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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Critical Decision in Ohio; Obama's Offensive; McCain's Critical Fight; Homeland Insecurity; Visa Fraud; Drug Cartel Kidnapping; McCain All-Out Assault on Obama; Mahoney Admits Multiple Affairs; Joe the Plumber Controversy; Court Blocks Ohio Vote Challenge

Aired October 17, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Thanks, Wolf.
Tonight, the Supreme Court has made a ruling that could in effect give Senator Obama the swing state of Ohio. We'll have complete coverage of the rising controversy over voter fraud in Ohio and, indeed, around the nation.

Tonight, Senator Obama is out-spending Senator McCain by a margin of at least 3-1, but one poll gives Obama a lead of only two percent for a second straight day.

And tonight, outrage after the Bush administration eases visa rules for foreigners in direct contradiction to recommendations by the 9/11 Commission, all of that, all the day's news and much more tonight from an independent perspective straight ahead.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and opinion for Friday, October 17th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening everybody. The Supreme Court today made a ruling that could help Senator Obama win the critical swing state of Ohio. The high court siding with Ohio's Democratic secretary of state in a dispute with the Republican Party there over possible voter registration fraud.

The ruling also gives the left wing activist group ACORN what amounts to a free pass in Ohio. Vice presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin today escalated the Republican offensive against ACORN, an outfit facing charges of outright voter fraud across the country. We have extensive coverage tonight. We begin with Kitty Pilgrim.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Ohio, an estimated 200,000 voting records don't match social security records or driver's licenses. Federal law requires states to flag any names that don't match. A federal court in Ohio ordered the Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, to turn over those mismatched lists to local election officials so they can verify voter registrations before the election.

That seemed like common sense. Today, the Supreme Court ruled she does not have to turn over the information to local election officials saying the court has no opinion on whether the voting laws were being properly implemented. The Supreme Court said the lower federal courts in Ohio had no jurisdiction to require the records be turned over.

The Republican Party says Brunner is blatantly trying to stack the vote in favor of Democrats and is trying to protect a large number of new Democratic voter registrations from scrutiny.

KEVIN DEWINE, DEP. CHAIR. OHIO REP. PARTY: Unfortunately the secretary of state has been dragging her feet and using the courts as a way to not fulfill her obligation. This is 200,000 faulty voter registration forms in a state where ACORN has admitted to turning in fake and fraudulent voter registration forms.

PILGRIM: Brunner today said Ohioans who have followed the law and simply want to exercise their right to vote should not be penalized because of federal government red tape, database matching errors and computer glitches. Today near Cincinnati, Republican V.P. candidate Sarah Palin calling on the Obama camp to release its communications with ACORN.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This group needs to learn that you here in Ohio, you won't let them turn the Buckeye state into the ACORN states.


PILGRIM: The FBI is investigating ACORN's activities.


PILGRIM: Now this is critical to the outcome of the election. Ohio is a key battleground state, 666,000 voters have registered in Ohio since January. In the last presidential election a margin of 118,000 votes won the state for President Bush, Lou.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much -- Kitty Pilgrim.

Well those charges of voter fraud just one of the issues now facing ACORN's directors. They meet this weekend in New Orleans. The left wing activist group also involved in a legal dispute over allegations that the brother of ACORN's founder embezzled nearly $1 million. That dispute has sparked a power struggle within ACORN. ACORN officials call the fight a distraction from the political and legal battle over voter registration.

A major court victory today for critics of e-voting machines, criticism that we've been reporting here for years. A superior court judge in Trenton, New Jersey today ordered the release of a report that questions the security and reliability of those e-voting machines. The report by Princeton Professor Andrew Apple (ph) says e- voting machines can be hacked in less than 10 minutes, as we have reported here. Opponents of e-voting are demanding that all of New Jersey's 10,000 e-voting machines be decommissioned immediately.

And if you notice any trouble at all at your polling place on Election Day, we want to hear about it. Please call CNN's voter hotline, 1-877-462-6608. And you can find that number on our Web site at

On the campaign trail today, Senator Obama went on the offensive deep in Republican territory. Obama taking his campaign to Roanoke, Virginia. Obama accused Senator McCain of planning deep cuts in Medicare. Suzanne Malveaux has our report from Roanoke.



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Virginia hasn't put a Democrat in the White House in more than four decades, but Barack Obama says yes, he can.


MALVEAUX: The once solidly Republican state is up for grabs. Southwest Virginia is John McCain country. The northern part of the state Obama land. The key to an Obama win here will be voter turnout.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I need you to talk to your friends and your neighbors. And if you will work with me and organize with me, we'll not just win Virginia. We'll win this general election.

MALVEAUX: State officials say nearly 500,000 new voters have registered, many drafted by Obama's army of volunteers. Fifty field offices blanket the state and Obama is nearly outspending McCain 3-1 in advertising.


