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Lou Dobbs This Week

Reviewing Campaign Statuses; God and Politics; Steroids and Baseball

Aired December 15, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Tonight, startling developments in the race for the White House. Former Governor Mike Huckabee surging, Senator Hillary Clinton slipping. We'll tell you what's going on in the Republican and Democratic presidential contests. And many of those candidates are invoking religion at nearly every turn in their campaigns. One of the country's most influential religious conservatives, Tony Perkins joins me. We'll be talking about God and politics, all of that and much more straight ahead tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK, news debate and opinion. Here now, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. President Bush tonight appears to be close to victory in his spending battle with Congress. President Bush says he's encouraged by the lawmakers progress towards a new spending bill. Bush also saying he hopes Congress will agree to fund the war in Iraq without any, as he put it, artificial withdrawal timetables.

But President Bush also demanding Congress complete its work on federal spending by Christmas. Ed Henry has our report from the White House. Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the president is making clear he won't stand for congress leaving town without funding U.S. troops. And it appears Democrats are going to blink because Mr. Bush has a stronger hand in this budget battle.


HENRY (voice-over): This may be as close to a victory lap as you'll see from President Bush. After weeks of bashing lawmakers, he actually had a few warm words for Congress finishing its work.

BUSH: Lawmakers have made some important progress in working out such differences. I'm pleased to hear they're close to reaching an agreement on the budget.

HENRY: the shift in tone is a sign the president feel he's getting his way on key issues like securing tens of billions of dollars more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

BUSH: I also understand that Congress may provide a down payment on the war funding I requested without artificial timetables for withdrawal. These are encouraging signs.

HENRY: The down payment comment was a nod to the fact the president is not getting all $200 billion in the war money he wanted. But Democrats privately admit they're likely to give the president up to $70 billion for the wars. Just weeks after Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed Mr. Bush would not get another dollar this year.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: The Republicans have made it very clear that this is not just George Bush's war this is the war of the Republicans in Congress.

HENRY: Pelosi notes Democrats have succeed on other matters, like the sharpest increase in fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks in a generation. A point Mr. Bush acknowledged.

BUSH: I want to thank the Senate and congratulate the Senate for passing a good energy bill. And now the House must act.

HENRY: But the year began with people writing the president's political obituary, as Democrats swept into power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, madam speaker.

HENRY: The year ends with the president in a stronger political position, thanks to his use of the veto pen and splits among the Democrats on the war and other issues.


HENRY (on camera): The White House does not want to gloat because they know anything can change in these last minute budget negotiations. One top aide here telling CNN there will be no victory dances. But the bottom line is that the president is getting a lot more in these budget talks than either side ever expected. Lou?

DOBBS: Ed Henry reporting from the White House. President Bush says the steroid scandal in baseball has sullied the game. The president saying former Senate majority leader George Mitchell's report on the baseball scandal must be taken seriously. The report linking some of the biggest names in baseball with steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. Brian Todd reports on the worst scandal since the Black Sox.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anticipated for months, names dropped in advance, the report is still jarring. A who's who of superstars. The naming of Roger Clemens, one of baseball's most dominant pitchers for more than 20 years, and his New York Yankee teammate, pitcher Andy Pettitte, led one observer to call this a tough day in the Bronx.

Former MVP's Barry Bonds and Miguel Tejada and nine-time all-star Gary Sheffield also make George Mitchell's list of dozens of Major League Baseball players linked to the alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

GEORGE MITCHELL, MLB STEROID INVESTIGATOR: The use of steroids in Major League Baseball was widespread. The response by baseball was slow to develop and was initially ineffective. TODD: Mitchell also levels blame on the players' union for first opposing random testing and for a lack of cooperation with his inquiry.

MITCHELL: Each of the players was invited to meet with me so I could provide him with information about the allegations and give him an opportunity to respond. Almost without exception, all current players declined my invitation.

TODD: Mitchell recommends year-round unannounced testing, the results open to the public, and says baseball should outsource the testing program to an independent person with real authority. But he says baseball's commissioner shouldn't punish players for past violations unless they're so serious that the integrity of the game is on the line. The commissioner indicates he may be inclined to punish some.

BUD SELIG, MLB COMMISSIONER: I will deal with the active players identified by Senator Mitchell as users of performance-enhancing substances. I will also review the comments made by Senator Mitchell about club personnel and will take appropriate action.

TODD: The head of the players' union says any decision by players not to cooperate was up to the players themselves and says this about repercussions.

