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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Obama, McCain Address Latino Groups; Pentagon Floats De-Surge Iraq Talk; Salmonella Outbreak Spreads; Shocking Ruling: Fake Social Security Cards not Illegal

Aired July 08, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, Senator Obama demanding amnesty for illegal aliens, Senator McCain demanding border security first. And both presidential candidates pandering to the pro-amnesty open borders lobby to win votes.
Tonight, outrage after a federal judge says illegal aliens who use fake Social Security cards didn't break the law. We'll have that incredible special report.

And tonight, no end in sight to the nationwide salmonella outbreak that may be linked to Mexico. Government officials still absolutely without a clue as to the origin or what is causing this outbreak. We'll have more exclusive reporting on this crisis. All of that, all of the day's news and much more with an independent perspective straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate, and opinion for Tuesday, July 8th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Senator Obama today made amnesty for illegal aliens one of his top priorities in blatant effort to win Hispanic-American votes. Speaking to one of this country's most aggressive pro-amnesty socio- ethnocentric groups, Obama declared he will make so-called comprehensive immigration reform a top priority in his first year as president.

Addressing the very same group, Senator McCain insisted we must first secure our borders. McCain did not say how he planned to deal with the 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens already in this country.

We have extensive coverage tonight and we begin with Casey Wian in Los Angeles -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens continue to cross our broken borders every year. And today, presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both vowed to secure the borders, but they differ over when that should happen.


WIAN (voice-over): Senator John McCain's position is now clear, even when speaking to the Mexican government as he did last week, or to the League of United Latin American Citizens Tuesday.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many Americans with good cause didn't believe us when we said we would secure our borders, so we failed in our efforts. We must prove to them that we can and will secure our borders first, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States of America.

WIAN: The keyword is "first," because McCain and Obama both support some form of legalization plan for the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens already here. McCain says border security must happen before so-called immigration reform.

Addressing the same group, Obama made no such promise.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a president who isn't going to walk away from something as important as comprehensive reform when it becomes politically unpopular. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as president.

WIAN: And Obama says he will crack down on employers of illegal workers. Both candidates emphasize close ties to American Latinos.

OBAMA: That's why I worked with LULAC and MALDEF before I was in public office as a civil rights lawyer to register Latino voters and ensure that Hispanics had an equal voice in city hall.

MCCAIN: I represent the great state of Arizona where Spanish was spoken before English was and where the character and prosperity of our state owes a great deal to the many Arizonans of Hispanic descent who live there.

WIAN: But many Americans who favor strong border security are suspicious. McCain only recently promised border security first. And Obama, who last year voted to build more border fencing now opposes the idea.


WIAN: Obama and McCain are scheduled to speak to another pro- amnesty group, the National Council of La Raza, this coming Sunday and Monday here in Southern California -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, that's quite a tour, seeking to pander to those ethnocentric groups. La Raza, LULAC today. And just last week, pandering again -- I mean, you have to give McCain some credit here, saying straightforwardly border security first. But that's sort of a -- he said it before but changed his mind. Where are we in all of this?

WIAN: These two candidates are clearly trying to walk a tight rope, not angering those who favor amnesty for illegal aliens, and while still offering some hope of border security for those who view that as priority. It's clear that McCain has taken a stronger stance, saying border security first. But as you mentioned, he has had a different view in the past, sponsoring legislation that would have given comprehensive immigration reform amnesty at the same time as border security. He now disavows that. A lot of border activists don't trust him, though -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, and it's interesting that he used this language, that Americans were skeptical with good cause of their government, promised to secure the borders. Saying with good cause. It's clear that Senator McCain is acknowledging that the American people were right not to trust their government on this issue. And one would suspect, correct now, not to trust either of these candidates on the issue.

WIAN: There's a long history on this, Lou. As you know, back in 1986, so-called comprehensive immigration reform plan, they only did half the job and look what happened. An explosion in the number of illegal aliens coming into the United States.

DOBBS: And here's Senator Obama, talked about as a civil rights lawyer, he worked with Hispanic groups. This man could not have pandered more to this group if he had tried. I just can't imagine what else he could have said other than the fact that he believes that apparently the Hispanic-American vote will be determinative of the outcome.

Is he simply discounting the rest of the country's population?

WIAN: Well, I don't -- I think he's certainly discounting that portion of the Hispanic-American vote that favors strong border security and does not favor amnesty for illegal aliens. And they are out there, though both candidates don't seem to acknowledge it.

DOBBS: It's remarkable, approaching -- one would think it's almost -- talk about something that's sensitive racially and ethnically to approach these groups which represent such a small group of people amongst the Hispanic-American citizenry. LULAC, MALDEF, La Raza.