MALVEAUX: This is Obama's seventh trip to Virginia since the primary but his first time to Roanoke located in a conservative part of the state Obama is trying to cut into.

OBAMA: You might want to try the Democrats for a change.

MALVEAUX: Obama specifically addressed the needs of seniors who make up 15 percent of Roanoke County voters.

OBAMA: It turns out Senator McCain would pay for part of his plan by making drastic cuts in Medicare, $882 billion worth.

MALVEAUX: A McCain spokesman responded saying John McCain's plans for health care do not punish struggling businesses with fines and taxes and they certainly do not cut a single benefit for Medicare or Medicaid. Obama is simply lying.

MALVEAUX (on camera): An Obama spokesman says that McCain needs to explain how he's going to cut out nearly a trillion dollars in Medicare without it impacting services. Well John McCain is going to get that opportunity when he travels here tomorrow in Virginia, obviously to explain that, but also to try to cut into Obama's lead. Lou?


DOBBS: Suzanne, thank you -- Suzanne Malveaux. A trillion dollars floating out there, is it a lie or is it accurate? We'll have more.

Senator McCain today campaigning in Florida, another critically important battleground state, Senator McCain again talking again about "Joe the plumber" as he launched a new attack on Senator Obama's tax policies -- Dana Bash with our report.


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Embarking on a tour of red states, he's desperately trying to keep from turning blue, John McCain is still channeling "Joe the plumber".

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Obama says that he wanted to spread your wealth around. All he had to do to say to "Joe the plumber" and millions of small business people around this country, I won't raise your taxes, but he couldn't do that because he's going to raise their taxes.

BASH: McCain is not only using the plumber's story to warn voters to watch their wallet with Obama, he's also now lashing out at his Democratic rivals for what McCain aides call disparaging comments about Joe Wurzelbacher. From "The Tonight Show"...

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're kind of worried about you know "Joe the fireman", Joe the policeman", Joe the real plumber" with a license.

BASH: To the stump.

OBAMA: He's trying to suggest that a plumber is the guy he's fighting for.


OBAMA: How many plumbers do you know making $250,000 a year?

MCCAIN: And Americans ought to be able to ask Senator Obama tough questions without being smeared and targeted with political attacks.


BASH: Meanwhile, McCain's campaign is also stepping up its attempt to link Obama to ACORN, a community organizing group now under federal investigation for alleged voter fraud in several battleground states. Sarah Palin in Ohio.

PALIN: And John and I are calling on the Obama campaign to release communications it has had with this group and to do so immediately.

(APPLAUSE) BASH: On a conference call with reporters, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis (ph) went even further saying that because camp Obama won't come clean with connections to ACORN, a quote, "cloud of suspicion is hanging over the election."


BASH: Now a spokesman for the Obama campaign says that the campaign did give money to an ACORN affiliate during the Democratic primary and that was just to help their get out the vote operation, but Lou they insist that they have had no connection with ACORN since them and especially have had no connection with them at all on the issue that they are being investigated on, and that of course is voter registration -- Lou.

DOBBS: Oh, voter registration fraud is the investigation.

BASH: Right -- the investigation is into fraud and what the Obama campaign says is that they've not used ACORN at all on the issue of voter registration, just on get out the vote.

DOBBS: And what is the -- the idea that "Joe the plumber", Joe Wurzelbacher is being attacked by Joe Biden and Barack Obama. It is one of the -- I have to say it's incredible. I mean he has become, frankly, a symbol for working people in this country. The idea that Obama and Biden would question whether or not a plumber is entitled or likely to make $250,000 in this country?

I mean, you talk about an elitist attitude that they have been trying to knock down ever since the famous cling to their religion and their guns remark about the voters in Pennsylvania. What's going on?

BASH: I think you just pretty much made the argument that John McCain made today in two stops here in Florida. In fact, in this hall where I am tonight, he made that argument and he got wild applause from the audience. That is precisely why the McCain campaign has sort of seized on these remarks that both of the Democratic candidates have made because they say, you know wait a minute.

This feeds right into one of the things that they are trying to say about Barack Obama is that they believe that his character, as you just described it, is basically, as you said, he's an elitist. Now the Obama campaign obviously is saying that's not true. That's not what they are trying to say, but it is definitely playing well in his rallies, Lou.

DOBBS: Playing well in his rallies...

BASH: In McCain's rallies.

DOBBS: And you know and well, Dana, thank you very much. Dana Bash reporting there. I have been saying for literally for years that we need to have greater diversity in this country. Not only racial and ethnic and religious diversity in our Congress and our Senate, but we need a diversity of occupation and jobs and life experience. Why in the world is it that we have devolved to basically two classes of people in Congress and the Senate. That is professional politicians and lawyers. Why don't we have plumbers and carpenters and masons and teachers and more doctors and nurses and -- people from all walks of life in our society?

