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Lou Dobbs Tonight

President Bush Welcomes Pope Benedict XVI to the U.S.; Sen. Casey Remains Supportive of Obama; McCain Introduces Economic Agenda; State Department Issues Travel Alert Along U.S./Mexico Border

Aired April 15, 2008 - 19:30   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight, Senator Obama still refusing to apologize for his criticism of small-town Americans. One of Senator Obama's top supporters, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, he's among my guest here tonight.

Also the Bush administration blocking congressional efforts to fund a paper trail for those e-voting machines to ensure the integrity of our voting system.

We'll have a special report, "Democracy at Risk."

And corporate elites again betraying working men and women in their families. The elites, their friends and the U.S. Senate now demanding the importation of even more cheap, foreign workers.

We'll have all of that, all today's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. News, debate and opinion for Tuesday, April 15. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

One week before the Pennsylvania primaries, Senator Obama today launched major counterattack against his political opponents. Obama accused his opponents of practicing the politics of division and distraction. Obama ignoring the uproar over what many say are his own politics of division, his criticism of so-called "bitter" people who cling to guns and religion.

The Clinton campaign today stepped up its offensive against Senator Obama. The campaign saying the only thing transparent about Obama is his claim to be transparent.

We have extensive coverage tonight beginning with Suzanne Malveaux in Philadelphia -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, as you know, it's just a week way from this critical contest in Pennsylvania, 24 hours from this debate, this face-off between Clinton and Obama here in Philadelphia. The Clinton strategy here is to keep Obama on the defense so she can walk away with possibly, possibly a double-digit lead. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


MALVEAUX (voice-over): Hillary Clinton issued a dire warning. A vote for Barack Obama will mean another George Bush.

CLINTON: We have seen the power of the presidency placed in hands, unready or unwilling to address the tasks that lie ahead.

MALVEAUX: Her thinly veiled slam to Obama was part of a speech in that laying out her vision as president.

CLINTON: I am running for president because I believe in the promise of America and I believe in the power of the presidency to help fulfill that promise.

MALVEAUX: While Clinton tries to appear above the fray, her campaign is attacking Obama on all fronts. Mindful that it's tax day, Team Clinton piled it on, resurrecting their call for Obama to release three years of tax records from his days in the Illinois state Senate, accusing him...

"Whether it's tax returns or legislature records or his relationship with indicted political fixer Tony Rezko. Senator Obama seems to take the-dog-ate-my-home-work excuse."

On a conference call, this from a Clinton spokesman.

PHIL SINGER, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: The only thing transparent about Senator Obama is his claim that he is transparent.

MALVEAUX: Here in Pennsylvania, the Clinton campaign launched a new ad, criticizing Obama for saying some small town cling to guns and religion out of bitterness over hard economic times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not clinging to my faith out of frustration and bitterness. I find that my faith is very uplifting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The good people of Pennsylvania deserve a lot better than what Barack Obama said.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary does understand the citizens of Pennsylvania better.

MALVEAUX: Obama is responding to Clinton's accusations, specifically her charge that he's out of touch with working-class voters.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am amused about this notion of elitists, given that, you know, when you're raised by a single mom, when you're on food stamps for a while when you're growing up, you went to school on scholarship, that's when you know we're in political silly season. Hopefully we'll come to an end fairly soon. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Lou, it's not likely that this is going to come to and end fairly soon as the Clinton camp really sees this as a successful argument, a strong argument at least, to make the superdelegates say, when you look at the polls, perhaps if he gets the nomination in the general election, that he is just not electable, because they believe independents and Republicans are going to continue to hammer him on this point and that he will lose out. So that is what you're going to be hearing for quite some time -- Lou.

DOBBS: And it is odd given that he is taking such a pounding, Suzanne, that there's not been any sort of apology or any sort of attempt to straighten out what he said.

MALVEAUX: Well, certainly the Obama campaign feels like he is explaining himself and that they continue to explain that that's going to be good enough. Certainly this is something that happened when he got beyond the Pastor Wright controversy. I don't know if it's going to work this time around.

DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you very much. Suzanne Malveaux.

The bitter fight between senators, Obama and Clinton, in particular, could have an effect on next week's primary in Pennsylvania. The primary will be, of course, a major test of whether Senator Obama can win the support of voters after his stunning criticism of small-town Americans.

Bill Schneider has our report.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Next Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary has become a test of Barack Obama's viability. Has he been damaged by the controversy over his remarks at a San Francisco fundraiser?

The polls so far are inconclusive. One, by the American research group, shows Hillary Clinton leading Obama by 20 points in Pennsylvania. If she were to win by that kind of margin, the superdelegates might see Obama as damaged goods.

But the "Los Angeles Times"/Bloomberg News poll of Pennsylvania has Clinton leading Obama by five points. About the same as the Quinnipiac University poll, which shows Clinton up by six. A narrow victory like that would suggest that Obama has escaped major damage, that his counteroffensive, revealed in this new ad, is working.