And they act with such arrogance as if they represent Hispanic- Americans. It is -- at the same time for these candidates to be bending over backwards to pander to them. It is a remarkable thing to watch. It makes you wonder how the rest of all of those Americans involved in group and identity politics must feel as these two candidates spend so much time focusing on Latinos in this country. To what end, we'll have to find out.

Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian.

Well, a majority of Americans support the government's plan to build a fence along 700 miles of our southern border. Fifty-two percent of Americans support the fence despite efforts by the pro- amnesty open borders crowd to stop that fence's construction, according to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

So far, the federal government has finished almost half that planned fence, 149 miles of vehicle fencing and 182 miles of pedestrian fencings. That's right, that's not the real heavy-duty stuff, but that is part of it.

The department of Homeland Security expecting, it says, to complete another 345 miles of fencing -- 340 miles of fencing by the end of the year. There are plans to have fencing or surveillance in place along the entire border with Mexico by 2010.

Well, Senator Obama and Senator McCain pandering for votes reflecting the rising power and influence of ethnocentric special interest groups in this country. The presidential candidates apparently believe Hispanic voters could determine what will happen in several battleground states in this presidential election.

Bill Schneider has our report.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): First NALEO, now LULAC, next La Raza, those are three prominent Latino political organizations, both John McCain and Barack Obama are speaking to all three. That's clout.

How did Latino voters get so much clout? Latinos are 15 percent of the population, but they were only 8 percent of the voters in 2004, nearly half the nation's Latinos live in California or Texas, but neither is a battleground state.

Four battleground states do have large Latino communities: Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. But in exit polls going back to 1972, Latino voters have never voted Republican for president. Republican candidates have averaged only about a third of the Latino vote.

So why are Latino voters so hotly contested this time? Because both candidates have problems with Latinos. In the Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton beat Obama nearly 2 to 1. In the general election right now, Obama is beating McCain by 2 to 1.

So both candidates sense an opportunity with Latino voters.


SCHNEIDER: Both candidates are using their own personal stories to make a pitch to Latino voters. Obama talked about his immigrant roots and declared, "America has nothing to fear from the newcomers."

McCain recounted the story of a fellow prisoner of war who was a Latino and noted that many Latinos now serve in Iraq and Afghanistan who are not yet citizens -- Lou.

DOBBS: To what degree do you think these candidates are going to start pandering to the white vote? Quite seriously, I mean, at some point, group and identity politics, which has turned to such an ugly mess in the Democratic primaries, and which has still -- in my opinion, at least, I'd like to hear yours, still has a tremendous overhang over Senator Obama's candidacy.

Well, what can we expect? What should we be expecting?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I'm not sure I agree, because Senator Obama is constantly talking about the need to bring the country together. Now, this, of course, was a direct appeal to Latino voters. He has done the same with other groups.

But most of his speeches, and in fact, much of his speech today, he talked about our being one nation, one America. And he basically argued the things that we must do to help Latinos in this country are things that all Americans must do, we must join together in doing them.

He always talks in terms of one nation, ending the divides that have separated the country into red and blue. So at least he speaks a language of one America. And McCain does very often do the same thing. Their speeches today, the blatant appeals to Latino voters were just a small part.

DOBBS: A small part, but why were they given -- where were these speeches given, Bill? I'm sorry, I got lost there.

SCHNEIDER: They were given to Latino organizations. Well, that's campaigning. You know, an awful lot of campaigning is pandering.

DOBBS: Well, apparently so, if that's something that the national media accepts as a correct course of politics in this country, I guess it will go on. I, for one, think it is repugnant and inappropriate. Bill, thank you very much. Bill Schneider.

Turning to another very important issue in this election, the war in Iraq, insurgents today killed one of our soldiers in a bomb attack west of Baghdad. He was the first soldier or Marine to be killed in Iraq this month. Two of our troops have killed in Iraq so far this month, the other soldier was killed in a non-battle related incident; 4,115 of our troops have been killed since the war began, 30,349 of our troops wounded, 13,483 of them seriously..

Defense Secretary Robert Gates today downplayed Iraqi demands for a firm timetable for withdrawal of our troops. Gates' remarks come one day after the Iraqi prime minister suggested that the U.S. mission in Iraq is or has been accomplished and it's time for our troops leave, according to al-Maliki. Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon now.

Barbara, what are Gates and other U.S. officials saying about the prime minister's comments calling for a timetable for withdrawal?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, officially, Lou, what top U.S. officials are saying is that the statements by Prime Minister al-Maliki do not really reflect a fundamental change in policy. What they hope at least is that the statements reflect Maliki's efforts to try and grasp control of the Iraqi government, that this is for domestic consumption, if you will, inside his own government to demonstrate that he has power and control.