Does anybody remember this was the ideal of our founding fathers that we would have that diversity in our Congress, in our government, and I wonder -- I just have to wonder -- if it's one reason that the American people have very little representation in Washington, D.C., today -- just a thought.

Well let's turn to tonight's poll and the question is -- do you find it interesting that the national media surrounded "Joe the plumber's" house and has barraged him for days and has yet to put a satellite truck in front of Bill Ayers' house? Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll have the results for you here later.

Isn't it interesting? We don't know how much Bill Ayers makes. We don't have a bunch of satellite trucks, strange. I wonder if that indicates anything about the thinking of the national media -- can't wait to hear your vote.

Still ahead, a violent kidnapping of a child in Las Vegas, new evidence that Mexico's drug cartels are spreading their violence deep into this country.

Also, troubling new evidence tonight of rampant fraud and abuse in a worker visa program that benefits corporate America at the expense of middle class working Americans. By the way, this is another bright idea brought to you by the Bush administration -- an outrage over a government rule change that could make it easier for terrorists to enter this country. We'll have that special report, a great deal more straight ahead.


DOBBS: President Bush today rescinded visa requirements for the citizens of seven countries. Citizens from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia Lithuania and South Korea will now be able to travel to the United States without a visa. The Bush administration's continuation of the visa waiver program is in direct contradiction of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. That commission wanted tougher restrictions for countries in the visa program. Lisa Sylvester has our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Citizens of seven eastern European countries in South Korea will soon not need a visa to enter the United States. Visitors from these countries can stay in the United States for up to 90 days. They join other U.S. allies, including most of Western Europe in the visa waiver program.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These close friends of America told me that it was unfair that their people had to jump through bureaucratic hoops that other allies can walk around. I told them I agree with them.

SYLVESTER: President Bush said the travelers will only be allowed in if they have tamper proof biometric passports. Senator Dianne Feinstein is among those who is not a fan of the change. In a recent hearing, Feinstein criticized the visa waiver program calling it the soft underbelly of the nation's immigration system.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I find it ironic that the Department of Homeland Security whose number one goal is to protect the nation from dangerous people is, instead, expediting the expansion of a program that we know is exploited by dangerous people.

SYLVESTER: Feinstein said the visa waiver program is being expanded even though several statutory conditions have not been met. By law, before new countries are admitted into the program, the Department of Homeland Security must be able to verify the departure of 97 percent of foreign travelers leaving U.S. airports.

A Government Accountability Office report said that condition has not been met. The United States does not know when and if millions of travelers actually leave the country. Jim Edwards says it's a gaping national security hole.

JIM EDWARDS, HUDSON INSTITUTE: Where are the safeguards? There's not the exit portion of the U.S. visit. So we don't have a mandatory program and means of checking them out of the country.

SYLVESTER: National security concerns are not the only worry, but also the prospect of increasing illegal immigration.


SYLVESTER: And Senator Feinstein says expanding the program now is especially alarming given the number of stolen passports that are sold on the black market and the passports of these seven countries are now even more valuable because the travelers are no longer going to have to go through the screening that is part of the visa process -- Lou.

DOBBS: And no word from Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security on this issue at all?

SYLVESTER: They are backing what President Bush said, but no direct word, Lou.

DOBBS: Well, the embarrassment is pervasive, of course, throughout the administration -- absolute disregard for the safety and the well-being of the American people, violating again an implicit responsibility certainly to meet the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Lisa, thank you very much -- Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

With the new additions, the visa waiver program will now include 34 countries, most of them in Western Europe. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Poland and Romania had applied, but for some reason weren't added to the waiver list. Bulgaria, Poland and Romania are NATO allies that have contributed troops for action in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Well we've been reporting here for years on the critical problems with the H-1B visa program, a key federal program that allows thousands and thousands of foreign workers into the country each year. Now a new government report admits there is rampant fraud and abuse of the so-called visa for the best and the brightest, as we've reported for some time. Bill Tucker has our story.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The visa program for the brightest and the best, the H-1B visa has some not so bright problems. A government audit has uncovered non-existed businesses requesting are being granted visas. Fake degrees are experienced listed.

Forged signatures on applications, job duties being performed different from description. In one case, a business development analyst was found to be working in a Laundromat. It adds up to an annual violation rate exceeding 20 percent according to the report by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. That's about 20 to 25,000 visas a year.

Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who wants to reform the H-1B program is angry. He vented some of that anger in a letter to the acting head of the U.S. CIS saying quote, "with a violation rate of more than 20 percent, this assessment should serve as a wake- up call to your agency." H-1B critics welcome the report but they point out that while fraud is significant...

RON HIRA, ROCHESTER INST. OF TECHNOLOGY: Plus the misuse of the H-1B program is perfectly legal. It's perfectly legal, for example, to pay below market wages to undercut American workers. It's perfectly legal never to recruit or look for American workers before hiring an H-1B and it's perfectly legal to replace American workers with H-1B workers.

