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In the Crossfire

Deja vu: Voting irregularities in Florida

(CNN) -- Voting irregularities in Florida have tied up another major election: the governor's race between Bill McBride and Janet Reno in the Democratic primary. Problems including faulty voting machines prompted Reno's campaign to ask election officials in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to re-examine their ballots. Election results from all of Florida's 67 counties are scheduled to become certified and final on Tuesday.

Former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta and former GOP Rep. Bill Paxon of New York step into the Crossfire with hosts Robert Novak and Paul Begala to discuss why Florida just can't seem to get it right.

NOVAK: Isn't it true that Floridians are just too stupid for democracy?

PODESTA: Look, I think Gov. Bush said he wanted to make Florida the envy of the nation. I think he's made it the laughing stock of the nation ...

NOVAK: Well, how do you blame him?

PODESTA: He was supposed to put into place an election system that would work. Obviously, that didn't happen.

NOVAK: They're still dumb.

PODESTA: I think this was the biggest nightmare for Jeb Bush.

PAXON: It did work.

PODESTA: It didn't work.

PAXON: John, that's ridiculous. It was the county, up to them to hire the people to run the machines. They didn't do it in these two Democratic-controlled counties. They were in charge.

BEGALA: That's not what the governor said. After the 2000 debacle he didn't say, "I hope the counties fix it." He said, "I'm going to make sure this never happens again." Now he gave his word and he didn't keep it.

PAXON: ... and the counties didn't carry it out. And you know what the interesting thing is? Reno still won't concede, McBride can't do his victory lap, and this is a dangerous position. The Democratic counties didn't do their job and now the Democratic candidates for governor are in a fight.

NOVAK: (Fort Lauderdale pollster Jim Kane) said, "The idea that you can campaign in a state with nine million, by running voters around in a red truck... that's what ultimately led to (Reno's) defeat. It demonstrates her na´vetÚ. She had great notoriety but she had little or no experience of running a campaign."

Wasn't the problem, John, that she was just a bad candidate, that she was a bad attorney general?

PODESTA: No, I think she was a good attorney general. I like Janet Reno; I think she was a good candidate. But Bill McBride is a great candidate. He ran an effective campaign.

NOVAK: Nobody ever heard of him.

PODESTA: He ran an effective campaign; he's a Vietnam War hero. I think he's going to give Jeb Bush a real run for his money because he knows how to actually get something done, as opposed to Jeb Bush, who can't manage anything.




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