Listen to a little bit of what the U.S. State Department had to stay about this earlier today.


GONZAGO GALLEGOS, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: The U.S. government and the government of Iraq are in agreement that we -- the U.S. government, we want to withdraw. We will withdraw. However, that decision will be conditions-based.


STARR: "Conditions-based," those words that we've heard so much over the months. Officially, the U.S. is sticking to that, but behind the scenes, I have to tell you, top U.S. officials are saying those words "Conditions-based," appear to be backing al-Maliki into a corner, that what he and the Iraqi government are now looking for is a horizon, if you will, not a timetable, but a horizon in which the Iraqis can look to the U.S., continuing to withdraw at least the combat troops.

Perhaps U.S. troops stay for some period of time as trainers in backup and support roles if the Iraqis get into trouble. But to continue to look for drawdown in U.S. combat forces, Lou. And, indeed, by the end of this month, that fifth surge brigade, the final brigade of the surge, is going to be out of Iraq and expect to see General Petraeus recommending even more withdrawals of combat forces -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, however one positions it, postures it, or explains it, it sounds like good news for our troops. I'll take that. Barbara, thank you very much. Barbara Starr.

Well, another important national security development tonight, Russia is threatening the United States with what Russia calls a "military technological response" if the United States were to build missile defense systems near Russia's borders.

The threat comes a day after what appeared to be friendly talks between President Bush and the Russian president taking place in Japan. The United States today signed an agreement to build a missile defense radar system in the Czech Republic to stop any Iranian missile attack.

DOBBS: Up next here, the housing crisis in this country is worsening. Political leaders and presidential candidates seem absolutely without any idea as to how to help hard-pressed working men and women and their families.

And bungling bureaucrats in the Food and Drug Administration remain clueless in the salmonella outbreak that has swept across the country. We'll have the very latest for you in our exclusive report here next. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The Food and Drug Administration tonight is no closer to identifying a source of the worsening salmonella outbreak in this country, which may be linked to Mexico as its source. So far, nearly 1,000 people in 40 states and the District of Columbia have become ill.

Louise Schiavone has our exclusive report.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The salmonella St. Paul outbreak continues to expand, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control. Nine hundred ninety-one cases with at least 194 hospitalizations across 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada have now been registered.

An expanded Food and Drug Administration inspection program at the U.S./Mexico border focusing on ingredients common to Mexican cuisine and salsa in particular is beginning to have an impact on distributors and growers.

JIM PREVOR, PERISHABLEPUNDIT.COM: They're opening the trailers, pulling out a sample. They usually will let the product go on but it's embargoed. It can't be sold until those tests come back, which can be anywhere from three days to seven or eight days. But it's very disruptive for commerce.

Most of them knew it was coming, thanks to CNN passing on the notice, and they decided to hold back on shipments.

SCHIAVONE: Among those affected, Frontera Produce in Edinburg, Texas. Company President Will Steele told LOU DOBBS TONIGHT that two truckloads of jalapeno peppers are warehoused and going nowhere as he awaits clearance from FDA inspectors.

"Obviously," Steele told CNN, "right now, we're looking at an impact in the small thousands, but as time goes on and we don't get any clarity from the FDA, it could be hundreds of thousands. There's a huge impact for our company."

At the same time, the question is asked...

PREVOR: If, God forbid, we ever have a terrorist attack that tries to use the food supply to hurt the American population, it looks like CDC is prepared to give them a weeklong or longer head start.

SCHIAVONE: The CDC responded to the concern about bioterrorism this way.

JULIE GERBERDING, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: The United States does have one of the safest food supplies in the world, thanks to the FDA and the USDA and many other people at the state and local level. But we've also acknowledged that food is a convenient vehicle for deliberately contaminating people.

SCHIAVONE: Julie Gerberding concedes the CDC is frustrated.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SCHIAVONE: Meanwhile, Lou, produce industry insiders are concerned the red flags raised about tomatoes will now mean bankruptcies for many businesses who routinely borrow from banks for growing in anticipation of the profits from their crops -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, I'm very sorry that Julie Gerberding and the CDC is frustrated. But I'm a little more concerned about the fact that the American consumer right now is absolutely vulnerable. When the two agencies, the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration still, after more than two months, don't have a clue as to what is going on here.

SCHIAVONE: It's just an astonishing turn of events. We know that the first case was recorded in early April. This thing is not only going on, but it shows no signs of pulling back. And as you say, they just don't have any idea what the cause is.

