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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Obama's Transition; Pelosi's Agenda; Shift of Power
Aired November 05, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you. Tonight, President- elect Obama prepares for a historic shift of power in Washington. His first staff appointment imminent. We'll have complete coverage.
And tonight House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is already trying to shape the agenda of the upcoming administration. We'll tell you what one party rule means for this country.
And tonight, liberal special interest groups and lobbyists fighting to push Obama policies to the left. We'll examine those issues with some of the top political analysts in the country and they'll tell us what we can expect. All of that, all the day's news and much more from an independent perspective straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and opinion for Wednesday, November 5th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. President-elect Obama tonight selecting a team of top advisers to help him tackle the tremendous challenges that face this nation. CNN has learned that Senator Obama has asked former Bill Clinton adviser Congressman Rahm Emanuel to be his White House chief of staff. Obama also working to fill key economic and national security positions as quickly as possible.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today declared the election of Barack Obama is a clear message that Americans want change. Republicans say Pelosi is pushing a left wing socialist agenda already. We have extensive coverage tonight and we begin with Jessica Yellin who is with the president-elect in Chicago.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a political victory, but also a night for history.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
YELLIN: His first decision? Chief of staff. Expected to take the job is Rahm Emanuel. He's a Chicago Congressman, one-time investment banker and former Clinton White House staffer known for his brash manner and political savvy. Obama insiders say he's an ideal pick because he knows Wall Street, the White House, and can help reign in Congressional Democrats.
With pressure on so many fronts, Iraq, the economy, international relations, Obama is expected to unveil his key cabinet choices earlier than in past administrations. Work is already well under way in choosing candidates for state, defense and treasury. From supporters, high expectations for this man. In the crowd last night, a sense of urgency to bring change fast. He's asking for patience.
OBAMA: Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.
YELLIN: Lou, CNN has learned that Barack Obama is going to spend much of the next few weeks here in Chicago. But his transition team and staff are going to be hard at work in Washington, D.C. That city is already abuzz with talk of who his first picks will be. The names in circulation include members of the Senate, Wall Street titans, and even some members of the former Clinton White House -- Lou.
DOBBS: All right, Jessica. Thank you very much. Jessica Yellin.
In the Congressional elections there remain four Senate races still too close to call tonight. In Minnesota, Republican Senator Norm Coleman has declared victory in his re-election bid over Democrat and former comedian Al Franken. Franken is not conceding. He has demanded a recount. Fewer than 500 votes separate the two candidates.
In Georgia there will be a runoff election to be held on December 2nd between Republican senator and incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin. Right now Senator Chambliss leads with 50 percent of the vote but does not have enough of a vote to avoid a runoff.
In Oregon Republican Senator Gordon Smith and Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley are tied at 47 percent each. State officials are still counting mail-in ballots. Absentee ballots still being counted in Alaska for Senator Ted Stevens after being convicted has a slim lead over Mark Begich.
Stevens convicted on federal corruption charges, rejecting calls to resign by both his party leadership and Democratic Party leadership. The Senate may hold a vote on whether or not to expel Senator Stevens. The last time the Senate expelled a member, by the way, was back in 1962 when Senator Jesse Bright (ph), 1862, faced charges of disloyalty during the Civil War.
Tonight, the balance of power in the Senate is 56 seats for the Democrats, 40 seats for the Republicans. If the Democrats win these final four races, of course, they would reach their filibuster proof majority of 60 seats. That is considered unlikely.
In the House of Representatives, there are eight races tonight that are still too close to call. The Democrats have 254 seats. The Republicans 173.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today declaring voters have called loudly and clearly for a new direction for this country. The speaker and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tonight appeared determined to impose a liberal agenda on the president-elect and the American people. Lisa Sylvester has our report from Washington.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Day after the election and Republicans have a political hang over. The White House changing hands and Democrats solidifying their hold on the House and Senate.
MIKE DUNCAN, RNC CHAIRMAN: I woke up this morning feeling like Lincoln's young boy who stubbed his toe. Some of you know this story. It hurts too bad to laugh and I'm too big to cry. I think some of you felt that way before.
SYLVESTER: The Democratic pickup of at least five more Senate seats and at least 20 House seats will make it harder for Republicans to use filibusters to stop legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democratic bills, some that were blocked by either a filibuster or a veto threat, will make a comeback. Some of those issues included extending unemployment insurance, expanding health care for children, stem cell research, immigration reform, and pulling troops out of Iraq.
NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our increased numbers in the House better enable us to work closely with our new president for a vision for America and plan to succeed, again, as we unify the American people.
SYLVESTER: But that doesn't mean that Pelosi and the Democrats will have free reign. First there are moderate Democrats like Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who don't always fall in line behind their party leaders.
JENNIFER DUFFY, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: I mean these are senators who vote with their party maybe a little more than 50 percent of the time. And so it's going to be hard for the more liberal elements of the caucus to hijack the party.
SYLVESTER: And there's history. When President Bill Clinton took office Democrats also controlled Capitol Hill. But Clinton's liberal agenda didn't get far off the ground.
JIM THURBER, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: And he pushed health care reform so hard that there was a little reaction to it and he lost the House and the Senate for the next six years.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SYLVESTER: Democrats remember what happened. And so do Republicans. The take away lesson from that is if you want to hold on to the House and the Senate in the next election, govern not at the extremes, but somewhere in the middle. Lou?
DOBBS: A lesson that obviously eluded the Republicans fresh from their history lesson courtesy of the Democrats. Thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
Joining me now on this historic shift of power in Washington, three of the best political analysts, CNN contributors all. Republican strategist Ed Rollins serving as White House political director under President Reagan, chairman of Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, "New York Daily News" Michael Goodwin, Democratic strategist and national committeeman Robert Zimmerman. Good to have you all with us.
Let's begin appropriately, Robert, with you. We're seeing some new numbers sort of float out here saying maybe this -- this was a little less than many people expected in way of both turnout and margin for Senator Obama.
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well actually the fact that Senator Obama received 52 percent makes him the first Democrat since Jimmy Carter, 1976, to get over 50 percent, so that by itself is profoundly significant. Carter I think got 50.1.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
ZIMMERMAN: And while the margin itself may be comparable to 2004, which was pretty high, what really I think distinguishes last night and makes it significant not just as a Democrat but for the country are the number of new voters who participated. Roughly 11 to 12 percent.
DOBBS: This is not the time for you to shed your party affiliation.
ZIMMERMAN: I'm not shedding -- boy, talk about a buzz kill on this panel. I'll tell you. No, but it's something all Americans can be proud of. The number of volunteers. The level of excitement.
DOBBS: No, I couldn't agree with you more. I think it's a terrific occasion. And congratulations to you, the Democratic Party, and of course to Senator Obama. Your thoughts, Michael?
MICHAEL GOODWIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well obviously it is a historic and an amazing night for the country. That I think does make the country look better in the eyes of the world. However, here at home there's a lot of work to do. And some of the numbers from last night, I think, take some of the giddiness out of the air.
DOBBS: Yeah, I have to tell you straightforwardly, watching Barack Obama, his beautiful family up on that stage, I'm thinking, you know, there were a couple of moments where he looked a little -- just a little pensive more than celebratory.
GOODWIN: Yeah. Yeah.
DOBBS: And I'm thinking you know this man should be able to enjoy this moment. I don't think he's going to be able to enjoy it very long because of the challenges and I think, by the way, the man has aged over the course, particularly since the beginning of this year. And you know what faces him. He is going to be called upon to face immense, immense hurdles and overcome them.
GOODWIN: But you know, Lou, I think one of the things we saw last night, on that speech last night, which I also thought was in some ways -- there was a kind of somber joy if that's an appropriate way to put it. I thought it was sort of beautifully staged. And I think the Obama people throughout this campaign have really been very good at creating the stage craft. And I think that will help them going forward. I think they know how to do those things and they showed it last night...
DOBBS: Stage craft or not here, I think the man was being -- you know maybe -- you know I'm a fairly skeptical journalist. Independent populous, no dog in the hunt, all of that. But I got the feeling the man was being sincere when he said he was going to be president of all the people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
DOBBS: Let's hope that...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has to be a humbling moment to recognize...
ED ROLLINS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Historically no president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has ever inherited the mess that he has. He's fighting on two fronts. He's got an economic crisis that nobody knows the bottom line to. He's got a $10 trillion deficit in the budget. The trillion -- half a trillion dollars a year right today that may be a trillion by the time he sees the real figures.
What he does have though is he has a tremendous victory in which the country over time will feel good about him. Equally as important, the 56 million people who voted for McCain, they're not really McCain people, per se. They are -- many of them are people who voted against him, so he can over time make people feel better about himself.
