Return to Transcripts main page
Lou Dobbs This Week
Worsening Salmonella Outbreak; San Francisco's Mayor; Campaign News
Aired July 13, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight: One of the nation's largest salmonella outbreaks in history is worsening. It could be linked, on all places, to Mexico. But federal officials still refuse to discuss its origin.
And a stunning reversal for San Francisco's pro-amnesty sanctuary mayor, Gavin Newsom, his outrageous efforts to shield criminal illegal alien drug dealers and he wants to be governor.
All of that and much more with an independent perspective, straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK: News, debate, and opinion. Here now: Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Senator McCain is facing a storm of protests this week after one of his top economic advisors called Americans "a nation of whiners." The adviser, former Senator Phil Gramm said Americans who complain about the economic downturn suffer what he calls "a mental recession."
Senator Obama is also facing strong criticism after he told Americans to make sure their children learn Spanish, saying he's embarrassed by Americans who travel abroad and can't speak the native language. The senator providing new evidence he could be divisive even as he claims to be a unifier.
We begin with our report by Dana Bash.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In hard-hit Michigan, this is the McCain mantra on the economy...
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are hurting. People are hurting very badly.
BASH: A carefully measured message that's part feel your pain, part realist, but all optimist.
MCCAIN: But they need to have trust and hope and confidence in the future.
BASH: Given that, quotes in the "Washington Times" from Phil Gramm, one of the John McCain's top economic advisers, were a big oops.
PHIL GRAMM, MCCAIN ADVISER: You just hear this constant whining, complaining about our loss of our competitiveness.
BASH: Gramm also said...
GRAMM: You've heard of mental depression, this is mental recession.
BASH: McCain couldn't distance himself fast enough from his friend.
MCCAIN: Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me. So I strongly disagree.
BASH: He struggled to steer his economic message back on course.
MCCAIN: The person here in Michigan that just lost his job isn't suffering from a mental recession. I believe the mother here in Michigan around America who is trying to get enough money to educate their children isn't whining.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not all in your head.
BASH: Minutes earlier, Barack Obama shoved a dig about Phil Gramm's comment into his speech.
OBAMA: ... that America already has one Dr. Phil. We don't need another one.
BASH: Now, surrogate slipups have plagued both campaigns. Obama recently rebuked retired General Wesley Clark, his supporter, for questioning McCain's military service.
GRAMM: And John McCain has character.
BASH: The problem for McCain is that he relies on Gramm, a Ph.D. in economics for policy advice, and as a character witness for voters worried that McCain doesn't get the economy.
MCCAIN: The reason why I have the support of people like Jack Kemp and Phil Gramm is because of their confidence in my proven record of handling the economy.
BASH (on camera): Now, I spoke to former Senator Phil Gramm by phone, who said he wanted to clarify his comments. First, he told me he didn't mean to say Americans were whining about the economy, but rather, many of the country's leaders are. He said, quote, "The whiners are the leader. Hell, the American people are victims, but it didn't quite come out that way in the story."
But Gramm stood by his comments about a mental recession. Here's what he told me about that, quote, "We keep getting the steady drum beat of bad news. It's become a mental recession. We don't have measure negative growth. That's a fact, that's not a commentary."
Now, Gramm also insisted that he was speaking for himself only, not on behalf of John McCain or his campaign and he called all the hoopla around his remarks part of the game where people are taken out of context. Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: Senator Obama is now trying to play down what Reverend Jesse Jackson admits were crude and hurtful comments that he made about the senator. Jackson accused of Obama of talking down to African- Americans. He also said he would like to castrate Senator Obama.
Joe Johns has our report.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reverend Jackson's open mic moment came on Sunday on FOX News. He thought his mic was off when he said this to a fellow guest.
REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: See, Barack's been, talking down to black people on this faith based. I want to cut his (BEEP) off. Barack, he's talking down to black people.
JOHNS: Jackson was in full damage control, calling leaders in the African-American community to explain even before many had heard of comment, placing himself on the firing line at a hastily arranged news conference.
JACKSON: And yet this thing I've said in a hot-mic statement that's interpreted as distraction, I offer an apology for that because I don't harm or hurt to come to this campaign. It represents too much of the dreams of so many who paid such great prices and...
JOHNS: Part of what Jackson was apparently trying to say is Obama should not talk down to the African-American community in sermons when he discusses one of his themes -- personal responsibility. It was another messy moment for Barack Obama who just seems to attract regrettable "off the cuff" remarks by high-profile people who were quickly forced to go out and take it back.