DOBBS: And yet, we do not have any indication whatsoever that the Department of Health and Human Services is in any way mobilizing extraordinary resources for the FDA, for the CDC to go about inspecting and trying to contain this outbreak.

SCHIAVONE: They just don't know what to do. That's the really amazing thing about it. They just don't have any idea what to do. Now, they're trying to intercept these specialty products. The cilantro, the specialty peppers, ingredients that are found in salsas. But, really, you know, this could just be another shot in the dark.

DOBBS: Well, another shot in the dark, it is more incompetence. Secretary Mike Leavitt of the Department of Health and Human Services, you know, perhaps he could ask his friends in China what to do. Because this administration is operating with abject irresponsibility and this borders on absolutely criminal negligence on the part of this administration and the leaders of these two departments. This is just inexplicable.

SCHIAVONE: Well, the truth is that as consumers, we're all vulnerable. So now the number is up to almost 1,000. We know that that can be multiplied by between 30 and 40. So potentially 40,000 Americans affected by this. There are no answers. When you go to a grocery store, when you go to a restaurant, you have absolutely no idea what you should buy, what you should feed your family. You have no idea how vulnerable you are.

DOBBS: Well, unfortunately, I think we're all getting a sense of that vulnerability. And we're certainly getting a sense of how, well, disappointingly incompetent so many agencies that we depend upon in the federal government are in their efforts, in their, at least, responsibility, if not their efforts, to protect the American consumer. Louise, thank you very much. Louise Schiavone, in Washington.

Well, we've been reporting on this crisis for weeks and weeks. We've reported here about the impact of staff shortages on government agencies such as the FDA. We thought you'd be interested to know that there are right now about 400 open positions at the top of government agencies, add eight open positions at the new Office of Congressional Ethics to that long list.

That's right, eight. Neither Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, nor Minority Leader John Boehner have come up with nominees for the ethics board. Imagine that. The longer Pelosi and Boehner put off naming members, the less likely, of course, that the office will begin new ethics investigation in this election year. Goodness, we wouldn't want any embarrassments.

Up next here, the United States facing a housing crisis. Is anybody in Washington paying any attention? We'll have that report.

And is using a false Social Security card really a crime? It should be a relatively straightforward question, but not when you're talking with one specific federal judge who has come up with an unbelievable answer. We'll have that story. Hang on, it's going to get worse. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Well, we didn't need more bad news, but we've got it tonight. Our worsening housing crisis, the foreclosure rates are continuing to climb, 2.5 million people will lose their homes this year. Home sales declined in May, in fact, to the third-lowest reading ever in history.

But as Kitty Pilgrim now reports, legislation to help homeowners has been stalled in Congress.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Street after street of "for sale" signs and no buyers, homes with a buyer under contract were down 14 percent from May last year. And soon there will be more "for sale" signs, 2.5 million foreclosures predicted for this year, 85,000 families lost their homes in May alone.

An FDIX conference today on lending to middle income borrowers headlined Treasury Secretary Paulson, who defended the administration response to the crisis.

HENRY PAULSON, TREASURY SECRETARY: In particular, there are a number of key areas where Hope Now is showing substantial progress. Improved outreach strategies have dramatically increased the response rate of troubled borrowers.

PILGRIM: Paulson claims the government's Hope Now initiative has helped 1.7 million people stay in their homes. But the program is still voluntary for banks and mortgage lenders. And according to the Center for Responsible lending, the number of people losing their homes is four times higher than those who are helped to restructure their loans.

MIKE CALHOUN, CTR. FOR RESPONSIBLE LENDING: We are in uncharted territory, and while the regulators have moved in to help provide liquidity, they don't have the tools right now to slow down the foreclosures. Only Congress can really do that. PILGRIM: A Senate bill to help homeowners facing foreclosure by funding a new Federal Housing Authority plan, has been stalled in Congress, but leaders say it could pass by the end of the week. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the country's largest buyer of home mortgages, is under pressure in the financial markets because of worries about capitalization, and the suspicion that worse is still to come.


PILGRIM: Now the investment bank Credit Suisse is projecting that 6.5 million homeowners will end up in foreclosure in the next five years. They also project home prices will continue to fall through 2009.

DOBBS: And Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, those two federal agencies yesterday losing just about 20 percent of their price in the market. Today, recovering more than half of that back, doing so in both instances simply because of a rumor reported yesterday that $75 billion in additional capital being required.

Today, one government saying, oh, no, it won't be that much, and the thing recovers. I mean, if anybody wants an indication as to how sensitive and how volatile this market is, just pay attention to those two stocks over the course of the past two days.