CLINTON: I know that many of you, like me, were disappointed by recent remarks that he made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a reason people are rejecting Hillary Clinton's attacks, because the same old Washington politics won't lower the price of gas or help our struggling economy.


SCHNEIDER: Over the past month, Clinton's lead has been shrinking in the Quinnipiac poll from 12 points to nine to six where it remains, which suggest Obama's momentum may have stalled.

Where do you draw the line between good news for Obama and good news for Clinton in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is in between New Jersey and Ohio. On February 5, New Jersey Democrats voted 54 percent for Clinton and 44 percent for Obama, a 10-point margin for Clinton. On March 4, Ohio Democrats voted 54 percent for Clinton and 44 percent for Obama. Exactly the same.

If Clinton does better in Pennsylvania than her 10-point margin in New Jersey and Ohio, she's got new momentum. If she does worse in Pennsylvania than she did in the two neighboring states, Obama may be OK.


SCHNEIDER: How reliable a test will the Pennsylvania Democratic primary be? Only Democrats are allowed to vote. A strong showing by Obama could give false assurance to his party. It won't tell them how vulnerable he might be to a Republican attack on values -- Lou?

DOBBS: Bill, let me ask you something that we don't often talk about here, and that's those internal polls of the candidates, what we're hearing on the campaign trail from each of the campaigns, both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. Any sign of what internal polling is revealing, either cautionary or uplifting for Senator Obama?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I'll tell you something. I haven't actually heard about any internal polls from either campaign. What I am hearing is people in the campaigns and people on the streets coming up to me and saying, "Is there any evidence of damage? Is she going to win by double digits? What's happening in Pennsylvania?" And those are the polls that we've seen. As we just saw, they do vary all over the place.

DOBBS: All right. Bill Schneider, thank you sir. Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you.

DOBBS: A rare sight today on the campaign trail, Senator Obama actually wearing an American flag pin on his lapel. Senator Obama, given the pin by a veteran at a campaign stop in Washington, Pennsylvania. Obama put the pin on his lapel saying he wished to recognize the service of the veteran.

Obama, though, usually refuses to wear a flag pin on his lapel. It was (INAUDIBLE) that Obama said wearing a pin is called "a substitute for true patriotism." Can you see that, Senator Obama? Those are the kind of comments that really get my attention, I can tell you that.

Well, Senator McCain today tried to take advantage of the battle in the Democrat Party. And he started pushing a populous economic agenda. How about that? Senator McCain called for a summer gasoline tax holiday and a simplified income tax system. Senator McCain's proposals designed in part to counter criticism he doesn't understand economics or care about middle-class voters' financial pain.

Dana Bash has our report from Pittsburgh.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was a new twist in pocketbook politics. John McCain says he wants a summertime suspension of the federal gas tax, hoping voters will reward him this fall.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because the cost of gas affects the price of food, packaging and just about everything else. These immediate steps will help to spread relief across the American economy.

BASH: McCain aides say he'll introduce Senate legislation soon, which would save consumers 18.4 cents a gallon for gas, 24.4 cents for diesel from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

But the reality is gas tax holidays have been pushed many times before and never enacted because it funds federal roads. It was one of several tax breaks McCain proposed in this much-anticipated address, laying out his economic policies and hitting Democrats for theirs.

MCCAIN: They're going to race your taxes by thousands of dollars a year and they have the audacity to hope you don't mind.

BASH: In addition to making permanent the Bush tax cut McCain once opposed, he wants to eliminate the alternative minimum tax, which McCain says would save middle-class families $2,000 a year, double the exemption for each child from $3,500 to $7,000 a year, cut the corporate tax rate and invest in research and development.

McCain advisers say that would cost $225 billion, though one Democratic group estimates $300 billion. To raise revenue, affluent Medicare recipients would pay more for prescription drugs.

MCCAIN: Those who can afford to buy their own prescription drugs should be expected to do so.

BASH: And in an appeal to independents and disillusioned Republicans, McCain repeatedly vowed to cut wasteful spending.

MCCAIN: Somewhere along the way, too many Republicans in Congress became indistinguishable from the big-spending Democrats they used to oppose. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: McCain said he would freeze all non-defense discretionary spending for one year while the government looks into the effectiveness of federal programs. He said that that, plus other budget reforms, would save the government $100 billion, but noticeably absent from this speech, Lou, was -- an earlier pledge that he made to balance the budget in his first term in office or any discussion at all about the billions of dollars being spent on the war in Iraq -- Lou.

DOBBS: You know I would have to say, Dana, that anyone who -- anyone running who thought they could balance this budget in their first term is talking about real tall cotton. The fact of the matter is, if this budget through the first six months of this year, this fiscal year, is the highest on record.

BASH: That's right. And I can tell you that after the speech, Senator McCain did an interview with "The New York Times" and he amended that pledge saying that he would hope to balance the budget by the end of a second term.