In a statement, Obama's campaign accepted Jackson's apology, but the candidate stood his ground on the issue of personal responsibility, saying, "He will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves and each other, and he, of course, accepts Reverend Jackson's apology."
But Jackson didn't receive forgiveness from his own son. Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., who was the co-chairman of the Obama campaign, issued a statement saying, "I'm deeply outraged and disappointed in the reckless statements," which he calls, "divisive and demeaning, and says they "contradict his inspiring and courageous career."
It's unclear what triggered Jackson's outburst. In June, Obama delivered a speech before an African-American congregation on the problems of fatherless black households.
OBAMA: Too my fathers are MIA, too many fathers are AWOL. JOHNS (on camera): Reverend Jackson is playing down the notion that this is a kind of a face-off between the old guard and the new guard of African-American politics. But there have been rumblings for weeks that some in the Jackson camp in Chicago are upset because Obama's message hasn't been tailored and focused to appeal to more traditional black constituencies.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: Senator Obama is facing new political firestorms on another front, telling Americans to be certain their children can speak Spanish, another example of the senator's pandering to ethnocentric special interest groups to win Hispanic votes in this presidential election.
Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a simple, straightforward statement from the campaign trail in Powder Springs, Georgia. When it comes to getting along in America, presidential candidate Barack Obama has these thoughts on immigration and English.
OBAMA: I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that, but, understand this, instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English -- they'll learn English -- you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual.
TUCKER: Critics of the senator's statement point out the real problem isn't Americans learning another language.
ROSEMARY FEAL, MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOC.: Virtually, every language that's spoken in the world is also spoken in the United States because we have immigrants from every corner of the world.
TUCKER: In fact, America is the most multilingual country in the world. Literally hundreds of languages are spoken here. And the linguistic diversity is not limited to urban areas, it's geographically widespread -- which is why proponents of making English the official language argue it's important that one language be the official language of communication.
JIM BOULET, ENGLISH FIRST: It appears from Barack's statement that the only people expected to learn another language are English- speaking children. They're to be required to learn Spanish. I don't know what that's going to be for the Vietnamese child has to now learn English and Spanish as well as their home language.
TUCKER: Nor does Obama's statement address the reality that in many parts of southwest Spanish is not only widely spoken, in some areas, it is the dominant language.
Bill Tucker, CNN, New York.
DOBBS: Senator Barack Obama appears willing to do almost anything to pander to the pro-amnesty open borders movement, stepping up his calls for outright amnesty for to 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in this country. And Senator McCain demanding as well the path to legalization for illegal aliens, but he says border security should be our first priority.
Bill Schneider with our report.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): First NALEO, now LULAC, next La Raza. Both John McCain and Barack Obama are speaking to all three prominent Latino political organizations. That's clout.
How do Latino voters get so much clout? Latinos are 15 percent of the population. But they were only 8 percent of the voters in 2004. Nearly half the nation's Latinos live in California or Texas, but neither is a battleground state.
Four battleground states do have large Latino communities, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. But Latino voters have never voted Republican for president. Since 1972, Republican candidates have averaged only about 1/3 of the Latino vote.
So why are Latino voters so hotly contested this time? Because both candidates have problems with Latinos. In the Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton beat Obama nearly two to one. In general election right now, Obama is beating McCain by two to one.
Both candidates sense an opportunity with Latino voters. They both support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. But when that issue drew an outraged response from many voters, McCain decided to emphasize border security first.
OBAMA: But when he started running for his party's nomination, he abandoned his courageous stance and said that he wouldn't even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote.
SCHNEIDER: McCain continues to emphasize border security to plicate his critics.
MCCAIN: We must prove to them that we can and will secure our borders first.
SCHNEIDER: But he is now renewing his commitment to comprehensive reform.
MCCAIN: We must not make the mistake of thinking that our responsibility to meet this challenge will end with that accomplishment. SCHNEIDER (on camera): Both candidates are using their own personal stories to make a pitch to Latino voters. Obama talked about his immigrant roots and declared, quote, "America has nothing to fear from our newcomers," unquote. McCain recounted the story of a fellow prisoner of war who was Latino, and noted that many Latinos now serve in Iraq and Afghanistan who are not yet citizens.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: Still ahead, bungling bureaucrats at the FDA still clueless, or at least not talking about the origin of one of the worst salmonella outbreaks the history of this country. We'll have the latest.
And the little darling (ph) who calls himself mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, suffering a major political setback over his sanctuary policy for drug-dealing illegal aliens. But he still wants to be governor of California. We'll be telling you all about it.
DOBBS: The salmonella outbreak in this country is spreading tonight, affecting more than half of the country. In fact, the FDA has changed its focus now from tomatoes to peppers and other ingredients used in Mexican food. But after three months, the FDA still says it has no idea where or how this outbreak began.
