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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Obama Wins More Superdelegate Support; Sen. Kennedy Expresses Distaste for Rumored 'Dream Ticket'; Second Time in Two Days: Mexican Police Official Murdered

Aired May 09, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Wolf, thank you.
Tonight, Senator Clinton has launched an aggressive new attack against Senator Obama, but Obama winning the support of seven more superdelegates. We'll have complete coverage of this campaign.

And another senior police officer in Mexico City is assassinated one day after the head of Mexico's federal police was killed. It is open war in Mexico. Is anyone in Washington paying attention to the threat from these violent drug cartels?

And military veterans are seething over the Bush administration's failure to live up to its promises to our veterans. We'll tell you why a new G.I. bill is held up in Congress, who's responsible.

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 Friday, May 9. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Senator Clinton today launched a major counterattack against Senator Obama. Clinton blasted Obama's health care policies. The Clinton campaign also making a new effort to convince superdelegates she is the strongest potential Democratic presidential nominee.

Meanwhile, the Obama and McCain campaigns, paying little attention to Senator Clinton, they're fighting one another on national security issues and the candidates' character. We have extensive coverage tonight from the campaign trail.

We begin with Jessica Yellin in Washington, D.C. -- Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the kinder, gentler Senator Clinton we saw yesterday is gone. Today she was back on the offensive against Barack Obama.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not going to make a big speech, guys. I just want to say hello.

YELLIN (voice-over): Obama in Oregon says he's open to talking with Senator Clinton when the time is right.

OBAMA: ...want to have a broad ranging discussion with Senator Clinton about how I could make her feel good about the process and have her on the team moving forward. But as I said, it's premature right now.

YELLIN: But she is back on the attack, resurrecting criticism of Obama's rhetoric...

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because I think this election should be about solutions, not speeches.

YELLIN: His health care plan...

CLINTON: How could anybody run to be the Democratic nominee for president and not have a universal health care plan? This is a huge difference.

YELLIN: And his electability, a message her campaign reinforced today with this letter from 16 Clinton supporters in Congress insisting she is the stronger candidate.

This kind of attacks has sparked concern among some superdelegates who worry about dividing the party. But if Clinton's aware of Democratic angst, she's not showing it, now calling for Obama to debate her again...

CLINTON: To really ask the hard questions and to ask that there be a debate and to ask that we come forward and tell you what we will do if we're so fortunate as to be your president.

YELLIN: And pressing on with gusto.

CLINTON: Yes, of course, I'm going to keep going. And -- why am I going to keep going? I'm going to keep going because you keep going.

YELLIN: While some Clinton supporters think she's just positioning to end this campaign her way, others say she believes there's still a chance, however slim, that she could win the nomination.

After arriving late for an event in Oregon, she told one crowd...

CLINTON: I apologize that we were kind of flying against the wind. But, you know, that's the story of my life, fly against the wind. You'll get there eventually if you keep going.


YELLIN: Now, Lou, the undeclared superdelegates we talked to say they're prepared to stay neutral until the last primary is over. That is, unless Senator Clinton's campaign stays negative. They're watching her tone very carefully.

Meantime, Obama is already moving into general election mode, this weekend, launching a new voter registration drive which would become the effort of his get out the vote next November --Lou.

DOBBS: Well, whatever he's doing, whatever she's doing, the fact is, mathematically, neither can win with the pledged delegates and their lead remains open. The question of both Michigan and Florida and, of course, no matter what happens at this point, whoever the nominee is, he or she, it will be a brokered nomination.

YELLIN: Yes. It's up to the superdelegates. And all these questions remain out there, as you say. The one remaining stumbling block for Senator Clinton is that, of the uncommitted superdelegates we talked to, there just seems to be a growing pool of them who are prepared to come out for Obama. It's just a question of when. Does not seem she has the superdelegates on her side -- Lou.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica.

Jessica Yellin from Washington, D.C.

Senator Kennedy tonight ignoring calls for unity in the Democratic Party. Senator Kennedy instead blasting the so-called dream ticket that would be Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. In an interview on Bloomberg Television, Senator Kennedy said such a ticket is not possible. He is, of course, a strong supporter and sponsor of Senator Obama. And Kennedy hopes Obama will choose someone who is, in his words, in tune with his appeal for the nobler aspirations of the American people, as he put it, and also someone with -- he seeks with leadership.

Blunt language from Senator Kennedy and a very strong insult to Senator Clinton.

Senator Clinton today ignored Senator Kennedy and focused instead on the remaining primary contest. The next primary, in West Virginia, Tuesday. In a new campaign ad, Senator Clinton presents herself as a champion of working men and women and their families. The message designed to raise her support among blue collar workers, which has been a key constituency for her throughout this primary season.

Senator Clinton supporters say Tuesday's primary in West Virginia will raise new questions about Senator Obama's electability. The Clinton supporters say that primary will undermine assertions that Obama is the best candidate to defeat Senator McCain.