DOBBS: Somewhat more realistic. A lot of work for whoever is elected this November.

Dana, thank you very much. Dana Bash.

BASH: Thank you.

DOBBS: As voters focus on domestic issues in this campaign, the war in Iraq, of course, goes on. Insurgents today launched a series of deadly bomb attacks. At least 60 Iraqis were killed in those attacks, more than a hundred others wounded. As many as 40 people were killed in the city of Baquba, another 15 were killed in the city of Ramadi. The attacks took place in the provincial capitals where there's been a significant decline in violence, in fact, over recent months. U.S. officials blaming al Qaeda for those deadly attacks.

The U.S. military says two more of our troops have been killed in Iraq. Those soldiers killed and suffered attacks yesterday. 22 of our troops have now been killed in Iraq this month, 4,034 of our troops killed since the war began, 29,780 of our troops wounded, and 13,297 of them seriously.

Former president Jimmy Carter tonight is in the Middle East. He is there pushing for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. And he is on his own mission. And in taking up this mission, President Carter has angered Israel. President Carter laid a wreath at the grave of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah on the West Bank.

The former president also met with a senior Hamas politician and hugged him. Israel said President Carter dignified the group committed to Israel's destruction.

Carter's office is declining to comment. President Bush, today, welcomed Pope Benedict to the United States at the beginning of what will be a just about a six-day visit. Pope Benedict XVI landing at Andrews Air Force Base this afternoon for his first visit since becoming pope three years ago. President Bush, First Lady Laura and their daughter Jenna welcomed the Pope at Andrews Air Force Base

It is the first time that an American president has met a foreign visitor at Andrews Air Force Base.

Coming up next here, outrage at lawmakers complete failure to help struggling home owners in this country. Lisa Sylvester will have our report -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, middle-class families are losing their safety nets, their homes. What's Congress doing -- giving tax breaks to wealthy home builders? -- Lou.

DOBBS: It's always good to know that the Democratically-led Congress is on the job and that Republican president in the White House doing his part.

Lisa, thanks. We'll look forward to your report.

Also corporate elites trying to import even more cheap foreign labor with the help of some U.S. senators. Imagine that. And the Bush administration refusing to provide any new funding to ensure the integrity of our electronic voting systems.

That special report and a great deal more coming right up. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Our home foreclosure rate soared 57 percent over the past year according to a new report. More than 230,000 homes were receiving foreclosures notices in the month of March. That's up from 149,000 a year ago.

In response to this crisis, the Senate has passed a multibillion dollar bailout for home builders, not home owners. Tonight, however, home owners are fighting back. Citizen rights group are lobbying the House of Representatives to pass legislation that would help middle- class families instead of big business.

Lisa Sylvester has our report.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): Rosa Garcia has a $230,000 mortgage on her Arizona home but she says its value has dropped only $180,000, and she can't keep up with the payments.

ROSA GARCIA, HOMEOWNER: It's a very stressful situation, you know. I think what's going to happen tomorrow? SYLVESTER: She is among the millions of Americans facing foreclosure this year. The Senate passed a bill that was supposed to give middle-class borrowers some relief. But instead, the vast majority of the benefits, $25 billion, would be tax breaks for the housing industry that supporters say would stimulate housing and create jobs.

Critics say it will go to big corporate home builders who on a building frenzy and cashed in when the housing market was hot.

MICHAEL ETTLINGER, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: Those who are going to benefit most from this provision are the companies who behaved very irresponsibly and got us into this mess.

SYLVESTER: A coalition of housing advocates is not turning to the House of Representatives to lobby for more home owner aid and try to defeat the builders' tax breaks.

TERRENCE O'SULLIVAN, LABORERS' INTL. UNION OF N. AMERICA: In the Senate, they must be drinking corporate home builders' Kool-Aid. And we need to make sure that in the House, if the votes aren't there, then we need to make sure that the votes aren't there for a bad bill.

SYLVESTER: A proposal in the House by Representative Barney Frank, the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, would allow families to refinance loans backed by the federal government. But it stopped short of allowing bankruptcy judges to change the terms of mortgage loans, a proposal backed by housing advocates.


SYLVESTER: Representative Barney Frank predicted that proposal to allow bankruptcy judges to rewrite mortgages won't make it through Congress this year. But his office is acknowledging that Congress has to do something, especially considering there is an election coming up -- Lou?

DOBBS: Well, it seems like, obviously, the greatest beneficiaries here still remains the home builders, who in -- with mortgages brokers, appraisers and a host of others in many cases are the source of this subprime nightmare that the credit markets are going through.

SYLVESTER: That is indeed the case, Lou. $25 billion, that's third to a half of the money for -- in the Senate package would actually go to the home builders. I mean these are -- the people who helped create the mess in the first place. And they are the ones now who stand to get the biggest rewards.

