CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight - Transcript
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DOBBS: The fight to kill the Dubai Ports World deal might never have gained traction if it were not for the tireless work of a number of our representatives and senators. Among them, Congressman Pete King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Congressman King's earlier opposition to the deal convinced other powerful lawmakers to join the cause in support of national security. Congressman King also working with the White House to come up with a compromise. And he was at the White House today as the deal fell apart.
He joins us here tonight.
Congressman, good to have you with us. What was the president's reaction when he got the bad news?
REP. PETE KING (R-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Lou, I actually sensed it was a feeling of relief. I saw the president. I asked, you know, shortly after the announcement was made, and he said, you know, "There's news for you, today," he said to me. And I said, "Yes, Mr. President, I know."
And then he sort of took like a playful poke at me. And he said, "Good work." And he shook hands, and he...
DOBBS: Now you're sure it was playful?
KING: Oh, I'm saying that. Yes, I'm -- I think so. No, it was. No, actually, I sensed -- really, I didn't sense any anger or antagonism at the White House today, because Speaker Hastert was there also, and John Boehner, the majority leader. What I sensed more than anything was a sense of relief among the president and also the White House staff.
DOBBS: Is this -- and if I may just try to project a little bit here, is this a suggestion that the Congress -- I'm going to speak specifically of the House here -- is becoming more responsive to what is the known will of the American people, and that there is not going to be a rubberstamp approach to an administration agenda or an issue?
KING: Yes, I think this is one real wakeup call. The American people, I have never seen them speak with such unanimity.
Congress did hear it. I think it could mark a turning point in the relationship between the people in the Congress and also between the Congress and the administration. And I mean that both ways in that, if anything really good comes out of this, it's that we realize the importance of having closer communication with the White House and they certainly realize the importance of having more communication with us.
And also, I think the White House will realize that they have to be more sensitive to public opinion. Now, you can't always cave into public opinion. You can't always give into hysteria. You should never give into hysteria. But in this case, it was one time where really enlightened public opinion was ahead of the -- for most part, ahead of most elected officials.
DOBBS: You know, when you say you can't always give into the will of the people, the problem is there's an old expression. None of us is as smart as all of us. And the American people, wouldn't you agree, are a hell of a lot smarter than they're ever given credit for, generally in the national media and in Washington?
KING: Well, if you have to balance out who's right more often, the people or the politicians, the people are.
No, the point I'm making is that it's not your job in elective office just to immediately go with the popular will. There are times when you have to stand back and make your -- you know, really make a reasoned decision.
This is one case in particular where, you know, the people really saw this up front as to what it was. And I never saw really a case where so many people were so perspective. And so many people in high office just didn't get that -- you know, just didn't grasp it the same way.
DOBBS: Are you going to -- we're out time, but are you as the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, are you going to drive ahead now to raise what is a pitiful level of port security in this country?
KING: Yes. Lou, I had actually scheduled hearings last month. They start next week.
Congressman Dan Lungren and Congresswoman Jane Harman on my committee are going to be introducing legislation. We will have extensive hearings and a full markup and passage of a bill out our committee by the end of April. It will be the most comprehensive port security bill we've ever done.
DOBBS: Congressman Pete King, good to have you here.
KING: Lou, thank you.
DOBBS: Coming up next, Congressman Duncan Hunter. He is the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He will join us. His fight to keep all ports out of the hands of foreign governments and companies continues.
Senator Robert Menendez, who fought early and tirelessly to keep terminals at the Port of Newark out of the control of foreign government-owned companies.
Congressman Barney Frank, the Democrat of Massachusetts, joins us. He says it's outrageous how big business and big capital are controlling the Bush administration.
Stay with us.
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