TUCKER: Senator Grassley who was co-sponsoring his legislation with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois says it's easy to figure out where the reform should start.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: First of all, we ought to hire Americans before we bring other people in, and if we bring other people in because they are needed, they ought to -- they ought to fit the job that they were brought in for, not being a business manager ending up doing laundry in a Laundromat.

TUCKER: Bill Tucker, CNN, New York.


DOBBS: Well this just in. A judge, a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, has just convicted Congressman Vito Fossella of New York of drunken driving. He will be sentenced on the 8th of December. Congressman Fossella was arrested in suburban (ph) Virginia on the 1st of May after spending the afternoon at the White House celebrating the New York Giants Super Bowl victory.

His arrest led to revelations that the married congressman from Staten Island had a 3-year-old child with a woman living in Virginia. Again, Congressman Vito Fossella has just been convicted of drunken driving. We'll have more on this later in the broadcast.

Up next, stunning new developments in the sex scandal involving a Democratic Florida congressman and Mexico's drug wars have moved deep into the United States. An American child has been kidnapped in Las Vegas. We'll have the very latest for you here next. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: The kidnapping of a 6-year-old Nevada boy appears to be linked to Mexico's violent drug cartels. Six-year-old Cole Puffinburger was kidnapped from his Las Vegas home Wednesday morning. Las Vegas police say that Cole's grandfather was part of a drug ring and owed millions of dollars to the Mexican drug cartel. Don Lemon has our report.


DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six-year-old Cole Puffinburger is the focus of a nationwide search. The victim, according to police, of a kidnapping related to high-level illegal drug trafficking by members of the boy's family. Cole was taken from his mother's home in Las Vegas, Nevada, early Wednesday by three men.

At least two of them dressed as police officers. Authorities say the men tied up Cole's mother and her fiance, demanded money, ransacked the home and then snatched Cole for an undisclosed ransom. Police said the men spoke with heavy Hispanic accents and were believed to be Mexican nationals.

CAPT. VINCENT CANNITO, LAS VEGAS POLICE: Don't minimize any of this. You have a very dangerous group of people dealing in narcotics. They have forced their way into the home under the ruse of being law enforcement. They've kidnapped a 6-year-old boy, took him out of his home. His whereabouts are unknown. These are extremely dangerous people.

LEMON: Police want to question the boy's grandfather Clemens Tinnemeyer. Investigators say he was involved in major methamphetamine trafficking linked to Mexico and that the kidnappers were looking for millions of dollars allegedly owed to them by Tinnemeyer. Tinnemeyer was last seen in May and was reported missing by his family in September.

Investigators say other family members are also involved in the drug trade but didn't specify who. A nationwide Amber Alert is in effect. Local police are working around the clock with the FBI, Border Patrol and the DEA on the investigation. Cole's family and friends are also searching, hoping for his safe return.

AMBER MOORE, COLE'S AUNT: It's really hard to have one of our babies out there with strangers because he's a very, very good boy. He's very shy. He's (INAUDIBLE) so he's OK.

LEMON: Don Lemon, CNN, reporting.


DOBBS: Mexico's drug cartel violence is raging out of control. Mexican authorities made two arrests this week in a gruesome slaughter outside Mexico City. Twenty-four men there were killed execution- style last month. Their bodies dumped just outside the capital.

Mexican police say the killings are the result of a dispute over drug trafficking routes into the United States. More than 3,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug wars this year alone and there are new concerns of law enforcement on this side of the border that as that violence continues to spread in Mexico it will intensify in this country as well.

Up next, plumber Joe Wurzelbacher now the target of Democratic smears and innuendo by left wing blogs. What in the world is going on in this election and why would the Obama/Biden campaign not stand up for a working man? Three top political analysts join me.

Also, the Florida congressman at the center of a sex scandal breaks his silence. We'll tell you what he said. We'll show you how he reacted.

And Democrats pushing for a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, it looks like they'll succeed. We'll have that special report here next. We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion. Here again, Mr. Independent, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Welcome back. The McCain campaign has launched an aggressive new effort mobilizing Republicans and Independent voters. The campaign making hundreds of thousands of calls in key states blasting Senator Obama's character and his policies. Ed Henry is here with our report -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it's interesting, you've heard a lot of Republicans complain that John McCain has not stepped up his attacks on Barack Obama, he hasn't been pushing hard enough to show the differences in their records. So, what he's doing in this campaign, these so-called robo-calls. They're automated phone calls, voters get them all across the country, it's part of a $70 million joint effort by the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee to try to show what they believe are problems with Barack Obama's record. They're showing and making these calls in key states, battlegrounds including Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio. They point out his record on abortion; they also talk about his national security credentials in some of these calls. And one of the calls is tough in going after Obama's ties to William Ayres, the former 1960s radical. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. I'm calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayres, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capital, the Pentagon, a judge's home and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country. This call was paid for by McCain/Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee at 202-863-8500.