DOBBS: If the Democratically-led Congress can't prevail on this issue, as senator -- as Congressman Barney Frank said, if we cannot use the bankruptcy law as it was intended and the bank -- and the power of bankruptcy judges, as it was intended, then there's something terribly wrong. We know there's a lot terribly wrong right now in this government. But certainly they've got to begin to solve it and at least that's one area that they should be able to prevail, it seems to me.

SYLVESTER: Well, there's definitely pressure on them and we're going to just have to see what happens, because, as we get closer to the election, these lawmakers, particularly in the House, if they want to keep their jobs, then they need to help middle class families keep their homes.

DOBBS: And if you -- we want to remind, Lisa, our viewers that you can go to and there click on -- you got all sorts of ways to get -- put in your zip code and we'll get you to your representative or your senator so you can weigh in on this issue.

Lisa, than you very much. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas tonight, fighting to bring even more foreign workers into this country. Senator Cornyn claims American business needs what he calls emergency relief in the form of more cheap foreign labor.

But as Bill Tucker now reports, there is absolutely no shortage of skilled American labor.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senator John Cornyn thinks business needs some emergency relief. Senators Chuck Hagel, Judd Gregg, Joe Lieberman agree. Hence, Senate bill 2839 or "The Global Competitiveness Act of 2008." It doesn't quite do what Microsoft's Bill Gates wants to see done with the H-1B visa program, a foreign guest worker program for skilled workers.

BILL GATES, MICROSOFT CHAIRMAN: Even though it may not be realistic, I don't think there should be any limit.

TUCKER: But it would expand the cap by 77 percent, from 65,000 to 115,000 starting next year. The bill is being offered, Cornyn says, because American high-tech companies have thousands of unfilled positions. Yet studies done by the Urban Institute, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Duke's Frat School of Engineering all came to a similar conclusion. There is no shortage of skilled American workers.

VIVIK WADHWA, DUKE UNIVERSITY: So far, I've seen no research study which showed that there was a shortage of engineers in the USA. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence, maybe some local shortages, but there's no shortage that I know of. If there was shortages (INAUDIBLE).

TUCKER: Worker activist groups say the picture painted by big business doesn't match the reality they are seeing and hearing.

PRIYANKA JOSHI, WASHTECH: I get e-mails from all over the country with people who are very well educated, who have American education and they have no jobs at all.

TUCKER: There is currently no mention of emergency relief for American workers, even though the phrase "emergency relief" seems to be the new trend in visa talk in Washington, D.C.


TUCKER: Emergency relief was the justification used by the Department of Homeland Security when it announced a rule change without public comment, increasing to 29 months the time that foreign graduating students could stay and work in the country after graduation.

But we can report that LOU DOBBS TONIGHT has learned that a coalition of worker activists are preparing a lawsuit to challenge the DHS rule change.

Lou, it seems that the workers are at last learning they're going to have to stand up and speak for themselves in the place of a Congress that clearly is content to speak for business, not them.

DOBBS: This is, to me, shocking. Senator Cornyn, in most other respects, has demonstrated himself to be an able senator, man of integrity, and a well-informed senator. There is no possible explanation that this sponsorship is anything more than a reflexive, acquiescence to the demands of corporate lobbyists, putting intense pressure on Lieberman and Cornyn and all the other senators involved. This is so disappointing when it comes to Senator Cornyn, it seems like. Terrible.

TUCKER: And you can't draw any other conclusion. Bill Gates goes down to the Senate and to the House, tells them what he wants, and Lou, he's getting everything he wants. He got the extension of practical training. That was what he requested. You got to believe he's going to get an increase in H-1B visas.

DOBBS: Well, let's just remind our viewers of something. What percentage of these visas are actually high skilled workers coming in to this country?

TUCKER: The vast majority of the visas, I don't remember the exact percentage, Lou, go to the low-end of the pay scale.

DOBBS: In order words the entry...

TUCKER: No, the H-1B's. They go to low-skilled entry.

DOBBS: Low skilled.

TUCKER: Low skilled. Yes.

DOBBS: Low skilled workers.

And let's remind our audience of one other thing, and perhaps Senator Cornyn as well, and his staff, and maybe our good buddy, Bill Gates, who's got -- sort of he has got enough power that people just start are slobbering over themselves when he goes to Capitol Hill.

What percentage of the workers that are brought in here under h1b visas at the top? What percentage of those top corporations bringing those folks in are Indian companies based in this country and they're bringing in low-skilled workers for the specific purpose of outsourcing American jobs in this country to an Indian company here in this country.

TUCKER: As unbelievable as this number is, Lou, 80 percent. 8 of the top 10 are Indian companies either based in India or based here.

DOBBS: Now Bill Gates, I want to offer you an opportunity. I know you could buy a couple of networks if you wanted to. But you're more than welcome to come here and explain how a man supposedly as smart as you are, who would have an interest in this country, who would have an interest, one would think, in truth, could come up with this -- the nonsense that you have and spew it on Capitol Hill in the form of testimony?