Bill Schneider has our report from Charleston, West Virginia -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Lou, Tuesday's vote here in the West Virginia primary could send a sobering message to Obama Democrats.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): West Virginia is expected to go for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. The polls show it. Knowledgeable West Virginians know it. KENNIE BASS, POLITICAL REPORTER, WCHS-TV: This state is really in Hillary Clinton's wheelhouse. It's an older population, socially conservative, blue-collar workers.

SCHNEIDER: Barack Obama knows it.

OBAMA: She's going to do very well in West Virginia and Kentucky. She will win those states in all likelihood by significant margins.

SCHNEIDER: A big Clinton win will send a powerful message that there are a lot of Democrats not yet ready to get on the Obama bandwagon.

CLINTON: There was just an "A.P." article posted that found how Senator Obama's support among working -- hard-working Americans, white Americans is weakening again, and how the, you know, whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.

SCHNEIDER: West Virginia used to be solidly Democratic until 2000 when George W. Bush surprised everyone by winning the state. How did he do it? Social issues - abortion, gays, and, most important, guns, in a state where more than 70 percent of the voters own a gun.

Republicans believe they know how to beat Obama here.

BASS: They would likely paint him, if he's the nominee, as a far left liberal who is pro abortion, pro gay marriage, pro civil union. That will not play well in West Virginia. Social issues register very high on the meter here.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats can fight back by running against the Bush economy. But they could be in for a surprise.

BASS: As coal goes, so goes the economy of West Virginia in many respects. Coal prices right now are at about $100 a ton. Metallurgical coal is trading at twice that. So these are not difficult -- these are not difficult times in West Virginia economically so to speak.


SCHNEIDER: If Obama gets the nomination and it looks like the only way he can win is to get Democrats like those here in West Virginia back, you can be sure he'll think seriously about asking Hillary Clinton to go on the ticket -- Lou.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider.

Senator Kennedy apparently, not withstanding.

Well, Senator Clinton's allies in Congress are trying to reinforce her message that she is the strongest candidate. Sixteen of her supporters in Congress, all the superdelegates, have now written to other Democrats praising Senator Clinton's record, those supporters saying, "Pennsylvania was just a victory for Hillary Clinton. It was a wake-up call for superdelegates." And they said, "Our responsibility is to help select the nominee who is best for our party and best for our country."

The letter concludes by declaring all Democrats should support Senator Clinton for the nomination.

Senator McCain has little doubt that Senator Obama, not Senator Clinton, will be his opponent. The McCain campaign today blasted Obama -- for suggesting that McCain, in Obama's words, "is losing his bearings." And Senator McCain again criticized Obama's national security policies and capabilities.

Mary Snow with the McCain campaign has our report.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What are we doing here? We're looking at sea urchins?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John McCain picked a science museum to focus on the environment. Former New Jersey governor Tom Kean calling him a Teddy Roosevelt Republican, another way of saying McCain isn't George Bush.

But the focus quickly turned to Barack Obama after Obama said this about McCain Thursday in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

OBAMA: For him to toss out comments like that, I think, is an example of him losing his bearings, as he pursues this nomination.

SNOW: The McCain camp pounced saying it was not a particularly clever way of raising John McCain's age as an issue. The Obama camp fired back calling it a "bizarre rant" that Obama wasn't referring to McCain's age. As to whether McCain took offense to Obama's words...

MCCAIN: I ignore it. I don't take offense to it.

SNOW: McCain supporter Senator Joe Lieberman chimed in.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I just want to report that this morning I personally checked John McCain's bearings. He has not lost any of them.

SNOW: Republican strategist Scott Reed says the ratcheting up of rhetoric marks a new phase.

SCOTT REED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It was a pivot week not only for Obama but also McCain because it's now really show time.

SNOW: Show time meaning John McCain has had roughly two months as the presumptive Republican nominee to define himself, while Democrats dupe it out. But that window is drawing to a close. McCain's drawing distinctions between himself and Obama, noting he would never sit down with Iran's president.

MCCAIN: Senator Obama wants to sit down and have negotiations and discussions with the person who just yesterday called Israel a, quote, "stinking corpse." "A stinking corpse," who continues to advocate the, quote, "to wipe Israel off the map."

SNOW: Obama advocates sanctions and talks with Iran, saying the Bush administration's policy of not talking has failed.


SNOW: And, Lou, as for what issues are fair game, McCain says he's fine with whatever American people want to talk about, and that includes his age and also, though, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, although he made it clear that he does not believe that Obama shares the Reverend Wright's views -- Lou?

DOBBS: Interesting and peculiar sort of context. It seems that Senator McCain can't find precisely a balanced position from which to either be offended or to determine which issues will or will not be raised and in what context. What's going on?

SNOW: Well, you know, take, for instance, the comment about -- that Obama made yesterday about McCain losing his bearings. Today, as you saw, McCain said, you know, he's not paying attention. But of course, you know, his campaign fired back very quickly at the Obama camp.

And analysts -- they really are going to try to respond very quickly and strongly to any kind of an occasion that they feel they're getting from the Obama camp that comes as an attack.

DOBBS: All right. Mary Snow, thank you very much.

