfully. And as a result, when ICE shows up, ICE can't count on giving advanced warning and expecting everybody to be there. ICE has to operate with some element of surprise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is kind of hard to conclude that it's not just fear mongering.

SCHIAVONE: Said a spokesman for ICE, "This dishonors the victims of the Gestapo and is absolutely offensive to the law enforcement officers who work for ICE. We believe that the educated public knows ICE is doing its job fairly and justly", end quote.

The Immigrant Coalition spared no wrath on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're the Mexican leaders and we're saying to the minutemen, your minute is up. Lou Dobbs is over because all their candidates are falling one by one. The only candidates left in this race are those that are pro-immigrant reform...

SCHIAVONE: They're planning a national rally on May 1st.


SCHIAVONE: Lou, a lead group among these activists calls itself People without Borders, but say immigration law advocates citizens expect a sovereign nation to defend its borders -- Lou?

DOBBS: Well, I think they're putting it about as clearly as they can People without Borders, that's the world they want, it is not the world they have. And if you oppose illegal immigration and you prefer that this nation be sovereign and its borders and its ports be respected, it turns out you're either a racist or (INAUDIBLE) whatever.

The level of hate language emanating from these so-called activist groups is truly sickening. And when I think of La Raza and a number of groups talking about -- and the ADL talking about hate language, oh, my gosh, examine what in the world these people are saying and think about it and you'll see the source of most of the anger, most of the hate, in my opinion. Coming up next here, Republican Mike Huckabee says it's not over and he's still in the presidential race. Governor Huckabee joins me here next and which candidate would make the best commander in chief. I'll be talking about that with three men who just happen to know. Three leading retired generals join me next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: I'm joined now by Governor Mike Huckabee in advance of tomorrow's elections, primary elections, in Texas and Ohio and Vermont and Rhode Island. Governor Huckabee fighting what some see as a lonely battle to stop Senator McCain's momentum. How are you doing at that, Governor? It's good to have you with us.

HUCKABEE: Well thank you, Lou. I'm here in the "Lone Star" state and sometimes it seems like I'm the lone star. You know there are a lot of people over in your part of the world in New York that think this election is all over. Some of us haven't seen it that way. We think that there needs to be a candidate who really wants to bring significant reform to our tax code, to control our borders, to stand for the human life amendment.

I'm the only guy left who believes in those things and who has chief executive experience. People need a choice. And in Texas I'm hoping tomorrow they're going to go and say, wait a minute, New York and New Jersey and California, it ain't over until Texas says it's over.

DOBBS: You've been traveling around the state, obviously, Governor. What is the reception you're receiving? You have a conservative message and you are drawing stark contrast to a man who's either considered more liberal or centrist than you. What is the reaction there in the "Lone Star" state?

HUCKABEE: Most of the rallies we've had we've had had to turn people away. For example, we were in College Station over the weekend, we had 1,000 people come to the room, but we had 1,500 that couldn't get in. We had a similar situation on the campus of Baylor University.

We've seen great crowds and not just numbers but enthusiasm. These aren't people who come and stand and shuffle their feet. They're waving signs, pumped up.

People want a candidate who actually believes in something. They don't believe this country can be fixed by incremental little touches. They believe, like I do, it's not the government's job to fix us. It's our job to fix the government. That starts with people who say, enough is enough when it comes to the dysfunctional, completely incompetent way in which Washington has been operating.

DOBBS: You have made it very clear that you are not a proponent of free trade at any cost. You have made it clear that you are opposed to illegal immigration. You've been criticized as having a political conversion on the issue of illegal immigration but nonetheless you have signed a pledge against amnesty calling for border security. You have taken a number of positions diametrically opposed to Senator McCain. Why do you believe those issues, your positions on those issues, have not resonated better to this point at least with the voters?

HUCKABEE: I think it resonates with the voters.

The problem is getting through the filter of some of the media. I go to debates, which, by the way, we should have been having one this weekend when Senator McCain was on vacation. I went to the debates with Republican candidates. I'd get six minutes. John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani would get 23 minutes.

When I get the time to talk, people do understand and they believe in what I'm saying. It's a matter of just building the confidence in people who understand that if a country doesn't control its own borders, it's not free. It's yielded over its sovereignty.

And it's not about being unkind or unwelcoming to people who want to come here. Heck, I'd want to come here to if I lived anywhere else. I've been to 40 countries in the world, Lou. There's not one of them I would trade my citizenship for. I don't blame for people wanting to come. To me, the villain in this is our own government. They have miserably failed to do something fundamental to every government on this planet and that's just control your borders.

