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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Clinton and Obama Battle for Votes; Rising Casualties in Iraq; 3Com Moves to China
Aired April 30, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Wolf, thank you.
Tonight rising anger and protest over the disenfranchisement of more than two million Democrats in the states of Florida and Michigan. The national race for the Democratic Party nomination is now simply too close to call. We'll have complete coverage.
Also tonight, a new bipartisan effort in Congress to save what's left of our middle class, lawmakers finally establishing a caucus to speak for middle class Americans. What in the world took them to long? I'll be talking with the congressman behind that effort.
And an unbelievable illustration of corporate America's apparent determination to abandon this country and its working men and women, 3-Com sending its new CEO to guess where, communist China. Does that remind you of something? We'll have that special report and fill in all of the blanks, all of that, all the day's news and much more, straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Wednesday, April 30. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Senators Clinton and Obama tonight are in a statistical dead heat in the race for the Democratic Party nomination. A new national poll of polls gives Senator Obama 45 percent; Senator Clinton now has 44 percent. This contest tightening significantly as the controversy over Senator Obama's former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright escalated.
The close battle focusing new attention on the more than two million disenfranchised voters in the states of both Florida and Michigan. The Democratic Party's national leadership has declared the primaries in those states to be invalid because local officials broke party rules.
We'll have extensive coverage of this issue and we begin tonight with Jessica Yellin in Washington, D.C. -- Jessica.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, according to that national poll of polls you mentioned, Senator Clinton has narrowed the gap so significantly that among Democrats nationwide the race is now a virtual tie. And today both she and Obama campaigned furiously.
YELLIN (voice-over): On the trail, Democrats are feeling the economic pain.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The situation for a lot of folks has gotten worse since we started running.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's time that we had a president who stood up and said, enough, we are not putting up with this any longer.
YELLIN: They're offering solutions.
OBAMA: I want to pass a middle class tax cut for families because it's not just gas that they're feeling burdened by. It's also groceries.
YELLIN: And continuing the debate over a rare policy difference whether there should be a gas tax holiday.
H. CLINTON: I believe so strongly that the oil companies have to be part of the solution. That's why I want them to pay the gas tax for the summer.
YELLIN: In Indiana, the latest CNN poll of poll shows the race there is still a dead heat, both candidates vying for the support of local income working families, so today he lunched with an Amtrak employee and an x-ray technician.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're unfortunately going to close the Beach Grove Shop (ph).
YELLIN: She drove to work with a sheet metal foreman.
H. CLINTON: (INAUDIBLE)
YELLIN: As the candidates compete for votes, their campaigns announce progress in the other race, for the superdelegates who could ultimately choose the nominee. Today three more came out for him, two for her. That leaves 295 superdelegates still undecided.
YELLIN: And I have a bit of trivia for you, Lou. While the candidates are focused on the primaries in North Carolina and Indiana, which happens next Tuesday, there's actually one contest before then. Guam holds its Democratic caucus on Saturday. There are four delegates at stake and Obama is considered to have a slight edge -- Lou.
DOBBS: We will follow it closely as always. Jessica, thank you very much.
As Jessica just reported, Senators Clinton and Obama are battling for every single vote to influence the party's critically important superdelegates. Clinton and Obama now paying new attention to the disenfranchised Democratic voters in Florida and Michigan, to which and to whom we've been paying great attention here for some weeks. Those states could in fact determine who will have the most popular votes and the most pledged delegates, if party leaders were to allow those states to have primaries that counted.
Bill Schneider has our report.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (INAUDIBLE)
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Hundreds of Florida protesters came to Washington Wednesday to demonstrate at Democratic Party Headquarters.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Do you think we can win the general election in November without counting Florida?
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: No.
SCHNEIDER: The candidates agree, in principle.
OBAMA: Florida and Michigan are critically important states. We want all their delegates seated.
H. CLINTON: How do you as a Democrat expect to win in the fall if we disenfranchise 2.3 million voters who turned out to vote in Florida and Michigan?
SCHNEIDER: That's about all they agree on. The big issue is how the Florida and Michigan delegates should be divided. Hillary Clinton won both primaries, but were they fair fights?
OBAMA: We were told the candidates that they wouldn't count. So we didn't campaign there. My name was not even on the ballot in Michigan.
SCHNEIDER: In the race for pledged delegates, Obama leads Clinton by 159. Michigan and Florida have a total of 313 pledged delegates. If Clinton gets the lion's share of those delegates, it could end up putting her over the top, so various parties are busy trying to work out a compromise.
In Michigan, Clinton won 55 percent of the vote, so she wants 55 percent of the delegates. Four Michigan superdelegates have written a letter to the state party chairman proposing a compromise, 69 pledged delegates for Clinton and 59 for Obama. That approach they write splits the difference between the 73 to 55 position of the Clinton campaign and the 64 to 64 position of the Obama campaign, based on our belief that both sides have fair arguments about the Michigan primary.