Coming up here next, veterans furious with the Bush administration and Congress. What ever happened to the G.I. bill?

Lisa Sylvester will have our report -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, service members put their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now they say the government isn't fulfilling a key promise when they return -- Lou?

DOBBS: And it gets worse than that, doesn't it, Lisa? We look forward to your report.

And another assassination of a top police official in the government of Mexico, the second in two days. Mexico is losing the drug war and Governor Bill Richardson has horrible, horrible timing.

And those cartels are crossing our borders and preying on teenagers with marijuana and other drugs. Mexico, a key player in the war on drugs. Anyone in Washington paying attention? We'll have complete coverage.

Stay with us. We continue in one moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Escalation tonight in the deadly drug wars raging in Mexico. The head of Mexico City's investigative police assassinated today, coming just one day after the chief of Mexico's federal police was assassinated. Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in drug- related violence so far this year in Mexico.

And as Casey Wian now reports, the violence is posing now a direct threat to the United States.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mortally wounded Esteban Robles Espinosa, commander of Mexico City's investigative police force, is airlifted to a hospital after being shot eight times outside his home Friday morning. Robles died soon after, the second killing of a top law enforcement official in Mexico City in as many days.

Federal Police Chief Edgar Millan was gunned down Thursday outside his Mexico City home -- the tenth federal police officer killed by suspected drug cartel members in three weeks. Friday's assassination of Commander Robles, who was also part of the internal affairs unit from Mexico City's police department, occurred while Mexican president Felipe Calderon attended a memorial service for three fallen federal officers.

A Mexican government official says the attacks show organized crime is under pressure from a military crackdown launched in January 2007. Since then more than 3,000 Mexicans have been killed.

PROF. GEORGE GRAYSON, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY: The violence is increasing at an alarming level. Through the first three months of this year, there have been 857 drug-related killings. We're on a pace to exceed by 500 the total for 2007.

WIAN: The Bush administration is clearly concerned.

GORDON JOHNDROE, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECY.: This calculated attack against one of Mexico's top law enforcement officials demonstrates the urgency of the United States to assist our neighbor to the south as well as protect Americans here at home. The president urges Congress to act now to fully fund the Merida initiative. It will provide valuable assistance to our Mexican and Central American partners to help them break the drug pipeline that ends up on America's streets.

WIAN: Merida would provide $1.4 billion in military aid to help Mexico fight drug cartels.


WIAN: The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Merida next week, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said he hoped military aid would begin arriving in Mexico by Memorial Day -- Lou. DOBBS: Well, as I have said on this broadcast, it is my opinion and mine alone, that that money should be sent forth with the Democratic leadership of Congress without excuse for providing it.

But at the same time, did we hear today, Casey, anything about securing our border with Mexico? The Department of Homeland Security taking a responsible position at all on that issue?

WIAN: No, but there is money in the Merida plan, a small amount of money for border security efforts on both sides but no new information on any additional funds from the U.S. to secure our border, which, of course, would take care of that drug problem, at least in terms of the supply of drugs into the United States.

DOBBS: And to -- again, to reiterate, Mexico is the primary source of methamphetamines, marijuana, cocaine and heroin into the United States. So, as you listen to open borders advocates and -- please consider that they're responsible, in part, for continuing a losing role on our part in the drug war.

Well, these drug wars that are raging along our border with Mexico have a direct and devastating impact on young people in this country. More of our teenagers use marijuana than all other illegal drugs combined. The vast majority of that marijuana, as I said, comes across our open border with Mexico.

And as Carrie Lee now reports, marijuana may be more, more dangerous than ever.


CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new report from the White House finds teens in this country using marijuana are putting themselves at higher risk for serious mental health disorders and even suicide. Some say more needs to be done.

ETHAN NADELMANN, DIR., DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE: And the whole notion of having a war on drugs or a war on marijuana to protect the kids is one of the great joke.

LEE: Experts say the drug is more potent and dangerous than in years past. Most of the marijuana produced in Mexico is destined for U.S. drug markets and the U.S. is where it ends up. The DEA says Mexico isn't just the biggest smuggler of marijuana into this country. Drug traffickers have also expanded their cultivation sites within the U.S., from the west coast to states east of the Mississippi River.

And the DEA also expects Mexican traffickers will next move their growing operations from outdoors to indoors. Drug czar John Walters says his office is working hard to stem the tide.

JOHN WALTERS, DRUG CZAR: The border is a third major area for not only marijuana but obviously cocaine and heroin and methamphetamine, has been increasingly over the last 10 years coming up through Mexico. So the work that we do to strengthen security on the border has beneficial effects on controlling the supply of drugs. LEE: He admits it's a daunting task.


LEE: Now if the war on drugs was just in dollar terms, Lou, the cartels would certainly have a leg up because the U.S. administration wants to spend $1.4 billion to stem drug inflows in coming years. The cartels, though, make nearly $23 billion in a single year.