DOBBS: Absolutely. And to give corporate America free reign in deciding what labor force will be shaped as and be composed of.

Let me say that Senator McCain has refused to reject the endorsement of Texas televangelist John Hagee who refers to amongst other things to the Catholic church as a false cult system. Let me ask you, do you reject televangelist Hagees as in terms of his political statements and in terms of what he has said?

HUCKABEE: Well, I'm not in the position to reject any endorsements at this point in my life, but I do say I think he's fundamentally wrong if he thinks Catholics are not a Christian faith. Many of my senior staff, my chairman, my manager, my policy director, all are Catholics. Frankly, Lou, I have stronger support out of Catholics than I do my own Baptist faith. I think a lot of Baptists are half for me, half against me.

Fact is, the Catholics have been the leaders in the pro-life movement. It took evangelicals a long time to understand why this is important. We were led there by our Catholic brothers and sisters and I consider they true Christian pilgrims and not only that but I think the leaders in the effort for life.

DOBBS: Critically important races obviously to you. Irrespective of the results in the primaries tomorrow.

HUCKABEE: I think we've seen a tremendous movement. One of the things you've mentioned that I agree with, we've not enforced both sides of the trade agreements we've had. Free trade is fine, but it isn't free when it isn't fair. We have an incredibly unbalanced trade with China. DOBBS: And you'll go on with this race irrespective of the results tomorrow?

HUCKABEE: Until somebody has 1,191 confirmed delegates, we don't have a nominee. Nobody clinched it. I resent the attitude that we ought to give up and quit because some are tired of the game being played.

DOBBS: Don't put me among them because I'm not tired in the least in the public debate and public dialogue.

HUCKABEE: Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Mike Huckabee.

HUCKABEE: Good to see you, Lou. Thanks.

DOBBS: Good luck tomorrow.

Next, I'll be talking with three generals who are supporting three different presidential candidates. We'll hear why as we continue right here.


DOBBS: The conduct of the war in Iraq and against radical Islamic terrorist is one of the top issues in this presidential election, of course. Senators Clinton and Obama calling for a quick U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Senator McCain saying a rapid withdrawal would be a tremendous mistake.

Joining me now, three former generals, each one supporting a different presidential candidate. We thought you might want to know why they're supporting their candidates. General Paul Eaton who served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 supporting Senator Hillary Clinton. General, good to have you with us. General Scott Gration, he has served in the U.S. air force and he is supporting Senator Barack Obama. Good to have you with us. General David Grange, one of our former military analysts supporting John McCain and I didn't know that until just tonight. Good to have you with us.

Let's start with you, if I may, Paul. Why are you supporting Senator Clinton straightforwardly?

MAJ. GEN. PAUL EATON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, the first part, I had to admit that the last administration, the current administration here, the Republican party, has prosecuted this war with such great incompetence that I could not possibly align with a Republican candidate, which put me into the Democratic field; a great field this time, by the way. When you boil it down to the two remaining, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, Senator Clinton, the weight of her experience, 35 years. She is prepared to execute right now.

DOBBS: Senator Obama, if he were here, would say, but she voted for this war.

EATON: She voted to --

DOBBS: I understand the distinction.

EATON: If you want to tie the military arm behind the back of the president, I think it's a bad idea and she did what I would have done and a lot of other people, in fact, did. You've heard that it was for the war. It wasn't for the war. It was an authorization for the use of military force.

DOBBS: And I abide by the distinction, and apologize for the -- you're quite right.

General Grange, the reason for your support of Senator Obama.

MAJ. GEN. SCOTT GRATION, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): I'm supporting Senator Obama because I think he has the right experience. Experience is really an indicator of how much time and how much insight and how much judgment do you have.

And when you come right down to it, Senator Obama has had the right experience that has given him the ability to have insight, the ability to make the proper judgments. We saw it in the 2002 decision where he said this would be a war of undetermined cost, undetermined length and consequences. We've seen it in other decisions that he's made, talking to our friends as well as our enemies with proper preparation. The use of tactical nuclear weapons against --

DOBBS: If I understand you correctly, I think Senator Clinton if she were here might say that you're saying six years of experience is sufficient?

GRATION: No. I'm saying that he has had had experience that goes back his entire life. That his growing up, understanding other cultures, has been an important piece, and I think his experience as a community organizer, his experience in the senate in Illinois are very positive experiences that have contributed to his judgment.