DONALD FEHR, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYERS ASSN.: Many players are named. Their reputations have been adversely affected, probably forever even if it turns out down the road that they should not have been.


TODD (on camera): An attorney for Roger Clemens says his client vehemently denies the allegations in the Mitchell report and is outranged his name is in it. A representative for Andy Pettitte says Pettitte will refrain from commenting until he had a chance to speak with his union and other advisers. Our calls to representatives for Bonds, Tejada and Sheffield were not returned. Lou?

DOBBS: Turning now to the battle for the White House, the first primary elections taking place in Iowa in less than three weeks. Those caucuses approaching quickly. In the Republican contest, a new CNN poll shows former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has quadrupled his support nationally over the past two months. And in the Democratic race for the presidency, polls indicating Senator Hillary Clinton is in danger of losing the critically important Iowa and New Hampshire contest to Senator Barack Obama.

Joining me now, two members of the best political team anywhere, senior political analyst Gloria Borger and senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Let's start with Senator Hillary Clinton's problems. Gloria, just how much trouble is her campaign in? What is going on?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think you say at the very least that the sense of inevitability that was once attached to Hillary Clinton's campaign is completely evaporated. Their lead seems to be dropping everywhere. They're in, I wouldn't say a panic mode but I would say out of a scale of 10, I would say they're in eight or nine sort of really worried about what happens if she loses Iowa. If she loses Iowa, can she then go on and recoup in New Hampshire? She might be able to but that's something they're facing square on right now.

DOBBS: There is great irony in the Democratic presidential debate, this week, in Iowa, illegal immigration was mentioned by a single Democratic candidate, though it is ranked as one of the two most important issues in Iowa. Wasn't brought up, wasn't asked by the moderator and yet Senator Clinton's ratings and numbers have been falling since she completely blew her answer on the issue of driver's licenses for illegal aliens. Bill Schneider, what is going on?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, in -- among Democrats, that's what we're talking about, among Democrats they don't like to talk about illegal immigration. They realize there is a constituency that disagrees with them on that issue. They all support a path to citizenship, what some call amnesty for illegal aliens and that makes them very vulnerable. So it is just not an issue. But it is a big issue among Republicans.

DOBBS: It is a big issue among Republicans. Over the course of the national concerns, it ranks as one of the two or three most serious issues for voters. How in the world can Democrats be so arrogant as to do what their leadership and the Senate and the House has done which is ignore the will of the American people and the interests of the American people.

SCHNEIDER: The moderator started out by saying we're not going talk much about immigration in Iraq. She said, the moderator from the "Des Moines Register" said, those issues have been talked about enough. We're going to talk about other things.

DOBBS: Go ahead, Gloria. You had something you wanted to add.

BORGER: I think that these are issues that the voters want to discuss. The Democrats, as Bill said, they don't want to raise it because quite honestly they don't have any solutions right now because they know the big issue is going to be benefits for Democrats. What do you do about benefits for illegal immigrants? The Republicans want to talk about immigration. At least some of them do because it is the way for them to differentiate themselves from the other candidates. Mitt Romney would talk about immigration all the time if he could and that opportunity was taken away from him.

DOBBS: Let's turn to the issue that is most compelling to Mike Huckabee. That is the fact -- he's been able to quadruple his national rating in the course of two months. What is the reason for this?

SCHNEIDER: I spoke to someone here in South Carolina where I am right now who made an interesting observation. He said Hillary Clinton's problem may be helping mike Huckabee. Why? Because Republicans think if we're going to be facing Hillary Clinton, we have to beat her and just have to swallow all reservations and support Rudy Giuliani because he can beat Clinton. But if Clinton is not going to be the nominee, maybe we can nominate someone we really like and agree with like Mike Huckabee because we don't have to worry about Hillary Clinton anymore. That's a possibility.

DOBBS: Gloria, you get the last word here.

BORGER: I this think reflects the relative weakness of the Republican field. There hasn't been a clear favorite out there. Voters, even though we have been doing this for months and months, voters are now just starting to tune in, particularly conservatives evangelical voters. They took a look at the national front-runner, Rudy Giuliani. The polls show they don't believe he shares their values and so they started looking at someone they believe does share their values and that's Huckabee.

DOBBS: Wouldn't you say the same thing as the Democrats they put forth a weak field because their presumptive front-runner has lost a dramatic amount of advantage over the second and third place candidates?

SCHNEIDER: The same thing is happening in both parties. What our polling shows is that Democrats say Huckabee -- sorry, Republicans say Huckabee is the least like a typical politicians and Democrats say Obama is least like a politician. That's why they're rising. When they look at Clinton and Giuliani they say they're the most likely to get elected. So their heads are with Clinton and Giuliani. Their hearts are with Obama and Huckabee.