DOBBS: And we should say that that estimate on what the drug cartels are making across that border with Mexico ranges as high as -- from up to $45 billion a year as well and no one really knows. But what we do know is there's a reason that that border with Mexico remains open to this day. And when you hear the drug czar acknowledged that that would have an impact on the war on drugs and this administration and this Democratic leadership of this Congress have not taken the steps to secure that border, they're just basically admitting their own malfeasance as government and political officials.

It's disgusting what they're doing to kids who are being hit by all of the devastation and sometimes the death of drug addiction.

Thank you very much, Carrie -- Carrie Lee.

Well, that brings us to our poll tonight. The question is: Do you believe the Bush administration and Congress take seriously the growing threat of Mexican drug cartel violence?

Yes or no? We'd like to hear from you. Cast your vote at We'll the results here upcoming.

Next, is the government breaking its promise to our veterans? Is the G.I. bill falling well short of paying for a veteran's education? The answer in both cases is yes.

And Senator Edward Kennedy says an Obama/Clinton ticket isn't possible. Senator Clinton isn't sufficiently noble, aspirational or possessed of sufficient leadership qualities. Is this a way to mend the party? Our political analysts will be -- well, they'll be weighing in on that rather obvious answer.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Many of our veterans, who expected the G.I. bill to pay their college costs, are learning the federal government has broken its promises. Benefits are falling far short of what is needed now for college education and new efforts to change all of that are running into strong resistance from some members of Congress, the White House and, unbelievably, the Pentagon.

Lisa Sylvester has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SYLVESTER (voice-over): Marine Bryan Knudsen served three tours in Iraq. Now that he's home he works full-time supporting his family and attends college. Yet, like many vets, he found the G.I. bill doesn't cover the full cost of his education.

BRYAN KNUDSEN, U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET.): I've got one son, a wife and I've got another son on the way. And there's no way that I could afford that extra $1,200 a month to go to school.

SYLVESTER: Knudsen's employer is chipping in to help pay the cost not covered by the G.I. bill.

Thousands of other service members are not so lucky.

PATRICK CAMPBELL, IRAQ-AFGHANISTAN VETS. OF AMER.: We need an education benefit that makes a promise to our veterans that says, you serve your country and we'll send you to school. We need to build the next greatest generation.

SYLVESTER: A proposal in Congress would expand the G.I. benefit to cover a four-year public college. The legislation has the backing of the Democratic leadership but it's opposed by the White House and Pentagon, which fears it will make it harder to retain service members and Senator John McCain who has offered an alternative bill.

But the loudest opposition is from the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democrats worried about fiscal spending, estimated cost, $52 billion in the first 10 years.

REP. JIM COOPER (D), TENNESSEE: As of now, not one single penny of that planned benefit is paid for. In fact, congressional leadership hasn't even admitted that it's a brand new entitlement program.

SYLVESTER: But more than 300 other lawmakers support the bill. Representative Harry Mitchell says the country will get more than a return on its investment.

REP. HARRY MITCHELL (D), ARIZONA: For every dollar that we've ever invested in veterans' bills of rights that came out of, for example, World War II, $7 is returned. So we think it's a good program. It's fulfilling a promise that we've made to veterans and I think we owe it to them with the sacrifices that they've made.


SYLVESTER: Now, the Democratic leadership told the Blue Dog Coalition Democrats to spend the week looking for offsets other programs where spending can be cut. And lawmakers plan to bring up the legislation next week as part of the Iraq war spending supplemental -- Lou?

DOBBS: Well, this Congress and this Democratic leadership must prioritize. And there aren't many higher priorities than taking care of our men and women in uniform. This should be handled and funded straight away. What are the prospects? SYLVESTER: Well, one of the big hurdles here is even if they are able to get this through Congress -- and there is tremendous support for this, 300 plus members, lawmakers, who support this in both the Senate and the Houses. But one of the biggest hurdles is the White House because the White House is threatening to veto. And this is one of the reasons they're threatening to veto the supplemental bill. So somehow they would have to convince the White House.

And there is a lot of pressure on the White House to essentially give these service members -- to pay for their college which was essentially promised to them -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, I mean, what are the ideas of impeaching President Bush if he were to veto this?

SYLVESTER: That's a question that I think that Congress will have to take up. But I know that many service members out there have been patiently waiting for this college benefit and they would like to see some action one way or the other -- Lou.

DOBBS: I just wondered if it had come up because it would seem to be, to me at least, an appropriate remedy for that kind of intransigent failure to fulfill a responsibility to our service members in this country. It would not be the first time they've been failed, however, by this White House or this administration.

Thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

Sri in Massachusetts said: "Once again party bosses are trying to decide the outcome by calling on Hillary to drop out before all voters have cast their votes. Obviously they are not interested in finishing the democratic process and letting people's voices be heard."

I think you used the operative word, obviously.

And Roberta in Montana: "If the Democratic Party had their way, there would be no more voting. I could not find any way to communicate my disapproval to the Democratic committee, so I'm counting on you, Lou, to tell them off for all of us who have not yet voted."

Consider it done, with pleasure.

There is no question whatsoever that the Democratic voters of both Michigan and Florida should be enfranchised and their votes count in this critical, close election in the Democratic Party for the presidential nomination.