I would love for you to come here. We'll have a nice little discussion about it. You have a standing, open invitation to do so. And Senator Cornyn, you, too. We need to start getting real honest folks about what we're talking about. And that should start with some of the most responsible leaders in the country. Certainly Bill Gates should be among those.

All right, Bill. Thank you very. Bill tucker.

Coming up here next, the State Department has issues an urgent warning tonight for Americans traveling to Mexico. But incredibly, it's not a travel ban, it's just a travel warning.

We'll have that report for you and race in politics, a prominent African-American business leader in this country says Senator Obama wouldn't be a leading candidate for president if he were white. Yes, he was talking about Geraldine Ferraro's statement and truth as he sees it.

That's story and a great deal more coming up next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: A stark warning from the U.S. State Department for American planning to travel to Mexico or already traveling there. Americans and local residents have been the victims of kidnappings and homicide carried out by warring drug cartels as we have been reporting here for some time. But the U.S. State Department is not now imposing a travel ban to Mexico.

Casey Wians has our report.


CASEY WIANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The State Department's latest travel alert from Mexico warns much of Mexican territory along the U.S. border is a war zone. It says, "Recent Mexican army and police force conflicts with heavily-armed narcotics cartels have escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat and have included use of machine guns and fragmentation grenades."

PROF. GEORGE GRAYSON, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY: What's happened is that the Gulf Cartel just south of Texas has been decapitated and also there've been strong blows against the Tijuana Cartel. And you've got lieutenants who are fighting for the leadership of those cartels and competitive cartels are trying to move into their turf and so the blood is continuing to flow and I think it will flow in larger volumes.

WIAN: The updated travel alert also warns armed robberies and carjackings, apparently unconnected to the narcotics related violence, have increased in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in 2007 in Tijuana. Public shoot outs have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas but it stops short of advising Americans to avoid northern Mexico.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: Ultimately you know whatever warnings we put out, it comes down to an individual making a decision, do they want to heed the warnings and take into the account the information that we provide them?

WIAN: The State Department also warns Americans traveling anywhere in Mexico to be wary of kidnappers, an increasingly lucrative enterprise there. It says no one can be considered immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality or other factors. Mexican drug cartel violence has already claimed more than 850 lives so far this year.


WIAN: The State Department says it has no evidence that Americans are being specifically targeted adding that thousands of U.S. citizens cross the border every day, using common sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourists areas of border towns during the daylight hours -- Lou.

DOBBS: Let me see if I have it right, kidnappings, murder, drug cartel violence, the State Department doesn't have the guts to put an outright ban on travel for American citizens. That's outrageous. It's nuts.

WIAN: They're not even discussing to my best knowledge a ban on travel to Mexico. They haven't gone as far as issuing a formal warning which is a recommendation that Americans don't travel there. The State Department has formal warnings out on 28 different countries. Some of them include Syria, Sudan, Indonesia, places like that where there is danger to Americans.

They're not doing it for Mexico. They say it's not necessary at this time, Lou.

DOBBS: With that many Americans already killed and kidnapped, I would like to see how it maps out with any other country. Can we kind of check that out here tomorrow? We'll have that tomorrow to make a comparison because what it looks like is this administration seems to want to sacrifice both the safety of American citizens and the security of our borders.

I'm saying it to you straight up, Mr. President and everyone in the State Department. If you would like to take me to task; so be it. I think this is irresponsible to deal with like a travel notice.

Casey, thank you very much, an excellent job of reporting, Casey Wian.

Up next, the democracy at risk from voting. You can thank the Bush administration for this one as well. The White House doesn't want to pay for the paper trails for voting on e-voting machines. We'll have that story.

The pope is now in the United States. Three of the best radio talk show hosts will be talking about his visit.

And the interesting presidential campaign. One of Senator Obama's strongest supporters is Senator Bob Casey. He will be here. We'll be talking with the senator from Pennsylvania about Senator Obama's criticism of small town America and a lot more I'm sure.

Stay with us, we'll be right back.


DOBBS: Joining me, three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country, Lars Larson, KXL in Portland, Oregon and Westwood One, good to have you with us. Joe Madison, WOL Radio in Washington, D.C., XM Radio, Joe, looking sharp as ever.


DOBBS: And Laura Flanders of Air America. Good to see you. Also looking sharp, I must say. I got to get over this rumpled look of mine. Madison is making me worried.

MADISON: You're cool, Lou.

DOBBS: All right, partner. Well, it's good to have you here.

Let's start with first of all President Carter in the Promised Land. Laura, your thoughts?

LAURA FLANDERS, AIR AMERICA: Jimmy Carter has gone and said things that people would not say that need to be talked about. If this is pretext of getting to people to talk about the festering wound at the center in the Middle East, I am all for it. None of this is easy. There are no simple solutions.

I have sympathy with Jimmy Carter saying this is a situation we have to address head on. Simply ignoring it is ignoring a humanitarian disaster that has shock waves going all over the country.

