Return to Transcripts main page

Lou Dobbs This Week

Border Fence Opposition; China Relations; National Security Squabble

Aired May 17, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight: New evidence the Bush administration is more concerned about its relationship with Communist China than the safety of American consumers. That special report upcoming.
And tonight: Environmental groups joining forces with the pro-amnesty lobby trying to block a fence along our southern border with Mexico. Those groups are ignoring the escalating violence from drug cartels and illegal alien traffickers at the border.

We'll have all of that and much more, straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK: News, debate, and opinion. Here now: Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Republicans have launched an all-out assault on Senator Obama's national security policies, without naming the senator directly. President Bush accused Obama of wanting to negotiate with terrorists and radicals. The president in Jerusalem said Democrats, such as Obama, believe in what he called "a false comfort of appeasement."

Senator Obama said such attacks divide the country and alienate the United States from the rest of the world. Senator Obama declaring he's never said he will negotiate with terrorists. He said the country's policy towards Iran is a failure. Congressional Democrats rallied to his defense. A firestorm ensued.

Kate Bolduan reports from Capitol Hill.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Capitol Hill, President Bush's remarks were taken as a political attack on Barack Obama and fellow Democrats circled the wagons around the party frontrunner. Joe Biden lashing out in a Senate hallway.


SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: This is (BEEP). This is malarkey. This is outrageous. Outrageous for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, sit in the Knesset, and make this kind of ridiculous statement.


BOLDUAN: And the foreign relations chairman was just as angry hours later on THE SITUATION ROOM.

BIDEN: I'm worried about President Bush's standing in the world, continues to plummet. The rest of the world looks at that kind of statement and says -- my God, what is he talking about?

BOLDUAN: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the president for breaking from a long observed practice of leaving political differences behind at U.S. borders.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think what the president did in that regard is beneath the dignity of the office of president and unworthy of our representation at that observance in Israel.

BOLDUAN: And Democratic Senator John Kerry said it was the wrong time and place for picking a fight back home.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: It's a repeat of their tactics of 2004 and, frankly, their tactics for the last 25, 30 years -- which is raise the flag and wave fear. And what they're trying to do is just brand people and scare people.

BOLDUAN: But one key John McCain supporter came to the president's defense: Independent Senator Joe Lieberman.

(on camera): He says the U.S. should reject what he calls the naive and flawed thinking that by sitting down with terrorist groups and their sponsors like Iran, they'll stop being threats.

Kate Bolduan, CNN, Capitol Hill.


DOBBS: Senator McCain joined President Bush in blasting Senator Obama, Senator McCain focused on Obama's willingness to talk with the Iranian president. Senator McCain said, "Barack Obama needs to explain why he wants to sit down and talk with a man who is the head of a government that is a state sponsor of terror that is responsible for the killing of brave young Americans and wants to wipe Israel off the map and denies the Holocaust."

McCain's comments reflect the fact that Iranian Special Forces are helping insurgents kill our troops in Iraq.

Senator Obama tonight, trying to shake off the controversy and focus on the battle to win the nomination of the Democratic Party. Senator Obama won the endorsement of former Senator John Edwards. His endorsement comes one day after Senator Clinton's impressive victory in West Virginia.

Suzanne Malveaux has our report from Grand Rapids, Michigan.


JOHN EDWARDS, (D) FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Democratic voters in America have made their choice and so have I. (APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the moment Barack Obama had been working for the past four months.

EDWARDS: There is one man who knows and understands that this is a time for bold leadership. And that man is Barack Obama!

MALVEAUX: Since John Edwards dropped out in January, the two men have talked at least once a week.


MALVEAUX: But it was Hillary Clinton's victory in West Virginia that tipped the scales for Edwards.

EDWARDS: Brothers and sisters, we must come together as Democrats.

MALVEAUX: Aides say Edwards was concerned that the Clinton story line that Obama could not win white working class voters was becoming too damaging to Obama and the party. So Tuesday night, Edwards called Obama in Michigan to tell him he had his back. A campaign insider said Obama was absolutely delighted. And so was Edwards on this night to see Obama highlight his poverty fighting campaign theme.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It will be a fight I carry into the White House for the next four years.

MALVEAUX: At times early in the campaign, Obama and Edwards appeared to gang up on Hillary Clinton.

EDWARDS: Both Senator Obama and I.

MALVEAUX: At other times, Edwards played the critic.

EDWARDS: And I don't think you can nice them to death. I think you have to actually be willing to fight them.

MALVEAUX: He also questioned Obama's political courage.

EDWARDS: Why would you over 100 times vote present? I mean, every one of us, every one -- you have criticized Hillary, you have criticized me for our votes. We've cast hundreds and hundreds of votes. What you are criticizing her for, by the way, you've done to us.

MALVEAUX: But on this night, the two put their differences aside. Edwards, Obama and a nod to their opponent.

OBAMA: If you're willing to sit down to cynicism and put down the fear and join John Edwards, and Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats, then I promise you, we will not just win this election, we will change the country.

MALVEAUX (on camera): Both Obama and Edwards are talking about working out logistics as to how to campaign together in the fall.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Grand Rapids, Michigan.


DOBBS: Democrats hope their latest special election victory indicates they will defeat the Republican Party in November's congressional elections. A Democrat won a congressional seat in Mississippi. A seat held by Republicans for the past 14 years. It was the latest in a series of special election victories for the Democrats.

Bill Schneider has our report.



BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): When something happens three times, it's a trend.

PELOSI: Three for three, batting 1,000, batting 1,000.


SCHNEIDER: Tuesday, for the third time this year, Democrats took a House seat away from the Republicans in a special election. In March, a Democrat won the Illinois House seat held by former Speaker Dennis Hastert since 1986. This month, Democrats won a Louisiana House seat held by a Republican since 1986. And on Tuesday, a Mississippi House seat held by Republican for 14 years.

Three Democratic gains in staunchly Republican districts that George W. Bush won handily in 2004.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) MINORITY LEADER: It's another wake-up call. That we have to show Americans that we can fix the problems here in Washington.

SCHNEIDER: In Louisiana and Mississippi, Republicans ran ads tying the Democratic candidate to Barack Obama.


NARRATOR: Travis Childers endorsed by liberal Barack Obama.



NARRATOR: A vote for Don Cazayoux is a vote for Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.


SCHNEIDER: The result?

OBAMA: I mean, they were trying to do every trick in the book to try to scare folks in Mississippi, and it didn't work.

SCHNEIDER: That's good news for Democrats who are worried about Obama's electability. Democrats are looking for big gains in Congress this year. Republicans in both the House and Senate are defending more open seats and more vulnerable seats.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has warned his party, quote, "Either congressional Republicans are going t o chart a bold course of real change or they are going to suffer decisive losses this November."

SCHNEIDER (on camera): The House results also give Obama an argument he can make to superdelegates who were unnerved by his weak performance in West Virginia. When Republicans tried to make Obama the issue, it backfired. A heavy turnout of new voters brought the Democrats big gains -- three times.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.


DOBBS: A critical issue in the general election will be the skyrocketing price of crude oil and gasoline.

President Bush went to Saudi Arabia trying to persuade the Saudis to raise production. Saudi Arabia, of course, the world's largest oil exporter -- but Saudi officials simply told President Bush, "No." They see no need to raise oil production at this time. This is the second time this year that Saudi Arabia has rebuffed the president's call for increasing production.

Coming up next here: The pro-amnesty lobby stepping up its efforts to stop that fence along our southern border. We'll have a special report for you from the border.

Also, congressional Democrats trying to block a critically important program designed to protect this country from illegal immigration.

And, the Bush administration is refusing to take strong actions against communist China to protect the safety of American consumers. We'll have that special report here, next.


DOBBS: The Department of Homeland Security criticized tonight for its efforts to increase security along our southern border. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups are suing to block the construction of a new border fence. Some border residents are now complaining that fence is taking too long and costs too much. Others want it up and they want it up right now no matter what it costs.

Casey Wian with our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sierra Vista lies just a few miles north of Arizona's border with Mexico. Parts of the area are fenced. Others are virtually wide open. Local resident and border security activist, Cindy Kolb, documents environmental damage from illegal alien and drug smugglers whose trails sneak through national forest and private property.

CINDY KOLB, BORDER SECURITY ACTIVIST: Any one in Cochise County can leave home any day, any time, and see illegal aliens walking down the road or signs that illegals have been camping out right by their homes.

WIAN: Here, a sleeping bag, blanket and other trash are left under a bush, not 50 yards from a house.

What's it like living under these conditions?

KOLB: I feel like -- my freedom has been taken away.

WIAN: Less than a mile south, another fresh lay-up area, 30 feet from a highway as a Border Patrol vehicle drives by, we find antibiotics, plastic garbage bags and an abundance of other threats to wildlife and the environment. A week ago, Kolb found 23 backpacks in the same spot.

KOLB: We're America; we're not securing the border. There is no homeland security America. It's not true.

WIAN: The Department of Homeland Security held an open house in Sierra Vista Tuesday night to inform local residents of its plans to build 44 miles of new physical barriers on the border near here. The Sierra Club and others are suing to block the fence because the Homeland Security Department has suspended dozens of environmental regulations to speed construction.

Now, DHS is trying to persuade the public it's listening to their concerns.

GREG GEPHARDT, U.S. CUSTOMS & BORDER PROT.: People have opinions. We respect their opinions. But we also have our nation to secure.

WIAN: Many locals on both sides of the fence issue remain skeptical.

JERRY WALL, LOCAL RESIDENT: It's a dog and pony show. It's hype. This whole thing is all hype. And so, it's just a way to be able to give people the illusion that they're safe.

SUSAN WARNE, LOCAL RESIDENT: That trash isn't OK. The fence isn't OK. What will be OK is Congress figuring out what to do with the illegal problem. It's a federal problem and they're not dealing with it.

WIAN: But residents of Sierra Vista and hundreds of other border communities deal with it every day.


WIAN: Border communities are also dealing with the threat of violence spilling across the border. About 1,200 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico so far this year. Since the beginning of last year, about 300 law enforcement officers have been killed by drug cartels. Conditions are so bad, three Mexican police chiefs are now seeking asylum in the United States -- Lou.

DOBBS: And the first seven top ranking police officials and government officials have been killed this month alone, including the head, the head of the federal police.

Casey, thank you very much -- Casey Wian reporting.

Some lawmakers are also posing a threat to the efforts to fight our illegal immigration crisis. The E-Verify Program expires later this year. Thousands of employers use that system to make certain that their workers are here working legally. But a replacement program proposed in Congress would make it impossible for local and state governments to enforce immigration laws and to crack down on illegal immigration and illegal employers.

Lisa Sylvester has our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): E-Verify is a voluntary system used by more than 60,000 employers to check if workers are eligible to work in the United States. The pilot program is set to expire in November.

And there is a proposal in Congress to replace it with a system currently used to track down deadbeat parents. Backers of the change say more than 6 million employers already use that system.

REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, (D) ARIZONA: We see that the E-Verify system that's currently in place is cumbersome, it's burdensome, and it's unreliable.

SYLVESTER: But critics insist scrapping E-Verify would weaken efforts to stop the hiring of illegal aliens. Among the criticisms: it would gut state employment verification laws like the one in Arizona, that require employers check that workers are legally eligible for employment, and would restrict information sharing between the Social Security Administration and immigration enforcement officials, making it harder to crackdown on employers who hire illegal workers.

NumbersUSA which favors tighter controls on illegal immigration insists E-Verify is reliable and says Congress should expand the program and require employers use it.

ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERSUSA: This is a government program that works and yet we're talking about dismantling it and re-creating it in another agency. It just doesn't make sense.

SYLVESTER: Representatives Ken Calvert and Heath Shuler are offering bills that require mandatory checks through E-Verify.

REP. KEN CALVERT, (R) CALIFORNIA: People in this country demand to know that people do not use fraudulent documents in seeking a job. And right now, everybody knows, people are using fraudulent Social Security numbers in order to obtain work in this country illegally.

SYLVESTER (on camera): The Democratic leadership so far has blocked legislation known as the SAVE Act from coming up for a vote. The SAVE Act includes provisions that would expand E-Verify and if nothing is done within six months, then the pilot program sunsets and there will be no employment verification system.

Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.


DOBBS: Up next here: Why the Bush administration flatly refuses to protect the American consumer from dangerous food and drug imports. We'll have that story.

And, the Clinton campaign says this race is far from over. I'll be talking with three of the sharpest political minds in the country here, next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Alarming new indications tonight: The Bush administration is more concerned about its relationship with communist China than the safety of American consumers. Again, the Food and Drug Administration is refusing to provide Congress with now the names of Chinese companies linked to that contaminated blood thinner heparin. Heparin from China blamed for the deaths of 81 people in this country.

Carrie Lee has our report.


CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At least 81 people have died in the United States and hundreds have gotten sick from contaminated blood thinner heparin. The raw materials in question came from China. Members of Congress requested a list of Chinese heparin suppliers from the Food and Drug Administration at a contentious hearing in late April.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us the top 12 Chinese companies that have produced contaminated HPI, heparin HPI?

DEBORAH AUTOR, FEDERAL DRUG ADMINISTRATION: I do know those 12 companies however I do not whether that is public information. I'd be happy to provide that to the committee if the committee makes a request for that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd just request it.

LEE: But two weeks later, the agency still has not handed over the information citing confidentiality agreements. AUTOR: Before we turn over that information we have to, of course, make sure that we can do our best to comply with our commitments to those countries with respect to confidentiality. We're working expeditiously to make the information available to Congress.

LEE: Congressman Bart Stupak is leading the investigation, he says the FDA is protecting the wrong people.

REP. BART STUPAK, (D) MICHIGAN: What confidentiality overrides the health and safety of American people? Whose interest is the FDA looking at? This agreement does nothing but protect the Chinese suppliers and manufacturers.

LEE: The heparin crisis erupted in February. At the April hearing, an FDA inspector said Chinese manufacturers barred the agency from complete plant access. What's worse, the FDA says it suspects the contamination was deliberate to boost profits. The agency says it has changed the way it tests for contaminants at the end point of production. But what it hasn't done is reveal what it knows about where these contaminants come from in the first place.


LEE: Now, on Monday, U.S. Health and Human Services secretary said heparin coming into the United States now is safe because of tighter testing and controls. But just last Friday, Lou, the FDA stepped up its heparin alerts to hundreds of hospitals and medical groups across the country after learning that some of them in California still had supplies of that contaminated heparin. So...

DOBBS: I've said this before, until this administration leaves office, and I have absolutely no interest whether it is a Democratic or Republican administration that succeeds it, this administration is filled with more incompetence and more so-called public servants who care so little about serving the public has to be absolutely contemptible.

This is an outrage and it's an obscene outrage on the part of the FDA. And it is only the latest in what has been a string of such outrages.

Carrie, thank you very much, Carrie Lee.

Millions of struggling Americans are increasingly turning to their credit cards to pay for gasoline and food and mortgages even. Now, one lawmaker has introduced legislation that would cap interest rates on those credit cards.

But as Kitty Pilgrim reports, that effort is being met with significant resistance by a special interest group, the banking industry.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Swipe after swipe after swipe. More than 70 percent of families have at least one general purpose credit card and many have a wallet-full. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I put everything on my credit card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a ton of credit cards, credit cards from probably every major bank in the country.

PILGRIM: According to the Federal Reserve, Americans have $957 billion in credit card debt. That's more than $3,000 for every man, woman, and child and the balances rising at an annual rate of 8 percent.

One study found American households with credit card debt owed a median balance of $6,600; less than 1/3 pay their balances off monthly. The American Bankers Association disputes that, saying those numbers are too high.

Twenty-five states have caps on interest rates on cards given by local banks. But the majority of credit cards are issued by national banks and there are currently no federal caps on how high interest rates can go.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey has introduced a bill that will change that.

REP. MORRIS HINCHEY, (D) NEW YORK: What I'm trying to do here is to put at least a cap on interest rates at 20 percent. Interest rates on these credit cards should not go above 20 percent. In my opinion, they shouldn't even be that high.

PILGRIM: The American Bankers Association says putting interest rate caps on credit cards is "unnecessary because credit card competition is intense and consumers have control."

But consumer watch dog groups say Congress may be willing to act as more Americans face ruin from credit card debt.

JOAN CLAYBROOK, PUBLIC CITIZEN: Credit card interest rates are putting people into bankruptcy, if not into poverty, and it's really important that there be limits on these interest rates. People are depending on credit cards much more with the downturn in the economy than they have in the past.

PILGRIM: The Federal Reserve recently proposed other limits to credit card fees and penalties.

Kitty Pilgrim, CNN.


DOBBS: Time for some of your thoughts.

Sherrie in Texas saying, "The Democrats in Washington just lost two Democrats of long standing. If Obama is the nominee, guess where my vote goes?"

Lorena in Texas, "Dear Lou, thank you so much for standing up for the rights of the individual, legal, American voter. It seems that nowadays, we are only entitled to vote fro the candidate chosen by the machine."

And, Genia in Michigan, "Lou, as of today, I am now a Lou Dobbs independent. You see today, the Democratic Party left me and slapped me in the face on the way out the door. I am now an independent Michigan voter."

Well, good for you, and congratulations, and welcome.

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to

And please, join me on the radio Monday through Friday afternoons for the "Lou Dobbs Show." Monday, my guests include Charles Morris, author of "Trillion Dollar Meltdown"; Anne Schroeder of; Michael Goodwin, "New York Daily News"; and former presidential candidate, former Governor Mike Huckabee.

Go to to get the listings or to get the listings for the radio.

Coming up next: Barack Obama apologizes to a reporter. I'll be talking with three of the best and brightest political analysts about that and a lot more.

Also, your Second Amendment rights under attack. An army reservist and veteran facing prison time because his gun malfunctioned on a firing range.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus criticizing me and CNN for our reporting on illegal immigration. So, I'll be talking with Congressman Luis Gutierrez here on next.

Stay with us.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Rick Sanchez, I'm going to take you back to Lou in just a little bit, but first, let's try and bring you up to date on one of the - some of the headlines that we've been following.

Of course, the biggest headline is this -- Senator Edward Kennedy is in a Massachusetts hospital after suffering a seizure at his home in Hyannis Port. He was flown by helicopter to a Boston hospital. Doctors are saying the 76-year-old Democratic icon did not have a stroke. Now, they are also saying he is not in any immediate danger.

We're going to break that down with Sanjay Gupta at 10:00 p.m.

Kennedy's niece, Caroline, rushed to the hospital along with the wife and kids. A spokesperson for Kennedy says he is conscious, talking, and talking with his family.

One person is dead, more than 20 others injured after a charter bus overturned on a southern California freeway today. No word on what caused the crash. No other vehicles were involved. The bus was heading to a gambling town on the Nevada border. BRETT KAY, ATTACKED BY GRIZZLY BEAR: It was eating my brains, I can feel it. I know it is happening.

SANCHEZ: Eating his brain. Hard to hear even harder to look at. Brett Kay says he is lucky to be alive after last week, the 53-year- old Canadian was alone in the woods when a 900-pound grizzly bear attacked him. Kay says that he realized the bear "had an agenda." Repeatedly biting and clawing him. So he played dead. Wildlife experts say the bear probably lost interest at that point.

Two down one to go, Kentucky derby winner "Big Brown" won the Preakness stakes today. If he captures the Belmont Stakes in June, "Big Brown" would be horse racing's first triple crown winner in three decades. There you have it. I'm Rick Sanchez. "Lou Dobbs" continues right now.

LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Joining me now, three of the best political analysts in the country, CNN contributor as well, syndicated columnist, Miguel Perez, democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, "Washington Times" columnist Diana West, also the author of "The death of the grownup." Good to see you all.

Miguel, let's start with you. Senator Edwards' endorsement got more play but the cable news networks than Senator Clinton's win in West Virginia. How important was the endorsement after all?

MIGUEL PEREZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Overall, I don't think it is that important. I don't think many people are going to switch to Obama because Edwards endorsed him. But at the same time it did steal the headlines the next day from Clinton's victory.

DOBBS: Smart politics?

PEREZ: Yes, it was very smart.

DOBBS: A smart politics for the Terry McAuliffe, the former D.N.C. chair and -- and super, superdelegate, for Hillary Clinton to say that she is going to be the next president of the United States.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: What choice does he have? You can't run away from your friends. Let's go back to something, for a second, on this Edwards' thing. I just hope for Obama's sake he does a lot better for Obama than he did for himself. If you look at it, a failed vice presidential candidate, a failed presidential candidate. What they did here was manage the press well. The press did what it did, it took the bait and bashed Clinton by guess what, not covering her great win in the same way.

DOBBS: Now we have, Diana West, the President of the United States taking a veiled slap at Obama and suggesting he is the author of a view of appeasement. Your reaction?

DIANA WEST, "THE WASHINGTON TIMES": Well, I have a lot of reactions to it. I think it is perfectly fair game. I think that appeasement versus standing tall to terrorists is the ever thus divide in dealing with tyrants of all types through the decades. However, the Bush administration is not been clean on this themselves. We have - we've been playing diplomatic footsie with Iran, we've been playing diplomatically entrenched with Mahmoud Abbas of Fattah of the Palestinian authority, and we have been also making nice with all kinds of former terrorists, we hope, in Iraq that have come around in our so-called Sunni awakening.

On the other hand, it is the very definition of appeasement to sit down with leaders who avowed to destroy you. So, yes, I think it is a very important thing to discuss. I don't think it is out of bounds. And I hope that this debate continues.

DOBBS: Well, Miguel, the debate - I think that Diana is going to get her wish. The debate is going to continue. What were your reactions to this?

PEREZ: Well, frankly, I agree with Diana. I really think that Obama has overreacted. If the shoe fits, wear it. And he is obviously wearing it. You know, he was not mentioned by name. The President didn't even mention democrats by name. He just -- he - it was a blank --

DOBBS: Within moments literally we heard from Howard Dean, the -- I should say within hours, the D.N.C. chair, we heard from Nancy Pelosi. We heard from the Obama campaign. My goodness.

PEREZ: Very defensive, aren't they? And the question is why?

SHEINKOPF: There is a reason. Last week, the chief spokesman for Hamas reported in dispatches that Barack Obama is their guy. They got to kill this. I mean, they got to put it away fast. Nobody likes people that terrorists like. He has got to try to say look for the new generation, we won't appease them. This isn't really 1939, we're going to sit down and talk. But if you sit down and talk with people that want to kill you it may seen as a sign of weakness. It shows quite frankly a lack of understanding of that part of the world. That's the problem.

DOBBS: And Obama apologizing for a comment where he called a reporter sweetie, Diana West. I mean, we're starting to see more -- explanations and rationalizations. What is your reaction there?

WEST: Ridiculous.

DOBBS: The apology or the offense?

WEST: Yes. Both. I mean, I think it's not an offense. And I think an apology is dignifying something that is not an offense. Just as talking with -- Iran is dignifying a completely beyond the pale point of view. People have to start having a sense of who they are and what is right and what they mean. Because everyone is acting like crazy people.

DOBBS: Well, let's listen to the apology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VOICE OF SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi Peggy, this is Barack Obama calling to apologize on two fronts. One was, you didn't get your question answered and second apology, for using the word 'sweetie.' That's a bad habit of mine, I do it sometimes with all kinds of people. I mean no disrespect and so I am duly chastened on that front. Feel free to call me back.


DOBBS: What do you think, Miguel?

PEREZ: It's a term of endearment. I don't find the insult anywhere. I'm not a woman so I can't really say. But I mean why? Why, why would anybody be offended by something, you know I mean, it wasn't a negative.

WEST: I would never be. As your woman on the panel.

SHEINKOPF: You see here what is really important folks from a political perspective is that this guy has the uncanny ability to take that which is being thrown against him and boomerang it back. The apology, the so-called apology and the way he re-stated it makes him look much better than the problem in the first place was nonexistent. So, he wins on both fronts. Pretty darn good.

DOBBS: We'll be back with our panel in just a moment and we'll tell you about a guns' rights case that could affect this country's second amendment rights for just about everybody. Stay with us, we're coming right back.


DOBBS: I'm back with Miguel Perez, Hank Sheinkopf, and Diana West. Miguel, this week, Senator McCain came out with a -- with the first of the presidential candidates really to do it -- a statement about the future that he wants to build as president of the United States. A 30-second commercial. What did you think?

PEREZ: I thought it was interesting. It is an obvious effort for him to get away from the 100-year prediction in Iraq. You know he tried desperately to get away with that. Now he says he can do it within five years. But he also makes several other promises of what this country would look like at the end of his first term. I think it is very positive. I was impressed.

DOBBS: Your thoughts, Hank?

SHEINKOPF: Very smart. Right thing to do. Set the future stage now. Don't wait until Barack Obama is free and clear. He will whack you around.

DOBBS: Diana?

WEST: I agree. And yet at the same time it leaves him open to so many questions. How will he end the war by 2013? What is going to be different now that is or what is going to be different then that is not happening now? So that is what he needs to be ready for and I have no idea what he'll say.

DOBBS: And no one, no one covering this presidential race nor voters right now understand how any one of these candidates will pursue policy on the war in Iraq. Or whether it's McCain, wrapping it up in 2013 or before. Whether it is the two democratic candidates saying they'll withdraw our troops. I mean it still remains so amorphous, so unspecified.

SHEINKOPF: It's in McCain's interest to have a discussion at least about him saying, about the argument between him and Barack Obama how are you going to do rather than talk about George Bush. That's why they did this the way they did it. That's the dynamic of all.

DOBBS: That's an interesting point. But at the same time it also puts a new stake in ground. He is the only one of these candidates to really define a future, the vision thing. As George W. Bush's father would have said. And I think it's somewhat surprising to some, at least, that it's the republican candidate who -- who jumped on that immediately.

PEREZ: Fortunately, Lou, what I think is happening with the democratic candidates, we're going to get from them what we got from the democratic congress. A lot of promises and then once they took office they don't know how to deal with this war. They don't know how to solve the war. And they will not be able to get out of Iraq as soon as they claim they will.

DOBBS: You know, there is something happening in this country. And it's the disconnect that we have all reported on and talked about from various perspectives on this panel and our colleagues in the media throughout the country. But right now there is a disconnect that is not being reported upon. And that disconnect - seems to be getting larger rather than smaller. Concerning the democratic candidates, I believe, whether it's economic policy, whether it's the war in Iraq. People forget, 2006, less than two years ago this Congress came in to deal with the war in Iraq. Because people were sick of it. The war in Iraq has now moved down the ladder of concerns for the American people, the economy, to the forefront and to the top of priorities. What is this going to mean, Diana, for voters and for these two parties come November?

WEST: It depends whether the voters actually ever focus on the disconnect. I mean, one of the most profound questions that I would hope comes out of this whole Iran appeasement question is -- what about Iran? Withdrawing our troops quickly from Iraq does nothing to address the dire threat of Iran. Same, leaving our troops in Iraq does nothing to address the dire threat of Iran. I would say that this is the elephant in the room right now.

DOBBS: Right.

PEREZ: I agree with Diana. Again, Iran is a major concern. I will repeat myself. The democrats have not convinced me in any way, shape or form that they're going to get us out of Iraq.

DOBBS: And Hank, the last word? SHEINKOPF: The reason for the disconnect, the big elephant in the room is George Bush. As long as he is there, he becomes the pinata to smack around. And the democrats don't have to say much but talk about him.

DOBBS: Do you really think that's going to be a factor, it sound so hollow - frankly it sounds so hollow to me?

SHEINKFOPF: My business is politics. And I can tell you what works in campaigns and so long as Bush is there, he is the issue.

DOBBS: All right. Hank, thank very much. Miguel, thank you. Diana, thank you.

Coming up next, the gun owner sentenced to prison because a rifle malfunctioned on a firing range. We'll have that report. And the congressional Hispanic caucus criticizing this broadcast again for reporting on illegal immigration. I'll be talking with the member of the caucus, Congressman Luis () joins me next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Well, gun owner David Olofson today, saying he hopes to be free while his conviction on federal weapons charges is appealed. He was sentenced Tuesday to 2 1/2 years in prison for owning an AR-15, semiautomatic rifle which he contends simply malfunctioned. Olofson's rifle fired two multiround bursts after he loaned it to a neighbor to use on a local shooting range. This gun isn't supposed to fire multiburst rounds and it jammed the two times that it did so. But instead of ordering Olofson to repair the rifle, the federal government charged the Army reservist with transferring a machine gun and he just got hit with a 30-month sentence to prison. Bill Tucker has our report from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): David Olofson showed up for his sentencing in Wisconsin with mom and dad by his side. They watched as Judge Clevert sentenced their son to 2 1/2 years in prison and two years probation for transferring a machine gun. Afterwards he offered this brief statement.

DAVID R. OLOFSON, DEFENDANT: Definitely disappointed. It went in a direction, that we definitely were not expecting. And we hope that the issues will be resolved at a higher level at this point.

TUCKER: The sentence was consistent with what the prosecution wanted. A sentence they argued that Olofson deserved. The assistant U.S. attorney Gregory (Handstadt) noted that Olofson had two prior gun charges on his record and he does. But he doesn't have any gun convictions. Both charges concerned Olofson carrying guns in public. The first incident was at a park. The charge was dismissed. The second was a complaint that he was carrying a gun while trick-or- treating with his children. That complaint resulted in a conviction for disorderly conduct. Olofson's lawyers admitted that he had shown bad judgment but also noted that the behavior was within the law because in Wisconsin a person can openly carry a gun.

The government also contends that Olofson was the target of an investigation while he served in the army noting that army investigators were concerned about possible security breaches in military computers. The defense replied they had never heard of the investigation and noted that if true, Mr. Olofson went on to be honorably discharged and then to enlist in the reserves with no objection from the army. Olofson through his father denies ever knowing of any investigation.

DAVID L. OLOFSON, FATHER OF THE DEFENDANT: He told me just before that is not in his military records. So he does not know where it came from.

TUCKER: According to the prosecutor there is a letter of administrative reprimand in Olofson's files. We spoke to the army and a spokesman told "Lou Dobbs Tonight" that if an investigation have found anything serious, Olofson would not have been honorably discharged or allowed to enlist in the reserves. The arguments were enough for Judge Clavert who was outraged by Olofson's behavior. For Olofson's lawyers, the issue is not their client's behavior or bad judgment but the nature of the offense he is convicted of, transferring a machine gun. They argued the ruling has implications for gun owners all over the country.

BRIAN FAHL, DEFENSE ATTORNY As I said in court, you know, someone who has an AR-15, for example or some other semiautomatic rifle they got to worry that if you have some semblance of M-16 parts, well you just may have a machine gun now. And another thing is if you have accidental misfires, it looks like you may have a machine gun. And that accidental misfiring will do these things that aren't semiautomatic rifles.

TUCKER: The government does not see any new precedent in the case issuing this statement, "the jury based on the court's instructions found beyond a reasonable doubt that Olofson knew that the firearm was a machine gun when he transferred it. The court's jury instructions on knowledge and the definition of machine gun were statutory definitions which have been in place for more than 20 years. We do not believe this is an a new precedent or that legal gun owners have reasons to be concerned." The case is being appealed at 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.


TUCKER (on-camera): Now, Olofson's attorneys appealed to the 7th circuit, Lou and asked if their client be allowed to remain free pending the outcome of his appeal. It is the strict definition of machine gun in this case which has gun enthusiasts paying attention. Prior to this ruling, the ATF did acknowledge that certain semiautomatic rifles with M-16 parts were legal as long as they did not contain a part known as an auto-seer. An auto-seer indisputably, Lou, turns the rifle into an automatic gun. But Olofson's rifle did not have an auto-seer, as a result a lot of gun enthusiasts are now worried that any gun which fires more than one bullet with a single pull of the trigger, even if unintended is a machine gun and they're subject to prosecution. Lou.

DOBBS: We're talking about six rounds of ammunition, two bursts, two rounds which in the first burst went clear, a third jammed. Is the U.S. attorney and the federal judge, they're absolutely, are they out of their minds?

TUCKER: They clearly believe that they're doing the right thing, Lou. And you know that's all I can say. It does seem extreme that this guy, a veteran and a reservist, would end up in this position.

DOBBS: Well, I mean this is extraordinary. ATF had said that they're going to deal with only violent crimes, you know, like narco- terrorists and so forth. And they go after David Olofson taking care of his three kids. A man who has been serving in the U.S. Army reserves? This is -- by the way, the local paper there reporting that -- testified that he knew it was an automatic weapon. That's not true at all. We went through, I thought I was imagining things. I went through the transcript, and point of fact that is not what he said at all.

TUCKER: No. He acknowledged to the ATF and to the prosecutors that he knows what a machine gun is. But to my reading of any of the transcripts he never said he knew this gun, this rifle, was in fact a machine gun. It's been his contention all along that it was a broken gun.

DOBBS: This smells to high heaven.

TUCKER: That needed to be fixed.

DOBBS: It smells to high heaven. I want this thing, absolutely, continued - I want your investigation if you will to continue. I want to know exactly what's going on there. With Mr. Olofson and why these forces - these powers have decided to come down so hard on an individual, an American citizen, who served his nation, and done so with an honorable discharge, and I want to find out why they're playing such games with the media as well. Because this is absolutely outrageous. The people of Wisconsin, putting up with this nonsense from their federal court bench and from their local officials there. I mean, it's crazy. Bill, thank you very much. Bill Tucker.

TUCKER: You're welcome.

DOBBS: Coming up next - the congressional Hispanic caucus criticizes this broadcast because of our coverage of illegal immigration. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a member of the caucus joining me next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The Congressional Hispanic caucus is given to criticizing me for our reporting here on illegal immigration and border security. The Hispanic caucus in fact sending a letter to the Time-Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, claiming that CNN is skewed in favor of "anti-immigration efforts." Tim-Warner, of course, not releasing the letter to the media or to us for that matter. Congressman Luis Gutierrez is a member of the congressional caucus, Hispanic caucus and chairman of the democratic caucus immigration task force and joins me now. Good to have you with us.


DOBBS: I guess, the first question is why can't we get along?

GUTIERREZ: Well I think we believe, specifically on your programming, Lou, that the coverage when it comes to immigration you call it the illegal immigration, we like to discuss it in broader terms, immigration, leads to a stereotype of Latinos in this country that we're criminals, that we bring leprosy to this country, that we're building some four football field wide super highway just crushing --

DOBBS: No, no, you are not doing that. That is the United States government doing that.

GUTIERREZ: And this is our perspective that we come here and we only come here to get a free ride. To get government services, that we're crippling our hospitals and our tax system. When indeed we don't qualify for Medicare. We don't qualify for social security.

DOBBS: You are saying, we, who is we?

GUTIERREZ: Immigrants. Immigrants in general.

DOBBS: But I was talking about illegal immigrants. Illegal aliens.

GUTIERREZ: But you can ..

DOBBS: You call all people either legally or illegally immigrants.

GUTIERREZ: Let me finish. In terms of, look, Lou, when I walk down the street, people don't distinguish, I don't carry a letter on my forehead or on my chest saying I am here legally in the United States. I was born here. I wish one day you could come to my office after I appear on your program so that you could hear the messages that are left in my office by citizens of the United States responding to my mere appearance on your program. Calling telling me to go back where I came from. You know, it's kind of tough, not easy, not tough to return to Chicago, Illinois. We're all looking at -- looked at as suspects. Especially Lou, when every time. I understand undocumented workers come here to this country. But not all -- not all of them are criminals, not all of them are murderers, and rapists. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of them, Lou, work really hard trying to raise their families.

DOBBS: Congressman, do you watch my show at all?


DOBBS: You have heard me over the years, saying the only rationale actor in this whole mess is the illegal alien.

GUTIERREZ: Say that again? DOBBS: You heard me say time and time again that the only rationale actor in this is the illegal alien trying to improve his or her life. You have heard me say time and time again that the illegal employer of the illegal alien deserves greater sanctions in this mess. You have also heard me say that those who conflate, the illegal alien and the legal immigrant insult legal immigrants to this country and are trying to create subterfuge rather than clarity and transparency in the issue by not distinguishing between the two. Is that - and that's the only way I can not be criticize by the Hispanic caucus is to embrace open borders and illegal immigration. Because I won't.

GUTIERREZ: Well, Lou, I don't think. I think you know that's not our challenge. I think you know that that's not the basis of our conversation. Most of the public should know that I reached out to you.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

GUTIERREZ: And we had a wonderful lunch together.

DOBBS: Let's do this. We're out of time, Congressman.


DOBBS: Let's have another one of those lunches. I'll invite you there or here. We'll try to make some progress on reconciliation.

GUTIERREZ: And I look forward to that, Lou. I think the country is big enough for two Lou's.

DOBBS: I think it's more than big enough. Thanks a lot. And I think, by the way. We help each other so much. Luis Gutierrez, thank you so much.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, Congressman. Appreciate it.

Thanks for joining us. Join us here tomorrow. From all of us, thanks for watching and good night from New York.