Anirudih in Illinois said: "Hi Lou, if pro is the opposite of con...what is the opposite of progress?"

We'll have nor of your thoughts here later. Please join me on the radio Monday through Friday afternoons for THE LOU DOBBS SHOW. Monday, my guests will include University of Maryland economics professor, Peter Morici, Robert Wright, author of "One Nation Under Debt," Dan Henninger and deputy editor of the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page. Please go to -- to find local listings for THE LOU DOBBS RADIO SHOW.

Up next, scathing new criticism of Senator Clinton from Senator Kennedy. This is the way to unite a party? The divisions in the Democratic Party are widening even as Senator Obama says he wants unity. And Senator McCain, apparently, has no doubt, his opponent will be Senator Obama. Three of the best political analysts join me to talk about that and a great deal more. And what is Senator Kennedy trying to do?

And a new threat of what's left to our middle class already reeling from our economic slowdown and our housing crisis, that special report and a great deal more, straight ahead. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the best political analysts, contributor to CNN, Democratic strategist, Democratic national committee man, Robert Zimmerman, also a Senator Clinton supporter and persevering well, I think. CNN contributor, Polarizer Prize winning columnist, "New York Daily News," Michael Goodwin. And welcoming Dan Henninger, deputy editor, "Wall Street Journal" editorial page.

Dan, great to have you with us.


DOBBS: Let's start with what is Senator Kennedy trying to do to your party? You've got enough trouble now? He's wading in, as it were.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The sad thing is, this is his effort to show party unity.

DOBBS: He just insulted Senator Clinton in three separate ways and...

ZIMMERMAN: And all of her supporters and of course...

DOBBS: Just about half the people who voted in the Democratic primary.

ZIMMERMAN: That's right. And this is a person also is advocating party unity. So, this is just the warm-up to the main event. I think obviously, the comments have got to be taken for what they're worth, which is not a lot. Whether you're for Barack Obama or for Hillary Clinton, that kind of rhetoric has no place if we're going to unite this party.

DOBBS: So you're going to kiss and makeup, it's no problem; you're not going to take offense?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, makeup, yes. As far as how close we make up...

DOBBS: No wonder that the Democratic Party will be stalwarts, all unified. I can't wait to see it. What do you think, Mike?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Well, I actually think that Kennedy was making a very important point which is that there is this talk that Obama has to or will offer Clinton the vice president -- the running mate slot. And I think Kennedy...

DOBBS: The dream ticket.

GOODWIN: Right, and I think Kennedy is among many members of the Democratic leadership who do not want that. I mean, Kennedy is a...

DOBBS: Oh, my goodness. Whatever Kennedy wants, whatever Howard Dean wants, my goodness, we wouldn't want to tread on their expectations.

GOODWIN: I wouldn't limit it to them. I think there's a lot of antipathy toward the Clintons among the old guard, in particular, and I think they want Obama to bring whole new...

DOBBS: How did you discover this? I mean, because the entire party betrayed them? I mean, my goodness. You detected this...

GOODWIN: I didn't discover it. It just exists. And so I think Kennedy is speaking for a lot of people. They do not want her on the ticket.

HENNINGER: Yeah. I think the party has moved on from the Clintons and that was -- I mean, I have to agree with Lou. When they started to go over to Obama, like the -- I was astounded at the rate at which they did it. But, I think they were looking for an excuse to separate themselves from the Clintons' hold on the party. A lot of it was the fundraising. I mean the -- Bill and Hillary had sort of taken control of Democratic fundraising and I think once...

ZIMMERMAN: I mean, you're talking about -- you're talking about 48 percent of the electorate that voted for Hillary Clinton, so far in this process, should be just disregarded and very frankly let a handful of political operatives, who have a problem perhaps with the Clintons, decide who the vice presidential choice should be.

GOODWIN: Does she want it? Does she want the spot?

ZIMMERMAN: I don't know that she wants it, but I think it's important for Barack Obama to consider what she would bring to the ticket and the message she's -- the unity she's built up and the fact that she's built an extraordinary coalition to go this far. So, I'm really not too concerned about what a handful of political operatives in Washington think. This should be -- if Barack Obama is the nominee or Hillary Clinton is the nominee, it should be a choice that all wings of the party should respect.

HENNINGER: Well, I think it's the -- you know, if he's going to be the fresh face of the Democratic Party, I believe he's going to have to carry the nomination on his own rather than having Bill and Hillary alongside. I think it's really got to be Barack or they're going to have a very big problem carrying... DOBBS: Do you think it was at all inelegant, perhaps, of Senator Clinton to suggest that she was strongest with white voters? Was that -- or was that just simply straight talk, as Senator McCain would say?

ZIMMERMAN: You know something? The idea of lecturing any of you about political correctness is a whole new -- I'm the only politically correct one on the panel...

DOBBS: Any time you lecture anyone on anything, I am delighted.

ZIMMERMAN: But the point is, we talk with great pride about the strength of the African-American vote or the gay community or women in this process, the Hispanic community. Likewise, we have to recognize white middle income working class voters are an important constituency, the Democrats cannot win without. Bill Clinton was able to achieve their support...