DOBBS: And we'll find out where everyone's head is in the weeks ahead. We thank you very much, Gloria. Thank you very much, Bill. We appreciate it.

Coming up next, our public education system failing an entire generation of our students. Christine Romans has that report for us.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, disturbing new evidence that the American dream in this country is not shared equally and that our public education may not be what we call around here society's great equalizer. Lou?

DOBBS: Thanks, Christine.

Also, President Bush refuses to pardon two Border Patrol agents who risked their lives to apprehend drug smugglers. But nine drug dealers were pardoned by this president. We'll have complete coverage on your government at work.

And rising concerns about the safety of a home owner who used deadly force to protect his neighbor's property. We'll have that special report and a great deal more next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: President Bush had an opportunity this week to correct what has been an outrageous miscarriage of justice by his Justice Department. A case that we have been reporting here on the better part of two years, the imprisonment of former Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean and the calls for their pardon. Shockingly, President Bush who issued more than two dozen pardons this week didn't see fit to include those two wronged former border patrol agents. Casey Wian has our report.


WIAN (voice-over): President Bush was in a forgiving mood Tuesday night. He was pardoning or commuting the sentences of nine drug dealers, eight thieves, and 13 assorted moonshiners, tax cheats and other criminals, but he again failed to pardon imprisoned border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, despite a request he do so by 102 members of Congress.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: To watch the Thanksgiving turkey be pardoned and know that Ramos and Compean are in solitary confinement.

WIAN: For nearly a year the president has ignored congressional pleas to free Ramos and Compean. They're serving 11 and 12-year sentences mostly in solitary for their own protection for shooting and wounding illegal alien drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete Davila in 2005.

REP. BILL DELAHUNT (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This sentence is entirely disproportionate. And it has created a significant miscarriage of justice that reflects poorly on our judicial system. You have the opportunity to redress that miscarriage.

REP. VIRGIL GOODE (R), VIRGINIA: It's a travesty that two men who are standing up for America fighting for the integrity of our border and fighting against drug smugglers are still in prison system.

WIAN: The White House says it won't consider pardoning the agents while their case is being heard by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are processes in place for pardons and those two individuals if they want to seek a pardon they can go through the process as well.

WIAN: The Justice Department requires applicants to wait five years after their sentence before applying for a presidential pardon, but lawmakers say it is well within the president's power to release the agents now.

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: Yeah, I think the president has been lying about this from day one. Got that lying, not telling the truth and that was fully exposed when he let "Scooter" Libby go in a millisecond.

WIAN: This month Rohrabacher and Delahunt introduced a new bipartisan resolution, asking President Bush to immediately commute the sentences of the former agents.

(on camera): But it appears likely Ramos and Compean spend the holidays in prison, away from their families. In fact, Nacho Ramos' wife Monica says she won't be allowed a phone call or a visit with her husband on Christmas Day. Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.


DOBBS: The Texas man who shot and killed two suspected burglars has received death threats now. And the shootings sparked protests in the town of Pasadena, Texas, outside of Houston. That town is considering banning protests outside private homes. And it is still to be decided whether Joseph Horn will face charges for the shootings. Bill Tucker has our report.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tape of Joe Horn's 911 call on November 14th makes it very clear he was witnessing a burglary.

OPERATOR: Pasadena 911, what is your emergency?

JOE HORN, VIGILANTE: Burglars are breaking into a house next door.

OPERATOR: That same call makes it clear that Mr. Horn wasn't going sit by and let it happen.

HORN: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) they just stole something. I'm going out the window. I'm not going to let them get away with this (EXPLETIVE DELETED). They stole something, they got a bag of something.

OPERATOR: Mr. Horn, stay in the house.

HORN: I'm doing it.

OPERATOR: Mr. Horn, do not go outside the house.

HORN: I'm sorry. This ain't right, buddy.

TUCKER: He went out and according to testimony from a plainclothes police officer, on the scene, Mr. Horn carrying a shotgun confronted the suspects on his front yard. He gave them a simple command.

CALLER: Move, you're dead.

TUCKER: Those shots killed the alleged burglars, one shot in the back, the other in the side of the back. Both men were Latino. The police expect to hand over to the Harris County district attorney the results of their investigation on the incident next week. From there it will be up to a grand jury to decide whether to indict Mr. Horn. If he's charged, Texas law might be his best defense as it provides broad latitude for the use of force in protecting property.