PILGRIM: Well, you're absolutely right, Lou. And when you try to put your head around any of the numbers in this story, they really aren't concrete at all. They're impossible to calculate.

DOBBS: 2007, how many foreclosures?

PILGRIM: One-and-a-half million in 2007.

DOBBS: And this year?

PILGRIM: Two-and-a-half million. And...

DOBBS: Four million people losing their homes to foreclosures in a 24-month period. I mean, this is, as you put it, uncharted territory. Thank you very much, Kitty. Kitty Pilgrim.

Well, as Kitty just reported, the legislation to provide relief to homeowners facing foreclosure has been stalled in the Senate. Senator John Ensign wants to attach an amendment that would extend $8 billion of tax breaks to the producers of renewable energy resources to the legislation. Democrats are refusing to allow a vote on his amendment. And Senator Ensign's state of Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, in May, up 72 percent in the past year. And it was the 17th month in a row that Nevada headed the list. Late today, Senator Ensign offered a compromise, no word from Democrats as to whether or not they're interested.

Time now for our poll question: Do you believe at the nation is better served when our three branches of government are divided between the two political parties? I'd love to hear what you think about this. Cast your vote at We'll have the results here later.

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

Linda is Florida said: "Lou, if the salmonella outbreak was caused by any product grown here in the USA the FDA and our government would have isolated and shut them down long before now. I suspect the problem comes from our neighbors to the south but my goodness we mustn't offend."

Thousands of you e-mailing us about San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and his reversal of his policy of shielding illegal alien drug dealers who claim would be juveniles from federal immigration authorities.

Art in California said: "If Gavin Newsom and the city of San Francisco don't want to cooperate with the feds and I.C.E., then maybe they shouldn't get any federal money or assistance."

I couldn't agree with you more.

And Jay in Minnesota said: "As a former resident of San Francisco, I'm embarrassed that the people there would elect someone like Gavin Newsom, the precious darlin' not only needs to apologize to everyone, but he needs to step down as government."

Again, you have my agreement.

We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.

Next, a shocking ruling by a federal judge on whether illegal aliens who use fake security cards really are criminals.

And Defense Secretary Robert Gates making a new promise in the controversy over the outsourcing that huge tanker contract for the air force. We'll have that report and a great deal more.

Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: Turning now to even by today's standards in our federal judiciary a shocking decision. A federal judge in Tennessee has ruled that using fake Social Security cards as identification to obtain employment is not illegal. The case could affect federal programs that verify the legal status of workers based on those very same social security cards.

Bill Tucker has our report.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was an unexpected delay. Two illegal aliens came to federal court in Chattanooga, Tennessee expecting to plead guilty to charges using false social security cards to get hired at the local pilgrims pride plant that was raided by federal authorities in April. But the judge wouldn't let them enter their pleas.

Instead, he told the court he didn't think any law had necessarily been broken. He cited an earlier federal court ruling in Tennessee in another immigration case. That ruling was based on arguments made in 2003 by defense lawyers for Tyson Foods. They argue that social security cards are not listed as identity documents under one section of immigration law and the court agreed, dismissing the identity charges.

KRIS KOBACH, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: The judge in this case this week actually did the right thing. He pointed out that, hey, there's a precedent five years all in the eastern district of Tennessee that you guys need to know about. This judge didn't do anything wrong.

TUCKER: Maybe not, but there are now questions as to whether this week's actions will jeopardize the federal programs such as e- verify which uses a person's social security number to verify employment status.


TUCKER: Now officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Justice all seemed stunned by this decision and action by the judge and declined comment because it's ongoing litigation. But some immigration lawyers that I spoke with today argued that the social security number obviously is an identification document because under social security law, it is an identity document.

And Lou, there are severe crimes associated with the misuse and fraudulent use of social security documents. It just takes your breath away, doesn't it?

DOBBS: You know, there are times when I think the entire court system has completely lost its mind. What could the judge be thinking? And let's go back, the attorney, saying he did the right thing. I mean are all of these people on both sides of this argument because they're lawyers completely mindless?

TUCKER: In 2003 --

DOBBS: No, I heard that, but what's the point? Either it's an identification document or it isn't, and whether it's an identification document or not is not dependent on what an immigration -- element of the immigration code says or doesn't say. I mean that's an absurdity.

TUCKER: You're not going to get an argument from me. I certainly can't explain what's going on in the court, Lou.

DOBBS: So you know maybe all of the open borders advocates are right. All of the amnesty advocates are right. Maybe there really isn't such a thing such as an illegal alien in this country. No problem. Maybe we'll throw our hands up here. These are some of the dumbest people in the history of judiciary. And that takes into account some pretty dumb people. But we're the real fools for putting up with this. I mean this, is going on as if it's reasonable conduct. I mean, it's as if we have lost any contact with reality in this country when it comes to the issue of law, order, decency, sovereignty of the nation and the responsibility of a court. What a -- what an annoying mess. You have nothing to add?