DOBBS: You don't have to convince me. I don't think you have to convince Dan of Michael.

ZIMMERMAN: I think it's important for Democrats to wake up that this constituency has to be respected and their issues have to be responded to.

DOBBS: It's the way to respect best, do you think, to just go ahead and nominate Senator Clinton, Michael? Would that be respectful enough?

GOODWIN: Her comments to, I think it was, "USA Today," factually there's absolutely no complaints. I mean, she is right, that is part of her base that Obama does not have. However, what I do find ironic is that she has spent a life lecturing Republicans. I mean, imagine if George Bush said that. Hillary Clinton would be on the chandeliers screaming that he's courting the -- he's playing the race card. So, she is now, I think, doing the very thing she has made a career out of accusing others of.

DOBBS: How could one not talk about the racial aspects of this context when you're looking at 90 percent plus black vote for the black candidate, the female candidate is securing the vast preponderance of female voters, and the white working person's vote?

GOODWIN: It's a fact. It's definitely a fact.

HENNINGER: The superdelegates are going to decide it. They have to make a choice. They're either going to stiff her base, the lower middle class whites, or they're going stiff his base, which is the 90 percent of the black vote he's been getting. They can't both be happy. And I believe that the superdelegates simply are not going to do that to the African-American Democratic constituency. They're not going to be the one to take the loss because you're talking about cities like Philadelphia, Cleveland, St. Louis. You don't want them to show up in November, Bob? You'll have a very hard time winning...

ZIMMERMAN: As a superdelegate maybe I can offer a perspective on this. You know, I've said all along... DOBBS: I love it when he does that. He's going to be modest and he's going to try to tear the lining out of your argument.

ZIMMERMAN: I've already been caught, so that gig is over. But, look, here's the reality of it, and we've talked about this on this show so many times, it's the most overrated story of this political cycle. The superdelegates are going to follow the popular vote and...

DOBBS: Is that right?

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely. And as this election proceeds and this nominating process proceeds...

DOBBS: Will that include Michigan and Florida?

ZIMMERMAN: If it doesn't you're not going to have a unified Democratic Party.

DOBBS: We're going to be back to talk more about how we can unify the Democrats and keep Uncle Ted in the corner for a while.

Middle class families are struggling not only to pay their mortgages, but now struggling with soaring utility bills. We'll have that report and a great deal more, stay with us we're coming right back.


DOBBS: We're back with Robert Zimmerman, Michael Goodwin, Dan Henninger.

Dan, Robert says his candidate's in it for the whole journey. What do you think?

HENNINGER: I don't think so. I think it's over. There's just no momentum in her direction and I think she's beginning to sound a little bit out there like Baghdad Bob, you know, the ultimate denier of reality.


DOBBS: There's the Dan we know and love, just laying it right there.

HENNINGER: But she's got to figure out -- we've talked about is there an exit strategy. I think it is. If it's over, how does she tee herself up? And I think what she does is, she'll win big in West Virginia, for sure. She'll win big in Kentucky, she'll win in Oregon. She'll have established that she can win, and as Bob has been suggesting, she has a real base. And I think she'll then stand up and she'll deliver a very eloquent speech, but she will describe the people she's attracted into politics, the women who have supported her, the blue collar people. She'll say, I won California, I won Pennsylvania, I won Ohio, I won Texas...

ZIMMERMAN: You're inspiring me with that talk. HENNINGER: But she can't win. And what she's saying is, to her base, I'll be back. And, secondly, if he loses, Barack loses in November, which he may well, then she'll be standing there ready to run again.

DOBBS: Well, what about -- I mean, with the case Dan that has made and which Robert has acceded to, why in the world with the Democratic leadership not want her on as vice president?

GOODWIN: I think fundamentally it comes down to Obama has effectively run against the Clinton years, run against the Democratic politics of Washington, both parties. And I think to -- if he's going to have her on the ticket, his message then becomes muddled, and so while there's, I think, an appeal in the sense of uniting those two wings of the party now...

DOBBS: I'm lost, here. I'm sorry, I'm lost. Revisionism is rampant, but I am totally lost. Was not President Bill Clinton the guy for two terms who created the longest economic peacetime expansion since World War II? Was it -- wasn't he, in point of fact -- I'm sorry?

GOODWIN: I think the Republican congress was part of that.

DOBBS: Actually, it wasn't, because the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 is the one that led to, in my judgment...


ZIMMERMAN: Without one Republican vote.

DOBBS: Actually, as I recall, Vice President Al Gore cast the deciding vote. I'm an Independent, folks, don't forget that, I have no dogs in this hunt. But, I do want to keep the record correct here. And the prosperity that ensued, all that the Clintons did, has been turned on its head. And I have to believe people are taking great partisan delight in watching this party implode. But just as it may be flipping, Dan, as you suggest, from the days of the Clintons, it is also arguable that the Democratic Party is slipping its moorings and those moorings were the Clintons and the Clinton years and a great deal is at risk here.