(on-camera): The ultimate solution will probably be to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates without allowing them to determine the outcome. Because if Michigan and Florida make Hillary Clinton the winner, the Obama forces will cry foul and that could split the party. Lou?
DOBBS: Bill, thank you very much.
And I just want to remind Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee that I have been, from day one, saying you have to enfranchise those voters in those two states.
Bill Schneider reporting, thank you very much.
The bitter political contest between Senators Clinton and Obama distracting some attention way from the escalating violence Iraq and the rising number of American casualties. Insurgents have killed six more of our troops, five of them in Baghdad; 50 of our troops have been killed so far this month and this is the highest monthly total in seven months; 4,062 of our troops have been killed since the war began; 29,911 troops wounded; 13,344 of our troops wounded seriously.
The number of our troops being killed in Iraq has risen to the highest monthly level since the height of the surge last September. U.S. and Iraqi forces have been involved in heavy fighting with anti- American gunmen in both Baghdad and Basra. The United States is blaming Iran for many of our casualties.
Jamie McIntyre has our report from the Pentagon.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As U.S. deaths in Iraq hit a seven-month high the Pentagon is arguing it doesn't mean the success of the surge is fading.
LT. GEN. JOHN SATTLER, JOINT STAFF PLANS DIRECTOR: There is sorrow (ph) and we are concerned, but I would not say that that's an indication that there's any shift on the ground inside of Iraq.
MCINTYRE: One reason for the increase in American casualties is the new Iraqi offensive both in Sadr City and Basra, operations that have to be prompted up with U.S combat power, but another factor, charges the Pentagon, is the continued flow of Iranian arms and expertise to Shia militias battling U.S. and Iraqi government forces, something Iran promised to curtail. With fresh evidence that's not happening, the U.S. is pinning its hopes on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to confront the Iranians who profess to support him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it now is a matter for the government of Iraq.
MCINTYRE (on-camera): As Defense Secretary Gates put it very pointedly recently, Iran is killing Americans in Iraq and you're saying that the response is to rely on the Iraqi government to pressure Iran?
LT. GEN. CARTER HAM, JOINT STAFF OPERATIONS DIRECTOR: The best way is to modify Iran's behavior is not through military means, it is through other means not through us.
MCINTYRE: The U.S. continues to send mixed signals to Iran on the one hand arranging for two aircraft carriers to be in the Persian Gulf at the same time this week, but on the other hand, pulling the second carrier out after less than 24 hours and then denying there is any stepped-up planning for an attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's been no order, a specific order to plan in any particular area of the world. But I want to make it clear to everyone that we do plan, we challenge those plans, we challenge the assumption of those plans ongoing.
MCINTYRE: Now General Sattler who is the top Pentagon planner did hint there might be covert action underway to get Iraq to back off, but said he couldn't talk about what operations he said are ongoing or might be ongoing -- Lou.
DOBBS: Jamie, let's -- to be as clear as we can be here. When you asked those generals how they will stop Iran from killing our troops, they couldn't give you a straight answer. Is that correct?
MCINTYRE: Well you know Lou how when I'm on the show with you and I do my report and then you always ask this question, gets right to the heart of the matter, so I actually said to the general, I said look, let me ask you the same question Lou Dobbs asked me the other night, what are you going to do about this? And that's when I got the answer about -- first of all, they kind of looked at each other, and then I got the answer about how it's really an Iraqi problem and not something the U.S. military can do anything about.
And that's when I expressed a little surprise. But again, the reality here is that the U.S. doesn't seem to have any good options to stop Iran and they're putting their hopes in al-Maliki except for, as I said, that little bit of a hint from General Sattler that maybe there's something else going on that we don't know about, but they're not telling us.
DOBBS: OK. Well, Jamie thank you for what you are telling us, as always from the Pentagon.
We appreciate it. Jamie McIntyre.
Coming up here next, drug cartel violence on the southern side of our border with Mexico is simply out of control. The White House says it has a plan to help Mexico, but it's going to cost a lot of money.
Casey Wian will have our report -- Casey.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the Bush administration is stepping up its pressure on Congress to give Mexico more than $1 billion in military aid. We'll have details coming up.
DOBBS: Look forward to it, Casey. Thank you. Also one of the clearest indications yet of the apparent willingness of the corporate elites to simply sell out the working man and woman in this country.
And the pro-illegal alien lobby is at it again, they're attacking Katie Couric, but they're attacking me and the lobby is blasting me for the reporting of that other network. It's making more and more sense all of the time what's happening here.
Stay with us. We'll spell it out.
DOBBS: There are stories that we report to you almost each night that are simply incredible. One of them is this story tonight. 3Com is relocating its chief executive office to communist China. Now the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment earlier this year blocked a merger this year between 3Com and a Chinese government company because of national security concerns. Tonight, instead of merging with communist China, which it has been blocked from so doing, 3Com has decided to move its CEO to communist China.
Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mao moves to China, no not Chairman Mao, new 3Com CEO Robert Mao. As CEO Mao will be based in China to "support the companies increasing emphasis on its growing and profitable China based H3C operations", according to the company's news release. It's a management change that's raising some eyebrows.
JOHN TKACIK, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Looks to me like 3Com is shedding all pretense of being an American company and is moving to China and re-establishing itself as basically a Chinese operating entity.
TUCKER: The change comes more than a month after the U.S. Treasury's committee on foreign investment in the United States (INAUDIBLE) denied a $2.2 billion buyout of 3Com by paying Capital Management and Huawei based on national security concerns. 3Com is a communications and network security company providing security and fire wall defenses to Defense Department computers and corporate systems. A recent report from the Pentagon concludes that Chinese hackers pose a significant threat to national security.
A spokesman for the company says the change reflects the reality of 3Com, noting that the company's manufacturing base is in China, and that two-thirds of its 2,500 engineers are doing research and development in China. Skeptics argue that the actions by 3Com are effectively the same as if the merger between Huawei had been approved.
REP. THADDEUS MCCOTTER (R), MICHIGAN: This is what happens when the United States engages in destructive appeasement of a communist regime rather than constructive containment.
TUCKER: McCotter says he doesn't express Congress to recognize any threat or express any concerns.
TUCKER: Now the company responds to the fears that it has become a Chinese company by noting that its ownership remains American. And that (INAUDIBLE) CEO will be based in communist China; he is an American citizen with a management structure remaining in America -- Lou.
DOBBS: As I said at the outset, you cannot make this stuff up. The idea, this company, most of its manufacturing in China...
DOBBS: Most of its research and development in China, the CEO moves to China, and he does keep a management structure in the United States. One wonders why.
TUCKER: You got to wonder why because guess who the management structure reports to, Lou?
DOBBS: This is just unbelievable. But it's so -- and again I keep saying this over and over and over. The Chinese communist government is so much smarter than the U.S. government that it's embarrassing. One -- we should -- all Americans should blush with shame and embarrassment every time we say government of communist China because they outthink, out maneuver, out work us in nearly every respect. And the idiots that we continue to elect to Washington, D.C., haven't a clue as to what's happening here.
What I love is they basically have the company -- we probably should have allowed the merger, at least we would have gotten a little capital back for the effort.
TUCKER: They have the company, Lou...
TUCKER: I don't know...
DOBBS: Well I keep talking about how smart and clever the Chinese are and they're dealing with -- particularly (INAUDIBLE) the United States. It turns out there's an element that I hadn't really perceived before. The communist Chinese government is being generous as well with the United States to have even made the token offer of paying for the company.
Bill, thank you very much.
We'll keep you up to date on that.
Communist China is dumping cheap steel in this country as well at prices far below fair market value. Now we've reported here extensively on how communist China's unfair trade practices simply devastate American industry as they target sector after sector after sector. Well tonight those cheap Chinese exports to this country are compromising our children's safety, once again.
Lisa Sylvester reports.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inspectors at the San Pedro High School in Los Angeles made a startling discovery last fall. Tube steel used in construction of the school's gym has been splitting and cracking. Similar problems were found in 16 other California schools, the defective steel, made in China. Lawmakers say it's a problem they're seeing again and again.
REP. PHIL ENGLISH (R), PENNSYLVANIA: There's a real danger that steel is coming over is being sold as meeting a certain tolerance, when, in fact, it doesn't meet that tolerance.
SYLVESTER: Steel imports have flooded the U.S. market. The U.S. government says imports of steel mill products jumped from $24.4 billion in 2005 to $30.2 billion in 2007. Yet according to congressional testimony there's not a single federal agency in charge of testing imported steel to make sure it meets basic standards. Steel that is used among other places in U.S. bridges, natural gas pipelines and schools.
DANIEL BALDWIN: And don't think we (INAUDIBLE) currently has a mandate to make any safety or admissibility determination.
SYLVESTER: Imported Chinese steel is sold at a cut rate price. It's used not only by the private sector but the federal government. One example, the Department of Homeland Security bought Chinese steel to build parts of the U.S. border fence last October, much of this a grin of U.S. steel workers.
MICKEY BOLT, WHEATLAND TUBE COMPANY: While they were doing that, my company -- while the Department of Homeland Security was purchasing that pipe for that fence, my company was tearing down a facility, a world-class facility because they have lost so much market share to the Chinese.
SYLVESTER: The U.S. steel industry has had a bumpy road, losing more than 50,000 jobs alone from 1998 to 2003.
SYLVESTER: Members of the Congressional Steel Caucus have introduced buy America legislation that would mandate that any infrastructure project paid with U.S. taxpayer money use steel made only in the United States. Now by the way, Lou, we should mention that we did leave messages with the Chinese Embassy and the Chinese General Counsel's office in New York to get their reaction to complaints of the defective Chinese steel, but we did not hear back from them -- Lou.