The critical thing here is there's no longer a Republican Party. The Republican Party has been crushed. Those House numbers, I've been through this process four times when we've got to that kind of number. Watergate, when Bush broke the tax pledge, what have you. The difference this time is 50 of those seats they won in the last two elections were withdrawn for Republicans to be safe seats. There's no place we can get them back.
DOBBS: All right. By the way, there are not a lot of people right now, I will tell you, I think worrying whether or not the Republican Party is crushed. Because the Republican Party in part, and I'm expressing my personal opinion here, only my opinion. The Republican Party is responsible for what has been transgressions against the trust of governance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
DOBBS: And I don't think that there's any empathy for the Republican Party, per se, broadly speaking, for that very reason.
ZIMMERMAN: Nor is there any empathy for the partisanship we've witnessed over the past eight years from both parties. And I think what defined Obama's campaign was the ability to reshape the map or reach out to new constituencies and last night when he spoke about reaching out to Republicans and asking for their support.
ZIMMERMAN: And we need to work with them. That was a very significant sign in terms of the potential (INAUDIBLE) administration.
DOBBS: And we are going to be right back with our panel who will be with us throughout this broadcast.
Also ahead, a showdown on Capitol Hill over a new proposed stimulus package that would cost taxpayers as much as $100 billion, perhaps 300. We'll have that report.
And some surprising results and ballot initiatives on gay marriage. An issue that many say is simply a distraction from more substantive and important challenges facing this nation. We'll have that report and some -- we'll reveal some surprising internal truths about those votes. You may be surprised at some of the opposition to gay marriage in this country. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Well voters decided on more than 150 different ballot initiatives in 33 states yesterday. More new evidence that voters are, in fact, tired of waiting for elected officials to take action. Casey Wian has our report tonight on some of the most surprising results.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California's proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage that faced organized opposition by the state's political media and entertainment elite is leading by about five percent. In preliminary results after a record $73 million initiative battle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe in the family and that children need a mom and a dad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIAN: That view also prevalent in Florida and Arizona which approved gay marriage bans and Arkansas which voted to prohibit adoptions by unmarried couples, both same sex and opposite sex. Voters rejected a measure to restrict abortions in South Dakota; a parental notification measure is leading in California where votes are still being counted. And A Colorado initiative that would have outlawed abortion by defining a fertilized egg as a person was defeated.
GOV. BILL RITTER (D), COLORADO: This amendment takes an extreme position. It goes way too far. It threatens medical care. And it would create a legal nightmare in our state.
WIAN: The Colorado measure to end affirmative action in the state is still too close to call. Voters approved Nebraska's affirmative action ban. Michigan became the 13th state to approve medical marijuana use. Massachusetts voted to decriminalize small quantities.
Egg laying hens, pregnant pigs and field calves on farms in California now have the right to more space. Arizona voters provided a reminder that free election polls and pundits can be stunningly wrong. Proposition 202 was named the stop illegal hiring act.
Deceptively so said opponents. It would have gutted an existing Arizona law penalizing employers of illegal aliens. A month ago pollsters had 202 ahead by a 63-19 margin with 18 percent undecided. But on Election Day it lost by 59 to 41 percent, even though business interests who supported the measure outspent opponents 20 to one.
ANDREW THOMAS, MARICOPA COUNTY ATTORNEY: Any time you upset the apple cart you're going to have special interests come out of the wood work to try to stop you.
WIAN: In California, however, proposition 6 was defeated. Among other things it would have denied bail to illegal aliens charged with violent or gang-related felonies.
WIAN: And not every ballot initiative dealt with such serious issues, especially here in California. For example, a San Francisco City measure would have named a sewage treatment plant after President Bush was soundly defeated. Apparently voters were not swayed by the official ballot argument submitted by supporters. It was in haiku. Lou?
DOBBS: Well and why not. And of course, the effort to legalize prostitution in San Francisco, I can't remember Mayor Gavin Newsom's position on that. But it also went down, defeated, a couple of other propositions there in northern California. California is still a trend setter. And Casey, as always, thank you very much. Well joining me now, Ed Rollins, Michael Goodwin and Robert Zimmerman, again. Gentlemen, let's turn to the issue of the -- of Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff for Barack Obama, that offer extended, Congressman Emanuel accepting. Your thoughts, Robert?