GOODWIN: Well, politically, the Clintons were not successful. They had no coattails. I mean, they ended up losing far more seats in Congress over the eight years than they ever gained. I mean, they left with far fewer seats than what they came in with, so I think politically, Bill Clinton was something of a disaster for the Democratic Party in terms of the next generation. That's what Obama is about.


ZIMMERMAN: Michael, could I just point out any Democratic -- he was the first Democratic president served two terms since Franklin Roosevelt, that works for me. And in fact he was a...

GOODWIN: There was no coattail.

ZIMMERMAN: Well you know what? After the '94 loss Democrats did regain seats in '96 and '98, they didn't win the majority, but they picked up seats in the House and the Senate.

DOBBS: I'd like examine coattails from circa 19 -- say, 1988 through, say, 2006, how the coattails worked there for any president, Republican or Democrat. They've been disastrous. Disastrous. Absolutely disastrous, with the exception of 1994 and then of course that was a feat unto itself, says Newt Gingrich.


HENNINGER: You know, I have sometimes thought that the reason Ted Kennedy decided to support Obama was that he saw a candidate who had the potential to really have strong coattails and increase his numbers in the Senate to such an extent that you have a filibuster- proof Senate and Ted Kennedy could end his career by pushing through a lot of legislation that he might not otherwise be able to do if Hillary ran...

DOBBS: And conventional wisdom is the opposite of course, which is the great fear for most...

HENNINGER: I think Barack can either win very big or he could lose big.

DOBBS: Well, let's talk about what will happen to Senator John McCain. I think the same thing is possible, either winning big or losing big. His wife refusing to give her income tax statements. I'm watching more people harrumphing with absolute disgust, my goodness, how could she dare? I mean, do you think that's terrible, that she, having filed separate tax return all of her married life is saying, no, I'm not going to?

ZIMMERMAN: I'm really not too concerned about it, because it's not about transparency, but it is about hypocrisy because these are the same Republicans who demand Teresa Heinz Kerry...

DOBBS: I just got whiplash, transparency...

ZIMMERMAN: Because it's typical of the hypocrisy that has been the hallmark of the McCain campaign, in particular after, of course, they all demanded that Teresa Heinz Kerry release her income tax...

DOBBS: So, it doesn't bother you all?

ZIMMERMAN: She's not...

DOBBS: Michael.

ZIMMERMAN: The hypocrisy does, though.

GOODWIN: Look, I think had they structured their taxes this year for this purpose, then it would be bothersome. The fact is they've been doing it this way for roughly 20 years, so I don't think it was done to specifically shield to her during the campaign.

DOBBS: Whose business is it anyway? If he's elected, first lady, whose business is it? And to hear all this nonsense, at least to me?

HENNINGER: Well, it's a fairly marginal issue. You know, eventually we're going to get into the general election. It's as though we have two elections. The primaries are like the playoffs, now we're going to get to the finals. At that point I think the American people will be looking at these two men and what they are saying...

ZIMMERMAN: Or man and woman.

HENNINGER: Or the man and woman.

DOBBS: Good job, Robert.

HENNINGER: It's going to be a liberal Democrat versus a conservative Republican and I think come November the vote is going to be as tight as it's been the last several elections.

ZIMMERMAN: Quite to the contrary, it's going to be a mainstream Democrat versus a Republican who's taken both sides of almost every critical issue.

DOBBS: Wait a minute, Dan said conservative Republican. It is so noted, it's so written? It shall be.


All right, Dan thank you very much, great to have you with us. Michael, thank you very much. Robert, great to see you. Have a great weekend. Go get them.


DOBBS: Persevere. Persevere.

Coming up at the top of the hour, the ELECTION CENTER With wolf Blitzer in for Campbell Brown.

Wolf, do you got for us?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. Tonight the final stage of the Democratic race -- How long will it take? I'll speak with two superdelegates, one is sticking by Hillary Clinton the other one just switched to Barack Obama. Also we'll have the latest on Myanmar. Our own Dan Rivers spent five days there reporting on the cyclone damage and dodging authorities who wanted to silence him. He's going to tell us his amazing story. All that and a lot more, coming up in a few moments, Lou, right here on the CNN ELECTION CENTER.

DOBBS: Wolf, I got a question. Where did you get that flag? It's bigger than my flag. WOLF: We have a huge flag here, very big here.

DOBBS: Unbelievable. I can't believe you're stealing my flags.

All right. Have fun.

A reminder now to vote in our poll. Do you believe the Bush administration and Congress are taking seriously the growing threat of Mexican drug cartel violence? Is there even a dawning? Yes or no. Cast your vote at we'll have the results in a few moments.

Up next here, America's struggling middle class losing the battle. We'll tell you about the latest threat to working men and women and their families. And in "Heroes," our weekly tribute to our men and women who serve our nation in uniform, tonight the story of a severely wounded soldier who never lost the will to fight. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Millions of middle class Americans are finding they simply can't pay their bills as our economic slowdown worsens. Fifteen million household now owe about $5 billion in unpaid utility bills. Utility companies are now threatening to cut their services. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Richard McDonald, a single father, works two full-time jobs to support his children, age 15 and seven. Before he starts his second job, he calls home.