TUCKER: I couldn't agree with you more, Lou.

DOBBS: Bill Tucker, thank you very much. Good grief. Keep us posted on that.

Well, turning to a very serious matter, the raging violence of Mexico's drug cartel wars is taking an increasingly deadly toll. Not many people in this country and our government are taking notice but police in Tijuana took notice. They found six charred bodies on a city street early yesterday. Eight other people were killed over this weekend. The latest attacks, indicating that the violence between the drug cartel members is worsening.

More than 4,200 people have been killed by drug violence in Mexico over the past year and a half. And there is -- and Governor Bill Richardson probably should take note of this, there remains in effect a travel warning for American citizens going to Mexico. I hope Governor Bill Richardson is not too upset about that. He wanted to roll that back just a couple months ago.

Up next here, the Pentagon facing rising pressure to pressure reopened bidding on a bidding on a huge tanker deal. We'll have that report.

And we'll be talking about Congress' approval ratings. Well you can't say approval ratings. It's really an approval rating and it's in the single digit. I'll be talking about that with three of the country's top radio talk show hosts. Stay with us. We're coming right back.

We'll talk about that federal judge in Tennessee. Bright fellow, you can tell. We'll be talking about that.


DOBBS: Defense Secretary Gates today declared he will soon announce whether the air force will re-bid its tanker contract. American workers and industry won a victory when the government accountability office found the air force bidding procedures to be flawed, mistaken and wrong-headed. The air force has awarded the contract to a European consortium that manufactures the Airbus aircraft.

Carrie Lee has our report.


CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The clock is ticking to fix the bungled $40 billion air force contract. The winner will replace outdated and costly refueling tankers, the backbone of the U.S. air power around the world. Northrop Grumman and its European partner, EADS, the parent of Airbus, won the contract over Boeing, but a 67 page GAO report found mistakes in the way the bids were evaluated and recommends reopening the bidding process.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today he will announce very soon his plan for how the Pentagon will proceed even though he has until late August to respond to the GAO report. Also today, Senator Patty Murray introduced a resolution calling for a truly transparent competition that does the war fighters and taxpayers justice. She's also focusing on American workers.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: The bid that the EADS Northrop group put together, those planes are built and assembled overseas in France and Spain and Germany, and they're saying they're going to fly them here for final assembly in a plant that has is yet to be built. Those jobs are missed to say the least.

LEE: But Northrop Grumman says it's confident they will still win the contract and in turn create 48 million new U.S. jobs. Boeing says it if wins it will add 44,000 jobs to the U.S. payroll.

All sides the Pentagon, the contractors, the lawmakers agree, the air force needs to update its Eisenhower air tankers quickly. One bill in congress would even hand the contract to Boeing, no questions asked just to save time.


LEE: Now, CNN has learned the Pentagon could have a news conference this week, possibly as early as tomorrow to announce a decision on how to proceed.

Lou, let's keep in mind, that the $40 billion contract we're talking about is part of the whole deal. The whole thing, the whole tanker deal could be worth at much as $100 billion. We're talking about 180 planes here but 500 in total. Whoever wins this part of the bid will clearly have the advantage for the remainder of it. It's one of the biggest military deals ever so a lot riding on it.

DOBBS: A lot riding on it, and the simple fact is the air force, the Pentagon and the White House trying to outsource the national security for which there should be a complete investigation I believe.

Carrie, thank you -- Carrie Lee

Last night, we reported to you on a European beer maker's hostile take over effort against America's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch. Well today, the Budweiser company filing suit against the Belgium company Inbev trying to stop that takeover. In the lawsuit, Anheuser- Busch says its rival is using illegal and deceptive conduct trying to lure shareholders into firing its board of directors and giving up the company at a bargain price.

Up next, why globalization is hurting this country's hard working middle class, I'll be talking to the author of the book "The War For Wealth."

And Congress' approval ratings at all time low again. As a matter of fact, they've never been lower. We'll have more on the dismal numbers and I'll be talking with three of the best radio talk show hosts ever.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Well, at the top of the hour, the "Election Center" and Campbell Brown.

Campbell, tell us all about it.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Lou, coming up on the "ELECTION CENTER," we're going to look at what Barack Obama said as he tries to explain what he may do in Iraq if elected president. We're going to talk about what he's promising, whether he's revised his position at all and whether he can deliver on those promises.