DOBBS: All right.

General David Grange, your candidate has, I would think, a considerable advantage on life experience.

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, he does have the experience, and I agree with Paul that if you look back, especially in the years when Paul served in Iraq, there were a lot of mistakes made. No fault of Paul's, but there were mistakes made.

I would say right now that the strategy is working and that's Senator McCain's position, that we are now to support that test. If we're there to win, which I hope as Americans we are, we ought to support him in that effort and that the sustainment of this effort is necessary. He has the experience to carry it through.

DOBBS: Does it bother you, General Gration, that Senator Obama has not held a single oversight committee in Afghanistan when that's his responsibility, has been his post for 13 months, his charge, while criticizing the conduct of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan? Does that bother you?

GRATION: No, it doesn't. I don't know all the reason why he hasn't held one, but I do know that he's been very active on the campaign and he's very -- and his committees have been looking at this. I know that Senator Kerry chairs a subcommittee.

DOBBS: But it doesn't bother you that he did not call a single oversight hearing as the leader of that committee for 13 months?

GRATION: No. Because I've been looking at all the things he has done. When I take a look at, first of all, his deep respect for our military and admiration for our military and I see what he's done for our wounded warriors, what he's doing for the --

DOBBS: Let me ask you this. Are you saying his respect and attention to our wounded warriors is greater than that of either Senators Clinton or McCain?

GRATION: No, I'm not saying that, but I'm saying there's demonstrations that, number one, he's going to use our forces in an appropriate way; number two, he's going to take care of the military and he honors the sacred trust that America has with the men and women in uniform. This is very important. We need somebody who has the judgment to use our forces correctly and we need somebody who will take care of our forces.

And right now, to be honest with you, Lou, you know they're very tired. They're exhausted. We need a break so we can rebuild, retool, and get ready for other contingencies around the world.

EATON: The point of that subcommittee really is to unweight our troops in Afghanistan and to put pressure upon Europe to get NATO to cough up the additional forces to support our guys in Afghanistan.

DOBBS: Senator Clinton's prescription for a remedy in Iraq, is it substantial enough to warrant serious consideration?

EATON: Senator Clinton clearly understands the value of soft power, and what has been truly absent under this Republican administration is the State Department and the rest of national power, economic power, to bring to bear on the parliament in Iraq.

DOBBS: Senator McCain's success depends on the success of the surge. Is that correct, General Grange?

GRANGE: Well, that and also if you take the other candidates, they're talking about using the United Nations to take more of a lead. They've already left Iraq. They're not dependable. Then to find al Qaeda, Senator Obama's plan, continue the effort to go after al Qaeda in Iraq, you can't do that if you don't secure the neighborhoods where they hide. So I don't understand how you can do this piecemeal. I would say, forget the last administration. We're voting for who is going to take the country forward and win this thing. And I understand about giving the troops rest and taking care of the equipment. But you've got to do that after you win. DOBBS: And I guess you have to consider whether you can win if your army is broken. One of the many questions we have to face and one of the questions that each of these candidates will have to, one hopes, be part of the resolution.

Generals, thank you very much for being here.

Up next, the Democratic candidates making a last-minute pitch to their voters. We'll be talking about that and much more with three of the country's leading political analysts.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, he's threatening U.S. ally Columbia. Why? We'll come right back.


DOBBS: Venezuela President Hugo Chavez tonight threatening war with Columbia. Venezuela and Ecuador moving troops to their borders with Columbia after Colombian forces killed a top leftist guerrilla in Ecuador. Ecuador tonight cutting off diplomatic relations with Columbia and as Kitty Pilgrim now reports, Chavez is using this incident to antagonize the United States as well.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the verge of war over his dead body. Colombian forces killed senior guerrilla, Raul Reyes, number two in the leftist guerrilla movement, Columbia's raid moved over the border into Ecuador. U.S. has long supported Columbia in its decades long fight and did so again today.

TOM CASEY, STATE DEPARTMENT: We do understand and fully support the need of the Colombian government to tackle and respond to threats posed by this terrorist organization.

PILGRIM: Ecuador has moved troops to its border with Columbia, but Venezuela President Chavez is a sympathizer of the rebel group and is using the incident to threaten Columbia and rail against the United States. Chavez has mobilized tanks and fighter jets to its border with Columbia and is threatening war if Columbia crosses the line.