HENRY: Now, an Obama campaign spokesman said that these phone calls are dishonest and that it's a sign of desperation that John McCain is roiling this out in the final 2-1/2 weeks. There are some Republicans wondering why he didn't roll these out sooner -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, it's a good question, but the other part is, what part is dishonest?

HENRY: Well, they think the way it -- with William Ayres, that it's sort of making their ties sound much closer than they really are, that William Ayres had this coffee for him...

DOBBS: (INAUDIBLE) sense of report on relationship. It's there. By the way, that's one of the things that we're doing here tonight is asking if your question, why it is that Joe Wurzelbacher, the plumber, has attracted all sorts of satellite trucks and news interests for days here and vicious attacks, vicious attacks by the national liberal media, by late night -- I mean late night comedians, everything. This is a working man. And we haven't seen one satellite truck form up at Bill Ayer's house.

Now, do you think that shows any kind of bias on the part of the national media? I'm just asking that rhetorically, not of you, Ed. But just bringing that to the attention of our viewers to see what they think. We'll put that question up for your consideration here later in our poll.

Is there a renewed sense of enthusiasm in this McCain campaign? It seems so.

HENRY: In talking to senior Republicans back in Washington and when you talk to some of the state party chairs around the country, they feel that in that third debate, John McCain finally did start taking it to Barack Obama, but you have to wonder whether it's too little too late. And we're going to find out, obviously, over the last 2-1/2 weeks. But, he was much sharper, much crisper in the last debate, as you saw. There were a lot more fireworks flying, not just on the personal attacks, but on the issues. That whole ""Joe the plumber"" thing, when you step back, it's about the issue of taxes. There is some substance behind it and a lot of Republicans feel that John McCain finally reached that and finally brought it to the forefront.

DOBBS: It's also about respect for a working man and woman in this country. And it's nice to see some respect. I think that one would have guessed it would have been the Democratic candidates that would be expressing that respect rather than denigrating working people. That's got to be a very powerful symbol for the McCain campaign if they can be effective in using it. Don't you agree?

HENRY: It could. Obviously, I mean, we're seeing now all of a sudden, guys showing up with plumber wrenches at McCain campaign events across the country trying to say, look the Democrats are beating up on plumbers, they're beating up on working people. Democrats, obviously, reject that and say that they are...

DOBBS: Yeah, but they reject it but they keep beating up on it -- beating up on the guy. They can reject it all day long.

HENRY: Joe Biden has certainly hit ""Joe the plumber"" pretty hard.

DOBBS: Joe the six-term senator, I think they call him. Isn't that what McCain referred to him? Anyway, thanks very much, Ed Henry, appreciate it.

After a week of denials, Congressman Tim Mahoney of Florida now admits to having had not one, but multiple extra marital affairs and insists, however, that no laws were broken. His admission comes after ABC News revealed Mahoney paid his former mistress and campaign staffer more than $120,000 in hush money. Mahoney represents Florida's 16th Congressional District, no stranger to scandal. Mahoney succeed Congressman Mark Foley who resigned in another sex scandal that is sending text messages to pages. Sean Callebs is live in Miami and brings us up to date with all of the sordid, seamy, senseless details -- Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Senseless indeed. Mahoney is out doing what he can trying to do damage control, gave a couple of interviews today and, as you may imagine, was reduced to tears on at least one occasion. This after admitting to a couple of affairs since 2006, that is when he won election to the U.S. Congress. And as Lou just mentioned, if you haven't heard of Mahoney until now you probably heard of his predecessor, Mark Foley, who resigned in disgrace after sending those lurid and lewd e-mails to teenage page boys who were working at Congress at the time.

Now, Mahoney said he had a number of affairs during his marriage, but two dating back to 2006, including one with Patricia Allen. He met her while he was running back in 2006, she became a staffer. He fired here. Then she complained and he said that she worked at his pleasure. Those are his words. And then today, basically falling on the sword, this is what he had to say to WTTV in tears as he talked about what this is doing to his family.


REP TIM MAHONEY (D), FLORIDA: God bless him. I mean, you know, you know, they're unbelievable. I mean, I've got a 22-year-old and -- sending me an e-mail with the "Daily Show" and seeing her dad. It's a very hard thing to do. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CALLEBS: Now, Republicans down here have asked -- basically saying that Mahoney should pull out of the race. He says he is not going to do it. And Lou, he is asking his constituents to vote on the work that he has done for them, not on his personal life -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, I don't quite -- I'm not sure I quite understand why the Republicans want him to drop out of the race. I would think they'd want him to stay in the race, demonstrating and revealing himself as he has to be a man of some question when it comes to character. Have we got any sense of how that race is going? Is he receiving somehow support for his re-election?