We'll also talk about the deep stakes. Time is getting short for Obama and for John McCain to make that big decision. Tonight, we'll focus on Republicans, who's up, who's down among McCain's potential running mates.

We'll see you in a little bit, Lou.

DOBBS: You've got a deal. Thank you very much, Campbell.

Joining me now, three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country, Steve Cochran, WGN; Steve, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: And in Detroit, Mildred Gaddis of WCHB. How are you Mildred? Good to see you.

MILDRED GADDIS, WCHB: Hello, Lou. I'm wonderful. Thank you.

DOBBS: And here in New York, Chris Plante, WNAL, Washington, D.C., good to have you with us, Chris.


DOBBS: Let's start with, the what would you call it, the amnesty bakeoff at Lulac? What do you think of Obama saying amnesty for illegal aliens is one of his top priorities in his first year, Chris?

PLANTE: Well you know when you're going the full pander route, you might as well go the full pander route. Lulac is an open borders society and they have no respect for our culture, and he's promising them the bank. That's where Barack Obama is going this year with the illegal alien issues. He's an open borders guy. He's not interested in enforcement. I would expect precisely this from him. John McCain, I would expect him at least to call for securing the border, perhaps not much beyond that but for securing the border, I think he's gotten the message on that.

DOBBS: As it sounded today. Mildred what do you think?

GADDIS: Well, I think it was a major mistake on Obama's part to say what he said. I think however though Barack Obama is candid enough to tell people where he's really coming from on this and I think that John McCain and some others, a lot of Republicans are posturing pretending that they are not embracing this when they are indeed supporting it.

It seems to be a little bit un-American in spirit to say that some people can illegally enter this country and there will be no penalties or no consequences and there are others from other parts of the world who suffer severe consequences for breaking the law entering this country. I understand it's posturing. I understand it's pandering and I think we'll see that from both candidates in many arenas but I really do think that that was a mistake today.

COCHRAN: Well I think Barack Obama in the speech he made at Lulac is going to be a lot different than what he says going forward to the election. He needs more of the Hispanic vote. He won't win the Hispanic vote but he certainly needs more so you're going to see a flip or a flop, maybe even a flip-flop before Election Day because he needs that vote.

And yes you know it's just silly. You know and Lou, you and I have talked about this before. I would love to see legal immigrants, not just us, all of us of course are legal immigrants if we are here legally but legal Hispanic immigrants in particular who have gone through the effort, who have gained citizenship, who have done the job to be here legally, I'd like to see just opinion polls from those folks again and again because you know they've done the work. They've done it legally and they're being lumped in with a bunch of people who are here illegally and it's not fair.

DOBBS: You know there was some comment the other day about stereotypes of Latinos in this country. The stereotype that I'm familiar with of Latinos in this country are hard working, family oriented, decent people and to here LULAC and Maldef and La Raza, these little ethnocentric interest groups who represent their membership of a fraction of 1 percent of the entire population, it's ignorant as the dickens for these two presidential candidates to be pandering to them as if they really had any power, any real influence or representation of these people.

It's disgusting. It's group and identity politics, in my opinion, at its worst, Chris.

PLANTE: It absolutely is and they don't represent in my opinion mainstream Hispanic America. They represent the far left wing, the activist wing and they're very loud. They're very vocal. They get a lot of attention in the news media and when their profile is elevated to the point where Lulac's profiles has been elevated, then politicians begin to pander.

GADDIS: Well, I'll tell you something. They've done something I think that we've seen very few other groups of people do in this country within the last decade. They've been able to mobilize thousands and thousands of people across this country in the streets of America and politicians have responded to it. We have seen Republican and Democratic elected officials in Washington be extremely hypocritical on this matter. Either we're going to demand that people obey the law of this country or we're not.

COCHRAN: We've got to decide what the law is. You know that's the problem. You have a Congress with what is it now Lou? A nine percent approval rating?

DOBBS: Exactly.

COCHRAN: You know what? The flu has a higher approval rating.

GADDIS: Don't you think they earned that nine percent? Didn't they earn that nine percent?

COCHRAN: But that's the point. There's no immigration policy and there's none on the horizon so in politicians by the way will show up wherever a lights on because they think a camera might be there. They'll be at a parade. They'll be at a speech and they'll play to the room but I think that nine percent number shows that America is tiring of it and I'm optimistic about it because I hope people show up and they use their vote the way they should have always done it.

GADDIS: You know that 9 percent doesn't only come from the immigration issue. Americans are hurting right now all across this country. Americans feel that its country has turned on the people. People can't care for their families. They're talking about the gas prices. They're having to make choices between medication costs, gasoline costs, they are very frustrated at this point.