Louise Schiavone has our report.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Over 1,000 confirmed cases of the Saintpaul strain of salmonella now according to the Centers for Disease Control. Affected -- people in at least 42 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada. The CDC says more than 200 people have been hospitalized, and now two deaths are mentioned in connection with the outbreak.
Initially identified as tomato-caused, the outbreak is thought now to have a possible link to salsa ingredients besides tomatoes, including fresh Jalapeno and Serrano peppers and Cilantro, although, for the record, there are no answers.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
STEVE SUNDLOF, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: We have not found any positives, either with tomatoes or Salmonella Saintpaul or with the peppers, but the peppers are just starting.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHIAVONE: An expanded Food and Drug Administration inspection program at the U.S.-Mexico border focusing on ingredients common to Mexican cuisine and salsa in particular is beginning to have an impact on distributors and growers.
JIM PREVOR, PERISHABLEPUNDIT.COM: They're opening the trailers, pulling out a sample. They usually will let the product go on, but it's embargoed and can't be sold until those tests come back, which could be anywhere from three days to seven or eight days. But it's very disruptive for commerce. Most of them knew it was coming, thanks to CNN passing on the notice, and they decided to hold back on shipment.
SCHIAVONE: Among those affected, Frontera Produce in Edinburgh, Texas. Company president, Will Steele, told LOU DOBBS TONIGHT that two truckloads of Jalapeno Peppers are warehoused and going nowhere as he awaits clearance from FDA inspectors.
Obviously, Steele told CNN, "Right now, we're looking at an impact in the small thousands but as time goes on and we don't get any clarity from the FDA, it could be in the hundreds of thousands. There's a huge impact for our company," end quote.
This lawyer has been contacted by more than 100 clients from 20 states, 35 of whom are formal victims of the outbreak. Most of his clients consume salsa which one market researcher says is the nation's number one selling condiment.
Meanwhile, the question persists -- if the government still can't get to the bottom of this after three months of investigation, how vulnerable are we to bioterrorism?
BILL MARLER, LAWYER: Maybe Lou Dobbs is correct when he says that, you know, this sort of underscores, you know, the failure of this administration to take these sorts of, you know, problems really seriously. And, you know, this is exactly how a bioterrorism outbreak is going to look.
SCHIAVONE: The CDC responded to the concern about bioterrorism this way.
JULIE GERBERDING, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: The United States does have one of the safest food supplies in the world, thanks to the FDA and the USDA and many other people at the state and local level. But we've also acknowledge that food is an inconvenient vehicle for deliberately contaminating people.
SCHIAVONE: The FDA says it's possible definitive cause will ever be identified.
Louise Schiavone for CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: Up next, San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, reversing course on his outrageous illegal alien policy. We'll have that report.
And after extensive coverage by this broadcast, a victory for American workers -- the Pentagon reconsidering one of it's biggest contracts. We'll have that story and more, stay with us. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DOBBS: In San Francisco tonight, a stunning reversal of the policy that was designed to protect illegal aliens from deportation. That city's two-decade long sanctuary status has simply backfired. It has blown up after the controversial escape of eight criminal illegal alien drug dealers. Those dealers had been sent to a group home instead of being deported.
And one cannot help but wonder, did it have anything to do with the mayor of San Francisco's political ambitions?
Casey Wian has our report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mayor Gavin Newsom has repeatedly trumpeted San Francisco's policy of not cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement
MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM, SAN FRANCISCO: We're a sanctuary city. We don't cooperate with the federal government as it relates to these raids.
WIAN: Now the mayor has changed his tune after a pressure from the feds and other local officials in California. They discovered that for nearly 20 years, San Francisco has been shielding illegal alien drug dealers claiming to be juveniles from federal immigration authorities.
JOSEPH RUSSONIELLO, U.S. ATTORNEY, NORTHERN CALIF.: It's obviously either naivete or arrogance, you know, compounded by incompetence to do something like that.
WIAN: In May, a San Francisco probation officer was detained by immigration agents at Houston's international airport. He was escorting two Honduran illegal aliens on a city-funded flight home. Then last month, eight illegal aliens from Honduras, all convicted of dealing drugs in San Francisco escaped from a southern California juvenile home.
Since 2005, the city has spent more than $2 million housing 162 illegal alien juvenile offenders or flying them to their native countries.