CALLEBS: Well, I think basically, a long time ago, Senator Byrd from West Virginia told me there were two ways to run -- unopposed or scared and I think the Republicans would like to see the unopposed come out in this. Certainly he has some support down in here, but of course this has all blown up somewhat recently. But right now, it is a very, very, very tight race down here. His opponent, Tom Rooney, certainly stands to benefit fro all this, first saying, no I didn't have an affair, now yes I did and now the FBI is investigating, was there hush money paid to Ms. Allen to keep her from going public on all of this? And the House Ethics Committee says it may very well look at this, as well.

Sean, thank you, as always, for your outstanding reporting. Sean Callebs.

And tonight, another Congressman in trouble, as we reported, a Republican from New York. Congressman Vito Fossella has just been convicted of drunken driving. The congressman was convicted in an Alexandria, Virginia, district court just moments ago. Fossella saying nothing to reporters who were waiting outside the court. The Republican Congressman from Staten Island, will be sentenced on the 8th of December and he could face a five-day jail sentence.

The Congressman was arrested in suburban Virginia back on the 1st of May after spending the afternoon at the White House celebrating the New York Giants Super Bowl victory. His arrest led to revelations that the married Congressman had a 3-year-old child with another woman who lives in Virginia. The Congressman is not seeking re-election.

Well, Senator Ted Stevens took the stand today in his corruption trial. The senator arrived in court this morning. He was questioned by a federal prosecutor about his relationship with a businessman, Bill Allen. Allen provided gifts and thousands of dollars in free work on the senator's home in Alaska. Senator Stevens has denied he lied about those gifts on his senate disclosure form. The senator insisting he and his wife paid all the bills given to them. Stevens claims he didn't know that Allen did more work than what had been billed.

Up next here, the high court's ruling on voter registration fraud, its impact on the state of Ohio and this presidential election. And the Obama camp and the liberal media, they're going after ""Joe the plumber"," relentlessly. How is this playing with middleclass voters, Independent voters as we approach Election Day? I'll be joined by three of the best political analysts in the country. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the best political minds in the country, all CNN contributors, Republican strategist, Ed Rollins. Ed also serving as White House political director under president Reagan, most recently chairing Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the "New York Daily News," columnist, Michael Goodwin. And Democratic strategist, Democratic national committeeman, Robert Zimmerman.

Let's turn to, first, what is going on with ""Joe the plumber"?" Why is Joe Biden, Barack Obama, who should be champions of working men and women in this country, they are attacking him mercilessly.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's obnoxious and there's no rational, especially when you look at their records and what they're running on. I think "Joe the plumber" was -- I think both parties in the debate really overused the -- overused the message and the point is...

DOBBS: Why, because they brought it up 26 times?


ZIMMERMAN: ...The caricature -- and I think it was a bit disrespectful from both sides. But, I think realistically, now, I think Biden and for Obama to show anything but respect for this man is wrong. He should be respected and certainly their message is a message that should be reaching him.

DOBBS: Absolutely. Don't you agree?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Yeah. And I also think it's the first real opening McCain has had for a while to get back into the economic conversation. He wasted the better part of the month, while the market was melting down, he was talking mostly about Bill Ayres. And I think this is the first time he's had a real economic issue to get back toto the table on and I think it could work for him.

You know, I -- Ed, what do you think?

ED ROLLIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, since "Joe the plumber" voted for Mike Huckabee, my candidate in Ohio, I'm very happy to have him front and center. You know, I think it is a critical issue here, and I think it is about the working people and the idea that you tax rich people and that's going to benefit working people is absurd. The bottom line is you got to get the economy going and anybody who wants to raise taxes in this economy is going to hurt everybody. And the people at the bottom usually get hurt the worst.

DOBBS: I would just pause at this possibility, that this has given McCain not only an opening into the economy to have a meaningful opportunity to state his position, which he's begun doing, but it also, it is, if you will, is a two-for. It also gives him an opening to Bill Ayres. Because we've watched the national media surround this man's home in Holland, Ohio, surround his home, 20 satellite trucks, reporters all over him, the national liberal media. I mean, what was flying through the blogosphere is disgusting as well as what's happening on the late night talk shows. This man has been under assault.

How many times have you seen videotape of Bill Ayer's home. How many satellite trucks have been ringing his home? And, I mean, it really does raise into, to my opinion, into stark relief a difference in attitude of a serious bias on the part of the national media.

ROLLINS: The purpose is not to get more information, the purpose is to humiliate this man.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

ROLLINS: They want to get him out there and have him ramble on what he thinks and that's totally unfair. What he thinks is he get up everyday and goes to work, takes care of his child.

DOBBS: Let me raise my hand right here. You used the word "ramble on." That may have been their intent. I have not heard Joe Wurzelbacher say anything other than succinct, straightforward statements that are highly intelligent and completely thought out. I mean, without exception.

GOODWIN: I mean, and the whole thing was fascinating, too, of course, the question to Obama is the simplest most direct question. You're going to raise my taxes, aren't you? Having -- that thing has been out there, no journalist, and spread the wealth is the answer he gets back. I mean, that's the exchange of the entire campaign, all the debates, all the journalists, everything, that's the exchange of the campaign so far.