ZIMMERMAN: Look, he's proven to be a brilliant strategist. He's got great credibility on the Hill, which is absolutely essential for a chief of staff. And he also has the ability to strategize and also know when to say no, so I think it will be a very effective choice if that's in fact who President Obama chooses to choose -- President- elect Obama selects.
DOBBS: We're getting used to that president-elect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
GOODWIN: Well, look, Rahm Emanuel is known as a tough guy and doesn't, in fact may enjoy saying no, so he may be the bad cop to Obama's good cop mentality and easy going manner, so we'll see if that's the role that he's chosen to play.
ROLLINS: He's been in the White House which is very important. He was a policy guy for Clinton. He's a tremendous fundraiser. He trained under Tony Cuelho, the legendary congressional leader from California. He knows his politics. And the most important thing he's a very, very close ally of the president-elect and that's what's really important.
DOBBS: As they say, he will have the president's back. All right. Thank you very much. We'll be back with our panel. More analysis ahead.
And Governor Palin, she's on her way back to Alaska. Will she stay there for long? We'll be examining those prospects.
And our struggling middle class may finally receive some help from the federal government if Congress can deliver on a promise. That's always a very big if. We'll have that story and a great deal more. We'll be right back. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Well investors apparently anxious about how President- elect Obama will be dealing with our economic crisis and concerns about new job cuts. All of that combining to send stocks plummeting today. The Dow Jones industrials down 486 points, closing at 9139. The Nasdaq index down almost 100 points. The S&P 500 lost 53 points, closing at 952.
The government already has spent hundred of billions of dollars bailing out Wall Street. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic-led Congress are now pushing for a second economic stimulus package. The package aimed at helping state and local agencies they say and as Louise Schiavone now reports, the Democrats want that plan passed before the new president takes office.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrats will have a stronger majority next year, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says this Congress has more work to do. Principally, a second economic stimulus bill.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm in communication with the White House about such a stimulus package to grow our economy by creating jobs, to do it in a newer, greener way.
SCHIAVONE: A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tells CNN that Senate Democrats are on board with the speaker for a second stimulus package that would extend unemployment insurance, increase food stamp funding, expand funds for the low-income home heating assistance program, and help strapped Americans in peril of losing their homes. Late last week the next president went on record with CNN in support of a second stimulus bill.
OBAMA: I think we are going to need a second stimulus. One of my commitments is to make sure that that stimulus includes a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans.
SCHIAVONE: But the question is, will the current president support a Democratic bill? A White House spokesman tells CNN, quote, "we haven't seen a stimulus package from the Democrats, and it's not at all clear that they have a plan", end quote.
House Republican leader John Boehner told us that the GOP is eager to respond to economic troubles with a meaningful approach, but, quote, "not hundreds of billions in new government spending, masquerading as economic stimulus", end quote. The Republican leader wants any stimulus to include tax incentives such as more money for child tax credits and a capital gains tax reduction to allow Americans to rebuild their 401(k) retirement funds. It all adds up, says this former Bush administration economist.
J.D. FOSTER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Senator Obama, President-elect Obama now has a very long list of expensive programs he wants to put through. I think he's going to find that the size of the deficit and the weakness in the economy are going to be very limiting.
SCHIAVONE: Lou, the expectation is that the 110th Congress will return for a lame duck session in a little less than two weeks when new members show up for orientation and both parties select leaders. But it's not clear that members will be able to accomplish much more than that -- Lou?
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Louise. Louise Schiavone.
Well, millions of first-time voters are going to the polls and an extraordinary number of them voting for Barack Obama, of course. About 70 percent of those first-time voters. And that includes naturalized citizens who have the privilege of voting for the first time.
Eight-time NBA all-star Dikembe Muttombo yesterday voted for the first time in his life. Muttombo became a naturalized American citizen in 2006. He was born in the war torn Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire. Muttombo played basketball for Georgetown University of course and in the NBA, most recently for the Houston Rockets.
Deke, as his teammates call him, talked to us about how it felt to vote for a presidential candidate, a candidate with whom he shares African roots and his experience voting for the very first time as an American in this historic election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIKEMBE MUTTOMBO, FIRST TIME VOTER: I came to this country for -- almost 22 years ago and went to school here. And after playing the game almost for 18 years. And I'm feeling very good that I went to the booth to vote. And I was very happy for the fact that I'm the first to vote in my family, in the Muttombo family, so we're so happy.