PROF. GEORGE DIX, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS LAW SCHOOL: What it amounts to is essentially a right to use deadly force if it is necessary to prevent a thief who committed burglary in the process of committing theft from escaping with the proceeds of that crime.

TUCKER: Section 931 provides for self-defense. Section 941 provides for protecting personal property. Section 942 allows for deadly force in protecting any property. And specifically to prevent quote, "fleeing immediately after committing burglary."

And Section 943 allows for the protection of a third person's property. The shooting sparked a protest with a mix of Horn supporter and activists who believe Mr. Horn went too far.

QUANELL X, NEW BLACK PANTHER NATION: You so many people in Mr. Horn's community calling him a hero. How could you call a man a hero that goes outside and would shoot unarmed men in the back, one twice and one once and they were fleeing and running from him. When someone is running from you and you shoot them in the back with a shotgun and they are unarmed, you're not a hero.

TUCKER: The New Black Panther Nation promises that if Mr. Horn is not indicted, there will be massive protests.


TUCKER (on camera): The police are expected to hand over the case to the Harris County district attorney's office next week. From there it goes to a grand jury and it could be a couple of weeks before we know if Joe Horn in fact is going to be indicted, Lou.

DOBBS: It is interesting. I talked because I know you did with Captain Bob Corbett of the Pasadena City police this past week. And I asked him whether or not he was comfortable with this Texas law, Section 943 of the Texas penal code, correct? He said he's very comfortable with it. Law enforcement is very comfortable with that. That is the use of lethal force to protect not only one's own property and life, but another's. Really remarkable.

TUCKER: It is remarkable. And when you listen to the 911 tapes, it is clear that what Joe Horn is incensed about is that there is a crime being committed, it is being committed while he's watching it. He's on the phone with the police and he just gets to the point where he's just not going to sit there and watch it happen.

DOBBS: And then we know from your reporting, we know that Joe Horn stepped out and as he put it, scared to death. Understandably. It is going to be interesting to see the protests that are being carried out by those groups, both immigrant groups, black activist group, Quanell X whose ego demands that the ban against demonstrators is against him personally.

It is really terrible what that community is going through now because the law is the law and the results in this case are tragic. But my God if we were enforcing the laws, first at the border and then secondly in enforcement of U.S. immigration law, these things would not be happening in this country.

TUCKER: No, they wouldn't. And there is another parallel. If we were enforcing the laws, people wouldn't be turn this into a racial situation. What has happened is that as this case develops and the longer it lingers around, the more the interjection of race comes into this instead of ...

DOBBS: We should say that interjection is coming from activist groups who have an agenda here, they're left wing, socioethniocentric groups to an entity and they're forgetting to add one thing to this equation, the neighbors, next to Mr. Horn's house, the neighbor's property he was protecting were Vietnamese Americans. So it is ridiculous what some of these groups are doing and it is time for people to say they have had a belly full. Bill Tucker, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Well, just ahead here, the presidential candidates, speaking about belly full, clashing over religion and its role in politics. Joining me next, Tony Perkins, one of the country's leading religious conservatives will be talking about the role of God in politics. And our public schools failing an entire generation of Americans. We'll have that special report as well. Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: Public education, I have always called our public schools the great equalizer in this democracy of ours. The path to achieving the American dream. But as Christine Romans now reports, our system of public education is failing far too many of our nation's students.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): American students' success is influenced more by their family wealth and socioeconomic status than children in other industrialized countries. This from an important international analysis of worldwide science and math scores.

BOB WEISS, ALLIANCE FOR EDUCATION: One out of four of these students in the United States are low performing and much of that is directly linked to socioeconomic status and yet the American dream is that a good education gets everyone the ability to move ahead. We clearly are falling short on providing that good education.

ROMANS: A 2006 program for international student assessment surveyed 15-year-olds in 57 countries. The newly released ranking are troublesome enough. American students ranked 29 in science and 35 in math, but perhaps even worse in America a student's social and economic status has a stronger impact on their science and math scores, more than twice as much as the top scoring countries Finland, Canada and Japan.

Quote, "Socio-economic disparities have a strong impact on student performance in the U.S." Something must be done.

AMY WILKINS, EDUCATION TRUST: The formula is a pretty simple one. It is providing them with the very best teachers we have to offer. It is providing them with the sort of rich and challenging curriculum that middle class kids and more affluent kids get as a matter of course. It is expecting a lot from them. It is holding them to high standards.

