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Clinton jabs Republicans on election; Bush spokesman calls for some respect

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With less than two weeks remaining in his presidential term, President Clinton is taking a few shots at the man who will succeed him, but a spokesman for President-elect George W. Bush suggested Wednesday that Clinton ought to cool it.

For the second time in two days, Clinton Wednesday returned to the November election and jabbed Republicans for their handling of the presidential recount in Florida.

Apparently smarting from his comments the day before, a spokesman for Bush called on Clinton to show some respect for his successor.

Speaking at a fund raiser for Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, Clinton referred to the election of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, which was also very close and required a recount. "An unusual system in Washington state, they actually count all the votes," Clinton said sarcastically.

In Chicago Tuesday night, the president spoke before a crowd of supporters and sounded a similar tone in lauding the efforts of Chicago native and Gore campaign chairman William Daley.

"Listen, we were way behind when Daley took over," Clinton said. "They thought the election was over, the Republicans did. The time it was over, our candidate had won the popular vote, and the only way they could win the election was to stop the voting in Florida."

Bush won Florida's electoral votes -- and with them, the White House -- after an unprecedented five-week, post-election battle during which Vice President Al Gore called for the hand count of thousands of disputed ballots. Bush opposed that effort, and Gore conceded only after the U.S. Supreme Court closed the door to the counts.

Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer declined to criticize Clinton directly about his comments, but said there is a tradition "of presidents leaving office with respect for their successors. I'm certain that President Clinton will want to follow that."

But Jake Siewert, White House press secretary, defended the president's comments and said there are "strong feelings" about the aftermath of the presidential election.

"The president has met with President-elect Bush and wished him well, and given him advice," Siewert said. "He's instructed all of us to cooperate in the transition. At the same time, he made perfectly clear he disagreed with that court's decision."

The president attended three events Wednesday. The first was the dedication of a new statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a wheelchair at the monument to the late president. The Baucus fund raiser was second and the third was a luncheon reception with the National Council of Negro Women.


Wednesday, January 10, 2001



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