RICK OLTMAN, CALIFORNIANS FOR POP. STABILIZATION: They've used taxpayer dollars to shield drug traffickers from federal prosecution. This is, in fact, the logical extension of the sanctuary city gone wild. It had to happen someplace. San Francisco was as good a place it will happen. I hope that other cities around the country are watching this mess.
WIAN: Last week, Newsom reversed the policy saying in a statement, "Let me be clear: I will not allow our sanctuary city status to be used to shield criminal behavior by anyone. I have directed my administration to working cooperation with the federal government on all felony cases." (END VIDEOTAPE)
WIAN: An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official says the agency has had, a quote, "constructive meeting" with San Francisco about changing the city's procedures for dealing with illegal alien felons who claim to be juveniles -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, the biggest juvenile of all in my opinion is Gavin Newsom, the mayor of the city. He looks like a complete and utter political twit sitting there saying that he won't cooperate with federal authorities because of his "sanctuary status," as he put it. This is absolutely an absurdity.
WIAN: Yes. It's interesting, Lou. Another part of his statement, if I can read it to you...
DOBBS: Go ahead.
WIAN: He says San Francisco's "sanctuary city" policy is not a shield for criminal behavior." In this case, it clearly was. Further embarrassment to Gavin Newsom, who, as you reported, is considering running for governor of California. A lot of these allegations came to light on the day he was announcing that exploratory bid. He's going to have a tough time convincing voters of this state to vote for him if this kind of information continues to be uncovered.
DOBBS: I certainly -- it's my opinion. I mean, I can't even imagine the city of San Francisco can support such an obviously irresponsible and immature person as Gavin Newsom as its mayor. I mean, this is ridiculous.
It also begs the question why federal authorities haven't prosecuted him for absolutely flaunting federal law with his so-called - and I love the precious little remark from a year ago talking about the city's sanctuary status. I mean, good grief. The U.S. attorney -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.
WIAN: I was going to say that federal authorities have been investigating this situation since they uncovered that this case where a city official working for the Juvenile Probation Department was escorting without federal permission these two illegal alien criminals back home to Honduras. They detained that person.
They started investigating this, and that's the reason why San Francisco, instead of deporting these folks themselves, started turning them over to these group homes -- often not in San Francisco -- in other jurisdictions where, of course, those local officials are now absolutely outraged because these folks escaped from these low- security facilities and then go on to commit crimes in their community.
DOBBS: San Bernardino County coming to mind.
WIAN: Yes, absolutely.
DOBBS: And the idea that this mayor, this man I've referred to as a "little darling" because he's so doggone precious, Gavin Newsom, thinking somehow that an illegal alien is somehow free of responsibility for paying off human smugglers, that drug dealers are somehow free of responsibility for breaking our laws and devastating lives throughout this country.
It is incomprehensible that a community and a city as wonderful as San Francisco, could support that kind of just utterly, intellectually fraudulent and irresponsible action on the part of any public official. It's extraordinary.
WIAN: Even in San Francisco, they're questioning this policy, this decision. The "San Francisco Chronicle," the hometown paper there, is the who broke this story first, Lou.
DOBBS: Our congratulations and commendation to "The Chronicle" for outstanding journalism.
Thank you. I appreciate your terrific reporting, as always, Casey -- Casey Wian.
Well, Gavin Newsom, the good mayor, finally forced to set things straight concerning the absurd sanctuary policy. Newsom, of course, has launched a number of attacks against me as well for opposing San Francisco's sanctuary city status, and because he doesn't like the fact apparently that I support the rule of law.
Listen to what the mayor, the precious darling, had to say about me a short while back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWSOM: We have been very concern in the last year and a half or two years with the renewed vigor by the federal government and ICE to adopt more aggressive strategies for immigration raids. We are very concerned about a lot of the language, incendiary language that has been used in the last number of years, both in Congress and on right- wing radio and on cable TV where careers are literally being saved and salvaged like Lou Dobbs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Obviously, it's Mayor Newsom who's focused on his career and it is a career that apparently needs some salvaging, since he is so irresponsible and immature as to carry out intelligent and principled public policy. So the man I can't really refer to, and that shows (ph) any other expression rather than just little darling, I could use other language but he just strikes me as a little darling, Mayor Newsom does.
He, in my judgment, owes the folks of San Francisco, all of us, an apology for his immaturity, his irresponsibility and for just being such a precious fraud. It doesn't really work, Mayor Newsom. You can forget about it. You've worked for a while in San Francisco, but I believe your time is up.
San Bernardino County is fighting against Mayor Newsom's outrageous actions and comments. County supervisors authorizing a lawsuit to recover any law enforcement costs. In response, Mayor Newsom said he thought San Bernardino supervisors had better ways to spend their time.