ROMANS: But education advocates say the system is failing.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROMANS (on camera): Now these results seem to correspond with another recent analysis. The bipartisan Economic Mobility Project found that only six percent of children born to parents at the bottom of the income scale ever make it to the top in their lifetimes.

DOBBS: In other words, the very people for whom public education is the most beneficial and has always provided a stepping stone forward to opportunity in this country is precisely that part of education that is failing in our public schools.

ROMANS: Absolutely right.

DOBBS: Incredible. Thank you very much, Christine Romans.

Time now for some of your thoughts. Robert in the California wrote in and said, "I have been listening to the Republicans and Democrats running for president and all I hear is the same old blah blah blah. Yesterday I filed my divorce papers on the Republican Party. I am now a footloose and fancy free independent."

Good for you.

E-mail us your thoughts at Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit."

Coming up next, communist China's Christmas gift to this country, ornaments made by children working in sweatshops. We'll have that disturbing story. And then Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney clashing over god and politics? I'll be talking with one of the country's leading religious conservatives, Tony Perkins, about the role of religion and politics. Those stories and a lot more straight ahead. Stay with us. We're coming right back.



DOBBS: The issue of God and politics in this country is front page news in the presidential campaign. Particularly in the fight between Mike Huckabee and Mitt Tomney. Huckabee posing this question in the "New York Times" magazine.

Quote, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers" responding to and reacting to a question about Mormonism. Huckabee quickly apologized for his remark but it is clear that God is seemingly at every turn in this presidential campaign in both political parties.

Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council, one of the country's leading religious conservatives. Perkins says God is present on both sides of the campaign and in both parties.


TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Lou, I think personal faith is defining. It's a characteristic that people want to see, but they don't want it to become a pugil stick by which candidates beat each other up and the media beats up candidates. That I think goes too far and Mike Huckabee was right in acknowledging that he went too far in his comments or his questions about Romney's faith with what he said.

DOBBS: And the idea of faith as being defining. You said people shouldn't be beating each other over this issue. But the reality is, there's also freedom in this country not only of religion or freedom to believe whatever one thinks, that includes being an atheist or an agnostic. Wouldn't you agree?

PERKINS: That's correct. In fact, the Constitution says when it comes to those holding office, that there shall be no religious test. That of course was put in particular because the Catholic population was about 1.2 percent of the population and they were being excluded at the state level and the feds said there's not going to be an exclusion. We're going to include people but increasingly, we're seeing some I think using a reverse religious test.

We saw some of those attacks emerge against Mike Huckabee implying that if you have a religious faith that actually impacts the way you live, then somehow you are not qualified. Now, it's a few doing that but it is beginning to pop up a little bit.

DOBBS: Well it is popping up. And in this campaign in particular, unlike any I can remember witnessing. Perhaps God was subtext, religion was subtext in previous religions some decades ago. But to move to the forefront and to be central in the public statements and the written materials by the campaigns of nearly every candidate is truly remarkable.

PERKINS: Well, it is. And I think in part a number of the topics you've had on your show tonight, and the problems we're facing as society, there was a very common worldview, if you will, 50 years ago. There was a very set way, the we viewed the issues around us. There's been a battle raging with kind of elite secularists that have tried to keep religion out of the public square. So there's a push back. That's why I think you see a strong confrontation. Because there are those trying to reinsert it and those trying to push it out. And somewhere we will strike a balance.

DOBBS: Well, one of the things that interests me, circulating around the Internet right now is a very interesting and popular e-mail talking about the role of religion in our culture. Basically saying you don't have to believe in God, you don't have to do all but it's a contest between the secular and the religious suggesting that if we're going be totally secular, then why are we giving people off on Sunday, which is a religious day of rest historically and also in sectarian terms the idea that everyone having Christmas off and Easter, etc. It's really quite an interesting turn.

PERKINS: But the fact is we're not a country that has embraced a secular world view. We are a country that has embraced a Christian worldview. That is what our legal system is founded upon. It's embedded into our government, it's embedded into the fact that we do recognize Sunday. We saw it in the blue laws. We saw it in various ways. Now increasingly America is becoming more secular. And there is where you see the conflict. But there is clearly among the American people, a desire that their leaders have some for of faith. And I have never seen this dissected but my hunch would be there's some comfort in knowing that those are leading that you, that you have elected, believe that there is an omniscient God who is watching when they're not.

And I think there is some comfort in that.

DOBBS: Right now this nation could use a little comfort from a number of quarters.

PERKINS: There's too many politicians for you and I both to keep an eye on so it's a good thing we do have a God.