It's like we're hoping the door. I've been from Congo when I was growing up on the (INAUDIBLE) regime. There was no chance and opportunity for nobody to ever have an election or to participate in any sort of the election. I tell you the truth. This is the first time I ever voted in my life you know and never been a chance been given to me in my lifetime. Senator Obama, his father was from Africa. The son of another immigrant get a chance and opportunity to be appointed by the American people (INAUDIBLE). It's amazing.
OBAMA: If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible...
MUTTOMBO: I would say to my children that don't think that because daddy (INAUDIBLE) Congo that you can one day become and you are the president of the United States of America (INAUDIBLE) senator. I'm so happy. I'm glad to be an American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Muttombo said he was in line for two and a half hours to cast his first ballot. He hopes to return to the court this season and finish his career with the Houston Rockets before retiring from the NBA. Quite a day for millions of Americans.
Up next, liberal special interest groups and lobbyists, they'll have a powerful influence, they say, on this new Obama administration. We'll see about that. We'll tell you what that could mean for Obama's legislative agenda and for the leadership of Congress.
New details tonight of how different groups of voters cast their ballots in this election. We'll have all of the latest exit poll data and a great deal more coming up next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Well, the economic crisis record turn out among African- Americans, new voters, all part of last night's historic win for President-Elect Obama. Bill Schneider joins me now and has the breakdown of last night's historic vote.
Bill, how did race and age factor into the election?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have it all right here on our magic board. These blue groups are the ones that voted for Obama. From the most pro-Obama with African-Americans at the top to the ones most closely divided. And the red groups voted for John McCain. Most for Obama, African-American voters. Look at that. Almost unanimous, 95 percent for Obama. But his vote interestingly cut a cross a lot of racial categories.
There was a debate would Latino voters support an African- American candidate. Two-thirds of them did. McCain did almost ten points worse among Latinos than George Bush four years ago.
Whites are an interesting category. White voters did not vote for Obama. They voted for McCain. Obama got 43 percent of the white vote. But that is better than most previous Democrats have done. Better than Al Gore, a little bit. Better than John Kerry. Better than Mondale, better than Dukakis, about as well as Bill Clinton did in 1996. No evidence that white voters voted against Barack Obama in extraordinary numbers.
You also asked about age. Let's start with new voters. People voting for the first time you talked to them before, heavily over two- thirds of new voters, first-time voters, voted for Barack Obama. Age; this was the new America. There's an Obama coalition calls itself the new America. Young people were its key constituency. Voters under 30 voted two-thirds for Barack Obama. Seniors were the one age group, 65 and older, that voted for John McCain. This is the old America. Lou?
DOBBS: And what about the economy, the so-called Bush legacy, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: OK. Let's take a look at that. We have those who disapproved of President Bush. That was 71 percent. Amazing. 71 percent of the voters disapproved of Bush. In the country as a whole, they voted two-thirds for Barack Obama. McCain managed to squeeze out 31 percent of those voters which was an achievement by presenting himself as an anti-Bush critic. But Obama clearly dominated that category.
Now the top issue as far as the voters were concerned, clearly the economy. 63 percent picked it. Iraq, that was the issue that dominated the '06 mid-term. Not this election. Terrorism. That was the issue that dominated the '04 election. Not this election, Lou. This was all about the economy.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Bill. Bill Schneider is going to join us here. We're going to continue this discussion. Joining me now, CNN contributor, New York Daily News communist, Errol Louis, CNN contributor, Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf and from the "Wall Street Journal," John Fund, great to have you here. To what -- to what degree can Senator Obama, Errol, credit the high turnout for his election?
ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: I don't think he could have pulled it off without that. If you look in the squeezers in the place where he expanded in map into North Carolina and Virginia, he's depending on high turnout. When you look at county maps, there's a handful of places in many of the states where he's getting really a high turnout. That's absolutely the story in Indiana. Without high turnout in Indianapolis and in Gary he would lose that state. This is really been all about mobilizing and energizing a select base of people. That was the story of how he won these unusual states for Democrats.
JOHN FUND, WALL STREET JOURNAL: The great untold story of this election is Barack Obama's background as a community organizer which he was very good at really served him well here. This is the first candidate I've ever seen who is as good a campaign manager as he was a candidate.
DOBBS: And Now, I guess he's moved from community organizer to nation organizer. Is that it?
FUND: Exactly right.