DOBBS: Let me guess, the -- let me see if I can formulate their response. A, is we don't know what you're talking about. B, we don't care what you're talking about. The idea that we don't have an agency responsible whether in Customs or whatever it may be to inspect these products coming in, we shouldn't even be surprised any longer at the deficiencies and the dysfunctionality (ph) of our federal agencies, correct?
SYLVESTER: Lou, this is a point -- this is -- quite frankly it is atrocious. And I don't think many Americans realize this. But the steel -- I mean this is steel that's being used in bridges; it's keeping up our schools. But people don't understand that there's not a single agency making sure that this imported Chinese steel is actually meeting standards, so they just slap a sticker on it that says it meets standards and everybody says OK at the port and lets it go through.
SYLVESTER: Nobody is actually checking.
DOBBS: No one is actually checking, no one is actually thinking, no one is actually planning. You know the word "American" is going take on an interesting connotation over the next decade. It may mean complete utter chump and lazy fool at that, because we are right now behaving precisely as one would or any collection of us would if we wanted to simply check out as a nation.
It's ridiculous what is happening here. And that steel is what -- another American steel company is being crushed and distributor is being destroyed, these fools in the government are buying Chinese steel. Is there any sense at all? Is there -- I'm not -- this is not even a rhetorical question. I'm being stupid. And I apologize to you, Lisa.
The reality is this is the Bush administration. Their legacy is stupidity and disservice to the nation. That's all there is to this and this Democratically-led Congress had better let us pray wake up to their responsibilities. Any sign of it?
SYLVESTER: I don't think that we have any sign of it yet. There are some members of Congress. You do have the Steel Caucus, they're trying, but so far nothing has been done on this issue.
DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much, always an outstanding job of reporting for us here.
Thank you, Lisa Sylvester in Washington.
Up next, it's going to get better -- the Bush administration now pushing Congress for more than $1 billion to fund the military, the Mexican military. We'll have that report. And an unfair and inaccurate attack against me, the most sensitive and kind of all people, I'll be sharing my thoughts about an opinion piece that blasts me for another network's reporting. And what you will hear, as you always hear, is my opinion and not necessarily those of this network -- that is CNN. All of that and much more straight ahead, stay with us.
DOBBS: The U.S., Mexican and Central American governments are stepping up their efforts to fight the increasingly violent drug cartels of Mexico. Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent 3,000 federal troops into Tijuana yesterday to fight the warring cartels. And the Bush administration is now pressuring Congress to approve a military aid package that would send Mexico nearly one and a half billion U.S. taxpayer dollars.
Casey Wian has our report.
WIAN (voice-over): Leaders of the United States and Guatemala, the two nations bordering Mexico and its escalating drug wars met at the White House this week. President Alvaro Colom says the recent arrival of four military helicopters from the United States helped Guatemala seize more drugs.
PRES. ALVARO COLOM, GUATEMALA (through translator): We're working not just with the United States, but also with Mexico and the entire neighborhood in Central America because all of us must be involved in order to combat that scourge at all levels.
WIAN: President Bush again pressed the U.S. Congress to approve the Merida (ph) initiative. It seeks $1.4 billion for military aircraft, technology, and training to help Mexico fight drug cartels.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're working hard to reduce the demand for drugs here in America. And at the same time we want to work in conjunction with strong leaders to make sure these drug traffickers don't get a strong hold, and that's why it's very important for Congress to fund that Merida project.
WIAN: But in six months Congress has not acted on Merida.
PROF. GEORGE GRAYSON, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY: It's important that we symbolically show our cooperation with Mexico in the war against drugs. After all, we consume most of the junk that comes across the border. At the same time, I don't believe the U.S. Congress wants to grapple with this issue before the presidential election.
WIAN: Still, Robert Gates became only the second U.S. defense secretary to visit Mexico Tuesday. He promoted Merida, predicted congressional approval and said he hoped the money would begin flowing to Mexico by Memorial Day.
WIAN: Gates called Merida a wise investment of American money, but some U.S. lawmakers worry about Mexico's history of government corruption and say they fear military hardware intended for Mexican soldiers could be diverted to drug cartels -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well at this point you know why not try it? I mean we are watching an entire generation of young Americans being overwhelmed by addiction of control substances, alcohol. We're watching Mexico continue to send the preponderance of the cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines and heroin into this country. It's worth a try, in my opinion. I don't want to suggest it's anyone else's opinion. It's mine.
But it's time we did something. And if this might spur the Calderon government to authentic genuine action, it would be ground breaking, historic to have an effective measure taken in the war on drugs. They might even consider securing the border.
WIAN: Right. Well Lou, I got to tell you Secretary Gates sounded very confident in his public comments out of Mexico that Congress would in fact approve this package and approve it soon. That despite the fact that many congressional skeptics remain opposed to giving Mexico any money until they clean up the corruption in government there.