RICHARD MCDONALD, SINGLE FATHER: You got a lot of homework?

PILGRIM: His monthly income is $2,400 and he receives fuel assistance from a local community group. But, it's not enough. McDonald had $1,600 in overdue gas and electric bills that he can't pay.

MCDONALDS: Everything is going up and we don't -- it's hard to get a raise nowadays, no matter how hard you work.

PILGRIM: Many states have rules that don't allow heat or utility services to be turned off in the winter, but spring is here and that means utility companies can take action. Right now, more than 15.5 million American household are behind on utility payments. Community fuel assistance programs, like this one in Boston, helps 18,000 people a year, and they say this year is the worst ever.

JOHN WELLS, ACTION FOR BOSTON COMM DEV: We're seeing it creeping into working families and middle class families, clients that have jobs and have been paying their bills quite regularly for many years, but now are having to struggle. PILGRIM: In the last five years residential prices for natural gas has risen more than 35 percent, while home heating oil prices have at least doubled.

MARK WOLFE, NATL ENERGY ASST DIR ASSN: Four years ago, you could heat a house in Maine, northern Maine, for $600. Now it's between $2500 and $3,000. So, a lot of families that could pay for energy just a few years ago, can't do it now.

PILGRIM: For Richard McDonald, it's a financial shell game.

MCDONALD: Food I will not sacrifice on because we need food. I have two children and we have to live.

PILGRIM: Fifteen percent of homes are at least 30 days late on their energy bills this year. (END VIDEOTAPE)

Now, many families are facing this problem for the first time and not calling attention to their predicament because they're embarrassed about it. Also, because of their income levels they may not qualify for help and for those reasons we could see higher cutoff rates in the months ahead, Lou.

DOBBS: This is incredible. It just keeps -- it's insidious because it moves at a relatively slow rate at the margin and then the next thing you're talking about 15 percent of people behind on their bills. And to see his bill go from $600 to $1,600, that is...

PILGRIM: It's unbelievable. You know, this is becoming a very big middle class issue and you let it slide because during the winter they can't cut off your heat...

DOBBS: Well, it's not just middle class issue as you document, there. It's everybody.

PILGRIM: Everybody's. And now it's all coming to roost because it's -- in the summer, that's when you have to pay up.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Up next here, "Heroes." Tonight we bring you the story of a soldier who fought the enemy in Iraq and then had to fight to recover from serious, serious wounds. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Now "Heroes" our tribute to the men and women who server this nation in uniform. Tonight we want to introduce you to former Army Special Garth Stewart. Stewart lost his leg when he stepped on a landmine in Iraq, but just weeks later, Stewart, believe it or not, returned to active duty. (INAUDIBLE) has his story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Garth Stewart joined the army after high school. SGT GARTH STEWART, U.S. ARMY (RET): I wanted to be a soldier. There was a lot of romantic notions entertained about the profession and I don't know, I wanted adventure and to test myself, you know, to be all I could be and look, it really delivered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stewart was a base gunner in a mortar platoon. In 2003, when he was stationed in Kuwait, his platoon received orders to deploy to Iraq. Stewart and his fellow soldiers where immediately in the line of fire.

STEWART: The rockets, the MLRS started pounding Iraqi positions. Iraqis snuck up inside this forest and started shooting at us. And my buddy ducked, he put his ears over his head, and then over his head on bursts (ph) -- as much as I could into that muzzle flash.

HOLLAND: Stewart was in Iraq for 16 days, then he was severely wounded when he stepped on a land mine.

STEWART: For two seconds, completely all the romance drained away. I just felt like a sucker, a chump. I couldn't believe I'd gotten hurt.

HOLLAND: He lost his leg, but not his spirit to fight. Less than three months after that landmine explosion, Stewart was back on active duty at Fort Benning. His goal: return to Iraq.

STEWART: It was very important to me to go back and do the job I had been doing when I got hurt. It was tough; it was an up hill battle because there were some people who didn't want me to do it. But -- requalified on my rifle, requalified on the gun.

HOLLAND: At the end of his training, the army offered him a desk job. Stewart decided if he could not be a combat soldier, he would become a student. Stewart retired from the military and is now studying history at Columbia University.

Philippa Holland, CNN.


DOBBS: All our best, Sergeant.

The results of our poll tonight -- 98 percent of you say the Bush administration and Congress are not taking seriously the growing threat of Mexican drug cartel violence.

Let's take quickly a look at some of your thoughts.

Rick in Colorado said: "I'm sick and tired of watching all the 'sanctuary cities' flaunting their disregard of immigration. A responsible federal government would punish them. Wish we had one."

All of us do.

Caroline in Minnesota said: "I am thoroughly sick, tired, frustrated and disgusted with this election. And to think that we will have this choice determined by superdelegates!"

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to

We thank you for being with us tonight. For all of us here, good night from New York and a very happy Mother's Day weekend to all of you mothers out there.

The "ELECTION CENTER" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf..