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Frank Buckley sets the scene in Miami-Dade County

Frank Buckley  

CNN Correspondent Frank Buckley has been covering Florida's presidential recount from Miami-Dade County, the scene of a raucous protest last week by supporters of George W. Bush outside the door of the county's canvassing board. Now lawyers for Al Gore are contesting the board's decision not to hold a complete hand recount.

Q: Could you set the scene for us in Miami-Dade County today?

Buckley: We're in a grassy area outside the county building here where last week there were Republican protests as the canvassing board met to decide whether to hold a complete manual recount in Miami-Dade of all votes cast for president.

Protesters from both political parties turn up the heat in Florida

It's very different today. There are no protesters. There are Democratic members of Congress speaking to the news media in front of microphones. We are monitoring related events in Leon County and getting reaction down here.

David Leahy, a member of the three-member canvassing board, told me today that if the Gore contest motion triggers an order for a manual recount in Miami-Dade, he would be willing to do it. "We'd like to complete the process that was started," he said.

He also has responded to criticism that he and the other board members were intimidated by the GOP protesters last week, and that the protesters influenced their decision against the recount. "I was not intimidated; the protests did not affect our decision," Leahy told me.

Murray Greenberg, legal adviser to the canvassing board, told me: "The canvassing board will assert that it had discretion in its own right to continue the recount or abandon the recount."

Yesterday we saw here a candlelight vigil and rally by a group of Gore-Lieberman supporters, saying that every vote counts and urging the courts to allow the Miami-Dade recount.

Q: How difficult is it to convey the drama of the deadlock at a point when the outcome is now in the hands of lawyers and politicians?

Buckley: The drama is not necessarily one of good pictures and conflict in the sense you would get on, for example, a tabloid talk show. This is not "The Jerry Springer Show." This is a conflict that will result in the president of the United States. Because of its inherent importance, it is dramatic and interesting, and the legal chess game is interesting without people yelling and crying and screaming. We try to highlight the intellectual nature of this dramatic, historic election deadlock.

Q: How does this story compare with other important events you've covered?

Buckley: I've had the opportunity to cover history on a variety of levels, the Hong Kong handover, the O.J. Simpson trial, hurricanes, earthquakes and every matter of natural disaster. But in terms of political history, this is the most important and interesting story I've ever covered.

I thought the Hillary Clinton campaign for U.S. Senate was the most important and interesting political story I'd covered. Then, a week later, I started covering this. Mrs. Clinton's run for the Senate was interesting and historic in terms that she was the first first lady to run for public office. But this story is something that generations of Americans have never seen before, and one that will be talked about for generations to come.


Sunday, November 26, 2000



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