DOBBS: I don't know who those skeptics are, don't want to know, don't care. I'm saying now is the time for this country to get serious about border security, port security, about interdiction of drugs, the war on drugs, the war on addiction in this country and the war on terror and secure those borders and these ports. And it's time for the idiots and the these chimera to just simply disappear. I hope that this administration takes all of them with it when it leaves in January.
Thank you very much, Casey Wian.
Again, I want to repeat, that was my opinion. No one else's, just mine. I hope you share it but it was my opinion.
Thank you, Casey.
Illegal alien advocacy groups. My gosh, ladies and gentlemen I have to tell you I'm far more sensitive than I may appear. Those open border amnesty groups, those ethnocentric interest groups are attacking me again. This time for another network's reporting.
On politico.com, which is otherwise I think a very good political reporting source, an organization, a column by Politico.com contributor Gebe Martinez criticized the CBS evening news with Katie Couric for a report on the high costs of illegal immigration to our society. This is not done, by the way ladies and gentlemen, on, this is a -- it's so delightful that CBS would have the courage and intelligence to do this report but now you're about to witness why not many other news organizations besides this have the guts to do it. As Martinez reported, not reported, that's the wrong word, as she said on politico.com, illegal alien advocates accuse Couric now of sinking to the depths of Lou Dobbs. The CBS story reported on the high number of births to illegal aliens in southern Texas and the unrecoverable costs to those hospitals, in the case of one hospital about $200 million a year as documented by CBS News.
Martinez and politico.com then writes that the Mexican American legal defense and educational fund, MALDEF, and the National Council of Loraza then accused Couric and CBS News of spreading "anti-Latino falsehoods." MALDEF posted a video on You Tube reputing what it calls inaccuracy and bias in the CBS reporting and brought me into the story as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have come to expect such bias and error from Lou Dobbs, but not from the network of Murrow and Cronkite. It's a disappointment that Katie Couric has chose to race to the bottom of the immigration debate and challenged the Lou Dobbs for the mantel of most anti-immigrant news personality on US television.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: And as you can see, the advocacy groups are getting rather artistic. By the way, Katie, I know how flattered you must be to be compared to me that way. Martinez, by the way, felt free to criticize me but you know for whatever reason, defying the standards of both individual honor and of course politico.com's own standards, didn't even call me for comment.
By the way, Martinez never once described one instance of inaccuracy in that CBS report. How's that for reporting? Unbelievable.
Time for some of your thoughts.
Ann in New Jersey: "As a resident of New Jersey, I am thoroughly disgusted with our U.S. Attorney Christie and his remarks that being in this country illegally isn't a crime. He evidently has his eye on the Governor's office, which he can forget about! I will gladly sign any paper asking him to step down."
Well, Evelyn said in New Jersey said: "Dear Lou, about the remarks from that U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, it sounds to me like he has a free pass to the Oval Office in the not too distant future!" He has a free pass to something and it may indeed be oval, but I doubt it's an office.
We'll have more of your thoughts here later. And please join me on the radio. Among my guests tomorrow, Robert Crandall, the former CEO of American Airlines will be talking about what he and I think should be done to fix the disaster called our airline industry. I and Mr. Crandall both with a strong view that we need to re-regulate the airline industry that's treating us like cattle, the traveling public. Join us Monday through Friday for the Lou Dobbs Show on the radio. Go to loudobbs.com to find the local listings for the Lou Dobbs Show. I think you'll enjoy it.
Up next, another foreign leader threatening our sovereignty demanding amnesty for illegal aliens. You have to love these people. We'll be telling you all about it.
And lawmakers creating a new congressional caucus, this one, for you! Is it too little, too late? I'll be talking with the founders of this new and vitally important caucus.
And a union leader praising Senator Clinton saying we need a president with "testicular fortitude." We'll be talking about that and more with the very best political analysts and strategists in the country. This race is getting better.
We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the best analysts in the country. Republican strategist, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT contributor, he also contributes to the network under lesser programs, Ed Rollins here. He recently served as campaign chairman for Mike Huckabee, also served as White House political director under President Reagan.
Keith Richburg, New York bureau chief for the Washington Post."
Good to have you here Keith.
And Robert Zimmerman, Democratic strategist, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT contributor, Democratic National Committeeman, supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton and you are, there's no switch in your vote overnight.
You still support Senator Clinton?
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I am hanging in there very proudly. Don't you worry. And you'll be the first to know.
DOBBS: Well, thank you. I appreciate that and that's critically important.
Keith, let me ask you this. We didn't hear a lot from Senator Obama today. Do you feel a little lonely, something wanting in the day?
KEITH RICHBURG, NEW YORK BUREAU CHIEF, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, he's been out there on the stump talking. I mean he's been out there talking to voters. That's the thing and in fact, you know it was one of the few times he actually appeared with Michelle. They did a joint appearance today.
DOBBS: That's when you can tell a man's is in trouble, his wife showed up.
RICHBURG: Yes and he actually did a town hall meeting, took questions from the audience there.
DOBBS: Was there much interest in what's his name, I can't remember, Reverend Wright?