DOBBS: Of whose making?

FLANDERS: Well, no matter of who's making, the question is by cutting off Hamas, by saying well we're just not going to deal with this situation, you've got a crisis that's not getting better, and you've got hundreds of thousands of people literally starving.

DOBBS: Lars?

LARS LARSON, KXL, OREGON: Lou, listen -- this is a terrorist group. There's a solution. Don't talk to terrorists. And as far as Jimmy Carter goes, you said the state department has no guts on Mexico, if they had any guts, they would rescind his Carter's passport and invite Hamas to keep him.

DOBBS: There's an idea.

Joe Madison, lead us into reason?

MADISON: Well, I think the reason is peace is probably the most difficult thing that you can try to bring about in the Middle East right now. I congratulate him for at least trying. The problem I have is that I don't know the details of the proposal. I don't know what he's offering. The news we got was everybody was upset that he hugged the head of Hamas and put a wreath at the tomb.

But you know the point is, where are the details? What is being offered? What can Jimmy Carter bring to the table, other than Jimmy Carter?

LARSON: He's supposed to be negotiating for the United States of America or representing the United States. He's a private citizen now. He should but out. It's illegal for him to do what he is doing. He should butt out.

MADISON: I think he has a right to do that.

FLANDERS: He's using his public profile to draw attention to an issue that he believes this administration and preceding administrations have completely bungled. I don't think he's negotiating on behalf of the United States.

He's trying to draw attention. We can say terrorist all we like; this was a part of the world where this administration encouraged there to be elections, the people there for reasons I think we should get smarter about, elected Hamas and it's the more that we just pay no attention, the less we'll understand.

DOBBS: Let's speak of elections. Let's talk about one we have here that gets, as the saying goes, curiouser and curiouser.

Senator Obama's comments, let me start with you, Laura. How dumb can comments get?

FLANDERS: I mean I don't get it Lou. It's OK for you to talk about the bitterness and frustration of American workers, but not Barack Obama?

DOBBS: At least have the decency to keep the record straight.

FLANDERS: Are you going to focus on a word or on the decades of policy ...

DOBBS: I'm focusing on a man saying people are clinging to guns, religion.

FLANDERS: That's nothing that people haven't said for years.

DOBBS: Keep talking over the people. You and Obama will get along great.

Let me go to Lars first. Lars, go ahead.

LARSON: You have to understand, this man didn't just talk about bitterness; he accused small town Americans and I lived in small towns most of my growing up time of being bitter and having antipathy for people that are not like them. He basically said they are a bunch of small town bigots with guns who go to church as though going to church is a bad thing. He thought because he said it in a California salon, he could get away with it. He didn't get way with it.

DOBBS: Joe Madison, you get the last word as we go to break. We'll be back with our panel.

MADISON: Bull. Last word, bull. I mean, have I never heard, that's a bunch of bull. Obama doesn't have a problem. Let me tell you something. I had a small town guy call my show and said, if you want to get elected in a town on the border of the Mason-Dixon line, he lived in Pennsylvania, he says here's what my grandfather told me for years, we cling to our guns, we cling to the bible and we drape ourselves in the American flag. That's how you get elected in my town. That's came from him.

DOBBS: Who is him?

MADISON: The guy that called my show.

DOBBS: I thought maybe he was running for president, too. We'll be back.

MADISON: This is about nothing, nothing.

DOBBS: We're going to argue about that in just a moment because when we come back, we'll be doing just that.

We want to go to the poll question quickly: Which of these best describes your attitude as an American citizen, partisan and pitiful, bitter and angry or independent and proud?

I'll admit it; we adjusted this poll just a tad. We'll have the results for you later in the broadcast.

We'll be back with the panel.

And backing Obama, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. He'll be here to make his case for the senator. Just a week to go before the Pennsylvania primary.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: I'm back with Lars Larson, Joe Madison and Laura Flanders here in New York.

All right. Let's talk about populists. And we should point out that despite all of this Obama, right now, has a lead of 11 points nationally according to the latest Gallup Poll over Clinton. But let's go to that great modern and I mean recently admitted populist my good friend Senator John McCain.

FLANDERS: This is a joke. I mean everybody is repositioning themselves, particularly we have to say Clinton and McCain on the question of the economy. I mean here are two people who have been part of pouring the pain on poor people now talking about the pain that a word caused. This is a woman that supported NAFTA. This is a woman who supported those trade policies. You read the White House documents.

DOBBS: I will. Lars, what do you think?

LARSON: Listen, I know what McCain is trying to do, but 18 cents a gallon off your tank of gas, I don't think it is not going to move anybody out of the driveway for vacation.

DOBBS: Lars, you're starting to sound like Obama, for goodness sake.

LARSON: That's chump change.

DOBBS: That really adds up.

MADISON: And what's really missing is he's not talking about the tax breaks that the big oil companies get. Come on.