COCHRAN: Which is a good thing.

GADDIS: I think that nine percent is well-earned.

COCHRAN: Fed-up is a good thing, because it creates action.

DOBBS: You remember in 2006 we got rid of a Republican in Congress. Its approval rating at that time was three times higher. This Congress, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, are making George W. Bush look like a popular fellow.

PLANTE: He's a golden god. They're looking up at President Bush in his approval rating as though he's a golden god. This Democratic Congress, nine percent, I think that comes from the direct beneficiaries of earmarks, family, friends, and the mentally ill. I don't know how you can support this congress. They came in with two promises that turned out to be phony, the first was they were going to get us out of Iraq.

Thankfully they didn't because success is being seen, realized there finally. And the second was they were going to lower gas prices. Gas was $2.20 at the pump when they came in, nearly doubled since they came in.

DOBBS: Don't annoy the oil companies, right, Mildred?

GADDIS: Yes and you know something, I was thinking about Pelosi and the gang and how everybody was excited when they became the majority party with all of the promises that were made and they have not delivered. And it's most unfortunate, but a very telling story, I think.

DOBBS: Steve, you get the last word.

COCHRAN: Well, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are in the witness protection program at this point.

DOBBS: They should be, but I'd rather see them indicted. Thank you very much, Mildred, Steve, thank you very much. Chris, thank you.

Up next, the author of a provocative new book on the race to globalization at the expense of, oh, let's say you, me, and our sovereignty. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: My guest tonight is Gabor Steingart. He is the senior correspondent in Washington for the German news. He's the author of a very important book "The War for Wealth," the true story of globalization or why the flat world is broken.

Great to have you with us. Let's start with the first thing you say. Referring to the threat to the west from the Asian nations and economies. You're right. "The west can either treat the Asians as competitors or continue to refer to them as developing nations. It would be more honest to see them for what they are attacker states." What do you mean?

GABOR STEINGART, AUTHOR, "THE WAR FOR WEALTH": I mean that we have a political write-off system that is outdated. It comes from World War II and we have maybe renovated last time on the cold war. We recognize a threat or an enemy. Organizing military, making tough talk, aggressive talk. If people look very friendly like the people in China and all over Asia and attacking not with rockets and with guns and with tanks, but on the economic side, we don't recognize that this could be more terrible threat for this country and for the whole western world.

DOBBS: And I couldn't agree with you more and the fact that this country -- from a German perspective. We just announced today, the congress has a 9 percent approval rating in this country. George Bush has the lowest of his presidency. One of the lowest other than Harry Truman in history, how are we perceived in terms of our leadership?

STEINGART: I think people feel something is out of order. That the country is not on the right track. On my new car I have a parking sensor system which gives us a beef beep before it comes to your neighbor. If our economy had the same thing, there would be a lot of noise in this country. We have a huge national debt, nearly $9 trillion behind us on the side of a huge trade deficit.

On the right side, the recession is looming. And in front of us there is a big inflation, maybe a permanent inflation, coming. Not only food prices, not only oil prices, all the prices will go up.

DOBBS: You say that -- you write in the book -- "The War for Wealth" -- you write that the United States is in decline.

How should we be dealing with that reality?

STEINGART: First of all, to accept it. That's a reality. I think we should stop happy talk and all these rosy assumptions, all of this optimism.

If it comes to politics, I admire most of the American people and their optimism. In private lives, it makes it easy to be here and I love -- my family, we love it to be in the United States. But, if it comes to politics and especially to economics, it's -- a bad thing, maybe it's even a sin, to be too happy, too optimistic. We have to be realistic and that's what I call in my book, I call for a new realism.

DOBBS: That new realism, the relationship between Europe and the United States -- the future of that relationship?

STEINGART: The future of that relationship could be a big future, if we understand that we have to pool our interests in fighting back all the other -- we call them -- emerging nations, I call them attacking nations, which undermine our rules and regulations. And in the labor market they hurt a lot of our workforce and we have to pool our interests and something to create like the -- what I call the United States of the West.

DOBBS: Gabor Steingart, we thank you for being here, as always. Good to talk with you.

STEINGART: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: The book is "The War for Wealth," and I couldn't recommend it too highly.

Appreciate it very much.

STEINGART: Thank you for having me here.

DOBBS: Tonight's poll results -- 54 percent of you say the nation is better served when three branches of government are divided.

I was curious about how this would work out between the two political parties.

And a reminder to join me on the road Monday through Friday for "The Lou Dobbs Show." Go to for your local listings of "The Lou Dobbs Show" on the radio.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow.

For all of us here, thank you for watching. Good night from New York.

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