RICHBURG: Actually there was not a lot of interest in it which was interesting.
DOBBS: I didn't think there would be. He still runs those things, doesn't he?
RICHBURG: I wouldn't say that. It was very interesting actually He did get one question about it where somebody was actually asking how painful it must have been for him to make a break.
DOBBS: The poor darling was in pain for having to make the break?
RICHBURG: Well, you could see he was angry.
DOBBS: I would submit to you his pain was greater before the break.
What do you think, Ed?
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think he had a good day today I assume because it was off the radar screen with Reverend Wright. It's like getting a giant rock or thorn out of your foot but I still think the critical thing is he's still not defined. This is the first tough thing he's done.
DOBBS: I have a feeling you're about to help him do that.
ROLLINS: He got to be a state senator by disqualifying -- he ran for the Senate, disqualified the incumbent who had been in the seat because they didn't have proper signatures or something. He got to run unopposed.
DOBBS: There were three of them that he got disqualified, right?
ROLLINS: Including the incumbent and then of course he had his race in 2004. I mean what he is is he's very bright man. He's very articulate and he's very ambitious.
DOBBS: What do you base that comment about he's being ambitious on?
ROLLINS: Because he's been on the Senate for two years, and he announced a year after he had been in the Senate that I'm going to run for president. I have this whole year of voting so therefore I'm qualified to be president.
DOBBS: Do you consider that ambitious, Keith?
RICHBURG: I've never met a politician that's not ambitious.
ROLLINS: Why people are curious is they want to know more about him. Who is this guy? I mean obviously he's articulate. He's talked about change, what does that mean? I think there's going to be scrutiny and if not asserted by Hillary Clinton and her team, it certainly will be in the fall.
ZIMMERMAN: Speaking of disqualifications, let's look at what's happening now with the Florida and Michigan votes.
DOBBS: Excuse me. Who in this broadcast first called for the primaries to be redone? Who first?
ZIMMERMAN: Who first and strongest and most consistent? Lou Dobbs and the team at LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. Absolutely and I will say that. That merits a fist punch.
No but I think it's very critical and you're seeing this come to a head with ...
DOBBS: But here's the crazy thing. Why should there be a discussion about it? It's a presidential election, for crying out loud, in the United States of America, not some third world, idiotic you know game we're playing.
ZIMMERMAN: I'm with you. I hope there will be more people marching in front of the Democratic National Committee.
ROLLINS: But the Democrats had this brilliant strategy. We're going to run a caucus in Nevada and basically change the whole dynamics of America and not worry about states like Michigan and Florida.
DOBBS: How many people would like to get rid of caucuses, by the way? I'd like to see just a straight up and down election.
ZIMMERMAN: I'm a convert on that one.
DOBBS: I will sign in a statement that says we won't talk about the margin of victory, we won't talk about the level of expectations. A win is a win is a win. I don't care how it works.
ZIMMERMAN: And how we count the delegates. Let's go back to a modified winner take all, maybe winner take all by congressional districts.
DOBBS: I'm going to be a bit contravening here.
There's a phone ringing somewhere. I really believe there's a proportional thing in this that works. I'm not sure the Democratic plan is it. I don't thing winner take all is quite right either.
ZIMMERMAN: In the Republican Party, you had John McCain winning the nomination with a minority of votes and here you've got the opposition problem in the Democratic Party where there a majority of votes doesn't seem to qualify a legitimate number of delegates. So there has to be maybe by congressional a winner take all theory.
DOBBS: Part of that is disenfranchising those voters in Michigan and Florida has helped with that.
RICHBURG: I'm between a Democratic and Republican operative here. You know on the Michigan and Florida question I think though that with respect the Clinton campaign has managed to frame the debate as in Obama doesn't want to seat them, and we do or the other side wants to disenfranchise them. Everybody wants them to be seated. The question was always not whether to seat them, but how you divided them up?
ZIMMERMAN: There's a bigger question. Why are a handful of politicians making the decision as to whether they should be seated and how the votes should be divided?
DOBBS: You put Howard Dean in the position of chairman. Screaming Dean is throwing his weight around, along with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. I mean that's a powerful force you've got. Add to them, President Jimmy Carter. You're overwhelmed by wise persons.
ROLLINS: I believe whoever Jimmy Carter endorses is going to lose.
ZIMMERMAN: That's a superdelegate laced with kryptonite. Let me tell you.
DOBBS: We're going to be back with our panel of seeking truth, justice and the American way and a new congressional caucus on the middle class. I'll be talking with the co-chairs of that new caucus.
Also the topic of our poll tonight: We would like to know from you, do you believe the entire congress should be a caucus that represents middle class American families?
Yes or no? Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. This is an important vote; we would love to hear from you. We'll have the results later in the broadcast.
We'll be right back after this. Stay with us.
DOBBS: We're back with Ed Rollins, Keith Richburg and Robert Zimmerman.