LARSON: Geez, Joe.

DOBBS: But he did talk about the greed of Wall Street.

MADISON: Finally.

DOBBS: I agree. I haven't heard a Republican talk about it.

FLANDERS: We're talking the politics of distraction. We're playing the gotcha on the campaign trail.

DOBBS: I'm not going to buy into that. I want to talk about this with Senator Casey. This is serious stuff. Don't anyone think this is going to get dismissed. This is going to be very serious. The issues of free trade, illegal immigration, the second amendment and First Amendment tied up into the bitter comment. It's important.

MADISON: Guess what? People are angry, bitter about it, have been, I don't know when they stopped being bitter and angry about it.

DOBBS: I'll let you know when we get the poll results here.

Lars, thank you very much.

Laura Flanders, thank you.

OK, Joe, even you. Thank you. Good to see you partner, Joe Madison.

A reminder to vote in our poll: Which of these best describes your attitude as an American citizen, partisan and pitiful, bitter and angry or independent and proud?

Cast your vote at We'll have the results here in just a few moments.

Coming up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown and the "ELECTION CENTER."

Campbell, what are you working on?


Coming up on the "ELECTION CENTER," two subjects Democrats usually don't want to talk about, with just one week to go until the big Pennsylvania primary, God and guns are at the top of the agenda. We're going to look at how Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are handling the hot-button issues.

Plus, how Pope Benedict's historic trip to the U.S. could affect Catholic voters as well.

We'll see you in the "ELECTION CENTER" at 8:00 -- Lou.

DOBBS: Look forward to it. Thank you very much.

Up next, Senator Bob Casey still supporting Senator Barack Obama after Obama's comments about bitter voters in Senator Casey's home state of Pennsylvania. He'll be my guest here next.

And a bill to ensure the accuracy of electronic voting is all but dead. Thank you Mr. President. We'll have that story and a great deal more.

We're coming right back.


DOBBS: Well, Senator Obama hasn't apologized for his controversial remarks about Pennsylvania voters. His comments could have an effect on the performance in Pennsylvania's primary next Tuesday. One of the senator's biggest supporters is Senator Bob Casey, of Pennsylvania, who has endorsed Senator Obama. He joins me now from Capitol Hill.

Senator Casey, great to have you with us.

SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Good to be with you, Lou. Thank you.

DOBBS: You're candidate right now by most reports anyway is anywhere between 20 and five points back of Senator Clinton. How do you think he's going to do?

CASEY: I think he'll do well in Pennsylvania. I'm not sure he can win it. It's certainly an uphill fight. I think it's important to lay a foundation in Pennsylvania for the fall. It's big, diverse and essential state for a Democrat in November. I think this contest helps whoever the nominee will be and I hope that's Senator Obama but I think it will help for the fall.

DOBBS: Who do you think these comments helped in this contest in Pennsylvania? "It's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns, or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Who do you think will benefit from that?

CASEY: Well Lou, I think I'd leave that to the pundits but I do think that it's pretty clear that he has expressed regret for those words. I think he's trying to express is something that I know you care about and I care about, the frustration and the anxiety the people feel about this economy.

The economy is in recession. You see jobs shipped overseas over and over again in a state like Pennsylvania and I think he was trying to express the frustration.

But I do think that in the end the people of Pennsylvania want to hear about the issues, they want to hear about trade, they want to hear who has been for NAFTA and when. They want to hear about health care. They want to hear about jobs.

I don't think voters in Pennsylvania are going to hold one or two sentences or even a paragraph against Senator Obama. I think they'll look at the totality of his record.

DOBBS: The problem with that record is there isn't much of a record there. Is there?

CASEY: I don't agree but go ahead.

DOBBS: Well, I mean he's got some statements, and he's got some speeches, but the fact is he has not moved any significant legislation through the United States Senate. He hasn't been there long enough that you could argue rather credibly but the truth is, his record, as you put it, is a little sketchy I think would be the word.

CASEY: I think here's the reality in the Senate. I am in the Senate a little more than a year now, not quite a year and half. I've seen people around here who have been here for years that may not have their name on legislation but they're still getting a lot done.

I'll give you one good example of what he led in a very significant way. That's Senate bill one from 2007, the ethics bill, which by all measures, common cause and a lot of other groups said it was the most significant piece of lobbying reform in terms of how the Senate's business is conducted. He led the effort. He was the senator to sit down with our nine freshman Democrats to push ethics and lobbying reform. He has had some impact already in the Senate.

DOBBS: Terrific.

Let me ask you this. The senator said he thought this was a distraction, the discussion of his comments there about anti-immigrant or anti-trade sentiment. He said he felt this was a distraction from the issues. You just said voters of Pennsylvania are going to want to know more about free trade, they're going to want to know more about illegal immigration and those issues.

Why would he couch in any way the suggestion that people's views in Pennsylvania were based on some sort of anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment out of frustration or a dislike of people that "don't look like them"? The last I looked, Pennsylvania is a diverse state, racially, ethnically, religiously.