DOBBS: I think this is something we can agree we can all pray over. We thank you very much for being with us here tonight.

PERKINS: Merry Christmas, Lou.


DOBBS: We'll have much more on God and politics and presidential politics. The race for 2008. I'll be join by three of the sharpest political minds in the country.

And so much for keeping the campaigns positive. An ugly turn between Senator Clinton's campaign and Senator Obama. A shake-up in the Clinton camp is the result. The latest on a Christmas gift from communist China. The danger that may be your Christmas tree. We'll have that story, a great deal more. We're coming right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: President Bush signed a so-called free trade agreement with Peru on Friday. The agreement will work to the benefit of big business, of course, but it will almost certainly have a negative impact on workers in this country. Union officials have spoken out against the deal. Teamsters president James Hoffa saying, "These deals are less about reducing trade barriers than they are about exploiting cheap labor and protecting the investments of multinational corporations."

The Bush administration has three other of these trade deals on the table with Colombia, Panama, South Korea. This administration continues to put forward its faith-based economic policies with gusto.

Communist China has more gifts to put on our store shelves. The National Labor Committee, however, warns that Red China is exporting Christmas tree ornaments manufactured by child labor in Chinese sweatshops. This comes on top of tons of toxic toys from communist China that will also be under many of those very same Christmas trees. Louise Schiavone has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These sacked (ph) China factory workers range in age from 12 to 13 to 16 years old. They are cranking out Christmas ornaments for Wal-Mart customers, charges human rights advocate the National Labor Committee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality behind these bargains is so ugly that the American people would be terrified and upset and saddened to see it.

SCHIAVONE: The group claims to have work records smuggled out of the factory showing that at $0.26 cents an hour, some of these workers make only half of China's legal minimum wage. The median pay for 110 hour work week is $49.29. As for the eight months leading up to the Christmas shopping season, the work week is seven days long.

SCOTT NOVA, WORKERS RIGHTS CONSORTIUM: You have now products being made for export to the united states in factories overseas, under conditions that would be embarrassing to Ebenezer Scrooge.

SCHIAVONE: Wal-Mart says they maintain "rigorous ethical standards" and is investigating the report, saying, quote, "Wal-Mart maintains a very strict suppliers code of conduct and employs over 200 people to ensure supplier adherence" end quote. But these pictures, which the National Labor Committee reports were recorded on cell phones inside the factory reveal another crack in the U.S.-China trade relationship already characterized by life threatening product flaws in everything from toothpaste to pet food to toys.

MICHAEL WESSEL, U.S. CHINA ECONOMIC SECURITY REVIEW: The Chinese flood our market with their products but they basically don't accept many of ours. It is time for a trade policy that really says we have basic rules and standards that are going to guide this trade.

SCHIAVONE: Senator Byron Dorgan has introduced legislation to authorize the Federal Trade Commission to investigate overseas labor abuses.

SEN. BYRON DORGAN, (D) ND: We should not have an the store shelves the product of sweatshop labor that results from abusing workers.

SCHIAVONE: Until Congress acts, however, the abuses are likely to continue.


SCHIAVONE (on camera): Lou, seemingly unfazed by the torrent of bad news about his country's product, a Chinese official stepped forward at the start of international trade talks this week to tell parents everywhere, quote, "Cheap and nice toys are sure to bring joy to the children of the world." Lou?

DOBBS: There is a song by that title, isn't there?

SCHIAVONE: If there isn't, there should be. He's talking about the children of the world being happy, but no reference to the children of his own country who are working in sweatshops. DOBBS: It is the duplicity, the absolute double standard, the hypocrisy that makes up the Chinese-U.S. trade relationship is breathtaking at any time of year. Louise, thank you very much. Louise Schiavone from Washington.

Up next here, Senator Clinton's campaign taking a hit as the senator apologizes to Senator Obama. We'll have that story, a lot more with our panel of top political analyst and strategists as we assess what is happening to the prospects of selecting a new leader of the free world in this country. We'll tell you all about it next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Joining me now with a look at all the week's political news, Errol Louis, "New York Daily News" columnist and member of the editorial board. Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, Diana West, columnist, "Washington Times." Thank you all for being here. Diana West, what is going on with Mike Huckabee. He's showing everyone how to do it, isn't he?

DIANA WEST, "WASHINGTON TIMES": It is incredible. And I really, frankly, as a conservative, I don't get it because these are supposed to be our conservative primary voters who are more concerned with things like taxes, securing the border, cracking down on illegal immigration and so on. And these are not his issues. It is a fascinating ride to the top for him. I don't believe it's going to last.