Senator McCain, I just want to make sure everybody understands, is getting a pass today because he didn't do much today. And I want you to hear not Senator Clinton because she did anything particularly but because she handled what was done so well. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL GIPSON, PRES. LOCAL 6787: That's going to take an individual with testicular fortitude.
H. CLINTON: I appreciate that endorsement. It means a lot to me. I do think I have fortitude. Women can have it as well as men.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Well, her reaction I thought was pretty classic.
ROLLINS: That was the head of the steelworkers. He was saying she had steel fortitude.
DOBBS: Tubular steel fortitude. I don't know where we go with that but I thought she had handled that. What has happened to your candidate here? I mean she sounds great. We're not hearing the shrillness. She looks, if I may say, absolutely terrific. Maureen Dowd did column on this the other day. I don't know how many of you saw this but she's right. I mean suddenly there's a new energy about this senator.
ZIMMERMAN: Obviously, I'm supporting her. I think you can look at her objectively. She's hit her stride. She has found her voice. You made the point, Keith, and I think it's true. She has found her voice. She has personalized her message, and she's back to where she's most comfortable, on a populist message.
RICHBURG: I agree. Look, I thought the best times I saw her in front of a crowd was first of all right before in New Hampshire. Secondly, when she won Pennsylvania because she was talking from the heart, why she wanted to be president, what she wanted to do for people and wasn't just standing there giving a laundry list of things she would do.
ROLLINS: She threw her husband under the bus. It's not longer the Bill and Hillary show. It's the Hillary show. I still think it's much more about her. I think it's a very good place for her to be.
DOBBS: I just think there's been a significant and obviously a perceptive change in the tone, direction, energy, and one of the things, the U.S. Supreme Court. I have heard some of my Democratic friends in particular, suggest that the Supreme Court decision, the 6- 3 decision upholding the requirement of photo identification in Indiana was the worst travesty in civil rights history. I think they're completely and utterly mistaken.
ROLLINS: I think they are. First of all, you can't walk in a building without showing an I.D. today and everybody in America can have I.D.s.
RICHBURG: The court was saying if you can find people that are disenfranchised because it's a burden to get an I.D., bring them forward and let them bring the case but let's not have the problem before the show of it.
ZIMMERMAN: This is the greatest assault on American democracy since Bush versus Gore in 2000. Let me be very clear with you about that. I'm proud to take this minority position here because what the Supreme Court did was say that you don't have to produce a driver's license or a utility bill or a school I.D. You can produce a government-issued I.D. DOBBS: And the reason is because the Democrats have been primarily responsible for keeping borders open and amnesty as an issue red hot.
ZIMMERMAN: The court recognized the partisanship of this action brought by the Indiana government.
DOBBS: And 6-3. Not 5-4. By 6-3, the three dissents all embracing the idea of verifiable photo identification and the burden that is requisite for registering and voting in this country and that's very important and a change, a see change.
ZIMMERMAN: A national standard is well and good.
DOBBS: Robert Zimmerman, you've had a very good day, your candidate is doing well, you're articulating beautifully. Let the people speak.
ROLLINS: With your walking around money, you can buy them I.D.s and send them home.
DOBBS: I'm going get the last word no matter what it takes. Thank you gentlemen, appreciate it.
Up next, a new by partisan caucus on Capitol Hill representing your interests. The two founders of that important new caucus join me here.
And a new call for amnesty for illegal aliens from a visiting prime minister and one visiting president. How about that? A busy day in the nation's capital. We'll try to sort things out. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Two congressmen have created a caucus for a huge segment of this country's population that is not represented in Washington, D.C. day in and day out. The segment of our population is called the nation's middle class. Congressman Anthony Weiner and Congressman Steven Latourette are founders of the caucus on the middle class.
Gentlemen, first of all, let me say congratulations. Let me say, thank you, and great. Now what do you do?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Well, I got to tell you Lou, some of it is the notion, and you wrote about it in your book and we think about it every day. Most of our constituents who are in the middle class struggling to make it there, when we walk the halls of congress, we don't see lobbyists for them. We also see a certain level of disagreement and partisanship that goes on here in Washington. That's natural.
But when you think about it, districts like Steven's districts and mine are typical around the country. A lot of people are struggling to find public schools, struggling to find homes they can afford. The common challenges the middle class faces sometimes get ignored around here. REP. STEVEN LATOURETTE (R), OHIO: I think the reason we got together, I want to give Anthony credit for putting this together is that he could write a bill and would never get a Republican to vote for it, I could write a bill and not got a Democrat to vote for it. That happens a lot around here.
DOBBS: I noticed that.
LATOURETTE: And the challenge of this caucus is to get the ideas whether it's for wages or healthcare or immigration that we can find the common ground move the middle class forward because the evidence is pretty startling. Since 1999 and before but 1999, the middle class is really stagnating.
DOBBS: The middle class in this country, people don't realize this, 90 percent of all Americans identify themselves as middle class. It's important what you're doing.