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELA: Columbia is a terrorist state, a subject of the biggest terrorists of the world, the United States government.

PILGRIM: The U.S. sends Columbia approximately $600,000 a year in military assistance.

ADAM ISCASON, CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL POLICY: There is a close, close military relationship between the U.S. and Columbia. There are several hundred U.S. troops on the ground in Columbia advising and training and carrying out intelligence activities. So if there ever of were to be conflict between those two countries, the United States would feel compelled to come to Columbia's defense.

PILGRIM: Chavez has been baiting the United States, faced with sinking popularity at home because of failed social policies. He is clearly saber rattling to boost his political popularity.


PILGRIM: Chavez is having a field day taunting the Colombian president as a lackey of the United States. He's also been so erratic, there's a danger that his bravado may put the entire region at risk.

DOBBS: Bravado and Hugo Chavez.

PILGRIM: Bravado backed up by tanks and planes.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much.

Coming up here next, a reminder that you should join us for radio. My new radio show, the Lou Dobbs show, every day 3:00 to 6:00 here on the east coast and on the worldwide web at Check it out tomorrow.

Barack Obama trying to distance himself from indicted donor Tony Rezko. Will that association have a little negative impact on the voters?

And will John McCain wrap up the GOP nomination? We'll talk about that and a great deal more with our political analysts here next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Joining me now, three of my favorite political analysts, Mark Halperin, senior political analyst "Time" magazine, Michael Goodwin, "New York Daily News," Miguel Perez, syndicated columnist.

Miguel, let's start with you. Is Hillary Clinton going to be able to hold onto the Hispanic-American vote in Texas?

MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I don't think so. I think it's shifting. Younger Latinos I think are more inclined now to vote for Obama. We'll see tomorrow, but, you know, there's definitely a tendency now among younger Latinos - young Latinos from like 18 to 29 with one-third of the Hispanic voters in Texas. They could make a difference if they shift to Obama like the rest of the country has.

DOBBS: Are there any identity or group politics that Senator Clinton could be playing to offset that loss, if you're correct?

PEREZ: Older Latinos, older established Latinos. I mean really, Hillary Clinton is now trying to appeal to anyone who doesn't believe Obama has the maturity, the experience to deal with international politics. That includes Latinos because we come from Latin American and relations with Latin American are very important as you see from your report about what's happening in South America right now with Hugo Chavez.

DOBBS: Your thoughts? MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: I think one of the things that's really important in Texas that probably doesn't get enough attention are the rules. You've got this two-step thing which is well-known, but it's how the delegates are apportioned by state senate districts. The black districts have more delegates by virtue of past turnout than the Latino district. So Obama should do better there among black voters getting more delegates.

Of course, the nighttime caucus system favors him, has everywhere else, where he is better organized on the ground to participate in the caucuses. So Texas might be a big surprise for the Clinton people tomorrow, a bad surprise.

MARK HALPERIN, TIME MAGAZINE: She's got one chance to win this nomination, and it's to convince large numbers of people that Obama is not ready to be president, not just on national security but on economics and health care. I think that could cut across demographics in Texas if she succeeds.

DOBBS: All right. So we're moving from group and identity politics to issues. Imagine that. Issues mattering to the outcome of an election.

One of the issues is going to be the trustworthiness of at least the Obama campaign if not the candidate himself. What do you make of those allegations that an Obama adviser privately told officials of the Canadian government that his statements are simply political posturing, not public policy?

HALPERIN: I'd love for the Obama campaign to stop attacking Senator Clinton, to stop giving answers that are not responsive, to stop pointing to Canadian government statements and give us an account of what happened. It's not a trivial matter. It's important to a lot of voters. They should just give us the facts. Obama himself had had a very short press conference where he didn't answer in detail. It would be nice to have the answers before people had to vote.

DOBBS: Michael?

GOODWIN: He's had 24 hours of bad luck. You've got the Tony Rezko story, the slumlord as Senator Clinton called him, starting his trial today. I mean one week later would have been a lot better for Obama.

Then, of course, you have this document coming out from Canada just, again, the same day. This was something that just came to light sort of started last week through the Clinton campaign. It's a bad 24 hours, what you don't want going into the voting day.

DOBBS: Our Candy Crowley reporting that, in point of fact, the members of the campaign denied the meeting; for the better part of a week.

PEREZ: I believe it --

DOBBS: The only conclusion is they didn't have correct information or there was an absolute lie. Which do you think it is?