What state is he talking about when he describes the people of Pennsylvania that way?

CASEY: Well Lou, I think when you read everything he said on the topic, I think it's very clear what he was talking about. He's talked about it more than any candidate has had to talk about a few sentences ever.

I do think, though, that after five days of this, a lot of people in Pennsylvania who are living in small communities, who are living in rural and urban areas are beginning to ask, why aren't these candidates allowed to talk more about the issues you just raised. There are some basic differences here that should be aired out in the remaining days of the campaign.

But I'll tell you this Lou. I know the state pretty well. I've run in seven state-wide elections, no one can say that. I also know Barack Obama's heart, his values and I think the way this has been interpreted does not reflect his views, his values or his efforts.

DOBBS: Where does the senator stand on the D.C. handgun ban which the Supreme Court is reviewing? Does he support that ban or would he like to see it overturned?

CASEY: He would probably be a supporter as he has been in the Senate of the United States and Illinois legislature for various restrictions on gun ownership. I happen to disagree with him on that. We have our disagreements.

DOBBS: On NAFTA, specifically what would he do to change the NAFTA agreement?

CASEY: I think he would try as best he could as any president has the opportunity to do, to not just strengthen provisions that level the playing field on labor standards or environmental standard standards but also make sure that succeeding in future trade agreements don't make the same mistakes that this country made when we put NAFTA on the books. I was against it as a state official even though I couldn't vote on it. I think Senator Obama has a long record of opposing deals like NAFTA that put our workers at a disadvantage.

DOBBS: And does the senator believe that we should they have balanced mutual reciprocal trade which would work toward absolutely balanced accounts both in terms of the U.S. trade deficit and the current account deficit or would he be willing to accept the levels of deficit that we have experienced for the past 30 years?

CASEY: I think he would be as president a strong proponent of making sure that we're taking every step possible to lower that deficit. I think that what's been missing, I think what he would lead at president, not just a question of this deal is bad, the next deal is bad. I'm very vocal to my opposition to the Columbia agreement, as well as others, we don't have a trade policy in America. I think as president he would lead an effort to do that.

DOBBS: On illegal immigration, the senator would secure the borders and ports or would he prefer to give driver's licenses and continue the effort that has been rejected twice in the U.S. Senate towards comprehensive immigration, in the U.S. Congress, comprehensive immigration reform legislation?

CASEY: You know how he voted in 2007. I voted the same way. I think a lot of us that were supporters of that immigration legislation now owe probably can't do it all at once. One of the ways we can achieve consensus is to start with stronger border security. I think he would focus on it, as the legislation did.

DOBBS: You think that legislation focused on security?

CASEY: I'm sorry?

DOBBS: You think the legislation that was killed in the Senate was focused on security?

CASEY: If you read the bill.

DOBBS: Remind me to do that.

CASEY: If you read the bill.

DOBBS: I've got go.

CASEY: A lot of early parts of that were about border security that triggered other provisions.

DOBBS: Love to have you back anytime.

Come on back Senator Casey. We thank you for being here tonight.

CASEY: Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Coming up next, the results of our poll and more of your thoughts.

Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: Now the results of our poll -- 52 percent of you responded bitter and angry best describes your attitude as an American citizen, 45 percent of you said independent and proud, three percent said partisan and pitiful.

We thank you for responding to the poll.

Want to tell you what happened with last night. We had a technical problem with last night's poll, and we couldn't bring you the results -- until now.

And now -- 94 percent of you said more law enforcement officials should be using every law at their disposal to crack down on illegal immigration.

Let's take a look at some of your thoughts as we rap up here this evening.

Tom in Alabama: "Lou, I do not mind one bit that the mayor of L.A. does not want to identify and control illegal immigration. That is as long as he is willing to do without federal funds for his fair city. It's about time that taxpayers in this country had some rights."

And Chris in New York: "Lou, call me a crazy idealist, but shouldn't all agents of law enforcement enforce all of our laws, federal and otherwise. At least Sheriff Joe" -- referring to Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County -- "is taking the law seriously."

Mike in Arizona said: "With the ACLU so active with illegal immigration rights, why are they not supporting our Second Amendment rights?"

And April in Florida: "For the first time in my life, I don't know whether I should vote or stay at home. There are no elected officials who are truly listening to the American public."

And Patricia in California: "Lou, my long-standing last Republican straw is finally broken. I'm going Independent. Thanks Lou, you did it -- or maybe it was the politicians in Washington and California."

I hope the latter.

But anyway, congratulations. Welcome to a great, wonderful club of Independents.

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at And join me please on the radio in the afternoons, Monday through Friday, for the "Lou Dobbs Show." Go to to find local listings for the "Lou Dobbs Show" on the radio. Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow please.

For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York.

The "ELECTION CENTER" with Campbell Brown begins right now -- Campbell.