DOBBS: And Bill Schneider, to what degree do you think these folks who signed up in such large numbers, first-time voters, will stay involved in the process? The turnout was amazing. First that they registered in those numbers, and then actually showed up at the polls.
SCHNEIDER: They did show up at the polls, and they gave money. Look at all the money he collected in small amounts from these contributors. We've had this debate before. But I really think this was a political movement like the Ronald Reagan movement in 1980. This was not just a campaign. A campaign is something you support. A movement is something you believe in and belong to. They feel as if they belong to that just like the conservative movement.
DOBBS: And I owe you an apology because months and months ago you referred to the campaign during one of our discussions on this broadcast as a movement. And I absolutely -- that movement. I said it's a campaign. You said it's a movement. Mr. Schneider, you were right. It was a movement.
SCHNEIDER: And the evidence is movements are the kinds of things that can raise incredible amounts of money in small donations. Reagan did that and Obama did that.
DOBBS: Hank, this is a new -- has a new feel to it. It's a new coalition. What do you expect from it?
HANK SHEINKOPF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Higher participation levels. Higher participation of local levels in the next round of mid-term elections, number one. Number two, continuation of the use of small donor fund raising bases to organize around. And a continued social movement kind of context. What does that mean? It means as the people who participated get older, they're going to be less social movement conscious and more involved in more tangible, hard kinds of politics.
DOBBS: We've got now four senate races that are razor thin in particularly in the case of the comedian Al Franken and Republican incumbent Senator Norm Coleman. This looks like it's going to be the difference between whether there is a real filibuster proof senate or not. Your thoughts?
LOUIS: I don't think that the absolute number of 60 is the one to watch necessarily. There are a lot of moderate Republicans out there. There are people that Obama can make deals with, make appeals to. Same with Harry Reid. I don't know that they need every last vote in order to block filibusters. If they can allow and create a context for some of these moderates to be true to themselves and to find common ground on select issues, I think they'll be just fine with 56, 57.
FUND: Remember, there are Democratic moderates. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
DOBBS: My guess is Senator Landrieu says she got a whopping 52 percent she was supposed to be under threat. She pulled off a remarkable turn around.
SHEINKOPF: When dominance by one party what generally tends to happen is caucuses get created, split organizations. It's going to be very hard for the leadership to keep control and very hard for this president not to at some point not confront the congress, but move away from them to get things done.
DOBBS: That really is the issue. We're discussing everything from the first appointment by this new president-elect, that is Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff, to all of the speculation about his cabinet, the analysis of where all of his support came from. We're really talking about, will this be a president who, as he was charged in the campaign in rhetorical flourishes from the McCain campaign, be a socialist, a wealth -- what was the expression?
DOBBS: Wealth distributor. I was trying to think of what Governor Palin referred to him, the wealth spreader. Or will he be a moderate either for forces his own desires or circumstances, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: There's evidence in both directions. You can't really tell. He has pragmatic insights. But once in a while he comes out with ideas that sound pretty liberal, pretty left wing. We really can't make a competent prediction.
FUND: As a fair choice, Barack Obama is one tough customer. He comes out of part of the daily machine. His strategist was David Axelrod, daily strategist. Rahm Emanuel comes out of a rough and tumble political background. He was an enforcer for Tony Cuelho, the great fundraiser, shakedown artist of the Democratic Party. I think Barack Obama is going to be a great politician in office and he is going to be one tough guy.
SHEINKOPF: I agree with a lot of that assessment except for the attack on Tony. Why. Rahm Emanuel starts the case. He's one tough customer who gets things done.
LOUIS: I think what he's going to do the same thing that brought him to victory in the first place. Expand the map. Expand the policy map. Go to places people don't expect him to and have a broader way from here to there. People who expect him to follow -- they're going to be.
DOBBS: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Up next, an emotional Colin Powell praising Senator Obama as a president for all Americans. We'll have more on what the secretary of state said.
And organized labor giving big donations to the Democrats during this campaign, making big contributions to the outcome. What will be the payback? We'll have a special report and more. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Organized labor dominating the list of top contributors to the Democratic candidates in this election. A staggering 90 percent of labor union donations going to Democrats. One example of powerful special interest groups buying influence with the Democrats as they are expanding their power in Washington. Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Groups like the Swift Vote Veterans for Truth and Move On played much less of a role in this year's presidential election. The Center for Responsive Politics reports the political ads by special interest groups outside of the campaigns, 527, spent about $200 million this year compared to $442 million in 2004.