DOBBS: And the campaign, right now, is so -- the Obama campaign is significantly ahead in every battleground state, 10 states that were run by George Bush in 2004 are now either in the Obama camp leaning to Obama. I mean, that's got to be exhilarating for the Democrats and for, obviously, the Obama campaign.

ZIMMERMAN: Look. At this stage, it's encouraging but nothing -- nothing's to be exhilarated about until Election Day. But the point here is, what's really driving this momentum is the economic issues and the economic crisis our nation is facing. And it's important now for Barack Obama and Joe Biden to be able to take the concerns that Americans feel, the fears they have and galvanize, mobilize the country around their message.

"Joe the plumber" has become a symbol of the frustration, but I think you see a lot of media attention around it because of the great economic concerns that the country has. And ultimately they have to show their economic record can best reach and help them. John McCain had an opening in that debate and used it well on taxes. But, I think ultimately, the record of his tax proposal, which is to continue, very frankly, and he said it very clearly, to make permanent the Bush tax cuts is not a policy that really is going to help "Joe the plumber" or working men and women in this country.

DOBBS: Well, that isn't what he said to "Joe the plumber," though, is it? I mean, that's the .problem/


DOBBS: No, no Barack Obama. His tax policies are to raise taxes and it's an interesting differentiate -- I mean, we've gone through how long of this general election? We're down to the final three weeks and finally somebody says Obama is going to raise taxes, McCain isn't. That message finally comes out. It took "Joe the plumber" to straighten John McCain out for crying out loud.

ROLLINS: Which is very, very important -- $2.2 trillion is what the federal government is now committed to Wall Street and the banks. What's going to get committed to ordinary guys like Joe and my dad "Ed the electrician" and others, the working people?

ZIMMERMAN: And what is Joe's future going to be...

ROLLINS: His future is going to be diminished if you take 50 percent from people who basically produce and have influence and can hire plumbers. You tell me how many of your neighbors can hire plumbers and electricians...

ZIMMERMAN: What future will our economy have if we continue to blow even a bigger deficit with realistically continuing the Bush tax cut policies which do not benefit anyone but the top tier earners? And that's -- we're live with the results of that policy now, Ed.

GOODWIN: But, the issue with "Joe the plumber" is not about the deficit. But Obama's answer to him, I think is what this campaign is now spinning around. And the -- that Obama wants to spread the wealth around. When you say that to a working man, I mean, you are saying, get your hand out of my pocket because that's my money and you're going to give it to somebody else.

ZIMMERMAN: I've seen the politics here and Barack Obama has to get his message back on track. I think he can. I think his message is more responsive to the middleclass of this country. That's what this campaign is going to demonstrate.

DOBBS: Well, as you look at what's going to be demonstrated, one thing that's being demonstrated right now is that the Yahoo! poll is showing a deficit of two points for McCain. They now have a two-point spread for the second day in a row. The Gallup tracking poll of most likely voters shows a two-point spread, once again. When you look at -- being outspent in northern Virginia by zillions of dollars, whatever the ratio is, it's about 1,300 to eight -- 3-1 nationally, at least, and 16-1 in Florida and there's a two-point differential. What in the world is that?

ROLLINS: You know, the only issue -- you can't take one poll, you got to take it all the way across. And what Gallup has done is using likely voters from 2004 are the new likely voters and the margin there is larger. And I'm...

DOBBS: We're going to come back to that explanation, if we can, because you're making a very important point, as usual, and we want to fully understand it.

Let me turn quickly to the top of the hour and Campbell Brown, Campbell what's are you working on?

CAMPBELL BROWN, NO BIAS, NO BULL: Well tonight, Lou, Governor Sarah Palin trying to explain what she meant when she told a crowd she enjoys visiting pro-America parts of this country. That prompted a pretty strong reaction from her counterpart, Senator Joe Biden, this afternoon. We'll let you hear what she said and decide for yourself, what she meant, no bias, no bull.

Also, a couple of hours ago, a Friday night release from the McCain campaign, Cindy McCain's tax returns. We are digging through them. We're going to have details for you on that.

We're also going to study the temperament of both or our would-be presidents. It's been important in history, we'll tell you what that may mean for you as you decide who you're going to support -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, very much. And we're still waiting on Teresa Heinz's returns, but we'll get to that in a little while.

CAMPBELL: Don't hold your breath on that one, Lou.

DOBBS: You got it.

Please, a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Friday for the LOU DOBBS SHOW. Monday my guests include Amity Shlaes, who is here to discuss her article: "Ronald Reagan returns in the form of Joe the plumber," yes, "Joe the plumber," go to and find the local listings in your area for the LOU DOBBS SHOW.

We'll have much more with our panel coming up tonight. Stay with us, we're coming right back.