Up next: Common sense finally prevails at the Pentagon and the battle against the outsourcing of our national defense, after pressure from this broadcast and others.
Senator Obama is under fire for demanding our children to speak Spanish. Should he be?
And: Senator McCain on the defensive after one of his top advisers declared the United States to be a "nation of whiners."
Wow. Well, two of the issues we'll be talking about with three of the best political analysts in the country. We'll find out what independent voters think of these two candidates. We'll be right back.
LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Well, the Pentagon this week reversed itself after months of criticism from this broadcast. Members of Congress and the government accountability office which pointed out well the failings of the Department of Defense on this contract. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the Air Force will re-open bidding for the Air Force tanker plane. They Air Force originally have given the contract to Europe's Airbus. It could now go to Boeing and common sense prevailed. Lisa Sylvester has our report.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Secretary Robert Gates came right to the point.
ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I've concluded that the contract cannot be awarded at present because of significant issues pointed out by the Government Accountability Office.
Gates also announced that the new selection process will be taken out of the hands of the Air Force and handled directly by his office. The $35 billion tanker contract had been awarded to a European consortium instead of American based Boeing. Although the European group is teaming up with America's Northup-Grumman, the bulk of its jobs would be in Europe. A government accountability office report last month found that the competition had a number of significant errors, including miscalculating the cost of the Airbus and Boeing 767 over the life cycles. Representative Duncan Hunter applauded the decision.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: This is great news for the American taxpayers and for American aerospace workers. This would have been a huge economic stimulus package for western Europe and a real loss for the American industrial base. SYLVESTER: But the re-bit will only look at a limited set of issues. For example, it will not take into consideration protection of the U.S. defense industrial base, nor will it factor in what the U.S. says is $5 billion in European subsidies provided to build the Airbus tanker plane, the focus of a U.S. trade representative complaint before the World Trade Organization.
REP. TODD TIAHRT (R), KANSAS: We have one part of the government the United States trade representative, suing the French because of this illegal subsidy, and we make no consideration for it in the Department of Defense. And that's unfair to American workers.
SYLVESTER: Northup Grumman responded to the re-bid saying, "we are reviewing the decision to ensure the recompetition will provide both companies a fair opportunity to present the strengths of their proposals. The United States Air Force has already picked the best tanker and we're confident that it will do so again.
SYLVESTER (on-camera): The Department of Defense hopes to issue the request for new proposals late July or early August. And it hopes to make a final selection by the end of this year. One thing, tough, that's not in the table is splitting the contract between Boeing and the European group. The Pentagon said that would be too expensive. Lou.
DOBBS: Yes, and it would also be extremely stupid. What would be intelligent and seems to me reasonable if I may offer this opinion, Lisa, is for Boeing to bring in Northup Grumman. The fact that the United States Air Force and the Department of Defense are being divisive as between competing companies in this country but supporting a European-subsidized company like Airbus is utterly mindless. Why not do as much as we can - this would be the question that I would have for Secretary Gates - to support both of those companies, fine companies, Boeing and Northup Grumman in this project. It's certainly 35 billion, now 40 billion and it's likely to grow to 100 billion over the term of this contract. Lisa, thank you very much for keeping us up to date on this one. This has been quite a battle. Lisa Sylvester reporting, very helpful to all of us. Thank you.
The tanker program is one of several military projects under fire by the Government Accountability Office. And I want to point out if I may right now that the Government Accountability Office deserves immense credit for being just an absolutely outstanding watch dog over this government and bringing the little accountability that is present in our government to bear in Washington. Well, the GAO has found that the Pentagon is facing huge cost overuns as well. The latest version of the unmanned Global Hawk, so called, a reconnaissance aircraft. It was supposed to cost $900 million to develop. That cost has now soared to only $3 billion. That's right, more than 300 percent - oh, man, overrun and the development cost of the marine corps new expeditionary fighting vehicle has risen from just over a billion dollars to more than 3 1/2.
Now, these are the kinds of numbers that they referred to as close enough for government work, but there's nothing funny about it. The billions of dollars involved are crushing the Defense Department budget. And a new generation of army communications equipment called WIN-T due to cost $338 million. Well, development costs have now skyrocketed. That's right, more than $2 billion. Separately the cost of the new Marine One helicopter - by the way, that's another classic case of outsourcing, being built in Europe has now almost doubled from six to just over $11 billion. That is also leading to calls to re- open bidding in the contract, and what a good idea it would be.
Up next, Senator Obama wants parents to make certain their children learn Spanish. The head of a group promoting English as a unifying factor in this nation joins us here. And are we a nation of whiners? As one of Senator McCain's top adviser says. I'll be talking about that with three of the best political analysts next. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: The group U.S. English was founded by the late Senator S.I. Hayakawa to preserve the unifying role of English in our country. Tim Schultz is the director of government operations for U.S. English joining us now from Washington, D.C.. Tim, good to have you with us. Let's put up a poll here, if we may. This is the Zogby poll showing that more than 80 percent of Americans support making English the official language in this country. 83 percent favor it, only 15 percent opposed it. Why in the world isn't this happening?
TIM SCHULTZ, U.S. ENGLISH: I think because the politicians are sometimes cowardly and they're out of touch with the people. And I think that this statement that you've been covering by Senator Obama reflects a certain disconnect between the ruling class and the people. And Senator Obama's statement was elitist and it was condescending but it was unfortunately -
DOBBS: I have to say the part we've not reporting much of is that he say he was embarrassed by Americans who are traveling abroad who could not speak the native language. Now, I have to say the man is getting a little out of control in my opinion.
SCHULTZ: It's extremely condescending to say that and you know, I think what you heard - and that statement was a microcosm of that kind of sort of elitist mindset that the American people are a bunch of hicks and rudes can either wise leaders to kind of keep them from their impulses. And I think that's completely wrong. I mean, if you're one of the 80-plus percent of Americans who support English as the official language. Senator Obama is not just saying that he disagrees with you, he's saying he think you're a little bit backward. And I know that we're hungry for change but that's not the kind of change I think we're really looking for.
DOBBS: I think the change is pretty clear that our politicians want is just they want to be in charge rather than make substantive changes in the way in which we are governed. I can remember a distant past when the consent of the government was required. The idea that 30 countries right now - I think it was 26. It's up to 30, 10 other countries are looking at making English their official language. Why aren't we doing it? What is the reason for the resistance to it? 30 states have already done so. 10 more.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think that you're saying that there's a big movement in the states. A lot of those states made English official in recent years. And we also see in congress, there are 148 members of the House who are co-sponsors of HR 997, which is the federal bill to make English the official language. So, there is nobody doing anything.
DOBBS: I'm not suggesting nobody is doing anything but I am suggesting it's been going on a long time. English is the unifying language. I'm a little tired of the nonsense when I hear someone like Senator Obama say that people should be learning Spanish in this country instead of focusing on English, with that condescending tone I get a little annoyed. So I want to know, what can the viewers of this broadcast do to make certain that something happens now? Because some of us have had a belly full of it.
SCHULTZ: Absolutely. What we need to be doing is making sure that everybody through elected office, I mean all the down to the level of dogcatcher, you have to ask your members of Congress or your candidates for office where they stand on English as the official language. Right now, on our website which is usenglish.org. We have available a list of candidates who have taken a pledge to support legislation to make English the official language of government. And you need to be asking your elected leaders, people who are vying for your vote, had to sign a pledge, are you going to support English as the official language? And if not, you don't have my vote.
DOBBS: I'll tell you what, we're going to help a little bit on this broadcast and on my radio show. We're going to talk to every single person running for national office, and by that I mean, Congress or Senate or President, to find out where they stand on it. We'll get it going. Usenglish.org, go there and find out where they stand on it. We'll get it going. Meanwhile, usenglish.org, go there. Find out all the issues are. Let's make some racket. All right. Tim, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
SCHULTZ: You're welcome. Good to be with you.
DOBBS: Up next, Obama supporter Jesse Jackson and Senator McCain adviser Phil Gramm, well they didn't help their candidates much this week. I'll be talking about that with three of the nation's best political analysts about these two presidential candidates who seem to have some inner desire to defeat themselves and a reminder to please join me on the radio Monday through Friday for the "Lou Dobbs Show." Go to loudobbsradio.com to find the local listings for your area. We'll be right back for our political roundtable in just one moment. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Senator McCain trying now to distance himself from Phil Gramm's outrageous mental recession and nation of whiners comment. We're going to be talking about this and Senator Obama's plan to have your children speak Spanish. I'm joined now by three of the best political analysts in the country, all CNN contributors, republican strategist Ed Rollins, former White House political director, and recently chairing Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign; "New York Daily News" columnist editorial board member Errol Louis. Errol also the host of a morning show on WWRL in New York; and democratic strategist, Hank Sheinkopf. Gentlemen, thanks for being here.
Oh, my gosh. Let's start out with, if we may, Hank, Phil Gramm this week and his absurd remarks.
HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think Barack Obama really had him on the payroll for that day. I mean that had to be the only answer because it was just dumb and didn't help McCain. All it did was make it appear, again, the republicans are heartless and irresponsible for the present set of circumstances.
DOBBS: Is that fair that republicans are heartless, or is Phil Gramm just brainless?
ERROL LOUIS, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, Phil Gramm is not just brainless but Phil Gramm bears a heavy burden of personal responsibility. He was the chair of the Senate Banking Committee in the 1990s, led to a lot of deregulation. He was the author and architect of the so-called Enron loophole that caused a lot of the problems we're seeing now in the economy.
DOBBS: Do we want to keep his wife Wendy out of this? Former head of -
LOUIS: Well, former head of the - and later board member of Enron, in fact. So, yes, there's a lot there that the McCain campaign surely didn't want anybody to think about it. And frankly, I hadn't thought about it until these comments were made. And I say, what's this guy doing so close to the man who wants to be president?
DOBBS: Well, that's a good question. Is there a good answer?
ED ROLLINS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they've been longtime friends and I think they share a common economic theory which is sort of the depths of hawk type. And yet remember McCain was chairman of the 1996 Phil Gramm campaign that spent $100 million to not get a delegate and be the first to drop out. So, his political antenna is not great. But more important you have these big -
DOBBS: Did they share something?
ROLLINS: Maybe. You have these big high-powered surrogates who aren't on talking points. Any campaign I've run or Hank has run, you give your surrogates talking points. You're going not talking about your own opinions, you're talking about McCain's opinion and what John McCain wants to do. When they get off-message - no one is sitting there asking Phil Gramm tell me what you think if you were president and I think that he misrepresented and did great damage to his candidate.
DOBBS: Why is McCain keeping him around? Why not get him out of the way?
ROLLINS: Because there's something about the Senate club, and Phil is a former member of the club. Great friend, great ally, and it's just they never throw - they throw us over the bus or under the bus, but they would never get rid of a him.
DOBBS: No matter who is doing the greater damage. Well, Hank, let's turn to the democratic candidate, who Reverend Jesse Jackson says he wants to remove his testicles. He didn't say it quite that way, a little cruder, but that was what he said. What happened there?
SHEINKOPF: Well, Barack Obama should be grateful that Jackson is not a surgeon. Let's be clear about that. This is about irrelevancy. Gramm is irrelevant, Jackson is irrelevant. And by doing the things they have done, they've proven their irrelevancy. They've proven that generational break and the fact that American politics is true. One is saying one thing, Gramm about the economy, that's ridiculous. And the other, saying something about American politics, saying something about hero of this country.
DOBBS: Reverend Jesse Jackson, icon of the civil rights movement in this county. I mean obviously, there's great passion, great anger there for this man to say that. What is -
SHEINKOPF: He makes it personal.
DOBBS: Well, it is personal. It couldn't be much more personal.
SHEINKOPF: That is the point.
DOBBS: What is personal about?
SHEINKOPF: I don't know Jesse Jackson's motivation, but one thing is clear, he did not help himself and he further strengthened Barack Obama. He didn't hurt him because those who don't like Jesse Jackson are there.
LOUIS: That's right. These are two Chicago politicians who are both competing for the hearts and minds, primarily of black America in some sense. At least that's the Jesse Jackson sort of frame of reference. Barack Obama has surpassed that. He is the offspring of the civil rights movement. He has transcended it to a great extent. He's going on to do something that no one has even tried, who had anything to do with the civil rights movement in a realistic way. So, he's in a different kind of a place. What I saw Jesse Jackson doing was sort of trying to defend his core turf which is black churched, black cultural issues, the kind of stuff that he made his name on after the assassination of Martin Luther King 40 years ago, and here's Barack Obama stepping into the pulpit talking in ways that Jesse Jackson found to be not to his liking.
DOBBS: by the way, how long Jesse Jackson as it turns out because now we're starting to see a number of columns pointing out that there's a lot of discomfort in the black community over some of the things that Obama has been saying, and that disturbance may have some traction. What's your reaction?
LOUIS: Yes, I mean, look, I don't think that anything Jesse - DOBBS: All right. When I read that I thought the traction might be that it would move to 92 percent of the black vote for Obama to maybe 89.5 percent.
LOUIS: That is what I was going to say. Is it's OK trying to get 97 percent of the black voters instead of 99 percent of the black vote. I mean, I don't even think it would effect turnout.
DOBBS: We're going to find out, Ed, at you think in just one moment. We're going to take a break, and what I really want to know what you think is about the idea that Senator Obama put forward that he's embarrassed by all of us ignorant Americans traveling abroad who don't speak native languages when we do and his recommendation that we all teach our children Spanish. We'll take that up next, we'll be right back with our round table. Stay with us.