PROF. DAVID MAGLEBY, BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY: Both candidates McCain and Obama signaled very clearly they didn't want the outside groups to play in 2008. For a time, at least, I think the outside groups took that seriously.
TUCKER: It's not money wasn't spent on advertising. The campaign media analysis group which tracks political advertising estimates that about $750 million was spent on the presidential campaign alone. And that very little of that was 527 money.
EVAN TRACEY, CAMPAIGN MEDIA ANALYSIS GP.: To use the cooking analogy, in 2004 the 527s were an ingredient. In 2008 they were a spice. In many cases it was added too late to really impact the dish.
TUCKER: Then there was labor. Roughly $100 million was spent by labor pacts in their 527s. Less than 2004.
NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, LABOR HISTORIAN: Their main contribution is the mobilization of the people who are in the unions who are friends to unions. 2004 was a terrific mobilization by labor. This year was equal or greater.
TUCKER: Overwhelmingly labors' dollars and efforts went to the Democrats. Of the top 20 pacts contributing to Democrats, 18 were labor pacts according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
TUCKER: It is a classic versus labor -- labor versus capital split that appears to have made the National Chamber of Commerce maybe a little nervous. The group who had spent $30 million to field Obama put out a statement saying, Lou, they welcome the new administration and better relations with the Democrats.
DOBBS: So the Chamber of Commerce is being ecumenical. It's amazing how victory works. Labor trying to be a counterinfluence, all of that capital being spent by corporate America. Maybe there is a little shift going on here that would be perhaps beneficial for the economy and working men and women. Although I know the chamber of commerce would like to take primacy in that effort, of course.
TUCKER: Better relations while they do it.
DOBBS: Absolutely. Bill Tucker, thank you very much.
At the top of the hour, Campbell Brown, no bias, no bull.
Campbell, tell us about it.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to be taking a look at the last 24 hours. How Barack Obama won this election. Also, what the challenges he faces, just 76 days from now as he's sworn in, of course, at the 44th president of the United States. Also his top promises to you. We offer you our no bias, no bull pledge to keep the new administration accountable.
We're also going to spend some time looking at the full range of emotions last night. A lot of people saying that years from now you will be asking yourself, where were you the night Barack Obama became the first African-American elected president, that kind of moment.
Plus, is America a great country or what? Even a convicted felon can be reelected to the Senate of the United States. We're going to talk about Alaska, what's happening there, a race still too close to call. We shall see how it turns out. See you in a few minutes.
DOBBS: All right. And convicted comedian as well in the battle tonight.
BROWN: You're right. That one too close also.
DOBBS: All right. Thanks very much. Former secretary of state Colin Powell today praising Barack Obama as the president for all Americans. Powell a Republican endorsed Senator Obama's bid for the presidency last month. Powell was in Hong Kong as the election unfolded telling CNN's Hugh Riminton that Obama wanted to reach across racial, cultural and religious lines in America.
COLIN POWELL, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: He wanted to be a transformational figure to bridge the gap between generations. And I think that's what allowed him to win this election. So we're very, very proud to have a new American president who also happens to be an African-American. And as I watched it, as I watched finally one of the newscasters cut to the chase and say, he's won. It's over. Pretty moving moment.
HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was a tear.
POWELL: Everybody cried.
DOBBS: Former secretary of state also saying he's not looking for a position in the Obama cabinet. And the man who many people, including me, believes -- I think he could have been president back in 1996. And he tried to be. That would have been historic in its own right, of course. Up next, Senator Obama celebrating his victory and immediately focusing on the transition. We'll find out who's on the short list for Senator Obama's cabinet and his white house staff. I keep saying Senator Obama. I better get used to this, the president- elect's staff.
What's next for Governor Palin? We'll talk with three of the best and brightest political analysts again. Stay with us for all that and more. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Joining me again, Ed Rollins, Michael Goodwin and Robert Zimmerman. The turnout, it turns out not to have been quite what we thought it was yesterday. 120 million people at least with the count as of now of voting. 45 million of those voting early. Just a staggering number, of course, early. And absentee. A margin of 7.5 million. We only have to go back to 1996 and Bill Clinton won by a margin in 1996 of over 8 million. You go back to 1984 and almost 17 million, Ronald Reagan over Walter Mondale.