I just want to read something that our viewers may not be aware of. There are more than 175 congressional caucuses representing special interests all throughout the country, the Albanian issues caucus to the House Small Brewers Caucus, the Indian caucus. I have to say, you're going to have heavy competition.
How many congressmen and women have joined you?
WEINER: We've only been in business a short time. We have five members, we hope there's going to be more. You know at the end of the day I think that we are all concerned. We divide ourselves up into such tiny camps and no one every talks to one another but the middle class and those struggling to make it embody what it means to be an American.
We all have this inspirational sense and you pointed out how many people self-identify as being the middle class, even people that you and I might say boy, they aren't in the middle class yet. They want to be. Hopefully this place will represent their values a little more.
DOBBS: I think that is great. We have 435 congressmen, two political parties. We have an independent in the Senate, do we have one in the House?
LATOURETTE: We used to. He was elected to the Senate and the intelligence of both bodies went up.
DOBBS: Well, I can sure vouch for that in the Senate. The idea that all of these members of congress, how many of you? Five now in it? Is that correct?
LATOURETTE: There are six of us, five Democrats and I'm the lone Republican in the moment.
DOBBS: Well let's hope that the Republicans wake up. Maybe we could do this. We'll just keep track of who is in there. Would it not be an absolutely horrific but absolutely valedictory validation of what we all have been fearing if there ended up being 12 of you in the middle class caucus by the end of the year?
WEINER: If your viewers call their congressmen to say join the middle class caucus. One of the things about it and we are very careful, this is a by partisan caucus. We're going to try to leave the fights that sometimes go on in shows like yours unfortunately and I hear on the floor and we're going to try to get some thing done.
One thing is certain, you were right in your book, we see this all the time, we look through the lens of the middle class constituents we have but also we're both kind of from the middle class. Hopefully we don't forget that here in congress.
DOBBS: Good for you. Congressman Latourette, you get the last word.
LATOURETTE: I think if you advertise this, we'll get a lot of members. Anybody from my part of the world in Ohio that's dealing with forecloses and gas costing four bucks should be a member of the middle class caucus.
DOBBS: Absolutely. We're going to put in on the Web site, direct it to you and ask why their congressmen are not members of this. Can the Senate join your caucus as well?
WEINER: Sure I mean if they can come down from the perch to work with us.
DOBBS: That perch in many cases, there's a lot of clouds around it. Gentlemen, thank you very much for doing the people's business and creating a caucus to do it.
Congressman Weiner and Congressman Latourette, thank you both so much. All the best of luck.
LATOURETTE: Thank you.
WEINER: Thank you.
DOBBS: We'll have that on the Web site straight away.
Up next, another foreign government trying to interfere in this country's immigration policy. This is in good fun I'm sure but you know what? I don't like it any more than when it's not in good fun. We'll be right back with that. You're not going to believe it. Stay with us.
DOBBS: I don't like illegal immigration, that's my opinion. It's only my opinion. But I just have to preface this story with that.
The prime minister of Ireland is now calling on the United States government to grant amnesty of all Irish immigrants living in this country.
Louise Schiavone has the incredible report.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At a joint session of Congress, an appeal for special treatment from the prime minister of Ireland.
BERTI AHERN, IRISH PRIME MINISTER: We ask you to continue consider the case of our undocumented Irish immigrant community in United States today. We hope you'll be able to find a solution to their plight that would enable them to regularize their status, and open them to a path to permanent residency.
SCHIAVONE: As of the 2000 census figures, the Center for Immigration Studies estimates there were almost 162,000 Irish born legal and illegal immigrants living in the U.S. The problem now, say some lawmakers, is that Congress can't explain the exceptions to their constituents.
REP. DAN LUNDGREN (R), CALIFORNIA: Folks who follow the law and do everything they're supposed to, wait for the bureaucracy to work for seemingly unacceptable periods of time.
SCHIAVONE: Even as immigrants, illegal and legal, are straining at U.S. gates.
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: More than a million green cards per year are being issued year-in, and year-out.
SCHIAVONE: Making matters worse, the flood of green card applicants, many of whom will be rejected, but who are allowed many privileges in the interim.
S. KING: They're given the right work and the right to travel to and from the United States. They can also get federal and state identification, which allows them to procure credit, purchase property and enjoy our other privileges and access accorded to those who have legal status.
SCHIAVONE: Last summer alone, more than 2.5 million green card applications were filed.
SCHIAVONE: Lou, behind Prime Minister Ahern's appeal, a sagging Irish economy -- Lou.
DOBBS: Sagging Irish economy? The same appeal today from President Alvaro Colom asking for special treatment of his citizens working in this country, just about million Guatemalans.
Louise, thank you.
Louise Schiavone from Washington.
Ninety-one percent of you responding to our poll saying the entire Congress should be a caucus representing Middle-Class American families.
That's the broadcast. We thank you for being with us tonight.
The "ELECTION CENTER" starts right now.
Good night from New York -- Campbell.