PEREZ: I think it was an absolute lie. I think definitely they met. I definitely think that they're trying to wiggle their way out of this right now, but it's very obvious to me --

DOBBS: If this were Hillary Clinton -- by the way, I'm going to repeat again -- I'm an independent populous. I don't have a dog in this hunt.

If this is Hillary Clinton, is this leading newscasts this evening?

HALPERIN: It got a little bit of attention, but not as much if it was her. One of the things that will embolden her to stay in this race even without resounding victories tomorrow is she feels this stuff may start to get attention.

GOODWIN: I think Clinton feels she's on a bit of a roll, and I think there's evidence of that. I think if she wins had Ohio, which she probably will, particularly because of the NAFTA issue which is about Ohio.

DOBBS: If the people of Ohio, if I may say, do not make free trade and its impact in that state a critically important to their decision on whom to vote for and I'm not suggesting whether you believe senator Clinton, Senator McCain -- better not believe Senator McCain because he says he's the biggest free trader in this contest -- or Senator Obama, I mean, that is devastation. I've looked at a number of national news organizations putting out articles saying the people of Ohio should just relax because their problems started long before free trade. What kind of idiots in the national press don't understand economics and its impact on the state of Ohio?

GOODWIN: Well, I think the voters do. I think the voters are very suspicious of this stuff, and I think Obama has picked a really rotten time to get caught in a lie.

PEREZ: This story has legs. It's not going away, and the bottom line is that, look, I don't think either Obama or Hillary Clinton is serious about changing NAFTA. That's -- you know -- it's all rhetoric from both sides.

DOBBS: I'm shocked. Shocked I think is the way the line goes. We're going to be back for more shock and awe as we continue in just a moment with our panel. Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: I'm back with Mark Halperin, Michael Goodwin, Miguel Perez.

Miguel, Hugo Chavez at it again. Now we're looking at a potential conflict with Columbia and Ecuador and Venezuela.

PEREZ: Loco, totally bananas. Do you remember the movie Bananas by Woody Allen. He had this Latin American dictator. That's what Hugo Chavez reminds me of. He has this radio show and TV show. He had all his followers dressed in red and with all these followers he gave orders like this too big dictator.

DOBBS: Are you saying Hugo Chavez was watching Woody Allen?

PEREZ: He's giving Woody Allen an idea for a follow up movie sequel but seriously, look, you know the bottom line here is that we're going to have to and we're supporting Columbia.

DOBBS: As we absolutely should.

PEREZ: Now the question becomes what happens now? It's obvious that these rebels are taking off into Venezuela and Ecuador and gaining presence there.

DOBBS: Would you agree it's inexcusable that we have not also been providing support and creating an alliance with Ecuador at the same time to forestall this nonsense?

PEREZ: Well, the problem here is that Ecuador is first cousins with Hugo Chavez. Correa, he is a leftist, Marxist leftist who wants us all dead, just like Chavez does. So you know, how do you deal with these people, you know? I don't believe in talking to our enemies, like Obama does.

DOBBS: Not the way - just about the time I thought you were supporting Obama, you say that.

Michael, let's turn to the issue of the EADS contract. The U.S. Air Force giving a contract for those - all of those tankers to the company, the consortium that builds Airbus, rather than Boeing, and they are buying - driving everyone just about crazy over the idea of creating in Toulouse, France, rather than with the exception of a couple of thousand in Alabama, very little support for other American jobs.

GOODWIN: It's a very strange decision, in part because EADS is so heavily subsidized by the French government. So if on the basis of that subsidy, they can underbid an American firm, it's not a fair playing field. And that goes to the heart of free and fair trade.

DOBBS: And why in the world is Senator McCain not denouncing this, or these candidates not dealing with it?

HALPERIN: I think it hasn't quite percolated to the point where the candidates have to weigh in. But you know, this reminds of the Dubai Ports story. It's something that happens. I think it's going to take a little bit, a while to build, but when it does, I'll be stunned if Congress does not try to step in and stop this.

DOBBS: Well, it's, as you say, percolating here. Thank you very much, Mr. Halperin. Thank you very much, Mr. Perez. We appreciate it.

And a reminder to tune into my new radio show, "THE LOU DOBBS SHOW," a new three-hour radio show. We kicked it off today. Go to to find local listings. Go to for even more.

And we thank you for being with us here tonight. Join us tomorrow. Thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE ELECTION CENTER" with Campbell Brown begins right now.