ROLLINS: That was a good election. I like that one.
DOBBS: You know, you seem to have brought a lot of -- lot to that bear hunt.
ROLLINS: I lost Minnesota for Reagan. He won 49 states.
ZIMMERMAN: Still contesting that vote.
ROLLINS: The only word of caution is sometimes these absentee ballots which are gigantic numbers take days to count. It's not like they all get counted. Having lived this kind of stuff, there may be another 4 million, 5 million votes out there that get added to the pile.
GOODWIN: I was going to say, right now the votes we do have counted really is roughly the same number who voted four years ago in the Bush/Kerry race. At that time about 120 million. And that was a record of number of votes. I think what's changed, of course, this time is the composition of the voters. Probably a lot of Republicans who were not enamored of McCain, the evangelical vote, but the younger people --
DOBBS: What happened to the evangelical vote this year?
ROLLINS: I'll tell you what happened to it. John McCain paid absolutely no attention to them. I had people telling me I'm voting from him because he's a lesser of two evil. I'm not putting a McCain bumper sticker on. He never went to the group. March 15th when he won the primary he never went to the group. He started reaching for independents who don't make up their mind until there's two choices and they didn't think he really believed in their cause until he named Palin.
ZIMMERMAN: I think also in addition to that and so many --
DOBBS: I should say, interrupt very quickly, independents did break for McCain here, though, in those final few days. Go ahead.
ZIMMERMAN: To follow up on Ed's point, what's also interesting is something a research survey showed that the evangelical vote was also motivated by different issues. They were being impacted by the environmental movement was galvanizing them, the health care crisis, the economy. I think we'll see a more significant vote from evangelicals for Democrats.
DOBBS: Just a quick statistic in terms of exit polling what it showed us, in 2004 Kerry/Bush, most -- most responding to what was motivating in that election, 22 percent, morality, moral values. This year, 62 percent saying the economy.
We'll be back with our panel in one moment. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: We're back with our panel. I want to turn first to Robert Zimmerman. Do you believe that, first, the president-elect wants to govern from the center. Do you believe he would be allowed to if that indeed is his desire?
ZIMMERMAN: First of all, when a president wins this kind of mandate as he has won, he will set the agenda for at least the first six months. He'll set the table. Not only does he want to govern from the center, strategically he has to keep Democrats behind him and popular support behind him. Also we'll see the notion of liberal or conservative, those old paradigms disappear from political dialogue today. They're not relevant.
ROLLINS: They just disappeared. Robert has basically taken the most liberal member of the senate saying he's going to be a centrist. So it's disappeared.
ZIMMERMAN: By the way, let's also remember this candidate -- this liberal member from the senate ran and was able to get support from a broad cross section of the electorate because he campaigned on Main Street.
DOBBS: That cross section of the electorate including importantly young voters and Latino voters as well.
GOODWIN: 2 to 1 for Obama, both of those groups. That's the future of American politics right there. That's the problem for Republicans.
I would also say that, Lou, quickly, the notion of the historically this is a center right country. In this election it was not a center right country. It was a center left country thanks to young voters and Latino voters and black voters who came out for Obama.
DOBBS: Ed Rollins, you get the last word here tonight.
ROLLINS: I think the Republican Party has a long ways to come back out of the wilderness. I've been with them in the wilderness before. I don't think the energy is there or brains are there to find an alternative. They may have to change their brand name, shoot the elephant, find a whole new drill to basically come forward again.
DOBBS: Maybe along with Robert Zimmerman's suggestion that liberal and conservative is no longer part of the paradigm you're suggesting the Republican Party may not be either?
ROLLINS: I think they have to rethink who they are. I mean they're going through this drill. Do the moderates lose it? Conservatives lose it? The truth of the matter is they don't know who lost it. They lost it themselves.
ZIMMERMAN: Part of the Bush legacy.
ROLLINS: Definitely the Bush legacy. Karl Rove wanted to realign the country. He did. Unfortunately it's the realignment of the Democrats.
DOBBS: Karl Rove, Bush legacy. Thank you very much, Robert Zimmerman, Michael Goodwin, Ed Rollins. Thank you for being with us tonight. We ask you to be here tomorrow. Please join me as well on the radios Monday through Fridays on the Lou Dobbs Show. For all of us here, we thank you for watching. It's been a spectacular, historic occasion. Good night from New York. Campbell Brown, no bias no bull starts right now. Campbell?