DOBBS: We're back with Ed Rollins, Michael Goodwin and Robert Zimmerman.

Robert, the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Democratic secretary of state, Jennifer Brunner, in Ohio, saying she doesn't have to match up state records -- with the 666,000 new registrations this year, even though she is the one who acknowledges that there are irregularities and fault with just about a third of them. What do you make of the, first, the decision and secondly, the impact?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, the decision is very troubling to me and I know I disagree with many of my friends in the Democratic community, I disagree with the Obama campaign, because realistically, the court -- first of all, side stepped the issue by saying the Republican Party didn't have standing to make the case. And that was troublesome by itself. But the bottom line here is, it's responsibility of every secretary of state to willingly, and in fact it should be their responsibility, to make sure that those who register properly and in fact, those who are allowed to vote lawfully.

GOODWIN: It's a strange situation because she's got the information that the counties need, but now she doesn't have to turn it over to them or help them make the matches of the mismatches. It doesn't make any sense on its face. I think for Obama this is the kind of thing where he's got to be careful. I think he should distance himself from any of these kinds of irregularities, because it will taint anything that happens there.

ROLLINS: People forget that in 2004 they talk about the 60,000 vote shift in Ohio making the difference in the election. A shift of 18,000 votes in three states would have thrown them into the House of Representatives that last time. It would have been tied at 269-269 and these are like 3,000, 5,000 and 7,000 votes. Every vote matters and so you have to make sure the people who are voting are voting where they say they live and their impact matters.

ZIMMERMAN: And you know something? To Michael's point, every Democrat and every Republican should be demanding that the secretary of state insure that only those who are lawfully and legally registered are able to vote. It should really be a national movement to keep an eye on this.

DOBBS: And the other part of this, we have a situation here with ACORN, in which, it's under federal investigation, state investigation, and local authorities, as well, investigating in 13 states, now. This is a pattern. It is not only a pattern in the number of states and number of instances and in the number of registrations, but the number of years of which its been going on and yet, there is this sort of benign negligent and indifference to what they're doing and federal taxpayer dollars are being spent on a...

GOODWIN: I was going to say, they get a lot of money.

DOBBS: And why? Why is this being permitted?

GOODWIN: Well, don't forget in the first go-around of the House bill on the bailout, ACORN was in there. ACORN was going to get a share of any profits for its community organization.

DOBBS: And they didn't -- in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they are still in that part of it, not in the bailout. Incredible. Michael Goodwin, thank you very much. Ed Rollins, thank you, sir. Thank you very much, Robert Zimmerman, appreciate it.

Up next, "Heroes," our tribute to the brave men and women who serve this nation in uniform. Tonight, we bring you the story of one

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) In "Heroes" tonight, we honor Marine Captain Edward Smid. Captain Smid, he was awarded a Bronze Star with valor for leading his platoon into Fallujah in 2004. Philippa Holland has his story.


PHILIPPA HOLLAND, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Captain Edward Smith joined the Marines as a reservist after high school, enrolled in officer candidate school, became a platoon commander and deployed twice to Iraq.

CPTN EDWARD SMID, U.S. MARINES: This is Captain Smid.

HOLLAND: As an operation officer for a Marine recruiting station in Indianapolis, Captain Smid has come full circle in his career and he sees many of the same qualities in the new volunteer that is drew him to the core.

SMID: The young men and women who are enlisting today know what's going on in the world. You know, I see so many of these kids come through and they're all very excited that they're doing something positive with their lives. That's what I was looking for and I wanted to be able to put on that uniform and carry myself like the Marines that I saw and be able to claim that title for myself.

HOLLAND: The way in which Captain Smid carries himself as a Marine led to a Bronze Star with valor. Smid received the award in 2004 after leading a platoon deep into Fallujah where they destroyed insurgent positions and seized key terrain.

SMID: Unfortunately in the military it's hard to recognize everyone and sometimes it's just the leader of the group who may get the recognition. You know, I was just very fortunate to work with such a tremendous group of young men every single one of them diminished themselves at one time.

HOLLAND: Captain Smid's hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, also recognizes him as a Hero. He's the first to be honored locally in a national ad campaign called "Hometown Hero."

SMID: It just kind of popped up a couple of weeks ago. My dad had no clue, I surprised the hell out of him, because it's right by his house.

HOLLAND: As much as Captain Smid attributes his success to the men he led, he's quick to thank another support group.

SMID: On behalf of all the military who's been overseas I would like to say thank you to the military families that stay back here to support us. Without that support we couldn't do the job that we do.

HOLLAND: Philippa Holland, CNN.


DOBBS: Well, turning to our poll, two-thirds find it interesting that the national media surrounded "Joe the plumber's" house and they should put a satellite truck in front of Bill Ayres house. Thanks for being with us tonight. Campbell Brown, NO BIAS, NO BULL starts right now -- Campbell.