DOBBS: We're back with Ed Rollins, Errol Louis, Hank Sheinkopf. Ed, we were just talking about Barack Obama's - well his lament that he's embarrassed by ignorant Americans traveling abroad, not speaking native languages when they're abroad and at the same time calling upon American children to learn Spanish. How dumb does it get?
ROLLINS: Well, especially in the context. The context was talking about illegal immigration and what haveyou, and so the message could clearly be taken and put into a commercial that we're going to be an assimilated society and that immigration is not ever going to be illegal and that our kids better learn how to speak Spanish.
DOBBS: You just - let's be very serious, you just outlined the Obama campaign position here.
ROLLINS: That's what I'm saying. I'm just saying that that certainly is one of those things that I think could come back to haunt you. As someone who took four years of Latin in a Catholic high school and never having found the menu yet in Latin. The reality is that English is our language and certainly we are a multi-cultural society and anybody to basically advocate other languages in a mandatory what- have-you -
DOBBS: I don't believe we're a multi-cultural society at all. We are an American society. A diverse society but we are not multi-cultural in any way. We're a diverse society, the most diverse society on earth.
ROLLINS: We can argue that, but what has made it all work in the past is whether it's Irish immigrants or Italian immigrants, or German immigrants, they've all come here and they learned a common language.
ROLLINS: And now that's not happening anymore.
LOUIS: I heard him speaking as a parent. What parent wouldn't want their kid to learn two three or more languages. You know, fine. But I think it showed him - it made him look like he was out of touch. The percentage of Americans who actually hold a passport and travel abroad is much smaller than a Cosmopolitan like Barack Obama might realize.
DOBBS: Who's been to Iraq once.
LOUIS: Well, he's been everywhere else in the world. It seems just growing up. You know.
DOBBS: Well he made it to Indonesia, and Hawaii into Kenya, but the reality is that he is sitting there again, just as he did with his fund-raiser comments in San Francisco insulting working people in Pennsylvania, saying that those poor folks, those working folks, clinging to their guns and their religion -
LOUIS: And they are English language.
DOBBS: and they're English language. Now, at what point does he get it that he is an elitist and needs to really change his tone and or to the degree that he can, maybe he is simply this much of an elitist and arrogant seeker of power.
LOUIS: I think it gets back to message. He got as far as he had but specifically not playing ethnic politics.
DOBBS: What is he doing?
LOUIS: It's very late in the game to suddenly start trying to do that it and it doesn't sound proper coming out of his mouth.
SHEINKOPF: Well, what's wrong with going after a particular portion of the electorate that you may need in states like New Mexico and others, to increase your market. How about Colorado?
DOBBS: I'll tell you what's wrong with it. You are the strategist -
SHEINKOPF: I can't tell.
DOBBS: I'm just saying - you want to know what's wrong with it. Here's what's wrong with it. It goes right to what Errol said, it's ethnic politics and he just insults the far greater number of people by doing so who he's going to need a doggone sight more than that particularly -
SHEINKOPF: If I were doing the campaign, my responsibilities would be two sides to the argument, one says let's get our children better education, learn foreign languages, increase their skills throughout, the other says no. I mean that's kind of the argument here.
ROLLINS: Bottom line, you're sitting in my chair and you had this line, you would be basically pounding it. Obviously the Hispanic voters have learned both languages, but at the end of the day, we're talking about blue collar middle class voters in Pennsylvania and places like that where Hillary did well and I promise you the way that this can be interpreted and will be interpreted in the course of millions of dollars of advertising will come out beneficial.
SHEINKOPF: I know what I'll do if I ran that campaign. The republicans are going to define an expenditure for them. I would be lighting up western Pennsylvania with radio on this argument, or have a spot on English language stations that starts out with Spanish. And say feel dumb? Well, and I'd go from there.
DOBBS: Well, the best thing that Obama has going for him on this kind absurd and I think just pathetically stupid statement is that he's running against John McCain, who is not making much either of the fact, not that we have children who are not speaking a second language, nor whether that be Spanish or any other language, but that many of our children cannot even speak English to begin with. And secondly half of black students in this country, half of Hispanic students in this country are dropping out of high school. We are permitting an entire generation of young Americans to be failed by a public education system and these two men, Obama and McCain are not dealing with the issue. To me, that's pure ignorance and dereliction of what they should be doing and their responsibility.
ROLLINS: No question about it.
DOBBS: Ed, thank you very much. Earl, thank you. We appreciate it. Hank, thank you. Thank you for being with us. Join us here tomorrow. From all of us, thank you for watching. Good night from New York.