DOBBS: Let's turn to a liberal who can perhaps enlighten us. Hank, Mr. Huckabee?

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Not surprising, he is an evangelical. There are lots of them in Iowa. He's taken on the Clintons before. That makes a lot of people feel very good. He says he's beaten the Clinton machine four times. Republicans are smiling. Rudy has a big problem, it's called Judy and the cops. Those are the things that are driving this now.

DOBBS: And the ascension of Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries.

SHEINKOPF: This is called do not throw stones or boulders when you should be smiling. When you go and attack the guy in the way they attacked him, OK, the first time is ...

DOBBS: The Clintons.

SHEINKOPF: Yeah. Second time not so good. Consultants need to be kept on leashes sometimes and not allowed to do things unscripted which is what I think happened here.

DOBBS: Errol?

ERROL LOUIS, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": I think when it comes to the Huckabee rise, this three-legged stool, this big tent that the Republicans have had that worked so well for them for the last quarter century, defense conservatives, social conservatives, economic conservatives, well, the social conservatives are driving the car right now. And so unless the others step up, the defense conservatives, who are reeling because they're sort of stuck with this Bush policy in Iraq that nobody wants, and the economic conservatives who might want to try and rein in some of the federal spending and so forth. Unless they make their voices heard, social conservatives are going to give them a candidate. Whether it is Mike Huckabee or somebody else, it may not serve them well in the general election.

DOBBS: I kind of laughed, Diana West, this week because the "New York Times" had an article about how Republicans aren't too happy with their candidates. Which is sort of funny for the "New York Times." Which is a house organ for the Democratic Party.

But the "Washington Times," which is a house organ for the Republican Party, what do you all think there about the way in which voters were enamored with the Democratic candidates?

WEST: The way in which voters were enamored, you mean whether they are enamored with the candidates ...

DOBBS: Yes. I mean, precisely that.

WEST: They're tearing each other apart. I think it is quite fascinating, one of the most interesting new developments we have seen is that it looks like in some polls where Obama is showing a lead, the lead, the edge seems to be coming from women. And women were supposed to be much to my chagrin, women were supposed to be Hillary Clinton's secret weapon, the firewall for her. And they're moving toward Obama which I think is quite fascinating. And probably reflects a feeling like, uh-oh, we don't really want the Clinton crime machine back. It was an ugly period.

DOBBS: Well, to me, some of the analysis, Hank, has been that blacks preferred Senator Clinton to Senator Obama. Women are supposed to prefer -- what in the world? Is any of that real?

SHEINKOPF: Some of it is real. A lot of it is not. Barack Obama for first time represents a post civil rights generation candidate who did not come up through the normal protest politics. He's a very different kind of guy. His institutional bearings are within government and performance, not of the church, not of the civil rights movement, not of the protest activity. So he is a very different kind of guy which makes it easy for people of all kind to like him. This is not about breaking up the society anymore.

Conservatives like to do that because it makes them have an opportunity to attack Democrats. And Democrats like to break things up that way for analysis so they can feel good about themselves. That's not what's going on here. This is a legitimate, bona fide guy with real credentials who has a real argument.

LOUIS: You have some category killers or category breakers here with the Clintons who had broad appeal, not just to say, southern voters, or not just white voters and the same thing with Obama. He stands next to Oprah, I don't know most of Oprah's nine or ten million daily viewers are but my guess is most of them are not black. You see candidates like this out reaching for every vote they can get, without regard to category and they're doing it in a mass medium kind of way, big national markets, big national figures, I think we think everything we think we know about politics will get scrambled this time.

DOBBS: Let's go back to something, Hank, you just. You said that Senator Obama has credentials. I have to say. I can't think of a single credential the man has. He's been in the U.S. Senate for two years. He hasn't passed any legislation. He served in the state legislature of Illinois, he was a community activist, an organizer. You said he didn't come up the traditional way. This sounds like pretty traditional Democratic stepping ...

SHEINKOPF: I don't think he came up in a traditional Democratic way if you think about from a black perspective, he didn't come out of church, he didn't come out of the protest movement. The reason he has credentials is the same reason Oprah Winfrey matters. It is called celebrity. Celebrity creates credentials.

DOBBS: His credential is celebrity.

SHEINKOPF: That's correct. In this particular culture, that's what matters.

DOBBS: Well, is this culture going to make us all throw up at the end of the day.

LOUIS: No. Listen ...

DOBBS: Let's be really honest here. When you look at the actual accomplish s of every candidate out there right now, both parties, these are people of distinct and capable minds and character with achievements that are absolutely breathtaking. No, they're not. What are these people doing running for president of the United States.

LOUIS: You got a number of people, let's be fair. When you look at somebody like a Joe Biden or you look at somebody like a Bill Richardson, Bill Richardson had just about every job in federal government you could have.

DOBBS: When I say achievement and accomplishment, that's not the same thing as having a professional politician's resume. These people to me have no business to a person running for president of the United States. They lack humility. They lack vision. They lack achievement. They lack -- to me, any sort of ability to inspire the American people to engage the 21st ...

LOUIS: I think the two things they have to have, let's be a little optimistic about it ...

DOBBS: I'm through being optimistic. I watched 300 million people in two political parties, the Republicans and Democrats, produce George W. Bush and John F. Kerry. I'm not going to be optimistic. I'm going to be realist. LOUIS: The two jobs the next president will have will be to organize the government and hire good people to do the things that they can't do. And to have a message and to inspire and to lead the country. That second part does shade over into celebrity. It is somebody like Ronald Reagan who, whatever it is he's telling you, he's going to sell it, he's going to help people to understand it and support it.

DOBBS: We should be going to somebody from Amway, shouldn't we? That's where we should be.

Diana, your thoughts?

WEST: I would say that the candidates on both sides do express a vision, they express a very mainstream Democratic vision and mainstream Republican vision. We are in a time where we need something more and I sense that your frustration, I share the same frustration, is we're not hearing anything new or that seems to be taking into account the new pressures and difficulties America is facing as we go into the century. That's where we're stuck.

DOBBS: Thanks, Diana. We're going to be back with our panel. Hank Sheinkopf shaking her head throughout.

SHEINKOPF: She's wrong.

DOBBS: We'll be right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: We're back with our panel of top political analysts and strategists. Hank Sheinkopf shaking his head as Diana West was expressing her view. It is your turn, Hank.

SHEINKOPF: I don't think these are people professing a great Republican message or a great Democratic message. I know there is one. The problem is that we live in a culture of celebrity that what we're doing essentially, is what these candidates is doing is targeting portions of the electorate with particular cues to get them excited. Reaganism isn't coming out of their mouths. Reaganism, you can't defend it anymore. Why? We're losing in Iraq. But we're not respected throughout the world and because we just -- we have corruption in government. That was Reaganism. He said he'd fix that. They're not doing it.

The Democrats, the great populist argument, the only one that has come close is John Edwards. This is a sad state of affairs. And this is now personality politics. And that may be why Senator Clinton appear to be in trouble. When it comes to personality and celebrity, the greatest celebrity is winning on that side. The greatest celebrity is judged by the greatest celebrity going with that celebrity. And I think Oprah had a fantastic impact. Why? She makes the argument by showing us what her politics are, entertainment, not commitment.

DOBBS: What's the next step? Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie show off for Senator Clinton. LOUIS: They all do their share of wooing Hollywood celebrities and anybody who can bring them some kind of an audience. In the end, a lot of this will come back to number one what voters really believe. That's something we are going to are to always take into account. And number two, this third force, these independents that you have done so well at organizing and sort of gearing up. They're going make their voices heard in New Hampshire because independents can vote in whatever primary they want and that will be an interesting first read. And then where independents go after that. This ever-growing body of unaffiliated voters. They're going to have a big role to play this year. This season.

WEST: I'd just like to get back to something Hank was saying. I didn't say it was great Republicanism or great Democratic Party politics.

I think, though, that nobody has retooled and I don't think it's fair to say Reaganism doesn't work. We haven't really put together a good post-Cold War policy. We still have a Russia - a Soviet expert who is now secretary of state. We have people who have not adjusted to the Islamic threat, to the threats coming out of China and trade that Lou enumerates so well.

I mean, these kinds - we are not seeing policies coming from either party that take in this new age we're in.

DOBBS: The one influence that is steadfast throughout and constant is the influence of corporate America, the multinationals on both political parties and of the outcome of both the electoral and the legislative processes.

It's going to be politics as usual, Errol, 2008?

LOUIS: I sure hope not. With the mortgage crisis and other major economic threats that are going to hurt the country in a very, very serious way, it can't possibly be politics as usual. We'll never get out of this mess that way.

DOBBS: Errol, thank you very much. Thank you Hank. Thank you, Diana. We appreciate it, as always. We thank you for joining us here. Please join us tomorrow. For all of us, thank you for watching. Good night from New York.